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I Belong

Review: Roadside Magic by Lilith Saintcrow

June 17th, 2017 Roxanne Posted in Review No Comments »

Title: Roadside Magic

Author: Lilith Saintcrow

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Gallow and Ragged (Book #2)

Publication Date: January 26, 2016

Format: Paperback, 323 Pages

ISBN-10: 0316277878 (Orbit)

ISBN-13: 978-0316277877 (Orbit)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Lilith Saintcrow returns to dark fantasy with a new series where the fairy world inhabits diners, dive bars and trailer parks.

The Seelie and unSeelie Courts are both in plague-ravaged tatters. The Wild Hunt roams unchecked, taking who and what it will, and the walls between the human world and the world of the sidhe are thinning rapidly. Gallow is the only hope of human and sidhe both.

But all Jeremy wants to do is find Robin Ragged . . . and survive. Unfortunately, everyone who meets him has other plans. Including the Ragged, who is fleeing for her life—and the King of Unwinter, whose poisoned blade has cut deep into Jeremy’s flesh…

Quick & Dirty: Robin is being hunted, can Gallow reach her before the hunter does?

Opening Sentence: The thing lying before her was no longer sidhe.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Robin is planning her revenge against Summer for Sean and Puck for Daisy. Daisy, the little sister that Gallow married and loved, and now he attempts to court her as well. But Robin is haunted as well as hunted and as she revisits her childhood haunts, she finds that the her old home has been attacked as well. It doesn’t surprise her that Summer is so vindictive. Robin then remakes the changeling that took Sean’s place into a cu sidhe.

Gallow is chasing Robin, but he is moving slower as the wound he took for her is spreading poison throughout his body. He is pissed when he finds that his childhood friend Crenn is hunting Robin as well. When they find her at the goblin’s market they work together to save her from Unwinter, then Crenn steals her away. Gallow makes a deal with Unwinter for Robn’s protection, but it is too late with her being taken into summer.

He finds Puck alive and well and wanting to work with him to find Robin, but during the course of that he finds that Puck was behind Daisy’s death and their alliance falls apart. Meanwhile, the plague has unleashed itself full force in Summer’s boundaries. Gallow is racing against time with his poisoned wound to find and save Robin. Will he be able too?

I found this second book in the series to be much better than the first one, and it tied things together nicely. It also cleared up some of the questions you get in the first book. I will not of course reveal those because I hate spoilers. I am really looking forward to seeing what happens in book 3, because so far the plague just seems to be a background issue. It’s really more about Robin and Gallow and how they are tied together and their sort of love story.

There is no romance in this book either, but they do dance quite a bit more in this one. I see why Robin is leery as she is a dead ringer for Daisy, her little sister and his dead wife. I still like them though and I still feel like there is quite a bit of untapped potential in this series. I am still not sure if I get the trailer park references because other than occasionally, the series really seems to have nothing to do with trailer parks.

Notable Scene:

Certainly Summer had sworn so there were two possibilities: The Queen had a further use for the Ragged… or vengeance. And while Summer had uses for all who came into her snow-white, grasping hands, only the latter would move a queen to spend such attention on a small nagging detail when her wider realm was in danger of rotting on the vine.

Gallow and Ragged Series:

1. Trailer Park Fae

2. Roadside Magic

3. Wasteland King

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

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Review: Trailer Park Fae by Lilith Saintcrow

June 15th, 2017 Roxanne Posted in Review No Comments »

Title: Trailer Park Fae

Author: Lilith Saintcrow

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Gallow and Ragged (Book #1)

Publication Date: June 23, 2015

Format: Paperback, 312 Pages

ISBN-10: 0316277851 (Orbit)

ISBN-13: 978-0316277853 (Orbit)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Lilith Saintcrow returns to dark fantasy with a new series where the fairy world inhabits diners, dive bars and trailer parks.

Jeremy Gallow is just another construction worker, and that’s the way he likes it. He’s left his past behind, but some things cannot be erased. Like the tattoos on his arms that transform into a weapon, or that he was once closer to the Queen of Summer than any half-human should be. Now the half-sidhe all in Summer once feared is dragged back into the world of enchantment, danger, and fickle fae—by a woman who looks uncannily like his dead wife. Her name is Robin, and her secrets are more than enough to get them both killed. A plague has come, the fullborn-fae are dying, and the dark answer to Summer’s Court is breaking loose.

Be afraid, for Unwinter is riding…

Quick & Dirty: Fae are dying, and Robin is on a mission to find Gallow and have him help save everyone.

Opening Sentence: Summer, soft green hills and shaded dells, lay breathless under a pall of smoky apple-blossom dusk.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Jermiah has left behind his past…well his fae past. He has been living like a mortal long before his wife Daisy died. He is working construction and living a very human life until the day she walks into the bar. Robin looks just like Daisy, she isn’t but she looks just like her and she is looking for Gallow and running from Unwinter. There is a plague that is killing full blooded fae.

She is also looking for Puck, but she finds Gallow first and he is drawn into running with her. He has secrets and so does she, and neither of them trust much. But they will need allies in order to stay alive in the game that is ahead for them.

Soon it becomes an all out race against time, the plague and Unwinter. Will Robin and Jermiah be able to find out what is going on? Will they be able to save each other and everyone else?

I wasn’t blown away by this, but I did enjoy it. I wasn’t a total fan of some of the prose and wording, but I did like the world building and I was intrigued by the concept. Robin and Jermiah are half fae, he fled to marry his mortal wife Daisy, and Robin still belongs to Summer’s court. Jermiah has a lot of ties to the Court and relationships he would like to forget, but he and Robin seemed to mesh well and no romance so far.

I am not sure if I am disappointed, sometimes I prefer no romance in a story, but I like them and I do hope to see some sparks really start flying.

Notable Scene:

It didn’t matter. She wasn’t Daisy, she couldn’t be Daisy… but still. He knocked one man aside, ducked another flung beer bottle, threw his arm up as someone tossed a bar stool. It was nothing but reflex: the leg almost clipped his skull but the cursed sidhe speed was still with him. Everything slowed down, droplets and shards of glass hanging in struggling air, faces contorted with rage. Jermiah moved.

Gallow and Ragged Series:

1. Trailer Park Fae

2. Roadside Magic

3. Wasteland King

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FTC Advisory: Orbit provided me with a copy of Trailer Park Fae. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Unexpected Rush by Jaci Burton

June 14th, 2017 Roxanne Posted in Review No Comments »

Title: Unexpected Rush

Author: Jaci Burton

Genre: Contemporary Romance/Sports

Series: Play by Play (Book #11)

Publication Date: February 16, 2016

Format: Paperback, 330 Pages

ISBN-10: 0425276813 (Berkley/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0425276815 (Berkley/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

In the new Play-By-Play novel by the New York Times bestselling author of All Wound Up, a football hot shot and his best friend’s sister are breaking all the rules.

All the Right Moves

For Barrett Cassidy, playing defense for the Tampa Hawks is a dream come true. And now he may have discovered his dream woman. Harmony Evans, once the sweet, gawky teenage sister of his best friend and teammate has grown into a smart, gorgeous woman with moves he finds hard to resist. But he knows he can’t get involved with his best friend’s sister—it’s guy code.

Harmony has always gone after what she wants with single-minded determination, from her independence to her education to her career in social work. She never expected her youthful crush on Barrett to develop into something deeper. And she’s not about to let some ridiculous man rules or her brother stand in her way.

When the chemistry is this combustible, lines tend to get crossed. And when Barrett and Harmony’s secret gets out, it just might be game over…

Quick & Dirty: When Barrett starts to fall for his best friend’s sister, will this be his worst play ever?

Opening Sentence: “Men Suck.”

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Harmony has just been dumped by her boyfriend when her long term crush on Barrett decides to resurrect itself. But Barrett keeps shutting her down, she is his best friend’s sister and that is against all man code. When he hires her to redo his new house, and she challenges him to dinner. He knows things are getting out of control. Soon they are spending more and more time together and Barrett knows this is all wrong.

Harmony goes along with Barrett’s wishes to keep a secret, just for now. It isn’t making her happy, and as they avoid each other at family functions it keeps getting awkward. However, she can’t resist him either. Soon every moment they have they spend together. Barrett knows that he will have to tell her brother and soon, because he knows that he is in love with Harmony.

But before he can tell him their relationship is exposed and Barrett and Drake end up in a fight. Then Harmony gets mad because if they had been upfront like she wanted to be none of this would have happened. So she dumps him! Will Barrett be able to fix his friendship and his relationship with Harmony? Or will he lose it all?

This was a nice romance. I enjoyed Harmony and Barrett, not that they really had too much relationship angst, but sometimes that makes the story nicer in the long run. Barrett was a little silly for football player. But then it mildly annoyed me that Harmony just threw him under the bus, she is a big girl and she could open her mouth and tell her own family what is going on.

It only mildly annoyed me though, overall, I enjoyed the story even though I am not always a big sports fan, but thankfully for the most part this was free of a lot of sports. I haven’t read the others in the series, but I can guess that some of them were in this book, but it didn’t take away from anything and I didn’t feel lost at all.

Notable Scene:

Barrett spent most of Saturday trying to talk himself out of going over to Harmony’s place. In the end, the couldn’t figure out a legitimate reason why he shouldn’t go that wouldn’t make him look like a total wuss. So he decided he’d suck it up and do it. They could be friends.

Play by Play Series:

1. The Perfect Play

2. Changing the Game

3. Taking a Shot

4. Playing to Win

5. Thrown by a Curve

6. One Sweet Ride

6.5 Holiday Games

7. Melting the Ice 

8. Straddling the Line

8.5 Holiday on Ice

9. Quarterback Draw

10. All Wound Up

10.5 Hot Holiday Nights

11. Unexpected Rush

12. Rules of Contact

13. The Final Score

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

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Review: Spark by Holly Schindler

June 13th, 2017 Tara Posted in Review No Comments »

Title: Spark

Author: Holly Schindler

Genre: YA Contemporary, Magical Realism

Series: N/A

Publication Date: May 17, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062220233 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062220233 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Tara

Synopsis:

The local Avery Theater was just a run-down building to Quin—until her mother told her the tragic love story of Nick and Emma that played out on the theater’s stage all those years ago. Quin is convinced it’s the perfect story to rewrite for her drama class, but when she goes searching for more information, she makes a startling discovery—the Avery is rapidly regaining its former splendor and setting the stage for her classmates Dylan and Cass to relive Nick and Emma’s romance. Quin can see the spark between them, but it’s up to her to make sure her friends—and the Avery—can both be saved this time around.

Quick & Dirty: This is an adorable magical realism novel that is ultimately a love letter to the theater.

Opening Sentence: When I dream, it’s always on a screen.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Going into this book, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The premise sounded intriguing but contemporary novels are usually hit or miss with me. However, this one was the perfect mix of contemporary and magical realism. Plus, there wasn’t a romance for the main character, which was different and refreshing.

This story combined mystery, romance, and high school to create an engaging tale. After setting the stage through an introduction to the town, the history of the Avery, and introducing the main characters, the story begins when the drama teacher, who also happens to be Quin’s mom, announces that the senior project will be the play Anything Goes. From there, this coming of age tale shows how people can find themselves, sometimes in the unlikeliest of ways (and with the help of a little magic). The author manages to truly capture the essence of small-town life.

There were definite Romeo and Juliet influences on this story and they worked out surprisingly well. I was a little unclear on how Cass and Dylan, the main romantic couple, were star-crossed but I loved Emma and Nick’s story. Told in bits and pieces through flashbacks, the mystery of who they were and what happened the night they died kept me interested throughout the entire novel. Each new flashback peeled back an additional layer or showed another dimension of the story. I actually felt as if this story-telling style allowed me to understand this story within the story at a deeper level than if the author had just told it from beginning to end.

I enjoyed the part of the story that was set in the modern day as well. Quin, Cass, and Dylan were all likable characters and it was a joy to watch them grow throughout the novel. However, I wasn’t a huge fan of the fact that Cass and Dylan flourished mostly when their flaws were taken away. I understand what the author was aiming for but I wish that both characters exhibited the same confidence and self-assuredness while encompassed by the Avery’s magic in the outside world. I would have liked them to succeed because they fully accepted themselves and each other. Other than that, I really enjoyed the characters and the story, particularly the ending.

Ultimately, this was a love letter to the magic of the theater. This was also an adorable, quick read that would be perfect for summer (or if you need a reminder to look for the magic in everyday life).

Notable Scene:

And suddenly, I’m thinking of that bedtime story—the one that has followed me into my dreams for years. I’m remembering Mom telling me that the Avery died. On the night of Emma’s and Nick’s tragic ending. I remember her reciting what Bertie’d told her that night: When the right hearts come to the Avery . . . the Avery will come back from the dead.

It’s true. The Avery’s heart is beating. The theater is breathing.

The Avery’s alive.

I swivel the beam of my flashlight toward the stage, where I no longer see the old half-fallen set, but pristine velvet curtains. Panting in a kind of confused anticipation, I stare as the curtains slowly part. A projector pops to life behind me, washing a bright light across a movie screen. Bold, black letters hover, announcing that the scene about to play takes place on June 4, 1947. And the sound of a train whistle fills the theater.

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

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Review: The Crown’s Fate by Evelyn Skye

June 12th, 2017 Tara Posted in Review No Comments »

Title: The Crown’s Fate

Author: Evelyn Skye

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

Series: The Crown’s Game (Book #2)

Publication Date: May 16, 2017

Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062422618 (Balzer + Bray)

ISBN-13: 978-0062422613 (Balzer + Bray)

Reviewed by: Tara

Synopsis:

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.

Quick & DirtyThe much darker second half of this magical and fantastic duology.

Opening Sentence: The Crown’s Game is an old one, older than the tsardom itself.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I’ve been waiting to read The Crown’s Fate since the moment I turned the last page of The Crown’s Game. I absolutely loved the world of fantastic, beautiful magic that Evelyn Skye created. Plus, it’s set in Imperial Russia, a time period that I’ve been fascinated with ever since watching Anastasia as a young girl. The Crown’s Fate did not disappoint any of my expectations, although it was a different novel than I expected.

The Crown’s Game was all about the glamour of magic and the competition/courtship between Vika and Nikolai. It was bright and shiny and beautiful. The Crown’s Fate deals with the flip side of that world, what happens when power is corrupted and relationships are tested. It’s dark and shadowy and yet still just as beautiful.

If you’ve read the summary, you’ve already seen a major spoiler for the first book but this is your second warning that spoilers for The Crown’s Game lie ahead (it’s impossible to discuss the second book without mentioning them). The Crown’s Fate opens up with the main characters adjusting to the conclusion of the crown’s game. Vika is now the Imperial Enchanted and Nikolai, having sacrificed himself for her, is trapped as a shadow of his former self in one of the dream benches he created. Nikolai’s mother sneakily imbues him with some of her dark magic taken from the life force of others. Although Nikolai is freed, he slowly starts to lose himself to the dark magic, starting down a path to rebellion and evil.

I still adored Vika in this book and I actually grew to appreciate her more as a character as the book went on. She matured more in this book but still managed to keep her spark of light, despite the horrific events that happened in this book. I wasn’t a huge fan of Pasha in the first book and that continues into this one, although I did respect him more toward the end. As for Nikolai, Evelyn Skye truly knows how to mess with my emotions. I could see his slow and steady embrace of his dark side and, even though I still loved him, I also hated what he was doing to his brother and to their people. Nikolai was the most interesting character in this book but I wish the resolution of his story hadn’t been quite so abrupt.

The plot was wonderfully paced, although I would have liked the ending to be a bit longer. However, some of that is probably just because I was enjoying the book so much that I didn’t want it to end. I liked that magic was revealed to the people in the tsardom, but I didn’t quite understand how opinion changed so fast toward the end. There were a few other minor plot questions that I had but they didn’t overly detract from my enjoyment of the book. I have no idea how the author came up with some of the magic Vika and Nikolai do in this book but I enjoyed each new magical endeavor.

While this wasn’t the book that I was expecting, The Crown’s Fate was the ending that this duology needed. I’m a little sad that there won’t be more in this world but am already looking forward to reading the next book or series that Evelyn Skye writes. If you loved the first book, definitely read this one. Just be prepared for a much darker story.

Notable Scene:

Vika exhaled, and the tension in her body melted away. The bracelet stopped allowing and turned an innocuous, ordinary gold.

An immediate reaction to her obedience, Pasha realized. He’d ordered her to conjuring him a midnight snack. She’d refused. The bracelet had appears and punished her, but had relented as soon as she complied with his request. Well, technically complied. He hadn’t said anything about the snack being clean.

She looked at him from where she remained kneeling in the snow. “Are you happy now?”

The Crown’s Game Series:

1. The Crown’s Game

2. The Crown’s Fate

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FTC Advisory: Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins provided me with a copy of The Crown’s Fate. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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