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I Belong

Review: Congress of Secrets by Stephanie Burgis

November 24th, 2017 Roxanne Posted in Review Comments Off on Review: Congress of Secrets by Stephanie Burgis

Title: Congress of Secrets

Author: Stephanie Burgis

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: N/A

Publication Date: November 1, 2016

Format: Paperback, 347 Pages

ISBN-10: 1633881997 (Pyr)

ISBN-13: 978-1633881990 (Pyr)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

In 1814, the Congress of Vienna has just begun. Diplomats battle over a new map of Europe, actors vie for a chance at glory, and aristocrats and royals from across the continent come together to celebrate the downfall of Napoleon…among them Lady Caroline Wyndham, a wealthy English widow. But Caroline has a secret: she was born Karolina Vogl, daughter of a radical Viennese printer. When her father was arrested by the secret police, Caroline’s childhood was stolen from her by dark alchemy.

Under a new name and nationality, she returns to Vienna determined to save her father even if she has to resort to the same alchemy that nearly broke her before. But she isn’t expecting to meet her father’s old apprentice, Michael Steinhüller, now a charming con man in the middle of his riskiest scheme ever.

The sinister forces that shattered Caroline’s childhood still rule Vienna behind a glittering façade of balls and salons, Michael’s plan is fraught with danger, and both of their disguises are more fragile than they realize. What price will they pay to the darkness if either of them is to survive?

Quick & Dirty: All the of world is a stage, and all the men and women are merely players.

Opening Sentence: “Of course, I could never go back to Vienna,” Michael Seinhuller said.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Michael is a con man or a player on the world stage and he has a play to set him up for life, he just needs some help getting into Vienna so he can get land, title, and money. When he runs into a troupe headed into Vienna he knows how to get them to help him. Once he is in, he just needs to find someone to introduce him the right people and he can implement his plan. Lady Wyndham is a wealthy English widow with a deadly secret. She is the daughter of a radical printer who was imprisoned over twenty-four years ago and she has a plan to find him and free him.

When Michael accidentally runs into Lady Caroline he is stunned to realize that she is really Karolina, he is pleased to find her alive and well. She is not so happy to see him, she knows that he ran when her father was arrested and she hates him for it. However, fate throws them together and she arranges for him to stay with her secretary and introduces him to some powerful people in Vienna. Caroline is pleased when the Emperor is so taken with her, but little does she know, Count Pergen, the head of the secret police is busy looking into her past.

Peter, the director of the troupe, is kidnapped off the street and interrogated about Michael, he realizes that they were used by him, but he is desperate to do anything to save his troupe. Michael is uncovered by the French ambassador and is blackmailed into helping him. Caroline doesn’t realize that the Count is hot on her trial and when her secretary feels betrayed he may sell her out in the worst way. Can they play the game and win or will they lose everything?

I really didn’t know what to expect with this one and I was blown away. I absolutely loved the introduction of magic or alchemy in this book, and I was utterly fascinated until the end. I couldn’t put this down. Michael is a typical con man, but he really grows in this book and I can’t say enough about Caroline. To come back to Vienna after barely escaping from there, and to look the men in their faces and pretend that they don’t disgust her. Amazing character. She was fierce and strong, sadly despite not being so trusting she really didn’t see some of the things that happened coming.

The mix of alchemy, actors, con men, suppression of ideas all came together to make an explosive story. I haven’t really ever thought about the Congress that took place in Vienna after Napoleon was defeated and Stephanie makes it all come alive. This was my first time reading one of her books and I can’t wait to see what else she has written.

Notable Scene:

Within a week at most, the city would be full of the wealthiest and most influential men and women in all of Europe, gathered together in waltz, gossip and be witnesses in glorious celebration of Napoleon Bonaparte’s defeat. Even now, diplomats were preparing themselves to barter the fate of the continent, aristocrats to display their finery; and the city of Vienna to become the beating heart of Europe.

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FTC Advisory: Pyr provided me with a copy of Congress of Secrets. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark

November 23rd, 2017 Roxanne Posted in Review Comments Off on Review: The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark

Title: The Court of Broken Knives

Author: Anna Smith Spark

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Empires of Dust (Book #1)

Publication Date: August 15, 2017

Format: Paperback, 512 Pages

ISBN-10: 0316511420 (Orbit)

ISBN-13: 978-0316511421 (Orbit)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

In this dark and gripping debut fantasy that Miles Cameron called “gritty and glorious!” the exiled son of the king must fight to reclaim his throne no matter the cost.

It is the richest empire the world has ever known, and it is also doomed. Governed by an imposturous Emperor, decadence has blinded its inhabitants to their vulnerability. The Yellow Empire is on the verge of invasion–and only one man can see it.

Haunted by prophetic dreams, Orhan has hired a company of soldiers to cross the desert to reach the capital city. Once they enter the Palace, they have one mission: kill the Emperor, then all those who remain. Only from the ashes can a new empire be built.

The company is a group of good, ordinary soldiers, for whom this is a mission like any other. But the strange boy Marith who walks among them is no ordinary soldier. Young, ambitious, and impossibly charming, something dark hides in Marith’s past–and in his blood

Dark and brilliant, dive into this new fantasy series for readers looking for epic battle scenes, gritty heroes, and blood-soaked revenge.

Quick & Dirty: Dragon killer, man killer, and king…

Opening Sentence: “Knives.”

Excerpt: No

The Review:

A company of soldiers is making their way to the city, along the way they fight many battles losing many men. They also come up against a dragon who kills even more of them. Until the new boy, Marith, slays the dragon.  Soon Tobias, Marith and the few remaining men work their way to the city. They have one goal and one goal alone. The only problem is Marith is more than he seems and something dark is within him.

They attack the palace and Marith makes it all the way to the Emperor, however, for some reason, Tobias stops him from killing the Emperor. As they are leaving the city they run into Thalia also known as the High Priestess. She fled the temple after they were attacked as well, mostly because someone drew the red lot which means she will be killed (replaced) in ten years. As they travel on their journey Thalia and Marith fall in love.

Soon Marith’s past catches up them and choices are made. Will Marith survive his past coming for him? Will he finally succeed in taking the throne that belongs to him? Will Thalia stay by his side?

I will get my minor complaints out of the way. It was a little hard to follow in the beginning. I didn’t really know who was going to be the main character or what was going on. It did get clearer, so really, I just have minor issues with that and occasionally things happened but like five pages later it was like it hadn’t happened at all. I know that’s vague, but you know, I hate spoilers. Overall, I enjoyed this quite a bit.

I didn’t connect with the characters, but I was fascinated by them. It will be interesting to see where this goes in the next books. I look forward to reading the next one when it comes. If you enjoy high fantasy, death, and violence then this series is for you.

Notable Scene:

“New boy Marith. Staring at the dragon like a man stares at his own death. A chill of cold went through Tobias for a moment. A scream and a shriek in his ears or his mind. The boy’s beautiful eyes gazed unblinkingly. A shadow there, like it was darker suddenly. Like the sun flickered in the sky. Like the dragon might twitch and move and live. Then the boy signed wearily, sat down in the dust rubbing at his face. Tobias saw that the back of his left hand was horribly burned.”

Empires of Dust:

1. The Court of Broken Knives

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FTC Advisory: Orbit/Hachette provided me with a copy of The Court of Broken Knives. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Blood Lust by Alexandra Ivy

November 22nd, 2017 Roxanne Posted in Review Comments Off on Review: Blood Lust by Alexandra Ivy

Title: Blood Lust

Author: Alexandra Ivy

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Series: The Sentinels (Book #3)

Publication Date: May 31, 2016

Format: Paperback, 345 Pages

ISBN-10: 142013759X (Zebra/Kensington)

ISBN-13: 978-1420137590 (Zebra/Kensington)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

Blessed and cursed by their hidden abilities, the Sentinels have no choice but to live, and love, on the edge of humanity…

The Sentinel assassin, Bas, is facing the greatest challenge of his outcast existence. His young daughter, Molly, has been kidnapped. But her disappearance has brought the return of her mother, Myst, whom Bas has never forgotten–or forgiven.

Haunted by a vision that she’s destined to create a weapon that will destroy thousands, Myst was never impulsive–until she met the irresistibly handsome Bas. But with the Brotherhood, the enemy of the high-bloods hunting for her, Myst had to stay on the run, to keep her child, and the world, safe. Now, with the most important thing in both their lives at stake, she and Bas must embark on a treacherous journey to save Molly, to confront the truth of Myst’s fate–and to face their fierce desire for one another.

Quick & Dirty: A dangerous prophecy and assassin with his family in danger.

Opening Sentence: It has been over a century since the high-bloods revealed themselves to the norms.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Bas is still reeling from the kidnapping of his daughter Molly. Her mother, Myst, dropped her off right after her birth and disappeared. But now that Molly is home safe she tells Bas that Mommy is coming for a visit. Bas is beyond shocked when Myst strolls right into his office. He not as shocked to find that he reacts to her exactly the same way as when he first met her. This time he is determined to hate, but keeps it in check because Molly is so excited.

After a few a days Bas finally gets Myst to reveal her story, not all of it, but why she dropped Molly off and why she is on the run. The Brotherhood is hunting her because she had a prophecy that she would create a dangerous weapon that would kill high-bloods. Bas contacts the Meave to make arrangements for Molly’s safety and to meet with Boggs in order to find out more about Myst’s prophecy.

The meeting goes very wrong and Bas is knocked unconscious and Myst is taken by the Brotherhood. Soon Bas is racing against time to not only stop The Brotherhood, but rescue Myst as well. Will he be able to keep Myst and Molly safe? Will he finally have the love he has been waiting for?

I give kudos to this series because I haven’t read the first two books and I was able to read this one and not feel confused at all. I am sure some of the characters, events, and story tie in with the first two, so I do recommend you start at the beginning. I loved Myst, I don’t know that I would have been strong enough to make the choices she did, but I always enjoy seeing a character that loves their child and is willing to make sacrifices for them.

Bas is total bad boy, but his love for Myst and Molly was just so nice to see. I couldn’t stop reading the story. It was fast paced and action packed. I don’t see another book listed, but that can always change. For now there are two more before this as well as two novellas.

Notable Scene:

Like Bas, who’d been borth with both the magic of a witch and the superior strenght of a Sentinel. And even more rare were those powers appeared later in life, seemingly out of nowwhere. None of the healers had explanation. It simply happened.

The Sentinels:

1. Born in Blood

2. Blood Assassin

3. Blood Lust

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FTC Advisory: Zebra/Kensington provided me with a copy of Blood Lust. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Rating: 5.9/10 (8 votes cast)
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Rating: -2 (from 2 votes)


Review: The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy

November 21st, 2017 Roxanne Posted in Review Comments Off on Review: The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy

Title: The Pages of the Mind

Author: Jeffe Kennedy

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Series: The Uncharted Realms (Book #1), The Twelve Kingdoms (Book #4)

Publication Date: May 31, 2016

Format: Paperback, 432 Pages

ISBN-10: 149670424X (Kensington)

ISBN-13: 978-1496704245 (Kensington)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

Magic has broken free over the Twelve Kingdoms. The population is beset by shapeshifters and portents, landscapes that migrate, uncanny allies who are not quite human…and enemies eager to take advantage of the chaos.

Dafne Mailloux is no adventurer–she’s a librarian. But the High Queen trusts Dafne’s ability with languages, her way of winnowing the useful facts from a dusty scroll, and even more important, the subtlety and guile that three decades under the thumb of a tyrant taught her.

Dafne never thought to need those skills again. But she accepts her duty. Until her journey drops her into the arms of a barbarian king. He speaks no tongue she knows but that of power, yet he recognizes his captive as a valuable pawn. Dafne must submit to a wedding of alliance, becoming a prisoner-queen in a court she does not understand. If she is to save herself and her country, she will have to learn to read the heart of a wild stranger. And there are more secrets written there than even Dafne could suspect…

Quick & Dirty: A librarian on an adventure, a foreign King and a love like no other.

Opening Sentence: When histories tell of the glorious dawning of a new era, they typically faces on the grand events-wars won, tyrants deposed, glittering coronations.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Dafne is happy now that all her dreams have come true, well except for one and she is mostly okay with that. Mostly, but every now and then she is jealous of the love other people have and that she will never have kids. Especially since all of her family is dead. Magic free all over the Twelve Kingdoms and when Kral shows up with rumors of an army from Dasnara, Dafne is more than a little surprised when the High Queen decides to send her on the mission to Dasnara.

While inroute to Dasnara they stumble across an island, and when the foreign King captures her, Dafne decides that they need to handle negations and go along with these new people.  She is surprised though when she realizes that she has ended up married King Nakoa. Dafne has no idea what to do, but to go with the flow. She is married, but can’t communicate with him as he speaks a language she doesn’t know, and she is afraid of what she has gotten herself into.

Soon though Dafne finds herself craving his touch, and learning his language, and falling in love. But before she gets too comfortable, his claim to the throne is challenged! Can Dafne help him reestablish his rightful claim. Will they be able find the dragon? Will his claim be upheld? Will she be able to admit that she is love with him?

I think these books should be classified more as romance with a little fantasy. They are okay, but I am not blown away by this series at all. I went back and read the three books in the The Twelve Kingdoms, and I felt the same about them. I didn’t remember Dafne at all, she is in one of those books, but is just a minor character, so it is easy to miss her. I did enjoy the dragon aspect and her relationship.

I have seen that some people recommend you read the Twelve Kingdoms series before you start this series, but other than the back story and who some of the people are I am not sure that you would miss anything if you start with the Uncharted Realms series. I am also not a fan of the first person in this series, it takes me forever to figure out who is actually telling the story. It really throws me off.

Notable Scene:

The weariness of the night shadowed me and I could hardly bear the rise of old grief at her question, on top of my sudden stray burst of jealousy and longing for something I’d thought I’d long since resigned myself to not having. Ursula would not release me until she’d satisfied herself, however.

The Twelve Kingdoms:

1. The Mark of Tala

2. The Tears of the Rose

3. The Talon of the Hawk

The Uncharted Realms:

1. The Pages of the Mind

2. The Edge of the Blade

3. The Shift of the Tide

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FTC Advisory: Kensington provided me with a copy of The Pages of the Mind. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Rating: 5.0/10 (6 votes cast)
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Rating: -2 (from 2 votes)


Review: Sinner’s Creed by Kim Jones

November 20th, 2017 Stephanie Posted in Review Comments Off on Review: Sinner’s Creed by Kim Jones

Title: Sinner’s Creed

Author: Kim Jones

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: Sinner’s Creed MC (Book #1)

Publication Date: March 1, 2016

Format: Paperback, 336 Pages

ISBN-10: 1101987693 (Penguin/Berkley)

ISBN-13: 978-1101987698 (Penguin/Berkley)

Reviewed by: Stephanie

Synopsis:

First in a new series—welcome to the Sinner’s Creed Motorcycle Club, where hard bodies and hot leather are made for each other, and love gone wrong is the most irresistible of all…
 
“I was the demon-possessed monster and she was the innocent, naïve angel. But none of that matters. She asks, I give and right now, I’ll kill anyone who tries to stop me from giving this woman what she wants—me.”

Dirk lives in the shadows—performing hits, maintaining order, and upholding the no-holds-barred legacy of the Sinner’s Creed Motorcycle Club. A nomad with a restless spirit and a cold heart, the open road is his world. One of the few constants in his life: his desire for the one woman who has consumed his thoughts for years.

Saylor Samson grew up far from the harshness of Dirk’s world. But ever since she was seventeen she’s been drawn to this dark and mysterious man who always seemed to show up just when she needed him.

After years of fated encounters, he’s back. This time he’s taking her. This time she’s ready for the ride. But just when the darkness in Dirk’s life begins to fade, Saylor reveals a secret that puts them both to the ultimate test. Now, Dirk has to make a decision: submit to his destiny with the MC, or choose his own.

Quick & Dirty: A fantastic final 20 percent can’t totally make up for all the flaws that come before it in this first book in the Sinner’s Creed MC series.

Opening Sentence: I knew the man in front of me was doomed.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Dirk is the nomad for Sinner’s Creed MC, meaning he “takes care” of any problems that arise within the club, aka beating down and/or killing anyone who needs to be made an example of. He was raised in this club. It’s in his blood. There is nothing else he cares about. Then, he runs into Saylor. Immediately, he cannot get her out of his head. When she says she wants to ride with him, against his better judgment, he can’t help but say yes. From that moment on, his priorities begin to shift. But will that shift in priorities end up hurting his position in the club? Will the club try to bring punishment onto him and Saylor?

I’ll be honest. I have a lot of negative things to say about this book. The one positive I have is that the last 20 percent is absolutely riveting and feels so real. It is for that reason only that I bumped up my rating to 3 stars rather than the 2 I was planning on giving it.  I can’t go into much more detail than that in order to avoid spoilers, but that last 20 percent is truly excellent.

Then, there’s the 80 percent that comes before that, which is not so good. For one thing, we’re dealing with a case of “insta-love” here, and that’s one thing I cannot stand in books. I need a build up to a relationship in order to connect to the characters, and when they just instantly adore each other, I have a hard time connecting. It causes me to roll my eyes rather than feel touched when something sappy/romantic happens. It’s just not believable to me.

Second, I’m not a fan of Dirk. He just comes off as a bit too alpha/jerk-ish for my taste. It has nothing to do with the fact that he’s basically an assassin, honestly. I could probably get past that. But since we’re in his head for the entire book, we’re treated to his thoughts, and they  just don’t put him in a good light. In that same vein, not being able to get into Saylor’s head makes it hard to connect to her. We just see her through Dirk’s love-obsessed view, and never really get a good feel for her as a character.

All in all, this one was a struggle for me. Up until that last 20 percent, I was forcing myself to read. If I didn’t have to review this one, I probably would have stopped reading and never gotten to the part that actually swept me away. I honestly don’t know if I want to read the next one in the series or not. Part of me is intrigued, because that last 20 percent was truly great, so I wonder if maybe that will carry through into the next book, even though it will focus on new characters. If I do decide to read the next one, it will be with much trepidation because this one was just not my cup of tea for most of the novel.

Notable Scene:

“Do you know what would have happened if you hadn’t come back when you did?” I search her face, wondering if she wants an answer or if she just wants to remind me what a fuckup I am.

She wants neither.

“I would have left. You know I was planning on leaving that day. I had to get outta there, Dirk. I had to leave. Whether it was with you or on my own, I was gone. There are three people in this world that really mean something to me. The two that I really mean something to are in Europe for the summer. It’s not their job to keep tabs on me; they’ve never been able to. It wouldn’t be surprising to them to find me gone. I don’t work, I’m not enrolled in classes right now, and there is nothing about me not being home that will throw up a red flag to anyone. Nobody is gonna miss me, Dirk. If that pathetic reason isn’t enough to convince you why I thought this trip was a good idea, then nothing is. And to answer your question, my phone is at my house, on my dresser. Right where I left it.” She walks past me toward the store, and the need for her to answer the question that is pounding in my head outweighs the need to remain myself–the man who never asks questions.

“What about the third?” I call out to her. “What about the third person who really means something to you?” She turns and her voice carries across the parking lot and flows through my ears like honey.

“I’m looking at him.”

Sinner’s Creed MC Series:

1. Sinner’s Creed

2. Sinner’s Revenge

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FTC Advisory: Penguin/Berkley provided me with a copy of Sinner’s Creed. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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