Book Review: Dark Light of Day (Noon Onyx #1) by Jill Archer

Book Review: Dark Light of Day (Noon Onyx #1) by Jill ArcherDark Light of Day by Jill Archer
Series: Noon Onyx #1
Published by Ace on September 25, 2012
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Author
Goodreads
4 Stars
Armageddon is over. The demons won. And yet somehow…the world has continued. Survivors worship patron demons under a draconian system of tributes and rules. These laws keep the demons from warring among themselves, and the world from slipping back into chaos.

Noon Onyx grew up on the banks of the river Lethe, the daughter of a prominent politician, and a descendant of Lucifer’s warlords. Noon has a secret: She was born with waning magic, the dark, destructive, fiery power that is used to control demons and maintain the delicate peace among them. But a woman with waning magic is unheard of, and some would consider her an abomination.

Noon is summoned to attend St. Lucifer’s, a school of demon law. She must decide whether to declare her powers there…or to attempt to continue hiding them, knowing the price for doing so may be death. And once she meets the forbiddingly powerful Ari Carmine—who suspects Noon is harboring magic as deadly as his own—Noon realizes there may be more at stake than just her life.

dark light of day book blitz

Today as part of the blitz (hosted by Bewitching Book Tours) for DARK LIGHT OF DAY and FIERY EDGE OF STEEL by Jill Archer, I have a review of the first book, DARK LIGHT OF DAY. There’s a tour-wide giveaway after my review, and check back here in the next few days, because I’ll have reviews of FIERY EDGE OF STEEL and WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE.

Book Review:

The first in the Noon Onyx series, DARK LIGHT OF DAY is a paranormal/urban fantasy set at in a demon law school. Yup, you read that right. Noon is studying to be a Maegester, a demon peacekeeper/lawyer/executioner when necessary. Armageddon is over. The demons won, they rule Halja, and they love rules.

Women of the Host are Mederi healers, men are Maegester destroyers. But something went wrong with Noon and her twin brother, Night. She’s kept her waning magic a secret her entire life, but when her mother sends an application to St. Lucifer’s, the best demon law school, Noon can’t keep her secret any longer. Maegesters can feel each other’s magical signatures, and if she doesn’t admit what she is, she’ll die for not telling the truth. Demons don’t like waste.

Noon is an interesting character. She doesn’t want to destroy anything or work with demons, but because she has waning magic, she doesn’t have a choice about her future. Emotionally, she’s all over the place: sometimes strong, sometimes insecure. There were a few times I wanted to shake her, but overall, I found her realistic for a twenty-one year old. It was great to see her grow over the course of the book.

The beginning of DARK LIGHT OF DAY does dump a lot of information, but after I got past that, I didn’t put the book down until I finished it. I thought the setting was super creative — the world hasn’t ended with Armageddon. People pay taxes, work, go to school, and oh yeah, offer tribute to the appropriate demon. I also liked St. Lucifer’s; I tend to like books set at schools, so I liked the descriptions of Noon’s classes and student life.

The only part of the book that I didn’t like were the romantic interests, Peter and Ari. Peter is Noon’s best friend, an Angel who has promised to help her find a way to get rid of her waning magic. Ari is a fellow Maegester and student at St. Lucifer’s. Both like Noon for different reasons, and she likes them, but isn’t sure where her future lies. I thought they were both jerks in their own way, and didn’t see any chemistry between them and Noon.

Other than Peter and Ari, I really enjoyed DARK LIGHT OF DAY. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Noon next, and what other demons she’ll have to deal with.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

author jill archerJill Archer writes dark, genre-bending fantasy from rural Maryland. Her novels include Dark Light of Day, Fiery Edge of Steel, and White Heart of Justice. She loves cats, coffee, books, movies, day tripping, and outdoor adventuring.
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– leeanna

Blog Tour: Obsidian Eyes by A.W. Exley

obsidian eyes by a.w. exley tour

Welcome to my stop on the tour for OBSIDIAN EYES by A.W. Exley. I have an excerpt and tour-wide giveaway. The tour is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours, and you can check out all the stops here.

obsidian eyes by a.w. exley

Info:

Title: Obsidian Eyes
Author: A.W. Exley
Release Date: March 24, 2014
Publisher: Curiosity Quills
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk, Young Adult
Page Count: 278

Summary:

1836, a world of light and dark, noble and guild. The two spheres intersect when seventeen-year-old Allie Donovan is placed at the aristocratic St Matthews Academy. More at ease with a blade than a needle, she finds herself ostracised by the girls and stalked by a Scottish lord intent on learning why she is among them.

She begins to suspect the underlying reasons when soldiers arrive to see her friend, Zeb, a mechanical genius. On the hunt for answers she breaks into his underground laboratory. There, Allie discovers he is not just constructing sentient mechanical creatures, he is building a devastating new weapon for the military.

The guilds want the weapon and Allie is trapped by ties of blood. She must obey the overlord of the guild and deliver up her friend, unless she can rely on bonds of friendship, to save both their lives. (summary from goodreads)

Excerpt:

The sword sliced through invisible treacle. The deep green tassel hanging from the hilt swayed back and forth with the blade’s measured progress. The girl’s bare feet were silent on the dark wood floor. With eyes closed and breathing controlled, she appeared to slow time. A second stretched into twenty as she lost herself in the rhythm and balance of the ancient Chinese movements.

Above her head on the mezzanine floor, two men watched through the slated office window: Jared McLaren, student at St Matthews, and Weapons Master Marshall.

The younger man’s gaze followed the intricate dance. His help had been requested to unravel a puzzle. A puzzle who wielded a sword so expertly on the floor below.

“Who is she?” He voiced his question without taking his eyes off the girl. He stood at ease, arms clasped behind his back. Even at seventeen years old, military training oozed from every pore. With an affinity for any weapon and a keen mind, he earned his place as top student in weapons training.

The older man ran a hand through short salt and pepper hair. He flicked his gaze from the girl to his favourite pupil. “Alessandra Donovan, although she prefers Allie. She will be in your classes this year. Her grandfather is the new history master and librarian. He came here from Egypt, six weeks ago, and brought his granddaughter with him.”

Jared frowned. “She’s a commoner?”

from Chapter 1

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

author a.w. exley
Books and writing have always been an enormous part of Anita’s life. She survived school by hiding out in the library, with several thousand fictional characters for company. At university, she overcame the boredom of studying accountancy by squeezing in Egyptology papers and learning to read hieroglyphics.

Today, Anita writes steampunk novels with a sexy edge and an Egyptian twist. She lives in rural New Zealand surrounded by an assortment of weird and wonderful equines, felines, canine and homicidal chickens.
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Buy links: Amazon | B&N

– leeanna

Blog Tour: Third Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn

third daughter

Today I have a stop on the tour for THIRD DAUGHTER by Susan Kaye Quinn. The tour is hosted by I Am A Reader and you can check out all the other stops.

third daughter by susan kaye quinnInfo:
Title: Third Daughter
Author: Susan Kaye Quinn
Release Date: December 13, 2013
Series: The Dharian Affairs Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Steampunk, Romance
Page Count: 346

Summary:

kyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue… and, of course, kissing.

The Third Daughter of the Queen wants her birthday to arrive so she’ll be free to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon may force her to accept a barbarian prince’s proposal for a peace-brokering marriage. Desperate to marry the charming courtesan she loves, Aniri agrees to the prince’s proposal as a subterfuge in order to spy on him, find the weapon, and hopefully avoid both war and an arranged marriage to a man she does not love.

Third Daughter is the first book in the The Dharian Affairs Trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter). This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood (Bollypunk!) romance that takes place in an east-Indian-flavored alternate world filled with skyships, saber duels, and lots of royal intrigue. And, of course, kissing. (summary from goodreads)

Excerpt:

The day was coming: Aniri could almost taste its nearness like the mouth-watering scent of a long-hungered meal just outside of reach. Soon she would be free: free of the court, free to kiss in broad daylight, free to leave Dharia behind and find the vermin who killed her father. Devesh had promised to help her search his country until they found the men responsible. She ached for that day like she did for Devesh. Soon she would have both.

When the intensity of their kiss made her gasp for breath, she broke it and leaned against him. “Two weeks, Dev,” she whispered. “Just two. And I’ll be eighteen.”

“I’m counting the days, my love.”

His intense gaze made her suddenly shy. She turned her attention to toying with the collar that brushed his neck. “You will say yes, won’t you? When I ask?”

He gently pulled her face up to look at him. “When you are free to marry for love, Third Daughter of the Queen, you had better not ask anyone other than me. I’ll have to hang myself from the nearest tree or else die of a broken heart.”

Her shyness was banished in a stroke. “Aren’t courtesans supposed to be the ones breaking hearts?”

“Truly,” he said with mock despair. “There’s nothing more sad than a broken-hearted courtesan. I would have to commit suicide just out of professional courtesy.”

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

author susan kaye quinnSusan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is young adult science fiction. The Dharian Affairs trilogy is her excuse to dress up in corsets and fight with swords. She also has a dark-and-gritty SF serial called The Debt Collector and a middle grade fantasy called Faery Swap. It’s possible she’s easily distracted. She always has more speculative fiction fun in the works. You can find out what she’s up to by subscribing to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!).
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– leeanna

Blog Tour: The Polaris Uprising (Polaris #1) by Jennifer Ibarra

the polaris uprising

Today on the tour for THE POLARIS UPRISING by Jennifer Ibarra, I have a short excerpt and a tour-wide giveaway.

The tour is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours and you can check out all the other stops here.

the polaris uprising by jennifer ibarraInfo:
Title: The Polaris Uprising
Author: Jennifer Ibarra
Release Date: October 30, 2013
Publisher: Tiwala Books
Series? Polaris #1
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Page Count: 328

Summary:

In less than seven years, eighteen-year-old Ryla Jensen will succeed her father as the president of Neress, a nation where all citizens are cared for from the moment they’re born. Fed, sheltered, even educated—every need of theirs is met.

The only price they pay is their free will.

Groomed since childhood to take on a role she’s not even sure she wants, Ryla’s only escape from the pressures of duty is her sister, Alanna. But when her eyes are opened to the oppressive regime her father built, she begins to question everything she’s set to inherit—and finds herself at odds with her sister’s blind allegiance to their father.

Torn between loyalty to her family and the fight for freedom, Ryla must decide just how far she’s willing to go to make a stand and risk losing the person she loves most in the world: Alanna. (summary from goodreads)

Excerpt:

Quin shook his head. “They’ll take care of you, you’ll see. That’s what’s supposed to happen. They’re supposed to take care of you. Just like they take care of everyone…”

“If they can’t fix me, I won’t be able to–”

“They’ll fix you,” Quin said. Wil was only nineteen. He has his whole life ahead of him. Surely the government would never let someone be cut down in his prime? They were the ones who had chosen this path for his son. They would have contingencies in place. Quin had to trust them now. They knew best. “A country like this, with all of the medical advancements we’ve got… They have to fix you.”

Quin watched as Wil’s Adam’s apple slid up and down his throat. Tears traced lines through the grime in his face.

“What am I going to do?” he said, his voice thick from the sedatives. “If I can’t work in the factory anymore, what’s going to happen to me?”

“Nothing’s going to happen to you, because they’ll make you all better.” Quin forced his voice to remain steady. Wil needed him to be strong now. He couldn’t let his son see his own fear. “No citizen shall be left behind, remember? We do what they tell us to do–we obey the rules–and they take care of us. That’s the deal, isn’t it?”

(from the prologue)

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

author jennifer ibarraJennifer Ibarra grew up on a steady diet of books, Star Wars, and other fantastic feats of the imagination. Her debut novel, The Polaris Uprising, is the first book in a trilogy and mixes dystopia with family drama, romance, and political intrigue.

She lives in Silicon Valley, where she does marketing for a tech company and spends her time running, cooking, baking, and keeping up with celebrity gossip.
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THE POLARIS UPRISING buy links: Amazon | B&N

– leeanna

Book Review: Black Dog (Black Dog #1) by Rachel Neumeier

Book Review: Black Dog (Black Dog #1) by Rachel NeumeierBlack Dog by Rachel Neumeier
Series: Black Dog #1
Published by Strange Chemistry on February 6, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
Natividad is Pure, one of the rare girls born able to wield magic. Pure magic can protect humans against the supernatural evils they only half-acknowledge – the blood kin or the black dogs. In rare cases – like for Natividad’s father and older brother – Pure magic can help black dogs find the strength to control their dark powers.

But before Natividad’s mother can finish teaching her magic their enemies find them. Their entire village in the remote hills of Mexico is slaughtered by black dogs. Their parents die protecting them. Natividad and her brothers must flee across a strange country to the only possible shelter: the infamous black dogs of Dimilioc, who have sworn to protect the Pure.

In the snowy forests of Vermont they are discovered by Ezekiel Korte, despite his youth the strongest black dog at Dimilioc and the appointed pack executioner. Intrigued by Natividad he takes them to Dimilioc instead of killing them.

Now they must pass the tests of the Dimilioc Master. Alejandro must prove he can learn loyalty and control even without his sister’s Pure magic. Natividad’s twin Miguel must prove that an ordinary human can be more than a burden to be protected. And even at Dimilioc a Pure girl like Natividad cannot remain unclaimed to cause fighting and distraction. If she is to stay she must choose a black dog mate.

But, first, they must all survive the looming battle.

Today I have a twofer: a review of BLACK DOG by Rachel Neumeier and an interview with the author. Be sure to check out both posts, because I asked Rachel some questions about the book, including where the idea for BLACK DOG came from!

Book Review:

BLACK DOG is a werewolf book, albeit a very different type of werewolf book from the usual sort. Rachel Neumeier’s black dogs are more like hellhounds, the dog side constantly fighting the human side for control. Black dogs transform at will, whenever they need to fight, prove their dominance, or when emotions get too high. It takes great strength of will to control the black dog shadow. There also are the traditional werewolves that follow the call of the moon, but they aren’t as powerful as black dogs.

Told from the alternating perspectives of Alejandro, a black dog, and his sister, Natividad, a Pure, BLACK DOG is a book that unfolds slowly. Alejandro, Natividad, and her twin, Miguel, are Mexican, and it was great to see some diversity in a YA book. There are some Spanish words and phrases sprinkled throughout the book; most have context translations or are easy to figure out.

The siblings are on the run from a dangerous black dog, Vonhausel, who killed their parents and wants to kill them. Their only hope is the Dimilioc pack, the last remaining civilized group of black dogs. But with only Natividad being worth anything to the pack, Alejandro must prove his control of his black dog, and Miguel, a human, must also show he’s useful. When Vonhausel shows up and tries to wage war, the siblings must help Dimilioc, each in their own way, because the alternative is death. Or something worse than death, in some cases.

Some readers might be bothered by Natividad being fifteen and expected to mate with one of the black dogs. Natividad is Pure, able to wield magic that can calm the ferocity of the black dogs’ shadows. Usually I would have an issue with that sort of alpha behavior, but I thought the Master of the pack handled it very well — he said no one could touch Natividad until she turned sixteen, and she would have her choice. Natividad didn’t have an issue with it, either. So all the possible mates were respectful, and wanted to protect her. There’s not really any romance in BLACK DOG — Natividad’s future relationship is a side topic. I just wanted to mention it.

Like I said above, BLACK DOG is a slow book. It’s over 400 pages, and I do think it could have been shorter and tighter. There were a lot of phrases repeated in dialogue, over and over, such as “I think” or “you know,” and they did pull me out of the narrative. I’m picky about things like that, though.

In the author’s world, black dogs are known to the public, thanks to the disappearance of vampires and their mindclouding magic of anything supernatural. The vampires and their war with the black dogs happened before the book, and so is offstage, but does have some influence on the events of BLACK DOG. I had some questions that I would have liked answered, but they didn’t really affect my understanding of what was going on.

Aside from that, once I got into the book, I did enjoy piecing the story together and learning about the siblings’ pasts, Vonhausel, and Dimilioc. I really liked the pack dynamics, and watching the black dogs control their shadows. It was also interesting to see regular humans interact with the pack. Natividad’s interactions were the best of all, because she wasn’t afraid of any black dog, knowing they wouldn’t hurt her. So it was fun and different to see a fifteen-year-old be taken seriously, her opinion valued, by the much older pack master.

The end of BLACK DOG does neatly tie up the main story line. I’ll admit, when I got to what I thought was the end, I was like, “No! That’s it?!” But it wasn’t! It’s hard to say anything about the ending, because I don’t want to spoil it, but the real ending was good. Very insightful. And there will be a sequel to BLACK DOG, so the other things I wanted to see, such as who Natividad will choose, and what will happen to Dimilioc, will most likely be addressed in that.

About the author:

Rachel Neumeier started writing fiction to relax when she was a graduate student and needed a hobby unrelated to her research. Prior to selling her first fantasy novel, she had published only a few articles in venues such as The American Journal of Botany. However, finding that her interests did not lie in research, Rachel left academia and began to let her hobbies take over her life instead.

She now raises and shows dogs, gardens, cooks, and occasionally finds time to read. She works part-time for a tutoring program, though she tutors far more students in Math and Chemistry than in English Composition.
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Seers (The Holders #2) by Julianna Scott

Book Review: The Seers (The Holders #2) by Julianna ScottThe Seers by Julianna Scott
Series: The Holders #2
Published by Strange Chemistry on February 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 430
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour, NetGalley
Goodreads
3 Stars
After nearly being drained of her ability and betrayed by a man her father trusted, Becca Ingle was left with one clue — Ciaran Shea. He holds the key to the downfall of the power-mad Holder, Darragh, and can ensure the safety of both Holder and Human kind alike... but is he willing to help?

Becca, Alex, Jocelyn, and Cormac set out for Adare Manor to meet with the Bhunaidh, an aristocratic group of pure blooded Holders of whom Ciaran is a rumored member. However, when Becca discovers that they might not be the only ones after the information Ciaran has, everyone begins to wonder if Bhunaidh might not be as uninvolved with Darragh as they claim.

A race to uncover Ciaran’s secrets begins, where the line between friend and foe is blurred, and everyone seems to have their own agenda. Becca will have to call on every ability at her disposal to uncover the truth, all the while knowing that sometimes the answer is more dangerous than the question.

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for THE SEERS by Julianna Scott. The tour is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours and you can check out the full schedule here.

Book Review:

THE SEERS is the second book in The Holders series by Julianna Scott. Last year I described book one, THE HOLDERS, as “a perfect book for an afternoon of light reading.” I’d describe THE SEERS the same way: it’s an enjoyable fantasy with a sweet romance and outspoken characters. A good book to spend the afternoon with.

THE SEERS picks up a couple of weeks after THE HOLDERS. There’s not a lot of recap of the events of book one, so for the first couple of chapters, I was lost and couldn’t remember who anyone was or what had previously happened. Basically, Becca, her father, and a few others are trying to find information on Ciaran Shea, but he died three years ago … and therefore couldn’t have been part of Darragh’s quest for power. Darragh is an extremely powerful Holder; he’s the bad guy of the series.

THE SEERS takes Becca and co. into the world of full-blooded Holders. Think of the pure-blood wizards of Harry Potter — the Bhunaidh place high importance on purity and magical ability. Becca really doesn’t like Bhunaidh society, especially once she finds out the head family has disowned one of their sons because he’s powerless.

The start of this book was a bit rocky for me. I couldn’t remember much of THE HOLDERS, and Becca was somewhat annoying at first. Her inner monologue and the way she was acting made me want to tell her “get over yourself!” But then I realized she was acting like a teenager would. And as the book went on, Becca’s attitude gradually changed, and I liked that she grew up somewhat.

Once I got to the halfway point of THE SEERS, I really got into the book. In the quest for information on Ciaran, Becca has to learn more about her own power, be more mature in the ways she deals with people, and work on her relationship with Alex. Oh, and do some rescuing, too, when things don’t go according to plan. I got into the mystery of Ciaran’s journal and what it would reveal. I thought the author used the power to see the future in a neat way.

The ending of THE SEERS might have been the best of all. Without giving too much away, I’ll say there’s a big rescue, a big tragedy that affects one of the new characters, and some good development for Becca and Alex’s relationship. Yeah, they go there, which I always love to see in YA books!

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author:

author julianna scottJulianna was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and spent the majority of her educational career convinced she would be a musician. However, after receiving her music degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, she realized that she’d been born in the wrong era for her dreams of singing jazz to adoring fans clad in zoot-suits and flapper dresses to come true, and began to wonder if her true calling might be elsewhere.

While Julianna had always excelled in writing throughout school, she’d never considered it a career possibility until about three years ago, when she’d gotten her first story idea and decided to go for it. She grabbed her laptop, started typing away, and has never looked back.
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Buy links: Amazon | B&N

– leeanna

Book Review: Witch Fall (Witch Song #3) by Amber Argyle

Book Review: Witch Fall (Witch Song #3) by Amber ArgyleWitch Fall by Amber Argyle
Series: Witch Song #3
Published by Self-Published on January 15, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 332
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour
Goodreads
3 Stars
With the magic of their songs, the Witches control the seasons, the storms, even the sea. Secure in their supremacy, they have forgotten the unmatched destructiveness of mankind. For the world has begun to covet their power, seeing them as weapons to be controlled instead of rulers worthy of obeisance.

Born of witches but raised among their enemy, Lilette searches for a way to heal the rift between mankind and the witches. But it may be too late to save either. For if there is one thing Lilette has come to know for certain, it’s that all things fall.

Today on my stop for the WITCH FALL blog tour, I have a review. After my review, there’s a tour-wide giveaway. The tour is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours, and you can check out the full schedule here. Also, during this tour, WITCH SONG is free on Amazon.

Book Review:

WITCH FALL is the third book in Amber Argyle’s Witch Song series, but it’s also the prequel to the series. Instead of following Brusenna as the other two books have, WITCH FALL is Lilette’s story. If you’ve read WITCH BORN, the second book in the series, her name should be familiar to you. If you haven’t, don’t worry. You could read WITCH FALL before the other books if you want. This series is more of a circle than a straight line, if that makes any sense.

Although I knew some of Lilette’s story, I liked getting the chance to see it unfold from her perspective, and also seeing the real history of the witches. In WITCH BORN, Brusenna learned about Lilette and the cursed land of Harshen. But what she learned wasn’t the whole story, just as history doesn’t always record events truthfully. What I read in WITCH FALL answered some of the questions I had throughout the series, such as why witches are so hated in Brusenna’s time.

WITCH FALL is probably my favorite of the author’s books. I liked Lilette much more than Brusenna, because Lilette never gave up. Anytime she was in a bad situation (and there were a lot of bad situations!) she just kept going. Even if the odds were against her, she would keep thinking of what she could try next to escape.

I also liked Jolin, a character who reminded me a bit of myself. Jolin is high on intelligence but low on societal conventions, and her desire to be a power among the other Witches leads her to making some not-so-smart decisions. Every chapter of WITCH FALL starts with a quote by Jolin; when I read the last chapter of the book, I appreciated those quotes even more.

Overall, I feel that WITCH FALL is a solid prequel/ending to the Witch Song series.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

amber argyleAmber Argyle is the author of Witch Song and Fairy Queen trilogies. She grew up with three brothers on a cattle ranch in the Rocky Mountains. She spent hours riding horses, roaming the mountains, and playing in her family’s creepy barn. This environment fueled her imagination for writing high fantasy. She has worked as a short order cook, janitor, and staff member in a mental institution. All of which has given her great insight into the human condition and has made for some unique characters. She received her bachelor’s degree in English and Physical Education from Utah State University. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and three small children.
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WITCH FALL buy links: Amazon | B&N

– leeanna

Blog Tour: The Sorcery Code by Dima Zales

Today on the blog tour for THE SORCERY CODE by Dima Zales, I have an excerpt and a tour-wide giveaway. The tour is hosted by Xpresso Book Tours, and you can check out all the stops here.

the sorcery code by dima zalesInfo:
Title: The Sorcery Code
Author: Dima Zales
Release Date: December 16, 2013
Publisher: Mozaika Publications
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Page Count: 351

Summary:

From the internationally bestselling authors who brought you the Krinar Chronicles comes a captivating tale of intrigue, love, and danger in a world where sorcery is entwined with science . . .

Once a respected member of the Sorcerer Council and now an outcast, Blaise has spent the last year of his life working on a special magical object. The goal is to allow anyone to do magic, not just the sorcerer elite. The outcome of his quest is unlike anything he could’ve ever imagined – because, instead of an object, he creates Her.

She is Gala, and she is anything but inanimate. Born in the Spell Realm, she is beautiful and highly intelligent – and nobody knows what she’s capable of. She will do anything to experience the world . . . even leave the man she is beginning to fall for.

Augusta, a powerful sorceress and Blaise’s former fiancée, sees Blaise’s deed as the ultimate hubris and Gala as an abomination that must be destroyed. In her quest to save the human race, Augusta will forge new alliances, becoming tangled in a web of intrigue that stretches further than any of them suspect. She may even have to turn to her new lover Barson, a ruthless warrior who might have an agenda of his own . . . (summary from goodreads)

Excerpt:

Gala stared at the tall, broad-shouldered man who was her creator, trying to figure out the best way to answer his question. She found it difficult to focus, her senses overwhelmed by being here, in this place Blaise called the Physical Realm. Her body was reacting to the different stimuli in strange and unpredictable ways, her mind attempting to process all the images, sounds, and smells so she could understand everything.

One particularly strong distraction was Blaise himself. She couldn’t stop looking at him because he was unlike anything she had seen before. Something about the angular symmetry of his face appealed to her, resonating with her in a way she didn’t fully comprehend. She liked everything about it, from the blue color of his eyes to the darkness of the stubble shadowing his firm jaw. She wondered if it would be acceptable to reach out and touch his hair—those short, almost-black locks that looked so different from her own pale strands.

First, though, she wanted to answer his question. Concentrating, she thought back to before, to what had happened prior to her experiencing reality for the first time. “I remember realizing that I exist,” she said slowly, trying to put into words the strange sensations at the beginning.

“You mean you existed for a time without realizing it?” he asked, his dark eyebrows coming together slightly. Gala thought that expression likely meant confusion because her own eyebrows did the same thing when she didn’t understand something.

“It’s like there were two ways I existed,” she tried to explain. “One way would just happen. This went on longer. When I say I realized that I exist—that’s when this other part of me first realized that I am me. These parts are not separate; in fact, they are the same thing. There is a strange looping arrangement between the two parts that I don’t fully understand and don’t know how to put into words—”

“I think I do understand,” he said, leaning forward and staring at her intently. “You became self-aware. At first, you existed on a subconscious level, and then, at some critical threshold, you achieved a conscious state of being.” He appeared excited, Gala thought, somehow finding the right word to describe her creator’s emotional state.

“What is the difference between a conscious and a subconscious state?” she asked, hungering for more information.

“In a human being, the subconscious parts of the mind are in charge of things like breathing or the heart beating,” he said, his eyes gleaming brightly. “When I run, my subconscious figures out the complex trajectories of how my limbs move. Some sorcerers also think dreams form in that part of our minds.”

“I am not a human being,” Gala said, looking at him. That much she knew now. She was something different, and she needed to learn what that something was.

He smiled—an expression that made his face even more fascinating to her. “No,” he said softly, “you’re not. But you definitely seem like one to me.”

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

the sorcery code author dima zalesDima Zales is a full-time science fiction and fantasy author residing in Palm Coast, Florida. Prior to becoming a writer, he worked in the software development industry in New York as both a programmer and an executive. From high-frequency trading software for big banks to mobile apps for popular magazines, Dima has done it all. In 2013, he left the software industry in order to concentrate on his writing career.

Dima holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from NYU and a dual undergraduate degree in Computer Science / Psychology from Brooklyn College. He also has a number of hobbies and interests, the most unusual of which might be professional-level mentalism. He simulates mind-reading on stage and close-up, and has done shows for corporations, wealthy individuals, and friends. To read more, click here!
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THE SORCERY CODE buy links: Amazon | iBookstore | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords

– leeanna

Blog Tour: Branded (Sinners #1) by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki

Today on the book tour for BRANDED by Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki, I have an excerpt and a tour-wide giveaway. The tour is hosted by YA Bound Book Tours and you can check out the rest of the schedule here.

branded by Abi Ketner & Missy KalicickiInfo:
Title: Branded
Authors: Abi Ketner & Missy Kalicicki
Release Date: June 28, 2013
Publisher: Self-Published
Series: Sinners #1
Genre: Dystopian, Romance, Young Adult
Page Count: 252

Summary:

Fifty years ago the Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society. He created the Hole where sinners are branded according to their sins and might survive a few years. At best.

Now LUST wraps around my neck like blue fingers strangling me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit and now the Hole is my new home.

Darkness. Death. Violence. Pain.

Now every day is a fight for survival. But I won’t die. I won’t let them win.

The Hole can’t keep me. The Hole can’t break me.

I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter.

My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story. (summary from goodreads)

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE OF BRANDED

I’m buried six feet under, and no one hears my screams.

The rope chafes as I loop it around my neck. I pull down, making sure the knot is secure. It seems sturdy enough. My legs shake. My heart beats heavy in my throat. Sweat pours down my back.

Death and I glare at each other through my tears.

I take one last look at the crystal chandelier, the foyer outlined with mirrors, and the flawless decorations. No photographs adorn the walls. No happy memories here.

I’m ready to go. On the count of three.

I inhale, preparing myself for the finality of it all. Dropping my hands, a glimmer catches my eye. It’s my ring, the last precious gift my father gave me. I twist it around to read the inscription. Picturing his face forces me to reconsider my choice. He’d be heartbroken if he could see me now.

A door slams in the hallway, almost causing me to lose my balance. My thoughts already muddled, I stand waiting with the rope hanging around my neck. Voices I don’t recognize creep through the walls.

Curiosity overshadows my current thoughts. It’s late at night, and this is a secure building in High Society. No one disturbs the peace here—ever. I tug on the noose and pull it back over my head.

Peering through the eyehole in our doorway, I see a large group of armed guards banging on my neighbors’ door. A heated conversation ensues, and my neighbors point toward my family’s home.

It hits me. I’ve been accused and they’re here to arrest me.

My father would want me to run, and in that split second, I decide to listen to his voice within me. Flinging myself forward in fear, I scramble up the marble staircase and into my brother’s old bedroom. The door is partially covered, but it exists. Pushing his dresser aside, my fingers claw at the opening. Breathing hard, I lodge myself against it. Nothing. I step back and kick it with all my strength. The wood splinters open, and my foot gets caught. I wrench it backward, scraping my calf, but adrenaline pushes me forward. The voices at the front door shout my name.

On hands and knees, I squeeze through the jagged opening. My brother left through this passage, and now it’s my escape too. Cobwebs entangle my face, hands, and hair. At the end, I feel for the knob, twisting it clockwise. It swings open, creaking from disuse. I
sprint into the hallway and smash through the large fire escape doors at the end. A burst of cool air strikes me in the face as I jump down the ladder.

Reaching the fifth floor, I knock on a friend’s window. The lights flicker on, and I see the curtains move, but no one answers. I bang on the window harder.

“Let me in! Please!” I say, but the lights darken. They know I’ve been accused and refuse to help me. Fear and adrenaline rush through my veins as I keep running, knocking on more windows along the way. No one has mercy. They all know what happens to sinners.

Another flight of stairs passes in a blur when I hear the guards’ heavy footfalls from above. I can’t hide, but I don’t want to go without trying.

Help me, Daddy. I need your strength now.

My previous desolation evolves into a will to survive. I have to keep running, but I tremble and gasp for air. I steel my nerves and force my body to keep moving. In a matter of minutes, my legs cramp and my chest burns. I plunge to the ground, scraping my knee and elbow. A moan escapes from my chest.

Gotta keep going.

“Stop!” Their voices bounce off the buildings. “Lexi Hamilton, surrender yourself,” they command. They’re gaining on me.

I resist the urge to glance back, running into what I assume is an alley. I’m far from our high-rise in High Society as I plunge into a poorer section of the city where the streets all look the same and the darkness prevents me from recognizing anything. I’m lost.

My first instinct is to leap into a dumpster, but I retain enough sense to stay still. I crouch and peek around it, watching them dash by. The abhorrent smell leaves me vomiting until nothing remains in my stomach. Desperation overtakes me, as I know my retching was anything but silent. My last few seconds tick away before they find me. Everyone knows about their special means of tracking sinners.    
 
I push myself to my feet and look left, right, and left again. Their batons click against their black leather belts, and their boots stomp the cement on both sides of me. I shrink into myself. Their heavy steps mock my fear, growing closer and closer until I know I’m trapped.

Never did I imagine they’d come for me. Never did I imagine all those nights I heard them dragging someone else away that I’d join them.
    
“You’re a sinner,” they say. “Time to leave.”  
      
I stand defiant. I refuse to bend or break before them, even as I shiver with fear.

“There’s no reason to make this difficult. The more you cooperate, the smoother this will be for everyone,” a guard says.

I cringe into the blackness along the wall. I’m innocent, but they won’t believe me or care. 
  
The next instant, my face slams into the pavement as one guard plants a knee in my back and another handcuffs me. A warm liquid trails into my mouth. Blood. Their fingers grip my arms like steel traps as they peel me off the cement. The tops of my shoes scrape along the ground as I’m dragged behind them until they discard me into the back of a black vehicle. The doors slam in unison with one guard stationed on each side of me, my shoulders digging into their arms.

Swallowing hard, I stare ahead to avoid their eyes. My dignity is all I have left. The handcuffs dig into my wrists, so I clasp them together hard behind me and press my back into the seat, unwilling to admit how much it hurts.

Did they need so many guards to capture me?

I’m not carrying any weapons, nor do I own any. I don’t even know self-defense. High Society frowns on activities like that.

The driver jerks the vehicle around and I try to keep my bearings, but it’s dark and the scenery changes too fast. Hours pass, and the air grows warmer, more humid the farther we drive. The landscape mutates from city to rolling hills. They don’t bother blindfolding me because they escort all the sinners to the same place—the Hole. Twenty- foot cement walls encase the chaos within. There’s no way out and no way in unless they transport you. They say the Hole is a prison with no rules. We learned about it last year in twelfth grade.

To the outside, I’m filth now. I’ll never be allowed to return to the life I knew. No one ever does.

“All sinners go through a transformation,” one of the guards says to me. His smirk infuriates me. “I’m sure you’ve heard all kinds of stories.” I don’t respond. I don’t want to think about the things I’ve been told.

“You won’t last too long, though. Young girls like you get eaten alive.” He pulls a strand of my hair up to his face.

Get your hands off me, you pig. I want to lash out, but resist. The punishment for disobeying authority is severe, and I’m not positioned to defy him.

They’re the Guards of the Commander. They’re chosen from a young age and trained in combat. They keep the order of society by using violent methods of intimidation. No one befriends a guard. Relationships with them are forbidden inside the Hole.

Few have seen the commander. His identity stays under lock and key. His own paranoia and desire to stay pure drove him to live this way. He controls our depraved society and believes sinners make the human race unforgivable. His power is a crushing fist, rendering all beneath him helpless. So much so, even family members turn on each other when an accusation surfaces. Just an accusation. No trial, no evidence, nothing but an accusation.

I lose myself in thoughts of my father.

“Never show fear, Lexi,” my father said to me before he was taken. “They’ll use it against you.” His compassionate eyes filled with warning as he commanded me to be strong. That was many years ago, but I remember it clearly. My father. My rock. The one person in my life who provided unconditional love.

“Get out,” the guard says while pulling me to my feet. The vehicle stops, and I’m jerked back to reality. The doors slide open and the two guards lift me up and out into the night. A windowless cement building looms in front of us, looking barren in the darkness.

The coolness of the air sends a shiver up my spine. This is really happening. I’ve been labeled a sinner. My lip starts to quiver, but I bite it before anyone sees. They shove me in line, and I realize I’m not alone. Women and men stand with faces frozen white with fear. A guard grabs my finger, pricks it, and dabs my blood on a tiny microchip.

I follow the man in front of me into the next room where we’re lined up facing the wall. Glancing right, I see one of the men crying.

“Spread your legs,” one of the guards says.          

They remove my outer layers and their hands roam up and down my body.

What do they think I can possibly be hiding? I press my head into the wall, trying to block out what they’re doing to me.

“MOVE!” a guard commands. So I shuffle across the room, trying to cover up. 

One.

Two.            

Three.          

Four.            

Five of us sit in the holding room. One by one, they pull people into the next room, forcing the rest of us to wonder what torture we’ll endure.

An agonizing amount of time passes. I lean my head back and try to imagine a place far away. The door opens.

“Lexi Hamilton.”

A guard escorts me out of the room, and I don’t have time to look back. As soon as the door closes, they pick me up and place me on a table. It’s cold and my skin sticks to it slightly, like wet fingers on an ice cube. Then they exit in procession, and I lie on the table with a doctor standing over me. His hands are busy as he speaks.   

“Don’t move. This will only take a few minutes. It’s time for you to be branded.”

A wet cloth that smells like rubbing alcohol is used to clean my skin. Then he places a metal collar around my neck.

Click. Click. Click.

The collar locks into place, and I struggle to breathe. The doctor loosens it some as I focus on the painted black words above me.  

The Seven Deadly Sins:   
  
   Lust ⎯ Blue 
   Gluttony ⎯ Orange  
   Greed ⎯ Yellow      
   Sloth ⎯ Black          
   Wrath ⎯ Red
   Envy ⎯ Green          
   Pride ⎯ Purple         
  
“Memorize it. Might keep you alive longer if you know who to stay away from.” He opens my mouth, placing a bit inside. “Bite this.”

Within seconds, the collar heats from hot to scorching. The smell of flesh sizzling makes my head spin. I bite down so hard a tooth cracks.

“GRRRRRRRRR,” escapes from deep within my chest. Just when I’m about to pass out, the temperature drops, and the doctor loosens the collar.

He removes it and sits me up. Excruciating pain rips through me, and I’m on the verge of a mental and physical breakdown. Focus. Don’t pass out.

Stainless steel counters and boring white walls press in on me. A guard laughs at me from an observation room above and yells, “Blue. It’s a great color for a pretty young thing like yourself.” His eyes dance with suggestion. The others meander around like it’s business as usual.

I finally find my voice and turn to the doctor.      

“Are you going to give me clothes?” A burning pain spreads like fire up from my neck to my jaw, making me wince.

He points to a set of folded grey scrubs on a chair. I cover myself as much as I can and scurry sideways. Grabbing my clothes and pulling the shirt over my head, I try to avoid the raw meat around my throat. I quickly knot the cord of my pants around my waist and slide my feet into the hospital-issue slippers as the doctor observes. He hands me a bag labeled with my name.

“Nothing is allowed through the door but what we’ve given you,” he says.

I hide my right hand behind me, hoping no one notices. A guard scans my body and opens his hand.

“Give it to me,” he says. “Don’t make me rip off your finger.” He crouches down and I turn to stone. I don’t know what to do, so I beg.

“My father gave this to me. Please, let me keep it.” I smash my eyes shut and think of the moment my father handed the golden ring to me.

“It was my mother’s ring,” he’d said. “She’s the strongest woman I ever knew.” With tears in his eyes, he reached for my hand and said, “Lexi, you’re exactly like her. She’d want you to wear this. No matter how this world changes, you can survive.” I turned the gold band over in my palm and read the engraving. 

You can overcome anything … short of death.           
  
“You’re going to take the one thing that matters the most to me?” I say, glaring into the guard’s emotionless eyes. “Isn’t it enough taking my life, dignity, and respect?”

A hard blow falls upon my back. As I fall, my hands shoot out to stop me from smashing into the wall in front of me. The guard bends down and grabs my chin with his meaty fist.

“Look at me,” he commands.         
  I look up and he smiles with arrogance.

“What the hell?” He staggers a step backward. “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with your eyes?”

“Nothing,” I respond, confused.

“What color are they?”

“Turquoise.” I glower at him.

“Interesting,” he says, regaining his composure. “Now those’ll get you in trouble.”

Reality slaps me across the face. I have my father’s eyes. They can’t take them from me. I twist the ring off my finger and drop it in his hand.

“Take the damn ring,” I say. I walk to the door. He swipes a card and the massive door slides open to the outside.

“You have to wear your hair back at all times, so everyone knows what you are.” He hands me a tie, so I pull my frizzy hair away from my face and secure it into a ponytail. My neck burns and itches as my hand traces the scabs that have already begun to form. Squinting ahead in the darkness, I almost run into a guard standing on the sidewalk.

“Watch where you’re going,” he says, shoving me backward. His stiff figure stands tall and I cringe at the sharpness of his voice.      

“Cole, this is your new assignment, Lexi Hamilton. See to it she feels welcome in her new home.” The guard departs with a salute.

“Let’s move,” Cole says.        

I take two steps and collapse, my knees giving out. The unforgiving pavement reopens the scrapes from earlier and I struggle to stand. A powerful arm snatches me up, and I see his face for the first time.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the authors:

branded authorsAbi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.
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BRANDED buy links: Amazon | B&N

– leeanna

Book Review: Chasing the Star Garden (Airship Racing Chronicles #1) by Melanie Karsak

Book Review: Chasing the Star Garden (Airship Racing Chronicles #1) by Melanie KarsakChasing the Star Garden by Melanie Karsak
Series: The Airship Racing Chronicles #1
Published by Clockpunk Press on December 4, 2013
Genres: Adult, Adventure, Romance, Steampunk
Pages: 325
Format: eARC
Source: Blog Tour
Goodreads
4 Stars
An opium-addicted beauty.
An infamous poet living in self-imposed exile.
An ancient treasure about to fall into the wrong hands.

Melanie Karsak's Chasing the Star Garden takes readers on a thrilling adventure from the gritty opium dens of gaslamp London to the gem-colored waters of the ancient world. Lily Stargazer, a loveable but reckless airship racer with a famous lover and shattered past, reluctantly plunges into a centuries-old mystery in a romantic adventure best described as Dan Brown meets Mary Shelley.

It all begins on one of the worst days of Lily’s life. She just lost the London leg of the 1823 Airship Grand Prix. To top it off, a harlequin fleeing from constables shoved a kaleidoscope down her pants, told her to fly to Venice, then threw himself from her airship tower. What’s a girl to do? For Lily, the answer is easy: drink absinthe and smoke opium.

Lily’s lover, Lord Byron, encourages her to make the trip to Venice. Lily soon finds herself at the heart of an ancient mystery which has her running from her past and chasing true love and the stars along the way.

Today on the tour for CHASING THE STAR GARDEN by Melanie Karsak, I have a review. The tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours and you can visit the whole schedule here. After my review, there is a tour-wide giveaway.

Book Review:

“In true Lily fashion, I didn’t know I was in trouble until I was already in the middle of it.” (p. 110)

I could liken CHASING THE STAR GARDEN to the absinthe Lily drinks: it’s almost like chasing the green fairy as a fantastical tale unfolds. I had no idea what to expect from the author’s steampunk, airship-filled world, and that’s always something I like, when an author can keep me guessing.

Lily Stargazer races airships, dallies with Lord Byron, smokes opium like it’s going out of style, and all around does whatever she pleases. She captured me from the start of the book, especially when she and Byron got down and dirty after she loses a race. I’ll admit, the first few chapters of CHASING THE STAR GARDEN had me wondering just what I was reading, but once I got further into the book, I can’t imagine having met Lily any other way. She’s a mess of a character, deeply wounded by her past. So it made perfect sense she’d drown her airship race loss in an opium den, and then in Lord Byron.

But as the story in CHASING THE STAR GARDEN ramps up, Lily gradually takes charge of herself. She’s always closed herself off to love due to childhood abuse, preferring casual hook-ups to real relationships. So it’s almost laughable when it turns out she’s the only one who can rescue a famous statue of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Of course, along the way, Lily starts to open herself up to the possibility of having love in her life. I didn’t totally buy the eventual relationship between Lily and Sal, but I was happy for her to find love.

What I liked the most about CHASING THE STAR GARDEN was the complex adventure/mystery. Lily, Sal, and Celeste (a courtesan/priestess of Venus) set off on a journey guided by the stars and ancient myths to find the Aphrodite of Knidos. Celeste wants to keep the statute from falling into the hands of treasure hunters. Their only clues are a kaleidoscope and the stars.

I couldn’t get a full handle on the world, but what was there was quite interesting. There were lots of airship races, both of the racing sort and the run for your life sort. I would have like more information on the world itself, but that’s just because I want to know how airship racing became a sport!

All in all, I enjoyed the wild ride that is CHASING THE STAR GARDEN, and I’m eager to see what else the author has in store for Lily.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*giveaway is tour-wide

About the author:

melanie karsak author of chasing the star gardenMelanie Karsak grew up in rural northwestern Pennsylvania where there was an abysmal lack of entertainment, so she turned to reading and hiking. Apparently, rambling around the woods with a head full of fantasy worlds and characters will inspire you to become an author. Be warned. Melanie wrote her first novel, a gripping piece about a 1920s stage actress, when she was 12. A steampunk connoisseur, white elephant collector, and caffeine junkie, the author now resides in Florida with her husband and two children. Melanie is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.

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– leeanna