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Monday, December 31, 2012

[Review] His Black Wings by Astrid Yrigollen

Title: His Black Wings
Author: Astrid Yrigollen
Pages: 364 (eBook)
Release Date: November 7, 2012

Claren Maidstone has been forced to flee her childhood home after the death of her parents and a vicious assault from a sadistic young man who intends to marry her. Claren changes her identity and finds employment as an assistant to the handsome Fredrick Lowood, a generous yet mysterious benefactor. However, she soon finds out his generosity comes at a price. Fredrick wishes for Claren to befriend his disfigured son who resides in seclusion at their estate, Westwind.

Fredrick Lowood knows what the history books do not teach, that the Grand Council built this new world of peace and beauty on hidden blood and greed. He has plotted for years to bring down the family that enslaved his own people. Suddenly, he has the last living heir in his grasp.

Etrigan Lowood rejects the world that forces him to hide. He is powerful, plagued with a terrible dark beauty: WINGS. It is these wings that carry him out only at night to watch the unwanted intruder in his home. A creature of refined instinct yet little social grace, he is strangely captivated by Claren but knows nothing of how her family’s dark past is intertwined with his own . Through their blossoming friendship, Etrigan realizes he still retains his human heart and yearns for Claren’s love.

Kurten Wandsworth is the only son of the Mayor of St.Marhen. Kurten lives his life fueled by cruelty and lust. Whatever he wants he takes and he wants Claren to be his wife even it if kills her. Scarred by Claren he hunts her down mercilessly until he can set a trap which she will never be able to escape from.

His Black Wings is another Steampunk retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and I really enjoyed it at the beginning. The set up was definitely different with Claren being attacked by a delusional suitor and being taken in by Frederick Lowood who wants a companion for his "deformed" son, Etrigan. However, once Etrigan appears, things started to fall apart for me. I didn't like him at all, or his "you belong to me" attitude toward Claren.

I really liked the setting. It's a Steampunk, futuristic type setting with some fun retro elements (like TV trays!). The world has reverted to a simpler time, where natural remedies take the place of toxic chemicals, and the skies are free from pollution. Horses seem to be the main form of local transportation, both real ones and steam powered metal horses. It's definitely one of the better Steampunk setups that I've read.

This book is another case of switching between first and third person narratives. At first I was relieved that Etrigan's parts were short and far between, since those are the ones that are in third person. Then at some point the entire rest of the book became third person, even when it was clearly back to Claren's POV. There are also a few instances where Claren's chapters will start out in third person and randomly switch back to first, then back to third again. Although I'd say the last third of the book is in third person, the very last paragraph is in first. It's just very poor editing and definitely hurt my enjoyment of a promising story.

I really wanted to love this one, and it started out good, but then the story started dragging and the narrative got confusing. There was no tension and the big climax appeared as an info-dump. Aside from the amazing setting, I also enjoyed the banter between Horace and Bekker. Unfortunately, as a whole this one just did not work for me.

Favorite Quotes

It got to the point where I considered making up absurd things about my Grandfather, like he wore pink nightgowns and hair rollers to bed. But I didn't, because that would not be proper. (pg 14)

Now we are taught that each person is beautiful and unique. Generally, people are now happy with their appearance. (pg 80)

What was love exactly? How was it suppose to feel? (pg 224)

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Showcase Sunday [58]

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits, and Tea to show off our newest books and book related goods!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

[18+ Review] Savagery by Emma MacKenzie

Title: Savagery
Author: Emma MacKenzie
Release Date: December 15, 2012
Purchase: Amazon

In 10th century France, 18-year old Cherine Cadet only knows one thing: that the life of a peasant isn't a life at all. Tired of working in utter poverty for an unfeeling Lord, with only her indifferent family and love-struck best friend as company, Cherine dreams of the day she can run away from the future set-up for her, even if she knows there's no real escape from her destiny.

Then, in one brutal instance, everything changes. A Viking fleet led by the powerful nobleman and warrior, Rolf the Walker and his right-hand man, Erik the Axe, arrive on the shores of the Lord's estate. In minutes, the entire land is up in flames, Cherine's family and fellow serfs are killed, and Cherine comes dangerously close to death herself. She is saved only by the fierce Erik - but a new lease on life comes with a cost.

Cherine becomes a slave to the Vikings, a fate she thinks is no better than the one she had before. But as she finds herself being shared between the two men, the savage and darkly handsome Rolf and the mysterious and sensual Erik, Cherine discovers that she too has a fiery warrior heart and that the flames that consumed her old life might burn them all to the ground.

***Rated 18+ for graphic sexual content (including dubious consent, bondage and M/M/F menage scenes) and violence***

Savagery is one of those books where the combination of the setting and the genre immediately sold me. It's an erotic romance set in 909 France, which is not something I've read before. Vikings! Cherine is kidnapped by vikings after they raid her village. Of course, at first she's scared, but then she realizes that Erik is not the violent barbarian she assumes he is. And she soon finds that she wants him.

Even though this is an erotic romance, there's actually a story here, and it's a really good one. Erik has awakened something in Cherine, and freed her from an arranged marriage back home, only to have her enter another one with the viking leader, Rolf. Rolf wants to take a French bride as a warning to the people in the towns he conquers and he'd like her to be skilled in the bedroom, so he's tasked Erik with "training" her. While Cherine may have strong feelings towards Erik, perhaps there's room in her heart (or at least her bed) for Rolf, too?

Then there's Cherine's conflicting emotions are her new life. On one hand, she's happy because her life with the vikings is better than her's had been up to her kidnapping. She's well-fed, has nice clothes, and a comfortable shelter. But she's also a captive, forced to be with a man she does not love (although the sex is good, and keeps her alive). She's also conflicted about Erik. She believes she has feelings for him, but knows she shouldn't. She's afraid of Rolf, but wants to please him to keep her new lifestyle. The only think she has to herself is her body, and she's putting it to good use. She's just trying to make the best of her situation, and getting some pleasure of her own isn't so bad, right?

Savagery definitely lives up to its name in some places. There's brutal and gory fight scenes, right along with the sex and romance, which also aren't easy. If you're looking for a happily ever after, this will not be it. The ending is quite bittersweet that I definitely think it suits Cherine and Erik's story.

Favorite Quotes

"Sex is not love," she said and was surprised at how emotionless her tone was. (2%)

"Anything without love just rots." (81%)

He whispered, "I can't offer you a ring that's worthy of your beauty, and I can't give you a wedding that's worthy of your soul, but I can ask you to spend the rest of your life with me and hope that's enough to be worthy of your love." (93%)

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2013 Sequel Reading Challenge

Yep, another challenge! I already planned on getting caught up in some of the series I've started, so this is just extra motivation! We get to set our own goal for this one, so I'm going to try for 30 books! I'm sure I'll read more than that, but I don't review everything so my goal is lower. Below you'll find some of the sequels I plan to read and review, but this will most likely change as I go along.

★★★☆☆ / Review | | ★★★★☆ / Review | | ★★★★☆ / Review

★★★★☆ / Review | | ★★★★☆ / Review | | ★★★☆☆ / Review

★★★★☆ / Review | | ★★★★★ / Review | | ★★★☆☆ / Review

★★★☆☆ / Review | | ★★★★☆ / Review | | ☆☆☆☆☆ / Review

☆☆☆☆☆ / Review | | ☆☆☆☆☆ / Review | | ☆☆☆☆☆ / Review

☆☆☆☆☆ / Review | | ☆☆☆☆☆ / Review | | ☆☆☆☆☆ / Review

☆☆☆☆☆ / Review | | ☆☆☆☆☆ / Review | | ☆☆☆☆☆ / Review

☆☆☆☆☆ / Review | | ☆☆☆☆☆ / Review | | ☆☆☆☆☆ / Review

☆☆☆☆☆ / Review | | ☆☆☆☆☆ / Review | | ☆☆☆☆☆ / Review

☆☆☆☆☆ / Review | | ☆☆☆☆☆ / Review | | ☆☆☆☆☆ / Review

☆☆☆☆☆ / Review | | ☆☆☆☆☆ / Review | | ☆☆☆☆☆ / Review

☆☆☆☆☆ / Review | | ☆☆☆☆☆ / Review | | ☆☆☆☆☆ / Review

Friday, December 28, 2012

Wanted: Guest Posts for Upcoming Unnamed "Twilight" Event!

Before you Twilight haters run screaming for the hills, I want you to guest post, too! This is not an "OMG I love Twilight! It's the best series ever!" event. It's just a general, let's discuss Twilight event. In fact, it's not really an event until I get some helpers. I just plan on re-reading all 4 books and posting reviews, along with watching and reviewing all 5 movies. But I also want some outside opinions, whether you loved, hated, or are indifferent to this series. I'd love to have a mix of opinions as well as an array of post types. I plan on posting this "event" around the release of the "Breaking Dawn Pt. 2" DVD, which is scheduled for February 16th. Guest bloggers have the freedom to write anything that they wish as long as it's about the series, either books or movies.

Post Ideas (if you're interested but stuck, and things I'd like to see):

+ Review of any/all of the books and/or movies (positive or negative!)
+ Recommendations: If you liked Twilight, you'll also like...
+ Recommendations: YA Paranormal series that are better than Twilight...
+ Why you love/hate/can't be bothered with Twilight (yes, even if you haven't read/watched!)
+ Discussions on characters or themes
+ If [Twilight character] was in [book/series] instead...
+ If [other book/series character] was in Twilight...
+ Giveaway! Everyone loves a giveaway!

As you can see, there's a lot of things you can talk about! Be serious or humorous! If you are not a Twilight fan, but would still like to post something, I just ask that you're respectful. No crude remarks or bashing the author or fans.

If you're interested, you can sign-up by filling out the following form. Depending on how many responses I get, this will be a "first come, first served" acceptance, unless of course you come up with an amazing post idea!

Thanks, everyone!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

[Review] Luminosity (The Raven Chronicles, #1) by Stephanie Thomas

Title: Luminosity
Series: The Raven Chronicles, #1
Author: Stephanie Thomas
Pages: 296 (Paperback)
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: November 13, 2012
I received an ARC through NetGalley.

My name is Beatrice. When I was born, I was blessed with the Sight. I was immediately removed from my parents and enrolled in the Institution. At the age of twelve, I had my first true vision, earning my raven’s wings. And when I turned seventeen, one of my visions came true. Things haven’t been the same since.

The Institution depends on me to keep the City safe from our enemy, the Dreamcatchers, but I’m finding it harder to do while keeping a secret from everyone, including my best friend Gabe. It is a secret that could put us all in danger. A secret that could kill me and everyone close to me.

But the enemy has been coming to me in my dreams, and I think I’m falling in love with him. He says they’re coming. He says they’re angry. And I think I’ve already helped them win.

Luminosity is another one of these awesome mash-ups of Dystopia and Paranormal. Instead of having vampires or shifters or some other typical creature, we've got Seers and Dreamcatchers. Seers, as they name implies, can see the future. Our narrator, Beatrice, is one of the best. The Dreamcatchers are the enemy, who can break a person's mind with a single touch.

The history of Seers and Dreamcatchers is actually pretty well explained, even if it does come in info-dump form disguised as a class lessons. However, the reason for the heavily guarded City isn't as well explained or why the Seers are meant to protect the Citizens in the first place. I had a lot of "why" and "how come" questions, but thankfully most of them get answered as the story moves forward. I still have some questions, but the ending suggests that those answers are coming.

I'm conflicted on my feelings about Luminosity. On one hand, I think it's really unique and I breezed through it. But I also found it really slow until the very end. The action is crammed into very few chapters at the end, but the build up was tense and suspenseful, since we kind of know what's coming, but not when exactly. I did really enjoy the romance aspect in this one. They're friends first and then it develops into more. It's very sweet and no claims of undying love. I must warn you that there is some kind of love triangle, or at least a hint at one. I'm not really sure where that's going to go though.

Overall, I did enjoy this book a lot, so let's say my rating is 3.5 stars. It was just missing a little extra something that would have made it a solid 4. I'll most definitely be continuing the series though, since the ending leaves room for much more to occur, and I'd like to learn more about this world, since Beatrice is finally entering it.

Favorite Quotes

"Don't be sorry, but be smart." (14% eARC)

To take part in this stupid game that is suppose to prepare us for a fight against a people who somehow pop into our dreams without warning? How is a gun suppose to stop them anyway? (31% eARC)

"How many times do we have to figure out who we are anyway?" (42% eARC)

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[Cover Reveal] The Camp by Karice Bolton

Title: The Camp
Author: Karice Bolton
Cover Design: PhatPuppy Art
Release Date: TBD, 2013

Emma has always strove for perfection in her almost eighteen years of existence, but it has never been good enough. As she finds herself counting the days until she’s officially free from her parents’ reins, her stepfather hands her a plane ticket explaining that she must attend the Re-Boot Camp in the wilds of Alaska.

Once she lands in the middle of nowhere, she realizes the camp is nothing like she imagined, and she wants out immediately. That is until she meets Liam. The camp is full of teens with dark pasts, but she finds herself drawn to Liam’s ability to see who she really is and who she wants to become. While Emma and Liam begin adjusting to a place neither want to be, frightening events begin to unfold. When people begin disappearing, it becomes apparent they can only trust one another as they fight for survival.

About the Author:

Karice Bolton is a paranormal romance/urban fantasy author living in the Pacific Northwest. All three books in The Watchers Trilogy are available now, Awakening, Legions, and Cataclysm. Lonely Souls, which is the first book in her new series Witch Avenue, was released in June 2012!

Karice married the love of her life who she met in high school, and she still can't get over how cute and funny he is. They have two English Bulldogs that are the cutest bullies in the world, and they use their cuteness to get what they want. Karice loves the snow and gravitates towards the stuff as often as possible! She enjoys skiing and tries really hard to snowboard, but often makes a nice little area to sit while everyone zips by on their board. She enjoys writing, and she also loves to read just about anything with print.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

[Review] Greta and the Goblin King (Mylena Chronicles, #1) by Chloe Jacobs

Title: Greta and the Goblin King
Series: Mylena Chronicles, #1
Author: Chloe Jacobs
Pages: 400 (Paperback)
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: December 11, 2012
I received an ARC through NetGalley.

While trying to save her brother from a witch’s fire four years ago, Greta was thrown in herself, falling through a portal to Mylena, a dangerous world where humans are the enemy and every ogre, ghoul, and goblin has a dark side that comes out with the eclipse.

To survive, Greta has hidden her humanity and taken the job of bounty hunter—and she’s good at what she does. So good, she’s caught the attention of Mylena’s young goblin king, the darkly enticing Isaac, who invades her dreams and undermines her will to escape.

But Greta’s not the only one looking to get out of Mylena. An ancient evil knows she’s the key to opening the portal, and with the next eclipse mere days away, every bloodthirsty creature in the realm is after her—including Isaac. If Greta fails, she and the lost boys of Mylena will die. If she succeeds, no world will be safe from what follows her back...

Greta and the Goblin King was a book that I requested on a whim. The title didn't particularly call to me, but goblins sound fun, and it was getting great ratings from GR friends, so why not? About a third in, I was really glad that I took a chance on it!

Immediately, this book stood out from other YA Paranormal novels. Instead of having a teen girl unknowingly stumble upon supernatural creatures (typically in the form of a hot teen boy), Greta is already fully immersed in a fantasy land. She's been stuck in a world where she doesn't belong for four long years. She also has an established relationship with the hot goblin King. Not a romantic one, although there is an obvious attraction. It's a kind of antagonistic relationship, but Greta admits to not wanting to get attached to anyone in Mylena since her number one priority is getting back home.

Isaac, the goblin King, is a very interesting character. Despite being the King, he keeps no servants. He isolates himself from his kingdom and seems unhappy in his position. Why is that? I'm not really sure, but I'm eager to get to know him better in the following books. He's also one of few Mylena citizens who wants to protect Greta. Or is he? She can't really tell.

I loved how this had a mash-up of elements from multiple fairytales, including Hansel and Gretel and Peter Pan. It made it all the more fun seeing how these tales can be related to each other to make up one new story. Of course, there's also a lot of unique mythology, like all of the creatures in Mylena shifting to a more primal state during an eclipse, and Isaac having access to Greta's dreams.

Greta and the Goblin King is a highly engaging read full of sword fights, evil fairies, magic and romance. I could barely put it down! The ending is a bit rushed, and there's no complete resolution, so I cannot wait for the next book!

Favorite Quotes

Winning the day rarely come down to being stronger or faster or braver than the other guy. Mostly, it came down to being colder, smarter, and more ruthless than the other guy. (3% eARC)

"What is reality after all, but the process of making connections, forging bonds? Where is it written the only way to do that is skin to skin?" (54% eARC)

"Just because you don't want it, doesn't mean you don't need it." (66% eARC)

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Waiting on Wednesday [28]

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. It's so we can show what pre-published books we're anticipating! So what title am I featuring this week...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

[Review] Shaman, Sister, Sorceress (Olivia Lawson, Techno-Shaman, #3) by M. Terry Green

Title: Shaman, Sister, Sorceress
Series: Olivia Lawson, Techno-Shaman, #3
Author: M. Terry Green
Pages: 384 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: M. Terry Green
Release Date: September 28, 2012

If techno-shaman Olivia Lawson thinks a trip to the Hopi mesas is the escape she needs, she is gravely mistaken. Abducted from her tour, Livvy quickly discovers that all is not as it seems in the quiet villages.

Formidable shamans draw her into a bitter and centuries-old conflict. While Livvy struggles to do what's right, she can't help but pursue an unexpected chance to be with the man she loves.

But as prophecies turn deadly, even the gods of the multiverse play their part and Livvy must choose--between this world and a new one, between action and acceptance, between duty and desire. With all existence hanging in the balance, Livvy finds that, where choice begins, innocence ends.

Out of the city and into the ancient world of the Hopi is where we find Livvy. She's seeking answers about herself, and hopefully a solution for her and SK. Instead, she unknowingly gets involved in the hunt for a missing tablet that's apart of a long lost prophecy. Livvy wants nothing to do with it, but she also doesn't want the tablet to end up in the wrong hands. Who can she trust? There's a lot of new characters introduced in Shaman, Sister, Sorceress, so it was hard to tell who's trustworthy or not, since we don't really know any of them yet.

Although I missed all of Livvy's friends in Los Angeles, being away from the city allowed the author to expand on shaman history and the multiverse. We learn a lot of interesting new things about being a shaman right along side Livvy. She's getting a lot more answers than she was expecting to questions she didn't even know she had! Livvy has many more abilities than she ever imagined. Also the multiverse is very different when she enters it from the Hopi village. It's much more vibrant than her own grey downtown setting.

I absolutely adore SK! I was so glad he made an appearance in this book. He's so supportive of Livvy and their love for each other is so obvious and sweet. I also like how he's not the typically tall, dark, and handsome love interest. He's a normal guy, well, as normal as a shamanic intercessor can be, and he's a dwarf, which is something that doesn't appear a lot in fiction. He's just an all around great guy and I can't wait for him and Livvy to find a safe way to be together!

While I did really enjoy this addition to the series, it was a bit disorienting in the beginning. There's several new characters, and the POV jumps around a lot as we follow everyone who's involved in this ancient prophecy to bring about a new world. There are a lot of twists along the way that I wasn't expecting, so I was definitely encouraged to continue flipping pages! It ends on a mostly happy note, so I'm wondering where life takes our favorite lightning shaman next?

Favorite Quotes

No one was afraid of heights. They were afraid of falling. (pg 64)

It was stealing after all. Well, not stealing, like stealing. It was actually stealing to prevent stealing. Well, whatever it was, it was the right thing to do. (pg 204)

"You, young lady, need to get a hold on that anger. The only thing that's good for is poison." (pg 328)

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