Friday, 30 September 2016

Touch of Power by Maria V Snyder

Title: Touch of Power
Series: Avry of Kazan (#1)
Author: Maria V Snyder
From: Amazon
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 20th December 2011
Challenges: 2016 Read the Books You Buy
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honoured for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos. Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince, the leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for.

Having read and enjoyed the first three books in Snyders Chronicles of Ixia series (along with the short stories!) I didn't quite feel that I'd had my fix yet, and I am definitely in a fantasy mood at the moment, so I dived into this one, and honestly I think its even better than the Study books! 

I loved Avry, she'd survived on her own for years and just because she'd found people she could let know who she really was, she didn't let anything slip. She worked at surviving still, and even though you could read her beginning to trust the people around her, and grow attached to them, she was still strong and independent. 

The growing relationships between Avry and the various memebers of the group she was travelling with were a really strong part of the story to me. She built friendships with Loren, Quain, Flea and Belen, while her relationship with Kerrick was so complicated it just can't be summed up in words (but I would say that the events at the end of the book were perfect for these two). 


I liked that things weren't quite black and white for Avry and the rest of the world either. A plague had decemated the population and law and order were definitely a thing of the past. She was asked to heal someone who she had heard had done terrible things, and some of the central conversations were based on Kerrick and the others trying to change her mind. It was complex and made the characters themselves more complex as a result. 

The other thing that I really liked was that the main character actually got to know the main antagonist (who I suspect will play a future role too) better than just as an adversary. Avry spent time with the main bad guy and it made his actions seem that bit more chilling. 

I loved this book, and book 2 is already on my kindle so it shouldn't be long until I dig into that one! Or at least I hope not!

Blitz: Petrified City by SC Green & Lindsey R Loucks



Blurb:
Welcome to Petrified City, where the dead don’t stay in the ground.

Ten years ago, an accident at the city chemical plant leaked toxins into the soil of the historic Brookwood Hill Cemetery. From the poisoned ground emerged the wraith – ghosts of the long dead who gorge on the energy sucked from the city’s dwindling population. Desperate to contain the threat, the government enclosed the city in a giant dome, trapping the wraith and the residents inside.

Now, there’s almost nothing left.

Sydney Cale – a thief with a strange and secret power – attempts to escape from the city’s jailers, only to find herself facing off against the wraith. She teams up with Alain, a raven shapeshifter who is a member of the Order of the Reapers, a powerful force who work to banish the wraith back to the underworld. Alain agrees to protect Sydney and her friend Diana in exchange for her help. She must enter the Citadel – the wraith compound in the center of the city – and steal back his kidnapped daughter.

But what Sydney finds inside the Citadel will change everything. The wraith are evolving, drawing energy from the decaying city itself. Soon, they will be powerful enough to break free of the dome. Sydney and Alain must stop the wraith before they escape and infect the world, even if that means dooming themselves, and everyone they love, to petrifying inside the dying city.

Bios:
S. C. Green lives in an off-grid home in rural New Zealand with her husband, a menagerie of animals, and their medieval sword collection. She's the author of the Engine Ward series, and she also writes paranormal romance under the name Steffanie Holmes. Find out more about her work on her website: www.steffmetal.com or join her newsletter: http://www.steffmetal.com/subscribe/

Lindsey R. Loucks is a former school librarian from rural Kansas. When she's not discussing books with anyone who will listen, she's dreaming up her own stories. Eventually her brain gives out, and she'll play hide and seek with her cat, put herself in a chocolate induced coma, or watch scary movies alone in the dark to reenergize.
Join Lindsey's Insider Newsletter: http://bit.ly/lrlinsider

Excerpts:

1.
I raced across the street and down another alley, then turned right and vaulted over a stack of overflowing trash cans. I landed hard, my left foot rolling on the heel. Pain surged up my leg. Ignoring it, I sprinted between the two high rise apartment blocks, their glass windows smashed, the once pristine whitewashed walls cracked and crumbling to dust—becoming petrified, just like the rest of the city.
Outside the safety of the high rise buildings, I darted into Cromwell Park. This was an overgrown patch of brown grass, disused flower beds, and graffiti-strewn park benches that lined the shores of the river that wound its way through this part of the city. Here, on open ground, the wardens would have ample opportunity to shoot me down. But if I could make it through, I could lose them by the river.
On cue, a bullet zinged and ricocheted off the edging of a garden bed to my left, spraying me with concrete dust. I cried out and bolted for the bridge, sliding down the edge of the riverbed, my boots clattering over loose rubble.
Keep going. You’re nearly there.
The warden behind me blew his whistle, calling for more backup. He probably thought he had me cornered, but he didn’t know that beneath the bridge was a tunnel that led under the streets back toward the Rim. It was part of an old network from the prohibition where shopkeepers would secretly transport their illicit goods down to the water to be transported on to the next city where they would fetch a high price in the speakeasies. The riverbed had long since dried up, the flow diverted around Petrified City by those outside. But as of three months ago, before I was sent to prison, the tunnel was still intact.
The entrance to the tunnel was disguised beneath an overhang of rock and obscured by thick weeds. I pushed them aside and slipped down into the gloom, pulling the weeds back over to hide the hole. I left just enough of a gap that I could watch the path leading under the bridge.
I crouched down and listened. Footsteps crunched by outside, growing louder, and then fading again. Faintly, I could hear the wardens barking orders to spread out and search along the bank.
“She can’t have gone far,” one of them growled.
The footsteps were joined by at least two others, but those, too, faded as they searched for me further up the riverbed.
Safe for now. I let out my breath and sucked in the damp air of the tunnel, waiting for my heartrate to return to normal. That was close. Now, to get back to Diana before they decide to search my place—
I turned and came face to face with a wraith.
Fuck. Not safe. Not at all.
The wraith hissed from the shadows, the faint outline of its translucent skin and the glow of its eyes my only clue to its exact form and location. Its mouth hung open, revealing a deep abyss of nothing but shadow and terror.

Excerpt 2.

I lurched forward, and the tunnel exploded.
Orange flames leapt along the walls, surrounding me with fierce heat. The force knocked me to the ground, driving the wind from my chest and sending pain through my limbs. The wraith screamed, this time with terror, as the flames danced over them, tearing at whatever ethereal substance made up their bodies. Their mouths gaped as flames consumed them, turning their emaciated limbs to piles of dust.
From the shadows, a raven flew down and landed on the ground at my feet. It watched the flames as they consumed the wraiths, standing silent until every last speck had been turned to grey dust. It lifted a wing, and the flames flared up, reaching right to the tunnel roof. I stepped back, holding up my hands to shield my face from the heat.
When the heat began to fade and the flames died away, a man stood in the centre of the tunnel. He was dressed in black from head to toe—black jeans, black t-shirt, and a long black trenchcoat that swung around his ankles. In the gloom of the tunnel, his hair appeared black also, falling around his face in long waves and spilling down over his broad, muscular shoulders. A line of stubble defined his strong jaw, and he stared at me with piercing, ice-blue eyes and a thin-lipped smirk.
He was absolutely gorgeous, and if I weren’t at that moment still recovering from a near-death experience, I might have considered throwing myself into his arms and showing him just how grateful I was for his timely intervention.
Thankfully, I had some self-control. Well, that and the fact this man was a Reaper—one of the race of ancient raven shapeshifters who ferried the souls of the dead from this world to the next. The Reapers had always worked quietly in the background, their Order and work unknown to most people. But here in Petrified City, not even they were safe from the wraith. They were the only people who had weapons that could slow the wraith down, and they could do what this Reaper had just done and reap the wraith back to the underworld … although the ghouls never stayed dead long. The Reapers were our last line of defense, the only thing standing in the way of the wraiths completely taking over Petrified City. They were also judge, jury, and executioner in the city, and they didn’t much tolerate petty thieves like me flouting the few laws they bothered to police. With my luck, this Reaper would put me on a one-way ride back on the prison bus.
If it wasn’t my lucky day, well … I was wraith food.
“Love the flames. Very dramatic. I had it all under control, though.” Great. I always got sarcastic when I felt threatened. And this Reaper was definitely a threat, maybe a bigger threat than the wraith he’d just killed.
“You were lucky,” he replied, his deep, throaty voice resonating in the long tunnel. “These wraiths were seconds from turning you into a husk. They must be desperate to be hunting during the daylight like this. You okay?”
“I can manage.” I got to my feet, my body screaming in pain. I dusted off my prison overalls, realizing too late that I’d just drawn attention to them. Not only was I sarcastic, but sometimes I was a real idiot.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Bookish Resolutions Link Up (September)

2016 Bookish Resolutions



Bookish Resolutions is a challenge I co-host with Michelle @ becausereading.com! Yet another month has passed! So let us know how you did this September...and not to scare you but Michelle's been cracking the whip on what we're doing with the challenge next year (cracking the whip mostly because I can be terrible at responding...sorry Michelle!) 

My Bookish Resolutions Progress (which is way behind where I should be!)

Blogging Goals 
  1. Schedule posts before the day they are 'due' (especially for challenge updates!)
    I'm a couple of weeks ahead now which I'm happy with! Wouldn't want to be any further than I am no!
  2. Post a detailed update on everything on the first Sunday of each month (previously Reintroduce non-review content)
    I changed this one before I went back to posting weekend reviews when my reading picked up again, but my End of the Month round up is still on track, just for the 1st of the month!
  3. Cross post Blog Posts regularly, preferably in under a week since post date
    I've done really well at this one! 
  4. Tidy up the Trips Down Imagination Road Facebook & Twitter Pages
    This one is going, mostly because I decided I was pretty happy with where I'm at with it. 
  5. Visit other blogs regularly (I used to but this dropped off the radar a bit)
    I have done a lot of lurking this month, and managed to move it on so I'm now commenting a bit too! So hopefully back on track with that one!
Reading Goals 
  1. COMPLETED: Improve Netgalley ratio by at least 10% (if this is achieved by the half way mark then it will be upped to 20%). I did succeed in improving my ratio in 2015 and was actually quite surprised to find I'd improved it by 7% (at the time of writing).
    Up to 11% added now!
  2. COMPLETED: Finish 10 series this year. (I get distracted a little easy! I can have already started the series previously)
    So far I've finished 20 series this year;
    The Reckoners by Brandon Sanderson, Circle of Evil by Kylie Brant, Trevor's Harem by Aubrey Parker, Rook & Ronin
     by JA Huss, The Seduction by Roxy Sloane, City of Legends by Cheyanne Young, The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski, Galaxy Playmates by Michelle M Pillow, Dark Dirty & Deadly by JA Huss, The Dukes of War by Erica Ridley, Everealm by JD Wright, I Am Just Junco by JA Huss, Things to Do Before you Die by Nina Croft, Sisters of the Moon by Nina Croft, Coded for Love by Lynne Silver, Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter by Nikki Jefford, Midnight Masquerade by Kate Harper, Scoundrels & Secrets by Erica Ridley, Avry of Kazan by Maria V Snyder, Sisters of the Craft by Lori Handeland
  3. COMPLETED: Complete 3 year long challenges (may change the number depending on how many I sign up for). Bookish Resolutions does not count for this sub-goal.
    I've completed 4 so far!
    2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge, 2016 New Release Challenge, 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2016 Blogger Shame
    My others are all on track too!
  4. Read 3 books a month that were already on my kindle at the start of 2016 (can be from Netgalley, Amazon etc.)
    I think I've read 9!
Personal Goal

  1. COMPLETED: Finish Cloaked (the sequel to my published Novella)
    Cloaked is not only finished, but it is now Published! (Here's the link to prove it!) 

LINK UP AND TELL US HOW YOU DID!



Pottermore Presents by JK Rowling

This review post is for all three of the Pottermore Presents books as they are only short, however they do each have their own review.


Title: Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies
Series: Pottermore Presents (#1)
Author: JK Rowling
From: Amazon
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 6th September 2016
Challenges: 2016 Read the Books You Buy 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (1 point)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): ‘Minerva was the Roman goddess of warriors and wisdom. William McGonagall is celebrated as the worst poet in British history. There was something irresistible to me about his name, and the idea that such a brilliant woman might be a distant relative of the buffoonish McGonagall.’ – J.K. Rowling. Pottermore Presents is a collection of J.K. Rowling’s writing: short reads originally featured on pottermore.com with some exclusive new additions. These eBooks, with writing curated by Pottermore, will take you beyond the Harry Potter stories as J.K. Rowling reveals her inspiration, intricate details of characters’ lives and surprises from the wizarding world. These stories of heroism, hardship and dangerous hobbies profile two of the Harry Potter stories’ most courageous and iconic characters: Minerva McGonagall and Remus Lupin. J.K. Rowling also gives us a peek behind the closed curtains of Sybill Trelawney’s life, and you’ll encounter the reckless, magical-beast-loving Silvanus Kettleburn along the way.

This one had me welling up! The chapter on Remus Lupin was just really moving. I mean it was already clear both from his demeanor and the things that were revealed in the Harry Potter series, that he'd had a hard life, but this was putting it all in one place and in detail. It gave me a greater apprectation for a character that already struck a chord. 

I also really liked learning more about McGonagall, there was so many little extra bits that showed just how well thought out the character was and I thought that it rounded her out as a character, even more so than in the books. 

It was also good to learn more about the Maurauders in the McGonagall and Lupin chapters!


Title: Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists
Series: Pottermore Presents (#2)
Author: JK Rowling
From: Amazon
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 6th September 2016
Challenges: 2016 Read the Books You Buy
Links: Goodreads Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): No Muggle Prime Minister has ever set foot in the Ministry of Magic, for reasons most succinctly summed up by ex-Minister Dugald McPhail (term of office 1858-1865): “their puir wee braines couldnae cope wi’ it.”’ – J.K. Rowling. Pottermore Presents is a collection of J.K. Rowling’s writing: short reads originally featured on pottermore.com with some exclusive new additions. These eBooks, with writing curated by Pottermore, will take you beyond the Harry Potter stories as J.K. Rowling reveals her inspiration, intricate details of characters’ lives and surprises from the wizarding world. These stories of power, politics and pesky poltergeists give you a glimpse into the darker side of the wizarding world, revealing the ruthless roots of Professor Umbridge, the lowdown on the Ministers for Magic and the history of the wizarding prison Azkaban. You will also delve deeper into Horace Slughorn’s early years as Potions master at Hogwarts - and his acquaintance with one Tom Marvolo Riddle. 

It was really interesting to find out more about some of the characters with smaller roles in Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists, as well as a few who had a bit bigger role. There was more information about Azkaban as well as past Ministers for Magic, which I personally thought showed a lot of well thought out information about the wider world of magic, it has however peaked my curiosity about several areas of magic history (according to Rowling that is), including the role that witches and wizards in the various wars this hinted they got involved in.

I think the most interesting sections of this book were probably the ones about Quirrell and Umbridge. The former because so much happened since his role in the books and the latter because her motivations are fascinating but until now completely unfatherable. 


I also enjoyed Rowling's notes on inspirations and her process for characters.


Title: Hogwarts, an Incomplete & Unreliable Guide
Series: Pottermore Presents (#3)
Author: JK Rowling
From: Amazon
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 6th September 2016
Challenges: 2016 Read the Books You Buy, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (1 point)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): ‘The Ministry of Magic felt strongly, however, that to construct an additional wizarding station in the middle of London would stretch even the Muggles’ notorious determination not to notice magic when it was exploding in front of their faces.’ – J.K. Rowling. Pottermore Presents is a collection of J.K. Rowling’s writing: short reads originally featured on pottermore.com. These eBooks, with writing curated by Pottermore, will take you beyond the Harry Potter stories as J.K. Rowling reveals her inspiration, intricate details of characters’ lives and surprises from the wizarding world. Hogwarts An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide takes you on a journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You’ll venture into the Hogwarts grounds, become better acquainted with its more permanent residents, learn more about lessons and discover secrets of the castle . . . all at the turn of a page.

I'm not all that sure what I was expecting from Hogwarts an Incomplete & Unreliable Guide, I was completely engrossed learning various things about Hogwarts that probably couldn't have been learnt in any other way, and it is those little details that I think makes Rowling's world so engaging in the first place. 

What I found even more interesting was that this book contained almost a commentary from JK Rowling herself, which let the reader know why things weren't included in the series or how she made a decision about what or who to include.

This was interesting and I enjoyed learning more about Hogwarts. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Whiteout by Nikki Jefford

Title: Whiteout
Series: Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter (#5)
Author: Nikki Jefford
From: Amazon
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 14th October 2014
Challenges: Summer COYER 2016, 2016 Read the Books You Buy, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Life on the run is no winter picnic, especially when Aurora’s partner sees himself as the sheriff, not the outlaw. It’s a cat and mouse game across the Last Frontier with agents and vampires out for revenge. Aurora has never fought so hard to stay alive, even as each day takes her further away from Fane. Will they ever be reunited? Or is Aurora destined to remain in Alaska with Dante forever?

Whiteout is the 5th book of the Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter series and should not be read as a standalone. The plot relies heavily on events in the past books as well as revolving around already established characters. This review may contain spoilers for the previous books in the series. 

This series! There is just something about it that completely draws the reader in and has certainly left me feeling a bit addicted! The characters make mistakes and have to deal with them, the plot is gritty and in places a little dark, and it just all works together to form a book where you're not too sure quite how things will work out in the end. 

Aurora's love life seemed to finally work itself out, even if there was very little doubt about which way she'd go at the end of Hunting Season. Of the two guys the one that I've preferred from the beginning (because lets face it there's always one!) grew on me even more whereas the other one just grated on me more than he had before. Sorry avoiding names for spoiler reasons! 

There was plenty of action in this book and Aurora once again proved that she didn't need anyone there to protect her, she was fully able to protect herself. On top of that she seemed to be coming to terms with her new status as a vampire and gave Dante a couple of stern talking tos on the subject! 

I missed Noel though! But it did get made up for slightly by Fane's POV (though the book was mostly from Aurora's POV) and the introduction of his fantastic cousin! The cast was definitely small in this book though! 

I got taken by surprise by this book a couple of times and I was on the edge of my seat. Definitely a great read!

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Quanta Reset by Lola Dodge

Title: Quanta Reset
Series: The Shadow Ravens (#3)
Author: Lola Dodge
From: Netgalley
Genre: Dystopia, Sci-fi
Release Date: 27th September 2016
Challenges:  2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge2016 New Release Challenge 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Quanta has escaped her laboratory prison, but that’s where the good news ends. Life at the Shadow Ravens’ compound is a disaster. She’s drowning in visions of the dark pasts and darker futures of her fellow Ravens and is plagued by her own panic-inducing memories, but Lady Eva still expects her to “train” and “participate in missions.” Plus, the food tastes like burnt plastic. The only bright spot is her genetic pairing to the brilliant Altair Orpheus. As their relationship grows, she’s positive that chemicals aren’t the only things drawing them together—although chemistry is definitely involved. While they test the limits of her game-changing new ability to reset time, word arrives from Eva’s agents: Doctor Nagi is still experimenting with her DNA. If he succeeds in duplicating her power…Forget the Shadow Ravens. The whole world is toast.

Quanta Reset is the third book in The Shadow Ravens series and the second surrounding the characters Quanta and Tair. While reading book 1, Cipher, isn't strictly necessary for reading this book like book 2, Quanta, is, I would recommend it as the main characters Cipher and Knight both appear in Quanta Reset as secondary characters. This review may contain minor spoilers. 

I need to start off by going into how excited I was when I saw Quanta Reset on Netgalley because I do think it's important. As soon as I finished the book I was reading I moved onto this book for several reasons, the author, the series and the publisher. Ink Monster LLC (the publisher) is yet to publish a book I haven't loved, and so dropping everything else for one of their books is a definite must for me! 

I love Quanta as a heroine. Even when she's not at her best, tired and with everything against her, she has a determination to do the right thing and to work past the things in her way. She doesn't ever really think about giving up and even when she's being selfish, there is an element of how it could affect other people too. 

Quanta's powers weren't expanded on too much, and rather were concentrated on in regard to her destablisation, but along with Tair she did work a few more things out. I liked the more complicated edge though, as well as the look into the consequences of her losing it. 

Tair and Quanta's romance is the kind that is just there. As there are first person POVs from both of them the reader knows exactly how they feel and as their relationship was established in the previous book, this one let them be more supportive of each other. It also added an interesting element to one of the plot twists as far as Tair is concerned. 

This was a fantastic read, though I had absolutely no doubt that it would be!

Monday, 26 September 2016

His Metal Maiden by Michelle M Pillow

Title: His Metal Maiden
Series: Space Lords (#3)
Author: Michelle M Pillow
From: Review Copy
Genre: Romance, Sci-fi, Space Opera
Release Date: 27th September 2016
Challenges:  2016 New Release Challenge2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Dragon-shifter Lochlann left home to avoid a war he didn’t believe in. Now as Captain of The Conqueror, in charge of a misfit crew, all he wants is to return without the label of coward. He’s been offered one chance at redemption: Find Margot, a noblewoman’s missing sister. The only problem is, the woman disappeared years ago, and his closest lead is a stunningly beautiful look-a-like droid crafted in her image. Alexis is programed to be everything he could ever desire, but getting her to reveal her secrets proves to be a true challenge for this alpha male. Being a base model pleasure droid isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. Alexis can’t remember a time when she wasn’t the property of others. Multiple surgeries, and endless tests, have amounted to a life not worth living. When a pirate crew visits her facility, she sneaks onto their ship. Desperate not to be returned to her owners, she strikes a deal with the alluring captain. Pretend to be Margot in exchange for freedom. 

His Metal Maiden could work as a standalone romance as the couple have never met before this moment, however not only is it a part of the Space Lords series, but also the wider Dragon Lords universe, and there is something added for reading it as a part of the wider series.

Whenever I read a book set in this universe it feels a little bit like watching a favourite TV show. It has that something to it that is familiar, and yet the story is new and there are some new characters. The male protaganist, Lochlann, is a dragon shifter (which were the first kind of shifters I read about from Pillow's worlds) and the lore surrounding that is explained within His Metal Maiden in a way that means reading the other books isn't necessary. However I do think that without the other background, his feelings over not having a crystal kind of get lost a bit (but ultimately aren't the keen driver in the story anyway! Its just a little bit of a nod to older readers!)

Alexis was an interesting character. She definitely had a past, and it took some figuring out exactly what that was. She had ties with a previous character from the books and it gave a good depth to the storyline. She had a lot to deal with and her relationship with Lochlann really helped with that.

I loved the side characters in His Metal Maiden too! While Evan & Josselyn and Dev & Violette have had their own books (His Frost Maiden and His Fire Maiden respectively) the other side characters, including the pilot, Rick, are fun and add a sense of friendship surrounding Lochlann and the rest of the crew.

I can't wait for more from this series, it is thouroghly enjoyable!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Frost by E Latimer

Title: Frost
Author: E Latimer
From: Netgalley
Genre: Fantasy, Legends
Release Date: 25th August 2015
Challenges: 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss ChallengeSummer COYER 20162016 Blogger Shame
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Megan Walker’s touch has turned to ice. She can’t stop the frost, and the consequences of her first kiss are horrifying. When her new powers attract attention, Megan finds herself caught up in an ancient war between Norse giants. One side fuelled by a mad queen’s obsession and an ancient prophecy about Ragnarök, the other by an age-old grudge. Both sides believe Megan to be something she’s not. Both sides will stop at nothing to have her. Fire or frost. It’s an impossible decision, but she’ll have to act soon, because the storm is coming.

In the interest of complete honesty I came close to DNFing Frost, not because it was bad but because I ended up feeling a little bored. I didn't really connect with the main character, Megan, and that made the book a little slow going for me. The concept was interesting though, and I feel like a sequel would have good potential after the ending of this book. 

I liked that there was a central female friendship in this one, and that Megan would do anything to protect and stand up for her friend. On the one hand the bond between Megan and Charlotte did seem to spring up rather quickly, but after the incident at the hotel, I actually thought their bond worked well. 

There was kind of a love triangle, though I don't think there was any doubt which way Megan really went for it (though I'm surprised that Amora didn't have more influence the other way, a comment that will make no sense if you haven't read the book!) In this case though the guys are complete opposites, down to being ice and fire kind of thing. 

The Jotun (giants of the Frost or Fire variety) were interesting and I liked the way that their society was described. It's less than perfect finish made it an interesting part of the story, though I honestly did kind of expect there to be a little bit more mythology and legends coming into play, but again this could become more apparent in a sequel. 

Parts of Frost were interesting, and I kept reading hoping that something would really grab my attention. While not a bad read, it just lacked a little something for me.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Snow White and the Vampire by Marina Myles

Title: Snow White and the Vampire
Series: The Cursed Princes (#2)
Author: Marina Myles
From: Netgalley
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Fairytale Retelling
Release Date: 19th December 2013
Challenges: 2016 Blogger Shame2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss ChallengeMy TBR List Meme
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Fog And Fascination. Alba Spencer thought her past in Romania and the dark magic that haunted it was behind her forever. She is one of the first female barristers now, safe in London. But London has its dark side, too. A man called the Ripper stalks the midnight streets. There are rumors that her hated stepmother has found her again, suggestions that the nightmares of her childhood are returning. And with them appears the cursed Gypsy boy she once loved, grown into a man more seductive and more terrifying than she ever could have dreamed...Dimitri Grigorescu has become a surgeon, a gentleman—and a vampire. The lusts that drive his body are scarcely under control, and even he does not truly know what he is capable of. To fight evil and confusion, Alba must rely only on her wits—and a desire that overwhelms her doubts…

Snow White and the Vampire is the second book in the Cursed Princes series, however I don't think you necessarily have to have read the first book in the series as I didn't, I'm also not 100% that the characters from book one made an appearance, so I think it's pretty safe to read this as a standalone. 

I'm still not all that sure how I want to sum up my feelings about Snow White and the Vampire, my main feeling is that it was okay. I wanted to know how things ended but I wasn't massively invested in the characters. I'm not sure what it was that actually led to that but that's how I ended up feeling. 

The two main character, Alba and Dimitri were both intelligent people, Alba was a trainee barrister and Dimitri was a surgeon. I think is where problem the first arrises. Alba was a woman in Victorian England trying to become the first female barrister, and yet no one really seemed to stand in her way and everyone just treated her like it was normal. Now I have no problem with what she was trying to do, it just seemed a little odd that it wasn't made a big deal of. 

The Jack the Ripper sub plot was probably my favourite part of the book for the most part. Until the very end. When there's a mystery going on I try to put the pieces together to come up with the guilty party, which I did. In fact I had a number one suspect and a back up suspect...except neither of them were actually guilty and there hadn't really been any clues to who it really was until Alba came face to face with him. 

The Snow White element of the story was pretty mild, in fact it took me about 10% to even pick up on it at all. There were moments where the evil Queen (aka Alba's stepmother who she faked her death for to get away from) drugged Alba and there was a situation surrounding an apple, however ultimately if you'd taken out the Snow White portion of the plot then the book would still have worked. 

I liked that this book didn't just focus on the two main characters, there were other players involved as well (though it did take me a fair 80% of the book to realise that Mrs. T's seven daughters were in fact Alba's version of the seven dwarves). 

This book had enough to keep me interested but didn't blow me away. 

Friday, 23 September 2016

Heart's Awakening by Nina Croft

Title: Heart's Awakening
Series: Heart of Fire (#1)
Author: Nina Croft
From: Review Copy
Genre: Romance
Release Date: 4th December 2015
Challenges:  Summer COYER 20162016 Blogger Shame
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): For twelve years, Jenna has dreamed of regaining her childhood home and the happiness she knew there. Now she discovers the house is to be sold to a developer and will be lost forever. She has one last chance to make her dreams come true—she must return to Middleton Manor and find the Heart of Fire, a valuable family heirloom lost 600 years ago. She’s going undercover. Keiran bought the house on a whim. As a child, his gypsy mother came here every summer to work. It was here he fell in love for the first and only time, with Jenna, the daughter of the house, and his fairytale princess. But Jenna is long gone, and it’s time to sell up and finally put the past behind him. But his last night in the house is disturbed by a stunningly gorgeous “maid” who appears to be searching the library. Jenna believes her happiness lies in bricks and mortar. Keiran in moving on. But perhaps with a little help they can discover their true hearts’ desires, and together regain the magic of the past.

Heart's Awakening is one of those books where I didn't need to read the blurb first, and I didn't even have to know what genre I was going to read to know that I'd enjoy it. Nina Croft is one of those authors where I know that I'll enjoy the book I'm reading regardless of anything, and I think the main reason for that is the characters she creates. They're always intricate and rich and even if you don't like them as people you are drawn to them. 

Heart's Awakening is predominantly a romance book, but there were some minor paranormalish elements. We're talking soul mates and family legends kind of paranormal, there's no one actually doinjg magic or being supernatural. The subtleness worked for me and I really liked it. 

I liked the relationship between Kieran and Jenna too. While they were chasing and running from each other a bit during the events of Heart's Awakening, they had m ore of a back story which was fleshed out well especially considering this is only a novella. The backstory made their romance that bit more real in my eyes. 

There were very few characters in Heart's Awakening, and even fewer that actually made an appearance. For the most part it was just Jenna and Kieran on their own and that allowed them the time to reconnect, but at the same time there were other characters that I felt were introduced for future books. 

This was a great quick read, and once again I've found that I can rely on Nina Croft for a good read!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Fire Study by Maria V Snyder

Title: Fire Study
Series: The Study Series (#3)
Author: Maria V Snyder
From: My Bookshelf
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 1st March 2008
Challenges: 2016 Reading Assignment, Summer COYER 2016, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): The apprenticeship is over—now the real test has begun. When word that Yelena is a Soulfinder—able to capture and release souls—spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy. Already Yelena's unusual abilities and past have set her apart. As the Council debates Yelena's fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by a murderous sorcerer she has defeated before...Honor sets Yelena on a path that will test the limits of her skills, and the hope of reuniting with her beloved spurs her onward. Her journey is fraught with allies, enemies, lovers and would-be assassins, each of questionable loyalty. Yelena will have but one chance to prove herself—and save the land she holds dear.

Fire Study is the third book in the Study Series and shouldn't be read as a standalone as it relies on events in the previous books. In fact it took me a couple of chapters to properly get back into the book as it's been so long since I read Magic Study (book 2), but that really is my own fault. This review may contain minor spoilers for the previous books in the series. 

I thought that Yelana really grew as a person in Fire Study. While I've always liked her, she's matured in this one and become more of the person she wants to be. Her motivations revolve around the people she cared about, but she also began thinking about countries and the world in general instead of just about herself. 

Fire Study also introduced some different forms of magic as well as expanding Yelana's magic use. It was interesting and set the scene for one of the companion series to Study. I liked the world building and thought it really added to the story. 

There were a couple of moments that had me yelling no at my book (well in my head, I read this in two plane journeys and may have got some strange looks if I'd actually yelled no!) and I couldn't believe that the author went there! 

This was a great read, I loved seeing more from the characters and the world, as well as the fact that the ending was in some ways imperfect, it just made it all that bit more believable for me!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Crushing on Love by Melissa Foster

Title: Crushing on Love
Series: The Bradens at Peaceful Harbor (#4) (Love in Bloom)
Author: Melissa Foster
Genre: Romance
Release Date: 21st September 2016
Challenges: 2016 New Release Challenge2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): In CRUSHING ON LOVE...
Steve Johnson is living his life's passion watching over the Colorado Mountains as a ranger and wildlife consultant. But his peaceful life is upended when overzealous and insanely beautiful Shannon Braden flits back into his life after returning from a brief trip home to Maryland. He thought his attraction to her was under control--after all, she's only in Colorado temporarily, and he doesn't do casual affairs. Shannon's return to Colorado has as much to do with the game of cat and mouse she and Steve have been playing as it does the data she's been hired to collect. But despite her efforts to explore the undeniable heat simmering between them, Steve's intent on keeping his distance. When a ranch abutting the national park goes up for sale, Steve will do whatever it takes to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. And when all his attempts fail, he's left with no alternative but to follow Shannon's guidance into the online world he abhors in order to raise the funds. The more time they spend together, the deeper their attraction becomes, and a game of cat and mouse turns into an unstoppable connection. But when Shannon's assignment comes to an end, will it mean an end to them, too?

Crushing on Love can be read as a standalone, however the Love in Bloom is a connected series and there are characters from previous books in this one and it adds something to know those characters stories. However as this is romance, knowing that two people end up together isn't exactly a spoiler so you are safe from that!

There was a really weird coincidence that went on with Crushing on Love and that was that the previous book of Melissa Foster's that I read was that of the lead man's sister, and having finished it I wondered who he would end up with. The two books aren't actually next to each other in the suggested reading order, and are actually part of seperate Braden subseries. It was good for me that it happened like that because the little bit of Steve I'd already encountered was still fresh in my mind! 

Steve and Shannon were super cute, and right from the very beginning (even before they gave into their desires they were using cute nicknames for each other (Butterfly and Grizz). They picked up on the little things that made them their own people and from the very beginning I was "awwwing" at the cuteness. 

I loved that they had their "in" jokes too. Though the pink frosting was half joke and half really not, and probably one of the catalysts for the two of them finally getting together. Saying that there was also a more serious side to their relationship, that where they were working to save the natural habit that was part of Weston. 

There were lots of previous characters that made an appearance and the building relationships were great, particularly the one between brother-in-laws Steve and Rex, though that again could be to do with the fact that Rex's story (with Steve's sister Jade) was the last one I read). 

These two really worked well together, both chemistry wise as well as when it came to working together. There was no doubt in my mind that these two weren't meant for each other!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Storm Siren by Mary Weber

Title: Storm Siren
Series: The Storm Siren Trilogy (#1)
Author: Mary Weber
From: Netgalley
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 19th August 2014
Challenges: 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2016 Blogger Shame, Summer COYER 2016
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): “I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.” In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled. As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist. Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed. Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons. But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for? Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.

So I'm assuming that what first attracted me to Storm Siren was the cover, because it is well and truly gorgeous! But what made me choose to read it when I did was the blurb! It was during my picking random books stage from my kindle, and am I glad that I did, because this was a fantastic read. 

Nym was an angry character, but she had a lot of heart. While she was definitely what could be considered tortured, she didn't let it break her and  Storm Siren felt that it was about her fnding out who she truly was without the constraints of traditional slavery (its way more complicated than that!) At the same time she acted 17, noticing that men were attractive and stuff. 

My heart broke for Nym close to the end of the book. Without ruining anything, events took a turn that I wasn't expecting and I found myself getting emotional for her, and I definitely need to read the next book, because there are some things that took me completely by surprise. 

The world that Weber created was detailed and fascinating, with an intricate magic system. I am a massive fan of unique magic systems in fantasy, and this really ticked all the boxes for me. I didn't feel like I was being lectured to about it either, but that the information was presented at just the right moment. 

This was a good read and I'm looking forward to reading more in this series!

Monday, 19 September 2016

Mutiny of the Heart by Jennifer Bray-Weber

Title: Mutiny of the Heart
Series: Romancing the Pirate (#4)
Author: Jennifer Bray-Weber
From: Netgalley
Genre: Historical Romance, Pirates
Release Date: 23rd June 2014
Challenges: 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2016 Blogger Shame, Summer COYER 2016
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Navigating the high seas as the female captain of a pirate ship means always being on your guard--especially when one takes a temptingly handsome slave on board. Captain Joelle Quint believes the slave claiming to be a cartographer can help her decipher the map her father left her when she was a child. She's spent years trying to unlock its truths, hoping that it holds the answers to a dark family secret. Sloan Ricker has no intention of remaining captive. When the fiery, red-headed captain offers him his freedom in exchange for solving her map, what begins as an opportunity to escape becomes a struggle to make the beautiful, intriguing Joelle his mistress in more ways than one. Amidst a battle with the Royal Navy and a first mate's jealousy, Joelle also fights her growing lust. And as much as he'd like to deny it, Ricker's desire for Joelle has overcome his initial disdain. To get the answers, independence and love that they both long for, Joelle and Ricker must relinquish control to each other...or die trying.

While Mutiny of the Heart is part of the Romancing the Pirate series, I haven't previously read any of the other books in the series and I didn't feel like I was missing any major pieces of information. However it was clear that there are crossover characters and other links between the books. 

There was solid chemistry right from the beginning between Joelle and Sloan, though they were both stubborn characters so it did take them a little while to actually accept that they liked each other more than as a physical release. I bought into their attraction, probably because they weren't declaring undying love from the off but did feel more than just the physical. 

There was also plenty of action and intrigue in Mutiny of the Heart and that was what really caught my attention. Think Pirates of the Caribean style action (though without the magic elements). There were boat battles, people battles and plots afoot and it was all done well. 

I did worry for a little bit about the love triangle, especially as instead of the more adolescent love triangles that are so prevalent in YA fiction, this was between three adults who could physically hurt each other at any moment. The tension and competative air between Valeryn and Sloan was palable and you could believe that they both liked Joelle, but it was clear where her heart really lay. 

This was a good read, I definitely enjoyed it. 

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Princess of Tyrone by Katie Hamstead

Title: Princess of Tyrone
Series: Fairytale Galaxy Chronicles (#1)
Author: Katie Hamstead
From: Netgalley
Genre: Sci-fi, Space Opera, Fantasy, Fairy tale Retelling
Release Date: 31st March 2016
Challenges: 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2016 New Release Challenge, Summer COYER 2016
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Apolline is happy hunting magical creatures on her pirate infested outer-perimeter planet. She is a fantastic shot, and doesn’t flinch at the blood and guts of her kills. Never once did she consider she could be the missing Princess of Tyrone. All her life, she has heard the story of the Princess, cursed to sleep for eternity, unless her betrothed, the Prince of Oran, gave her true love’s kiss. Although Apolline knows she is betrothed, she thinks her fairy guardians arranged it out of ignorance of human ways. The thought she could be a princess is inconceivable. Then Allard appears. Handsome, charming—but he’s not hers to have. He’s betrothed, too. Her guardians warn her against her new found friendship, but she and Allard meet in secret anyway. Despite her rough exterior, he sees beyond her gun-slinging bravado, and their love blossoms. But the deadline for the sleeping curse is approaching. If Apolline falls in love with the wrong person, she could end up sleeping forever.  A quirky, adventurous retelling of Sleeping Beauty, with a less than princess-ly princess!

I love space opera as a genre, and I love fairy tale retellings, both of which I'm sure my blog will prove, so this book was just spot on for me. I felt like it had all the action of a good space opera, teamed with a solid romance and a great retelling of Sleeping Beauty! 

The retelling part itself was actually quite faithful, complete with fairies, the Prince and the spinning needle. Of course there were some major differences, most notably the technology and other modernisations, and there was also the interwoven fairy stories. While Princess of Tyrone just retold Sleeping Beauty, there were other stories and legends mentioned that clearly related to other characters and I can't wait to find out more about those. 

I loved the budding relationship between Allard and Apolline, even if they didn't know who each other were they felt drawn to one another. However it was good to see the two of them acting honourably and considering whether they could actually betray the people they were betrothed to rather than just doing it. 

The narrative followed three characters, Apolline, Allard and Bryanna. Apolline's was first person while the other two were third, but for me that combination really worked. It helped bring the world to life, as well as making it clear who each chapter was about. 

Basically I loved this book, and I hope that there is more to come from this very talented author!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

True North by Nikki Jefford

Title: True North
Series: Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter (#6)
Author: Nikki Jefford
From: Amazon
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 7th July 2016
Challenges: 2016 New Release ChallengeSummer COYER 2016, 2016 Read the Books You Buy, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (12 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Aurora has spent the past year fighting for survival, freedom, and justice. Now she’s about to face the biggest battle of her life. Field agents are turning up dead and everyone is working to stop Jared before he starts a full-blown war between vampires and hunters. Fane’s resolve and support has never been stronger. Aurora’s feelings for him are as constant as the North Star, but their future is teetering on thin ice. Aurora will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect her family and friends. In order to persevere, she must accept who she is and embrace the cold.

True North is book 6 in the Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter series and shouldn't be read as a standalone as it relys heavily on events in the previous books, though there is a small time jump between books 5 and 6. This review may contain minor spoilers to the previous books in the series. 

I wasn't sure what to expect from the finale of Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter, but I don't think it was what I read! This had all the hallmarks of the previous books in the series but had an overall different feel to it. Its still narrated by Aurora and she still has her moments of funny but the events of the previous book did change her (as they probably should have!) 

Aurora's love life is well and truly sorted in True North which did lead to Aurora thinking a lot dirtier thoughts. It's been clear since the beginning that increased sex drive was a thing for new vampires, and it'd been happening to Aurora gradually, but in this book it was out in full force, maybe even distracting Aurora to some extent!

The ending was messy in a good way. And by that I mean Jefford didn't just tie things up in a neat bow for the sake of it. In true Aurora & co. style the ending was complicated and nowhere near what they had planned. If that hadn't been the case then I think I'd have been disappointed!

This was a good ending to a great series, I'm just sad its over!