Saturday, March 28, 2015

Review: Jinn and Juice by Nicole Peeler

Jinn and Juice
(The Jinni #1)
Nicole Peeler
Ebook Release: November 25, 2014
Paperback Release: April 7, 2015
Goodreads  Amazon
Cursed to be a jinni for a thousand years, Leila nears the end of her servitude—only to be bound once again against her will. Will she risk all to be human?
Born in ancient Persia, Leila turned to her house Jinni, Kouros, for help escaping an arranged marriage. Kouros did make it impossible for her to marry—by cursing Leila to live a thousand years as a Jinni herself.
If she can remain unBound, Leila's curse will soon be over. But Ozan Sawyer, a Magi with the ability to See, Call, and Bind jinn has other plans.
Oz needs Leila to help him penetrate Pittsburgh's steel-soaked magic, a juice potent but poisonous to supernatural creatures, in order to find a missing girl with her own mysterious connection to Kouros. Unfortunately for Leila, becoming Bound to Oz may risk more than just her chance to be human once more—it could risk her very soul...
Jinn and Juice is the first in a new series by fantasy writer, Nicole Peeler, set in a world of immortal curses, powerful jinni and belly dancing.
Review:

Nicole Peeler begins a new series full of Jinni, Magi, psychics, oracles, sirens, spider wraiths, bugbears, and more with Jinn and Juice. If you read Peeler's Jane True series you know that she is famous for urban fantasy heavy with sarcastic humor and heroines with inappropriate thoughts, and this start to her new series continues those traditions ten fold. Readers who enjoy fast-paced plots and light romance will love this book.

Jinn and Juice is hopefully the first in a new series, as the series title implies. This book was released in ebook format back in November, but is now coming out in paperback in April. I don't yet see any sequels posted on Goodreads, but the end of this one certainly leaves this open to series material so I'm hoping there are more to come.

I typically enjoy darker urban fantasy with deeply damaged heroines and a good balance of ass kicking and romance. Light UF isn't usually my thing, with a few exceptions. And Jinn and Juice is one of those exceptions. This book is light in the sense that no one here has a dirty, dark past and there's not a ton of angst, however the firing off of language unbecoming of a lady and the wicked quick pace of the story are very much to my liking. So, while this is on the lighter side of UF, it totally has that voice - occasionally raunchy, sometimes pushing boundaries - that I have come to recognize in Peeler's writing. She gives her heroines a spine and great comebacks, as well as a witty inner monologue that often borders on just plain dirty. And I like it.

Leila is our heroine here, a human who was cursed to become a Jinni (emphasis on the second syllable) and has been alive now for just over 1,000 years. She is nearing the end of her curse and jusssstt barely makes it before meeting new Magi, Oz who - yep, you guessed it - binds her to him thus putting her in danger of having to remain a Jinni for another 1,000 years. Oz and Leila have an attraction to each other and more possible romance in future books, but their romance here is timid and light because there is so much story going on, and the little issue that Leila has to do whatever Oz says, as part of the binding between a Magi and a Jinni. Therefore, both are hesitant to enter into any kind of romantic or sexual relationship while she is bound to him...and understandably so.

I really enjoyed the mythology of these two fantasy characters, the Jinn and the Magi, as well as some of the others introduced here that we don't see often in UF and PNR. Leila's Jinni has special abilities using a black fire that is within her that I really loved. I also really enjoyed the balance between her strength in magic and being alive for so long vs. her natural human weaknesses that haven't gone away no matter how long she lives as a Jinni.

Side characters abound here, and they are strange and entertaining to say the least. Some readers will laugh out loud at the bizarreness of characters like drag queen Rachel and creepy ass Trip and Trap, while other readers will find them not quite their cup of tea. I like the diversity in the characters - from the variety of various creatures to their diversity in ethnicity, sexual preference, and personality. Leila's crew is a freaking riot and I definitely snorted a couple times.

I will say that I missed more romance here. It would have been nice, but we do get small teases between Oz and Leila throughout the story and hopefully we will get more smexy times in the future. Oz, with his anchor tattoo in the hollow of his neck, is an unusual hero...smart and nerdy with an academic background...WHAT!? I want to see him bring confident Leila to her knees with some more swoon worthy behavior in the next book!

I really liked this book, and I especially liked that I enjoyed it more and more as the story went on. I hope to get some more character development of the side characters and some more romance in book two - which I will be keeping a close eye out for!

Recommended for fans of: Jinni with dirty mouths, Jinn and Magi myth, unusual fantasy creatures, drag queens, the Jane True series, and the Sabina Kane series.

This review is based on an early finished copy provided by the publisher.

    
  4 / 5 stars






Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 Audiobook Challenge - March Update!


2015 Audiobook Challenge
March Update!

It's time to check in and see how we're all doing on the 2015 Audiobook Challenge, hosted by The Book Nympho and Hot Listens! 

You can join the challenge or link up your update post HERE.

For this challenge, I chose the level Binge Listener 20 - 30 Audiobooks.

Here's my progress so far:

1. Wicked (A Wicked Saga #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

2. Dead of Winter (The Arcana Chronicles #3) by Kresley Cole

3. By A Thread (Elemental Assassin #6) by Jennifer Estep

4. The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines #6) by Richelle Mead

5. Deadly Spells (Prospero's War #3) by Jaye Wells

6. Widow's Web (Elemental Assassin #7) by Jennifer Estep

7. Jinn and Juice (The Jinni #1) by Nicole Peeler


7 out of 20 - 30

Looking good! If I keep up this pace I'll make my goal for sure!
Let me know if you're participating in the challenge and feel free to leave a link to your update post in the comments!





Review: Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear




Karen Memory
Elizabeth Bear
Release: February 3, 2015
Goodreads Amazon
“You ain’t gonna like what I have to tell you, but I'm gonna tell you anyway. See, my name is Karen Memery, like memory only spelt with an e, and I'm one of the girls what works in the Hôtel Mon Cherie on Amity Street. Hôtel has a little hat over the o like that. It's French, so Beatrice tells me.”

Set in the late 19th century—when the city we now call Seattle Underground was the whole town (and still on the surface), when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront, Karen is a young woman on her own, is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable’s high-quality bordello. Through Karen’s eyes we get to know the other girls in the house—a resourceful group—and the poor and the powerful of the town. Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, begging sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone’s mind and control their actions.  And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap—a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.

Bear brings alive this Jack-the-Ripper yarn of the old west with a light touch in Karen’s own memorable voice, and a mesmerizing evocation of classic steam-powered science.
Review: This book was a little slow-starting for me even though I thought the world and the characters were really interesting. The cast is exceptionally diverse ethnically, with characters from China and India as well as native Americans and former slaves, but also with gay and transgender characters. I really enjoyed getting to know all of them.

Rapid City is a composite of several cities in the pacific Northwest, including Seattle, but has a Wild West feel. The streets have recently been raised to prevent flooding, but most of the buildings are still at their old level. So Karen has to climb a ladder to get from her front door to the street, whereas people in wealthier neighborhoods might have stairs or even an elevator. This whole set up was a little bit odd for me. I'm used to seeing parts of the city raised above others, but this is more like seeing the beginning stages of that process. I just couldn't quite picture it in my head. It did make the serial killer story line more interesting though when the bodies were dropped from above.

At first, the story is basically a murder mystery. Marshal Reeves arrives in town looking for a serial killer and the girls at Hotel Mon Cherie, especially Karen, try to help him. I had the killer pegged pretty early on, but it turns out there's much more going on so that didn't bother me as much as it normally would. The end of the book is more of a spy story and I loved the nineteenth century version of international intrigue.

In Karen's world, inventors can apply for a Mad Scientists License - love that idea! So it's not surprising that this book has some amazing Steampunk gadgets. The ladies at the Hotel have some enviable kitchen appliances and a sewing machine fit for Tony Stark. And of course the bad guys have their own evil inventions, as well as a frightening (but also really cool) submarine.

The fantastic machines and the Wild West elements combine for some amazing over-the-top action scenes and made the end of the book really exciting. Once I got into it, I loved Karen Memory and just couldn't put it down. I'd love to see more books in this world -  hopefully with the marshal who, I found out later, was based on a real person.

Word Nerd Warning: I'm all for characters having a distinct voice as long it's not too hard to understand them. And I basically liked Karen's stylized narration. But I have this one pet peeve -- I'm fine with "coulda," though I'd really prefer "would've," but I can't stand "should of" -- she kept using "of" instead of "have" and I cringed every single time.


Recommended for fans of: diverse characters, awesome Steampunk gadgets, semi-historicals like The Diabolical Miss Hyde

This is book 14 toward a goal of 35 in my Snagged at the Library Challenge.

    
 stars





Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Really Short Reviews: Elemental Assassin Series

I've been loving the Elemental Assassin series, a.k.a. the Gin Blanco series, by Jennifer Estep. I've listened to all of the books so far on audio and Lauren Fortgang's voice is ridiculously good for this series and for Gin's character. Here are my Really Short Reviews of the three most recent that I've listened to! Have you started this series yet???


Spider's Revenge
(Elemental Assassin #5)
Author: Jennifer Estep
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Release: Spetember 27, 2011
Really Short Review: 

In Spider's Revenge the main plot, rather than a side plot, is finally to go after and take out the infamous Mab Monroe. Readers waiting for this match up to finally take place will greatly enjoy this one. Estep was smart to finally give us this head to head showdown instead of continuing to tease us along for several more books. I loved all the interactions with evil Mab and seeing Gin's power continue to grow. I also loved the excess of bounty hunters after Gin and the gang throughout the book. It made the danger that much worse since so many people seemed out to get Gin. There was one bounty hunter team in particular that I loved and I hope we see them in future books.


 1/2
4.5 stars


By A Thread
(Elemental Assassin #6)
Author: Jennifer Estep
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Release: February 28, 2012
Goodreads Amazon
Audible
Really Short Review: 

I liked the change of locale for By A Thread. Even though I don't necessarily think it is the strongest in the series, it was a refreshing change of pace after the events in Spider's Revenge. Gin and her sister, Bria, attempt to drive back to the beach town Bria grew up in but alas, peace and rest is just not meant to be. In true Gin fashion, she gets involved in an ugly plot with a nasty bad guy. The biggest shocker here is the reappearance of Donovan Caine. I thought I'd be annoyed at some obnoxious love triangle being created, but actually his role in this book was interesting and I liked seeing him again and giving Gin some things to think about and the possibility of some closure. I'd like to see the Gin Blanco crew travel to new locations every once in a while in this series.

 
4 stars


Widow's Web
(Elemental Assassin #7)
Author: Jennifer Estep
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Release: August 21, 2012
Goodreads Amazon
Audible
Really Short Review: 

Well this was an emotional, game changing book. I kind of feel like I need a drink after this one. A new kind of nemesis emerges in Widow's Web, someone who Gin has to not only fight physically but who attacks her mentally and emotionally - Owen's ex love. Man, is she a trip. Salina is a master manipulator, but even so I was continually aghast at Owen's stupidity throughout the book. As much as I hated seeing Gin and Owen go through so many bumps and hurdles, I think we all knew something had to be coming to create problems for their otherwise happy relationship. And Salina causes those problems, big time. On top of that, she's also a powerful Elemental and is making tons of trouble around town for Gin to try and clean up. I hate pausing after this one to listen to a few other audios, and I cannot wait to pick up with the next book to see where everything goes next.


    
 stars







Monday, March 23, 2015

Read This F@!%ing Book 34

 
Welcome to a feature I'm going to post on Mondays called:
 
 
Read This F@!%ing Book!
This is a feature for me to push my favorite reads that just aren't getting enough attention! 
I'm also opening it up to anyone who would like to guest post. Do you have a book that you just LURVED but feel like its not getting the play it deserves? Email me to let me know and I'd be THRILLED to have you post about it here! Especially if it's something I haven't reviewed yet - that's even better (but not necessary)! If you're interested email me:
Goldilox3weres@hotmail.com
 
This week's post comes from our very own: Gretl!
Read This F@!%ing Book Post 34: The Roaring Twenties Series by Jenn Bennett

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17938354-bitter-spiritshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22310860-grave-phantomshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18045490-grim-shadows

(Click covers for Goodreads)

Magical Mystery Tour
The Roaring Twenties series combines mythologies in a wonderful and unexpected way. In Bitter Spirits, Winter Magnussen hires medium Aida Palmer to find out why he's being haunted. They use voodoo to protect him from ghosts, as well as traditional séance techniques, and encounter ancient Chinese magic. Book two, Grim Shadows, has Lowe Magnussen and Hadley Bacall battling magical creatures for an Egyptian artifact.

But the paranormal elements are really secondary in these stories. What I love most is the action and adventure. Winter is a bootlegger so even though Aida gets to know him pretty well before his gangster side makes an appearance, the air of danger is always there. His brother Lowe, on the other hand, feels like an outlaw from the very beginning. When he meets Hadley, they run through the station pursued by thugs and jump a train. The two wind up on an Indiana Jones style treasure hunt around San Francisco.

Not Your Grandmother's Historical Romance
I'm not generally a fan of historicals, but one of my favorite things about this series is the attention to historical detail. In Bitter Spirits especially, I loved the fashion. The dresses are described so vividly I could see and even feel them. (In Grim Shadows, the standout for me was Hadley's lingerie.) Even the décor in the Magnussen's house has rich colors and textures that really brought the setting to life for me. I also loved the way Bennett described the city of San Francisco almost as if it were another character. A tremendous amount of research must have gone in to getting the all details right. Even small things, like 1920s condoms, really add to the authentic feel.

Within that wonderful historical setting though, the characters feel very modern. In each of the first two books, the heroines are the experts and the heroes are often the ones who need rescuing. Both couples are also surprisingly upfront about their attraction and their sexuality. Winter and Aida's no strings attached hotel trysts and Lowe and Hadley's defiling of museum exhibits both felt quite contemporary to me, not to mention STEAMY.

Those Folks at RT Aren't Often Wrong
Bitter Spirits has been nominated for numerous awards but I know lots of people, including my co-bloggers, who haven't been reading this series. The finale, Grave Phantoms, is just over a month away so now's a great time for everyone to read these f-ing books.

I'm looking forward to Astrid and Bo's story, but I'm also sad to see the series end. This one's going near the top of the re-read list for sure!



Friday, March 20, 2015

Sierra Dean Guest Post and Giveaway

 
Bayou Blues, the first book in Sierra Dean's new Genie McQueen series is out today. (Scroll down or click the link below to read my review.) Genie is Secret McQueen's younger sister, but while Secret's series was set in New York, Genie's takes place in the New Orleans area. I love NOLA as a backdrop for paranormal stories! Sierra Dean is on the blog today to tell us why she chose to set her spin off series in New Orleans.


 Why New Orleans?

When it comes to building the world of a book series, the city is as much a character as the cast. Throughout the eight books in my Secret McQueen series, the characters travelled to rural Manitoba, LA, San Francisco, Paris and Louisiana. Their home base, and the main star of most of the books, was New York City. New York is a great town to write about. It’s eclectic and crazy, soulful and cold. Anything can happened there, and in the Secret books, just about everything did. I explored museums and subway lines, the top of the Empire State Building was attacked by a demon, and our heroine battled the forces of evil in Central Park several times over.

I love New York. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world. I’ve spent hours walking around, stumbling across random locations, breathing in the city. Yet, as much as I love it, I knew I couldn’t tell Genie McQueen’s story there.

After introducing Genie in Keeping Secret, I knew I wanted to go back to her home for her series. The rich environment and cast of characters I’d established in Keeping Secret was too enticing to ignore, so I knew I’d be taking the books to Louisiana. Luckily, I’d had more time to explore New Orleans between writing Keeping Secret and starting Bayou Blues. The feel of the city was all fresh when I tackled Genie’s first adventure.

While most of Bayou Blues takes place in rural towns (highly fictionalized versions of real places), I had the most fun establishing a new normal for New Orleans. In Genie’s world, vampires and werewolves have now been exposed to the world as being real. Tourism is booming in NOLA, and it has been so much fun to mix the real dynamic of the town with the world as it exists for Genie.

Mixed in with the realities of Bourbon Street are new 24-7 cemetery tours, and vampire sightseeing that can promise real vampires. The swamps of rural Louisiana are home to more than just alligators, now.

Being able to play with the real history of New Orleans voodoo, ghosts and the rich stories of the town is a great jumping off point for an urban fantasy story. I can’t wait to build more, especially if it means regular “research” trips to Louisiana to eat beignets and drink iced chicory coffee.

I am, by no means, an expert on Southern living. There are other authors who live in the South and know it like the back of their hands. But I hope throughout this series to do justice to the cities and towns, and the absolutely wonderful people I’ve met there. More than once a total stranger offered to help me, or let me stay with them. People I’d never met, who were willing to open their homes to me at the drop of a hat.

That wouldn’t happen in New York.

I think that marks part of the fundamental differences between the Secret books and the Genie books, too. Secret belonged to New York, she and the city were a perfect match. So, too, I think Genie belongs to New Orleans. I can’t imagine her story unfolding anywhere else.
 
 
 

When your sister has saved the world, you have a lot to live up to.
 
Genie McQueen thought she’d seen it all after helping her big sister Secret stop the Apocalypse. The dead walked, New York City burned, and things nearly went to hell in a hand basket. After it was all over, the world knew about vampires and werewolves, and Genie’s life would never be the same.
 
But now, three years later, someone doesn’t want werewolves or any supernatural creatures to live alongside humans. A new anti-werewolf church with a charismatic leader and a cult-like following has declared open season on Genie’s whole species. When a member of her pack is kidnapped, she decides it’s time to stop going with the flow and to step up and fight for her people.
 
Tagging along for the ride is a handsome troublemaker, Wilder Shaw, a pack outsider who just wants to save his brother, but will leave Genie’s head spinning in the process.
 
Equally troubling are the ghosts of her past she can’t quite shake, the nightmarish figures who haunt her even when she’s wide awake, and a dark magic inside her she hasn’t yet learned to tame.
 
Things are about to get messy in the bayou.  

Read my review of Bayou Blues
Add Bayou Blues to your Goodreads shelf
Order from Amazon


Sierra Dean is giving away an e-book from her backlist. Choose from any book published in 2014 or prior. (See the list on her Goodreads page.) This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sierra Dean is a reformed historian. She was born and raised in the Canadian prairies and is allowed annual exit visas in order to continue her quest of steadily conquering the world one city at a time. Making the best of the cold Canadian winters, Sierra indulges in her less global interests: drinking too much tea and writing urban fantasy.
 
Ever since she was a young girl she has loved the idea of the supernatural coexisting with the mundane. As an adult, however, the idea evolved from the notion of fairies in flower beds, to imagining that the rugged-looking guy at the garage might secretly be a werewolf. She has used her overactive imagination to create her own version of the world, where vampire, werewolves, fairies, gods and monsters all walk among us, and she’ll continue to travel as much as possible until she finds it for real.
 
She’s also a book lover (of course!), obsessive collector of OPI nail polish and the owner of way too many pairs of shoes.
 

Release Day Review: Bayou Blues by Sierra Dean

 

Bayou Blues
(Genie McQueen #1)
Sierra Dean
Release: March 20, 2015
Goodreads Amazon
When your sister has saved the world, you have a lot to live up to.

Genie McQueen thought she’d seen it all after helping her big sister Secret stop the Apocalypse. The dead walked, New York City burned, and things nearly went to hell in a hand basket. After it was all over, the world knew about vampires and werewolves, and Genie’s life would never be the same.

But now, three years later, someone doesn’t want werewolves or any supernatural creatures to live alongside humans. A new anti-werewolf church with a charismatic leader and a cult-like following has declared open season on Genie’s whole species. When a member of her pack is kidnapped, she decides it’s time to stop going with the flow and to step up and fight for her people.

Tagging along for the ride is a handsome troublemaker, Wilder Shaw, a pack outsider who just wants to save his brother, but will leave Genie’s head spinning in the process.

Equally troubling are the ghosts of her past she can’t quite shake, the nightmarish figures who haunt her even when she’s wide awake, and a dark magic inside her she hasn’t yet learned to tame.

Things are about to get messy in the bayou.
Review: I'm so excited to be getting more books in the world of Secret McQueen! (There are also more Misfits and Mayhem novellas in the works. Squee!) I always thought that Secret's werewolf family, the Southeast pack lead by her Uncle Callum, was so interesting. Her little sister Genie played a small role in helping to stop the zombies taking over New York in A Secret to Die For and now she's starring in her own series.

Twenty-one year old Genie is a student at Tulane living in New Orleans with her human law student boyfriend. She's frequently been pursued by reporters who want to interview the "werewolf princess" since the events in the last Secret book outed the supernaturals. Fearing her high profile will make her a target when The Church of Morning threatens the pack, Uncle Callum calls her home. On the way there, she's run off the road by a church fanatic. She calls the only tow truck in town and finds herself stuck with Wilder Shaw.

I really like Wilder. He's confident and flirtatious, but he's not over the top Alpha. I also like the fact that he has a history with Genie's twin brother Ben and I'm curious about how that, along with something that happens at the end of the book, will affect the siblings' relationship in the future.

I had some reservations, however, about the anti-supe church. I felt like it's been done before. The Church of Morning even sounds a little bit like The Fellowship of the Sun. Despite that, Sierra Dean twisted the familiar plot in a whole new way.

What I really enjoyed about this book is that it feels like a werewolf story. Even though Genie is also half witch and has magic abilities, the plot really revolves around the wolves. It has elements of pack politics as well as Genie growing into her position and learning how to be an Alpha. I feel like I really don't read many true werewolf stories. They're usually mixed in with the vampires and the other supes. So I loved that about Bayou Blues.

I also love the NOLA setting, even though that's also been done before. But again, it's something I mostly associate with vampires rather than werewolves. I'm excited to see how Dean develops Genie's version of the city in the series.

This book does have some small spoilers for the end of the Secret McQueen series, but it's nothing that would keep you from enjoying the last two books if you haven't read them yet. And if you have read A Secret to Die For, you know something Genie doesn't about the secondary plot that continues into the next book.

I feel like this series is off to a solid start and I'm really looking forward to the rest of Genie's story.

Recommended for fans of: The Secret McQueen series, werewolves and hunky mechanics

ARC provided by the author

    
 stars






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