Monday, August 31, 2015

Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

Series: Hunter #1
384 p.
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Published: 9/1/15
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
Centuries ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were slashed open allowing hideous fantastical monsters to wreak havoc; destroying entire cities in their wake. Now, people must live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the evil creatures constantly trying to break in. Only the corps of teen Hunters with lightning reflexes and magical abilities can protect the populace from the daily attacks. 
Joyeaux Charmand is a mountain girl from a close knit village who comes to the big city to join the Hunters. Joy thinks she is only there to perform her civic duty and protect the capitol Cits, or civilians, but as cameras follow her every move, she soon learns that the more successful she is in her hunts, the more famous she becomes. 
With millions of fans watching her on reality TV, Joy begins to realize that Apex is not all it seems. She is forced to question everything she grew up believing about the legendary Hunters and the very world she lives in. Soon she finds that her fame may be part of a deep conspiracy that threatens to upend the protective structure built to keep dark magic out. The monsters are getting in and it is up to Joy to find out why.
My thoughts:
The first part of the book is a bit hard to get into. I think it is because it is establishing the world and just doesn't quite do it smoothly. I also had a hard time with Joyeaux who starts in this rambling way (we are in her head) but is supposed to be quite zen when it comes to dealing with the "folk" (fae). I see why that it is necessary to calm your mind, but what we got was anything but calm. You can't just say it is one way and then present us with something else. It makes the world more confusing and you tend to wander.

I also picked this book up for the cover. I love dragons, but while there are dragons in the book, they don't feature prominently within the story. There are a mash up of fae folk and we get all sorts. Mostly of the European variety, but her hounds (or otherwoldly helpers) seem to come from all sorts of worldly mythic stories. Again, this can be a bit confusing.

While I was not a fan of the beginning I did like Joyeaux. I loved that she was smart and capable and willing to learn. She was also kind and compassionate. Although her rambling mind tended to put me off, I did like her actions and so that is what kept me interested throughout the book. I loved seeing how she worked through a problem and opened herself up to others even when she didn't know who was a friend or enemy.

The ending leaves you with a lot of questions but it isn't a cliffie. And although I didn't enjoy the beginning of the book, I did enjoy it in the end. I am looking forward to reading the next book. I give this one 3 stars.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Blog Tour: Gaia by Karen Ann Hopkins

B&T: Welcome Karen to Books and Things! I'm attracted to a great cover. I love yours and I know Jenny (Supernatural Snark/ Seedlings Design) collaborate on the cover. How do you collaborate with her? What was essential for this book? 

Karen: I’m the same way! It’s the book’s cover that catches my eye, making me pluck it from a bookstore shelf or in the e-book format, clicking on the picture. The color theme is probably the most important element to me, followed by the scene itself. I’m drawn to covers that don’t show a person’s face, but have a vivid landscape and other details that give an instant impression about the book’s content. I love clouds—fluffy, happy ones and brooding, dark, ominous ones. There’s so much do with the sky.

Jenny Zemanek of Seedlings Design Studio has designed all my Indie covers and I can’t praise her creativity and professionalism enough. She amazes me with every single cover she creates.

When I first contact Jenny for a new cover, I have a pretty good idea about what I’m looking for. She’s a master of taking my visual wish list and turning it into reality. Embers was a difficult cover. I knew I wanted wings of some kind, but was afraid they’d look out of place or cheesy. Jenny came up with the idea of flaming wings to define Ember’s fire element in the first book. She designed the wings from scratch and I love the way the orange pops out from the creepy, dark forest scene. When it came time to design Gaia’s cover, we decided to focus on Ember’s growing earth power. It’s important to have a theme to the covers, so the reader identifies it immediately as part of a series. Jenny is brilliant at doing this, while at the same time giving each cover its own personality.

You can see the creepy, countryside elements in all of my Amish mystery books. The shading and stormy sky in Lamb to the Slaughter makes the corn look dangerous and imposing. The stark, lonely barn on the cover of Whispers from the Dead, combined with the bright blue of the winter sky and snowy landscape, convince you that something very terrible has happened there. And the old, leaning tombstones in Secrets in the Grave are eerie and pretty at the same time. The bold font Jenny used for this series immediately signals to the reader that it’s a mystery and the horse and buggy logo at the top informs you that there’s an Amish element within the story.

When I went to Jenny with a fourth book in the Temptation series, I asked her to blend the new book in with the previous three to keep continuity in the series. She did a marvelous job capturing the feel of a Temptation novel, while still making Rachel’s Deception special. The clash of the vibrant blue sky with the warm, golden grass is eye-catching, as is the troubled-looking girl. The font matched the previous books perfectly.

Developing the covers is my favorite part of publishing. I’m especially excited to begin work on TEMPEST (coming in 2016), the third book in the Wings of War series and HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT (2016), the fourth book in Serenity’s Plain Secrets. I haven’t told Jenny yet, but I’m hoping to get a horse onto one of these covers.

Thank you for being a part of Gaia’s blog tour! I love to connect with readers on my Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram or at Please be on the lookout for the release of SECRETS IN THE GRAVE, the third installment in my mystery series, Serenity’s Plain Secrets, in early September! Thanks for reading!

Karen Ann Hopkins

B&T: Sweet! I cannot wait to see those upcoming covers. Jenny, get busy! LOL 

About Karen Ann Hopkins:

Karen Ann Hopkins resides in northern Kentucky with her family on a farm that boasts a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats. Karen's main job is home schooling the kids, but she finds time to give riding lessons, coach a youth equestrian drill team, and of course, write. She was inspired to create her first book, Temptation, by the Amish community she lived in. The experiential knowledge she gained through her interactions with her neighbors drove her to create the story of the star-crossed lovers, Rose and Noah.

Karen grew up about a mile from Lake Ontario in Upstate New York. She was bitten by the horse bug at the age of five, and after diligently taking riding lessons for several years, was rewarded with her first horse when she turned eleven. The feisty horse's name was Lady, a Quarter Horse-Thoroughbred cross, who became Karen's steadfast companion. Through the years, the constant force in her life was horses. Eventually, she found her place as a riding instructor herself. Before accepting her fate in the barnyard, she worked a short stint as a paralegal, traveled abroad, and guided tourists on horseback riding tours in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

Karen is currently working on her Amish mystery series, Serenity's Plain Secrets, along with the YA paranormal/fantasy series, The Wings of War. Karen is also excited to announce the Temptation series has been optioned for TV by Pilgrim Studios and is available on Audible. More books in the Temptation series are in the works.

by Karen Ann Hopkins
Series: Wings of War #2
Published: 7/26/15
As the Demons grow bolder and the walls between the planes of existence weaken, Ember is forced to develop her powers as quickly as possible, and she seeks out a powerful earth Watcher to continue her supernatural lessons. Her glimpse of the future demands she fight the dark forces spreading across the earth.

But her new mentor has his own agenda, making her question everyone and everything she ever trusted.
When Ember is thrust into the world of the Watchers, she learns of their plans—ones that defy the scripture and make them enemies of the Celestial Host. Ridding the world of evil gets complicated when it becomes impossible to take sides.

As Ember struggles with morality, she soon discovers that there’s something more frightening than anything she’s faced before.

Book 1:
One lucky winner will receive a $50 gift card (Amazon, B&N, iTunes), as well as a complete set of Karen’s YA books, including Embers, Gaia, Temptation, Belonging, Forever, and Rachel’s Deception! Please enter via the Rafflecopter form. Giveaway is open internationally. Giveaway is sponsored by Kismet.

Tour Stops: (for full tour dates please goto: Gaia Tour Page)

Monday, August 24th
a Bookish Escape (Review)

Tuesday, August 25th
Behind The Pages (Guest Post)

Wednesday, August 26th

Thursday, August 27th

Friday, August 28th
Avid Reader Musings (Review/Guest Post)
Books and Things (Guest Post)

Monday, August 31st
Bewitched Bookworms (Guest Post)
Pause Time Reviews (Review/Guest Post)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Shadows Strike by Dianne Duvall

Series: Immortal Guardians #6
320 p.
Publisher: Zebra
Published: 8/25/15
Source: From author for review
The Immortal Guardians protect the innocent in secret. Sometimes the secret gets out... 
U.S. law enforcement agent Heather Lane can read minds. But not the future. The dream of battle and blood that recurs every night must be a fluke, some obscure terror from her own mind. What its significance might be, she can’t guess: an attack from seven psychotic vampires at once, only separated from nightmare by an eighth very different immortal. A handsome, brave man fighting at her side, a man she misses when she wakes. 
Then the dream comes true. Heather is flung into a war between predators and protectors of humanity, the man from her dreams beside her again. Except now that she’s awake, she isn’t sure she can trust Ethan, or the shadow organization he represents. The U.S. military doesn’t trust either of them. But against an onslaught of evil like the one that’s coming, it will take everything they have just to survive...
My thoughts:

Ah Ethan's story! This is one of my favorite urban fantasy, paranormal romance series and I was happy to read Ethan and Heather's story. It is one that is a sort of an insta-love in a way, but the reasons were fully explained and it made sense. So, in this case it didn't bother me at all. In fact, the characters themselves explored this insta-attraction / love openly.

Ethan makes a great swoony character. He loves and appreciates strong women and Heather is a great heroine who takes to this new world with aplomb. They make a great couple and a fun one to read. Yes, there is plenty of humor with the romance in the banter between the two characters. And while you could read these books out of order, it makes more sense to get them in order. You get a better sense of the characters and the overall arc within the series. We do move further along the arc and even get new characters. Oh I do hope this series doesn't end. We have so many other immortals to explore. ;)

I don't want to say too much about this book for fear that I'll reveal more of the book than the blurb above. I will say that I give this book 5 stars and highly recommend the series to those that love PNR with a UF kick.

Don't forget to go to the author blog post HERE for some great quotes and a chance at a great prize!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Blog Tour with Giveaway: Shadows Strike by Dianne Duvall

This is a series I love and I'm so happy to be part of a great tour for the book. Tomorrow I'll have the review of this book! Now to the blogpost by Dianne Duvall! Welcome Dianne!!

Top 5 Reasons Immortal Guardians make the Best Book Boyfriends

Thank you so much for joining me today! I’m very excited to be here at Books and Things, celebrating the release of SHADOWS STRIKE, the sixth book in my Immortal Guardians series. (If you’re new to the series, don’t worry. The books can be read as stand alones. You’ll just be more familiar with the secondary characters if you read them in order.) Today I thought I would give you a little insight into my powerful Immortal Guardians by naming five reasons they make the best book boyfriends.

1. They love strong women.

“Beautiful, brave and possessed of violent tendencies.  I like her.” 
Marcus, Darkness Dawns

“Are you sure I can't talk you into leaving this old sod and running away with me? I do so love strong women. ”
Étienne, Night Reigns 

“You’re a strong, beautiful woman who knows her way around a blade.  I find that” — he drew in a deep breath as his eyes traveled over her with a heat that scorched her — “incredibly appealing.”
Étienne, Darkness Rises

“You’re beautiful, you’re smart, you think quickly in a crisis, and you kick ass.  Do you have any idea what a desirous combination that is?”
—Ethan, Shadows Strike

2. They like to laugh and tease.

Adira toddled toward Seth, touching each man’s knee on the way.

Seth bent and scooped her into his arms, kissing her cheek, then blowing raspberries in her chubby neck rolls. Giggles filled the air as she squirmed against him, leaning back and clutching him tighter all at the same time.

How he loved this baby girl.

“I don’t know about you,” Chaahk said, “but I’m feeling a little rebuffed.”

“Why,” Seth asked with a laugh, “because I didn’t blow raspberries in your neck?”

Aidan and Imhotep laughed.

Shaking his head, Chaahk motioned to Adira. “Why doesn’t she smile at us like that?”

Seth shrugged. “I’m prettier.”
Shadows Strike

3. They’re fiercely protective of those they love.

“No one will harm you, Heather,” he vowed.  “They would have to go through me first.”
She smiled.
She gave him a titillating once-over.  “You’re hot when you’re all tough and protective.”
He grinned.  “Stop tempting me.  Chris is on his way, so I need to keep my head.”
—Ethan and Heather, Shadows Strike

4. They kick ass.

Lisette gasped as Zach tore through the vampires like a tornado.

Holy sh**, he’s fast! Richart thought and took a step forward, his fascinated gaze glued to the tempest below.

It didn’t take long.

Zach stilled in the center of the pack, knees bent, blades dripping, face marbled with blood.  Seven vampires sank lifelessly to the ground, their bodies spread around him like the petals of a flower, as the virus went to work and they began to shrivel up like mummies.
Night Unbound

5. You just never know what they’re going to say.

"All right.  All right.  Settle down.  We're all glad Sarah stabbed Bastien in the ass."
Seth, Phantom Shadows

“What did you think I would do? Ask her if I could braid her hair after we gave each other facials and painted our toenails?”
Marcus, Night Reigns

“For some reason, admitting that makes me feel like a naughty school boy caught peeking up his teacher’s skirt.”
Bastien, Phantom Shadows

“I thought I felt a disturbance in the force.”
—Aidan, Shadows Strike

“I did not need to see that.  I mean I really did not need to see that.  Jenna, honey, grab one of my daggers and poke out both my eyes.”

—Richart, Night Unbound

Ah can you see why I love this series so much? Love those quotes. :D
Now for the giveaway deets and the info for the newest book:

Giveaway Details:
One winner – $50 Amazon Gift Card*
One winner – $20 Amazon Gift Card*
One winner – Signed book (winner’s choice) from author’s back list.
Just fill out the rafflecopter form below:

About the Book:
Shadows Strike
(Immortal Guardians #6)
by Dianne Duvall
Paperback/eBook, 320 pages
Expected publication: August 25th 2015 by Zebra
ISBN 1420129821

The Immortal Guardians protect the innocent in secret. Sometimes the secret gets out...

U.S. law enforcement agent Heather Lane can read minds. But not the future. The dream of battle and blood that recurs every night must be a fluke, some obscure terror from her own mind. What its significance might be, she can’t guess: an attack from seven psychotic vampires at once, only separated from nightmare by an eighth very different immortal. A handsome, brave man fighting at her side, a man she misses when she wakes.

Then the dream comes true. Heather is flung into a war between predators and protectors of humanity, the man from her dreams beside her again. Except now that she’s awake, she isn’t sure she can trust Ethan, or the shadow organization he represents. The U.S. military doesn’t trust either of them. But against an onslaught of evil like the one that’s coming, it will take everything they have just to survive...

Order Links: (it's out today!!)
Barnes & Noble -

Previous Books in the Series:
Book 1, Darkness Dawns -
Book 2, Night Reigns -
Book 3, Phantom Shadows -
Book 3.5, In Still Darkness -
Book 4, Darkness Rises -
Book 5, Night Unbound -

About the Author:

Dianne Duvall is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Immortal Guardians paranormal romance series and The Gifted Ones series. Her books have twice been nominated for the RT Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Vampire Romance and are routinely deemed Top Picks by RT Book Reviews, The Romance Reviews, and/or Night Owl Reviews. Reviewers have called Dianne's books "utterly addictive" (RT Book Reviews), "fast-paced and humorous" (Publishers Weekly), "extraordinary" (Long and Short Reviews), and "wonderfully imaginative" (The Romance Reviews).

Dianne loves all things creative. When she isn't writing, Dianne is active in the independent film industry and has even appeared on-screen, crawling out of a moonlit grave and wielding a machete like some of the vampires she has created in her books. 

For the latest news on upcoming releases, contests, and more, please visit You can also find Dianne online . . .

Giveaway and content Sponsored by:
For complete tour dates and more information and chances to win the prize go to the tour page HERE 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Audiobook Review: Eighth Grave After Dark by Darynda Jones with Crafts!

Series: Charlie Davidson #8
Narrator: Lorelei King
9 hrs.
Publisher: Audible Audio
Published: 5/19/15
Source: Library
With twelve hellhounds after her, pregnant Charley Davidson takes refuge at the only place she thinks they can’t get to her: the grounds of an abandoned convent. But after months of being cooped up there, Charley is ready to pop. Both metaphorically and literally since she is now roughly the size of a beached whale. Fortunately, a new case has captured her attention, one that involves a murder on the very grounds the team has taken shelter upon. A decades-old murder of the newly-vowed nun she keeps seeing in the shadows is almost enough to pull her out of her doldrums.

Charley's been forbidden to step foot off the sacred grounds. While the angry hellhounds can’t traverse the consecrated soil, they can lurk just beyond its borders. They have the entire team on edge, especially Reyes. And if Charley didn’t know better, she would swear Reyes is getting sick. He grows hotter with every moment that passes, his heat scorching across her skin every time he’s near, but naturally he swears he’s fine. 
While the team searches for clues on the Twelve, Charley just wants answers and is powerless to get them. But the mass of friends they’ve accrued helps. They convince her even more that everyone in her recent life has somehow been drawn to her, as though they were a part of a bigger picture all along. But the good feelings don’t last for long because Charley is about to get the surprise of her crazy, mixed-up, supernatural life….
My thoughts:
I couldn't wait to get into this book. I have the physical book, but wanted to continue it on audio since I've done all of them on audio. Luckily my library got it (with my prodding...) and so I picked up this series where I left off last. I couldn't wait to meet "Beep". :)

While this one doesn't have quite the same punch as the other, I still enjoyed my time with Charley and the gang. Oh and Reyes... need I say more? LOL This book is as humorous as the others and I frequently had a smile on my face. I had heard about this horrible twist in the end so I was nervous about the ending. However, when the twists came, I was not upset. I didn't love the twist, but I could also live with it. I think my imagination worked overtime so when the twists came, I was thinking... "is that it? Oh no problem!" :)

I give this audio 4 stars and as before I highly recommend this series on audio. If you weren't already a Lorelei King fan, this series on audio will make you one quickly.

As promised here is the other teardrop sling for the little girl on my holiday list. This one is by RLR Creations and comes in multiple sizes. This one is the small. I'm going to try a medium size next. 
Click to enlarge pic

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

On My Wishlist: The Drafter by Kim Harrison

The Drafter 
by Kim Harrison
Series: The Peri Reed Chronicles #1
432 p.
Publisher: Gallery Books
Published: 9/1/15
Detroit 2030. Double-crossed by the person she loved and betrayed by the covert government organization that trained her to use her body as a weapon, Peri Reed is a renegade on the run. 
Don’t forgive and never forget has always been Peri’s creed. But her day job makes it difficult: she is a drafter, possessed of a rare, invaluable skill for altering time, yet destined to forget both the history she changed and the history she rewrote. 
When Peri discovers her name on a list of corrupt operatives, she realizes that her own life has been manipulated by the agency. She joins forces with a mysterious rogue soldier in a deadly race to piece together the truth about her final task, unable to trust even herself.
I still need to read her other series but I so want to try this one!!
What is on your wishlist this week? 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bring Me A Dream by Erin Kellison

Series: Reveler #5
111 p.
Publisher: Fire Flower Publishing
Published: 8/19/14
Source: From author for review
The madman and the nightmare…

Vincent Blackman is a little…unhinged. He recently fought a nightmare from the world Darkside and won. Now he fears nothing and wants revenge on the man who had his father brutally murdered. And how convenient to find an ally in Mirren Lambert, his enemy’s gorgeous and sexy daughter. Unfortunately, she’s made a few enemies of her own.

She might be a nightmare, but she’s also his ultimate fantasy.

Mirren was born half human, half nightmare. She was on the run from her ruthless father, but when he abducted her young son, she knew he had to be stopped once and for all. Dangerous Vincent is just who she needs to help her, though she has a perilous part to play as well, infiltrating her father’s circles to discover his secrets. They learn something dark is stirring in the dreamwaters, and it’s reaching toward the waking world. Vincent might be holding on to the last of his sanity, but that’s okay, as long as he holds on even tighter to her.

Bring Me A Dream is the fifth installment in the Reveler serial, a hot paranormal romance set in a world where shared dreaming is a new pop culture phenomenon that allows people to indulge their wildest fantasies. But there are also unknown dangers Darkside; nightmares are slowly infiltrating not only dreams, but the waking world as well. And behind them all is a shadowy entity called the Sandman.

Revel with me.
My thoughts:
Okay, what is it about the bad guy and girl? This is their story and I loved how interesting it was. Maybe it is finding out the motivation and what drives them to be bad? Well, in this case the motivation isn't bad at all. In fact it is noble. Don't let that disappoint you, their solutions are anything but noble. :) In fact, it is like most "bad" guys like this, their emotional states and morals seemed to be stunted but they keep trying even if they know it is wrong.

This was a fun episode in the series. I was shocked by a twist and I hope we get to know more about why that happened. I now have to know more about the Sandman and Erin Kellison has me totally hooked on what comes next.

I give this book 4 stars and wished it was longer. I'm so glad the next book is out so I can devour it as well.

Monday, August 17, 2015

We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

320 p.
Publisher: Ballentine Books
Published: 8/18/15
Source: NetGalley and Publisher for review
From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers comes her much-anticipated new novel about young love, hard choices, and hope against all odds. 
For fourteen years, Letty Espinosa has worked three jobs around San Francisco to make ends meet while her mother raised her children—Alex, now fifteen, and Luna, six—in their tiny apartment on a forgotten spit of wetlands near the bay. But now Letty’s parents are returning to Mexico, and Letty must step up and become a mother for the first time in her life. 
Navigating this new terrain is challenging for Letty, especially as Luna desperately misses her grandparents and Alex, who is falling in love with a classmate, is unwilling to give his mother a chance. Letty comes up with a plan to help the family escape the dangerous neighborhood and heartbreaking injustice that have marked their lives, but one wrong move could jeopardize everything she’s worked for and her family’s fragile hopes for the future. 
Vanessa Diffenbaugh blends gorgeous prose with compelling themes of motherhood, undocumented immigration, and the American Dream in a powerful and prescient story about family.
My thoughts:
I don't read too many contemporaries, and when I do I often look for those with a specific cultural perspective or something to do with creativity (art, music, etc). This one had both. While the art aspect was really more in the background it did give a constant in which the characters revolved. The art was Letty's father's feather work which he turned into artwork mosaics. This isn't a story about art, but about finding one's own way through the confines and expressions of our past and our parent's past.

The cultural aspect was one of illegal immigration. While people often have strong opinions on this subject, you rarely hear it with any real knowledge of the situation. While this book tackles it, it does not give you a side to adhere, but a perspective to consider. Again, this was important but not as important as the characters growth into maturity.

I give this book 4 stars. It seems well researched and I love how all characters achieved growth. All of the characters had real problems they all thought they couldn't conquer, but knew the only way was forward and so chose that option. I recommend it to those that enjoy contemporary stories as well as those that enjoy chick lit. I think it would work equally well for those genres.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

Series: The Malediction Trilogy #1
469 p.
Published: 4/1/14
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Source: Library
For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realizes that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse. 
Cécile has only one thing on her mind: escape. But the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time… 
But the more time she spends with the trolls, the more she understands their plight. There is a rebellion brewing. And she just might be the one the trolls were looking for...

My thoughts:
After hearing so much praise for this book, I couldn't wait to dive into the story. I was glad that I did. I was worried about starting the trilogy since Strange Chemistry has gone under, but Angry Robot has picked up the series and will finish the trilogy.

While some of the book seems like the same YA adventures you get: kidnapping, secrets, and a mystery to be solved, you also get a few things you don't always get in YA. A strong female protagonist. While she did on occasion frustrate me with her whining, it was very short lived, and to be honest, I couldn't have not gone on that long without whining. LOL She quickly took stock of what is going on and what she could do to improve her situation and goals. I loved that about Cecile. I also loved that she became fast friends to the trolls in her midst as well as those that were treated as slaves. She was able to assess the situation despite Tristan keeping so many secrets from her.

In fact, this is where it fails a bit for me, the romance. I didn't quite buy the romance between Cecile and Tristan but I wasn't unconvinced either. It was in an area where I could just push through despite my lackluster feeling for their romance. I also had problems with Tristan and how he chose to trust others around him. It might have helped if I had more background on Tristan but as it stood, he frustrated me with Cecile. Granted, I would have been more put out if he trusted her too soon, but he gave her no way to earn his trust until he gave her a choice reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast.

I give this fantasy 3 1/2 stars. I enjoyed my time here. While I wasn't completely convinced of their romance I still found it sweet. My biggest highlight was Cecile and her ability to adapt. I became involved in the adventure and I have to know what happens next. I'm very happy my library has the next book ready for me to read.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Kitty Saves the World by Carrie Vaughn

Series: Kitty Norville #14
318 p.
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: 8/4/15
Source: From publisher for review
The final novel in the New York Times bestselling series 
It’s all come down to this, following the discoveries made by Cormac in Low Midnight, Kitty and her allies are ready to strike. But, when their assassination attempt on the evil vampire Dux Bellorum fails, Kitty finds herself running out of time. The elusive vampire lord has begun his apocalyptic end game, and Kitty still doesn’t know where he will strike. 
Meanwhile, pressure mounts in Denver as Kitty and her pack begin to experience the true reach of Dux Bellorum’s cult. Outnumbered and outgunned at every turn, the stakes have never been higher for Kitty. She will have to call on allies both old and new in order to save not just her family and friends, but the rest of the world as well.
My thoughts:

The last book! NOooooOOOO! I love this series. This is one series where you can actually see that the main character grows into someone who is strong and capable. Considering where she started, looking back it was a great ride. This is one of those series who may not love Kitty in the beginning but will LOVE her quickly and want to be her bff in the end. This book also has great secondary characters (off-shoot series??? *hopes*) so I can see Carrie Vaughn possibly heading in that direction if she has more to tell in this world. I will be a happy reader if that happens. However, I do understand that an author wants to leave a series on a up note rather than let it flounder before it ends.

In this book we finally get what we have been building toward for several books. The arc has been frustrating as you want it to end, but didn't want it to come too soon. I think this was the perfect balance and what an ending. I'm not always a fan of the ending series book, but this one had me from the beginning to the end. In fact I didn't want to read it too fast since I knew it was the last Kitty book.

I give this book 5 stars. I loved that this one had an epilogue and it was a perfect end to a fun series. The ending brought us back a bit but kept us moving forward to a future which is hopefully bright for the characters we leave for (possibly?) good. This is a series you want to start at the beginning and read all the way through to the end.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

On My Wishlist: Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch

Oh I loved the first book and I must have this one!

Ice Like Fire
by Sara Raasch
Series: Snow Like Ashes #2
479 p.
Published: 10/13/15
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell. 
Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves? 
Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats? 
As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.
So what are you wishing for this week? 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Audiobook and Craft Review: Long Black Curl by Alex Bledsoe

Series: Tufa #3
Narrator: Stephan Rudnicki
10 hrs. 39 min.
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 5/26/15
Source: Audiobook Jukebox for review
In all the time the Tufa have existed, only two have ever been exiled: Bo-Kate Wisby and her lover, Jefferson Powell. They were cast out, stripped of their ability to make music, and cursed to never be able to find their way back to Needsville. Their crime? A love that crossed the boundary of the two Tufa tribes, resulting in the deaths of several people. 
Somehow, Bo-Kate has found her way back. She intends to take over both tribes, which means eliminating both Rockhouse Hicks and Mandalay Harris. Bo-Kate has a secret weapon: Byron Harley, a rockabilly singer known as the "Hillbilly Hercules" for his immense size and strength, who has passed the last 60 years trapped in a bubble of faery time. He's ready to take revenge on any Tufa he finds. 
The only one who can stop Bo-Kate is Jefferson. Released from the curse and summoned back to Cloud County, even he isn't sure what will happen when they finally meet. Will he fall in love with her again? Will he join her on her quest to unite the Tufa under her rule? Or will he have to sacrifice himself to save the people who once banished him?
My thoughts:
I have enjoyed this series from the beginning. This is a series that is best read from the beginning because the Tufa are a mystery that needs to be solved through the other two books.

We know the major mystery of the Tufa and so we aren't frustrated with that mystery going into this book. In some ways it is relaxing but in others I sort of missed the curiosity of what was really going on. However, with the Tufa you are not without mystery and this book takes you not just back in the Tufa history, but in music history as well.

I don't want to give too much away to those that have not picked up this series, but I did enjoy trying to figure out exactly what Bo-Kate was up to in this book and how Mandalay (a 12 yr. old girl) will figure out a way to defeat her or be defeated. There were a few interesting twists and several aspects to the book that surprised me.

I also want to say something about Stephen Rudnicki's narration. At first I thought I would have a hard time getting used to his low and gravely voice however, I did seem to find myself enjoying the narration after a couple of chapters. He did seem to be a bit nasal at the beginning (like he had a bit of a cold) but as I got used to his low voice, it also seemed to lose the nasal quality. I also thought I would have problems with the voices of the women and especially a 12 yr. old girl. I didn't. It didn't seem odd to me nor did his voices take me out of the story. It worked.

I give this audio 3 1/2 stars. I enjoyed moving to another mystery while finally knowing what or who about the Tufa. This is a series I recommend to those that enjoy some twisty aspects and mysteries to a close knit community where music is life.

Crafts I did while listening to the audio:
I did 2 bags and 1 wallet. I finished another Butterfly Sling by Emmaline Patterns (the one with the butterfly material which I started from the other audio) and I started on some holiday gifts. I made a Snappy Mani Wallet (free pattern) from Noodlehead Designs. I finished a Teardrop Sling by RLR Creations (size small) for a little boy. I will do his sister's sling next and hopefully show it to you in the next audiobook/craft review! :)
Click for bigger pic

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

400 p.
Publisher: Crown
Published: 6/23/15
Source: Blogging for Books for review
There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only…A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.”

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people's lives.
My thoughts:

This book sounded like a mix of magical realism with books! How could I resist. I had to review this one. :)

The book did have the magical realism aspect. That kind of etherial quality to it that makes unusual things happen. We are to marvel at it and move on as if it should be an expected part of life. In fact, it reminded me of Chocolat where Vianne can tell their favorite chocolate or what sweetness to life was missing from the person visiting her shoppe. It is the same here. Perdu can tell you what book you need in your life by a few questions and intuition. He is an literary apothecary which brings books to those who are in need. However, who helps the helper when it is needed?

The book's adventure really starts when it is Perdu's time to go forth and find something through books and beyond books to find what he has lost. This is a story about forgiveness, loss, redemption, and finding your own HEA. In fact, this story has more than one HEA.

I think my only complaint was that it at times felt a bit uneven in the pacing and that there were spots where I felt it jumped a bit in the story. It may have been just me, but I wonder since I do believe this is a translated version of the book, Das Lavendelzimmer, the original title.

I give this book 3 1/2 stars and recommend it to those that enjoy magical realism and moving on in life.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

My Wishlist: The Geomancer by Clay and Susan Griffith

The Geomancer
Vampire Empire #4
by Clay and Susan Griffith
321 p.
Publisher: Pyr
To Be Published: 11/3/15
The uneasy stalemate between vampires and humans is over. Adele and Gareth are bringing order to a free Britain, but bloody murders in London raise the specter that Adele's geomancy is failing and the vampires might return. A new power could tilt the balance back to the vampire clans. A deranged human called the Witchfinder has surfaced on the Continent, serving new vampire lords. This geomancer has found a way to make vampires immune to geomancy and intends to give his masters the ability to kill humans on a massive scale. 
The apocalyptic event in Edinburgh weakened Adele's geomantic abilities. If the Witchfinder can use geomancy against humanity, she may not have the power to stop him. If she can't, there is nowhere beyond his reach and no one he cannot kill.
From a Britain struggling to rebuild to the vampire capital of Paris, from the heart of the Equatorian Empire to a vampire monastery in far-away Tibet, old friends and past enemies return. Unexpected allies and terrible new villains arise. Adele and Gareth fight side-by-side as always, but they can never be the same if they hope to survive.
Oh I'm curious as to where this one will go since I thought the series complete.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Classic Human Anatomy in Motion by Valerie L. Winslow

Art Instruction
 304 p.
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Published: 8/4/15
Source: NetGalley and publisher for review
This highly illustrated reference book provides artists and art students with an understanding of human anatomy and different types of motion, inspiring more realistic and energetic figurative art.

Fine-art instruction books do not usually focus on anatomy as it relates to movement, despite its great artistic significance. Written by a long-time expert on drawing and painting human anatomy, Classic Human Anatomy in Motion offers artists everything they need to realistically draw the human figure as it is affected by movement. Written in a friendly style, the book is illustrated with hundreds of life drawing studies (both quick poses and long studies), along with charts and diagrams showing the various anatomical and structural components. This comprehensive manual features five distinct sections, each focusing on a different aspect of the human figure: bones and joint movement, muscle groups, surface form and soft tissue characteristics, structure, and movement. Each chapter builds an artistic understanding of how motion transforms the human figure and can create a sense of expressive vibrancy in one's art.
My thoughts:

This art book actually reminds me more of the anatomy books you get when you study animation. It makes sense that you would study movement in classical poses since you can render a subject off balance and not realize it. This book helps you understand the structure behind the movement and poses your subject gives you. You can then translate a pose in a balanced way or once you gain understanding unbalance a subject in a purposeful way.

This book would also be of help to those that deal with any kind of structural endeavor.  Those that want a greater understanding of movement would get a great overlook on how the muscles and bones process movement. While sometimes it can be a tedious amount of information, but it is useful as a reference guide. It would be a great addition to other figure drawing books. I give this book 3 1/2 stars.