Blog Tour Book Review: Roadkill by Alexandra Allred

Blog Tour Book Review: Roadkill by Alexandra AllredRoadkill by Alexandra Allred
Series: Allie Lindell #1
Published by The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House on August 15, 2013
Genres: Adult, LGBT, Mystery
Pages: 278
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
4 Stars
When dead prostitutes begin to appear along the rural roads of Ohio, Allie Lindell cannot stay away despite the odds—the odds being her badge-toting sister; her partner, who only wants Allie to stay home and out of harm’s way; and two little girls in full potty-training and tantrum-throwing modes. But when an old friend from The Columbus Dispatch calls with an intriguing job opportunity, Allie can’t turn her away, Allie breaks all kinds of promises to track the killer, heat up a cold case, and discover what happened to a fallen police officer. As she navigates the backstreets of Columbus, following pimps, prostitutes, sullen teenagers, and seedy gamblers, the only thing more complicated is remembering all her aliases.

Enlisting the help of her neighbor, and with the annoying voice of Snow White drumming through her head, Allie and her newfound sidekick will have you falling in love with this wonderful cast of modern heroines with day-to-day problems. Gay, straight, sleek and sexy, or rumpled and ragged—no matter how much they bicker, they’re a mighty force when they all come together. Heigh Ho!

Roadkill is the first in a series in which a former journalist and at-home mom discovers she has a knack for investigating murders. While she longs for the crazy deadlines and adult conversations, she also wants to stay home and care for her babies.

With Disney tunes, tantrums, and potty-training woes on her mind, Allie Lindell must learn to juggle the highs and lows of her family and a career she never knew she always wanted. This is the funny, sometimes aggravating, ultimately heartwarming story of a woman trying to give everything to her kids, keep the love of her partner, and not lose herself in the process.

Today I am the stop on the blog tour for ROADKILL by Alexandra Allred. The tour is hosted by the publisher, The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House, and you can see the rest of the stops here. Read on for my review and a giveaway.

My Review:
“I never set out to become an obituary writer. Who does that? (p. 1)”

Allie Lindell never set out to do a lot of things. She didn’t plan on writing obituaries, but because there were no job ads for traipsing around New Guinea, she got good with obits, and even became emotionally invested in them. Never a romantic, she fell in love almost at first sight. And though she loved working at The Columbus Dispatch, she quit to become a stay at home mother.

But taking care of two babies all day — five hundred screenings of Snow White included — isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Allie needs adult conversation, an escape, something beyond staying at home all day and losing part of herself. Yes, Allie loves her daughters, and her wife, but she needs something more.

ROADKILL is a story with a lot packed into it. There’s a couple of mysteries, including a serial killer who refrigerates bodies before dumping them, and a murdered cop who was once accused of molesting his niece. Allie gets tangled up in the investigations because she freelances for her old paper on the side, as part of her quest to not lose herself. But investigating the cases is about more than just that — because of her experience as an obituary writer, Allie wonders about the dead. Why they ended up as victims. What happened in their life.

There’s a theme in the book that I like, stemming from the title, ROADKILL. Allie muses that the unfortunate dead like the serial killer’s prostitutes are only important when they die, and even then, they’re only mentioned because they were murdered by someone making the news.

Aside from all that, there’s more to the book. Allie struggles to find the right balance between investigating and her personal life. She’s in the midst of some big problems with her wife, Rae Ann. They’re the sort of problems every couple goes through — drifting apart after having children, having trouble communicating, etc. I liked that the author didn’t make a big deal out of them being a same-sex couple. They’re a couple, period, same as any husband and wife, or husband and husband.

The author created some truly memorable characters. One of my favorites was Kipper, the canine partner of Allie’s sister, Michelle. I always have a soft spot for well-done animal characters. It was great to see Kipper as a big softie when playing with Allie’s daughters, and then a vicious attack dog when on the job. Allie herself was another favorite, and I think a lot of readers will identify with her struggle in juggling a partner, children, and home life without losing part of herself. Lastly, Jenny was a sweetheart. Allie and Rae Ann’s neighbor, she was always willing to watch the girls when Allie needed to run some “errands.” AKA investigate. I liked Jenny because she was a good example of someone sort of isolated — she has MS, and her family would rather coddle her than allow her to live her life.

I did have some difficulty believing that, when investigating, Allie was able to get so many people to spill their guts to her. She also knowingly put herself in danger — because she didn’t think — which is always a peeve of mine.

Overall, I enjoyed ROADKILL and I am very curious as to what the author has in mind for Allie, Rae Ann, and the rest of the bunch. Because I know Allie is not going to keep the bargain she made with her sister, to keep from “investigating” for a month!

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:
roadkill-aallredAlexandra Allred is a former national athlete and adventure writer turned humorist and fictional writer. She’s often been called the next Erma Bombeck with a grudge. Her annual Christmas letters, which have frequently made the news, could make the Grinch weep with joy.

Allred is an avid runner (though not a very good one), frequently testifies in Washington D.C. on environmental issues, is an advocate for Clean Air, and loathes people who illegally park in handicap places.

She currently lives in Texas with her husband, three children, and array of happy animals.
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– leeanna

Blog Tour: Blood Entangled by Amber Belldene: Character Spotlight

Today I am the stop on the blog tour for BLOOD ENTANGLED by Amber Belldene. The tour is hosted by Parajunkee Blog Tours.

I had hoped to have reviews of BLOOD VINE and BLOOD ENTANGLED today, but I’ve had to temporarily cut back on ebooks. So look for those reviews in the future.

blood entangledInfo:
Title: Blood Entangled
Author: Amber Belldene
Release Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Series? Blood Vine #2
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance

Summary:

KOS MARAS’s orderly life is in shambles—he must distribute Blood Vine to a population of ailing vampires, but Hunters block him at every turn. To make matters worse, each night he watches over a temptingly beautiful woman sleeping in his bed. He is convinced love cannot last a vampire-long lifetime and an entanglement will only cause them grief, but he doesn’t have the heart to send her away.

From a long line of blood servants, LENA ISAAKSON is destined to serve a vampire, but a string of humiliating rejections thwarts her pleasure. When Kos shows her kindness, she hopes he will claim her. Instead he proves himself a coward in the face of love and sends her to serve another.

Will the dark seduction of a rakish new vampire finally bring Lena the pleasure she desires or deliver her into the hands of Hunters who want to destroy everything the Maras family has worked for? (summary from goodreads)

Character Spotlight:
Meet Lena Isaakson, the heroine of BLOOD ENTANGLED:

The trouble with destiny is that things don’t always work out the way they’re supposed to. When my grandmother first explained everything to me–about our heritage as blood servants and what it’s like to serve a vampire, I felt like I was living in my very own fairytale. One day I would wake up to a vampire prince charming.

Only, my Nona died, and I had no idea how to find a vampire, which meant I had a destiny, but no way to achieve it. I went to culinary school, building on all the skills Nona had taught me in her kitchen so that I would be an excellent candidate for the position of cook in a vampire household. And I spent every single night in the kind of bars where I hoped I might meet a vampire. It was exhausting, to say the least.

And then finally, I found him. Andre Maras. He took me home that very night to cook for his human household, and to provide blood, of course. And he was gorgeous and brooding–everything a vampire was supposed to be.

But he didn’t want me. Not the way I wanted to be wanted. He fed from me, and I became hopelessly aroused, and then he sent me away with a friendly pat on the back. It didn’t take long for the treatment to become humiliating and I became desperate, and probably a little reckless.

Thank goodness for Kos, who came to my rescue. He’s so honorable and kind–the opposite of his father. Too bad I realized it all too late. He’ll never want me now, after all the foolish things I’ve done. I’m lucky he’s willing to help me at all. But that’s Kos. Soon he’ll find me another job and I can say farewell to the Kaštel Estate for good, and get on with my destiny.

About the author:
amber belldeneAmber Belldene grew up on the Florida panhandle, swimming with alligators, climbing oak trees and diving for scallops…when she could pull herself away from a book. As a child, she hid her Nancy Drew novels inside the church bulletin and read mysteries during sermons—an irony that is not lost on her when she preaches these days.

Amber is an Episcopal Priest and student of religion. She believes stories are the best way to explore human truths. Some people think it is strange for a minister to write romance, but it is perfectly natural to her, because the human desire for love is at the heart of every romance novel and God made people with that desire. She lives with her husband and two children in San Francisco.
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– leeanna

Monthly Summary: July 2013

IN JULY 2013…

July was a fun month. I spent about two weeks down with a nasty summer cold. Getting sick in the summer is fun … not. I did read 16 books, and while I think I’ve kicked my reading slump, I haven’t kicked my reviewing block. I either need to quit wanting to review every book I read, or get better about finishing reviews right after I finish the book. I have started taking notes while reading, which seems to help. And yes, I know I don’t have to review every book, but I am a completist. One of the reasons I review is because I reread a lot, and it’s always interesting for me to see if my thoughts on a book change or not.

Otherwise, I’m still trying to find a replacement I like for Google Reader. I’ve tried Bloglovin, but I don’t like it for reading. I’ve also tried The Old Reader, and it’s okay. I know I should have found a new reader before Google Reader went away, but I was using it up until the last day.

Reviews Written:
Norse Jewel by Gina Conkle.
Stripped by Brooklyn Skye.
Sniper Elite by Scott McEwen.
Blood Oranges by Kathleen Tierney.
Texts From Dog by October Jones.
The Ugly One by Leanne Statland Ellis.
Immortal Eclipse by Sherry Soule.
The Pirate’s Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke.

Waiting on Wednesday:
Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay.
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Inheritance by Malinda Lo.
Star Wars: Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells.

Inside the Nest:
Inside the Nest #6: The Sick Edition.

Other Stuff:
July 1st Readathon
Author Interview: Gina Conkle, author of Norse Jewel
Blog Tour: Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols
Blog Tour: Some Quiet Place by Kelsey Sutton
Kindle Worlds, or Why I Love Fanfic

Goal Progress:
How did I do on my Blogging Resolutions?
01: Post 2-3 reviews a week Check.
02: Keep Amazon/Goodreads updated Mostly. I’m going to be redoing all old reviews (gradually), so they use my new plugin, and I’ll also check to make sure they’re on Amazon/Goodreads when I do that.
03: Make 1 vlog a month
04: Post 1 personal update a week
05: Use Facebook I’ve been trying.
06: Learn about SEO
07: Be more active on Twitter I’ve started using HootSuite to schedule tweets, and I love it!

 

AUGUST 2013…

I just have one plan for August — write a review as soon as I finish a book.

– leeanna

Blog Tour Book Review: Love, Technically by Lynne Silver

Blog Tour Book Review: Love, Technically by Lynne SilverLove, Technically by Lynne Silver
Published by Entangled Ever After, Entangled Publishing on July 29, 2013
Genres: Romance
Pages: 127
Format: eBook
Source: Blog Tour
Goodreads
3 Stars
Billionaire CEO and computer whiz Noah Frellish is a king among geeks. Women are attracted to his money, but he'd love to meet someone who's actually interested in him. When he helps the sweet and sexy Michelle Kolson with a printing problem, she confuses him for a help desk technician. Noah knows he should clear up this case of mistaken identity, but would she still like him if she knew he was the boss?

Michelle thinks life in Chicago is perfect, as is the whirlwind romance with her smoking-hot coworker. When she unexpectedly finds her job on the chopping block and the man she fell headfirst into bed with running the company, will she abandon her dreams?

Noah must convince the small-town girl to stay in the big city—and that he really is the man she fell for.

Today I am the stop on the tour for LOVE, TECHNICALLY by Lynne Silver. The tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours, and you can check out the rest of the stops here. Check below for my review and a giveaway!

My Review:
If you’ve read any of my reviews before, you may know that I’m pretty critical of romances. I typically don’t read romance as the main genre for a book, because it’s just not my cup of tea. But every so often, I want a warm and fuzzy book with a cute couple to lighten up my day. That’s when I turn to Entangled Publishing, because I’ve liked everything I’ve read from them and their authors.

“Ever After” is an imprint from Entangled Publishing, providing novellas for an afternoon’s diversion. LOVE, TECHNICALLY is a fast read at 127 pages, a good length for a start-to-finish read. I read it all in one sitting, and enjoyed myself while reading. So it’s perfect if you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up.

Twenty-five-year old Michelle is a newcomer to Chicago, determined to make it in the big city. She gets a job in the call center at LiteWave, only to learn within a week that her job is being outsourced. At the same time, she meets Sark, the cute, geeky I.T. guy who saves her when she can’t get the printer to work. Sparks instantly fly between the two, and soon they’re flirting and going on mini dates.

There’s just one problem — Sark is really Noah Frellish, the founder of LightWave. He’s also indirectly responsible for Michelle’s job being outsourced. He keeps his identity a secret from Michelle, who somehow doesn’t recognize Noah as the CEO.

I had a hard time believing Michelle wouldn’t connect Sark and Noah, but once I got over that, LOVE, TECHNICALLY was a cute read. It wasn’t a book I thought too hard about, because then I probably would nitpick more, but I’m rating it on my initial enjoyment. What I liked most was the sweet romance — I really appreciated that Sark wasn’t the stereotypical nerd. Even though he lived and breathed coding and his company, he knew how to romance a woman. I also liked seeing Michelle grow, becoming confident in herself and continuing to follow her dreams.

Overall, LOVE, TECHNICALLY is a nicely written romance, and would probably make a great beach read or a book to curl up with in bed, depending on the season and your preference.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:
lynne silverBy day, Lynne Silver lives the suburban soccer mom life; volunteering with the PTA, doing laundry and working. By night she enters the sensuous world of alpha males and passionate heroines.

She calls the nation’s capital home and lives in an old fixer-upper with her husband and their two sons. When not writing romance, she reads it. Lots of it. Over and over and over again, preferably with a bag of M&Ms in hand.

She is represented by literary agent, Jessica Alvarez of Bookends LLC.

Fun Facts about Lynne:
1. She has no sense of direction and could get lost on her way from the kitchen to the bathroom.
2. She grew up in Miami and is a huge Hurricanes fan. (The football team, not the natural disaster.)
3. Speaking of natural disasters…she lived through Hurricane Andrew, though her car and much of her house did not. To this day she is scared of storms and windy days.
4. Lynne eats a lot of sushi and considers herself a bit of a connoisseur. She and her husband considered writing a sushi guide at one time.
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– leeanna

Book Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Book Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh BardugoSiege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Series: Grisha #2
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on June 4, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 435
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
5 Stars
Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

My Review:
SIEGE AND STORM was one of my most anticipated books for 2013. Last year I LOVED the first book in the Grisha Trilogy, SHADOW AND BONE. I couldn’t put it down. When SIEGE AND STORM arrived in the mail, I was a little worried … would it live up to my expectations? Would I love it as much as I loved the first book?

Within minutes of starting the book, my fears were put to rest. I didn’t want to stop reading SIEGE AND STORM. I wanted to stay up all night and finish it. I tried to take notes while I was reading, so I could write a more coherent review than “I freaking loved this book,” but after Chapter 5, I forgot all about jotting anything down. All I wanted to do was turn page after page, so I could continue Alina’s story as quickly as possible.

As with SHADOW AND BONE, I’m faced with the difficulty of conveying just how awesome Leigh Bardugo is as an author. SIEGE AND STORM is, to put it simply, a more than worthy follow-up to book one. I might even like it more.

The magic system was one of my favorite things in book one, and that continues in SIEGE AND STORM. The basic rule is that Grisha can only work with what already exists — they can’t create something new. The Darkling breaks that rule in spectacular fashion. The nichevo’ya are creepy monsters, made out of shadows, and with her power over light, Alina’s the only one that can really fight them.

The relationships in SIEGE AND STORM are real and complex. One thing I detest in YA is a love triangle, because they are often, well, silly and not developed. But when they’re done well, as the author does here, I’m a-okay with them. Alina is firmly with Mal, her childhood friend, but a new character in this book, Sturmhond, likes her. Alina and Mal have a very real gulf between them, one that only gets wider the more powerful Alina becomes. The Darkling still has his claws in Alina as well, showing up at the most inopportune times. It’s a big tangled mess, but I liked all the different angles. I thought the relationships between everybody were well done, and most importantly, I could see that those relationship were important for developing everyone’s characters. They aren’t just tossed in there so the author can write moon-eyed staring and kissing scenes.

SIEGE AND STORM is nice and chunky, weighing in at almost 450 pages. Depending on your reading preferences, that may or may not be long, but I never felt like there was a wasted page in the book, or that the author was dragging things out unnecessarily to add length. Quite the opposite: I enjoyed every single page, and often had to stop myself from skimming ahead.

I was never quite sure what was going to happen next in the book, and I love when an author can do that to me — keep me guessing. The book ends on a cliffhanger, which left me desperate for the last book in the trilogy. I can’t believe I have to wait until next year to find out what happens next!

The only complaint — and it isn’t a big one — I have with SIEGE AND STORM is that there’s almost no recap of what happened in SHADOW AND BONE. I didn’t remember a lot of what had happened in book one, so I was scrambling to catch up at first. But the author does an excellent job of doling out information about past events as needed, without bogging the narrative.

I realize I haven’t said all that much about the book, and for that I apologize. Sometimes it’s very hard to review a book you liked a heckuva lot. All I can really say is go read SIEGE AND STORM!

Disclaimer: I received this book through the Amazon Vine program.

Let’s talk about it:
Most fantasy is pseudo-European. SIEGE AND STORM has Russian influences. What other inspirations would you like to see for fantasy?

Socialize with the author:
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– leeanna

Waiting on Wednesday: Star Wars: Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells

razor's edgeStar Wars: Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells
Release Date: September 24, 2013

Times are desperate for the Rebel Alliance. Harassment by the Empire and a shortage of vital supplies are hindering completion of a new secret base on the ice planet Hoth. So when Mid Rim merchants offer much-needed materials for sale, Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo lead an Alliance delegation to negotiate a deal.

But when treachery forces the rebel ship to flee into territory controlled by pirates, Leia makes a shocking discovery: the fierce marauders come from Leia’s homeworld of Alderaan, recently destroyed by the Death Star. These refugees have turned to pillaging and plundering to survive—and they are in debt to a pirate armada, which will gladly ransom the princess to the vengeful Empire . . . if they find out her true identity.

Struggling with intense feelings of guilt, loyalty, and betrayal, Leia is determined to help her wayward kinspeople, even as Imperial forces are closing in on her own crippled ship. Trapped between lethal cutthroats and brutal oppressors, Leia and Han, along with Luke, Chewbacca, and a battle-ready crew, must defy death—or embrace it—to keep the rebellion alive. (summary from goodreads)

The Star Wars Expanded Universe was probably one of my first book series loves. I still remember the first one I bought — HEIR TO THE EMPIRE by Timothy Zahn. I have an entire bookcase full of Star Wars EU, arranged chronologically, and I have read many of them multiple times. I will admit that more recent offerings, such as the New Jedi Order, and the dive into zombie horror, weren’t my cup of tea. But the summary for RAZOR’S EDGE has me excited because it’s a return to the good old days, and even though I know nothing bad will happen to Leia or Han, I’m looking forward to reading a fun adventure!

I’m lucky enough to have a review copy. I can’t wait to dive into it. Hopefully this weekend!

Socialize with the author:
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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

– leeanna

Blog Tour: Some Quiet Place Character Spotlight and Giveaway!

Today I am the stop on the blog tour for SOME QUIET PLACE by Kelsey Sutton. The tour is hosted by The Mod Podge Bookshelf. Read on for a character spotlight and giveaway.

some quiet placeInfo:
Title: Some Quiet Place
Author: Kelsey Sutton
Release Date: July 8, 2013
Publisher: Flux
Series? Some Quiet Place #1
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Page Count: 331

Summary:

I can’t weep. I can’t fear. I’ve grown talented at pretending.

Elizabeth Caldwell doesn’t feel emotions . . . she sees them. Longing, Shame, and Courage materialize around her classmates. Fury and Resentment appear in her dysfunctional home. They’ve all given up on Elizabeth because she doesn’t succumb to their touch. All, that is, save one—Fear. He’s intrigued by her, as desperate to understand the accident that changed Elizabeth’s life as she is herself.

Elizabeth and Fear both sense that the key to her past is hidden in the dream paintings she hides in the family barn. But a shadowy menace has begun to stalk her, and try as she might, Elizabeth can barely avoid the brutality of her life long enough to uncover the truth about herself. When it matters most, will she be able to rely on Fear to save her? (summary from goodreads)

Character Spotlight:
somequietplace-characterName: Disbelief

A Typical Summons: He stares like I’m a mirage. Disbelief stands beside
him. “Elizabeth?” Joshua says in a whisper.

Physical Traits: Disbelief nods in greeting; he’s a tall, skinny being with pinched lips and a skeptical light in his eyes.

 

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

 

About the author:
somequietplace-kelseyKelsey Sutton has done everything from training dogs, making cheeseburgers, selling yellow page ads, and cleaning hotel rooms. Now she divides her time between her college classes and her writing, though she can also sometimes be found pounding out horrible renditions of Beethoven on the piano and trying bizarre drinks at her local coffee shop. Kelsey lives in northern Minnesota with her dog and cat, Lewis and Clark.
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Pirate’s Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Book Review: The Pirate’s Wish by Cassandra Rose ClarkeThe Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Series: The Assassin's Curse #2
Published by Angry Robot, Strange Chemistry on June 4, 2013
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 330
Format: ARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
4 Stars
After setting out to break the curse that binds them together, the pirate Ananna and the assassin Naji find themselves stranded on an enchanted island in the north with nothing but a sword and their wits. But Naji has unseen enemies, and Ananna must face the wrath of the Pirate Confederation.

Together, they must travel afar, defeat their foes and break the mother of all curses. With all this going on, falling in love would be such a bad idea... All of this and much, much more await, in the swashbuckling sequel to THE ASSASSIN'S CURSE.

My Review:
After liking THE ASSASSIN’S CURSE (4 star review) so much last year, I was a little scared to start THE PIRATE’S WISH. Would it be full of the same awesomeness and kick butt characters that I liked from the first book?

Once I got over that fear, I couldn’t stop reading. I had the same magical feeling of “I’m not putting this book until I finish it” that I had with THE ASSASSIN’S CURSE. Whew!

THE PIRATE’S WISH starts off with Ananna and Naji still stranded on the island, like they were at the end of THE ASSASSIN’S CURSE. There’s not a lot of recap of what happened in book one, and honestly, I had forgotten a fair amount of the plot, but the author recaps as necessary. So there aren’t pages and pages of information dumps — you get reminded of what you need to know, when you need to be reminded.

THE PIRATE’S WISH is just as unique as its predecessor. The first part of the book features a MANTICORE! I cannot remember seeing a manticore in adult or young adult fantasy in quite a while. And Ongraygeeomryn, the manticore, is a hoot. I was cracking up every time she spoke or tried to help Ananna out, with hilarious results included. The manticore also thought Naji would make a tasty treat, once his curse was removed, and basically thought all men were delicious meals on legs.

Ananna, Naji, and the manticore are rescued from the island by Marjani. Other than Ananna and the manticore, Marjani was one of my favorite characters in THE PIRATE’S WISH. Why? She’s a gay pirate who wants to have her own ship (yeah, tell those pirate dudes what to do!), and two, she gives Ananna some great advice on men and pleasure. AKA, Ananna doesn’t really need Naji at all to feel good, not unless she really loves him and really wants him.

Ananna is the same gusty pirate wench I loved in THE ASSASSIN’S CURSE. She’s still wary of her feelings for Naji, and I liked that she just didn’t spill them out. Even though she knew she could accomplish one of his impossible tasks, she kept her feelings a secret for a while. Best of all, she doesn’t let her feelings for Naji change who SHE is as a person. For example, even though he tries to warn her from making deals with the manticore, Ananna makes plenty of them. And while she feels guilty that the curse hurts Naji whenever she does something dangerous, she doesn’t want to give up her life and freedom.

There’s a ton more good stuff in THE PIRATE’S WISH. One more thing I’ll mention is the lush, amazingly creative underworld kingdom that comes about in the neatest way. I could have spent a dozen chapters there. The worldbuilding is well done in the book. You get just enough detail so you can imagine the setting and characters; the author is a master at describing a person or place completely in a sentence or two. I really like Cassandra Rose Clarke’s writing style.

All of the good stuff aside (and there is a LOT of it!), there was one thing that made me rate THE PIRATE’S WISH a 4 star book instead of 5 stars. The relationship between Ananna and Naji wasn’t something I felt in the first book, and in book two, though I got behind it, I still wanted to hear Naji’s thoughts and learn WHY he returned Ananna’s feelings. The two become magically bonded after a sea battle, which would have allowed Ananna, at least, to express Naji’s thoughts on the relationship. I also wanted to know more about Naji and the mysterious Order he belongs to.

The ending probably won’t satisfy everyone, but personally, I adored it. Although I am sad to have reached the end of Ananna and Naji’s story, the ending is true to both of them, and I wouldn’t have wanted it to end any other way.

If you haven’t read this duology, now is the time to pick it up.

Let’s talk about it:
Pirate or assassin? Or both?

Socialize with the author:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Immortal Eclipse by Sherry Soule

immortal eclipseInfo:
Title: Immortal Eclipse
Author: Sherry Soule
Release Date: May 15, 2013
Publisher: Disenchanted Publishing, Inc.
Source: Author for honest review
Series? No
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal Romance, Mystery
Page Count: 360
Rating: [3/5 stars]

Summary:

Mystery, Murder, Manolo Blahnik

A devoted fashionata and practical New Yorker, Skylar Blackwell doesn’t believe in the supernatural—until she inherits Summerwind Mansion. . . .

When her uncle is brutally murdered, and the cops seem uninterested in following up the case, Skylar journeys to California to seek answers. Her search for clues is soon overshadowed by haunting nightmares of a young woman also murdered in the house.

Now the inhabitants of Summerwind are mysteriously dying, leaving no evidence as to how or why, and Skylar finds herself in a deadly race against time to expose the killer—before they strike again.

Armed with only wit and Pradas, Skylar begins questioning the servants, but the growing list of suspects includes the sexy and brooding caretaker, Dorian, a man desperately trying to forget his tragic past. And a major distraction for Skylar.

Determined to play detective—instead of the fashion police—and unravel the dark history of the mansion, Skylar is plunged into an otherworldly mystery that not even she can explain away. As the boundaries between reality and dreams blur, Skylar’s greatest challenge is to stay alive long enough to learn the truth. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
IMMORTAL ECLIPSE is a new adult, paranormal romance with a fashionista heroine and a broody, gothic-inspired love interest. Set in a spooky, isolated mansion, the book really feels like a gothic romance for the modern age.

My favorite part of IMMORTAL ECLIPSE was the story. The author created an intriguing twist on a ghost story, and even though I was sometimes frustrated with Skylar or Dorian, I kept reading to find out how the book would end. Although I had some suspicions on how the story would tie up, I didn’t guess everything, which is always nice for me as a reader. And no, I’m not going to spoil the plot, but IMMORTAL ECLIPSE was like a murder mystery with lots of paranormal happenings.

Usually I’m a character-driven reader, but in this case, I didn’t really click with Skylar. I thought I would, because in the first chapter, she’s got a Glock for self-defense and a “you’re not gonna scare me” attitude even though something’s trying to break into her apartment. But once Skylar got to Summerwind, to investigate her uncle’s mysterious death, she was somewhat inconsistent for me. She alternated between being a tough New York chick, one who didn’t believe in ghost stories, to one who relied on the mysterious protective power of a magical amulet. I also wasn’t totally sold on the romance with hot and cold Dorian, but I could see why Skylar fell for him. Skylar likes romances, a lot, and so a guy like Dorian — a man damaged by past relationships in gorgeous, sculpted body — is very appealing to her. Dorian was basically the Byronic hero in a nutshell.

Other than the ghostly mystery, the next best part of IMMORTAL ECLIPSE for me was Summerwind. The mansion Skylar inherited from her uncle was almost like a character, playing a big part in the book, both in atmosphere and history. I thought the other did a good job with showing classic gothic characteristics, such as dark and stormy weather during climaxes, and using dreams as a way to show more of the characters’ backstories. Summerwind is the setting for everything, past and present, and I really felt its role in the book.

Let’s talk about it:
Do you read for character, story, or both?

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– leeanna

Book Review: The Ugly One by Leanne Statland Ellis

the ugly oneInfo:
Title: The Ugly One
Author: Leanne Statland Ellis
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Publisher: Clarion Books
Source: Amazon Vine
Series? No
Genre: Childrens, Historical Fiction
Page Count: 256
Rating: [4/5 stars]

Summary:

I had always been ugly, as far back as I could remember.

Micay has a deep scar that runs like a river from her right eye to her lip. The boys in her Incan village bully her because of it, and most of the adults ignore her. So she keeps to herself and tries to hide the scar with her long hair, drawing comfort from her family and her faith in the Sun God, Inti. Then a stranger traveling from his jungle homeland to the Sacred Sun City at Machu Picchu gives her a baby macaw, and the path of her life changes. Perhaps she isn’t destined to be the Ugly One forever. Vivid storytelling and rich details capture the life and landscape of the Incan Empire as seen through the eyes of a young girl who is an outsider among her own people. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
THE UGLY ONE is a children’s book, aimed at 9 years old and up, but I enjoyed it as an adult. It’s a beautifully written story of a young Incan girl finding her voice.

A horrid scar mars Micay’s face, making her the victim of the mean boys in the village. She’s incredibly self-conscious about the scar, and won’t allow her mother to kiss her goodnight because she doesn’t want her mother to feel bad about having an ugly daughter. She even calls herself “Ugly One.”

But when a yunka stranger gives her the gift of a baby macaw, Micay’s life slowly changes. At first, Sumac is almost as ugly as she is. But as he grows into a beautiful, proud bird, Micay herself grows. She gains confidence in herself, and her self-esteem improves. It’s a nicely told coming of age story, and I think adult readers will appreciate the way Micay tells her story, as an elder looking back at her younger years.

I know my younger self would have gobbled up this book, mainly because it’s set during the time of the Incas. The author works in Incan myths as well as their traditions and way of life. How authentic is the book? I don’t know. But hopefully THE UGLY ONE will spur interest in the Incas for younger readers.

Micay’s story is an inspiring one, especially as she gains self-esteem and realizes her scar isn’t the most important thing about her. But I think some readers might expect more action, and THE UGLY ONE meanders along slowly, unfolding almost like an Incan myth.

Let’s talk about it:
Are there any historical periods you’d like to see represented in fiction?

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– leeanna