Review: Wish Upon A Bear

ABOUT THE BOOK

33232731Title: Wish Upon A Bear
Author: Harmony Raines
Release Date: December 2016
Length: 102 pages
Series?: Return to Bear Bluff #6
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance

Curvy girl Zara is used to working over the Holidays. The pay is good, and it fills the lonely hours, when everyone else is celebrating with their family. This year is different. As a newly qualified teacher, she’s given herself a Christmas vacation.
So, when she is invited by her old friend Dylan and his family, to spend the holidays in Bear Bluff, she agrees. There she finds something much better than a gift under the Christmas tree!

Theo can’t believe his luck. He arrives to help Dylan mend his grandpa’s roof, and instead meets his mate! All his Christmases have come at once. There is only one thing that is stopping him having his best Christmas ever—Dominic.

Dominic is a young offender who is shadowing Theo as part of the project Dylan has set up to help young people who need a fresh start. The problem is, Theo has a feeling Dominic is about to skip town, and break his probation. Can he and Zara work together, to make sure everyone in Bear Bluff has the best Christmas ever?

And will Zara’s dreams all come true, when she makes a wish upon a bear?

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

 

my review

The Players

Zara – a curvy girl with a bad past; she has no family and is eager to start her first job

Theo – employee in Dylan’s business

Dylan – the boss man and Zara’s friend from her young juvie days

Dominic – a young man separated from his brother after their parents’ deaths

The Quote

“I can guarantee that some time alone with him, a little Christmas magic, and a lot of sex, and you will see he’s the man for you.”

 

The Highs and Lows

  • Zara. She is a sweet young lady who is haunted by the bad rap of her past – a past that includes abandonment by her only living parent. She is on her own and struggling with the personal aspect of being alone.
  • Theo. A roofer who works for Dylan in Bear Bluffs. He grew up in the area and moved away, and came back to make his home here. Now he just needs the family he dreams about.
  • Dylan. Zara’s friend from her teenage and juvie days. They have stayed friends over the years, and Zara is back for the first time to meet his family and stay for the holidays. Dylan seems to have his own motivations for invinting Zara to stay through the holidays, including hiring her to work in conjunction with his company and the local high school to help struggling students like they once were.
  • Dominic. A young man working for Dylan and under Theo’s direction. It was unclear if this was a legal relationship or if Theo just took Dominic under his wing out of kindness, but regardless, Theo is adamant about trying to help Dominic and keep him on the straight and narrow. Dominic is evasive and vague about his past and circumstances, and they are heartbreaking at that.
  • Kindness. I loved that even those this was a fast-paced, linear plot, all of the characters – the major and the minor – show kindness. Bear Bluffs is a town that you would want to live with a supportive, kind community.
  • Shapeshifting. What is going on with this? There’s not backstory, no explanation, and it makes the plot seem a little absurd.

The Take-Away

While the full synopsis on Goodreads states this can be read as a standalone, but I don’t think that is the case. There wasn’t enough backstory about the shape shifting into bears. From my accounting, Dylan, his son, Theo, Dominic and perhaps a few other individuals who work for Dylan are shape shifters.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

I enjoyed the story, but I think readers need to start at the beginning of the series to get the full picture of these novels.

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Audiobook Review: Beautiful Creatures

Title: Beautiful Creatures
Author: Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: December 2009
Length: 563 pages
Series?: Caster Chronicles #1
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Is falling in love the beginning . . . or the end?

In Ethan Wate’s hometown there lies the darkest of secrets . . .

There is a girl. Slowly, she pulled the hood from her head . . . Green eyes, black hair. Lena Duchannes.

There is a curse. On the Sixteenth Moon, the Sixteenth Year, the Book will take what it’s been promised. And no one can stop it.

In the end, there is a grave.

Lena and Ethan become bound together by a deep, powerful love. But Lena is cursed and on her sixteenth birthday, her fate will be decided. Ethan never even saw it coming.

 

***** Review *****

The Audiobook

This was an audiobook I downloaded last summer from SYNC. It is narrated by Kevin T. Collins and Eve Bianco. It was paired with Daphne du Maurier’s classic Rebecca. Collins is the primary narrator and was very enjoyable to listen to. Usually I have issues more with the narrators and I tend to not get into the stories, but Collins was the exact opposite. His smooth, clear voice let the story flow and I absorbed each moment of it.

The Skinny

Ethan Wate wants nothing else but to be different, and to get out of Gatlin, where he has lived his entire life.

Lena Duchaane rolls into town visibly different and already targeted as the outcast.

Everyone knows word travels quickly when there’s something or someone new coming to town, and that is exactly what happens when Lena Duchaane drives into town in her uncle’s black hearse. The town shut-in hasn’t been seen in ten years, making the townsfolk feel either sorry or suspicious when Lena appears.

Ethan and Lena discover some rather odd occurrences and connections, and as time goes on and their friendship strengthens, they uncover an archaic and unsettled family feud. The family history woven throughout the book accentuates the plot and backstory of the Casters.

Ethan’s connection to Lena protects her from dangers of the Dark while she must choose a side to live by before she turns sixteen.

The Players

There are a wide array of characters in Beautiful Creatures and they each make their own contributions to the plot. Below are those I consider the more important characters who have larger roles to play.

Ethan Wate – a 16 year-old basketball player who loves chocolate milk; can communicate telepathically; somehow has the ability to protect Lena from powerful magic and dark casters

Amma – a Seer who is like a grandmother to Ethan; she raised his father and now raises Ethan; well-known for her cooking; superstitious and believes in charms; strongly dislikes Ethan’s relationship with Lena

The Sisters – Ethan’s three great-aunts whom he visits weekly; they are deeply religious and know everything about Gatlin; they have an impact on Ethan

Link – Ethan’s best friend who wants to be a rockstar; he creates his own music and remains loyal to Ethan when he befriends Lena and is shunned by the school

Marian Ashcroft– Ethan’s mother’s best friend who is also the librarian of the Mortal and Caster libraries; she rues the fact that she cannot help Ethan because she is bound by Caster rules

Lena Duchaanes – new girl in town who appears in Ethan’s dreams before arriving; relative of the town shut-in; very different and an easy target for ridicule; can telepathically communicate with Mortal Ethan (a rarity)

Macon Ravenwood – Lena’s reclusive uncle; likened often to Boo Radley; he lives off of others’ dreams

Hunting Ravenwood – Macon’s dark brother who feeds off of blood to retain a youthful appearance

Aunt Del Duchannes – Lena’s time-traveling Caster aunt

Ridley Duchannes – Lena’s Dark Caster Siren cousin; daughter of Aunt Del; possess abilities to manipulate others with a lick of her lollipop; works for Sarafine and dates Link

Reece Duchannes – Lena’s Sybil cousin; daughter of Aunt Del; can read emotions and thoughts of others as well as distinguishing truth from lie

Ryan Duchannes – Aunt Del’s younger, unclaimed daughter; can heal people and has “light”

Larkin Kent – Lena’s cousin who is an illusionist and transformist; son of Aunt Del; his choice of Dark or Light is kept under wraps for most of the novel

Sarafine Duchannes – Lena’s Dark Caster mother; the strongest Dark Caster (a Cataclyst); tries to convince Lena to join her

**Genevieve Duchannes – the Caster who cursed Lena’s family by trying to bring her dead fiancé, Ethan Carter Wate, back to life using the Book of Moons

**Ethan Carter Wate – Genevieve’s fiancé who died when he was shot during the great burning of Gatlin

The Quotes

Mortals. I envy you. You think you can change things. Stop the universe. Undo what was done long before you came along. You are such beautiful creatures.

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The Highs and Lows

  • + Ethan. He is a wanderer in his small hometown, and very characteristic of the-boy-next-door type. He wants to live for something different, to be different, to find something meaningful. Everything is the same in Gatlin, and he wants more. When he gets it in the form of Lena Duchaane, he has to face the fact that he might be like everyone else in town and must overcome his own internal struggles to get closer to Lena and understand her.
  • + Male POV. Ethan’s POV lends a certain quirkiness to the story, as he is a bit quirky himself.
  • + Characterization. The co-authors chose their characters purposefully for their roles in Gatlin. Most have depth and breadth to their natures, their good points and their flaws, creating three-dimensional characters.
  • + Southern setting. The strong Southern culture and smalltown feel of Gatlin are integral to Ethan and Lena’s story. The Southern drawl is apparent, the Civil War has been renamed the War of Northern Aggression (which is also reenacted), and Southern stereotypes abound. It is an old-fashioned place where nothing ever changes or happens there. As is with all small towns, it appears there are no secrets, but the reality is that it is the perfect culture for them to flourish. The setting does present a certain attitude towards Southerners, but the setting is used to show how easy it is to be an outcast and condemned for who or what you are.
  • + Mortals and Casters. Ethan is a Mortal and Lena is a Caster. They have tangled together for over a hundred years and have a very distinct history thanks to Genevieve Duchannes’ love for Ethan Carter Wate. There are often flashbacks that Ethan and Lena experience from their lives. Typically, Casters cannot have such connections with Mortals like Lena does with Ethan.
  • + Dark and Light. There is black magic and white magic, Dark and Light, which signifies the trope of good vs. evil, and it is very alive in this book. It plays a monumental role in the plot and the wider cast of Lena’s family.
  • – Ethan. In some ways, Ethan perceives and presents himself as faultless, and degrades his town and its people. It opens up the questions about intelligence and morality.
  • – Length. The length of the book was a bit of a drawback. At nearly 600 pages, I was expecting something with a tad more pizzaz. This is a book you definitely have to find the time to read and devote your attention to so you don’t miss something important.

The Take-Away

I liked Ethan’s POV. Although there are drawbacks of having a male protagonist, I don’t think the book would have held the same power if told from Lena’s POV. Ethan’s voice lent authenticity and life to Lena and the world of the Casters.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

I recommend borrowing or even listening to the audiobook if you’re unsure and want to try this one out to see if you like it.

Otherwise, I recommend buying the book!

 

***** About the Authors *****

Kami Garcia is the #1 New York Times, bestselling co-author of the Beautiful Creatures Novels & the Dangerous Creatures Novels, and the author of the instant New York Times bestseller & Bram Stoker Award nominated novels UNBREAKABLE & UNMARKED in the Legion Series.

Kami grew up outside of Washington DC, wore lots of black, and spent hours writing poetry in spiral notebooks. As a girl with Southern roots, she has always been fascinated by the paranormal. She’s very superstitious and would never sleep in a room with the number “13″ on the door. When she is not writing, Kami can usually be found watching disaster movies, listening to Soundgarden, or drinking Diet Coke.

Kami lives with her husband, son, daughter, and their dogs Spike and Oz (named after characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

The #1 New York Times bestselling author Margaret Stohl got her start as the head of theDark is Rising fan club in third grade in a highly gifted magnet school in Los Angeles. Going on to study at a creative writing program at UEA Norwich, England, and to write and direct an autobiographical one-act play at Amherst College—where she founded the school’s first women’s literary magazine, Madness This—Margaret knew she was a writer.

After optioning two feature screenplays to Nickelodeon Pictures and Clasky-Csupo, Margaret began a sixteen-year career in videogames, co-founding 7 Studios game developer with her husband Lewis Peterson, and contributing to both Marvel’s Spiderman (ActivisionBlizzard) and Fantastic Four (7 Studios / ActivisonBlizzard) among many other titles—Dune 2000; Command & Conquer Red Alert Retaliation; Pirates of the Caribbean The Curse of Jack Sparrow; to name a few.

When Margaret co-wrote the first of the internationally bestselling Beautiful Creatures novels (published in nearly fifty countries, named Amazon’s top teen book of 2009, short-listed for the ALA’s 2009 Morris award, and released as a feature film from Warner Brothers) on a dare from her three daughters, she fell even more in love with teen culture. Her first sci-fi series, Icons, is now in development as a feature film with Alcon Entertainment, and her forthcoming Black Widow novel from Disney Publishing is a welcome chance to rock a strong female character and to return to her beloved Marvel roots.

Margaret lives in Santa Monica with her husband, who builds drones and robots, and her three daughters, who are competitive epee fencers—and who, like Natasha Romanov, have always known how to rescue themselves.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review + Giveaway: Feast of Fates

Welcome to my tour stop for Feast of Fates by Christian A. Brown. This is a new adult epic dark fantasy. The tour runs January 11-22 with reviews only. Books are available in ebook formats worldwide for reviewers.

Title: Feast of Fates
Author: Christian A. Brown
Publisher: Forsythia Press
Release Date: December 2014
Length: 523 pages
Series?: Four Feasts Till Darkness #1
Genre: Epic Dark Fantasy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Morigan lives a quiet life as the handmaiden to a fatherly old sorcerer named Thackery. But when she crosses paths with Caenith, a not wholly mortal man, her world changes forever. Their meeting sparks long buried magical powers deep within Morigan. As she attempts to understand her newfound abilities, unbidden visions begin to plague her–visions that show a devastating madness descending on one of the Immortal Kings who rules the land.
With Morigan growing more powerful each day, the leaders of the realm soon realize that this young woman could hold the key to their destruction. Suddenly, Morigan finds herself beset by enemies, and she must master her mysterious gifts if she is to survive.

***** Review *****

The Skinny

There are a tremendous number of characters in this book, perhaps the most characters of all the books I have read. This is an epic fantasy that follows Morigan, a handmaiden. One day while searching for a particular shop owner, she meets her soulmate. Caenith is not quiet the man most would think. He is only half man, and his other half allows him magical powers that have allowed him to live for centuries.

While two immortal kings – brothers, no less – are at odds due to an unknown evil force that has taken hold. The two worlds they inhabit and lead, Eod and Zioch, are on the precipice of a brutal war.

In Menos, the character Mouse is drawn into the fates and prophecies when she is deemed to have very clear destiny. She is saved by the one man who could ruin her.

The Quote

As she went, she basked in the beauty of Alabion; her eyes drawn to dewy leaves glittering as if scattered with diamonds, her ears to the music that echoed through the pines, her nose to the earthy pungency of the mulch beneath her toes.

The Highs and Lows

This is most definitely an adult book. It contains very mature content. This book might contain triggers for some people. 

  • List of Characters. There were PAGES upon PAGES of characters with short and lengthy descriptions. It was daunting. I felt I was already losing ground with the plot before I ever got to page one.
  • Prologue. The prologue was confusing to read. I didn’t see right away how it connected to the first chapter. I had to read several chapters before it started sinking in and I could see some of the connections.
  • The writing. From the very beginning there is a beautiful style of prose that is so sensory and profound. It is elegant and smooth, free-flowing. I found myself highlighting so many quotations to potentially use in my review to illustrate the artistry of the craft.
  • Morigan. She is an ethereal being with marked looks. It is what craws Caenith to her. However, she soon finds herself suffering from “the bees” as she calls them, that are relentless in inundating her mind with everything happening in the city.
  • Caenith. He has a heartbreaking story, and he is more than a man. He has lived far longer than humans. I found him so interesting.
  • Plot. The plot is very intricate and complex. Combined with the beauty of Brown’s writing style

The Take-Away

The writing. It is long and eloquent and poised. Although it slows down the plot at times because you just want to get on with it and see what will happen, I couldn’t help but admire the writing style.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

If you’re a die-hard epic fantasy fan, definitely buy this one. If you are interested, I’d recommend borrowing.

 

***** About the Author *****

Bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Feast of Fates, Christian A. Brown received a Kirkus star in 2014 for the first novel in his genre-changing Four Feasts Till Darkness series. He has appeared on Newstalk 1010, AM640, Daytime Rogers, and Get Bold Today with LeGrande Green. He actively writes a blog about his mother’s journey with cancer and on gender issues in the media. A lover of the weird and wonderful, Brown considers himself an eccentric with a talent for cat-whispering.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

***** Giveaway *****

$50 Amazon gift card
Three (3) additional winners get a digital copy of Feast of Fates
Open Worldwide
Ends Jan. 27, 2016
Prizing is provided by the author, hosts are not responsible. Must be 13 or older to enter and have parental permission if under 17. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary to win.

Click here to enter the giveaway!

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Review + Giveaway: The Soul Summoner

Welcome to my tour stop for The Soul Summoner by Elicia Hyder. This is an adult contemporary fantasy (rated PG13). The tour runs November 9-20 with reviews, interviews, guest posts and excerpts. Check out the rest of the tour schedule here.

Title: The Soul Summoner
Author: Elicia Hyder
Publisher: Forge Creek Press
Release Date: November 2015
Length: 290 pages
Series?: The Soul Summoner Series Book #1
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Blessed–or cursed–with a connection to the souls of others, Sloan Jordan can see the best in people… and the worst. For twenty-seven years, she’s kept her ability to judge the innocent from the wicked a secret, but eleven young women have been murdered in the mountains of North Carolina, and Sloan may be the only hope of finding their killer.

She has just agreed to help Detective Nathan McNamara with the case, when a stranger–who is as alluring as he is terrifying–shows up at her doorstep with a dark past and another puzzling mystery: she can’t see his soul at all.

Now, Sloan is on the hunt for a deadly psychopath with two irresistible men. One of them would die for her, and the other would kill to keep her safe.

***** Guest Post *****

I asked Elicia a few questions for this guest post, based on Sloan’s abilities. If she had the, would she keep them completely secret? If not, who would she share them with? How would she decide to use them? Would she ever use them for personal advantage or gain?

These were the things she said.

Sloan has the ability to summon people to her just by talking about them, so I can imagine that this would be a very problematic gift to have if a lot of people knew about it. When I released chapter one of this novel to my readers, a comment storm happened that went something like this…

“Can you have Sloan summon Chris Hemsworth for me?”

“Tell Sloan I need her to summon Richard Armitage.”

Someone even posted a photo of a shirtless male model with the caption, ‘Dear Sloan, all I want for Christmas is…”

Those were funny, but some of the comments were tragic. One was, “Can she summon back my dad?” Ouch! Another was, “I’d like to tell my mom I love her one more time.” That went right in the feels!

It was then I decided if I had her gift, I’d keep it a secret for as long as humanly possible. Unfortunately, I’m a bleeding heart that can’t say no to someone in need, so I doubt I’d be very successful at keeping my mouth shut.

On the other hand though, her gift could be very useful to me. I have five children who are all going to be teenagers very soon and I’m already having trouble keeping up with them as it is! Being able to summon them to me–no matter where they are or what they are doing–at any given moment would be awesome! They would probably hate me for it though.

Aside from my kids (and possibly Johnny Depp or Thor), I like to think I wouldn’t use the gift for my own personal gain… unless I also had the ability to summon more hours in the day, lost socks from the dryer, or millions of dollars into my bank account. Sadly, I’m pretty sure that’s not how the gift works!

 

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Sloan is freaky-weird, called a witch by her best friend. The problem is she doesn’t know what she is. She’s lived her whole life thinking she’s the only one like her, and she can’t even tell her parents. They just know that there are odd coincidences about their daughter. The new detective in town has caught her attention, and he knows there’s something different about Sloan. When Sloan meets a total stranger at a festival her world completely changes.

The Players

Sloan – a not-so-average hometown girl; she has a few abilities that make her very different

Nathan – the hunky detective who derails Sloan’s life

Warren – a dark and brooding figure; he has a soul that Sloan can’t read

Adrianne – Sloan’s best friend for most her life

I thought Sloan’s relationship with Nathan was the most natural of all. I felt they were in sync in more ways than just for the investigation.

First Impressions

It’s like Cold Case meets Theresa Caputo. I knew there would be intrigue about Sloan’s abilities and the case of the missing girls. The cover did throw me off a little, but after reading the book it makes more sense.

Second Thoughts

Sloan’s parents have always thought everything that happens around Sloan is an odd coincidence, never wanting to confront it. Sloan has learned never to talk about it with her parents.

I could tell my father didn’t believe me, but he didn’t push the subject. My parents enjoyed their voluntary ignorance concerning the oddities that always seemed to follow me. If they didn’t bring it up, they knew I wouldn’t. And our mutual silence on the matter would allow them to keep on believing there wasn’t anything medically or psychologically unsound about their child.

The plot was very well-developed, and each character served a specific purpose in the story. There were other things sprinkled in throughout, but Sloan, Nathan and Warren are integral to solving the missing cases/murders.

Nathan is hot on the trail of these missing persons reports. He has broken it down into a theory, and is based in Asheville where he predicts will be the site of the next person. After Sloan makes a slip-up and helps Nathan with one individual case, she is pressured and agrees to help Nathan with his investigation. The more she learns of the circumstances surrounding the cases Nathan has pieced together, the more she is convinced there is a serial killer in their midst.

Sloan’s abilities allow her to discern good or evil in others. Essentially, she can read their souls, which is an incredible power she has used to steer others (ahem, Adrianne) away from others. She has never known a stranger in her life. However, it has it’s own drawbacks, like when she has to visit the jail with Nathan. Too much evil takes its toll on her.

I hugged my arms to my chest as we passed down the fluorescent lit hallway that reeked of antiseptic and sickness. “What are they saying?” I asked. 

He looked over at me with an expression that made it clear he was worried I might either cry or punch him in the face. 

As the title suggests, she can also summon people. It obviously doesn’t work to summon Johnny Depp, but it has proven useful and dreadful in equal measures.

Sloan and Nathan have this incredible relationship they just easily slide into. It’s like they know each other so well, the kind of way you would know someone after years. There is a brewing issue beneath the surface between them that is compounded when Sloan meets Warren, who has a soul she cannot read. Enter the love triangle.

Sloan has her hands full when she meets Warren. Their stories intertwine in a way that leads to a sense of security but also more questions. The abilities that Sloan and Warren posses made me think good and evil, light and dark. Their abilities parallel and mirror one another, like two pieces that compliment and complete the other. Sloan is referred to as an angel, and Warren’s dark disposition seems to repel others.  She is like an angel of light, and he is like an angel of darkness.

I typically hate love triangles, but this was a hard one to dislike because both of the guys were so great. Nathan is that wholesome, all-around good guy you can’t help but root for and Warren is that dark, brooding bad-boy type who isn’t so bad at all. I found the friendships that formed to be one of the best outcomes of Nathan’s investigation.

The Soul Summoner is humorous and suspenseful in equal amounts. Each piece of the mysterious puzzle all fall into place in the end, and it was such a glaring truth that I never even suspected it. It was there all along. This is another wonderful read for the fall months that I highly recommend.

***** About the Author *****

Elicia Hyder is the author of several contemporary fantasy novels such as The Soul Summoner, The Siren, The Angel of Death, and The Daughter of Zion as well as a few contemporary romances, The Bed She Made and To Be Her first. Elicia studied American Literature and Creative Writing at the American Military University. She lives with her husband and five children in central Florida.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

***** Giveaway *****

$50 Amazon Gift Card (INT)

Ends November 25th

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! 

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

Review: Sucking in San Francisco


Title:
 Sucking in San Francisco
Author: Jessica McBrayer
Publisher: Mess of Geckos
Release Date: September 2012
Length: 294 pages
Series?: Vampires of San Francisco #1
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Working at a Suicide Prevention Center in San Francisco, Lily Goodwill thinks she’s heard it all—then she gets a call from a man about to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. Something about the caller, maybe his yummy British accent or Lily’s ability to understand his crushing ennui, makes her break all the rules and rush to meet him. After all, she is a vampire and if she can’t talk him down she can glamour him.

But things don’t go according to plan. Her caller glows with blue fire and turns out to be a vampire-hating Djinn. Suddenly, for the first time in centuries he’s found something intriguing. Is Lily really a vampire with a conscience and an obsessive-compulsive disorder, involving Handi-wipes and Lysol, or is she just another bloodsucker?

Add in another vampire, with a history of female lovers stretching over three centuries, who swears he’s reformed and declares his undying love for Lily. Stir in a mean pair of witches and a vicious warlock, who are staking vampires around the city, and you have a recipe for riotous adventure of supernatural proportions.

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Lily is not your ordinary vampire. She works diligently at a suicide prevention call center. She takes care for everything to be sanitized, even when she feeds. She chooses to live on her own and pay her way, but she is a member of a vampire family who have some impressive skills collectively. They attract the attention of two different people: a jinni bent on destroying vampires and a witch jealously in love. Lily becomes embroiled as the center of attention in more than one heated love triangle as a pair of witches stir up some serious trouble in San Francisco.

The Players

Lily – a young vampire; works at a suicide prevention call center

Helena – an older vampire who has magical capabilities; married to Julian

Julian – a bookworm and scientist; Helena’s husband; the leader

Sebastian – a brooding, womanizing vampire; lives in the manse with Helena and Julian

Hannah – Lily’s vampire friend; lives at Berkeley

Aidan – a vampire-hating jinni

Andrew – the young (human) butler at the manse

Iris and Indio – sister witches; intent on no good

Alexander – cousin to Iris and Indio; ring-leader of their schemes

First Impressions

I am not one for vampires at all, so I had some preconceived notions of my own when I decided to give this book a chance. I am trying to give new books new a chance.

Second Thoughts

Lily belongs to a small family of vampires. Julian, Helena and Sebastian all live in a beautiful mansion, but Lily prefers to be independent and live on her own. It is a distinguishing character trait that runs parallel to the circumstances she finds herself in. Despite her singular spirit, Lily must depend on her friends to prevail.

Odd things have been occurring in San Francisco when Aidan shows up in town. Lily, being the kind-hearted soul that she is, thinks she can save him from himself one night on the Golden Gate Bridge. And that’s where the adventure begins.

Aidan was an interesting character. He is a djinn (jinni) and has lived in solitude for centuries. The breadth of the things he has seen haunts him in a way, and he sets out to hunt down the blood-sucking vampires.

I must be insane. Me, a djinn, destined to walk the world alone or serve in slavery has just let a sworn enemy go. I’ve spent my life destroying vampires. Ever since the Djinn-Vampire war of 917.

But Lily gives him pause. She is different than those he’s known before. Vampires, though, have an incredible power over djinns if given the chance. Aidan

Lilith asked if I had anyone to share my life with. If only I did. I think it would be almost bearable if I did. To have someone to talk to. To hold and touch a physical, willing companion would be like having the sun in my hands. There is no such thing as a female djinn. 

There is more than one love triangle in the midst, and it adds quite a bit of spice – and anxiety for Lily – to the mix. Lily is the center of one love triangle, and part of another. This is what puts her in danger: a man loving the wrong woman. Talk about jealousy!

The friendship that Lily and Sebastian have is like that of siblings, and I enjoyed seeing this softer, calmer side of Sebastian. Sebastian and Aidan are competing for Lily, who’s kind of stuck in the middle of it all. She finds herself confused more than once. Aidan’s internal dialogue about Lily is very romantic, whereas Sebastian’s affections seemed…sudden.

Andrew was a breath of hilarity and fresh air. He is human and privy to the vampires’ real lives as their butler, and he is dying to become a vampire. He insists he is at his prime and is relentless in his persuasive attempts.

Things heat up for the vampires in San Fran as they come in contact with Indio, Iris and Alexander start cooking up a wicked plan. The vampire family heavily depends on Aidan’s djinn abilities to protect them all.

My favorite scene in the book is Lily’s birthday at the club. It is 40’s themed, which was around the time period when she was still human. It’s just a really fun scene and it really showcases the witches in a bad light.

In the end, Lily does make a choice. It was predictable but frustrated me extremely. I would not have chosen the same man she did. The only other thing that bothered me was the cliché lamp on the cover. Nowhere in the story does it mention Aidan being associated with a lamp.

The book is the first in the Vampires of San Francisco series. I enjoyed the story and the characters and I’m interested to see what they get into next.

***** About the Author *****

Jessica McBrayer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She lives in a house that looks like the prow of a cruise ship and is surrounded by hills too steep for mountain goats, although every other animal seems to make it their go-to place. Jessica shares her home with her husband, her two children, assorted animals and her mother who is a writer too. She is a member of Romance Writers of America.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

Review + Giveaway: The Banished Craft

TheBanishedCraft_Banner-300x202

Welcome my stop for The Banished Craft by E.D.E. Bell!  The tour runs August 18 – September 1 with reviews, interviews, guest posts, excerpts and giveaways.  The Banished Craft is a fantasy novel and is written for adults but is appropriate for mature young adult readers.   This is the first book of the Shkode series and is released on September 1, 2015. Check out the tour schedule for all the other goings on.

front_cover_forweb-203x300Title: The Banished Craft
Author: E.D.E. Bell
Publisher: Atthis Arts, LLC
Release Date: September 2015
Length: 346 pages
Series?: Shkode#1
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

The Banished Craft is a genre-bending fantasy saga that follows the adventures of Cor, a woman caught in a dying world that does not accept her, and Atesh, a dragon scientist who’s been asked to violate his own ethics or put the lives of his family at risk. Follow their trials as they deal with a shattered world, mired in political upheaval, while they try to rediscover a lost magic. The Banished Craft begins the Shkode trilogy: a quirky and modern take on dragons and wizards, exploring themes of identity, prejudice, violence, compassion, and the ways we are all connected.

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Teirrah is a singular country under much distress with mounting tensions. The laws and taxes prohibit life and growth and oppress women. There is much political unrest. A large series of characters from each region of the land make up the cast of characters and all play pivotal roles in the story.

The Players

Zee – the Imperial Emperor (dragon); has maintained an unusually long reign

Dronna – an infamous Imperial General (dragon); will do anything to help Zee

Atesh – a genius biologist (dragon); works in the Imperial Lab; mate to Jwala

Jwala – in the Imperial Guard (dragon); mate to Atesh

Frospa – an engineer of her own inventions (dragon); slopemates with Jwala and Atesh; mate to Londew

Londew – a storyteller (dragon);  slopemates with Jwala and Atesh; mate to Frospa

Jelt – befriends Ssarh (dragon); has a unique history with the Emperor

Ssarh – an unsuccessful art student (dragon); friends with Jelt; believes he will be a famous artist

Greg – Francie’s husband (human); current President of U.G.; obsessed with the upcoming election

Francie – Greg’s wife (human); unhappy with her political life

Cor – a Cavestate woman (human); traveled to Farmstate; friends with Iohn

Iohn – a Farmstate man (human); attends University in Farmstate; friends with Cor

Mica – a Seastate woman (human); granddaughter of a famous shipbuilder; enjoys her alcohol

Borso – a Seastate man (human); blames the U.G. for the death of his family; outspoken in his political beliefs

Piero – a Seastate boy (human); friends with Borso; also outspoken in his political beliefs

First Impressions

I wanted to read this book because of the cover. A girl, running, in a library. It intrigued me. The girl turns out to be Cor.

Second Thoughts

The land of Teirrah is broken up into various regions: Seastate, a group of islands whose inhabitants depend on the seafaring way of life; Marshstate, a relatively small section of marshy, swampy land whose inhabitants produce cloth; Cavestate, a series of caves along the mountainside where water is scarce; Farmstate, the largest and most developed of the regions who depend upon agriculture; and finally Gardenia, the small section that shares borders with its neighboring Farmstate and home to the government. I could not figure out where the dragons were on the map, but that is explained at the end.

This book is complex. It begins with a prologue by an unknown character, who seems to have caused issue with some scientific work, causing a rift of sorts in the worlds and between creatures. This character is trying to right this mistake, and pops up every so often throughout the book. She believes that only the most intelligent creatures will recognize her messages, and as such Cor and Atesh seem to be the only characters who are receptive to them.

There are so many characters in this book. There are multiple areas of the land Terrieh, and there are multiple characters represented in each region. At the beginning this was very overwhelming and too much for me. The book is very convoluted, with alternating chapters or sections of chapters that jump to different sets of characters. I got confused on who was who, but the images at the beginnings of each chapter let readers know if the chapter is about people or dragons, so that helped me start keeping things straight.

The Unified Government (U.G.) has officers posted in all regions of Teirrah, but is quite similar to the physical set up seen in The Hunger Games wherein the government is concentrated in one section with luxury, and the most prosperous region nearby shares in the wealth. The other regions are oppressed and taxed to create and promote tensions in the land. The inhabitants have become prisoners in their own homes without even realizing it.

The plot is at times hard to follow because of the immense number of characters, and it does drag in a few places, but overall it is written linearly to come to the end with no major unforeseen twists or predictions. There is little character development due to the sheer number of characters. It’s almost impossible when working with those numbers, but I believe the main characters listed above will remain key players in the second book in the series.

I was very disappointed in Iohn’s character. Iohn is different than the others, he believes Cor to be an intelligent, educated person – even though she is a woman. He likes that about her, but he rides both sides of the fence, and only seems accepting of her when no one else is around. It is the epitome of emotional manipulation and I wanted to slap Iohn.

This book speaks to a few contemporary issues, and in this context these issues seem so utterly archaic and deplorable. In all of Teirrah, women are seen only for their reproductive qualities. They are seen as sinister, trying to use their evil powers to overtake men, but still deserving of love. It was such an oxymoron of ideas. There are so many laws and nearly all of them oppress women: they cannot be educated, they cannot own land, they cannot do anything. Cor struggles with the standings of her gender’s stature in society.

There are also a number of other social issues brought up throughout the book. Each region has its own traditions, which are changing due to trade and other political notions. Abuse of power and illegal drugs also play a large part in Cor and Atesh’s journeys.

This book has a dystopian aspect to it, in a world that seems to be falling apart, but it is a lot to riddle out as a reader. If you enjoy epic journeys, this is a book for you.

***** About the Author *****

View More: http://ffpohio.pass.us/emily-bell

Author E.D.E. Bell is a graduate of the University of Michigan with an MSE in Electrical Engineering, and works as an advisor in technical intelligence. A vegan and enthusiastic ignorer of gender rules, she feels strongly about issues related to human equality and animal compassion. Married with three children, she decided to pursue her dream of writing and is excited to share that vision with fans of epic fantasy.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***** Giveaway *****

$25 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
Ends Sept. 9th
Prizing is provided by the publisher. Hosts are not responsible for prizes in any way.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

THIS EVENT WAS ORGANIZED BY CBB BOOK PROMOTIONS.

Review + Giveaway: Family Magic

FamilyMagicBanner1-1024x690Welcome to my stop for Family Magic by Patti Larsen! This is a young adult paranormal that won 1st place in World’s Best Story contest and is published by Premiere. The tour runs August 3-31 with mostly reviews as well as author interviews and guest posts. Check out all of the other stops on the tour schedule.

Family-Magic-200x300Title: Family Magic
Author: Patti Larsen
Publisher: Premiere
Release Date: May 2015
Length: 466 pages
Series?: Hayle Coven #1
Genre: YA, Paranormal

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Her mom’s a witch. Her dad’s a demon. And she just wants to be ordinary.

Sydlynn Hayle’s life couldn’t be more complicated. Trying to please her coven, starting over in a new town, and fending off a bully cheerleader who hates her are just the beginning of her troubles. What to do when delicious football hero Brad Peters–boyfriend of her cheer nemesis–shows interest? If only the darkly yummy witch, Quaid Moromond, didn’t make it so difficult for her to focus on fitting in with the normal kids. Add to that her crazy grandmother’s constant escapes driving her family to the brink and Syd’s between a rock and a coven site. Forced to take on power she doesn’t want to protect a coven who blames her for everything, only she can save her family’s magic. If her family’s distrust doesn’t destroy her first.

***** Review *****

The Skinny

Sydlynn Hayle definitely lives a complicated life. She lives with her coven leader mother, younger demon sister Meira, a demon trapped in a cat’s body (best cat ever), and crazy grandmother. Her demon father lives in another plane. Oh, and her vampire uncle and cousin live in the basement cupboards. She wants no part of being a witch, part of the coven, or anything to do with her magic or demon. She fights hard against her mother, resisting as much as she can, but at school she is still an outcast and not the “normal” that she strives to be. It doesn’t help that she’s constantly having to start over. And then things just start getting all around strange, at home and at school.

At school, Syd has caught the eye of the bully cheerleader Alison, but also the eye of Alison’s boyfriend Brad, too. Alison is pure evil, but Brad tries being a kind friend. One day Syd turns the tables and befriends Alison. Meanwhile, a childhood friend of her mother’s returns to town with her family (the Moromonds) to join the coven and very strange things start happening. Syd starts noticing a black dog around town every time something bad happens. Her mother’s friend seems just like the mean girls she deals with at school. Quaid smirks at her at every opportunity, and gets her thinking about hard she’s trying to fit in.

The longer the Moromonds are around, the weirder and weirder it gets. Her grandmother suddenly begins escaping, which could level the entire town if given enough time. She butts heads with her mother at every opportunity, until she has to get over herself for the greater good of the coven that she’s wanted for so long to turn her back on.

The Players

I, Sydlynn Hayle, sixteen-year-old All-American girl, was a witch. Every single person in my life, much to my disappointment fell into that category. Lucky me. Except I spent my entire life wanting nothing more than to be normal, average, ordinary and just like everyone else.

Sydlynn Hayle – Syd wants no part in her magic or the coven, she wants to be released when she’s 18, and wants nothing more than a normal life, but she loves her mother and sister deeply that it is sometimes conflicting

In the ‘real world,’ Meira had to disguise her unusual coloring, her overlarge eyes and cute little horns peeking out of her silky black curls.

Meira Hayle – Meira is the 8-year-old sister of Syd, she clearly sports the visage of her demon heritage, she loves Syd very much and is generally a happy kid

She swept back the hood of her cloak, her long, thick and perfect black hair a flawless halo around her gorgeous face. Her eyes glowed with joy, cheeks flushed from the rush of energy from the coven.

Miriam Hayle – Miriam is the leader of a 100+ coven of witches, she is very strong and powerful and the head of the household in the normal world, struggles with her relationship with Syd

Ethpeal Hayle had once been an influential witch. An evil coven challenged our family. She stood against them alone, cutting herself off to protect the rest of us, but the fight scrambled her sanity.

“Gram” Ethpeal Hayle  – mischevious grandma, famous within the Purity coven, single-handedly defeated an evil coven, now thrives on chocolate and tequila

His chiseled face creased in a soft smile, gentle, even welcoming. My dad was a nice demon.

Haralthazar – goes by “Harry,” is Miriam’s husband and Syd and Meira’s father, he is Demon Lord of the Seventh Plane of Demonicon

His plush, silky fur stood on end, pushed-in nose glistened between eyes snapping anger, plume of tail thrashing against the patchwork quilt as he growled at me.

Sassafrass – a horrible demon teenager the elders punished by placing in a silver Persian cat’s body, called Sass for short

There are several other characters, members of the coven and the friends and enemies Syd makes at school that we meet along the way.

First Impressions

At first I was not too keen to pick up this book and read. It seemed to “out there” for me, considering I have a fine line when it comes to fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi. I wasn’t sure how this was going to go, so I was actually slightly dreading picking up the book.

Second Thoughts

And once I picked it up I literally could not put it down. I read it entirely in one setting.

Being part of a demon raising is way less exciting than it sounds.

That is the line that got me. I was hooked. Larsen did it all through her character’s voice. Syd’s voice – dripping teenager – is captivating and pulled me along with the story, which was very fast-paced. There wasn’t a moment of pause in the plot, but it wasn’t rushed either. It was paced perfectly and everything that happens happens for a reason.

As much as I suppressed my magic from day to day and refused to use it all, the draw of the coven and my attachment to it made it impossible to deny. 

Syd has always tried to deny and ignore her magic despite having to partake in bi-annual coven ceremonies. The trouble is she is also a powerful witch like her mother, and not training herself in how to use her magic properly proves to be catastrophic.

I found it very interesting the world that Larsen built. The witches can feel out one another and know when they are present in the normal world, and they can also have connections to one another or other life forms (such as Syd’s demon father) in other planes.

Syd’s relationship with her mother is an interesting explosion waiting to happen, and it often implodes in on Syd. She hates her mother for forcing her into the coven life, leaving her no real choices, and always blaming and accusing her.

Her sister, Meira, is always there to comfort Syd after these disastrous blow ups. I loved seeing the softer side of Syd with Meira, and later at school with Alison.

My favorite scenes were the ones when Syd was showing great strength of character. She has some precious moments with her mother, shows Alison a different way, has a few moments with Brad, and takes the time to think for herself in some sticky situations with greedy power-hungry traitors.

The book ends with an entire new world of possibilities opening up, and I already started making my own predictions. I am very interested to know what will happen in the future for the Hayle coven, and what other mischief Gram cooks up. I definitely recommend this to paranormal readers, and anyone in a reading slump.

***** About the Author *****

Patti is an award-winning author with a passion for the paranormal. Now with multiple series in happy publication, she lives in Canada with her patient husband and six demanding cats.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

***** Giveaway *****

5 paperback copies of Family Magic (US/CA) and a $25 Amazon gift card (INT)

Ends 9/6

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

THIS EVENT WAS ORGANIZED BY CBB BOOK PROMOTIONS.