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I Belong

Review: Wanted by Betsy Schow

August 4th, 2017 Roxanne Posted in Review Comments Off on Review: Wanted by Betsy Schow

Title: Wanted

Author: Betsy Schow

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Spelled (Book #2)

Publication Date: February 7, 2017

Format: Paperback, 320 Pages

ISBN-10: 1492635995 (Sourcebooks Fire)

ISBN-13: 978-1492635994 (Sourcebooks Fire)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

In the sequel to Spelled, can Robin Hood’s daughter, Rexi, stop the Wicked Witch from finding Excalibur?

Fairy-Tale Survival Rule No. 52:

No matter how difficult the obstacles or all-powerful the evil villain, one can rest assured that the hero of the story never dies. The sidekicks though…they should be worried.

Rexi Hood is proud to be an outlaw. After all, she’s the daughter of the infamous Robin Hood. But sidekick? Accomplice? Sorry, that wasn’t in her story description. Yeah, she and Princess Dorthea of Emerald have been inseparable since they teamed up to fight the wickedest witch. But if Rexi doesn’t figure out how to break the curse that binds them, forget being overshadowed by the spirited princess, Rexi’s going to become a Forgotten, wiped from the pages of Story and reduced to a puddle of ink.

Not happening. No way in Spell.

Rexi’s plan? Steal the sword Excalibur and use its magic to write her own tale. But Gwenevere has opened a new Academy of Villains in Camelot and danger lurks behind every plot twist. And you know how it goes in Story: keep your friends close and your enemies closer…

Quick & Dirty: Rexi Hood has to find a way to break the curse binding her, and she will no matter the cost.

Opening Sentence: “And they all lived happily ever after,” I muttered in falsetto.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Rexi did one noble thing and now she can’t stop dying. The first time was a no brainer, she had to save Princess Dorthea, but after that it just keeps weirder and weirder. In fact, this time it took even longer than normal, and she can’t remember the three other times she died. Not long after she wakes she dies again, and it takes even longer for her to wake and it seems like she is losing herself.

Soon Rexi will be forgotten, faded into nothingness but she can’t let that happen. Thankfully, the next time she dies, when she wakes her father is there. He also has a brillant idea to use Excalibur to break the curse that binds Dorthea and Rexi. When they go to the Lady of the Lake she reminds them that Blanc is searching for Excalibur as well.

As Rexi runs out of time will she be able to find Excalibur? Will she be able to break the curse? Will it even be worth the cost?

This was a sort of cute combination of all the fairy tales. It was a little silly and confusing at times. I must also admit I didn’t realize this was a second book until after I started reading it. So I may have enjoyed this more if I read the first book before this. Overall, It was okay. I mostly enjoyed Rexi, although I didn’t necessarily understand all the relationships. But, on that same note Dorethea and Rexi seems to be bleeding over into each other. Well it was more like Rexi was losing herself to Dorthea.

I can’t quite decide if I like all of the fairytales being thrown together. On the one hand it’s different and I admit I liked catching all the refrences, on the other hand it’s a lot of people and a lot of different things going on.

Notable Scene:

Carefully, I navigated my way around the piles of souls and crumbling structures of unwanted and discarded settings. Slinking my way around, I stayed out of sight of Morte’s copy riders-their entire bodies wrapped in scrolls. Though I don’t know how they saw without eyes, they rode around on little creatures with shovels for faces. Like little paper pushers, they shuttled the falling pages toward the light sources.

Spelled Series:

1. Spelled

2. Wanted

3. Banished (February 1, 2018)

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

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Review: Department Zero by Paul Crilley

August 3rd, 2017 Roxanne Posted in Review Comments Off on Review: Department Zero by Paul Crilley

Title: Department Zero

Author: Paul Crilley

Genre: Science Fiction/Urban Fantasy/Horror

Series: N/A

Publication Date: January 24, 2017

Format: Paperback, 301 Pages

ISBN-10: 1633882012 (Pyr)

ISBN-13: 978-1633882010 (Pyr)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

THE END OF THE UNIVERSE IS ONLY A HOP, SKIP, AND SLIGHT STUMBLE-THROUGH-A-WORMHOLE AWAY

Harry Priest just wants to make sure his ex-wife doesn’t take away his visitation rights, and his dead-end job cleaning up crime scenes for the past ten years isn’t doing him any favors.

But when Harry attends what he thinks is a routine death, he stumbles onto a secret multiverse of alternate realities all reachable through universe-hopping gates. Policing these worlds is Havelock Graves, the Interstitial Crime Department’s top agent for ten years running (according to him).  When Harry accidentally messes with the ICD crime scene, Graves and his team are demoted as low as they can go: Department Zero. They’re recruiting Harry too—not because he charmed them, but because he just might hold the key to saving the universe . . . and getting their old jobs back.

To do this, Graves and his team set out to solve the crime that lost them their jobs.  A crime that involves a cult planning to hunt down and steal the fabled Spear of Destiny in order to free the Great Old One Cthulhu from his endless sleep in the Dreamlands. (Because that’s another thing Harry soon finds out. Everything H. P. Lovecraft wrote is true. Like, everything.)

The team will have to fight its way through realities filled with Martian technology and evade mad priests (Harry’s favorite kind) in a realm of floating landmasses where magic really exists.

And Harry has to do it all in time to say good night to his daughter.

Quick & Dirty: A world in which Lovecraft written work is all true.

Opening Sentence: The polite term for what I do for a living is “biohazard remediation.”

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Harry Priest is a crime scene cleaner, and one night he recives a phone call from a contact within the LAPD, so he and Jorge (the boss’s son) head out to the crime scence to clean it up. However, when they get there they quickly realize that something is different. Harry is sure that the police haven’t even been on the scene so he backs off, but before he can even call the police to confirm he finds Jorge in the room filiming the crime scene.

Once he gets Jorge out of the room, two officers show up and say they are with the ICD which Harry has not ever heard off, but they kick them out of the scene, and when Harry calls his contact he confirms that the scene was taken over by the ICD. So they leave and Harry dwells on it until Jorge calls him in a panic and he rushes over to Jorge’s apartment. Only to find some giant spider eating his brains. Completely freaked out Harry takes off and is pursed by a Shakespeare quoting monkey.

He accidentally shoots Graves (one of the ICD officer’s) and soon is offered a job within the ICD where he finds they are on the hunt for the Spear of Destiny and fallen gods. Harry finds himself kidnapped more than once, and begins to wonder if he will even get out of this alive. But discovering that this is really a multi-verse already puts a lot on Harry’s plate, will he be able to stop those trying to free an old god?

This is an interesting book and a quick read. Harry is a little more bumbling than I like my MC’s but I adored his relationship with his daughter. I thought it was really neat that in some worlds the War of the World really happened (H.G. Wells book) and that Lovecraft’s stories are all true. At the same time it was creepy and a little weird not going to lie, I tried not to freak out when that spider thing was on Jorge. I couldn’t decide if it was interesting when the man-faced monkey spoke only shakespeare quotes, but what I did get and really loved was the author clearly loved to read and this book is a homage to some great horror and science fiction classics.

All in all, this was decent book. I am not sure if it was meant to be a standalone or the start of something. Even though most of it wrapped in the book. I kind of felt that it was the start of something. Sometimes though we have to be satisfied with what we get.

Notable Scene:

I jerk back, trying to fight down panic. What do I do? Jump out the window, probably breaking my leg in the process, or run past the weird spider-monster in the lounge. Nothing in life has prepared me for this situation.

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

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Review: The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth

August 2nd, 2017 Tara Posted in Review Comments Off on Review: The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth

Title: The Killing Jar

Author: Jennifer Bosworth

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: N/A

Publication Date: January 12, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages

ISBN-10: 0374341370 (Macmillan)

ISBN-13: 978-0374341374 (Macmillan)

Reviewed by: Tara

Synopsis:

“I try not to think about it, what I did to that boy.”

Seventeen-year-old Kenna Marsden has a secret.

She’s haunted by a violent tragedy she can’t explain. Kenna’s past has kept people—even her own mother—at a distance for years. Just when she finds a friend who loves her and life begins to improve, she’s plunged into a new nightmare. Her mom and twin sister are attacked, and the dark powers Kenna has struggled to suppress awaken with a vengeance.

On the heels of the assault, Kenna is exiled to a nearby commune, known as Eclipse, to live with a relative she never knew she had. There, she discovers an extraordinary new way of life as she learns who she really is, and the wonders she’s capable of. For the first time, she starts to feel like she belongs somewhere. That her terrible secret makes her beautiful and strong, not dangerous. But the longer she stays at Eclipse, the more she senses there is something malignant lurking underneath it all. And she begins to suspect that her new family has sinister plans for her…

Quick & Dirty: A uniquely creepy paranormal YA novel with a good mystery.

Opening Sentence: I try not to think about it, that time I killed a boy.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Haunted by a history she doesn’t want to remember and a hunger she can’t explain, Kenna Marsden is withdrawn and distant. Playing guitar is the only thing that makes her feel normal. After a man connected with her terrible past hunts down her and her family, her powers fully awaken and she finds herself losing control, reaching to take the life essence from other people. Her mother, who knows about Kenna’s powers, drop her off at a commune filled with others like Kenna so she can learn about her history and what she is.

It’s been a few days since I finished this book and I’m still not sure how I felt about it. It was dark, creepy, and definitely paranormal. The writing wasn’t the best and I really wish more had been explained about the world and the characters. Things that I thought would be important ended up not even playing a role in the later storyline. However, I really liked the coming of age aspect of the book. As for the plot, I think this is one where it’s best to go in blind because of how the mystery unfolds.

I liked Kenna in general. She was a strong-willed character and I loved the juxtaposition between her hunger and her sense of morality. Watching her blossom as she found herself was wonderful. However, I really wasn’t a fan of how she treated the romantic interests. Part of that is probably due to my dislike of love triangles. One love interest I think I would have liked if we had seen more of him. The other was just creepy, however some of that is due to the fact that he was part of the commune.

This book kept me intrigued the entire time. The pacing was just fast and engrossing enough that I found myself unwilling to put the book down, even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the story. Some of the reveals toward the end seemed to come from nowhere and I would have liked a lot more details to wrap everything up, especially considering that there won’t be a sequel.

This one would be good for individuals who like paranormal YA and are looking for a different story with some darker undertones.

Notable Scene:

The butterfly beat against the walls of its glass prison until it lost the will to fight and drooped against the bottom like wilted lettuce.

Jason’s empty eyes beamed with excitement then, and fury uncoiled in me like a rising cobra.

He never saw it coming. I grabbed Jason by the wrist and felt something unfurl from my skin, connecting me to him like a shared vein. His mouth opened in a distended O, but he couldn’t scream. I didn’t give him the chance. His life, his essence, a sensation like rising and expanding, like I’d swallowed a sunrise, flooded my body. At the same time, Jason’s color waned from pale to waxy gray and shriveled into a dehydrated shell of mummy skin. The hair fell from his head in hunks. His eyes turned black as underground tunnels and his cheekbones protruded in chalky, white wings.

When he fell, his killing jar hit a rock and glass exploded like brittle fireworks.

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FTC Advisory: Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan provided me with a copy of The Killing Jar. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Stone Cold Bastards by Jake Bible

August 1st, 2017 Stephanie Posted in Review 1 Comment »

Title: Stone Cold Bastards

Author: Jake Bible

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: N/A

Publication Date: February 24, 2017

Format: Paperback, 218 Pages

ISBN-10: 1611947197 (Bell Bridge Books)

ISBN-13: 978-1611947199 (Bell Bridge Books)

Reviewed by: Stephanie

Synopsis:

Only a rag-tag team of gargoyles stands between humanity and extinction.

Hell has released its ravening horde of demons, leaving most of humanity a puke-spewing, head-spinning mess of possession.

Humanity’s last hope? A team of misfit gargoyles—including a cigar chomping, hard-ass grotesque—come alive and ready for battle during the End of Days. They guard the last cathedral-turned-sanctuary atop a bald knoll in the North Carolina mountains.

Gargoyle protection grudgingly extends to any human who can make it inside the Sanctuary, but the power of the stonecutter blood magic, which protects the sanctuary, may not be enough when a rogue grotesque and his badly-wounded ward arrive.

All the hounds of hell are on their heels. The last Sanctuary is about to fall.

Quick & Dirty: An addicting, gore-filled romp in the apocalypse. What more could you ask for?

Opening Sentence: The small, gray head popped off and rolled toward the end of the bar.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

Six years ago, it happened: the gates of Hell opened, releasing demons upon the earth. Their mission: destroy humanity and take the earth for themselves. Those humans who weren’t immediately possessed in the aftermath had only one option to ensure safety: find sanctuary in a cathedral protected by gargoyles and grotesques, whose magic brought them to life when the gates opened. The gargoyles’ mission is to protect humanity. Now, there is only one cathedral still standing, and the demons are converging upon it. As the demons approach, the remaining humans and their protectors prepare to make a final stand. Will they be successful, or will the demons finally win?

I did not see this book coming. I really only picked it from my stack of books to review because it was short, and I’ve had a bad month when it comes to reading because my four-month-old has decided sleep is optional. Imagine my surprise when I found it hard to put the darn book down. In fact, I read the last 70 percent of the book in one afternoon, holding my baby while he napped because I knew if I put him down, he would wake up, and I wouldn’t be able to keep reading.  Suffice to say, the book hooked me easily.

I will say this book is not for the faint of heart. It is gruesome, to put it mildly. There are body parts and organs flying constantly, and if you have a weak stomach, you may have a hard time getting through the fight scenes, of which there are many. If blood and guts don’t bother you, however, you should really give this book a shot.

I am amazed at how unique all of the characters are. I didn’t originally think that gargoyles/grotesques would have such different personalities, but each one is his/her own character, set apart from all the rest. You really come to love each and every one in a short period of time.

Be prepared to be on the edge of your seat. Once the action starts, it never lets up, thus why I read 70 percent of the book in one sitting. The fight scenes are written well, making me feel as if I was actually watching a movie because I could picture what was happening so well in my mind.

One slight negative is that the first 30 percent of the book is slower than the rest. That’s not to say it’s not good. It’s just slower. I think the main reason for that is for that first portion of the book, we just get one character’s point of view. Once the other characters come into play, everything picks up exponentially.

All in all, this book was an unexpected treat. I went into it feeling unenthused and came out sad that the journey was over. I will definitely be checking out other books by Bible!

Notable Scene:

Morty squinted into the gloom, but found nothing which accounted for the movement. He squatted down and looked under the truck. Nothing there.

A clank and rattle from behind him.

“Oh, come on,” Morty said as he spun about.

A few feet from the pile of broken slot machines was an empty beer bottle. It spun in a lazy circle, like a teenagers’ game, but minus any of the teenagers. Morty knew it was a trap. It was so obvious he almost laughed out loud. The problem was, who set the trap? The possessed couldn’t get inside.

Could they?

They never had before and what Shandra said about blessing ceremonies had made sense. The tribes drew from heavy earth magic. Whether they knew what they were doing or not, their mojo laid one hell of a whammy on the casino. In all his years, Morty had never seen one single possessed get closer than a few yards from the building.

Collaborators? Was that it? Did they bring collaborators down from New York or wherever they kept the traitorous meatbags? Were the demons ready to play their hand like that now that the last Stonecutter had been revealed?

Possibly. Probably.

Morty walked to the bottle and stomped it into glass dust, his eyes searching the huge room for the source of the trap. He was ready, waiting for the attack to come. Again, nothing.

“Come on,” Morty pleaded. “Make your move, pal.”

There was a crunching from behind him and Morty glanced over his shoulder. Maybe the jerk had doubled back.

He hadn’t.

The crunching was from feet walking slowly across the shattered bulletproof glass of the front entrance. A hundred feet walking slowly. Fifty faces, all smiling, eyes dead and gleaming with possession, the demons inside looking happy and smug.

“Crap,” Morty said as he realized the casino’s magic had failed finally. “Crap. Hey, guys!

The possessed were in no hurry. Step, crunch, step, crunch, step, crunch. On they came, weapons in hand, but hands held casually down at their sides. They had the numbers and Morty could tell by their attitude that they knew it.

“Guys,” Morty shouted as he backed away from the entrance. He spread his wings, flexing them, getting them ready for flight or fight, whichever came first. Probably fight. “Guys! We have to go. Now!”

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FTC Advisory: Bell Bridge Books provided me with a copy of Stone Cold Bastards. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Grave Visions by Kalayna Price

July 31st, 2017 Roxanne Posted in Review 2 Comments »

Title: Grave Visions

Author: Kalayna Price

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Alex Craft (Book #4)

Publication Date: February 2, 2016

Format: Paperback, 340 Pages

ISBN-10: 0451416570 (ACE/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0451416575 (ACE/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Roxanne

Synopsis:

If you want to hear voices from the dead in Nekros City, you call Alex Craft. She’s a grave witch with reasonable rates and extraordinary powers who specializes in revealing the secrets of the dead. But she has her own secrets. She’s not human—and her newly discovered heritage is causing havoc for her both in the human realm and in Faerie.

Fae can’t survive without a tie to Faerie, and now that Alex’s true nature has awoken, she’s no exception. She must align herself to a court and soon. To retain as much freedom as possible, she makes a deal to track the source of a new glamour-infused street drug which causes hallucinations that kill—and not just the user. Her investigation entangles Alex in a conflict brewing in Faerie, and she must find answers before she’s dragged so deep that she loses not only her freedom, but her life.

Quick & Dirty: People are dying and there is no visible cause of death. Alex knows something dangerous is going on…

Opening Sentence: The first time I raised a shade for profit, my client fainted.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Alex is still dealing or not dealing with her weird living situation, she and Falin barely speak. Plus, she is sort of really dating Death. Now if the situation wasn’t complicated enough, to top it all off she is coming down with something as is Rianna and the other fae in her castle. When her father picks her up and brings her to the pocket reality in his house, she finds that she also has a betrothed and if her problems aren’t strange enough she is fading because she is not Independent or aligned with a court.

Adding to the problems Jensen calls her in off the books to raise the shades of some weird deaths, he is afraid the fae are involved and he doesn’t want any bad publicity unless they can prove it. When the one shade mentions he took Glitter, they both wonder what kind of new drug that is, but Alex begins to wonder if it might be more when she is summoned to the Winter Court, and has to raise the ghost of a dead fae.

With more deaths showing up every day, Alex is in a race against time to find out what is killing the humans, and to figure out how to stop from fading or dying herself. She is on the hunt for a new drug, a way to keep out of court politics and to save her life.

I think this is the book that kind of completely sways me to Falin, although I still don’t hate either man. Although sadly most of the romance in this one is with Death, but I love how Alex doesn’t lie or hide the fact that she has feelings for both, and that really both situations are so complicated that she really can’t be with either of them. Not too much Roy or Rianna which is kind of a disappointment because I adore them and what they add to the books.

The newest book in the series is supposed to be out July 4th and I can’t wait to see where Kalayna continues to take this series. I have loved every minute of rediscovering how much I adore this series, and I hope that you all enjoy as much as I do!

Notable Scene:

I glanced a the bodies at my feet. Both teens had imbibed Glitter and now their shades were weak, exhausted. The first victim we knew of, Jeremy, had also taken the drug and had a weak shade. There had to be a connection. The drug somehow burned them out to their core. And it had something to do with pure glamour.

Alex Craft Series:

1. Grave Witch

2. Grave Dance

3. Grave Memory

4. Grave Visions

5. Grave Ransom

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

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