Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cast in Hellfire by SM Reine

Book 2, The Mage Craft Series

If you've been wondering about Seth, you get your answers ... But it's not what you think.

This book picks up exactly where book 1 left off. Marion is supposed to be dealing with the Winter Court. She's the Steward and supposed to be getting it back to normal function, along with figuring out just how to deal with the angels. Meanwhile, Seth gets a lead on Marion's memories that they track all the way to hell. Hell is basically sucking the life out of Marion, Arawn (THE MAN in hell) is proving to be formidable and has taken a liking to Charity. Meanwhile, Seth finally gets some information about himself. Let's be for real ... More than half the shit in this book that happens, you don't see it coming. *fist pump* And by the end of it, you're going to want ErlKonig dead as much as I do.

What did I like? What was there NOT to like? The entirety of SM's books have an incredible world that has been built. It carries over from book to book so you never feel lost. Sure, there are many other series' but they're interconnected. I like Marion a lot more in this book than I did in book 1. I'm enjoying the puzzle pieces ... ESPECIALLY the bomb dropped by Elise on the last page. IT WAS HUGE! I MEAN HUGE! Anyway ... This book is full of puzzle pieces being put together ... So many questions are sort-of answered, with more asked. I enjoyed walking through Hell, actually. I enjoyed the being that Seth spoke with while he was down there. I REALLY loved the detail put into The Hounds. I thought they were phenomenal.

What did I not like? I hate ErlKonig but ... I also ... Like his character. He's an a-hole, we know that, but he's SO convincing that I just have to roll with him.

I'm excited to find out how this works out in book 3. If the cover is any indication, I may end up crying, lol. Outside of that, I loved it!

By the way, I enjoy Marion having brown hair. It's the little things that make me happy. YAS!

5 Stars
Seth (Black) Arawn (Black)


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Saltlands by Elizabeth Stephens

Population, Book 2

Saltlands picks up exactly where Population left off. Kane has been captured by the Notare Elise. Abel and Mikey (Mikael - Kane's younger brother) have escaped her clutches only to try and figure out how to get Kane from her. Now we have an asshole of a brother, Mikey, treking across country to get Kane back using only the blood bond he shares with Abel. During their travel, Abel is ... Brutally beaten ... I mean ... BRUTALLY. Man ... Abel goes through so much shit in this book that I'm just tired! Anyway ... She ends up being brutally beaten after having to save Mikey's ass, who abandons her. He comes to his senses and goes to get her before going into the Saltlands (Seattle) to save Kane from Notare Elise and whatever she's doing to him.

I'm tired.

What did I like? Every f*cking thing imaginable. I can't even. Like. I liked Population but I LOVE Saltlands. I'm just. Yall. I can't. Being out in Population is as close to being in hell as you can get. I don't know of many authors who can accurately convey anxiety like Elizabeth Stephens can. You are CONSTANTLY anxious when out in Population because the sh*t is so real that you can't predict just how bad things will go. The interaction between Mikey and Abel was incredibly well written as well as Mikey's character development. From the very start of the book and up to the end, you can see every bit of change in him that he makes. Abel's 'fight' is still unmatched. I know of probably only 2 other fictional characters who could go through that amount of stuff and still keep ticking and holding on to their true selves in the process. Abel is one of the best written female protags out there. She's still very connected to her emotions but she just doesn't make those emotionally rash/charged decisions. The girls head is on straight even if she's half dead. The world building is impeccable, all the characters are written well. I really enjoyed the detail put into fleeting characters that reminded Abel of someone. It makes me think that we may be seeing them again in the next story. Now, although this ends Abel's story ... It's just the beginning of someone elses that will start in book 3. And I can honestly say that I am down for whoever the author pics to focus her next phase of this series on.

What did I not like about this? Absolutely nothing. *kanye shrug* It was on point. If I had to gripe on anything, I would have liked to see the Lavhe (sp?) in action more. I got the implication of how badass he was but I didn't get to see it.

Overall I'm still wanting to find out more about Abel being a human with her new 'specialty.' I would also like some kind of update about Abel's name. I really just want more. I feel like whining. I loved this so much. THanks so much to Elizabeth Stephens for sending it over. I'm just ... Mikey is a new favorite of mine.

Seriously ... I have 3 top favorite women in books. Jane Yellowrock, Kate Daniels, and Mercy Thompson (yes, I talk shit about Mercy but I still love her). I'm not yet about to add Abel to my list but I have a feeling I will be down the line.

5 Stars
IR: Abel (b/w) Kane (other)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

War of the Alphas (Books 3 & 4) by SM Reine


Alpha: War of the Alphas, Book 3
Pas: War of the Alphas, Book 4

I decided to review both of these books since I read them back to back. I'm going to keep this brief, though since details from each book are mumbled due to reading them so close behind each other ...

Anyway ... Book 3 picks up after Deirdre was brought back to life. Books 3 and 4 are a little bit of the darker side than books 1 and 2. These two are really ... Tiring.

Details are short right now, I just need to say a few things about each.

The tone, in my opinion, changes from book 2 to 3. Then 3 and 4 get darker and darker. Deirdre is being teased by an animal who is a lot like her, having fire, but it's more like ... He's dangling this complicated life in front of her and she decides not to pursue this option, which I think was smart. The most incredible thing about the last 2 books is seeing Deirdre basically turn into Everton Stark. When you start the series, you kind of get the sense that she's seeing things his way, but there comes a time when she's fully understanding why he is the way he is and it's a little scary. However ... She maintains a bit of her true self underneath ... At least enough to see how wrong things have gone and will do what needs to be done to fix it. By book 4, I think I spent the second half of that book almost in tears. But I thought it was great because Deirdre finally got the chance to stop, think, breathe, and cry. She needed it SO much.

The ending, in regards to the main outcome of the election, is predictable. And I only say that because I've read SM Reine's work before. I started out with a couple of a books (that I didn't review) that focused on Rylie Gresham ... Going to camp ... Getting bitten ... All of that. I remember decided not to continue the series simply because I don't like Rylie. And even now, even though this series takes place a long time after Rylie being a teen ... I still don't like her. But it's not all the time. My problem is, I'm such a big fan of Deirdre that I don't want any opposition and I don't want her caving to Rylie Gresham ... Which happens ... BUT ... By that time, it's okay.

The best thing about this series is you get mind fucked. You go in na├»ve and basically blind. Deirdre is surviving on fear and confusion. Then she's intrigued because maybe there's a way she'll find that she's not an Omega. Later, you're sucked into having to deal with being Alpha, dealing in politics, being disappointed, falling in confused lust ... Then going to save the Alpha, and the election in the process. And she has to do this while un-mindfucking herself. IT'S A LOT! This series was really well written from top to bottom. It pulled at my heart immensely and I was mostly happy with the ending. I especially love when Stark basically goes of the deep end when dealing with his family.

However ... SM left us a breadcrumb. Deirdre leaves Stark a little gift at the end so I'm more than anxious to find out what kind of series or mention spins from this in the future.

Reminder: Deirdre is black. She's described as having cocoa colored skin, a small gap between her teeth and hair a little past her shoulders. Below are the covers for 2 of the German versions of the series. They feature a black model. The covers are beautiful, right?


Also ... Abel (Rylie's mate) is black. Queen Ofelia is as well but you only get her briefly in book 3.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Beta by SM Reine

War of the Alphas, Book 2

Just want to start off by reminding everyone that the protag, Dierdre, is actually black ... Regardless of the cover.

Like an idiot, I'd forgotten the fact that I'd purchased this entire series and finally got into reading Beta. Beta is the continuation of Dierdre Tombs, a shapeshifter who can't shift and no one has any idea what the hell she is. In this book, Dierdre is serving as Everton Stark's beta and not enjoying it. Not only is Stark batshit crazy, still, but Dierdre's mind is becoming more and more twisted to match Stark's. If you remember from book 1 (or hadn't read it, which you should), she is undercover for the Alpha of all shifters, Rylie Gresham. Dierdre is supposed to be learning all the information she can and providing that intel to Rylie. However, now that Dierdre is starting see things from Stark's point of view, it causes an internal glitch and now she has to decide if this really is the life she wants to live. Aside from all of her internal struggles, there's a war going on between the Winter Court and the Summer Court. These guys are kind of like fairies. Super strong fairies. A set of them visit Stark and want him to get a weapon. They give him coordinates for it and as they go on their mission, it ends up being a trap and Dierdre gets arrested by OPA. As to not give anything away, Dierdre gets out, there's a big brawl at the end and we FINALLY get to see what Dierdre actually is and I'm so pleased because it isn't covered very much. I've only read one other book that has a character that is the same as Dierdre. Outside of that, we learn exactly what Everton Stark is too ... And then what he isn't that he thought he was. Now ... As far as book 3 goes, I'm starting that tomorrow.

What did I love? I love Dierdre. She's a great protagonist. I love Everton Stark because he's kind of like the protagonist AND the antagonist. I say that because outside of him doing horrible things to Dee and his people because he can, he's getting her hooked on Lethe, which is a drug. I came to the same conclusion as Dierdre, that he's doing it to control her. My heart kind of broke every time he supplied her with more. Anyway, Stark starts to sort of have a crisis of conscience in reference to Dee. You kind of feel it all through the book but it isn't as obvious so when it manifests, you're like ... okay yea, that makes sense. Back to Dee. She's not completely kick-ass but she's still pretty high in the ranks. I love reading any parts dealing with how her mind is changing in regards to the struggle of Stark over Rylie. And honestly, I think Rylie sealed the deal with her actions in this book BUT since I've read a book in another series that came after this, I have an idea of how this will play out. Anyway ... I really did enjoy Niamh, but I'm soooooooooooo gonna enjoy her more when Dierdre gets her hands on her. I think book 3 is going to be a clusterfuck of amazing vengeance and I am here for all that mess! Okay okay okay ... I really do like all the characters, I love the underground setting and the perpetual tension when Stark is in the room. You honestly never know if you're gonna get smacked for even breathing wrong.

What I didn't like? I can't think of one thing I didn't like. Thanks SM Reine. You got me hooked again, girl.

5 Stars

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

The Kingmaker Chronicles, Book 1

Cat has been living her past 8 years as a Soothsayer at a traveling circus. One day, a group of men come out to test out her talents so their leader, Beta Sinta (real name Griffin), can get proof that one among them is a traitor. Not only does Cat prove that he is, indeed, the traitor, the group grabs Cat and runs. Despite Cat having incredible powers, a non magical man has captured her with something as simple as an enchanted rope. Now she's bound to this man and his team as they travel back to the castle where Beta Sinta can hand cat over to Alpha Sinta (the queen Egeria) or ... Something else ... Before they can even get to the castle, they get in a hell of a fight with a giant and a she-dragon. Hold onto your hats cause this book is about to get jumpin. Also, there is a huge amount of Greek Mythology at play here and we know that Zeus has a link to someone as well as Poseidon.

What did I love? ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING!! This is a fantasy story that has all the elements that I love that I can't even name. Character development was on point. It was obvious from the very beginning that the team that nabbed Cat would end up being brother figures to her. They all had a really easy going personality that wasn't over the top. They were genuinely happy to be a part of Beta Sinta's team. When Cat is being dragged around with them, they treat her like the little sister they've been wanting. It's incredible how quickly the adapt to add this new person to the team, who is a captive, and trying to figure out how to get away.

As far as kick ass women go ... Cat is at the top of the list. She can fight and breathe fire. Honey. Yes. It seems like her powers are limitless. So many heroines go through the near-death experience several times but only a few can go through it more than once in the same book. And this heffa just keeps on ticking. I am SO in love with Cat. She's just freaking perfect.

This review is sucking. I'm so excited about this series that I can't help it.

So who was Cat hiding from? Another Alpha. How did Beta Sinta find her? Apparently in a dream. Does Cat warm up to him? Oh hell yes and it culminates into really well done sex scenes towards the end of the book. So for next book I'm looking forward to finding out about this prophesy that Cat keeps talking about. I would love for her to answer Griffin's questions about who she really is because despite her living in the castle with his family loving her, they don't know jack about her and she is really growing to love these people. I want to see more of melting bodies and weird mythological creatures. I like that we didn't get to see Andromeda (our villain) but know we will deal with her later, and I enjoy being in Cat's head when she's listening to people talking and deciphering the truth from their lies. Such a page turner and glad I was granted this book from Netgalley.

What did I dislike? No diversity. I chose this book based on the cover alone and it looked, to me, like it could be brimming with diversity. The cover reminds me of the Kate Daniels series so I was going on that vibe. Dark hair, olive skin, green eyes ... That's about as diverse as you're gonna get with this one. It's so disappointing because I'm ready to ride for this book but ... *shrugs* What can you do? It's still good though and I'll stay with it. I'm interested in Cat the Kingmaker and how she will make Griffin into one.

5 Stars

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Cast in Angelfire by SM Reine

The Mage Craft Series, Book 1

A young woman, Marion, wakes up in a hospital without a stick of memory. The only thing she knows is her name is Marion. There really isn't much more info I need to give you because everything centers around the fact that this really important person has no idea who she is. But back up a bit. Before that, we get a glimpse of Marion going crazy psycho on a shifter wolf who tried to kill her to collect a bounty. Who wants her dead? Why? How did she lose her memory? Marion insists that the only way to restore her memory is to find a man named Seth Wilder. But first, she meets Dr. Lucas Flynn who treats preternaturals at his hospital. Being more than what he seems, he takes it upon himself to escort Marion home, or wherever she thinks home is. Unfortunately, they run into some trouble as assassins are trying to kill her before she is set to give a speech at a big summit. So obviously Marion is someone way more important than we realize.

It's important that I start this review by telling you that this world exists in a larger world that SM Reine has crafted. She has quite a lot of books in the same world so you'll be familiar with a couple of the names you run by during the storytelling. I was introduced to the author because I'd read Omega which is the story of Dierdre Tombs (I have a review on my blog). Unfortunately, like an idiot, I never did get around to reading any more of SM Reine's work. Why? I'm stupid. I even purchased 2 more books in the Dierdre series but hadn't yet gotten around to reading them. Why? I'm stupid. Why am I stupid? Because I'd forgotten how much I love Reine's work. Anyway ... Having read some of her work before starting this is not a requirement but is kinda fun if you can say to yourself  'OH YEA I KNOW HER!'

I don't even know how to start with what I loved because there was just so much. The world building is great, the character development is wonderful. Even if someone was being mysterious (Dr. Flynn), I was still all-in with this character when I wanted to kick Marion to the curb. I really enjoyed Dr. Flynn. He was a man about morals, not talking too much, and trying to get things done in a speedy fashion. He is by far my favorite character, next to the nurse, Charity Ballard, who is a very interesting version of herself. I really just enjoyed all the characters. I don't really say that because there will always be supporting characters that I hate, but there was not a single character I disliked. Now ... The story was done right. I think you get a feel of who Seth is from the beginning, but trying to figure out what's up with Dr. Flynn outweighs it. So for me, the characters and story are a great selling point alone.

What did I dislike? If I had to dislike anything, it was probably Marion. I didn't dislike her a lot but I just hate that damsel in distress. But since this is just book 1 and her memory has been restored, book 2 is gonna be wild!

I have nothing else to say about Cast in Angelfire. I loved it. I really want to go back and try to go through all of SM Reine's work. It's time for me to bug my library to get everything that they can in audio form. I wonder if her stuff is in audio form. I need to find out. LOVE ITTTTTTT!!!

4 1/2 Stars
IR: Dr Flynn (black)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Fourth World by Lyssa Chiavari

The Iamos Trilogy, Book 1

A young man, Isaak, finds himself transported into unfamiliar territory and is rescued by Nadine, a young woman with a lot of responsibility in front of her. However, her plans for herself are derailed when she meets Isaak and finds out he may have some answers to how to save her people from dying.

Isaak, Henry, and Tamara are on a field trip, checking out a dig site that the GSAF (basically what NASA and some other Feds evolved into) want plundered. While on the field trip, Isaak sees a rock structure that looks an awful like something he's seen at home. He and his friends get into trouble for going too close and are sentenced to do 6 weeks of digging at an excavation site. Everything seems to be going just fine when they find something else at the dig site, but take it and find that the coin Isaak found fits perfectly into the 'key.' Now Emil, who has a surprising identity, is after the coin and the key while Isaak has to run from the feds. His running leads to his transportation to the Fourth World, Mars,  which he already lives on, however ... He went to Mars in a different time. Nadine is next in line to be one of the few privileged who will basically run Mars, but she has to past a test. Unfortunately she fails at the right time. She meets Isaak, gets nosey and then they find themselves at the mercy of a group of people seeking to liberate Mars' people from the strict rules set upon them. Meanwhile, between the two of them, Nadine sees Isaak as a way to help her save her Mars, and Isaak sees Nadine as a way to help his Mars be better.

The world building in this story is unparalelled. I mean ... I've said recently that their stories had great world building but this one REALLY takes the cake. This book is dystopian/scifi so you have to be detailed but I was just there. The author is a whiz at this. Although I'm not a fan of YA, this book seemed more like a coming of age story in truth. They're in their late teens so while Isaak is just wanting some questions answered, Nadine is about to take on Mars. Plus, their are other amazing things like each citidome's people has a set of traits that were picked by their leaders to represent where they're from. Nadine's people have dark brown skin and white/clear hair, others domes traits may be brown skin and reddish/brown hair. It's interesting to note the level of detail based on the characteristics given. With that said, I wasn't thrilled about the characters physical descriptions. I really felt that was lacking. I think we got enough to form a picture in our heads but I felt like the book cover was so spot on that I pictured those two in my head. The book is very well written, we even get a dictionary because their are so many words that are foreign to us. I enjoyed seeing the odd animals, Isaak's shock at some things and even how Nadine kind of erects this figurative steel wall to protect herself from everyone. And by the time I got to the end, when we see Henry again ... I was ready to scream.

If you want to really get lost in a book, this is the one to do it in. Never mind that it's a YA. I'm so waiting on the next one. It was a bit slow in the beginning for me and I was kind of skimming through. But once I got past part 1, it was uphill from there. I love it and can't wait for book 2!!!

4 1/2 Stars
IR Everywhere

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Backup by Erica Kudisch

So ...

The Greek god Dionysus is living as the rock star Nik. He's an elusive petty ignorant a-hole who is seemingly untouchable. Anthony is a recent college graduate with a PhD in Musicology. Now Anthony is Nik's manager and hating everything every step of the way. Anthony's uncle Paul tells him that since he hasn't yet gotten a job in his field, he has this job for him. Anthony takes the job because he needs the money and becomes the most complaining ungrateful little shit you've ever witnessed. Anthony has to stop fights, get into fights, and try to stop people from killing themselves all while Nik is on stage so that the show can continue no matter what. In an age of cell phone video and youtube, Anthony gets a little famous and his blog (which you get to read) blows up as a result. Needless to say, Anthony starts sleeping with Nik and then begins to believe in him, but somehow keeps Nik from fully getting to him. Nik literally drives people crazy with his music, or drives them to their death.

What I liked:
Oh! Okay. It was decently written. A book like this doesn't need to have tons of details but for what it was, it was done well. The author clearly loves classical music, and maybe some semblance of rock music. I enjoyed any scene that Anthony's uncle Paul was apart of. Paul was the only character outside of Anthony that I understood. I loved the progression of Anthony's belief in Nik as a god. It went from 'you're crazy' to 'am I crazy?' to 'shit ... he really is a god, I gotta get out of here.'
When I requested this book from Netgalley, it was in the Sci Fi & Fantasy category which is mostly what I read. Then I find that it's LGBTQIA as well and nearly jumped for joy. Add all that to the IR book cover and I was SOLD. The Character development was actually good among the main characters Anthony, Nik and Paul ... and to a lesser extent, Ida. The rest? I can't say.

What I disliked:
- Character description was seriously lacking. I knew that Anthony was a runner, of black/white mixed race heritage. I also knew that he has curly hair when it's grown out but he kept himself bald. I knew that Nik has weird red/gold hair. I know that Paul is not mixed because it was said in the book, and also is a darker skin color than Anthony and even darker than Nik. That's all I knew. I think maybe hair colors for other people were mentioned, clothes they wore, and accents, and heights ...
- Although the cover features Anthony and Nik ... It screams ROMANCE ... Not SciFi/Fantasy. I get that their is a tiny paranormal element to it but it wasn't enough. It should have been put in the romance category. The scifi element was minute and speculative. Not only is the cover misleading in that way, it also implies that this is a consensual relationship. It's not! Nik basically f*cks with Anthony's head to get him to sleep with him.
- Honestly Anthony and Nik were two peas in a pod. Anthony had his head so far up his ass about his degree and what he was SUPPOSED to be doing that he probably couldn't even breathe. He was so self-loathing and angry that it wafted off of him to everyone around him. What Anthony knows about music is word ... What anyone else knows about music is shit. Nik was no better because he absolutely cared about nothing. Everything was a game to him except for when one of his believers was taken from him.
- Details were very vague. Outside of physical details, there were big things mentioned that I didn't even realize were big things. Case in point: Anthony's mother. There's some epiphany close to the end about Paul not being able to have kids, and Nik knowing Anthony's mothers name. But we're never exactly told what the big deal is. This isn't the only instance, there are plenty of other things mentioned but no details given. It was quite frustrating thinking that you have to go backwards to find whatever this was referenced to but when you don't like what you're reading, you just keep trudging along and let it go.
- The musical references were too much! I'm not a classical music fan or a rock music fan so the vast majority of the musical references flew right over my head to the point that I was skipping pages because I kept seeing names of Classical musicians and then conversations following about that musician. I would never, in a million years, listen to the garbage that Nik was calling his music. It was utter garbage ... I actually paid attention to some of the things Anthony was saying about it. So I was completely down for Anthony hating his music. On the flip side, I was down for Nik telling Anthony not to play his 'math' (Bach) on his instruments.
- The ending was not satisfying in the least. After that last bad gig that Anthony played that landed him in the hospital, and then the FBI visit, and the witness protection ... All you're allowed to see is Anthony settling into his new life and meeting up with Ida (a pianist who left Nik's crew like a boss) who kept his cover as this new person. It's implied that nothing will happen to Nik despite Anthony cooperating with the cops but still ... Give me something. I was given nothing.

I won't say the book was bad but there were sooooooooooooooooo many things I disliked about it. I looked it up online and saw a couple of really good reviews. I'm glad someone really enjoyed it. It was just way too stuck-up for me. When Anthony hit the scene and stuck his nose up in the air about why what he thinks is better is true, it set the whole tone for me and there was no way I could bring myself to like him, not even in the end. I was at a point where I was hoping Nik would completely tear him down cause I disliked him so much. Anyway ... I can't even say it's okay. It isn't a recommendation I would give out unless someone specifically asked me for a book with a gay couple with only a tiny bit of a paranormal element and really annoying main characters.

1 Star
IR: Anthony (Bl/Wh) Nik (Greek)