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I Belong

Review: Giving In by Maya Banks

December 11th, 2016 Roxanne Posted in Review No Comments »

giving-inTitle: Giving In

Author: Maya Banks

Genre: Erotic Romance

Series: Surrender Trilogy (Book #2)

Publication Date: May 6, 2014

Format: Paperback, 304 Pages

ISBN-10: 0425272966 (Berkley/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0425272961 (Berkley/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

In her sensational Breathless Trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks tested the boundaries of desire. In her new trilogy, there’s only one thing left to do: cross them. Now, the story continues as one woman, haunted by the shadows of the past, explores the possibilities of a new beginning in ways she never could have imagined…

Kylie sees the way Jensen looks at her. The dark promise in his eyes. That rough edge of dominance she knows he possesses. But dominance is the one thing that frightens her above all else. She and her brother barely survived a childhood steeped in violence and abuse. She could never give up total control and submit to a man. Especially a man like Jensen. Could she?

Jensen sees the shadows in Kylie’s eyes. Knows he has to tread very carefully or risk losing any chance he has with her. All he wants is the opportunity to show her that dominance doesn’t equal pain, bondage or discipline. That emotional surrender is the most powerful of

Quick & Dirty: Can two damaged people get over the demons of their past and find love?

Opening Sentence: “You look like hell,” Jensen Tucker said bluntly from the doorway of Kyle Breckenridge’s office.”

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Kylie is broken, guarded and unwilling to have a relationship with anyone due to the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her father. She is finally coming to terms with the fact that she hasn’t dealt with the death of her brother all that well, and she didn’t handle Joss moving on very well either. Jensen, as you may remember, is the new partner at the firm. He also makes Kyle highly uncomfortable, partly because he is dominant, but also because he is highly intuitive. Jensen also rocks Kylie to her core when he approaches her about taking on a new contract and helping come up with ideas to restructure and eliminate money being wasted for a new client.

They meet for dinner to discuss her ideas, and Kylie once again is blown away when Jensen agrees with her ideas and compliments her on them. She is shocked when he tells her that he would like to see her become an additional partner in the firm. However, when she sees a man who reminds her of her father, Kylie has an immediate panic attack and is sure that Jensen will be completely scared away from her. To her dismay, he doesn’t abandon her and helps her through it. She finds herself trusting him more and more and actually think about the possibility of a relationship.

However, Jensen has his own secrets and when he gets in deeper and deeper with Kylie to address her issues, he begins to show more and more destructive ways. When his demons rise in the most unexpected way, will Kylie be able to get pass what happened? Will Jensen be able to forgive himself? Will they be able to trust each other?

You don’t necessarily have to read all the books in this series, however, I suggest that you do read them in order. You get introduced to all the major players in book one, you also get a good sense of what is going on. I have really enjoyed this series, I love the friendships and the couples. For the most part, even though this book is about dominant/submissive, it’s really light compared to other books within that genre. In this particular book, it’s almost non-existence as Jensen is more than willing to put aside all of those behaviors in order to make Kyle comfortable.

Overall, I enjoyed Kylie and Jensen as a couple. I felt that they dealt with their issues in a mostly good way, but that lacked something when delivering the issues. I would say there are Trigger warnings about this book, it does contain descriptions of abuse, incest, and rape. I did enjoy the book and look forward to reading the last book in the trilogy.

Notable Scene:

Terror blistered through her eyes and her breath quickened. her pulse stuttered and panic slammed into her. He could see her struggling for breath, her nostrils flaring with the effort.

“Listen to me, Kyle. I understand you far better than you think. You value control in all things, because you once had that control taken from you. I’m going to give that back to you. Tonight. I’m going to sleep here, with you, so that you know you’re safe. I want you to rest. One night without dreams, or at the very least someone to comfort you when the dreams torture you. And so you are in absolute control and so you know have nothing to fear, you’re going to tie my hands to your bedpost so that I am, in effect, helpless.”

Surrender Trilogy:

1. Letting Go

2. Giving In

3. Taking it All

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

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Review: Heart of Stone by Christine Warren

December 10th, 2016 Roxanne Posted in Review No Comments »

heart-of-stoneTitle: Heart of Stone

Author: Christine Warren

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Series: Gargoyles (Book #1)

Publication Date: December 31, 2013

Format: Paperback, 320 Pages

ISBN-10: 1250012651 (St.Martin’s/Macmillan)

ISBN-13: 978-1250012654 (St.Martin’s/Macmillan)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

From bestselling author Christine Warren comes a thrilling new series about a young woman caught between a rock and a hard place—between gargoyles and demons…

Ella Harrow is trying to carve out a normal life for herself. Well, as normal as an art geek with psychic abilities can hope for. As museum docent and gift-shop manager, Ella is able to keep her distance from people—and her powers in check—while surrounding herself with the artifacts she loves. But how on earth is she supposed to act normal when a thousand-year-old statue on the museum’s terrace suddenly comes to life?

Heart of Stone

Not your ordinary gargoyle, Kees has been asleep for eons, waiting for a portent of evil to wake him from his slumber. Kees isn’t a vision; he’s a bat-winged guardian created to protect the world from the seven demons of the Dark. Somehow, Ella triggered his reawakening. Maybe the demons have been unleashed? Maybe his heart is finally ready to be chiseled open? The fate of the world isn’t carved in stone…yet.

Quick & Dirty: A fledgling mage and an ancient gargoyle, can they wake the others before it is too late?

Opening Sentence: “Ella Harrow fully supported the notion that people with excessive amounts of money should donate large sums of it to worthy causes, and she counted her employer-the Vancouver Museum of Art and History-as among the worthiest.”

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Ella is working at an event at the Museum when she is accosted by a sleazy guest. When her distress wakes a sleeping gargoyle known as a Guardian, Ella is sure she has lost her mind. When Kees begins to tell her about demons and the seven she knows she is crazy. Later, he talks to her about her magic and Ella begins to realize that she isn’t crazy. He explains that the Gargoyles were summoned eons ago to help protect the world against the Order of Darkness. The Guardians normally have Wardens that wake the Guardians in times of need. However, when Ella searches out Kees’s Warden they find he died. In fact, the Guild that works with the Guardians has suffered numerous deaths in the last 10 years.

Ella and Kees know that the Darkness has been systematically taking out the Guild and they begin to fear that they won’t find any living members. When Ella finds one possible member after searching genealogy records, they set out to see him. When they arrive, Alan’s filled with joy that a Guardian is awake. He tells them that the Guild has lost contact with all the members and every time they tried to replace a Warden to awaken a Guardian they were killed.

Now Ella and Kees are in a race against time to find the missing Guardians, and to find a way to wake them so they can save the world.

I haven’t read that many gargoyle books, so plus for that. I enjoyed this overall, in fact, I am probably going to read the rest of the series because I kind of need to know what is going on. However, instead of a typical fantasy or paranormal book with one main character, I think this one will be laid out in a romance series fashion with each book featuring a new Guardian and a new woman. So it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Ella is a great main character, feisty and full of magic! Plus, a great judge of character with interesting friends! Kees is sort of a typical man or gargoyle, he really doesn’t believe he can feel and he doesn’t understand why he is so drawn to Ella. Together they are a little bit of insta-love, but a whole lot of fun. The worldbuilding is good, and the background story is strong. If you are looking for something a little different than this series is probably just right for you!

Notable Scene:

The Guardians had been formed from stone, carved by the powers of Light, and summoned from the ether into bodies as hard and enduring as their mission. They needed to be tough, strong, impervious to all but the fiercest attack; otherwise, they could never succeed in keeping the demons of the Darkness at bay. Like mountains of rock, he and his brothers withstood the forces of evil that buffeted them wearing them down the opposition until it could be banished into the prisons of the barren planes.

Gargoyles Series:

1. Heart of Stone

2. Stone Cold Lover

3. Hard as a Rock

4. Rocked by Love

5. Hard to Handle (February 7, 2017)

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FTC Advisory: St.Martin’s Paperbacks/Macmillan provided me with a copy of Heart of Stone. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

December 9th, 2016 Michelle B. Posted in Review No Comments »

shades-of-milk-and-honeyTitle: Shades of Milk and Honey

Author: Mary Robinette Kowal

Genre: Historical Fantasy/Magical Realism

Series: Glamourist Histories (Book #1)

Publication Date: June 7, 2011

Format: Paperback, 306 Pages

ISBN-10: 0765325608 (Tor/Macmillan)

ISBN-13: 978-0765325600 (Tor/Macmillan)

Reviewed by: Michelle

Synopsis:

Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men.

Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right–and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

This debut novel from an award-winning talent scratches a literary itch you never knew you had. Like wandering onto a secret picnic attended by Pride and Prejudice and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Shades of Milk and Honey is precisely the sort of tale we would expect from Jane Austen…if only she had been a fantasy writer.

Quick & Dirty: This is what would have happened if Pride and Prejudice had magic.

Opening Sentence: The Ellsworths of Long Parkmead had the regard of their neighbours in every respect.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

For the most part, if you are a fan of the classics, you may have already read Pride and Prejudice. And if you are a fan of P and P, then you may have probably wondered, “What if Austen wrote it with a bit of fantasy?” Well, Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey is just that. What can be categorized as magical realism, is simply a great retelling of a loved classic.

Jane lives a life filled with courtseys, afternoon tea, and glamour – and not in the sense you’re thinking of. Jane can alter her surroundings with magical glamour. In the Regency era, and in Long Parkmead, families such as the Ellsworths, hire glamour masters, such as Mr. Vincent to alter their homes, the experiences within, and to the hosts themselves. Jane is complex and interesting, and I enjoyed her. I just wish I didn’t automatically think to compare her to Austen’s Jane.

While I think that Shades of Milk and Honey has many Austen qualities, I wish it wasn’t compared to it. Jane has many qualities of Austen leading females. The story itself comes from a regency era, bringing in personality, manners, and swoon. The writing style is fluid, and relatable, but most of the time I was comparing and trying to piece together which character of Kowal’s is just like Austen’s. And that is unfair, in my opinion.

Most of Kowal’s writing builds up the plot and the setting. I didn’t feel that the story didn’t actually begin until about a third of the way through (or even about half way). I didn’t comprehend the magic aspect, which was truly a glamour of what others experience visually, until later on. While I feel the premise has great and unique potential, there was something that was lacking. This missing link prevented me from truly connecting to the characters and to the story.

One last thing. I was not expecting the ending. It threw me off, and maybe that was due to not being able to connect. I thought the story would align closer to Pride and Prejudice, but that was my fault.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series. I feel that I missed something, and it is not Kowal’s fault. There are often times when I don’t relate to a story due to different elements, and often times due to my personal preferences.

Notable Scene:

Jane thought of Mr. Dunkirk and of the happy hours in Beth’s company, which had afforded Jane time to closely judge his character and to find it in every way as good and honest as it had appeared from a distance. She had not hitherto allowed herself to cope, but if Melody’s affections had truly transferred to Captain Livingston, that would remove the most immediate obstacle to AMr. Dunkirk. It left her plainness and her awkward carriage, but to a man such as him, might these things be overlooked in favour of her talent?

But these were idle fancies, not suitable for voicing even to herself, much less to her father, howsoever much she honoured him for his concern on her behalf. Jane said merely, “There is no one to speak of.”

Her father broke off his study of the shrubbery and turned to her. Jane kept her composure under his gaze, knowing that she had told nothing but the truth.

The small hope in her heart was nothing of which she could speak.

Glamourist Histories:

1. Shades of Milk and Honey

2. Glamour in Glass

3. Without a Summer

4. Valour and Vanity

5. Of Noble Family

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FTC Advisory: I purchased this copy of Shades of Milk and Honey.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.  

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Review: What the Dead Want by Norah Olson

December 8th, 2016 Michelle B. Posted in Review No Comments »

what-the-dead-wantTitle: What the Dead Want

Author: Norah Olson

Genre: YA Paranormal

Series: N/A

Publication Date: July 26, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062410113 (HarperCollins)

ISBN-13: 978-0062410115 (HarperCollins)

Reviewed by: Michelle

Synopsis:

16 -year-old Gretchen takes photographs to understand the world around her, a passion her mother Mona fostered and encouraged when she was still around. Since her mom disappeared years ago, Gretchen and her dad have lived on their own in New York City, haunted by Mona’s absence.

When Gretchen’s great aunt Esther calls unexpectedly to tell her that she has inherited the pre-Civil War mansion on her mother’s side of the family in upstate New York, Gretchen understands nothing except that her aunt needs her help. But what she finds there is beyond her imagination. The house is crumbling apart, filled with stacks of papers and journals from decades, even centuries past, and it’s crawling with rodents. It’s also full of secrets and a legacy of racism and violence so reprehensible that the ghosts of the past are exacting revenge on the living.

Somehow the mystery of Mona’s disappearance and the atrocities that happened on the land during the Civil War are inextricably intertwined, and it’s up to Gretchen to figure out how…before even more lives are lost.

Quick & Dirty: What the Dead Want is filled with an eerie, yet extremely interesting world.

Opening Sentence: Her mother had said the house was built by ancestors.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I am not always a fan of scary/supernatural stories, but I will occasionally pick one up and hope it doesn’t scare me senseless. Norah Olson’s What the Dead Want was the right amount of intrigue and spooky. I enjoyed the story, and without being scared throughout the whole way through, I was able to understand the topic that Olson relayed. And I loved that about What the Dead Want.

What the Dead Want follows Gretchen, a 16 year-old New Yorker who is into photography. After the sudden disappearance of her mom several years ago, it is only her dad and her. Gretchen inherits a pre-Civil War mansion on her mother’s family’s estate, and her Aunt Esther has convinced her to come visit. But once she arrives at the estate, and stays at the mansion, unexplained things begin to happen.

I enjoyed Gretchen as a character. It was interesting to get to know her and understand the family dynamic and spiritual occurrences. I am glad that there wasn’t a huge romance in What the Dead Want, for it would have distracted me a bit further from the plot. Gretchen had a good sense of self, never straying from what she knew and what she believed in.

What the Dead Want is filled with an eerie, yet extremely interesting world. Family secrets, spirits in limbo, and uncovering the past pretty much fills up the pages of this story. I was presently surprised at being fascinated and thoroughly engaged with this story. There were a few images that were written so well, it gave me goosebumps.

But while I felt the story was a good story, there were a few things I could not connect with. I felt there was a disconnect between the timeline fluidity and the premise of the story. There was a lot going on, at certain times, making it a bit hard to focus on the soul of the story. There were so many historical elements that it felt like the integrity of the details were sometimes compromised due to playing catch up with the pacing.

Notable Scene:

It was the pain of this that stopped Gretchen’s curiosity about where Mona might be. Whether she was wandering the city or wandering the afterlife, Mona had no plans to come back to her, even in pictures. If she was alive it seemed that she didn’t want to be found, and if she was dead she was dead. Dead people don’t walk the streets or go to work or kiss their husbands good-bye on the subway platform. They do not tuck you in bed anymore, or take you out to brunch, or show you secret pictures from their fabulous pasts.

Her mother had been playing her whole life at communing with the spirit world. It had been an aesthetic fascination. But Gretchen was left behind to content with the reality of her absence. With the reality of her nonexistence. Every day. From now on.

Mona was gone. And she needed to accept it. Her camera had provided all the proof she needed. After that she stopped looking for signs.

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FTC Advisory: Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins provided me with a copy of What the Dead Want. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

December 7th, 2016 Michelle B. Posted in Review 1 Comment »

this-savage-songTitle: This Savage Song

Author: Victoria Schwab

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Monsters of Verity (Book #1)

Publication Date: July 5, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 464 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062380850 (Greenwillow)

ISBN-13: 978-0062380852 (Greenwillow)

Reviewed by: Michelle

Synopsis:

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

Quick & Dirty: In a city divided, violence has begun to create monsters and monsters elites.

Opening Sentence: The night Kate Harker decided to burn down the school chapel, she wasn’t angry or drunk.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I have been a fan of Victoria Schwab for a long time. With each story, I get something new and refreshing. She constantly keeps on my toes, excited with the next adventure I’ll be on. With This Savage Song, Schwab brings a bit of darkness and paranormal to the table. It’s not exactly a Romeo and Juliet tale, but there are warring sides, a friendship, and death. Oh, so much death.

This Savage Song follows the story of Kate Harker and August Flynn. Their city is divided and controlled by their families, warring for domination. Monsters have power, and lure everywhere, giving fealty to each side. And like the monsters, Kate and August both want acceptance and acknowledgement from their fathers, and they will do whatever it takes to gain recognition. Kate attends school closer to her father, and August becomes a spy at Kate’s school. Kate discovers August’s secret, as a spy, and it may be at a time that is too late.

Kate is the daughter of a Harker, a man more looked upon as evil, conniving, and controlling.

Kate took a bit of energy to like in the beginning. She has bravado, and proverbial balls of steel. While she isn’t physically a monster, I could deem her as one. Her personality has flaws, but Schwab made me second guess how much I accepted her and her actions and outlook on life.

August, I felt, was written to be easily accepted as the likable character. It was easy to align myself with him. While August has a very dangerous power, Schwab wrote him to be the easiest character to love. Tricky, that Schawb. I enjoyed who August was, and especially his power. Who else can cause death with a use of an instrument? Brilliant.

This Savage Song is told in a dual point-of-view style. It makes it a bit easier to understand each faction, each character, and the events as they take place. While I don’t normally prefer alternating POV styles, I thought it worked really well for this story. It allowed me to delve deeper into the minds of the character, and get really invested in the different acts and beats of the story.

This Savage Song was written so nicely. The pacing flowed so well, making it easy to truly get lost in the book and have time pass by so quickly. Schwab’s writing always surprises me, improving with each story, making brilliant characters and wonderful settings. Her imagination is magic.

Notable Scene:

The sounds in 3B stopped abruptly. The footsteps stilled. The TV went dead. And then, a bolt slid free, the door opened, and a man peered out into the hall, too thin in a half-buttoned shirt. Behind his back, his shadow coiled. Behind his shadow, the room was a maze of towering paper and books, half-collapsed boxes, bags of trash, clothing, food-some of it rotten.

“Mr. Osinger,” said August. “May I come in?”

When Albert Osinger met August’s eyes, he knew. Somehow, they always knew. The man paled, then slammed the door in August’s face. Or tried. August caught the wood with his hand, facing it inward, and Osinger, in a panic, turned and ran, toppling a stack of books, pulling over a shelf of canned food as he scrambled to get away. As if there were anywhere to run.

August sighed and stepped inside, closing the door behind him.

Monsters of Verity:

1. This Savage Song

2. Our Dark Duet (June 13, 2017)

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FTC Advisory: Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins provided me with a copy of This Savage Song.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.  

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