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I Belong

Review: Snakewood by Adrian Selby

February 16th, 2018 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Stephanie under Review Tags: , , ,

Title: Snakewood

Author: Adrian Selby

Genre: Fantasy

Series: N/A

Publication Date: March 15, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 432 Pages

ISBN-10: 0316302309 (Orbit)

ISBN-13: 978-0316302302 (Orbit)

Reviewed by: Stephanie


Once they were a band of mercenaries who shook the pillars of the world through cunning, alchemical brews, and cold steel. Whoever met their price won.

Now, their glory days behind them, scattered to the wind, and their genius leader in hiding, they are being hunted down and eliminated one by one.

A lifetime of enemies has its own price.

Adrian Selby brings us into an unforgettable new world filled with magic, mystery, intrigue, bloodshed and betrayal.

Quick & Dirty: A slow moving story and unlikable characters make this one very hard to get through.

Opening Sentence: I never knew my father.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

It’s been 20 years since the mercenary group known as Kailen’s Twenty disbanded. They’ve all gone their own ways, and now, someone is bent on revenge. Kailen receives word that numerous former members of the group have been killed, leading him on a mission to find the remaining members and warn them before it’s too late.

Usually, I can read a 400-page book in a couple days, three tops. This one, it took me a month and a half. That more than anything shows how much I disliked this book. I just was not enthused to read it. The only thing that kept me going was that I haven’t DNFed a book yet for this site, so I was determined to see it through. Most nights, though, I could barely make it through five percent of the book at a time.

So what was wrong with it? For one thing, it felt very disjointed, not cohesive at all. We don’t find out until maybe the 50 percent mark what happened 20 years ago to make someone want to kill the members of Kailen’s Twenty. Up until that point, I just knew that something happened at Snakewood that pissed someone off enough to want to kill everyone. The novel also goes back and forth in time a lot, and even when everything starts to sync up towards the end, it just doesn’t feel cohesive.

Next, I just really could care less about all of the characters. There’s not one redeemable person in the whole bunch, and it just makes it very hard to read chapters from the perspective of people that I really don’t like. Add to that, the fact that Selby chooses to write in different dialects to reflect the background of the characters, and it just makes it very difficult to follow sometimes.

There also seemed to be a lot of description at times, and it honestly just made my eyes glaze over. With me not really knowing what was going on or why, the added description of scenery or history really didn’t help win me over. I just spent a lot of time feeling bored. When you have three kids and can only read at night, being bored does not help you stay awake to read more!

All in all, I just really didn’t like this one. The only thing keeping me from giving it just one star is that there were brief moments where I would find myself interested in what was happening, but that would only last for a page or two before I would lose interest again. I may at some point pick up another book by Selby, but this experience does not have me excited to do so.

Notable Scene:

Then I was alone. Sometime after that the water had gone.

I passed out of time on the Droop I’d re-concocted to escape my reliving of what had been done to me as a slave.

I had accepted death on this sea. Its vastness beneath and around me matched the perfect still blue of the sky. Both crushed me against this raft with their indifference, an unknowing of the fact I was alive. What more would a mountain have cared for a leaf floating on a pool on its flanks?

I recalled almost nothing of my old life. A stream of images were there but I could make little sense of them. I woke on occasion and had been talking, conversing with someone, but the sense, the answers, vanished as I did so. The colours my skin had bleached to were my only solid reference that I must have at some point fought and killed as a soldier, though the skin was burned and flaking. I wanted that missing part of me, for comfort, for something to give me strength. This other voice in me knew the man I was, and someone had taken it from me. This I knew, and I held this in my gut; it anchored me, the only comfort I had.

Sometime later I was weeping and singing in the night, silent white eyes beyond count above me. I remembered a boy and a girl I cared for. I knew I loved that girl somehow. There were other faces, a windmill, I was in somebody’s arms. I stared into a stream, entranced by the boy staring back, his nose running from crying. Then I was hacking at soil so hard from frost and vivid to my mind I woke screaming and was sick, so unlike was it to the rolling of this featureless, hopeless plain.


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

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Review: Luca by Sarah Castille

February 15th, 2018 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Kristie under Review Tags: , , , ,

Title: Luca

Author: Sarah Castille

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: Ruin & Revenge (Book #2)

Publication Date: June 27, 2017

Format: Paperback, 362 Pages

ISBN-10: 125010405X (St. Martin’s Press)

ISBN-13: 978-1250104052 (St. Martin’s Press)

Reviewed by: Kristie


Luca Rizzoli was nearly destroyed by a brutal betrayal that cost him his family. Now a ruthless crime boss in the city of sin, he lets nothing touch his frozen heart–until a smoldering encounter with a beautiful stranger ignites his passion. One night isn’t enough for a man who takes what he wants, but his mysterious temptress has slipped away.

For two years police detective Gabrielle Fawkes has lived for revenge. But a night of indulgence with a sexy stranger changes everything. Powerful, charming, and deliciously dangerous Luca, has his own private reasons for offering to help her pursue the drug lord who killed her husband. There’s a lot Luca isn’t telling her and the more she finds out the less she wants to know.

When Gabrielle becomes the target of the drug lord she has vowed to hunt down, she must do the unimaginable: place her life in a mobster’s hands. To save her, Luca must break his Mafia ties–or risk losing Gabrielle forever.

Quick & Dirty: Dark, deadly, dangerous and beautiful. A vengeful cop and a mobster bring the heat in this thrilling romance set in Vegas.

Opening Sentence: It began like every other day in Vegas.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

The dark, dirty world of the Vegas Mafia is the setting for the Ruin & Revenge series by Sarah Castille. Luca is the second book and follows Nico’s ruthless crime boss Luca Rizzoli and police detective Gabrielle Fawkes. If you are a fan of the dark stories where the women bring out the wee bit of a soft side in their men then this is definitely a book and series for you to check out. This novel can be read as a standalone even though the events at the beginning tie into the first book, Nico, you don’t really need to know about anything that happens in it to understand what is going on in this book.

Luca picks up not too long after the events in Nico. After saving Nico’s life, Luca ends up in the hospital where he meets his golden angel Gabrielle. There is something about her that he just finds alluring even though she is the complete opposite of the type of woman he is normally attracted. Luca owns an Italian restaurant but he is also a crime boss for Nico. Luca is used to killing people to help his crime family, but when he meets Gabrielle, a woman bent on killing a certain man, knowing that she could never kill anyone (or at least shouldn’t have too), he decides to help her on her quest. Unfortunately, police and mafia don’t mix so if Nico should ever find out about their arrangement one or both of them could be killed.

Luca is a lady’s man. He has already done his Italian heritage marriage and he doesn’t plan to do that again so he has an endless stream of one-night stands. Gabrielle is one that he originally thought would be a one and done but there is something about her he just can’t get enough of. Luca knows he is signing his own (and possibly Gabby’s) death warrant if he continues to pursue a relationship with her. I believe he can tell how torn up she is on the inside and he is helping her to open up to new experiences, even if those experiences are solved with kinky sex. Being a part of the Mafia, Luca has a lot of rules he must follow and with Gabby he’s breaking a lot of those rules.

Gabrielle is a broken woman. Revenge has been the only thing on her mind for the past two years. She knows who brutally killed her husband and she will do everything she can to stop that man, including dying herself as long as that man goes down with her. Gabrielle knows that Luca isn’t being entirely truthful with her but she doesn’t push it. She also knows he’s hiding a dark secret of his own and she believes that she can crack it.

I hate to play the comparison card but at the beginning of this novel I just kept imagining that Luca was Lucifer and Gabrielle was Chloe from the TV show Lucifer. Mainly because of Luca’s fascination with his suits/one-night stands and Gabrielle because she was blonde, a cop and having to deal with being a female in a naturally male driven profession. They have a reluctant partnership at first but not like they do in the show. Sorry, I’m a huge fan of this show so it really bled into how I saw these characters. Luca is Lucifer just without the accent.

Overall, there are some really dark tones and themes in this series. There are a lot of deaths, a few told graphically that may turn off some readers. There are four different POVs throughout this book. Luca is intriguing and action-packed and even though I had a pretty good idea of the twist I still didn’t imagine it in its entirety. The bad guy is one evil, effed up dude. I really enjoyed the chemistry between Luca and Gabrielle. I was really surprised how much I liked this book since I have kind of been turned off the death and destruction front lately.

Notable Scene:

“I can give you what you want,” Luca said to Gabrielle, thinking quickly. “You want Garcia. I can make it happen.” She was an intelligent woman, a police detective. She’d start asking questions about him already. But now, Little Ricky was hanging butchered in his meat freezer, and no one was planning to call the cops. He had no doubt she would find her way to the truth about who he was and what he did.

“The way you were going to make sure Clint didn’t hurt Nicole again?”


She twisted her lips to the side, considering. “Clint only spent twelve hours in jail,” she said finally. “He was fined two hundred dollars and he has to do some community service. No counseling. No anger management. He’s walking around and Nicole still has bruises, not to mention the damage inside that no one can see. I saw it all the time when I worked the beat. We were called to the same houses again and again. It never bothered me before, but it does now.”

“Your system doesn’t always work.” He kept his gaze on Frankie as he spoke. The enforcer had his own methods when it came to protecting the family, and Luca had no doubt he would shoot first and deal with the repercussions later if Gabrielle said anything that caused him concern.

“I thought it did. I thought I could make a difference. But it seems the harder I fight, the faster I fall.” The resignation in her voice and her defeated tone speared through him, ramping up a fear that she didn’t care anymore if she lived or died. But he cared. So much that he didn’t know if he could recover if he lost her. He’d cared about Gina, but this longing for something impossible, a forbidden love, was a tidal wave compared to the tear she’s left behind.

“Not if we work together.”

Ruin & Revenge Series:

1. Nico

2. Luca

3. Rocco (January 2, 2018)

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

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Waiting on Wednesday: Obsidio by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

February 14th, 2018 @ 12:08 am
Posted by Kristie under Waiting on Wednesday Tags: , ,

Today’s Waiting on Wednesday post is for a book that I’ve been waiting a long time for! I have wanted Obsidio ever since I finished the ARC of Gemina so it’s been a while… Also I don’t ever pre-order books (I know I’m an awful reader…) but I’ve had this book on pre-order since April of last year! I’m also an awful reviewer because I will be putting any reviews to the side until I finish this one! I can’t wait!

**Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly blog post by Jill over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights releases we’re eagerly awaiting.**

Available March 13, 2018 from Knopf Books for Young Readers

About this Book:

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heros will fall, and hearts will be broken.

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Review: Soleri by Michael Johnston

February 14th, 2018 @ 12:01 am
Posted by Kristie under Review Tags: , , , ,

Title: Soleri

Author: Michael Johnston

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Soleri (Book #1)

Publication Date: June 13, 2017

Format: Hardcover, 364 Pages

ISBN-10: 0765386488 (Tor/Macmillan)

ISBN-13: 978-0765386489 (Tor/Macmillan)

Reviewed by: Kristie


Michael Johnston brings you the first in a new epic fantasy series inspired by ancient Egyptian history and King Lear.

The ruling family of the Soleri Empire has been in power longer than even the calendars that stretch back 2,826 years. Those records tell a history of conquest and domination by a people descended from gods, older than anything in the known world. No living person has seen them for centuries, yet their grip on their four subjugate kingdoms remains tighter than ever.

On the day of the annual eclipse, the Harkan king, Arko-Hark Wadi, sets off on a hunt and shirks his duty rather than bow to the emperor. Ren, his son and heir, is a prisoner in the capital, while his daughters struggle against their own chains. Merit, the eldest, has found a way to stand against imperial law and marry the man she desires, but needs her sister’s help, and Kepi has her own ideas.

Meanwhile, Sarra Amunet, Mother Priestess of the sun god’s cult, holds the keys to the end of an empire and a past betrayal that could shatter her family.

Detailed and historical, vast in scope and intricate in conception, Soleri bristles with primal magic and unexpected violence. It is a world of ancient and elaborate rites, of unseen power and kingdoms ravaged by war, where victory comes with a price, and every truth conceals a deeper secret.

Quick & Dirty: High fantasy novel where five people’s lives are entwined with the future of the empire.

Opening Sentence: They used to be fishermen, but that night hunger made them thieves.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Soleri is the beginning of an epic high fantasy series that felt like an extraordinary cross of Ancient Egypt, Stargate and Game of Thrones. Although a case can be made that Ancient Egypt also shows up in Stargate while this novel has all that just minus the space travel. I didn’t really know what to expect going into this novel and for a beginning book, there is plenty going on and a huge cast of characters that are all tied together in a way that I won’t reveal for spoilers.

The Solerian Empire has been ruled over by an alien race for the last two thousand years. There have been many wars over the years because this is not a peaceful empire. The empire is split up between different ruling kingdoms and native areas that are constantly fighting. About two hundred years ago, the Tolemy decided they needed to take the children of the kingdoms and force them to grow up together at the Priory so they don’t grow up with their kingdom’s secrets, suspicions and plots to carry on when they gain the throne. This story is full of devious, secret plots and it kept me guessing from beginning to end. There is definitely much more to how this empire operates because each area has its own set of rules and traditions. There is one thing that is consistent, the solar eclipse that happens once a year and when that fails, all hell breaks out for the ruling empire.

The cast of characters is huge but the story really only follows five people who are all connected. There is a mysterious sixth POV that starts out the story and then is long forgotten in the story that these five people tell. King Arko Hark-Wadi is never one for the rules, he hates the Tolemy, and the First Ray of the Sun, but he also isn’t one for confrontation. He ignores all celebrations for the solar eclipse. In a way, I found Arko similar to Ned Stark, he is very loyal to his family but in the end, he is a depressed drunk who has been played by more people than he’s realized. Arko is someone I really wanted to care for but I think I spent most of the time feeling sorry for him instead. Arko’s son, Ren, has been released from the Priory in exchange for his father’s life because no one is released from the Priory without their father’s dying first. Ren is a thirteen-year-old boy who is forced to rule a kingdom he knows nothing about. Unlike most boys, Ren does get to meet his father briefly before Arko is sent to his death and gains some valuable advice. I believe Ren to be one of the heroes of this story. He is the one character that is really put through some terrible trials and he seems the most grounded of the characters, if not a bit immature but he is thirteen after all.

The ladies of this novel are a wee bit harder to handle. I kept thinking of both Sarra and Merit as Cersei type characters. These ladies are devious with their own plots to further both of their places in society. Sarra wants to be the First Ray of the Sun, the one who is in direct contact with the Tolemy (ruling alien) and Merit just wants her father’s kingdom. These ladies are very selfish. Then there is Kepi, she’s very Arya Stark, she’s learned to be a warrior through her own terrible past. She’s the pawn in a much larger plot, one that she knows is coming and there is nothing she can do about it. I really can’t wait to see where her story goes and I’m really hoping that Kepi and Ren get together and take everyone else out.

Soleri is a hugely intricate high fantasy story with such devious plot points and twists that I really did have no idea where the story was going. I may not like all the characters in this book but I am deeply interested to see where their stories go as this series goes on. If you are a fan of fantasy novels with intricate, tangled plots and a world with a future as bleak as its landscape then you should definitely give this story a try.

Notable Scene:

When he finished, Arko looked up at the boy and asked, “What about me? Do you remember anything at all about your father?”

The boy shook his head.

“No. I suppose you wouldn’t. I suppose there isn’t much you’d care to remember, about any of us. . .” Arko dropped the scroll into the dust and picked up the reins of his horse. “It appears the emperor had made a trade. He has returned my heir so I must take your place, but not in the Priory. The emperor demands an audience with me.” He nodded at his son, his boy. Years had been stolen from them, and years would be stolen from them still.

Soleri Series:

1. Soleri

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

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Cover Reveal: More New Covers!

February 13th, 2018 @ 12:08 am
Posted by Kristie under Cover Reveal Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

This week I have various cover reveals that I have seen all over the Internet. A couple of these are new this past week, a couple might just be new to me so I figure some of you may not have seem them either. Once again, its a week where I really love all the covers. I didn’t even notice the face or that it was hair on the Nightingale cover until the third time I looked at it! I love how The Winter of the Witch looks like a Phoenix rising! And A.G. Howard always gets some awesome covers!

Smoke and Iron

A Sorrow Fierce and Falling


The Winter of the Witch


Once a King

Which covers are you excited about this week? Let us know in the comments!

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