Friday, November 24, 2017

Fashionably Dead Down Under by Robyn Peterman ~ Review

Title: Fashionably Dead Down Under (Hot Damned #2)
Author: Robyn Peterman
Genre: Adult, Urban Fantasy, Comedy
Length: 334 pages
Publisher: Indie
Release Date: March 27, 2014
Source: Purchased
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Welcome to Hell.
The Hell where the Prince of Darkness is hotter than Hades, Hell Hounds smell like brownies and the Seven Deadly Sins are addicted to Facebook... Not to mention the soundtrack in the Underworld is Journey. For real.

I should have known no good could come from offing my parents in the space of twenty minutes no matter how psychotic and evil they were…

Now I find out my family tree includes almost every deity and mythological being alive while Ethan, the one and only love of my undead life has a limited time down under before he turns to dust. In the land of Sin, you’d think I’d get some nookie time with my man, but no. Baby Demons, cousins and grandparents put the kibosh on that. Blue balls are the new normal. What the hell does a half-Vampyre Half-Demon have to do to catch a break?

Apparently find a freakin’ sword, calm Mother Nature’s unmedicated mood swings and make sure Mister Rogers keeps his sticky fingers to himself during weekly poker with the Devil.

And I have three days to do it.

By all that’s unholy, I thought Ethan’s Vampyre family was crazy…Trust me, they have nothing on the Demons.

And so we are going to Hell, meeting the Prince of Darkness, find out more about Astrid's family, save the world, and lots of other crazy stuff. Robyn Peterman is the Queen of crazy stuff and making it funny. There are laughs on every page of the story.

But it was too much. Somewhere about halfway through we went from amazing and funny to over the top in a not so good way. When Astrid is given a mission from the Devil and begins to meet her extended family tree, it just all sort of fell of apart in my mind. So many things didn't seem to really progess the story forward, but just fill gaps on the pages.

Eventually we get back on track and the ending was a pleasant surprise. Astrid will have to come face to face with her harsh past and find out if she can rise to the challenge to really overcome it. I found it surprisingly deep for a book that I had picked up for laughs and giggles, and it was really a great redeeming element that will keep me going in the series.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine ~ Review

Title: Ash and Quill (The Great Library #3)
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Fantasy
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Source: Purchased
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Words can kill.

Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealously guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny…

Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule.

Their time is running out. To survive, they’ll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the fight to their enemies—and to save the very soul of the Great Library…

Out of the frying pan into the fire is what they say, and that's pretty much how Ash and Quill start. Rescued only to become someone else's prisoners. Leaving London, the group flees to Philadelphia, the home of the rebels. You would think they'd fit in here, but there is more than one way to rebel against the library and Philadelphia isn't doing it the right way.

Philadelphia is under siege by the Library, and has been for quite some time. This part of the story isn't pretty at all. Injuries abound, and the team is torn between doing what is right and doing what will get them out. Jess has to make some big decisions, but Morgan really stole the show for me. 

Morgan is really starting to understand her Obscurist powers and what they can do. And she is powerful. But that power comes at a cost that is really high. It also means she has to keep secrets, which doesn't sit well with the rest of them. But they have their secrets as well. I'm not sure what Jess and the group are going to do next, but I can't wait to find out.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Rare Find by Dale Mayer ~ Review

Title: Rare Find (Psychic Visions #6)
Author: Dale Mayer
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance
Length: 292 pages
Publisher: Valley Publishing
Release Date: April 11, 2014
Source: Purchased
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

When people need help or are injured, they call out for their friends and family. When an animal needs help or is injured, it calls out for…anyone…that can help them… 

One person hears them… 

Tabitha is determined to bury her aching heart in the service of her animals at Exotic Landscape. Until she’s yanked out of her cozy retreat to help someone in need…and she gets more than she bargained for. 
Detective Ronin Chandler understands secrets. He’s got a few of his own. But when the woman he loves gets into trouble – the kind that stretches even his belief system – he struggles to understand…and to help…before he loses her. Maybe forever. 
As the danger escalates, Tabitha and Ronin need to find out who they can trust…and who they can’t…and who wants them dead…before it’s too late. 

Psychic Visions is one of my favorite paranormal romance series. They are stand-alone enough that I can enjoy each one individually, but there's enough crossover that you get to know the world and how it works. The world isn't so different than ours, it just has a variety of psychic powers.

Rare Find went a little to far into the psychic abilities for my personal tastes though. We actually meet Tabitha in book 5. A lover of animals, she has a special connection. That special connection is her ability to feel what they are thinking and find out what they need and want to be happy and healthy. This I can believe. But the next step in her psychic development just was a little too much - just barely.

Detective Ronin is a great guy - even if he is afraid of cats - like panic attack afraid. But he's fiercely protective and crazy smart and it's just what Tabitha is going to need. Their romance is an odd one because Tabitha isn't actually  present in the real sense throughout part of the book. But this dangerous situation only cements Ronon's feelings for her and insticts to protect her at all costs.

Rare Find was one of the more exciting additions to the series - with a good dose of action compared to some of the others. It was a real page turner that was a good step along the path of the series. I think what really stood out to me in this one was a gathering of characters and ideas from past books that seem to be coming together into something really big coming up.

More from Psychic Visions

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Red Rising: Sons of Ares #1 by Pierce Brown ~ Review

Title: Red Rising: Sons of Ares #1
Author: Pierce Brown
Genre: Graphic Novel, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 32 pages
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: May 10, 2017
Source: Purchased
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

From the world of the best-selling YA series Red Rising comes a story of love and loss and rage!
In the future, when mankind has spread across the stars, the hierarchy of man is dictated by the color of one's caste. The Golds rule all, but what will happen when one falls for a lowly Red? See how a forbidden love will set the course of events for the future and lead to the formation of the formidable Sons of Ares!
Written by author Pierce Brown (The Red Rising Trilogy) and Rik Hoskin (Heroes of Skyrealm, Brandon Sanderson's White Sand), with art by Eli Powell (Yakuza Demon Killers, The 13th Artifact), comes the in-continuity story of revolution and Red Rising!

This was not what I was expecting at all. I'm not a big comic reader but the idea behind this really drew me in. I had to read through it a couple times before I figured out how the story was being told. It was done quite well, but at the same time there didn't seem to be a whole lot there. It's part one of six, so I'm hoping there's a lot more beef in the upcoming editions.

For big fans of the Red Rising world (which I am), it was a little look into how the Sons of Ares started. You get this story from reading the books, but it's told in retrospect, whereas the comic tells it in more detail as it occurs. I'll keep going so I can see how it all plays out, but I'm not sure how I feel about this overall yet.

More from Red Rising

Monday, November 20, 2017

Night and Chaos by Lee Dignam and Katerina Martinez ~ Review

Title: Night and Chaos (Half-Lich #3)
Author: Lee Dignam and Katerina Martinez
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Length: 226 pages
Publisher: Supernal Publishing
Release Date: October 31, 2016
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

As night gathers, chaos rains down on the city of Ashwood like acid. The New Order of Void Weavers led by Isaac Moreau are gaining strength, but the shield separating the world of humans from the things hungrily waiting for their turn at the batting plate is fractured and weak, and repairing it is no small task. Meanwhile Alice Werner, the supernatural Bounty Hunter, has her hands full with an increasing number of contracts, and as Ashwood starts simmering toward a boiling point, it's only a matter of time until something gives and all hell breaks loose.

The conclusion to the Half-Lich series was a good one. Everything has been leading up to this moment, the moment where Chaos wins or loses, and of course, it's up to Alice and the newly found Order of Void Weavers to stop all the bad stuff from happening.

Once again, the authors have made the city of Ashwood and its residents come to life on the pages. From the random people on the street to the crazy ghosties and other various bad guys that have come through from the other side to the good guys that Alice has somehow managed to gather to fight them. Everything leads up to one epic battle that really didn't go the way I thought it would at all.

There's plenty of magic and special powers. I got to find out more about some of the bigger side characters and what they were and what they could do. But in this big epic battle, it wasn't all about who was the strongest. It came down to outthinking and just flat out refusing to back down.

I'm very excited that the Ashwood world is going to continue with a new series - not one revolving around Alice and friends - but I'm hoping it's just as good.

More from the Half-Lich series

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Nothing Stays the Same by Chaterine Chant ~ Review

Title: Nothing Stays the Same (Soul Mates #2)
Author: Catherine Chant
Genre: Young Adult, Time Travel Romance
Length: 461 pages
Publisher: Indie
Release Date: August 16, 2016
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

How far would you go to save someone's life? Leah and Brennan are going all the way back to 1973.

One Choice Changes Everything...

In 1973, The Beat Detectors are the hottest TV pop band to hit the airwaves since The Monkees, thanks to the appealing vocals of rising teen idol Ronnie Basford. But behind the scenes, not everything is rainbows and unicorns. Ronnie realizes much too late that one bad decision can ruin your whole life.

Forty years later, Ronnie is dead from an apparent suicide and his sixteen-year-old son Brennan wants answers. He needs to understand how it all went so wrong. When he finds himself dropped back in time, to the set of his father's TV show, he's determined to redirect the course of his father's life and create the happy ending Ronnie deserved.

Soccer star Leah Reinard has been crushing on Brennan Basford for ages. When they end up at the same summer job, she thinks the fates have finally aligned in her favor. That is, until Brennan suddenly disappears from existence. One day he's there, the next day, he's gone. And no one but Leah even remembers him. Can Leah find Brennan in time to stop him from ruining both their futures?

First, a bit of a warning. This is part of a series - which turned me off a little at first because it isn't listed as such anywhere on the book itself. But, for the most part, anything was explained rather nicely if I needed to know it. I did feel like I was missing a large part of the history of Leah and her sister and the events that happened to her sister before this started. They do play a pretty important part in the end.

This was a super sweet time travel romance though. We meet Brennan, a teenager struggling with life who gets more thrown at him when he father kills himself. Brennan thinks it all goes back to his father's teenage years when he was a member of a teen band The Beat Detectors. Things happen and Ronnie and Leah both end up back in the days of his father's teenage years.

I really enjoyed how the author put this together. From the clothing to the speech and the attitudes, it was an amazing portrayal of a slightly different period of time. It was easy to believe that I was going back right along with them. Brennan is on a mission though, and he won't even talk about going back to his present until he finds a way to fix his dad's past. But fixing the past may change the future in ways that make my head hurt to think about - time paradox and all that.

Catherine Chant really handled this crazy past changing the present thing very well. She let it run its course and consequences be damned. But she added a bit of a twist at the end that really sealed the deal and made this story a winner for me. I can't give it away because - spoiler - but it was unique and inventive, which are two of my favorite things.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Lover Avenged by J.R. Ward ~ Review

Title: Lover Avenged (Black Dagger Brotherhood #7)
Author: J.R. Ward
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance
Length: 527 pages
Publisher: NAL
Release Date: April 28th, 2009
Source: Purchased
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Rehvenge has always kept his distance from the Brotherhood—even though his sister is married to a member, for he harbors a deadly secret that could make him a huge liability in their war against the lessers. As plots within and outside of the Brotherhood threaten to reveal the truth about Rehvenge, he turns to the only source of light in his darkening world, Ehlena, a vampire untouched by the corruption that has its hold on him—and the only thing standing between him and eternal destruction.

Rehvenge is a complicated character. His dual nature is a constant struggle and the source of a recent medical issue with his drug of choice. I really enjoyed learning more about his history and life. At first, he didn't seem like the right person for Ehlena. She was a gentle and loving soul, which is everything that Rehvenge appeared not to be. When they meet, however, they have this wonderful clash of personalities that just works for both of them on so many levels.

As with the rest of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, there is so much more going on behind the scenes. We get to see into the Sympath colony and it really helps to explain a lot about the way Rehvenge lives and his attitudes towards much of life. His history is a little creepy - especially when we find out more about his family, so be prepared for an "ewwww, gross" moment or two.

The story is full of twists and reveals and the plot behind the scenes continues to move forward. I feel like something big is about to happen and I can't wait to find out what it is. While we get to see almost all of the brothers and a couple of the girls, I really wish we got to see more of the women in their lives. They are all such awesome characters, and I want to see more about what they are doing.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty ~ Review

Title: Big Little Lies
Author: Liane Moriarty
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Fiction
Length: 460 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: July 29, 2014
Source: Purchased
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

I'll be honest, the reasons I picked up Big Little Lies were 1) Someone at book club set it as the read for the month, and 2) The TV mini-series looked really good. And I'm really glad that I picked it up. Its bestseller status is well-deserved many times over.

There are a lot of individual stories being told in Big Little Lies, and Liane Moriarty weaves these lives together into a colorful blanket of life. While at first, the story seems to revolve around the children, I was quickly drawn into the world of the adults and their lives as parents, spouses, employees, and friends. It's a little microcosm of a world and you will find it hard to pull yourself away from it.

Appearances are everything in this world, and while it may look mostly shiny on the surface, things aren't so great once you take a closer look. There are tons of modern day issues hashed out in the story - from divorced parents, class differences, prejudice, and abuse. There's also a nice little murder mystery that manages to weave its way through the story. In fact, it's actually the primary storyline.

The way the mystery unfolds is amazing. I got little clips of police interviews with the various characters in the book as they - well - basically gossip to the police about all the faults of their friends and neighbors. There was always just enough information given to keep pulling me along the path, but not enough to give away the surprise at the end. And I was surprised!

Now - quick run down on the mini-series. It was pretty well-done, but that took that surprise element that I liked so much right out of the equation (in fact, the person doesn't even die the same way). Too many hints, a few missing children that were included in the book but not the show, and some added drama that I felt was unnecessary. Book definitely beats the TV show on this one - but it was still worth watching.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Knock, Knock by Dale Mayer ~ Review

Title: Knock, Knock (Psychic Visions #5)
Author: Dale Mayer
Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance, Romantic Suspense
Length: 309 pages
Publisher: Valley Publishing
Release Date: August 3, 2013
Source: Purchased
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

There’s no best-by date for revenge.

Wealthy and beautiful Shay Lassiter runs the prestigious Lassiter Foundation, but her connections and resources prove worthless when her fiancĂ© tries to murder her. Now, she’s guarding her heart and using her knack for reading people’s intentions – both good and evil – to guide her. But when the Foundation’s clients start dying, she must turn to the new man in her life…one who’s giving her mixed signals.

Computer specialist and ex-cop, Roman Chandler, has a secret. It involves Shay and could ruin the fragile relationship he’s building with her. Though he can’t tell her the truth, he needs to convince her to trust him. He fears that whoever is behind this is about to turn his vengeance on Shay…

And vengeance can be deadly.

I really enjoyed Shay Lannister's character. She brought a lot to the story that was unique and exciting. While her psychic abilities are something that is a little different, they are based in aura reading and manipulation. She can "scan" a person to tell if their intentions are good or bad and even go back in time (psychically) to follow an aura through their past movements. It seems like a pretty cool ability to have. But she has demons in her past that are coming back to haunt her.

When her foundation's donors and friends begin dying in strange and unexplainable ways, she has to face the fact that the evil she thought she had purged from her life might be back and trying to get to her from a different angle this time - using her friends and family to harm her.

Enter Roman Chandler, a man determined to help protect Shay the only way he seems to know is possible - by beefing up her security to prevent the person after her from being able to find out who she is friends with and getting valuable information on the foundation's donors. What he doesn't expect to find, is that Shay intrigues him and for an attraction to begin to form between the two. But this is a romance book, so what else could you really expect.

The storyline of the book didn't really stand out too much other than Shay's unique abilities. The pacing was a little erratic with several slow moments where I was just waiting for something else to happen. Overall I enjoyed the book. Dale Mayer brings back a couple characters from the past, including the mentor that seems to always know just when he's needed most. But he doesn't just swoop in and save the day. I love that he guides people to places they need to be and helps them expand their abilities in ways that allow them to help themselves instead.

Psychic Visions

Monday, November 6, 2017

Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine ~ Review

Title: Paper and Fire (The Great Library #2)
Author: Rachel Caine
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopia
Length: 354 Pages
Publisher: New American Library
Release Date: July 6, 2016
Source: Purchased
Reviewed by: Jasmyn

Let the world burn.

With an iron fist, the Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion and, in the name of the greater good, forbidding the personal ownership of books.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower, doomed to a life apart from everything she knows.

After embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, and the Library, which is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…

The Library is winning. Two of Jess's friends have been taken from him and may no longer be among the living and Jess is set off to join the fighting ranks - not what he had originally hoped for. But Jess and his friends aren't quite done yet. 

Much of this story involves trying to free certain companions and running away from the Library higher-ups that are trying to capture/kill them. At times this gets just a tad repetitive. It was more action than a lot of deep story development. It seemed like Rachel Caine needed to get the characters somewhere, and she used this book to get them there without any other real direction.

The end of book one will really leave you hanging, and I was really glad that I could just jump straight into book two of this incredible series.

The Great Library