Friday, November 21, 2014

Author Q&A with Jennifer Estep and Black Widow giveaway

 

Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassin is one of my all-time favorite Urban Fantasy series. Gin Blanco, a.k.a. the Spider, takes out bad guys using her ice and stone magic and her Silverstone knives. She also runs a barbecue restaurant, studies literature in night school and has some really great friends. The twelfth book in the series, Black Widow, is out November 25. I'm so thrilled that I recently got a chance to ask Jennifer some questions about her work.

Here's my interview.

Gretl: Hi Jennifer! I loved Black Widow! Thanks for taking time to answer my questions.
JE: Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the book. And thanks for hosting me on your blog today. I appreciate it.

G: Anyone who follows on you on social media knows you're a fan of comics and superheroes. I read both Poison Promise and Black Widow last week and I kept thinking of the episode of The Big Bang Theory where the guys meet Stan Lee and Raj wants to ask him why all his characters have alliterative names. Like Madeline Monroe, Beauregard Benson, Silvio Sanchez, Jade Jamison. Is that deliberate?
JE: I do like comics and superheroes, and I deliberately did alliterative names in my Bigtime superhero series, like Carmen Cole, Fiona Fine, Bella Bulluci, etc.

But the alliterative names aren’t deliberate in my Elemental Assassin series. Those are just the names that seemed to fit my characters the best. I also have a lot of names in the series that aren’t alliterative, like Gin Blanco, Finnegan Lane, Owen Grayson, etc.
G: How else is your writing influenced by comics?
JE: I would say that my books have a lot of action and adventure in them, like many comics do. I enjoy writing and reading action-packed, fast-paced stories.

G: Gin shows her love for her family and friends by cooking. Is that based on someone in your life?
JE: I like to bake and make desserts, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s it’s based on my own life. I think that cooking and showing folks that you care by fixing them a nice meal is something that a lot of people do and that a lot of people can relate to. So that’s really the reason why I decided to make cooking one of Gin’s passions.
G: Where do Gin's recipes come from?
JE:Many of Gin’s recipes (like Fletcher’s secret barbecue sauce) exist only in my imagination. Often as I’m writing the books, I’ll think about what I’m in the mood for or what I think would sound good to eat. Then I try to make that dish sound as good and mouth-watering as possible.

G: I loved Owen's novella and the short stories on your website from some of the supporting characters' POVs. Do you have any plans for more stories about Gin's entourage? *cough* Silvio
JE: Thanks! Glad you are enjoying them. The short stories and novellas are always a lot of fun for me to write.

I would like to write more short stories and novellas from the other characters’ points of view, but my writing schedule is already pretty full for 2015. So we’ll see what happens.

G: Gin's career is going in something of a new direction at the end of Black Widow. What can you tease about her future?
JE: Well, without giving out spoilers, I will say that something happens at the end of Black Widow that Gin isn’t expecting. But what does happen will impact her and the series going forward, as folks can see in the teaser for Spider’s Trap, the 13th book in the series. The teaser can be found at the end of Black Widow.

G: We're also big fans of YA around here. Can you tell us a little about your new series Black Blade?
JE: My Black Blade young adult series focuses on Lila Merriweather, a 17-year-old thief who lives in Cloudburst Falls, West Virginia, a town dubbed “the most magical place in America.” Tourists come from around the world to tour all the magic-themed shops and attractions, as well as see monsters like tree trolls, copper crushers, and more in their natural habitats.

Lila has a Talent for sight, along with transference magic — in other words, magic makes her stronger. To survive, she does odd jobs for her pawnbroker friend. Lila also does her best to stay off the grid and avoid the Families — or mobs — who control much of the town. But when she saves a member of the powerful Sinclair Family during an attack, Lila finds herself caught in the middle of a brewing war between the Sinclairs and the Draconis, the most powerful Family in town.

Cold Burn of Magic, the first book in the series, will be out on April 28. The second book is tentatively scheduled to be released on Oct. 27.

For more information about the series, folks can check out my website at www.jenniferestep.com.

Happy reading, everyone!

JENNIFER’S SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:
Website: http://www.jenniferestep.com/
Blog: http://www.jenniferestep.com/blog/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JenniferEstepAuthor?fref=ts
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Jennifer_Estep (@Jennifer_Estep)
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/580315.Jennifer_Estep


JENNIFER’S BIO
Jennifer Estep is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

Jennifer writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. Black Widow, the 12th book in the series, will be released on Nov. 25. For more information about the series, visit Jennifer’s website at www.jenniferestep.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Watch for my review of Black Widow on Tuesday.



The lovely folks at Simon & Schuster have provided us two paperback copies of Black Widow to give away. Winner must be at least 13 years old and have a U.S. mailing address.

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Thursday, November 20, 2014

Queen of Hearts by Kristen Painter Review Tour and Giveaway

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Welcome to Las Vegas, home of the Sin City Collectors. The job description is easy: Bring the offending supernatural in to the Boss and don’t ask any questions.

Feline shifter Claudette Marchon traded life as a showgirl to become a Sin City Collector, giving up the glamour to earn some serious cash in order to buy her own business. Mission accomplished, she now runs a pawn shop specializing in gems and jewelry.

Life is good until a Collection job requiring her specific skill set lures her back in. The Queen of Hearts, a museum-worthy ruby and diamond necklace has been stolen from the Boss’s private collection and she’s his last hope to do what two other Collectors have already failed to do. Bring in the necklace. And the thief.

But gargoyle Jason Tennant isn’t quite the dangerous criminal Claudette expects. In fact, he’s not a thief at all. He’s former Special Ops and being set up by the real mastermind, forcing her to decide between the man she’s falling for and the man she works for. Proving Jason innocent may risk the Boss’s wrath, but Claudette’s heart says it’s a gamble worth taking.

What’s Collected in Vegas, stays in Vegas...
QOH
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Rose Red's Review:

ZOMG! I loved this story! It was refreshing, engaging, sweet, and just downright fabulous! Queen of Hearts is the second novella in this multi-author novella series, and was unlike anything I expected. I'm actually not sure what I was expecting but it wasn't this. This was so much better! 

This novella is about Claudette, a semi-retired Collector, and Jason, a gargoyle who works for a famous Vegas magician. He stole a precious gem called the Queen of Hearts and bringing in the jewel and Jason is Claude's job. However, there is more to Jason than what we are originally led to believe. His boss is a real sleazeball who cares for nothing but himself. And he is holding something over Jason. 

I loved Claude and Jason! I loved their interactions and their banter! You can't help but root for them. As always, there is more to the story than meets the eye. And that goes for Claude as well. She's got her own secrets and buried past. I absolutely loved Claude's confidence and competence! She's her own person and that's fantastic! She's a BAMF. Let's be honest, if I could shift into a large predatory cat I think "I'll shred you like junkmail" would become my threat of choice as well. Jason was not my favorite but I came to like him. He can hold his own like Claude. What I love is that he has a softer side when it comes to Claude and that was completely endearing!

I'm absolutely loving all the different creatures that are in this series. I don't think I've ever read a story with a grimalkin in it. The world building so far is fantastic! We're learning more and more about it in each novella and it's
the perfect mix of real world and paranormal. It makes me want to know more about the Sin City Collectors. I read a lot of PNR/UF but this series is quite refreshing and fun with its characters and world. There's humor and romance spread throughout and a good dose of suspense as well! I can't wait to read the next novella!

4 stars

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About The Author
Kristen
When the characters in Kristen Painter’s head started to take over, she decided to put them on paper and share them with the world. She writes paranormal romance and the gothic fantasy vampire series, House of Comarre, for Orbit Books. She has also been published in non-fiction, poetry and short stories. The former college English teacher can often be found online at Romance Divas, the award-winning writers’ forum she co-founded. She’s represented by Elaine Spencer of The Knight Agency.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mini Review: Gunpowder Alchemy by Jeannie Lin


Gunpowder Alchemy
(The Gunpowder Chronicles #1)
Jeannie Lin
Release: November 18, 2014
Amazon Goodreads
In 1842, the gunpowder might of China’s Qing Dynasty fell to Britain’s steam engines. Furious, the Emperor ordered the death of his engineers—and killed China’s best chance of fighting back…

Since her father’s execution eight years ago, Jin Soling kept her family from falling into poverty. But her meager savings are running out, leaving her with no choice but to sell the last of her father’s possessions—her last memento of him.

Only, while attempting to find a buyer, Soling is caught and brought before the Crown Prince. Unlike his father, the Emperor, the Prince knows that the only chance of expelling the English invaders is to once again unite China’s cleverest minds to create fantastic weapons. He also realizes that Soling is the one person who could convince her father’s former allies—many who have turned rebel—to once again work for the Empire. He promises to restore her family name if she’ll help him in his cause.

But after the betrayal of her family all those years ago, Soling is unsure if she can trust anyone in the Forbidden City—even if her heart is longing to believe in the engineer with a hidden past who was once meant to be her husband…
Review:
The steampunk elements in this story are not complicated and tend to naturally evolve from the setting. The author, Jeannie Lin, has definitely done her research which makes the steampunk seem natural in this Chinese setting. The book not being so steampunk heavy actually makes it a good starting place for someone who is looking to get into this genre. There are still plenty of steampunk elements like ships fueled by gunpowder, needle guns, and razor-tipped fans.

I'm going to admit that I am a bit conflicted on this one. I loved that this book was a steampunk novel set in China. I REALLY loved that! It was something fresh and exciting in a genre that can get repetitive. The balance between the technology and the historical parts fit together well and was totally believable. The opium side plot is fascinating and I really want to know how that figures into the rest of the series.

The characters were believable and complex and just really well done. I really enjoyed the main character, Jin Soling, and the growth she underwent during this book. But I do think she is a bit naive which is all due to her circumstances. My second favorite character was Lady Su! I loved her and I hope we'll see more of her in the next book

The thing that kept me from enjoying this book more was the romance. I don't like it and it doesn't seem believable to me. It might be because the love interest rubs me the wrong way and I don't trust him. I will hold off on making any judgements until I read the next books in the series.

Overall, I enjoyed the story immensely and I look forward to seeing what happens next!

I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

   1/2
  3.5 / 5 Stars




Monday, November 17, 2014

Read This F@!%ing Book 30

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 30: The Iron Seas Series by Meljean Brook
 

click for Goodreads links


History of the World Part 1:
This series probably has the most complex history of any Steampunk series I've read, though it's pretty easy to see how it grew from real world history. It's hard to summarize succinctly but I'm going to give it a shot. The Mongol Horde ruled by Genghis Khan had some pretty advanced technology. His descendants used giant machines to advance westward and conquer most of Europe and Asia.

In the areas they conquered, they infected the population with nanoagents which allow them to be stronger and faster than the uninfected. But they also allowed the Horde to control the occupied people. Ahead of their invasion, the Horde also unleashed zombies that devastated the population. Much of Europe and Africa is still overrun by zombies but otherwise uninhabited. (One of my favorite moments in Heart of Steel is when the hero and heroine run back to their airship chased by a pack of zombies.) The zombies cannot cross the ocean, so much of the world's population fled to islands like England and Australia or to the Americas.

Now the Horde's influence is beginning to fade. England has recently been freed from their rule and people are starting to return from the New World. Rebels and pirates are becoming upstanding members of society as the need for resistance ends. And other governments are looking for ways to fill the power vacuum. Each book in the series features a different part of the world - England, continental Europe, Iceland and Australia - though the characters all travel extensively as well. Each time readers get to experience a different culture and a different perspective on the world's politics. I love political intrigue, especially in Steampunk, and the Iron Seas books really deliver it.

Go Go Gadget . . . Kraken:
My favorite thing about Steampunk is the fantastic gadgets and this series has THE BEST ONES! From the nanoagents to giant war machines and everything in between. There are mechanical trolls that guard the coast of Iceland and giant crabs that walk across Australia. There are all kinds of people with mechanical limbs, some almost indistinguishable from the real thing and some horrifically utilitarian. The same technology which created the mechanical flesh for the prosthetics also spawned krakens and megalodons, sea creatures that are part animal and part machine. And of course there are dirigibles, which are my absolute favorite, and they're in every book.

I almost forgot. It's a romance!
The melting pot that this world has become, along with the political upheaval in the former Horde territories, creates some fascinating characters. This series features a rebel, a pirate, an adventurer, a scientist, a detective and a writer. Each couple overcomes some cultural differences, coming form different parts of this incredible world. Most of them have some physical differences as well, having mechanical legs or being infected with nanos. They thwart world leaders, mad scientists and (of course) zombies to be together. Their adventures are epic and their chemistry sizzling.

The books vary in tone from the fun adventure of Heart of Steel, with its snarky hero and the woman who might just as easily kiss him as kill him, to the emotional epic of The Kraken King where the fate of the world rests on the hero's shoulders. I just read this series for the first time, but it's already one of my favorites.

This series is a must-read for fans of Steampunk!


Have you read this book?
Did we persuade you to add it to your TBR mountain?
Let us know in the comments below!
 


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Audio Review: Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Stone Cold Touch
(Dark Elements #2)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld
Release: October 21, 2014
Goodreads  Amazon
Audible
Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.
But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla’s powers begin to evolve, and she’s offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She’s finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay…

Review:

Stone Cold Touch is the second in JLA's Dark Elements trilogy. I swear this woman can do no wrong. When I first heard the premise for this series involved gargoyles and demons I thought, meh. But then I listened to the audio of the first in the series, White Hot Kiss, and I was completely enamored. The book had everything a great paranormal should have: a ridiculous love triangle that makes readers simultaneously angry and eager to champion their hunk of choice, a teenage heroine with just so much going on, mundane besties that don't know the heroine's big bad secrets and go about high school life like that's all there is, and a fun and inventive paranormal element not yet overdone in the world of paranormal fiction. Does the Dark Elements trilogy have all of those things? Check, check, check, and check. Since I didn't review book one after reading it, I'm kind of folding a little bit of that book into this review...a two for one deal!

But, anyway, let's face it. I came for the paranormal elements but I stayed for the fellas. One fella in particular: Roth. He is a delicious character who teeters on the edge of good and evil on a daily basis. In book one his yummy bad boy side that melted for Layla absolutely won me over. But, if White Hot Kiss was Roth's book, meaning that we got to learn his story and see him interact with Layla often, then Stone Cold Touch is definitely Zayne's book. I like Zayne okay, he's hot and good for Layla and everything...but he's no Roth. So the only place where this book fell a little short for me was simply that Roth didn't adorn as many pages as he did in book one.

I find that Zayne often treats Layla as a child, and since he's a few years older than her I see that as a problem. He can be a jerk about protecting her sometimes and it rubs me the wrong way. Roth is such a complex character: the tortured anti-hero that's actually a hero but a tiny bit evil...you see where I'm going...complex. And some of the things he says to Layla are the hottest or most romantic or funniest lines I've read in YA. His line toward the end of book one during that epic closing brought tears to my eyes. The circumstances surrounding this line and the way JLA wrote his delivery of this line just tore me to pieces: “I lost myself the moment I found you.”

But, also the story is so great. Its not really a super outside-the-box line or anything, but JLA happens to be a freaking genius when it comes to creating teenage characters with miles of depth and multiple sides to them. She managed to make me like Zayne slightly more in this one, until Roth got himself together about halfway through the book and things started getting back to normal. And the plots of these books so far are fun, with emotion and romance and excitement all rolled into one neat little young adult package.

Stone Cold Touch also gives us some more information about Layla and what she can do, as well as what's going on with the demon world and the Wardens. There's a lot of angst and angry people *cough cough the Wardens cough cough* in this book and there was one scene in particular toward the end of the book that played with all my emotions, from horror to sadness to elation all in the span of a few minutes.

I wish this was going to be a longer series, but unfortunately its set to just be a trilogy. JLA even gave readers the option to vote for the hunk you want Layla to end up with in the final book - obviously I clicked on Roth's name about as hard as I could press down on my mouse button. The final book will either rip my heart out or make me jump for joy, but either way you'd better believe I'll be downloading that audio the first day that  I can!

Notes on the Narrator: I've now listened to both of the books in this series on audio so obviously I'm a fan. Saskia's voice for Layla is pretty good, occasionally she plays her as a little whiny but that's just sometimes. Most of the time I find her narration matches well with Layla's personality. I really enjoy Saskia's voice for Roth. Very smart ass and cocky but she manages to deliver the sexy and romantic lines spot on and sounding like a teenage demon boy. If you like audios I recommend trying this series on audio. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have Roth any other way.

Recommended for fans of: Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamers series, JLA's other paranormal YA series, books about demons or Lillith, delicious demons, very large snakes, demon kittens.



    1/2
  4.5 / 5 stars



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review: Vampires of Manhattan by Melissa de la Cruz




Vampires of Manhattan
(The New Blue Bloods Coven #1)
Melissa de la Cruz
Release: September 9, 2014
Links: Amazon Goodreads
Review:
Yes, I know this is supposed to be the blurb, but I have some problems with it and I don't want you to read it until after I explain. The events referred to in the blurb take place in about the last fifty pages of the book. So not only is it a huge spoiler, it doesn't really tell you what the book is about. I don't really even agree about who the main character is.

The story follows three main characters. Araminta Scott is a Venator, a detective for the vampire coven. She's working a murder case in which a human was killed by a vampire and a bloody pentagram left at the scene. They suspect the murder may be connected to Nephalim activity they've been tracking in the city in the last several months. Oliver Hazard-Perry, the head of the Coven, is preparing for the Four Hundred Ball, being held for the first time since the war where he will officially become the king of the Coven. He's also peripherally involved in investigating the Nephalim activity. Mimi Monroe has just left her husband, the lord of the underworld, to move back to New York. She's found a job in an art gallery where she works with some of the artists involved in the ball. Eventually, all their lives intersect, but I was most interested in Ara's police procedural story line and her relationship with her new werewolf partner.

The story takes place about ten years after the Coven won a war against Lucifer, which I presume was the end of the last Blue Bloods book. I haven't read that series, but it's not necessary to read it before starting this book. Everything is thoroughly summarized. Which is actually kind of a problem. For the first half of the book, every time a new character is introduced there's a summary of what they did in the war, what they've been doing in the ten years since and what they're doing now. It was way too much information and made it hard to follow the narrative. I would have rather had a few pages about the war before the first chapter and cut down on some of that information overload later.

At about the halfway point, the book goes back about six months and explains some of the other characters' actions. From that point on, I was really into the story. There are some twists I wasn't expecting and some characters I didn't think I would like that surprised me. I liked where it was going at the end so I think I'm going to continue with series.

If you still want to read that blurb, here it is.


Summary:
The Vampires of Manhattan is "hipster horror"--the memorable characters from her Blue Bloods series are older and cooler than before, trying to build "Millennial" lives in the bustle of Manhattan while battling forces of evil and, of course, each other.

Hero of this sexy, paranormal action tale is Oliver Hazard-Perry, former human conduit, and Manhattan's only human-turned-vampire, now the head of the Blue Bloods Coven. When his all-too-human lover is found murdered on the eve of the coven's annual Four Hundred Ball--a celebration meant to usher in a new era in vampire society, and to mark the re-unification of the Coven after decades of unrest and decay--Oliver is devastated.

Now, not only is he trying to create a new world order for the immortal elite, he's the prime suspect and is stalked by the newly installed head of the vampire secret police. Because according to the new rules, vampires who take human life can now be executed. Burned.

How can an immortal sentenced to die fight back? He has to find the killer--and the answers lie deep in vampire lore.




Recommended for fans of: Blue Bloods, paranormal police procedurals, vampires, angels and demons



   1/2
3 1/2  stars






Monday, November 10, 2014

Read This F@!%ing Book (29)

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 its 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: 
Rose Red!


Read This F@!%ing Book Post 29: Jackaby by William Ritter
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20312462-jackaby?ac=1
     
(Click book cover to go to Goodreads page)

The Synopsis
Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.


Doctor Who Meets Sherlock!
This story is actually narrated by Abigail Rook, but the star of the story is R.F. Jackaby. When it comes to Jackaby, think Sherlock Holmes with all the eccentricities and strange genius of the character, but with the personality of the Tenth Doctor with a dash of Eleven thrown in. Even with the similarities, Jackaby manages to be his own unique character that is quirky and endearing while still being proud and more than a bit arrogant. He has an odd combination of encyclopedic knowledge, detachment, and the ability to see the supernatural. For me, he’s more like the Doctor than Sherlock. And he goes through several companions, not unlike the Doctor. Also, Jackaby has a way of phrasing the things he says that makes me think the Doctor is saying them. In fact, I can’t get Ten’s voice out of my head when I read the quote below for the life of me.
“Monsters are easy, Miss Rook. They’re monsters. But a monster in a suit? That’s basically just a wicked man, and a wicked man is a more dangerous thing by far.”
Of course, every decent detective needs a good assistant and that’s where Abigail comes in. Since Jackaby only notices clues that pertain to the supernatural, Abigail is useful to him because she has an eye for all of the ordinary details that he doesn’t pay attention to like mailboxes and personal belongings. I loved Abigail! She is cheeky, observant, intelligent, and no nonsense. Her personality strikes a great balance with Jackaby’s.

Intriguing Side Characters With A Hint of Romance
While there is just a touch of romance in this story, the main focus is on the platonic relationship/friendship that's building between Abigail and Jackaby. Although, from the few glimpses we got, it does look like the future romance is going to be a sweet one. This book has an intriguing cast of side characters! I couldn’t help but love them! One thing I loved about this book is that Ritter focused on building Abigail’s relationships with the other characters such as Charlie Cane, Jenny, Douglas, and Hatun and not just Jackaby alone. Although, my favorite secondary characters are definitely Jenny and Douglas!

This is a book that I'd highly recommend if you're looking for a fun, fast read that has paranormal folklore mixed with a bit of mystery! I know I'll definitely be picking up the next book in this series! I need more of Jackaby and Abigail’s adventures and investigations!
Have you read this book?
Did we persuade you to add it to your TBR mountain?
Let us know in the comments below!
 


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Review: Talon by Julie Kagawa

 
Talon
(The Talon Saga #1)
Julie Kagawa
Release: October 28, 2014
Links Goodreads Amazon
Summary: Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.
  
Review: Julie Kagawa is one of those authors whose books always look good to me, but I've never read one. Talon look me a little while to get into, which is not that unusual for the first book in a series, but once it got going I enjoyed it. Other than the dragons, there's not much here that I haven't seen before, but nothing that really screams "hey that's just like this other thing" either.

Talon, the organization, is a dragon extremist group masquerading as a government. They claim the survival of their species is their primary goal, but they seem to have some ulterior motives that come out as Ember gets deeper into her training. From birth the dragons are groomed for a specific role chosen by the group leaders. Each job has a reptilian code name - Vipers, Chameleons, Basilisks - which I thought was a really nice touch. The talking in code also obscures the true purpose of each role until the dragons are fully indoctrinated. They are taught to follow orders and not to experience emotions. Ember has difficulty with both of those things and pretty quickly starts to question her training. Her brother Dante, however, drank ALL the Kool-aid and the twins find themselves at odds.

At the other extreme is the Order of St. George, a group of dragon hunters, where Garrett has learned a similar lesson. At first he seems very mature for a seventeen year old, leading a squad of soldiers in an assault. But his experience with Ember makes him realize that the Order hasn't been telling him everything. He then goes through a lot of typical teen angst dealing with his new feelings for her as well as questioning his training. He's also much worse at being a normal human teenager than Ember, even though he is actually human. It's funny to see her showing him all these new experiences when we know they're new to her too.

Both Talon and the Order are hunting the rogue dragons, who are refugees from Talon. Their leader, Riley, sets his sights on Ember, offering to answer her questions about Talon. She is drawn to his dragon as much as the information, feeling an instant chemistry that her human side doesn't want to give in to. This happens often in shapeshifter books, where the human side has one love interest and the animal side another. (Although Ember never really refers to herself in those terms.) If you're one of those people who hate love triangles, you might want to skip this one. I did like getting to see all three characters' POVs, though.

I haven't read a lot of books about dragons, but my favorite thing about them has always been the flying scenes. Kagawa gave me wave flying, surfing in dragon form, and it is glorious! There are also some great action scenes with Ember in dragon form, both in her training and in the real world. All that action made the teen angst bearable for me. I loved the ending and I think I'll check out the next book in the series just to see how that situation turns out.


Recommended for fans of: Richelle Meade's Bloodlines series


   1/2
3 1/2  stars





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