Monday, May 29, 2017

Review: The Black Lily by Juliette Cross


The Black Lily
(Vampire Blood #1)
Juliette Cross
Release: February 27, 2017
Goodreads Amazon
Cinderella like you’ve never seen before…

With the threat of the vampire monarchy becoming stronger every day, the Black Lily must take drastic measures. As the leader of the underground resistance, Arabelle concocts the perfect idea to gain the attention of the Glass Tower. Her plan? Attend the vampire prince’s blood ball and kill him. Fortunately for Prince Marius, her assassination goes awry, and Arabelle flees, leaving behind only her dagger.

Marius is desperate to find the woman whose kiss turned into attempted murder, hunting for the mysterious assassin he can’t push out of his mind. But what he uncovers could change the course of his life forever…
Review:
This book was one of those "I didn't love it but I didn't hate it." books for me. The storyline was unique but was more than a little predictable. The way the Cinderella story was tied in was kind of cool but the main characters felt a bit... lackluster to me. This may get a bit ranty but I had a hard time connecting to both Marius and Arabelle.

Arabelle takes the action of a few vampires and applies that stereotype to all vampires and doesn't begin to question if it could be wrong until she's confronted with Marius. There are two things that irritated me the most about Arabelle. One, she treats Marius terribly through the majority of the story. And two, she keeps running her rebellion on her first impression of vampires and makes some stupid decisions because of it. She did grow a bit as a character by the end of the book but it was frustrating reading her decision making thought process in some places.

Now let's talk about Marius. Marius seems about perfect. He's kind, good looking, and clearly cares about his people and the reason that he doesn't realize they're afraid and upset is because he's been seriously sheltered from the world. But that's not why I couldn't connect with him. He lets Arabelle treat him like dirt because he wants her. I can only think of one time in the whole story where he stood up for himself after she hurt him. I know that since it's a Cinderella story that it's going to be a bit instalovey but the way they fell in love and their whole coming together felt a bit too convenient despite the trials they went through.

Despite my inability to connect to the main characters, I still enjoyed the story. The secondary characters Nikolai, Sienna, and Mina and the vampire mythology are what kept me turning the pages. I'm interested to learn more about them, the hartwolves, and the hartstone. The next book is about Sienna and Nikolai and I'm totally here for that pairing. I'll definitely be getting my hands on book two at some point.

  
  3 / 5 Stars



Friday, May 26, 2017

Summer Reads: Our Most Anticipated

It's Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial beginning of summer, and it's got us thinking about summer reading. What books are you planning to take to the pool, the lake, or grandma's house in the next few months? Here are some of our most anticipated summer releases.

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White Hot/ Wildfire (Hidden Legacy #2 and 3) by Ilona Andrews
Release: May 30 and July 25, 2017
I'm binging this series next week. Burn For Me is one of my favorite books and I feel like I've been waiting forever for the series to continue.


When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Release: May 30, 2017
I'm not usually a contemporary person but even I have to admit that YA is killing it with amazing contemps this year. I'm so excited to read this book! I haven't read any books about two Indian-American teens whose parents have arranged their marriage. Mix in the fact that only one of them knows about the arranged marriage and a web development summer camp they're both attending and I can't help but be intrigued. This book sounds adorable!

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Silver Silence (Psy-Changeling Trinity #1) by Nalini Singh
Release: June 13, 2017
All you really need to say is "new Nalini Singh" and it would go on this list. We love her so much! Silver Silence introduces us to the Russian bear shifters and follows the Psy and Changelings after the signing of the Trinity Accord.


Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) by Victoria Schwab
Release: June 13, 2017
Like with Nalini Singh, all you have to say is "new Schwab book" and it will make it on our most anticipated list. I'm so excited and scared to read this sequel. I loved This Savage Song and I'm nervous to see what further trouble Kate and August will get into.
 

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee
Release: June 27, 2017
The author describes this book as "the big gay European road trip novel set in the 18th century that you didn't know you needed". This book is getting all the hype and all the stars from professional reviewers. I'm reading it right now and it's living up to the hype so far. It's amazing and it's both racially and sexually diverse. I need more books like this in my life!


Besieged (The Iron Druid Chronicles #8.5) by Kevin Hearne
Release: July 11, 2017
An Iron Druid short story collection? YES! PLEASE! I've missed having new stories from Atticus, Oberon, and the gang so I can't wait to see what sorts of shenanigans they get into in these stories.

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The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
Release: July 18, 2017
I love this cover so much. Plus, magic and time travel. I'm really excited about this one!



The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter
Release: August 22, 2017
It seems like it was just yesterday that I read the first Jackaby book. I can't believe that were already at the end of the series. I'm looking forward to see what hijinks my favorite paranormal investigators get into in this book but I am totally not ready to say goodbye to this amazing series with its ghosts, assistants-turned-ducks, and shapeshifting kittens.

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Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Release: August 29, 2017
Wonder Woman is the first of the DC superheroes who are getting their own YA books. Warbringer is about a teenaged Diana saving the world for the first time.

What books are you looking forward to this summer?


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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Minor Characters



Top 5 Wednesday is a group of bloggers, booktubers and bookstagrammers posting on a common topic every (you guessed it) Wednesday. You can find the lists by searching #T5W or Top 5 Wednesday. And you can join the group on Goodreads if you want to participate.



This week's topic is:
Favorite Minor Characters 
Minor characters are less than a sidekick or a side character (but not in our hearts!) Everyone will have a different definition of what makes a minor vs a side character but just as an example, I'd consider Ron and Hermione side characters, while Lavender Brown, Oliver Wood, and Dean Thomas are minor characters.

 

5. Bellatrix Lestrange and Delores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Sometimes the bad guys are so much fun! I didn't want to make an entire list of Harry Potter characters, but I also love Dobby and Kreature.

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4. Bob the Skull from The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher 
Bob is kind of like a genie in a lamp, but instead of granting wishes he stores obscure magical knowledge and instead of a genie he's a pervert.


3. Annabelle Shaw from the Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill
The Chicagoland Vampires books have a ton of A+ side/minor characters but Annabelle, the friendly neighborhood necromancer, easily became a favorite when she appeared on the page in Midnight Marked. I would love it if she got her own novella or book some day!


2. Oberon from The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne
I have a lot of favorite talking animal companions but Oberon is hands down my favorite! He is hilarious and I love his relationship with Atticus! I can't help but grin every time he makes an appearance in the books.


1. Jupe Butler from the Arcadia Bell series by Jenn Bennett
My all-time favorite teenaged half-demon film buff! I'm still hoping Jenn Bennett will write a YA spin off starring Jupe one day.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bookish Product Review: Bookmarks from Nerdygrl Designs


So I've been shopping for bookish products to add to our upcoming blogoversary giveaway and I just couldn't resist these magnetic bookmarks from Nerdygrl Designs. Aren't those unicorns just the cutest thing ever? Her name is Princess Sparkles!
I like that the style of these bookmarks is more realistic than some of the others I've seen. The faces have more detail, for example. They're a little bit larger than some other bookmarks too. And I think the paper is a good weight so I'm not worried about it tearing or wrinkling.
Left to right: Jem from Mortal Instruments by Happy Hello, Feyre from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Nerdygrl, Iko from Wires and Nerve by Kaelis Paperie.

The Nerdygrl bookmarks are the same on front on back, rather than showing the characters' backs on one side like some others do. In some cases, like with creatures, I like the backs but most of the time I don't think it matters so that's not a criticism so much as an observation.
Every month Melisa includes a different freebie in each order. I ordered at the end of April so I got this cute chocolate Easter bunny.
My order arrived faster than I expected so I was quite happy with the service. I'll definitely order from Nerdygrl Designs again. I have to get the rest of those unicorns!


Other Bookish Product Reviews
Wax melts from Novelly Yours

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Five Reasons to Read Borrowed Souls by Chelsea Mueller

Today I'm going to try something different than my standard review. I'm going to try out a list-style review format where I give you the reasons why I think you should pick this book up. I'm going to keep my reasoning spoiler free so you can read on without any fear. :)


Borrowed Souls
(Soul Charmer #1)
Chelsea Mueller
Release: May 2, 2017
Goodreads Amazon
Callie Delgado always puts family first, and unfortunately her brother knows it. She’s emptied her savings, lost work, and spilled countless tears trying to keep him out of trouble, but now he’s in deeper than ever, and his debt is on Callie’s head. She’s given a choice: do some dirty work for the mob, or have her brother returned to her in tiny pieces.

Renting souls is big business for the religious population of Gem City. Those looking to take part in immoral—or even illegal—activity can borrow someone else’s soul, for a price, and sin without consequence.

To save her brother, Callie needs a borrowed soul, but she doesn’t have anywhere near the money to pay for it. The slimy Soul Charmer is willing to barter, but accepting his offer will force Callie into a dangerous world of magic she isn’t ready for.

With the help of the guarded but undeniably attractive Derek—whose allegiance to the Charmer wavers as his connection to Callie grows—she’ll have to walk a tight line, avoid pissing off the bad guys, all while struggling to determine what her loyalty to her family’s really worth.

Losing her brother isn’t an option. Losing her soul? Maybe.

Five Reasons To Pick Up This Book:

1. Callie Delagado-
One of my favorite things about urban fantasy is the variety of heroines you see across the genre. You have badass warriors, powerful magic wielders, and then you have the Callies who are determined average women who do all they can. I had a hard time connecting to Callie at first but I soon came to love her. She's incredibly loyal. Her family is her weakness and she'll do anything to take care of them. I loved that she's imperfect. She knows she is and she doesn't make excuses for her weaknesses. I'm intrigued to see what happens to her as the series progresses.

2. The Family Dynamics- Callie's motto is that you put family first and from the first page you can tell that her family is the most important thing to her. She has spent most of her 22 years of life taking care of her mother and brother who are both manipulative and have used the past to keep Callie their slave. I found the lengths Callie would go to for her family to be intriguing. She's forced into one bad situation after another because of her brother but she never abandons them. I haven't read many books with these kind of family dynamics and I found it kind of awful but refreshing? I have mixed feelings about this obviously.

3. The Worldbuilding- It wouldn't be one of my reviews if I didn't mention worldbuilding, would it? The world in this book is so fascinating! Religion is king and everyone does everything in their power to keep their souls uncompromised. But people still want to do all the fun, sinful stuff. The solution? Borrow a soul so yours stays pristine. Of course things are more complicated than that as we find out. I really loved the world and I can't wait to see it expand in the next books.

4. The Secondary Characters- I'm not going to say much about this point but the secondary characters are awesome in this book. It's a diverse cast and they all have their own motivations and agendas that are slowly revealed throughout the book. Each character isn't purely good or evil and I loved that they were so multi-faceted. I hope we see more of a few of them as the series continues.

5. The Romance- I loved the romance that Mueller wrote. Seriously, the romance is A+ quality romance. It's not slow slow burn but it moves more slowly than some. Derek is an enforcer for the Soul Charmer but under his gruff exterior is a kind and protective sweetheart. I LOVED HIM! I look forward to seeing their relationship grow.

I enjoyed the heck out of Borrowed Souls and can't wait for the next one in the series! Hopefully, I convinced you to go pick this book up. I promise you won't be disappointed if you do.

ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss

   
  4 / 5 Stars


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Guest Post: Kristi Charish's Top 5 Video Games and a Giveaway

We're so excited to have Kristi Charish, author of The Adventures of Owl series, back on the blog! In her latest, Owl and the Electric Samurai, Owl has to save the designers of her favorite game from bounty hunters. Kristi's here to tell us about her gaming inspiration.

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Top 5 Video Games That Inspired World Quest 


For any of Owl fans out there, you are aware of Owl’s fascination and love of the online RPG World Quest. Some of you also know that World Quest comes from my very own adoration of RPGs. Below is my must play list – and where my World inspiration comes from. 

1. Never Winter Nights/Balder’s Gate: An oldie but a goody, these two computer video game series were both based off of Dungeons and Dragons role-playing games. Heavy on adventure with a campaign style narrative - this was some of my very first exposure to narrative in video games, and some of them were outright complex. Balder’s Gate was also one of the places I got the idea for Captain from, courtesy of Minsk, the giant ranger warrior with a Russian accent and Boo, his hamster familiar. These were also some of the first role playing video games that seriously attempted romance lines, though it wasn’t until the next games on the list that romance in games really hit its stride.

2. Dragon Age: I remember when this game came out. It was 2009, and I’d just finished another run of a Never Winter Nights 2 expansion when my boyfriend came home with a game called Dragon Age. Now, I wasn’t a console girl – I liked my games on the computer, even so I decided to give it a try…My boyfriend never got to play the game. I ended up clocking in more than a hundred hours over two full play throughs. Dragon Age is often referred to as the spiritual successor of Balder’s Gate and Never Winter Nights. I’d actually call it the rebellious love child of the two – the game play takes the best from both and adds some incredible narrative. I’d even go so far as to say that the story elements in Dragon Age were revolutionary with regard to narration in game. For the first time we were seeing complex romances and award winning fantasy level quests. Dragon Age is not your 90’s videogame. It’s award-winning fantasy all on its own, with an interactive twist. Not a videogame fan? Bioware took care of that. They made the game so that the barrier to entry is "never picked up a controller" level.

3. Mass Effect: This isn’t just a video game. It is one of the best pieces of Science Fiction produced in the last twenty years. Unsurprisingly this is the sci-fi sister to Dragon Age, made by the same studio and many of the same staff writers (FYI, if you haven’t read Patrick Weekes’ Prophecy Con series you should. He is one of the Bioware writers who have worked on both series. I highly recommend him if you enjoy the Owl series). Like Dragon Age, Mass Effect is chock full of adventure and humour. There is also romance, intrigue, and tons of space western antics. Buckle in and giddy up!

4. Uncharted: When the sequel to Uncharted came out, there was a Dear Playstation Commercial where a gamer asks Playstation what to do about his girlfriend mistaking Uncharted 2 for a movie...48 hours in. It wasn’t misogynistic, it could have been a roommate or a boyfriend. I was that roommate - making popcorn while someone else played, making them pause when the cut scenes came so I didn’t miss anything. The Uncharted series plays like an epic Indiana Jones movie (without The Crystal Skull). It is textbook adventure gaming – scratch that - Naughty Dog wrote the textbook on writing an adventure game.

5. The Witcher: Another epic fantasy series, this one from Poland and based off the bestselling Polish series by Andrzej Sapkowski. I didn’t start playing this until the third installment, and was I ever missing out. This is a mix of all the Slavic fairy tales I grew up with. Something bad happens in the story and you want to reload and start the scene over? You learn fast that there is no happy ending or right choice. Everything has a consequence. Compelling storytelling and an authentic introduction to Eastern European myths makes this a must watch/play.

Kristi Charish's latest, Owl and the Electric Samurai, is out now.
Watch for my review on the blog next week.

26385258Owl and the Electric Samurai
(The Adventures of Owl #3)
Kristi Charish
Release: May 8, 2017
Goodreads Amazon
The third exciting novel starring the unforgettable antiquities thief Owl—a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. From the pen of rising urban fantasy star Kristi Charish (Owl and the Japanese Circus) and for fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Jennifer Estep, Jenn Bennett, and fantasy lovers everywhere.

The International Archaeology Association (IAA) is responsible for keeping all things supernatural under wraps. They’re also responsible for ruining the promising archaeology career of Alix Hiboux, better known as Owl.

Needless to say, Owl’s still a little sore about that.

Just to keep Owl’s life lively, the IAA has opened a bounty on the two designers of World Quest, the online RPG that is much, much more than it seems. Owl needs to locate the notorious gaming duo before the other mercenaries do. But finding the gamers won’t be easy since every clue points to them hiding out in the legendary lost city of Shangri-La. Not to mention that the last time Owl and the game designers spoke, their conversation didn’t exactly end on the best note…

Meanwhile, undercurrents of supernatural politics are running amok in Tokyo, dragging Owl and her friends into a deadly game of wits with an opponent who calls himself the Electric Samurai. The cost of losing? All-out civil war between two powerful supernatural factions. All in all, just another great day on the job.



Kristi Charish is giving away one of her books of your choice, Owl and the Japanese Circus, Owl and the City of Angels, Owl and the Electric Samurai, or The Voodoo Killings. You can also choose your format, a signed paperback, ebook or audio.
(U.S./Canada only)

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Top 5 Wednesday: Summer Reads

Top 5 Wednesday is a group of bloggers, booktubers and bookstagrammers posting on a common topic every (you guessed it) Wednesday. You can find the lists by searching #T5W or Top 5 Wednesday. And you can join the group on Goodreads if you want to participate.



This week's topic is:
Summer Reads
The weather is heating up (for half of the world), so what books remind you of summer and are your quintessential summer reads?

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5. Rereads
I find a do a lot of rereading over the summer, but we've talked about our favorite rereads a lot in previous posts so I don't want to repeat myself too much. A few of our faves are Mercy Thompson, Kate Daniels, Guild Hunter, and the Night Huntress series.

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4. Black Knights Inc. series by Julie Ann Walker
 This romantic suspense series has great action scenes, hot former military men posing as mechanics who are actually top secret operatives, and sassy heroines with hilarious internal monologues. It also takes readers all around the world, though it's primarily set in Chicago, which is one of my favorite cities. Walker's releasing 3 books in the series between April and September so this summer's a perfect time to binge.

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3. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Cycle is all about a group of teens searching for a Welsh king in the middle of nowhere Virginia. There's psychics, ghosts, and other weird paranormal things. It sounds a bit weird but it's a perfect summer read! And all the books are out so you can binge read them all at once!

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2. The Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance
Chance's books are like reading an action movie. They have vampires, battle mages, time travel. And they're set in Vegas Baby! Perfect summer entertainment!

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1. Psy-Changeling Series by Nalini Singh
There's something about summer that screams "binge read long UF/PNR series" to me and no series makes a better binge (re)read than the Psy-Changeling series. The series is not just swoony moments but has a bit of action and suspense all set in an awesome futuristic sci-fi world. If you have never read it, now would be an awesome time to start before the next book comes out next month. There are also tons of shorter works in this series if you want to try it out or need a quick fix.

What are your favorite summer reads?


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