Queen of Chaos, Kat Ross – Book Review

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31030693Persepolae has fallen.

Karnopolis has burned.

As the dark forces of the Undead sweep across what remains of the empire, Nazafareen must obey the summons of a demon queen to save Darius’s father, Victor. Burdened with a power she doesn’t understand and can barely control, Nazafareen embarks on a perilous journey through the shadowlands to the House-Behind-the-Veil. But what awaits her there is worse than she ever imagined…

A thousand leagues away, Tijah leads a group of children on a desperate mission to rescue the prisoners at Gorgon-e Gaz, the stronghold where the oldest daēvas are kept. To get there, they must cross the Great Salt Plain, a parched ruin occupied by the armies of the night. A chance encounter adds a ghost from the past to their number. But will they arrive in time to avert a massacre?

And in the House-Behind-the-Veil, Balthazar and the Prophet Zarathustra discover that they have more in common than meets the eye. But is it enough to redeem the necromancer’s bloodstained soul and thwart his mistress’s plans?

As a final showdown looms with Queen Neblis, the truth of the daēvas’ origins is revealed and three worlds collide in this thrilling conclusion to the Fourth Element series.

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Blood of the Prophet, Kat Ross – Book Review

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30228183Visionary. Alchemist. Savior. Saint.

The Prophet Zarathustra has been called many things. Now he spends his time drawing pictures of weird-looking goats. That’s what happens when you’ve been stuck in a prison cell for two hundred years. But the man who might be mad, and is definitely supposed to be dead, has suddenly become very valuable again…

It’s only been a few weeks since Nazafareen escaped the King’s dungeons with her daēva, Darius. She hoped never to set foot in the empire again, but the search for the Prophet has led them to the ancient city of Karnopolis. They have to find him before Alexander of Macydon burns Persepolae, and Darius’s mother with it. But they’re not the only ones looking.

The necromancer Balthazar has his own plans for the Prophet, and so does the sinister spymaster of the Numerators. As Nazafareen is drawn in to a dangerous game of cat and mouse, her newfound powers take a decidedly dark turn. Only the Prophet understands the secret of her gift, but the price of that knowledge may turn out to be more than Nazafareen is willing to pay…

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*Review copy received in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts are entirely my own and in no way biased.*

I cannot express in words, the amount of love I have for this series. I absolutely LOVED THE FIRST BOOK and dove right into the second one, not giving myself a chance to come out of the world of The Fourth Element Series. I’m glad that I had all the books before I started reading because I CANNOT GET ENOUGH OF THIS!

The world building is insanely amazing. I have no words. Really. I’ve blabbered about it in the review for the first book, but I don’t have words as to how much I love it. It’s so good. And the characters. My, my! Such good characters. They’re understated in the best way and they’re so different and complex and you don’t realize just how multi faceted they are in the first go. They’re constantly changing, growing and building. I love that!

I love that there was no love triangle. Thank you, Kat! Seriously, I LOVE THAT FACT. SO VERY MUCH. Love triangles are a sort of pet peeve of mine and I don’t like them, but they’re sort of given in most books and I brave through them because I like the other aspects of the book. But, here, it was just Darius and Nazarfeen and no unwanted third players and I really like that. I also like that the romance was not overtly done. While it’s a huge part of the story, it’s not everything. Many a time, the romance tends to overshadow the rest of the plot, but that didn’t happen here. And, the characters didn’t go about declaring their love for each other constantly or making any grand gestures, but the ove they felt for each other was visible in the way they cared for each other, in the way they were always around each other. I admire that.

The story was a little slow in the beginning, but it was still good and the end left me with no complaints. I really liked the way it was written and all the situations and all the plots and sub plots were great!

All in all, it is an absolutely amazing read and it does complete justice to the first book in the series! I can’t wait to start reading the next one in the series which I’m gonna do as soon as I’m done posting this!

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I’ve always loved to read more than anything in the world, especially so-called genre stories—mysteries, fantasy, sci-fi, thrillers, horror. I like books that take you by the hand and lead you out of the mundane. That ease back the curtain and show you the wondrous and dark and unexpected lurking just around the next corner. I worked in journalism for a long time before I returned to writing fiction. Guess which is more fun?

The Midnight Sea, Kat Ross – Book Review

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29670787They are the light against the darkness.

The steel against the necromancy of the Druj.

And they use demons to hunt demons….

Nazafareen lives for revenge. A girl of the isolated Four-Legs Clan, all she knows about the King’s elite Water Dogs is that they leash wicked creatures called daevas to protect the empire from the Undead. But when scouts arrive to recruit young people with the gift, she leaps at the chance to join their ranks. To hunt the monsters that killed her sister.

Scarred by grief, she’s willing to pay any price, even if it requires linking with a daeva named Darius. Human in body, he’s possessed of a terrifying power, one that Nazafareen controls. But the golden cuffs that join them have an unwanted side effect. Each experiences the other’s emotions, and human and daeva start to grow dangerously close.

As they pursue a deadly foe across the arid waste of the Great Salt Plain to the glittering capital of Persepolae, unearthing the secrets of Darius’s past along the way, Nazafareen is forced to question his slavery—and her own loyalty to the empire. But with an ancient evil stirring in the north, and a young conqueror sweeping in from the west, the fate of an entire civilization may be at stake.

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Dear Life, Meghan Quinn – Blog Tour



We’re celebrating the release of DEAR LIFE by Meghan Quinn! Available on Amazon and #Free on Kindle Unlimited!

 

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DEAR LIFE
NA Contemporary Romance

Designed by: Meghan Quinn

Photographer: Lauren Perry

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AMAZON: http://amzn.to/2iBjcT9

Four lives. Four stories. Four sets of letters. Four brave souls in need of guidance while facing life’s greatest challenges.
The anonymously published Dear Life program is designed to help them step outside of their comfort zones, face their obstacles, and relinquish their demons…and prove their existence.
With their lives teetering between wanting more and losing it all, all four souls dive into the program as a New Year’s resolution, sending them on a crazy, life-altering journey.
Dear Life,
Please be kind.
Yours truly, Hollyn, Jace, Daisy, and Carter.


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I’m gonna need sometime to collect myself after this beautiful story. God! It is SO GOOD. I DO NOT HAVE WORDS TO EXPRESS HOW MUCH I LOVE IT.

The characters, the plot, the setting, all of it, so very good and so heartbreaking. These four broken people, trying to start afresh are thrown together and make relationships to last a lifetime. Their journey is explored so beautifully, it’s just heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. They’re in denial, they’re scared and they’re grieving and I JUST WANT TO WRAP MY ARMS AROUND THEM AND JUST HUG THEM FOREVER SO THAT THEY KNOW THEY’RE NOT ALONE.

This book has made me cry some ugly tears and I don’t know whether I appreciate it or not. I mean, yes, ALL THE FEELS, but still. I got so wrapped up in the story of these four characters and their need to start afresh and it was sensational!  The four of them are so different and they deal with things in a very different way. They have a distinct voice throughout the story and it shines through.

Holly & Jace are dealing with some really hard losses and they don’t know what to do with life because of it. They’re so hurt and broken that they’re sure that they’ll never stand up again and they really made me cry bad. So, so, so bad. They’re just… going through so much and I applaud them for the strength that they have.

Carter, though not dealing with such a huge loss, has his own demons, his own issues that are so complicated and have him in trenches that he’s grappling in the sea and he can’t come out of the water and it’s killing him. His struggle is so profound, so real, it broke my heart. I related to him a whole lot. He’s stuck in a place he hates with no hopes of ever coming out of there and that sucks.

Of them, Daisy’s struggles are the least heartbreaking. Not to belittle her character, because she is AMAZING, but she hasn’t seen that bad a loss as the others have. She has so much life in her, despite the recent events in her life and that makes me like her so much more. She’s the strongest of them all and she’s ready to fight and that is so good.

All in all, THIS BOOK IS A MUST READ BECAUSE IT IS SO FREAKING SHIT GOOD AND YOU CANNOT MISS IT. OKAY?

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Born in New York and raised in Southern California, Meghan has grown into a sassy, peanut butter eating, blonde haired swearing, animal hoarding lady. She is known to bust out and dance if “It’s Raining Men” starts beating through the air and heaven forbid you get a margarita in her, protect your legs because they may be humped.

Once she started commuting for an hour and twenty minutes every day to work for three years, she began to have conversations play in her head, real life, deep male voices and dainty lady coos kind of conversations. Perturbed and confused, she decided to either see a therapist about the hot and steamy voices running through her head or start writing them down. She decided to go with the cheaper option and started writing… enter her first novel, Caught Looking.
Now you can find the spicy, most definitely on the border of lunacy, kind of crazy lady residing in Colorado with the love of her life and her five, furry four legged children, hiking a trail or hiding behind shelves at grocery stores, wondering what kind of lube the nervous stranger will bring home to his wife. Oh and she loves a good boob squeeze!
Visit my website: http://authormeghanquinn.com/ 

Lucian Divine, Renee Carlino – Blog Tour

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luciandivine_03-1-1-1“My guardian angel is a drunk.”

Evelyn Casey’s life is at a standstill. She’s in her mid-twenties, struggling with the dating scene in San Francisco. Nothing seems to be working out, and she’s starting to think that she’ll live out her days in her crummy apartment with her overbearing roommate, Brooklyn. It’s absurd, but sometimes Evey longs for a guardian angel to show up and save the day.

And then he does. Seriously. His name is Lucian and he’s a guardian angel, been on the job for two thousand years. His sudden presence in her life is both good—he’s brilliant, witty, and warm—and bad—he’s brilliant, witty, warm, and hot as —-. But as perfect as Lucian seems, he’s got problems of his own. He’s taken up drinking and he’s brazenly inserted himself into Evey’s life, going against the greatest cosmic law ever created.

For Evey, the rules are simple: You are not allowed to hook up with your guardian angel. But sometimes fulfilling your destiny requires a leap of faith, a confrontation with God.

Yes, God as in God.

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This book. *sighs* This book.

Lucian Divine is the story of Lucian, a guardian angel, who falls in love with the soul he’s assigned to protect, Evelyn. Lucian has been guarding Evey since she was born, but he’s also in love with her. Her constant trysts with other men have driven Lucian to alcoholism and one fine day, when he can’t take it anymore, he tells her everything – that he’s her guardian angel, that he loves her, that they can’t be together. Then, he erases her memory, but he doesn’t do it right because Evey still remembers him. Then, she falls for him and yada, yada, yada.

“You are everything to me. You’re the dream, the air, the reason, the cause for my whole existence.”

 – Lucian

It’s clear that the best thing about this story is Lucian. His love for Evey is so all consuming, so huge, so much, it pours out of him. He’s ready to die, just to be with her. And however hard Evey tries, she can’t convince him to kill her so that they can be together because hurting Evey causes him unbearable pain. He comes close once, but is unable to go through with it because it’s hurting Evey. Yes, he loves her a whole lot. I admire that about him. That he is so in love with her and he’s not afraid to tell it to the world. He literally tells everyone he meets about her. Even though his best friend, Zack and his supervisor, Mona, advice him against getting together with Evey, what with him being an angel and her being human, he overlooks them and goes on to marry her. But, then, trouble finds them and everything that could go wrong, goes wrong.

But, the determination that Lucian has, to always protect Evey, to love her more than his own life, is there within him throughout the story and that’s amazing. I love that about him!

“Evelyn, I’ve existed for more than two millennia. In two thousand years, I have watched over so many lives. At times, more than five souls were my responsibility alone. I’ve watched all of them die. I’ve held many of them while they were dying. It’s in my nature to do that, to give peace to my souls, to look out for them when I can, to sway the good ones to do the right thing, and to protect man and life here on Earth. I’ve watched over stunningly beautiful and brilliant women, but I have never felt love for any human the way I feel it for you. You are literally the air in my lungs.”

Now, then, what I didn’t like.

It was too insta love. I understand that Lucian is Evey’s guardian angel, so he’s made in such a way that Evey can’t help but love him and he’s been in love with her for years, but it still feels too rushed. They’ve just met and they’re spending every moment together, getting engaged in two weeks and married in two months. Whirlwind romance, yeah?

And, then, we know how Evey fell in love, sort of, but how about Lucian? I would loved his side of the story, before he told Evey who he was.

As much as the plot kept me on my toes, at times it felt like everything was happening too fast and I didn’t have the time to fully grasp what was actually happening. It was great that I didn’t get bored, but I would have liked it if there was a breather somewhere in the middle.

“Evey, next time, in the next life we’ll be together—that’s how this will be corrected. This will be righted. This can’t be our forever fate. Next time we’ll live together, we’ll die together. We’ll experience every war together, inside ourselves and outside in the world. We won’t be out of reach, unavailable, unattainable, just love longing to be. Let’s keep moving fast in opposite directions. Keep praying we meet on the other side. I’ll see you there; I know I will. I have to believe that. Watch for me. I’ll be barreling toward you, arms wide open, and then we’ll crash into each other with the force of two spent lives yearning to be one.”

All in all, it’s a great book with a good story, well rounded characters and nice writing style. I would recommend it to the romance fanatics who like the insta love trope and the drama that generally accompanies it.

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Renee-121Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women’s novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at www.reneecarlino.com

In Your Arms, Shannyn Schroeder – Blog Tour

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30037290Sean O’Malley has never tried to hide who he is. He shows it in the motorcycle thrumming between the legs of his tight jeans…the shaggy hair that falls in his gorgeous eyes…the wicked gleam in his smile when he asks Emma out for a drink. Sean is a rebel, a bad boy, and a ton of fun: exactly the kind of guy she’s sworn off forever.

Emma isn’t just the the prim kindergarten teacher she appears to be. And somehow Sean can tell. As soon as he pulls up to her overheated car he knows that a fast bike and a cold beer will fix her rotten day better than compliments or a bubble bath. Her straitlaced exterior and her wild heart light him up. But Emma wants to escape her past and settle down—and if her desk jockey dates don’t understand where she comes from, at least she doesn’t worry about them bringing her back.

One weekend of intense connection can’t change the paths Sean and Emma have chosen. But with a little space to be themselves together, maybe the rest of the world can wait…

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A Murder in Gurgaon, Manish Dubey – Book Review

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32316637Gurgaon. December 2014. A young event manager, an ex-cop’s son, is murdered. Inspector Hawa Singh vows justice. There is little to begin with, and frustration mounts when the initial suspect – a reclusive woman with a mysterious past – is found missing. Digging deeper, Singh uncovers a sordid tale of adultery, blackmail and revenge, only to find himself staring at a conspiracy unlike any he has seen. There are deceits, little and big, to decode; the predator and victim are indistinguishable; his witnesses could be misleading; his closest ally may not be an ally at all. Will Singh succeed? Or has the sick, wily mind behind the crime always been a few steps ahead? Refreshingly told, with a cast of morally ambivalent characters and an accent on the minutiae of crime, A Murder in Gurgaon will keep you hooked till the very end.

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*Review copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and views are entirely my own and in no way biased.*

A Murder In Gurgaon is the story of the murder of a 30 something man in his own house and the disappearance of one lady after she met with her friend and told her she had ‘business’ to take care of.

The story is part narrative, part novel and part play. The author does not follow a single method of story telling and I think that that is a refreshing change. The plot is the main attraction of the story. The characters are just tools to forward the plot and there isn’t any character development. Just conversations and incidents that lead from the murder to finding the culprit.

As a whole, the story is intriguing and interesting and keeps you hooked. It did feel like a CID episode at times, though. The end certainly felt like it. the fact that I disliked the most is that the investigating officer didn’t have to dig around to reach the conclusion as to who was the killer. It was like one of those episodes of Castle where he spouts an unbelievable theory that proves to be the actual happening in the end, coincidentally. Also, the promise twist at the end of Part II is never mentioned in Part III and the novel ends. I was expecting something there, but it didn’t happen and that was a little disappointing.

What I like is how the mystery unfolds. I didn’t guess the ending until the end thought when it happened, it seemed too obvious once I went back to the beginning and went over it. I guess, that is what makes it so good. The culprit is right in front of you, they’re the obvious choice and you still don’t suspect them for reasons unknown. Then you realise it’s them and feel stupid for not thinking about it in the first place!

All in all, it’s a pretty riveting read and it grips you till the end. I like the mystery and the whodunnit guessing till it was revealed because there was one prime suspect and then there wasn’t and someone else was the actual culprit and shit kept happening that made me believe it was someone but it wasn’t. So, yeah. I really liked that part!

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The Heir of Thunder, Karissa Laurel – Blog Tour

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32070020The Lord of Thunder’s sudden death leaves his daughter, Evelyn Stormbourne, unprepared to rule Inselgrau in his place. Weeks before Evie’s ascension to the throne, revolutionaries attack and destroy her home. She conceals her identity and escapes under the protection of her father’s young horse master, Gideon Faust. Together they flee Inselgrau and set sail for the Continent, but they’re separated when a brutal storm washes Evie overboard.

In her efforts to reunite with her protector and reach allies on the Continent, Evie befriends a band of nomads who roam the world in airships fueled by lightning. She also confronts a cabal of dark Magicians plotting to use her powers to create a new divine being, and she clashes with an ancient family who insists her birthright belongs to them.

If she’s to prevail and defeat her enemies, Evie must claim her heritage, embrace her dominion over the sky, and define what it means to be Heir of Thunder.

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Heir of Thunder is the story of Evelyn ‘Evie’ Stormbourne and her struggles to get her kingdom back from the lords who are trying to invade it, owing to the untimely death of her father.

The story opens with explosions throughout Evie’s kingdom and her running away with Gideon, a trusted employee of his father. They begin their journey to Dreutch, where Gideon says are people who will help Evie in fighting against the revolution in her country. During the way, she runs into her fair share of troubles that change her, for the better, or so I believe.

Evie, I think, is a very strong character. She has much to learn and has a lot of growing up to do before she can take over her kingdom. I thought that she was too naive and trusting for more than half the book, which led her into difficult, life threatening situations more than once. Yes, she needed to trust some one but trusting every person she met along the way but she seemed to think that every other person walking on the road was trustworthy. Yes, some of them were, but not all. Despite Gideon telling her, repeatedly, not to trust anyone, not even Gideon himself, she still did. But, she was strong and brave and resilient and I like that. She never gave up without a fight and had the ability to think on her feet. Which, saved her from a lot of dangers. So, yeah, she’s a multi faceted character and I like that about her. She has a lot of room to grow in the next installments of the book.

I liked how her character developed through the course of the book. The plot was intriguing and fast paced. I was never bored, so yay! It was relatively short, which made it easy for me to read the book in almost 2 hours. 😀

All in all, it’s a great story! I’m looking forward to the next installment!

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Chapter 1

A rumble of thunder woke me. I shifted under my quilts, turned towards my window, and searched the sky for clouds. Storms always made me smile; made me feel a little less lonely. Black clouds, lightning, and rain reminded me of better times, when thunder was a regular event in our household. My father used to make the loveliest thunder—more like percussion in a heavenly orchestra than cannonade and ordnance. I had never mustered the necessary energy to expulse that kind of force. My attempts always sounded more like the blast of a large pop gun.

Another report rippled through the air, but it sounded wrong this time—a little too sharp and cold for something as organic as thunder. A third, angry blast proved the source was nothing harmonious with nature. The clamor had a cadence, a rhythm, and when I slid out of bed, the vibrations from it quaked through the stones under my feet.

Boom!

“1… 2… 3… 4….” I counted off a half-minute and—Boom!—another explosion. I counted a half minute again, which concluded with another detonation.

My bedroom door flew open, and Gerda rushed in still wearing her rumpled nightgown. The braid she wore for sleeping had slackened during the night, and stiff rust-colored curls sprang around her face. Fear and worry crackled from her like static from a wool blanket. “Evie, my dear, you’ve got to get dressed.” She pulled me to my feet and yanked my sleeping gown over my head.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Gideon was just at my door. He told me have you out to the stables as quickly as possible.”

“Did he say why?”

“He did not, but I won’t be the one to contradict him. The look on his face was murderous.”

“How is that different from any other day?”

Boom!

Gerda didn’t laugh, and that worried me more than the persistent racket. “What in the world is making all that noise?” I asked.

“I haven’t had the time to look, but whatever it is, it can’t be good.”

“I figured out that much for myself,” I said under my breath.

If she heard me, she chose to ignore it and tossed me a pair of wide-legged trousers disguised as a skirt.

I slipped them on while she scurried to unearth my boots. “I take it we’re not using the carriage?”

“Gideon said you would be riding.”

“What about you?”

Gerda backed out of my wardrobe, wide rump first, and turned to face me. A stern expression hardened her face as she clamped her hands to her hips, and in a sharp tone said, “You are our main concern, Evie. Let’s get you safely away, and then I’ll worry about myself.”

“Safely away from what?”

Boom!

Glass shattered in a room somewhere below us and the whole house shuddered.

“From whatever is making that horrible clatter. Quit asking questions and get dressed!” Gerda rarely lost her temper, especially not with me.

Her abnormal temperament stirred me into action. I wrestled a high-collared blouse over my head, buckled on a wide belt, buttoned up a short suede waistcoat, and laced up my favorite riding boots.

She shoved me onto a stool beside my vanity and yanked my hair, forcing it into a tight braid. “Your hair’s straight as a stick and slick as a snake. I can never seem to weave it into a proper plait, even when I have plenty of time and my hands aren’t shaking.”

“Forget it. I’ll twist it up like usual.” I reached back to take over the familiar routine, but Gerda smacked my hands away.

“No, I’ve almost got it.” She grunted once and yanked again.

I winced but had the sense to keep my protests to myself.

“There.” She retrieved a ribbon from one of her ubiquitous pockets, wrapped it around the end of the braid, and double-tied the knot for reinforcement. “I don’t want any of it coming loose while you ride.”

I reached back and patted the careful arrangement. “Thank you, Gerda. Now, you get dressed and we’ll go.”

“No!” She stomped a stubby foot. “Gideon was clear. He only wants you. You must go. Now.”

Another explosion rocked the floor, and Gerda stumbled against the wardrobe. She leaned on the heavy piece of furniture until she regained her footing. The house shook and groaned as something structural gave way. Yells and shouts carried up from the lower floors.

“Are you going to meet us?” I asked. My heart raced, dancing a flittering beat. “Do you know where we’re going?”

“I don’t, but Gideon will take good care of you.”

Tears welled in my eyes, but the steely look on her face kept them from falling. “What will you do?”

“I’m going to get dressed and gather up Stephen and our boys. We’ll be out the door a short bit after you.”

“Then why can’t you go with me?”

“Now’s not the time for whining, Evelyn. Be a good girl. Do as I say.” She used the same mother-hen tactics she had employed when I’d proved to be a tempestuous child. It set the proper tone to rouse me from my panic.

“Hug me,” I said. “I’ll miss you.”

She threw her thick arms round me and pressed me into her abundant bosom. “I’ll miss you too, my girl.”

I inhaled her scent—a mixture of all the herbs in her garden, and especially comfrey, her favorite cure-all.

She squeezed me again and broke away. “Gideon will keep you safe, if you’ll listen to him and not let your impetuousness get in his way.”

She gathered my raw silk cloak from its hook by the door and tossed it at me.

I snapped it from the air and swirled it over my shoulders. When the cloak caught a beam of sunlight streaming from the window, the fabric shimmered with rainbow swirls like a soap bubble.

“Go now. Hurry.” Gerda yelled her final command over the screaming of tortured metal, as if a giant-toothed creature had bitten into the soul of the house.

I hugged her again and dashed out the door.

In the hallway, several of the house’s other occupants hurried past me in various states of dress. Tolick, the all-purpose houseboy, ran toward the stairwell. He had managed to button on his trousers but had neglected to remove his nightcap.

On the bottom floor, I turned for the kitchen.

The cooks had abandoned their breakfast preparations. A large porridge pot bubbled over on the stove, and thick strips of bacon burned on a griddle. A babble of excited voices drifted in from distant corridors, but no one came my way as I scurried toward the rear door of the kitchen. Beyond the exit, my route led me through Gerda’s garden, a sanctuary of herbs and vegetables protected by a stone wall enclosure rising high overhead. Thick vines of ivy and budding wisteria climbed the tops of those barriers. She would need to prune them soon, but we were all running, fleeing these familiar walls.

Would we return before the ivy took over? Would the house survive long enough for it to matter?

I ran past the garden’s iron gates and my breath puffed in thin, vaporous spurts. Spring had arrived less than two weeks ago, and the mornings still lingered in the recent days of winter. I pulled up my hood and wrapped my cloak tighter around me as a shield against the cold.

At that moment, I could have turned around for an unobstructed view of my house, but that would have meant witnessing its destruction. The house cried to me, but what relief could I offer? A feeling of helplessness settled in my gut like curdled milk. Father would have known what to do, but I was merely his daughter, his masterwork left incomplete by an untimely death.

I hacked a derisive cough at that thought. As if death ever comes at an appropriate time.

Curiosity overrode my fear. I slowed, stopped, and turned on my heel. As I wheeled around and looked up, my heart plummeted to my feet.

The house stood ablaze, smoke billowing from several of the first floor windows. Its wooden floors and beamed ceilings would surely feed the flames and turn the billows into a monstrosity of acrid, black plumes. The exterior might survive the fire—an ancestor had constructed Fallstaff from large granite blocks that had withstood tide and time for hundreds of years—but it wouldn’t survive the volley of explosive fodder from the trebuchet now installed on the front lawn.

One of my father’s war manuals showed illustrations of that vicious machine, but I had never seen one in reality. Someone with a brain for engineering had rigged this one with a system of levers, pulleys, and gears. A steam engine automated its processes, and every few seconds a conveyer belt fed another iron missile into a waiting bucket attached to a long wooden arm. From this distance, the trebuchet looked like an assemblage of toothpicks and hungry metal teeth, yet its ammunition tore holes through Fallstaff’s stone and mortar like a moth devours a wool sweater.

A group of men stood around its base, guarding the machine with rifles and crossbows. No one tried to engage them or fight back, as all were too concerned with escape. From that distance, they appeared as little more than stick figures.

I stepped closer in hopes of recognizing their uniforms or gear.

“Evie, what are you doing?” Gideon’s unmistakable bellow interrupted my thoughts. My father’s young horse master waited at the gate of the small paddock beside the stables, clutching two reins in his fist. One leather line led to his giant black stallion, Gespenst—a Dreutchish name meaning specter, or ghost. The other tether led to my horse, Nonnie, a gray-coated mare with a dappled rump.

“Gideon, what’s happening?” I jogged toward him. Something exploded behind me, and the aftershock sent me stumbling, but Gideon’s free hand shot out and latched around my elbow. I locked eyes on his stoic face and refused to look back.

“This is no time for an explanation,” he said. “Mount up, we’re riding south.” He tossed my horse’s reins in my direction and slid onto Gespenst’s back with an ease that demonstrated his familiarity with the saddle.

Nonnie snorted and rolled her eyes, announcing her displeasure over the noise and brusque treatment she had inevitably received from Gideon as he’d arranged her tack.

Nonnie and I managed most of our adventures on nothing more than wild oats and a few apples lifted from the larder. This journey would undoubtedly last longer than any we had taken in all our years together, and she must have felt some of the same trepidation as I. She stomped an eager hoof as I mounted, and when I nudged her forward, she fell into a canter behind Gideon and his horse.

Gespenst bore saddlebags stuffed to the brim. The tip of Gideon’s compact repeating crossbow, Sephonie, poked from the edge of the flap.

I thought of my own crossbow, which I’d never felt a need to name, and wondered if it had made its way into Nonnie’s packs. Gideon could take a stag from horseback with one shot; I could shoot a slow moving rabbit… if I had time to focus and plenty of solid footing.

I had no idea where we’d go, but at least we wouldn’t starve on our way there.

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13801450Karissa lives in North Carolina with her kid, her husband, the occasional in-law, and a very hairy husky. Some of her favorite things are coffee, chocolate, and super heroes. She can quote Princess Bride verbatim. She loves to read and has a sweet tooth for fantasy, sci-fi, and anything in between. Sometimes her husband convinces her to put down the books and take the motorcycles out for a spin. When it snows, you’ll find her on the slopes

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The Corner Store Witch, H. D. Lynn – Book Review

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31550666The Chronicles of Narnia but with more swearing, more katanas, and less allegory. It’s nerdy, anime inspired fun for the whole family.

Leone owns Pulp Magic (Comics, Books, Games, & More). Angry customers are her biggest concern-until a man from another world literally drops into her shop. And oni have followed him. Leone defends herself with a magical staff, which marks her with powerful runes. Her supernatural tattoo sleeves make her desperately thirsty, yet practically allergic to water-and oh, they foretell the fate of the realms of demons, gods, and men.

With her four friends and inter-dimensional guide, Leone travels to the realm of the gods, searching for magical cosmetic surgery. She doesn’t want to carry the fate of the world literally on her arms. But the truth she finds-of a war raging between worlds-changes her, challenges her.

What’s a nerd to do with the fate of all worlds at stake? Ah yes, kick some demon ass.

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*Review copy provided via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. The views are entirely my own and in no way biased.*

The Corner Store Witch is a must read if you’re into fantasy. This book has a huge element of Dungeons & Dragons and cosplaying and nerdcons and the like, so you should also pick it up if you’re into that sort of thing.

I like that the book is so diverse. There are all these different kinds of characters. Black, disabled. They’re there. It’s something that I hugely appreciate. It’s not always we get to read about all these characters together in one novel. It’s a little different and that makes it so much better.

The story is fascinating and fast paced. It also pretty action packed. So, there’s twists and turns and anticipation of what is going to happen next throughout the entire story. There is no point in the story where you’ll get bored because the other shoe is always waiting to drop, so to say. Which is nice.

I don’t know if this is a good thing or bad thing, but the romance in this story is absolutely zero. Going into a book where the main characters are around 23 – 25 years of age, one would expect a romantic angle, even if it doesn’t form the main crux of the story. But, here, Leone and Abinar only shared an easy friendship and nothing more. Maybe that’ll change in the coming books, but it hasn’t happened yet, so I don’t know. I mean, I was definitely expecting some sort of romance, but was surprised that there wasn’t any. Still haven’t decided whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

The characters are great. Though, I think that there’s room for development because there’s glimpses of these characters which tells that they have so much more to say than what has been conveyed till now, but we have more books coming, so I’m not that worried about it. The wroldbuilding is also great!

So, all in all, this story is definitely worth your time. If you like fantasy with lots of plot and action, and little romance, please go read this!

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Incandescently, Slyvie Parizeau – Blog Tour

Incandescently
Sylvie Parizeau
Publication date: October 22nd 2016
Genres: New Adult, Romance

LIAM O’SHEA, bestseller author of the SciFi saga, Eiloe.

All I knew was pain – a childhood filled with cruelty and villains who used and abused.

Until Éolie.

I first heard her sweet, angelical voice in the dark of night, when I lay bathed in my own impending death. Seventeen years later, it’s not the nightmare she pulled me out of that haunts me, but the glimpse of Happily Ever After she revealed just before disappearing.

They said she was a figment of my boundless imagination. A wish. A dream. Until I had no choice but to believe them, cherishing my imaginary savior the only way I knew how – in fiction and lore.

But fantasy has a way of transforming reality. When I finally tire of being a citizen of the world, I take an impromptu sabbatical as a professor at a small college on the coast of Maine. And there I see her, the girl with the sea-green eyes and angelic voice.

My world turns upside down. Turns out my girl is for real, and the pull between us is anything but imaginary.

Happily Ever After has a story … and this one is mine.

 

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Incandescently is the story of finding a Happily Ever After. I love that. This just a journey of two people who’re in love and how they adjust to being together and starting a life together. And I think that that’s brilliant.

The story starts with Liam, the hero, a scifi writer taking on the position of a guest lecturer at a college. He starts having bad dreams about Eolie, a girl he’s talked to his mind in the past  when he was a child, a girl who his therapist has convinced him is just a figment of his imagination and nothing more. But, he’s having dreams about her and she’s in danger and he needs to find her. So, he gets his best friends on it and they’re all desperately searching for her and here, Eolie reaches the college, in search of Liam. They meet and they fall in love. And find their happily ever after. That is the story of Incandescently.

The story is beautifully written and I love it. I love the friendship Liam shares with the rest of his squad. All the boys ready to lay their lives down for each other. I love the instant connection between Liam and Eolie and how that develops through the story. I love the initial days when they’re getting to know each other, all the small moments they share that string along into such a big life. It’s beautiful.

Liam and Eolie are both such wonderful characters. They’re both so in love it makes my heart melt. Always hugging, kissing, cuddling. It’s really heartwarming. Gah! So adorable! Liam is extremely protective of Eolie and she’s just this burst of light that really brightens up everything around her.

What I don’t like is that the book doesn’t explain things. We don’t know how Eolie and Liam shared that connection, how they were able to talk to each other, how Eolie heals really quickly (and I mean in the blink of an eye quickly) and exactly what happened with Liam when he was a kid. We know the story superficially but not exactly. And there was so much potential to develop on with Eolie’s ability to reach out to Liam and with all the visions she had, but we don’t know how or why she had those. She just did. And that was the end of it. It was like a characteristic she had. Like brown eyes or blonde hair. She had visions. That is it. So, the book loses a lot of points for that.

But, I’m seriously in love with the whole dynamic of the book and how it’s based on the want of one person to find his ‘normal’, his version of ‘happily ever after’ and that’s what I absolutely adore about this. So, it gets some of those points back.

All in all, this a great read and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a light, feel good romance.

 

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Author Bio:

A paralegal by day and incurable romantic by night, Sylvie is a cross-genre, and she takes Happily Ever After very seriously. The End just isn’t in her vocabulary.

An incorrigible daydreamer, she now feeds her obsession with epilogues by concocting stories in which heroes deal with the happy from the get-go. Ready, or not. And she confesses under oath to loving every minute of it.

Sylvie lives her own Happily Ever After in the beautiful mountains of Les Laurentides in Northern Quebec, alongside her whole set of characters.

In between treks in their backyard wilderness, you can find them hanging out at http://www.sylvieparizeau.com

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