5 star review

Review + Giveaway – One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

one-fell-sweep

Dina DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to a very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that!

I received an ARC of this book from the author, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the contents of my review…obviously, since I bought it anyway. And I’ll buy a copy for one lucky winner of my Giveaway too, as has become my tradition (and despite the fact that it is getting released on a Tuesday)! a Rafflecopter giveaway

So on to the story. This is the first one of this series of serials where I actually read the serial instead of waiting for the project to be finalized, though I did wait for all parts to be written…because I am not that much of a masochist. So I found it really interesting to try to see where and how it changed. Of course, the difficulty with trying that is that I once again got sucked into the story, hard. It is difficult to play the difference game when you feel like you are in something instead of outside it.

This is the third book in their urban fantasy series, where the earth in question is one out of a multiverse, one that connects to the wider multiverse through key points in the form of Inns. Inns are magical places that are hidden from the earthlings at large, and that function as neutral points on earth for the protection of both earth and the special visitors that come here. They also are symbiotic, Inns need guests. And Dina is the Innkeepeer of the Gertrude Hunt, the setting of our story.

The overall series arc revolves around the search for Dina’s parents who disappeared with their Inn some years ago. While her brother actively searches, Dina’s plan was to draw guests to her Inn in the hopes of encountering someone who could help. Considering the caliber of guests she has attracted, and the courageous way she has addressed problems along the way, it is no surprise that this plan is bearing fruit. Dina rocks.

Other notable points in this story are getting to meet more of Dina’s family and the resolution of the love triangle that was noted in the first book. I was never in doubt about which way that was going to go, personally. But if you were hesitant to pick up this series because of that triangle, you can rest assured it is safe to pick it up now.

But the most important things are the way our kick-ass homemaker grows into her role and owns up to making life and death situations. She  also learns to be part of a team. This book wasn’t as “fun” as the first one, nor was it quite the sucker punch to the guts that then second one was (in my opinion), but it was just as good only in a broader way. I guess what I am trying to say is that there was a lot more going on in this one. Heartwarming moments, humor, joy, despair, and hope. This one has it all, and so did Dina.

As for changes from the original serial format? The only thing I actually noticed was the little bit of a twist at the end. It really cleared up one confusing (to me) plot point from the last book, and left us with a hell of a question to ponder while waiting for the next one.

But you’ll have to read it to see what shook out. And I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a little paranormal/urban fantasy.

One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #3)

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3 star review

Review – The Twisted Souls Series box Set by Cege Smith

Twisted Souls Box Set

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

The complete Twisted Souls series is available in this box set collection:

The Soul Ripper (Twisted Souls #1)
In a post-apocalyptic world known as the Territory of Malm, infants are born soulless. With a hideous appearance and unquenchable hunger, they are kept out of sight until they are Chosen.

Long ago, the residents of Malm placed their faith in the Office of Souls to lead them and keep them safe after the human race was almost destroyed in the time known only as “Before”. But someone long forgotten has other plans, and that means unleashing unspeakable evil into their world.

Soul Implantation Day 3675 starts out like any other, and follows the paths of six people who are destined to meet in the courtyard of the Fountain of Souls. They bear witness to a soul implantation ceremony gone terribly awry.

Not all of them will survive, and some will suffer a fate far worse than death.

*This novella was previously released under the title “The Soul Garden”.*

Twisted Souls (Twisted Souls #2)
The epic collision of good and evil that began in The Soul Ripper (Twisted Souls #1)

continues in Twisted Souls (Twisted Souls #2), the second installment of Cege Smith’s Twisted Soul series…

The survivors of Soul Implantation Day 3675 went into hiding as the rest of the Territory of Malm was ravaged by an old foe hell-bent on total domination of their world. As the focus settles on the last untouched outpost of humanity, Samuel, the new Head Master of the nearly annihilated Office of Souls, knows that something must be done in order to bring the human race back from the brink of total extinction.

Samuel’s secret weapon is Cameron, the last recipient of a soul from the Fountain of Souls. Cameron’s destiny has set her on a path to face down the ultimate evil and hopefully save mankind. Time is against them as the survivors discover that nowhere is safe from their enemy’s reach, and they must rejoin the outside world and fight before it is too late.

Soul Cycle (Twisted Souls #3)
The line between good and evil blurs even further in Soul Cycle (Twisted Souls #3), the third installment of the Twisted Souls saga…

Cameron, Samuel, and Malcolm survived the trap in the Office of Souls compound. Their goal is to reach Outpost Alanstown where they know they will have to confront their enemy. But as their journey begins, an encounter with a group of bloodthirsty Soulless Ones separates the group on the outskirts of West End, the capital city of the Territory of Malm.

In the meantime, in Outpost Alanstown, Chim retrieves Marius from the edges of madness. Marius finds himself in the difficult position of helping Chim in order to help himself.

What no one knows is that someone has been behind the scenes pulling the strings like a skilled puppet master, and that person is someone they never expected.

Answers from the past must be found before Cameron and Samuel’s true destinies can be revealed. The journey to the final battle is coming, but who will be there still remains a mystery.

A Soul to Settle (Twisted Souls #4)
A new evil rises as Samuel and Cameron race toward to Outpost Alanstown in the thrilling conclusion of the Twisted Souls series…

Facing a moral dilemma, Samuel realizes that everything he believed was right is wrong. He is confronted with the devastating truth that to save the Territory of Malm, he must first remove the stain of the treacherous legacy of the one who ruled before him.

Cameron teeters on the cusp of discovering her purpose.

This was just so trippy sounding I couldn’t resist. I am such an unreasoned fan of post-apocalyptic dystopians. And man, trippy doesn’t even begin to cover it. Babies in this world are born soulless, and it is creepy, not like Gail Carriger’s version of soulless at all.

So at first it is kind of mysterious, it is interesting and maybe even a bit frightening. And the end of the first story has quite a bit of action and a heck of a cliffhanger. I would NOT have liked to have been following along before everything came out. But when the second novella in the series starts up, it get a little… well it gets a little weird. And I don’t mean weird in a friendly nice sort of way. I get why the author made the choice she made. It truncates things in a way that makes her plot work the way she obviously intended. I just found this one aspect a bit offputting.

Honestly, the romantic elements of this story were the weakest elements in what is otherwise an interesting sort of sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal (honestly I don’t know quite what it is, it is a mashup) dystopian story, and while that takes up a significant portion of the plot, I think it may have been a stronger and better story without it, or at least done differently. Or that may be my particular bias, because this turned out to be a new adult in disguise.

On the other hand, that may not have helped, as I found Marius, one of the bad guys, the most likable and sympathetic out of the whole cast for most of the book. Chim was unmitigated one-dimensional evil. Cameron was stunted and one-dimensional for the vast majority of the book, though that really wasn’t her fault. But Samuel was the piece de’resistance, a man so willfully blind for so long is almost unbearable.

And for then first 98% of the book, the ending of my review had a very different angle. But the authors ending vompletely changed mine. It is hard to describe, but I vacillated between being almost too frustrated to continue, and being helplessly mesmerized by the events taking place. This thing twisted and turned on itself so many times it was impossible to know where it was headed. But that last 2% of the book, in a series full of twists absolutely turned me on my head. Absolutely nothing was like I thought, and that ending was nothing that I could have expected.

As far as editing goes, the first two appeared very well-edited, or if there were any errors I simply didn’t note them. The third book saw a variety of small errors that caught my attention, like please instead of pleas. But overall for a self published book it is actually quite good.

So final analysis? Did I like it? I don’t know. I think I liked the premise of it better than the execution. I was honestly all set to give this thing 2 stars and be done with it. Is it really fair to change a rating based on such a small section of the book? Probably not, but the author did something so unexpected that it completely subverted my expectations, such that I can’t quite help myself from adjusting my viewpoint, and my rating. Do I wish the author had handled the main relationship differently and that more of the questions were answered? Absolutely, like I said this is better in theory than in execution. But there was just something about the way she stayed true to what is not precisely a happy ending in a way that fed into the world she built without shoehorning in the perfect happy ending, that it felt like a rewarding read in the end. I just couldn’t help upgrading my rating.

So I am giving this a generous, conditional 3 stars. Very generous considering it was only the last 2% of the book that bumped it up for me (though some of that initial low score was likely from previous admitted biases). Conditional on what I can’t quite express without entirely spoiling the ending. Closest that I have is that you should probably like new adult, not mind that the boundaries of science and magic are unclear, not mind that all the questions aren’t answered, and not need a complete happily ever after. Which all sounds rather grim, except it isn’t.

On a completely unrelated note (to the story itself), what I found myself feeling slightly curious about as I read through this serial compilation, is that when people put these together they don’t edit out the recap transitions. I know those are necessary and/or helpful when people are reading the various entries separately because of time lags or because people skips books or jump into the series randomly, but when they are all bound together in one book, I’d almost think you’d want to clean them up since they aren’t really necessary anymore. It just makes me wonder why people don’t. So that is my odd musing for this one.

The Twisted Souls Series (Box Set: The Soul Ripper, Twisted Souls, Soul Cycle, A Soul to Settle)
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5 star review

Review + Giveaway – Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews

Sweep in Peace

I received an ARC of this book from the author, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina’s door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-Char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn… and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it’s all in the day’s work for an Innkeeper…

It is absolutely no secret that I adore husband and wife writing duo Ilona Andrews. Their works are just magical. This is the second book in the Innkeeper Chronicles and it is an interesting project because this is a self published venture that is initially written as a serial for free on their website, and then is copy edited and published for a modest price. So if you haven’t started this series, once you get caught up you can read along for free. I personally don’t do that because serials drive me barmy, but it is certainly an option, and I would imagine it is interesting to get small peeks into the writing process.

To that end, and to show my great love, my cheap butt is personally hosting a giveaway. And also to support an author who most rationally releases their book on a Friday, as in my opinion all books should be released – Tuesday releases are misery. As Sweep in Peace is being released on Friday 13, the giveaway will be open until November, 13, 2015 12:00 am at which point a winner will be chosen to receive an ebook copy of both Clean Sweep and Sweep in Peace. This giveaway is open to US residents age 18 or older who can receive ebooks through Kindle, Nook, or Kobo.

Enter HERE:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is more of an Urban Fantasy series than a paranormal romance. Clean Sweep had some romantic elements, and there was the beginning of a light love triangle (which is something I normally despise but which didn’t bother me here), but this is more about Dina’s journey than anything else. Yes, eventually I am sure she will get her happily ever after, I can even guess who it will be, but it is more about her than any pre-supposed “him” right now.

So in an alternate version of current reality (or maybe it is this world…if you believe in magic), Dina is an Innkeeper. This doesn’t sound too magical until you realize that The Gertrude Hunt is no mundane Inn, it is a living, breathing, entity; and within its grounds Dina, with her trusty broom, reigns supreme. And from it she has access to other worlds and to other dimensions of this world. She’s a truly kick-ass homemaker. There is also a small tie-in to Andrews’ Edge series, but it is a small easter egg for fans and I don’t think you have to have read that series to enjoy this one. While the characters from that series are main characters here, they are fully formed in this story without requiring the back story from that series. I recommend you go back and read those, because they are excellent, but it just isn’t a requirement if you aren’t looking for that sort of commitment.

The gist of the matter is that magical Inns require magical guests to maintain their magic. It is a strange and wonderful symbiotic relationship. Dina comes from a family of Innkeepers, and at some point they and their Inn went missing. When she failed to find them she revived the long dormant Gertrude Hunt in order to get guests from all over the universe and across dimensions in hopes of news of her family. But being new and lacking guests, the Inn has been in a slump. So when the Arbitrators, the universe’s neutral faction, come calling with a business proposition to host an arbitration, it is an offer she literally can’t refuse. No matter how disastrous she thinks hosting warring factions will be. And she knows it will be disastrous.

And damn if it didn’t start out with a bang. It was just as disastrous, if not more so, than anyone could have foreseen. There was plenty of action and drama as one would expect when you get warring factions together. Sneaky maneuverings and stratagems. Excellent storytelling and world building, characters you root for and empathize with. All in all, a simply wonderful urban fantasy (with an emphasis on the fantasy) tale. And then BAM! Andrews hits you with the curve ball. Maybe I would have seen it coming if I hadn’t been sucked into the story so hard, but there was simply no time to analyze where all this was going. And that curve ball left me unbalanced just enough that when the pinnacle hit, I’ll admit it, I sobbed like a little baby.

The story is excellent, even better than Clean Sweep, and that is saying something. The premise is interesting, the world building is excellent, and I love Dina to bits. Yes there are other characters, and they are more than one dimensional set pieces, but this is Dina’s story and she rocks. So 5 stars and a sobbing plea to the AuthorLord for more Innkeeper.

Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles #2)
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3.5 star review

Review – If He’s Dangerous by Hannah Howell

If Hes Dangerous

New York Times bestseller Hannah Howell’s extraordinary Wherlocke family returns with the story of a passion that will heed no resistance, no matter how deadly…When Lorelei Sundun first finds Sir Argus Wherlocke in her garden, she’s never heard of the mysterious Wherlocke clan-or their otherworldly abilities. That changes the moment she watches Argus-the most tantalizing man she’s ever seen-disappear before her very eyes. What she’s witnessed should be impossible. But so should falling in love with a man she’s only just met…

Pursued by a madman intent on harnessing the Wherlockes’ talents as weapons, Argus meant to seek help from his family, not to involve a duke’s lovely daughter in the struggle. But now, the enchanting Lorelei is his only hope for salvation-and the greatest temptation he’s ever faced…

This is book 4 in the Wherlocke series, and my glom has become that much more enjoyable, as there wasn’t a single woman entwined in the story. So yeah!

Argus has been heavily involved in the previous books and while I have been seriosuly anticipating his story, I can see why people might fear his particular gift. Adding that on top of his horrible home life with the Wherlocke/Vaugh curse of unfaithful spouses was more than enough of a relationship impediment for Argus and Lorelei.

The mystery that took the place of previous female entanglements was pretty interesting and in line with the family’s differences. A shadowy organization is after their gifts by hook or by crook. Fun stuff, it kind of reminded me a bit of Quick/Krentz’s Arcane series, another highly glommable series.

And Hannah Howell, seriously writes the best eccentric families. The best. Now that I am sitting here really analyzing WHY she is so utterly glommable for me, it has never been the romances, it is the families. And now she has added the Sundun family which is every bit as charming as the Wherlocke/Vaugn family. One scholarly minded patriarch who seems to have his head in the clouds but has his feet firmly planted on the ground, an imperious butler (I adore imperious butlers), 13 sons, and 4 daughters and a phalanx of extended family that he has infected with logic and fair-mindedness. They are seriously delightful. Additionally, we got a nice little epiphany about the so-called Wherlocke family curse that makes me feel rather pleasant and rosy toward the whole rest of the series.

I actually don’t have much to say about the romance itself. It was warm and fuzzy and more than enough when plopped into the midst of these delightful families.

If He's Dangerous (Wherlocke #4)
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3 star review

Review – Girl From Above by Pippa DaCosta

Girl From Above

My name is #1001, and I am not ready to die.” I’d only just begun to live.

When Captain Caleb Shepperd is released from prison, all he wants to do is keep his head down and earn a living smuggling illegal cargo through the nine systems. So when a synth stows away on his ship, and brings with her a crap-ton of problems, including guilt-ridden secrets he thought he’d escaped, he’d prefer to toss her out the airlock. The problem is, she’s priceless tech, and he’s fresh out of credit.

#1001 is not meant to exist. Created for a single purpose, she has one simple order: to kill. But not everything is as it seems. Buried deep inside, she remembers… Remembers when she was human. And she remembers what Shepperd did to her. She’s not ready to die, but she is ready to kill.

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

Yep, eyes (or in this case, eye) continues to be a defining draw in my choice in science fiction reading material. Just like Lex TalionisDark Horse, or Luminous. When I saw this featured at Books are My Reality, I had to have it. It hasn’t been a conscious decision, but I am beginning to think it may be an unconscious attraction considering all the skin suited, big breasted science fiction covered books I pilfered from my father’s stash of paperbacks growing up.

This is a strange book, and I kind of wish I had realized it was a serial before I chose it, rather thinking it was a straight up series. That lack of research sometimes comes to bite me back. The other important thing to note about this book before starting it, is that the first chapter is actually transplanted from the end. I was confused as hell until I realized that.

It is hard to say much about the plot without giving away secrets, so I won’t focus on that except to say it is exciting, and twisty, and probably full of holes, but a thrill ride anyway. What makes this story is the characters.

As for the characters, nobody here is a good guy, even the victims are usually in the wrong. Nobody really makes the good choices, the right choices. Still, the main trio Caleb, Fran, and 1001 are engaging and entertaining. And really, really sneaky, no one is anything like they appear. For such a short story, DaCosta does an excellent job of drawing the reader in and creating emotional connections, even with such relatively amoral characters. The characters I loved.

What I loved less is that it ended on such a cliffhanger. I really do want to know what happens next for 1001, but in a way that leaves me irked rather than rushing out to buy the next installment. I am not sure what about this makes me think serial, rather than series, but the former irritates while the latter keeps me rushing to buy the next one. I think I’ll hold up on getting the second book until I find out if there will be more resolution in the third story which is scheduled for early 2016.

Girl From Above: Betrayal (The 1000 Revolution)

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