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I Belong


Review: Wanted by Betsy Schow

August 4th, 2017 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Roxanne under Review Tags: , , , , ,

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 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Roxanne under Review Tags: , , , , ,

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 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Tara under Review Tags: , , , ,

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 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Stephanie under Review Tags: , , ,

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!”

glitter crown

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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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Giveaway: Grave Visions by Kalayna Price

July 31st, 2017 @ 12:08 am
Posted by Kristie under Giveaway Tags: , , ,

Grave Visions is the fourth book in the Alex Craft series. Alex is still dealing with revelations dealing with heritage. Now she finds that dying and unless she finds a way to tie herself to Faerie she will take all in her domain as well.  People are being killed by glamour and Alex knows that isn’t possible, but it is happening. Soon Alex is in over her head trying to keep her freedom and save her own life. Today is the last day of our review/giveaway but the fifth book in the Alex Craft series Grave Ransom was recently released on July 4, 2017 from Ace/Penguin so please don’t forget to check out this book too! Read Roxanne’s review for Grave Visions below this post!

One lucky reader will win a copy of Grave Visions by Kalayna Price. This contest is for U.S. addresses only. A huge thanks to Roc/Penguin for today’s giveaway!

About Kalayna:

USA Today Bestselling author Kalayna Price writes the Alex Craft Novels, a new dark urban fantasy series from Roc, and the Novels of Haven from Bell Bridge Books. Her works have been translated into several languages and are available (or have been contracted for release) in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, France, Poland, Russia, and Germany. Kalayna draws her ideas from the world around her, her studies into ancient mythologies, and her obsession with classic folklore. Her stories contain not only the mystical elements of fantasy, but also a dash of romance, a bit of gritty horror, some humor, and a large serving of mystery. Kalayna is a member of SFWA and RWA, and an avid hula-hoop dancer who has been known light her hoop on fire.

You can visit Kalayna around the web here: Website | Twitter | Facebook 

Want to read more from Kalayna Price?

Grave Witch Grave Dance Grave Memory Grave Visions Grave RansomOnce Bitten Twice Dead Third BloodKicking It (Alex Craft, #2....

______________________________________________________________________

This contest is provided by Roc/Penguin!

One lucky reader will win a copy of Grave Visions by Kalayna Price!
(US only)

Available February 2, 2016 from Roc/Penguin

About this Book:

Grave Visions by Kalayna Price is the much-anticipated fourth installment in the kick-ass urban fantasy series about Alex Craft, a grave witch who can communicate with the dead.

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 now she’s the one fighting to keep her own secret. She’s not human—and her newly discovered heritage is causing havoc for her both in the human realm and in Faerie. But her status as an unaffiliated fae also makes her an ideal candidate to investigate a new street drug that has surfaced in several of the spaces between the human and fae worlds.

This glamour-infused drug causes hallucinations that turn real—at least for a while and often with deadly consequences. Searching for the source of this drug—and its purpose—lands Alex front and center in the conflict brewing in Faerie and she must find answers before she’s dragged so deep she loses her freedom.

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