Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Release Day Review: The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato

The Clockwork Dagger
(Clockwork Dagger #1)
Beth Cato
Release: September 16, 2014
Reviewer: Rose Red
Goodreads Amazon
Full of magic, mystery, and romance, an enchanting steampunk fantasy debut in the bestselling vein of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger

“The Clockwork Dagger was just what I needed: A steampunk adventure with an uncommon heroine, a fascinating magic system, and a young gremlin! I’m hooked and can’t wait for more Octavia and Leaf!”
—New York Times bestselling author Kevin Hearne

Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened.

Suddenly, she is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers—the Queen’s spies and assassins—and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.
Review by Rose Red:
Octavia Leander was orphaned at a young age, but her luck took a turn for the better when she was taken in by Miss Percival and trained as a medical magician, or medician. Years have passed and now Octavia is now a fully trained veteran and has been hired by a small town that is being devastated by illness.

As she’s trying to find the airship that will take her to her new town, she meets the very handsome steward, Alonzo Garret. As The Argus takes off on its journey, things happen that threaten Octavia. When people start becoming ill on the ship, Octavia's nature is revealed and murders ensue that cannot be stopped. There are some people who want to get rid of Octavia in a permanent fashion because of her gifts with healing. Due to the multiple assassination attempts, she gains two friends and protectors in her roommate and the previously mentioned handsome steward.

Octavia's roommate, Mrs. Viola Stout (who is very aptly named) has secrets of her own and even though she is a sweet older lady, something about her seems a bit off to Octavia. Then there is the gorgeous steward, Mr. Garret, who is far more than what he seems. Nobody is who they seem to be in this book!

The first thing that caught my attention in The Clockwork Dagger was the world building. It is this wonderful mix of steampunk and magic in a world torn apart by a war between two neighboring countries. Beth Cato did a wonderful job of layering each element needed as the story built. The pacing was spot on and always moving forward. I can't think of any chapters where there wasn’t some new clue being dropped or some kind of danger manifesting itself. It felt like an adventure novel and was loads of fun!

The magic system in this book fascinated me! I’ve always been attracted to books where the main character is a healer but I’ve never read anything quite like this! Octavia’s power comes from an interesting mix of science and religion. To do any healing, Octavia has to pray to the goddess of healing referred to as The Lady. The religious aspect added a very interesting contrast to all the mechanical steampunk. Octavia uses magic and faith to heal in a world that is very much in love with all things science and it truly adds a fascinating dynamic to the story. I absolutely love the back story on who the Lady is and I think it played well with the story of the lost princess.

While there is a bit of romance in the story, it is not what drives the plot. The story is action packed and driven by Octavia's need to figure out the mystery behind the attempts on her life. There is also a bit of political intrigue that adds some depth to the story as well as motive for our villains.

The characters were intriguing and you never knew who might be friend or foe. I loved Octavia as a character! She is resourceful, incredibly compassionate, practical, and a tad bit naïve. She was a fascinating character to read about. I adored Mrs. Stout with her motherly advice and romance novels. I have a lot of thoughts about Alonzo which unfortunately are a bit spoilery so I'll keep them to myself for now. But I will say that I love him! He is a perfect gentleman and never forces Octavia to do anything and allows her to be herself. Seriously, love him! He was an intriguing character, but I couldn’t figure out what his lay was until the end. I must say that the gremlin, Leaf, was my favorite! He was just so cute and so funny. I can't wait to read more and see how he fits into the bigger picture.

Overall, I loved this book! The story is gripping and engaging and I had one hell of a time putting it down once I started it. That is the best kind of book! The ones that you can’t set down and are impossible to leave alone once you do. The story was incredibly engaging. The writing was very easy to read and flowed nicely. The dialogue between characters was witty, fun, and very natural. The characters are well done and I enjoyed the world so, so much! I seriously can’t stop thinking about the contrast between Octavia's magical healing and the mechanical world around her.

I highly recommend The Clockwork Dagger to fans of steampunk and fantasy! This book left me hungry for more. Thankfully, there’s a sequel already in the works and I absolutely cannot wait to read it!

Recommended for fans of: 
Soulless by Gail Carriger
Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

**I received an eARC of this book through Edelweiss from the publisher, Harper Voyager, in exchange for an honest review.

  5 / 5 stars

Monday, September 15, 2014

Read This F@!%ing Book (24)

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:

This week's post comes from our very own: 
Rose Red!

Read This F@!%ing Book Post 24: Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron

(Click book cover to go to Goodreads page)

Rachel Aaron is an author you NEED to check out!
Nice Dragons Finish Last is the first book in Rachel Aaron’s Heartstriker series. Rachel Aaron is one of my favorite authors and I have loved every book she has written so far. Seriously. I could write long essays on my love for her Eli Monpress series. So when I heard that she was going to self-pub this book, I nearly died from excitement waiting for it. And dang! It was well worth the wait!

An Awesome Cast of Characters! 
The main character, Julius, is wonderful! He’s strong, smart, and kind-hearted. And he's nice. The only problem with this is that he's a dragon and who has heard of a nice dragon? Because of his lack of dragon-like behavior, his mother ships him off so he can learn how to be a “real” dragon. Although right before she does this, she seals him. He is locked in his human form and not able to shift into his dragon form at all. Julius is one of the reasons I loved this book so much. Rachel Aaron did an excellent job creating a balanced and believable character. And as much as I loved Julius, I loved Marci Novalli even more! Marci is a Thaumaturgic mage who is running away from her past in Las Vegas and she is not one to mess with. She’s tough as nails and extraordinarily intelligent. Marci is the perfect compliment to Julius’ character. She’s perfectly willing to kill if she has to, while Julius is much more squeamish about that even though he’s the dragon. Man! Do I enjoy their interactions!

The secondary characters are just as interesting as Julius and Marci! Just when you think that you understand their motivations and personality, something happens that sheds an unexpected light on them and reveals some new facet of their character. I seriously loved SO many characters! Especially Bob. He is a seer who sees everything and promptly forgets it. He is a hoot and he can't help that he steals the spotlight whenever he appears on scene. Not to mention, he is delightfully eccentric. Bob enjoys cryptic jokes, sending random “helpful” messages, and even has a pet pigeon. Bob is definitely my favorite! Also, I loved Ghost the Dead Cat that hangs around Marci. He is quite terrible in an interesting way.

Dragons In A Post-Apocalyptic Magical Detroit!
Magic has come back into the world and starts a magical apocalypse where old spirits, gods, and every manner of mythical creature are awake and among the masses again. Nice Dragons Finish Last is set in this post-apocalyptic world in a very magical Detroit. The Lady of the Great Lakes, Algonquin, woke, destroyed the old Detroit by flooding it, and claimed it as her own. Annexed from the US, a new city has been rebuilt on top of the ruins and has become the Detroit Free Zone (DFZ). The DFZ is home to all manner of spirits, mages, shamans, and anyone looking for a place to start over, no matter how dangerous they are.

It is both foreign and familiar. On the one hand, you have ghosts, retail stores full of everyday magical items, and nightmarish monsters. On the other hand, there is rampant commercialism in this city with all the latest technology and every kind of magic you can think of. Not to mention, the worry about pollution and a high crime rate. It’s almost like we’re talking about the real Detroit and not this mythical version of it. From what I can see, Rachel Aaron has only scratched the surface of this fascinating world and I can’t wait to find out more about it.

There is only one type of creature not welcome in the DFZ and that would be dragons. And that is a problem considering that is where Julius’s mother has dumped him. Combine Julius illegally being in the DFZ trying to avoid certain death with the problems Marci is running from and you get a story that is one hell of a thrilling and highly entertaining ride!

Dragons. Commercialized magic. Soul-sucking ghost cats. What more could you want? Well, besides the next book of course! I'd highly recommend picking this up before book two releases!

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

Friday, September 12, 2014

Really Short Reviews: The Black Dagger Brotherhood Part 1

Co-blogger Gretl had a great idea for a new feature called Really Short Reviews, for those books we read but don't need to write a full length review for.
 Let us know in the comments what you think of the format. Should we make it a regular feature?

This is my Really Short Reviews post, Black Dagger Brotherhood style!
I do not like the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.
I am obsessed with the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.
Thanks a lot, guys.

Lover Eternal (BDB #2) by J.R. Ward
Links: Goodreads Amazon

My Really Short Review: 
I wasn't sure I'd enjoy reading about a heroine who was dying of an illness, but I was happily surprised. Mary was actually a strong heroine. Rhage's alter ego as the giant white creature-thing was super interesting and I couldn't wait to find out more about it throughout the story. The best part of this book, though, was all the other POV's that set up future story lines with the other brothers, mostly it was the beginnings of Zsadist and Bella's story and John Matthew's beginnings with the Brotherhood that hooked me. Glad I gave this series another try!

  4 stars

Lover Awakened (BDB #3) by J.R.Ward
Links: Goodreads Amazon

My Really Short Review: 
Holy crap, now I'm hooked. Zsadist's story wasn't exactly what I thought it would be - I thought he would be the Brother with the weird sexual habits (we learn who that is soon...), but actually he is just completely and totally damaged. I really liked Bella - strong, smart, not at all annoying. I loved her strength with the crazy ass Lesser who had captured her. Zsadist and Bella are an awesome couple. Again, I loved getting glimpses at some of the stories still to come - John Matthew in training (holy cow his story is so crazy/sad/amazing!), Phury, Butch, and Vishous. 

Lover Revealed (BDB #4) by J.R. Ward
Links: Goodreads Amazon

My Really Short Review: 
I heart Butch so much and even though Marissa was slightly annoying and wimpy at times, her growth throughout the book was super. The stop and start between the two of them drove me a little bit crazy and this romance was definitely different from the previous books in that it was a little sweeter and slower to develop. Overall this one falls in the middle of the previous two books for me as far as the main couple goes, but with all the progress in the side stories and the awesome ending it gets a little bump in the rating.

4 1/2 stars

Now, off to read V's book...SUPER excited!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Review: Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson

Servants of the Storm
Delilah S. Dawson
Release: August 5, 2014
Links Goodreads Amazon
Reviewer: Gretl
Summary: A year ago Hurricane Josephine swept through Savannah, Georgia, leaving behind nothing but death and destruction — and taking the life of Dovey's best friend, Carly. Since that night, Dovey has been in a medicated haze, numb to everything around her.

But recently she's started to believe she's seeing things that can't be real ... including Carly at their favorite cafe. Determined to learn the truth, Dovey stops taking her pills. And the world that opens up to her is unlike anything she could have imagined.

As Dovey slips deeper into the shadowy corners of Savannah — where the dark and horrifying secrets lurk — she learns that the storm that destroyed her city and stole her friend was much more than a force of nature. And now the sinister beings truly responsible are out to finish what they started.

Dovey's running out of time and torn between two paths. Will she trust her childhood friend Baker, who can't see the threatening darkness but promises to never give up on Dovey and Carly? Or will she plot with the sexy stranger, Isaac, who offers all the answers — for a price? Soon Dovey realizes that the danger closing in has little to do with Carly ... and everything to do with Dovey herself.
Review: I don't read YA very often, though I'm not really sure if that makes me more or less qualified to judge, but Dovey feels like a real teenager to me. She’s naïve in some ways, but she’s also fearless. Her best friend is the most important person in her world. I really wish I could have met Carly before the storm. Dovey's memories of her past make her present even more tragic. And Dovey's passion for the theater also makes her feel wonderfully youthful.

When Dovey first stops taking her pills, she doesn't really know what she's going to find. She's not sure if she's still under their influence, so she doesn't quite trust what she sees. Her uncertainty really ups the creep factor as she starts to explore her new reality. Savannah after the storm is filled with mysterious creatures, like a fox-eared girl and Dovey's dead best friend, who disappear before she can confront them. I knew the demons were there even though Dovey didn't know yet, so the first third of the book was like walking through a haunted house waiting for the monsters to jump out.

Once immersed in the demon world, Dovey gets more confident. She starts to actively pursue answers and the action really picks up. It almost feels like a different story. It's no less creepy, just not as subtle about it. For example, when Dovey goes to the not-so-abandoned-after-all amusement park and sees the expressions of ecstasy on the demons’ faces while they watch people scream on the broken down rides she really starts to understand their cruelty and their inhumanity. The scenes at the park provide some wonderfully vivid, fantastic and horrific imagery. They also make me think that Servants of the Storm might make a great movie.

Servants of the Storm is not a romance, but it does have a love triangle. Baker is a childhood friend who grew up while Dovey wasn't looking and now wants to be more than friends. Isaac is Dovey's Morpheus. Instead of a red pill, he has a red liquid that helps her see the real world. But she's still not sure if she can trust him. She needs to pretend to be interested in him to further her investigation, but while her body might be willing, her heart's not really in it. It seems that Dovey's desire for romance was stunted while she was in her medicated haze, so she's not really sure what to do with either of the men when they show an interest in her. And her quest to find Carly is far more important to her than a relationship. If she gets to have more books in her series, I expect that will change eventually.

I have some mixed feelings about the end of this book (though after I figured out the Matrix analogy I started to feel a lot better for some reason.) There's an action-packed climax that makes me think I'm about to get everything I wanted. But then the end raises even more questions, which is certainly effective in upping the creep factor, but it's frustrating. It also adds to my feeling that this book should be a movie. I could totally see a movie ending like that, suggesting maybe there's a sequel, but maybe not. There is a second book planned, but not yet contracted, so everyone please read this one so I can get some answers.

Recommended for fans of: teen horror films, YA bad boys, creepy demons


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Review: The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

The Mirror Empire
(Worldbreaker Saga #1)
Kameron Hurley
 Release: August 26, 2014
Reviewer: Rose Red
Goodreads Amazon
On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin.

As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.

In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.
Review by Rose Red:
--> If you belong to the SFF community, I bet you’ve heard of The Mirror Empire since it has been promoted like no other. If you are part of the community and haven’t heard of it, what rock have you been hiding under?

I will admit that writing this review was not an easy task. Mainly that’s because I read this book slowly, like forty pages a day slowly. This book is definitely different and it was challenging in places. It’s really dark, guys. For the most part, this book blew me away. It's really intense. Kameron Hurley definitely deserves a slow clap for how imaginative this is and for the role gender plays in the story. I really haven’t read anything quite like it before.

This is a brilliant epic fantasy and it explores some interesting ideas on gender, roles, and relationships. It made me a little uncomfortable at times, but that’s a good thing. The Mirror Empire is definitely an amazing book that promises to be the start of an incredible series.

As much as I enjoyed this book, I would recommend picking it up blind. And by blind, I mean with no knowledge other than what was in the synopsis. Trust me, you just want to go into this book with no preconceived ideas on how the plot is going to go. So this post is going to be mostly a “ZOMG! GO READ THIS BOOK!” recommendation as well as a small discussion about how Hurley’s take on gender impressed me to no end.

So that being said, this isn’t going to be like most of my reviews. I’m not going to go into the plot or character development. I will say that this book reminds me of why I fell in love with this genre and why I continue to fall in love with it. The world building yielded an imaginative and fantastical world that is unrelenting and more than a bit frightening.

The storyline is a little confusing and it’s meant to be that way. Hurley is in full and complete control and you're just along for one hell of a ride. It’s engaging and the pacing is phenomenal! But what made this book for me was the use of gender in each of the different cultures in this world. For most of them, women are the dominant leaders in society. In some of the cultures, women are in complete control and men are just property. In others, women are the leaders but men have a more equal footing.

This book was amazing because this wasn’t just a gender flip. The female characters have jobs in every walk of life and are not just one type. And the male characters have diversified roles as well. I can’t wait to see what Hurley does with some of the characters.

Even though I read this slowly, I was fully immersed in the world. It was fantastic and it has haunted my thoughts since I finished. I will definitely be picking up the next book! With how dark this book is, I would recommend picking up a light book to read after this one.

**I received an eARC of this book from Angry Robot Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.**

 4 / 5 stars

Monday, September 8, 2014

Read This F@!%ing Book 23

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:

This week's post comes from our very own: 

Read This F@!%ing Book Post 23: The Grendel Affair by Lisa Shearin
(Click title for Amazon)

Why I Love It:
Makenna Fraser is a seer for SPI, Supernatural Protection and Investigations. She can see through magical disguises and find the bad guys. Until a few months ago she was a journalist, so she has some investigative skills, but she's still learning about the paranormal and law enforcement aspects of the agency. My first impression of this book was that it really accurately captures the feeling of being new at your job. Mac is inexperienced, but she's not incompetent. She has to rely on her co-workers more than she would like. Her partner Ian is kind of a typical cop/former military badass, but the way he looks after Mac is really sweet.
She's also got a great supporting cast made up of vampires and elves and a lot of other favorite supes. The SPI headquarters is a big melting pot that allows a lot of different types of characters to be introduced in a short amount of time and seeing Shearin's versions of all the different species is a lot of fun. I also love the way she manages to combine characters from medieval literature, like Grendel, with blockbuster films, like Jurassic Park, in the same sentence.
Why I'm Pushing It:
There are a lot of paranormal police procedurals out there. They can get kind of dark and heavy. What I love about this one is its humor. For example, some of the characters take their stereotypes literally. Mac's dragon lady boss is actually a dragon and the agency's lawyer is a vampire. Looking back at it now brings to mind Guardians of the Galaxy. Not in its setting, but in the fact that it's full of action and outrageous characters, but what I remember most is that it's funny.

Pop Culture with a Purpose!
Strangely, my favorite thing about this book about monsters from literature is its use of TV and film. The Grendel Affair has the most helpful pop culture references I've ever encountered. That may not exactly sound like a compliment, but let me explain. When a character is described as having "a square jaw and an aquiline nose," I know what those words mean, but they don't create a clear image in my head. When Shearin writes, "I'd always thought he looked like Anderson Cooper, minus the giggling sense of humor," I know exactly what Alain Moreau looks like. When a woman in the cemetery looks like the Queen of England in a blue coat, I know exactly what that means (and am even more amused by what happens to the woman later.) However, I think this is my favorite character description: "Minus the funky haircut, he looked disturbingly like a young version of the Mr. Spock cookie jar he kept on his desk filled with wasabi-covered peas." All these references add to the fun I had while reading the book, but it also helped to drive home the point that Mac lives in the same world that we do. She's just learned some things about it that the rest of us don't know yet.
The Grendel Affair is the first book in the SPI files series. A prequel novella, Lucky Charms, about Mac's first day (where she has to provide security for a leprechaun bachelor party) will be released November 25, 2014 in the anthology Night Shift. The second book in the series The Dragon Conspiracy is out January 27, 2015
Have you read this book?
Did we persuade you to add it to your TBR mountain?
Let us know in the comments below!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Coastal Magic Featured Author Spotlight Post and Giveaway - Kelly Meade!

Kelly Meade
Check out Kelly Meade's Fast Five below, then enter to WIN in the Rafflecopter form!!!

Black Rook (Cornerstone Run Trilogy, #1) Gray Bishop (Cornerstone Run Trilogy, #2) White Knight (Cornerstone Run Trilogy, #3)

First, tell us something we HAVE to know about your new Cornerstone Run series!

Three Sexy Wolf-Shifter Brothers. Need I say more? Okay, I'll say a little more. The series is set in a small town of wolf shifters, called loup garou, and focuses on the lives of three brothers: Rook, Knight and Bishop. Each brother is featured in one of the three books in the trilogy, and they each meet their match in their future mate. Plus magic, vampires, and lots of action!

Fast Five:

1. Strangest thing ever said to you at a signing/convention: 
Just recently, a little old lady who couldn't have been younger than seventy-five or so ambled over to my table at a signing. She leans in real slow and says, "Are you premature gray, dear?"

2. Dream vacation destination: 
A nice cabin with air conditioning, up close to a lake, in the middle of the mountains. A week to read, swim, maybe hike a few trails. Just get away from technology and work and people for a while. I don't even care which state or country it's in (although bonus points if it's one I've never been to).

3. Yummiest munchie: 
Puppy chow! Although I think most people call it Chex Muddy Buddies, but that's the name I first called it. It's basically Chex cereal coated in melted chocolate and peanut butter, and then tossed in powered sugar. I could eat an entire batch in one sitting if I let myself.

4. Movie that scared the crap out of you: 
The Exorcist. I am a big fan of horror movies, and I grew up watching them. But something about that movie...gah. I can't watch the exorcism scenes again. Actually, exorcism movies in general give the willies more than any other kind of horror film, so I try to stay away from them. Give me Freddy Krueger any day.

5. Book/series you wish you'd written: 
Anything with "#1 New York Times Best-Selling Author" stamped on the cover.

Thank you for playing Kelly! And in case you readers live under a rock, Kelly Meade is also Kelly Meding, author of the Meta Wars series and one of my favorite UF series, Dreg City!!!

Author of the Dreg City UF series (Bantam) and the MetaWars superhero series (Pocket). AKA Kelly Meade, whose new PNR series debuts this summer with Berkely Intermix.

Come see Kelly Meade/Kelly Meding along with 49 other authors at Coastal Magic in February!

Enter to win an ebook copy of the first book in Kelly's PNR series, BLACK ROOK!

Black Rook (Cornerstone Run Trilogy, #1)

This giveaway is international as long as you can receive the ebook.
(Winner must be 13 or older)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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