Monday, September 29, 2014

Invisible by Dawn Metcalf

Series: The Twixt #2
380 p.
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Published: Sept. 30, 14
Source: From NetGalley and Publisher for review
Some things lie beneath the surface.


With the power to change everything.

Joy Malone wants it all—power, freedom and the boyfriend who loves her. Yet when an unstoppable assassin is hired to kill her, Joy learns that being the girl with the Sight comes with a price that might be too high to pay. Love will be tested, lives will be threatened, and everyone Joy knows and cares about will be affected by her decision to stand by Ink or to leave the Twixt forever.

Her choice is balanced on a scalpel's edge and the consequences will be more life-altering than anyone can guess.
My thoughts:
This is the second book in the Twixt series and this series should be read in order. I think it is important here not just for character development but for world building as well.

I enjoyed most of the book and liked that Joy grows and finds her own inner strength and saves herself rather than relying on others constantly. Her behavior before that frustrated me but at the same time I also can see that it was purposeful to highlight her growth. Still, some of the things she did left me shaking my head in wonder.

I liked the addition of Stef, her bother, who was more involved this time. I would like to see more of that as well as more involvement with her father. I liked the growth of Ink even as small as it was. It was interesting seeing him become more of a human. I was more convinced here of the romance than I was in the previous book. There is still more to be done to really see them as a couple, but I do like the advancement toward the relationship.

I give this book 3 stars. I recommend it to those that enjoy YA and a strange and different world.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Firebug by Lish McBride

Series: Firebug #1
368 p.
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Published 9/23/14
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
Ava can start fires with her mind . . . but is it a blessing or a curse? 
Ava is a firebug—she can start fires with her mind. Which would all be well and good if she weren't caught in a deadly contract with the Coterie, a magical mafia. She's one of their main hit men . . . and she doesn't like it one bit. Not least because her mother's death was ordered by Venus—who is now her boss. 
When Venus asks Ava to kill a family friend, Ava rebels. She knows very well that you can't say no to the Coterie and expect to get away with it, though, so she and her friends hit the road, trying desperately to think of a way out of the mess they find themselves in. Preferably keeping the murder to a minimum.
My thoughts:

I've enjoyed Lish McBride's writing and sense of humor, so naturally when I had a chance to read this book I jumped at it. I was not disappointed. She writes her characters well and there was no exception to that rule in this book. I loved all the characters except Venus. However, I'd have to be some nut to like her. :)

I have to admit I wasn't sure I would like the plot. Ava has been "hired" (more like conscripted) into a mafia like magical fairy hierarchy in which she plays the assassin. I wasn't sure of this plot until Ava rebels when put on the spot to assassinate a family friend. She is extremely protective of her made family. This really tightened up the relationships and my worry about how they would get out of their predicament. I still ended up with a couple of questions about the plot, but nothing at all to douse my enjoyment of the book.

I give this book 4 stars. Those that love a good romance within the pages might be disappointed but be aware that there is so much potential. I recommend this book to those who love snark, humor and YA UF.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Gifted Dead by Jenna Black

Series: Gifted #1
410 p.
Publisher: Aardwolf Press
Published: 9/23/14
Source: From Kismet BT and author for review
Politics and magic make dangerous bedfellows. 
Deep within the Order, the seeds of corruption have taken root. While younger generations of the Gifted have embraced modern democratic values, a secret society of old-guard zealots seek a return to the past, when only European men of distinguished bloodlines held power. 
Now, three venerable European families and a maverick American each plot to seize control of the Order and shape it to their will. A cutthroat game of political intrigue will decide the winner; and the stakes couldn't be higher, for ruling the Order carries with it the power to grant—or deny—an afterlife.
What begins as a battle of wills could turn into an all-out war. And magic could prove deadlier than any missile.
My thoughts:

 I admit that one of the reasons I wanted to read this book is the cover. Jenny of Seedlings (and Supernatural Snark) first brought this to my attention because she designed the cover. I was intrigued by the cover and the blurb. The cover really is connected well to the story and you will see why once you read it. The second reason is the author Jenna Black. I have enjoyed her past books and so I was looking forward to this book.

I admit that sometimes fantasy is quite slow to me. These books often deal with political strife which takes me a bit longer to really get enveloped into the story. However once the players are finally set and we know who is ambitious, ruthless, kind and sincere the story usually takes off for me. It was the same in this book as well. It took me a while to become totally invested, but once I was I didn't want the story to end.

My biggest complaint for the book was the multi-POVs within the storyline. It took me a minute to figure out who was who and keep it straight in my head. However, all the information is necessary and I found later that I enjoyed having more than one POV. All the players are important and I liked getting inside each head. I also had a time figuring out the world in this one.

I give this book 3 1/2 stars. I recommend this book to those that like political fantasy set in an interesting world of magic.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Blog Tour: Invisible by Dawn Metcalf

The inspiration for the character, Ink?

In the beginning, there was a rant. And it was good.

No, really, I was getting a little fed up with all these stories about immortal guys falling for sixteen year old human girls and swooping down to “show her the way to love.” I thought, “Seriously?!” That’s how it started.

The truth is I’ve always had a little crush on the wide-eyed guy who completely and utterly falls for someone like a hammer to the heart and then hasn’t a clue what to do about it. He is vulnerable, open, honest, a little afraid, maybe too truthful and absolutely adorable, alluring as all hell in his innocence. Hence, Ink.

Sometimes, people don’t get this, so I like to fall back on my love for analogies, which is a close second to my love of baking. Combine the two and you get:


Take one part classic Peter Pan.
Add a heavy dose of Johnny Depp as Benny in Benny & Joon and Edward from Edward Scissorhands
Shake vigorously.
Spoon some sappy heart-on-the-sleeve boy vibe from any movie Michael Cera’s ever done.
Fold in gently.
Mix together a youthful Joe Black from Meet Joe Black and a dash of laissez-faire from Tim Burton’s Jack Skellington ala The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Sprinkle to coat.
Whip up something aspiring to the mythic otherworldliness of Neil Gaiman’s Endless in Sandman and a heaping spoon of Roiben from Holly Black’s Modern Faerie Tales.
Finally, add a twist of wry, boyish smirk. Reeve Carney’s will do.
Simmer slowly. Serve immediately.
Stand back, ladies, it’s hot!

Series: Twixt #2

Some things lie beneath the surface.
With the power to change everything.
Joy Malone wants it all—power, freedom and the boyfriend who loves her. Yet when an unstoppable assassin is hired to kill her, Joy learns that being the girl with the Sight comes with a price that might be too high to pay. Love will be tested, lives will be threatened, and everyone Joy knows and cares about will be affected by her decision to stand by Ink or to leave the Twixt forever.
Her choice is balanced on a scalpel's edge and the consequences will be more life-altering than anyone can guess.

About Invisible:
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Book Depository

Series: Twixt #1

Some things are permanent. 
And they cannot be changed back. 
Joy Malone learns this the night she sees a stranger with all-black eyes across a crowded room—right before the mystery boy tries to cut out her eye.
Instead, the wound accidentally marks her as property of Indelible Ink, and this dangerous mistake thrusts Joy into an incomprehensible world—a world of monsters at the window, glowing girls on the doorstep and a life that will never be the same. 
Now Joy must pretend to be Ink’s chosen one—his helper, his love, his somethingfor the foreseeable future and failure to be convincing means a painful death for them both. Swept into a world of monsters, illusion, immortal honor and revenge, Joy discovers that sometimes there are no mistakes.
About Indelible:
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books-A-Million

About Dawn Metcalf:

The role of Dawn Metcalf will be played by the tall brunette in the off-the-shoulder, floor-length leather straitjacket. Makeup by Clinique, buckles by Jada Pinkett Smith, hair by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.
I have no good excuse for the way I write. I lived in a normal, loving suburban home, studied hard, went to college, went to graduate school, got married, had babies and settled down in northern Connecticut. Despite this wholesome lifestyle, I’ve been clearly corrupted by fairy tales, puppet visionaries, British humor and graphic novels. As a result, I write dark, quirky and sometimes humorous speculative fiction.

Win a copy of either INDELIBLE or INVISIBLE, and one lucky grand prize winner will receive a grand prize package including the following HarlequinTEEN titles: INDELIBLE, INVISIBLE, GHOST HOUSE, THE AFTERMATH, and WITCHRISE. Please enter via the Rafflecopter form. Giveaway is open to US/Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Kismet Book Touring
Tour Schedule:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Mini Audiobook Review: Breathe by Abbi Glines and Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Series: Sea Breeze #1
8 hrs. 6 min.
Narrators: Kirby Heyborne and Shayna Thibodeaux
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
Published: 6/4/13
Source: Won/ tbr pile
Sadie White's summer job is at the beach, but she won't be working as a lifeguard. Since her mom is pregnant and refuses to work, Sadie will be taking over as a domestic servant for a wealthy family on a nearby island. 
When the family arrives at their summer getaway, Sadie is surprised to learn that the owner of the house is Jax Stone, one of the hottest teen rockers in the world. If Sadie were normal--if she hadn't spent her life raising her mother and taking care of the house--maybe she'd be excited about working for a rock star. But she's not. 
Even though Sadie isn't impressed by Jax's fame, he is drawn to her. Everything about Sadie fascinates Jax, but he fights his attraction: Relationships never work in his world, and as badly as he wants Sadie, he believes she deserves more. Yet as the summer stretches on, Jax's passion leaves him breathless--and Sadie feels like the only source of oxygen. 
Can their love overcome the disparity in their lifestyles? One breath at a time, they're going to find out...
My thoughts:
I rarely do NA contemporary romance books but I thought I'd give this one a try since I won a audiobook narrated by Kirby Heyborne. While Kirby's narrations were very good and flowed well, I'd have to say I didn't like Shayna's as much. Her characters were good, but the stuff inbetween was a bit flat.

I just couldn't get into the story. While I could get behind a innocent character, I just couldn't believe that Sadie was naive. Her mother's actions and neglect alone wouldn't allow her to stay naive. In the end I had to dnf the audiobook because I just couldn't get past all the clichés of innocent girl and bad boy boyfriend. However I would recommend it to those that enjoy NA contemporary romance. It just wasn't for me.

Series: Kate Daniels #1
9 hrs. 6 min.
Narrator: Renée Raudman
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: 1/12/09
Source: Library/Hoopla

Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren't for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake. 
Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate's guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta's magic circles.

The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings - and the death of Kate's guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she's way out of her league - but she wouldn't have it any other way.
My thoughts:
I'm trying to catch up to the numerous UF books I have wanted to try. I decided to finally start the Kate Daniels series. I enjoyed Renée Raudman's narration and now have her firmly in my head for Kate. I will also do the next one on audio because of her narration.

I did have some problems sorting out all the world building. In this way it might have been better to read than have it on audio. Still, I wasn't too lost to not be able to enjoy the book and I think that my understanding of this world will come as the series progresses. I enjoyed the characters and really liked Kate. I'm also intrigued by Curran. I know he will become more important as the series progresses. It is the characters that will have me reading more in this series. I give this one 3 stars and recommend it to those that enjoy UF.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Announcement: The Next Big YA Book Contest!

 photo BigYA_banner.jpg
I was contacted to let you know of a great opportunity hosted by two bloggy peeps I adore! Both Candace of Candace Book Blog Tours and Jenny from Supernatural Snark are a part of this great opportunity for YA writers! I encourage those writers to get out there and enter for this fabulous prize!
Calling all YA authors! 
If you have ever hashtagged #amwriting, #MSWL, or #IWantToBePublishedSoBadlyMyEyeballsMightPop, than pay attention. 
From September 17th through October 1st, Hipso Media Publishing and Jenny from Supernatural Snark will be hosting the ‘Next Big YA Book Event.’ 
Why is this good news for #amwriters? 
Here’s how the event works. Most publishers work exclusively with agents, which makes it difficult (more like close to impossible) for up-and-coming writers to get their work seen. Well, Hipso Media Publishing will be opening their doors to all YA writers who dream of traditional publication, but can’t seem to catch a break. Writers who have mountainous ideas, along with an actual mountain of rejection letters. Hipso wants to pick one of those writers, and treat them like the literary rock star they are, showering them in every publishing perk someone of their caliber deserves: 
  •  Publishing contract with a generous royalty program
  •  Custom cover from Seedlings Design
  •  Candace Book Blog Book Tour
  •  Exclusive front-page podcast on AuthorsOnTourLive, iReadBooksRadio and iHeartRadio (which gets an average of more than 1 million hits a year)
  •  Novel as an eBook on all major retailers – Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, around the world
  •  A featured post on Supernatural Snark
  •  Awesome book swag, and more… 
Once the winning manuscript is picked, Jenny from Supernatural Snark (Owner of Seedlings Design) will work with the author to create a custom cover that will be sure to shout, “NEXT BIG YA BOOK”. And then she’ll do a featured post on Supernatural Snark, to make sure the world hears. 
No agents, hoops, or hassles. The only criteria are that your YA manuscript be finished, you must believe it’s great, and it must not already be published somewhere else.
Here’s the link to the submissions page and contact info: 
Good luck and happy writing!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Audiobook Review: Trapped by Kevin Hearne

Series: Iron Druid #5
Narrator: Luke Daniels
9 hrs. 2 min.
Publisher: Random House Audio
Available Now
Source: Library
After twelve years of secret training, Atticus O’Sullivan is finally ready to bind his apprentice, Granuaile, to the earth and double the number of Druids in the world. But on the eve of the ritual, the world that thought he was dead abruptly discovers that he’s still alive, and they would much rather he return to the grave. 
Having no other choice, Atticus, his trusted Irish wolfhound, Oberon, and Granuaile travel to the base of Mount Olympus, where the Roman god Bacchus is anxious to take his sworn revenge—but he’ll have to get in line behind an ancient vampire, a band of dark elves, and an old god of mischief, who all seem to have KILL THE DRUID at the top of their to-do lists.
My thoughts:
I still love this series but this one actually becomes a bit slow even with all the fighting going on. It seems that our druid and some of the fae tend to go off on story tangents even when faced with insurmountable odds. While I do like the stories and this world's take on the legends, the stories here were constant and actually got in the way of the main storyline. Still enjoyed the characters in the book and Oberon was, as always, a great comedy break. Still, it lacked the cohesiveness of the other stories. 

As a side note: my doberman's biggest complaint is that Oberon never got to tell the story of Jean Claude Van Ham. He was quite put out that Atticus stopped him from telling that tale. Just had to throw that in there. :)

I did like that some issues that had be going on have been solved in this book! That was a major plus and now I hope the story starts to get back on track. Luke Daniels still rocks the series and I hope he voices these books until the end. Yep, going to have to get that next book and catch up with this series. I recommend the series to those that enjoy UF, but understand that this book goes a bit off track but yet the information is important to the rest of the series.

Bloggy PS:
I'm at the Geeky Book Blogger discussing my love of libraries!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Audiobook Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Series: The Grisha #1
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
8 hrs. 55 min.
Available Now
Source: tbr pile
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. 
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves her life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. 
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha… and the secrets of her heart.
My thoughts:
 I kept hearing how wonderful this story was and I was wanting to read it. However, I was able to find the audio by Lauren Fortgang whom I've never hear narrate but I have been told she was wonderful. That was correct. Lauren's voice is perfect as Alina and I loved her pronunciation of all the Russian words. It helped me to easily slip into this world. One I was reluctant to leave by the end of the story.

I do warn those that hate love triangles... there is one brewing within these pages. However, it isn't one that makes your eyes roll, but makes sense. There is a clear winner and one that will make you swoon. However, the other one won't leave you willingly so you know there is more to that story. You will also love the villain in the story. His characterization is such that you are never certain of his motivations even when you feel that he is totally figured out. I love that in a villain and it makes the tension in the story so much better.

Oh there is so much I want to talk about with the book. It was one that was hard to put down (or turn off in this case) but I don't want to spoil it for anyone. If you are looking for a fantasy book that isn't too heavy handed with great worldbuilding, this one would be great to start. I recommend the audio especially for this book because you can hear the words as they were intended and not mangle them in your head (I know I do that! LOL). I give this audio 5 stars. I really enjoyed my time here and I can't wait to listen to the next one. In fact, I do hope the Lauren voices all 3 books in the trilogy.

Friday, September 12, 2014

AimeeKay's Readers for Rett Event

My co-reviewer on the blog is a part of a event to bring awareness about a rare disease. Please check it out! Thanks! ~Melissa

Aimee from AimeeKay's Reviews and Randomness (and Books and Things) and Rae Z. Ryans are co-hosting an event together. Readers for Rett Awareness goal is to help spread the word about Rett's Syndrome and introduce the families and girls suffering from this awful disease. (If you want to find out more about Rett's itself, please feel free to follow this link, and see what it's about. To actually meet a sufferer of Rett's Syndrome click here.)

Details of the event:

Readers for Rett is currently seeking authors, bloggers, Rett families, and small businesses to help us spread the word about Rett Syndrome. We are looking for people interested in opportunities to host families on their blogs and allow them to tell their stories to your readers, hold interviews on their blogs, and spread the word about this disease affecting families and their daughters. We would also like to pair up Rett's families/girls with sponsors who will offer giveaways to event attendees on their behalf. Bookish related items are best, but anything from gift cards to trinkets is appreciated*.

What is Rett Syndrome?


—Debilitating neurological (movement) disorder that predominantly affects females. (Boys generally die from it because of the genetics involved) —Baby girls are born "normal" but begin to lose acquired skills between the ages of 1-3 years old. —Caused by a single gene mutation that leads to underproduction of an important brain protein. —The leading genetic cause of severe impairment in girls - most cannot speak, walk or use their hands. —Despite their physical disabilities, girls with Rett Syndrome are believed to be functioning mentally at a much higher level than previously thought. —As prevalent as Cystic Fibrosis, ALS and Huntington's. —Another little girl is born with Rett Syndrome every 90 minutes. —Rett Syndrome is a potentially REVERSIBLE disorder. Research has proven once protein levels are back to normal levels, symptoms subside.

The awareness party will be held on Facebook, so yes, you will need a Facebook account to participate as a sponsor for the event. However, if you don't have one, but still wish to help spread the word, we can work with that too. Time and date: We plan to start the event October 3rd @ 10 a.m. CDT. However the length is still up in the air until we find out exactly how many sponsors and families we have to work with. We are planning it for October as that is National Rett Awareness Month. *Sponsors donating prizes will be responsible for shipping costs. If you are interested in learning more, participating, or helping Readers for Rett spread the word please click on the link or fill out the form below. Readers For Rett's Event Form if the below form doesn't display

We also have buttons to share if you want to set up your own post to help promote this event or show your support for the Rett Awareness cause. Please email us a link to your post once it is live, if you do so; we can give thanks at the event to all who have helped in any way. If you do have a Facebook account/page, please consider changing your profile and header (free images below) in October to help spread the word. Right-Click and save as for Facebook use or feel free to swipe the code for web based use.



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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

AimeeKay Review: Shadows of Asphodel by Karen Kincy

Series: Shadows of Asphodel #1
350 p.
Publisher: Createspace
Published: 9/13/13
Source: From author for review
She never asked for the undying loyalty of a necromancer. 
1913. Austria-Hungary. Ardis knows better than to save a man on the battlefield. Even if he manages to be a charming bastard while bleeding out in the snow. She hasn't survived this long as a mercenary without some common sense. 
When she rescues Wendel, it isn't because he's devilishly handsome, but because he's a necromancer. His touch can revive the dead, and Ardis worries he will return from the grave to hunt her down. Besides, a necromancer can be useful in this world on the brink of war. 
A gentleman of questionable morals, Wendel drops to one knee and pledges his undying loyalty to Ardis. She resists falling for him, no matter how hot the tension smolders between them. Especially when she discovers Wendel's scars run much deeper than his skin, and it might be too late to truly save him from himself.
AimeeKay's Thoughts:
I really enjoyed Shadows. The characters were fun and interesting, the story was intriguing and the world building was well done. However, there were a few points that bothered me. These points are the reason I'm giving it 4 out of 5 stars instead of a full 5. However that missing star I really don't think should stop you from giving this first book in the series a chance.

Let's start with what I did like.

The characters.

I loved Ardis and Wendel! I know, they are the main characters, so obviously I'm going to hopefully like them right? But really I enjoyed everything about them. They are funny and addicting. I loved watching their verbal sparring. It was just plain fun. I also enjoyed the other characters as well. The supporting characters, like Konstantin, were interesting as well. I also really liked how all the characters just worked together and with the rest of the people in the world that Kincy has built. Sometimes in a novel a lot of the interactions between main characters and the rest of the characters in the world just seems stilted or padding, but the author really fit them in well. If anything at all, I wish that maybe I could have gotten to know some of the extra characters a bit more. But considering that this is the first book in the series, I'm gonna assume that I will get the chance in future installments.

I loved the story! I read A LOT of books and sometimes I find it easy to predict what is going to happen. Some things I did expect, but there were a few things that I didn't. Which was nice. For example, and I don't want to give anything away, but I did think one thing was going to happen in the romance department and it soooo didn't. It was a REALLY nice surprise. I'm not going to say what, like I said I don't want to spoil the story and the romance is a big part of it. I also really liked that while it is a romance, it isn't JUST a romance. There is lots of other stuff going on. There's action, adventure, mystery.

The world! I like the alternate history that Kincy has created. Interesting to see a world that doesn't use guns not because it doesn't have them, but because it can't anymore. I can't wait to see more of the world in the next books.

What I had issues with. Ok. So maybe some of these are just me. And yes, I know that a few might seem a bit petty. But they bothered me. Just to get it out of the way let's start with the pettiest. The cover. I liked the cover when we first saw it, I still do. However I don't think that the description given of Ardis in the book, matches the woman on the cover in one main way. Her hair. In the book it says she has "tawny lion-colored hair". But on the cover the woman's hair is black. I know this shouldn't bother me so much. But in the book Ardis's appearance is important. Her mixed heritage is constantly something that people notice. Especially the contrast between her hair color and the shape of her eyes. I pictured her with the lighter hair. So seeing a character with an obviously different hair color on the cover, well, it just bugs me. Like I said it's the pettiest reason, which is why I just wanted to get it out of the way. I know, I know, don't judge a book by its cover, and if the cover difference was the only issue I wouldn't have taken the star, I would have mentioned it since the cover is one of the main things that attracted me to the book in the first place, but I wouldn't have taken a star.

Ok on to my other issues. There are two. There are some spoilers here, so I apologize, but these things really bugged me.

The first is the insta-love/lust between Ardis and Wendel. The first few chapters really pushes the fact that Wendel being a necromancer is considered one of the worst things possible in the world Kincy has created. There is even a point where Ardis refuses to help Wendel up simply because he is one and she doesn't want to touch him. Yet, then she turns around and is attracted to him. I'm not saying that as a character she can't grow and overcome a prejudice. I understand it's needed to move the romantic part of the storyline along, however it just seems to happen REALLY quickly. So sorry it bugged me.

The second is the ending. I have a love/hate thing going on with it so please forgive any spoilers as I try to explain my view. Ok. Loved it because I love Ardis and Wendel. Things happen at the end to them and I'm glad they did. I also understand that the reason it ends the way it does is because it is the first book in a series. Honestly I think it is left in such a way to set it up for another book to happen. However. The ending just seemed rushed. After everything that had happened so far everything that happened at the end was just squished into the final pages. Again, personal opinion.

There those are my reasons good and bad for giving Shadows 4 out of 5 stars. I think overall it is a solid book. The ending prevents it from being a completely stand alone novel, too many strings left hanging and all that. But the characters are fun and the story is just great. I would definitely recommend this one. I will put in a disclaimer that this book isn't for kiddies though. Only recommending to 18+. Reason? Sex scenes. Well written and fun sex scenes, but still sex scenes. So please don't buy it for your kids. But definitely buy it for yourself!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blog Tour with Giveaway: The Gifted Dead by Jenna Black

[Excerpt 2—intro to Isabelle Montplaisir]

Saint-Malo, France

   Isabelle Montplaisir had spent the last two hours preparing for the moment her doorbell would ring. She’d bathed in rose-scented water, massaged lotion into her skin until it was silky and supple, used a flat iron to smooth out the coarse curls of her waist-length hair, and changed clothes three times. Almost as if she were going on a first date instead of meeting her longtime lover after an absence of three weeks. But tonight was not going to be like so many others past. Tonight, for the first time, Isabelle was going to be bold and brave and ask for what she wanted.

   The doorbell rang at precisely nine o’clock. Matthew Landry was nothing if not punctual, and he was always especially eager to fall into Isabelle’s arms after he’d returned from one of his visits to the States to spend time with his wife. Isabelle couldn’t fathom why he bothered going “home” every time the Council was in recess. Once upon a time, Elders had been required to live near the Abbey, but in these modern times of video-conferencing, it was no longer strictly necessary. And yet Matt had chosen to move here anyway, which should mean he considered Saint-Malo home. It wasn’t like he and Juliana had ever loved each other, and their children were adults, hardly in need of parental supervision.

   Isabelle checked her appearance in the mirror one last time before going to the door, dabbing at a little excess cherry-flavored lip gloss and straightening out imaginary wrinkles in her gossamer peignoir. Swallowing the last of her nerves, she raised her chin and opened the door, confident that she would easily out-dazzle Matt’s horse-faced, middle-aged wife.

   Matt had arrived in Saint-Malo only this morning, but he had obviously not spent his day resting after his long trip. Instead of the blue jeans and button-downs he liked to wear when he was off duty, he was dressed in his robes of office, the floor-length drapes of black emblazoned with the Ouroboros giving him an unmistakable aura of power—and making him infinitely less approachable.

   Isabelle must have looked as stunned as she felt, because Matt’s handsome face lit with amusement and he brushed at the robes as if he could make them go away with a touch of his hand.

   “Sorry to show up like this,” he said in Latin. He had learned French for her, and she had learned English for him, and yet somehow they always fell back on Latin, the universal language of the Gifted—and what they’d spoken when they’d first met two years ago. “I didn’t have time to change.”

   Isabelle gestured him inside, and with the door no longer blocking his view, he got his first look at her peignoir—and the body it barely veiled. She hadn’t bothered wearing a nightgown or underwear beneath. His breath instantly quickened, and he shut the door blindly behind him, his eyes taking slow and delicious inventory. His heavy robes hid the evidence, but she knew if she pressed into his arms, she would feel the distinctive bulge of his arousal. She turned a slow circle so he could take in the rear view. He had always been an ass man, and she knew hers was one of her best features.

   Matt made a low growling sound of appreciation. There was no doubt that he found her alluring, but there had to be more to it than that or he wouldn’t have stayed with her for so long.

   “I thought the plan was for us to have a quiet and unremarkable dinner in deference to my jet lag,” he said, and she heard the rustle of his robes as he approached from behind.

   “There is never anything quiet or unremarkable about you,” she purred, smiling with a sense of power as she heard the slither and thump of his outer robe sliding off his shoulders and hitting the floor. She tried to turn around and face him, but his hands landed on her shoulders, his body pressing up against her back as he nuzzled her neck.

   Isabelle reached up to twine her fingers in his hair without turning around, arching her neck to make more room for his kisses. His hands slid down from her shoulders to cup her breasts, and the fabric of her peignoir was so thin and sheer that it felt almost like skin on skin. His lips feathered her chin, and she turned her head so he could rid her of the cherry gloss she’d put on just for him.

   He groaned as his lips met hers, his erection grinding into the small of her back as his hands squeezed almost painfully tight. Isabelle would not have to invoke her Gift for sex tonight; her body was plainly all the inspiration he needed.

   “Would it be terribly rude of me to fuck you senseless before dinner?” he murmured in her ear, but he was already pulling up the hem of her peignoir, proving he knew the answer.

   Isabelle uttered a throaty laugh. “On the contrary, Your Excellency. It would be terribly rude of you not to.”

   He snorted at her use of his exalted title in this context, but he was too desperate to waste much time with amusement. Within scant seconds, she was bent over the living room sofa with her filmy peignoir bunched up around her waist. She spread her legs encouragingly and watched over her shoulder as Matt shed his inner robe and briefs in record time. She didn’t know how she had survived three weeks without having him inside her.

   Isabelle groaned in relief as he drove into her. So good. So right. Almost good enough to keep her from wondering if Juliana had received her husband’s affections while he was in the States.

   Isabelle shut that thought off with alacrity as she braced her hands on the seat of the sofa and Matt began to thrust. Here and now, he was with her, not Juliana. It was Isabelle he fucked, Isabelle he shared his nights with, Isabelle he loved. He was hers, and it was past time she claimed him.

   Isabelle waited until they were snuggled up in bed together before she even attempted to launch the conversation she’d been both dreading and anticipating all day. Her body glowed with contentment, and the blended scents of sweat and sex were sweeter than any perfume.

   “Je t’aime,” she murmured against Matt’s chest, pressing herself more tightly to him and running her leg up and down his.

   Matt’s fingers played with her hair, which had thrown off the effects of the flat iron and lay like a tangled, frizzy blanket around her. Usually, she braided it before getting into bed, but haircare had been the last thing on her mind when he’d carried her into the bedroom.

   “I love you, too,” he said, kissing the top of her head.

   She smiled, drinking in his words. He didn’t have to say them, of course—Isabelle had always known their connection went way beyond the physical—but still, they were gratifying to hear.

   “Do you really?” she asked, fingers trailing over his chest.

   “Of course I do!” he said, sounding affronted. “What kind of question is that?”

   Isabelle dug deep inside herself in search of courage, then looked up to meet Matt’s warm brown eyes. Eyes that were currently narrowed with annoyance at her question. Maybe now wasn’t a good time to talk after all, she thought. The jet lag and the long flight over the Atlantic had taken their toll, as had their lovemaking; he was clearly exhausted. But she was afraid if she chickened out now, she might never find the nerve.

   She sat up in bed, letting the sheet slide off her breasts. Matt reached up to soothe the evidence of one of the little love bites he’d left in his passion. She smiled and took that hand in both of hers. He always worried that he was being too rough with her, but she loved the small telltale marks she often bore after a night with him. Loved feeling well and truly claimed, even if Matt wouldn’t take her out in public or acknowledge her as his mistress.

   “I think we should get married,” Isabelle blurted. She cursed herself when she saw how his face froze and his eyes widened. She’d spent much of the afternoon rehearsing an elegant, subtle proposal, but those elegant words had abandoned her.

   Matt made a sound between a sigh and a groan as he sat up. There were shadows around his eyes, and Isabelle was now certain she’d chosen the wrong time to broach the subject. She’d thought maybe that when the reality of his loveless marriage was fresh in his mind, he might be more likely to see that staying with Juliana was pointless.

   “I hate to tell you this,” he said with a forced grin, “but I’m already married.” He held up his left hand to show off his wedding ring.

   He was going to try to turn this into a joke, and maybe she should just let him, but the words were already out, and she refused to take them back.

   “You don’t love her,” Isabelle said simply. “You never have. You do love me. Which one of us do you really think you should be with?”

   Matt extracted his hand from her grip and ran it through his gently graying hair before letting it flop back down onto the bed. “This isn’t about love, and you know it.”

   “Yes, yes, I know. She’s one of the great Almeidas, and I’m just a little nobody.” Without an alliance by marriage with the Almeidas, Matt would likely never have risen to the rank of Elder. The Order had an unabashedly European bias, and Matt’s American heritage would forever be a handicap in his political career.

   “Don’t be like that,” Matt said, the annoyance in his eyes more pronounced. “You knew what you were getting into the moment we first slept together.”

   “I didn’t know I was going to fall in love with you,” she protested. Theirs was supposed to be something closer to a business arrangement, wherein he provided her with lovely gifts and a place to live, and she provided him with sex and companionship.

   “Nor I with you,” he admitted. “But you have to know I am never going to divorce Juliana.”

   Isabelle was surprised by the sting of tears in her eyes. She’d told herself over and over again that tonight’s opening salvo was meant only to plant the suggestion in Matt’s head, not win the war outright. But apparently she’d gotten her hopes up despite her logic.

   “Why not?” she asked. “You’ve made it to the Council of Elders, and it’s a lifetime appointment. They can’t take it away if you get a divorce.”

   “No, but you can be damn sure I’d have no chance of being elected Patriarch if I anger the Almeidas.”

   Isabelle gaped at him. “Patriarch? Are you serious?” Somehow, it had never occurred to her that his ambitions soared that high. It was hard enough for an American to get on the Council of Elders, but to hope to become Patriarch … ? That was asking a bit much of his alliance by marriage—especially when he and Juliana weren’t even living on the same continent, much less sharing a home.

   “Of course I’m serious.” He waved his hand dismissively. “I know I’d be the longest of long-shots, but if I lose the Almeidas’ support, I’ll have no shot at all. And everything I try to do on the Council for the rest of my life will end up blocked by the Almeidas and their supporters. I became an Elder so I could make a difference, not because I wanted to wear fancy robes and have people call me Your Excellency.”

   Isabelle was sure that was true, but still … The current Patriarch was only sixty-four years old, and thanks to the connection with the Anima that was the birthright of all the Gifted, he was likely to live into his early hundreds with perfect mental acuity. Not only that, he had a son who was well-liked and was the right age to make a natural successor. “You mean to tell me that you’re planning to stay married to a woman you don’t love for forty more years in hopes that you might be considered a candidate for Patriarch when Adrian Farraday dies?” Her voice had risen with her outrage at the thought that he would deny her over such a distant and unlikely possibility. He started to speak, but she cut him off, heat rising in her cheeks and anger thrumming in her heart. “Need I remind you that you’ll be in your eighties by then?” Long life and mental acuity notwithstanding, the Council of Elders had never elected a Patriarch older than seventy-five, and most Patriarchs were in their fifties or sixties when elected.

   Matt was glaring at her, no longer even slightly distracted by her bared breasts. “No, you don’t need to remind me. Need I remind you that I have dedicated my life to the Order? This isn’t just a career to me, it’s a calling. I believe that the Order needs to change, that we need to modernize with the times, and if there’s a chance I could become Patriarch, then I’m going to take it. Even if it would make me personally happier to be married to you than to Juliana.”

   His voice softened at the end, as if that could somehow take the sting out of his words. But that was impossible when he’d just told her flat out that his career was more important to him than she was.

   “And what about Juliana?” Isabelle tried desperately. “Is it fair to her that you will hold her hostage to your career for the rest of her life?”

   Matt shook his head in disgust and slid out of bed. “I never took you for a hypocrite, Belle.”

   “I’m not—”

   “You don’t care about Juliana. You’ve never even met her.”

   “All I’m saying is that upholding your charade of a marriage is no more fair to her than it is to me—or to you.”

   Matt paused in the doorway, naked and unashamed. “Our marriage isn’t a charade. We have two beautiful children and a grandson who is the light of my life. We don’t love each other, but we are friends. I would never throw that friendship away by divorcing her for another woman. And let’s not even talk about the troubles a divorce would cause our children!”

   Isabelle swallowed back a protest. Though both of Matt’s children were grown, and the eldest, Melanie, was already married with a young child, Isabelle knew he wasn’t being melodramatic. The Almeidas would consider the divorce an insult to their family, and adults or not, the children would be very much in the middle. A tear slid down her cheek, and she brushed it away, hoping that small act of feminine magic would bring Matt back to her bed. Her clumsy proposal had gone as wrong as it was possible to go, and she wanted him to hold her and comfort her and tell her he loved her again.

   “I’m sorry I’ve hurt you,” Matt said softly. “I thought you understood the limitations of our relationship. I love you. And I’ll give you as much of myself as I can if you’ll let me. But I can’t marry you.”

   The ache in her chest and throat sent another tear sliding down her cheek, and Isabelle tried to take a deep breath to soothe it. She had made a mess of everything, and she could almost see the emotional barriers Matt was building around himself. If she didn’t remind him of just how much he wanted her, she might well lose him altogether.

   Calling upon her Gift, Isabelle threw the sheet aside, baring her entire body. His eyes latched onto her naked form as her Gift enhanced her natural aura of sexuality—and helped her gauge exactly which sexual lure would be most effective in his current state of mind. She blinked away the last of her tears, though she knew she would shed many more later, when she was alone.

   “I’m the one who should be sorry,” she said, hoping she sounded more sincere than she felt. She licked her lips, then pouted at him as she rose to her hands and knees. “I’ve been a bad girl. Someone needs to put me in my place.”

   Matt’s eyes kindled with forbidden pleasure and his cock rose steadily from its nest of curls. He was a gentle, kind man at heart, and before he’d met Isabelle, he’d never admitted to himself, much less anyone else, that the idea of administering a little discipline might excite him. It was part of Isabelle’s Gift that she could look at a man—or a woman, for that matter—and know which sexual hot buttons to push. Some people got Gifts of invisibility, or mind reading, or imperviousness to fire … Isabelle got fucking. But at least she made good use of it.

   “Perhaps we shouldn’t,” Matt said hoarsely, his quickened breaths betraying him. “Not when we’re angry with one another.”

   He was right. This was a dangerous game to play when there was anger in the mix. Isabelle hesitated for only a moment before she purred and wiggled her bottom enticingly. This was going to hurt a little more than she liked, but she knew Matt would stop the moment she asked him to. If she was sore and tender afterward and Matt should happen to feel a little guilty about being so rough … Well, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Politics and magic make dangerous bedfellows. 
Deep within the Order, the seeds of corruption have taken root. While younger generations of the Gifted have embraced modern democratic values, a secret society of old-guard zealots seek a return to the past, when only European men of distinguished bloodlines held power. 
Now, three venerable European families and a maverick American each plot to seize control of the Order and shape it to their will. A cutthroat game of political intrigue will decide the winner; and the stakes couldn't be higher, for ruling the Order carries with it the power to grant—or deny—an afterlife. 
What begins as a battle of wills could turn into an all-out war. And magic could prove deadlier than any missile.
About Jenna Black:

Jenna Black is your typical writer. Which means she's an "experience junkie." She got her BA in physical anthropology and French from Duke University.
Once upon a time, she dreamed she would be the next Jane Goodall, camping in the bush making fabulous discoveries about primate behavior. Then, during her senior year at Duke, she did some actual research in the field and made this shocking discovery: primates spend something like eighty percent of their time doing such exciting things as sleeping and eating.
Concluding that this discovery was her life's work in the field of primatology, she then moved on to such varied pastimes as grooming dogs and writing technical documentation. She is now a full-time author of fantasy, young adult, and romance novels.
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