Monthly Archives: August 2016

Waiting on Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.  This meme has participating book bloggers everywhere, so if you are looking for that new read, maybe you’ll find it here.

waiting on wednesday

 

Nervous Nell is waiting on…Nervous_Nellie_100

promise of wrathTitle: Promise of Wrath
Author: Steve McHugh
To Be Published:
September 13, 2016

Description: A powerful sorcerer. A forgotten past. Hellequin is back, and the end is near.

A terrible storm is brewing in London, and Nathan Garrett, the sorcerer known as Hellequin, is the only one who can stop it.

But his enemies have other plans. Harnessing the power of an ancient stone tablet, they cast Nate and his allies into another realm, where a bloody conflict rages between creatures twisted by magic. Meanwhile, with his friends’ lives in danger, Nate must put centuries of differences aside, and place his trust in one of his greatest foes.

Time is running out. Trapped and outnumbered, Nate must use all his wits and power to survive and find his way home before his enemies start a war that could destroy everything he holds close. Welcome to the penultimate chapter of the Hellequin Chronicles.

Ruby Lee is waiting on…

The SinnerRuby_Lee_100Title: The Sinner (Graveyard Queen #5)
Author: Amanda Stevens
To Be Published: September 27, 2016

Description: I am a living ghost, a wanderer in search of my purpose and place…

I’m a cemetery restorer by trade, but my calling has evolved from that of ghost seer to death walker to detective of lost souls. I solve the riddles of the dead so the dead will leave me alone.

I’ve come to Seven Gates Cemetery nursing a broken heart, but peace is hard to come by…for the ghosts here and for me. When the body of a young woman is discovered in a caged grave, I know that I’ve been summoned for a reason. Only I can unmask her killer. I want to trust the detective assigned to the case for he is a ghost seer like me. But how can I put my faith in anyone when supernatural forces are manipulating my every thought? When reality is ever-changing? And when the one person I thought I could trust above all others has turned into a diabolical stranger?

Luna Lovebooks is waiting on…Luna_Lovebooks_100

Stalking Jack the RipperTitle:  Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author:  Kerri Mansicalco
To Be Published: September 20, 2016

Description: Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

Invested Ivana is waiting on…

Invested_Ivana_100Ooh, this is a hard one because both Seanan McGuire and Kevin Hearne have a title published in September. The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne is a short story in the Iron Druid Chronicles told from Oberon’s point of view.  I can’t WAIT for this book, particularly in audio because the narrator, Luke Daniels, does such an awesome job.  I know this book is going to be hilarious.

The Purloined PoodleTitle:  The Purloined Poodle
Author: Kevin Hearne
To Be Published: September 30, 2016

Description:  Thanks to his relationship with the ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan, Oberon the Irish wolfhound knows trouble when he smells it—and furthermore, he knows he can handle it.

When he discovers that a prizewinning poodle has been abducted in Eugene, Oregon, he learns that it’s part of a rash of hound abductions all over the Pacific Northwest. Since the police aren’t too worried about dogs they assume have run away, Oberon knows it’s up to him to track down those hounds and reunite them with their humans. For justice! And gravy!

Engaging the services of his faithful Druid, Oberon must travel throughout Oregon and Washington to question a man with a huge salami, thwart the plans of diabolical squirrels, and avoid, at all costs, a fight with a great big bear.

But if he’s going to solve the case of the Purloined Poodle, Oberon will have to recruit the help of a Boston terrier named Starbuck, survive the vegetables in a hipster pot pie, and firmly refuse to be distracted by fire hydrants and rabbits hiding in the rose bushes.

At the end of the day, will it be a sad bowl of dry kibble for the world’s finest hound detective, or will everything be coming up sirloins?

But the next book in Seanan McGuire‘s October Daye series, Once Broken Faith, comes out as well.  Every book in this series ratchets up the complexity and tension in the story. Big things happened at the end of the last book, so October will be dealing with the repercussions of that in the coming book. I adore this series and can’t wait for the next one.

Once Broken FaithTitle: Once Broken Faith
Author: Seanan McGuire
To Be Published: September 6, 2016

Description: Politics have never been October “Toby” Daye’s strong suit. When she traveled to the Kingdom of Silences to prevent them from going to war with her home, the Kingdom of the Mists, she wasn’t expecting to return with a cure for elf-shot and a whole new set of political headaches.

Now the events she unwittingly set in motion could change the balance of modern Faerie forever, and she has been ordered to appear before a historic convocation of monarchs, hosted by Queen Windermere in the Mists and overseen by the High King and Queen themselves.

Naturally, things have barely gotten underway when the first dead body shows up. As the only changeling in attendance, Toby is already the target of suspicion and hostility. Now she needs to find a killer before they can strike again—and with the doors locked to keep the guilty from escaping, no one is safe.

As danger draws ever closer to her allies and the people she loves best, Toby will have to race against time to prevent the total political destabilization of the West Coast and to get the convocation back on track…and if she fails, the cure for elf-shot may be buried forever, along with the victims she was too slow to save.

Because there are worse fates than sleeping for a hundred years.

Kat Mandu is waiting on…

Kat_Mandu_100

In this sequel to a fantastic fantasy-based thriller, Kaz and his brilliant crew are back at it after pulling off an incredible heist in the first book – that left them in the wake of danger. I’m fascinated by this series and its perfect set up, wonderful writing, and adventurous feels. It releases on September 27th and I absolutely can not WAIT.

Title: The Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, Book 2)The Crooked Kingdom
Author: 
Leigh Bardugo
To Be Published:
September 27, 2016

Description: Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

Other ‘Waiting on Wednesday” bloggers:

Heartborn by Terry Maggert + Giveaway!

This beautiful YA novel spans time and hearts to convey a message of love and sacrifice. And to celebrate its release tomorrow, the author is giving away a $25 gift certificate to Amazon and an electronic copy of any one of his other books.  Be sure to enter at Rafflecopter.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

HeartbornTitleHeartborn
AuthorTerry Maggert
Series: no name yet, but it will be a series
Publish Date: September 01, 2016
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s Description: Her guardian angel was pushed.

Keiron was never meant to be anything other than a hero. Born high above in a place of war and deception, he is Heartborn, a being of purity and goodness in a place where there violence and deceit are just around every corner.

His disappearance will spark a war he cannot see, for Keiron has pierced the light of days to save a girl he has never met, for reasons he cannot understand. Livvy Foster is seventeen, brave, and broken. With half a heart, she bears the scars of a lifetime of pain and little hope of survival.

Until Keiron arrives.

In the middle of a brewing war and Livvy’s failing heart, Keiron will risk everything for Livvy, because a Heartborn’s life can only end in one way: Sacrifice.

Fall with Livvy and Keiron as they seek the truth about her heart, and his power, and what it means to love someone who will give their very life to save you.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

As you may know if you read this blog often, I do not prefer to read YA. Kat tells me I have some inaccurate stereotypes of what young adult literature is — whiny, overdramatic highschoolers bitching because life isn’t fair, making poor choices, and mooning over the football captain. I did not have a good time in high school and I do not wish to relive it in my mid-40s, thank you very much.

So, let me just say that Heartborn does NOT fit my stereotype of YA. Though the protagonists are young, we don’t see them in school (thank goodness!) and they are not whining about their circumstances at all; in fact, they are being incredibly brave and mature—something many adults could learn from.

For much of the book, there appear to be two storylines. One is set in a fantasy world in the sky where the ruling body is brutal, selfish, and concerned more with its own power than the welfare of its citizens (I know, art imitating life, right?). This storyline follows characters who are planning to overthrow this ruling body so its citizens may be free.

The other storyline follows Livvy, a young girl in a world like our own who works in a library, makes friends with her co-worker and the library regulars, and falls in love with a cute patron. Livvy has half a heart, or a heart condition that severely limits her ability to participate in many of the activities of everyday life. Livvy is no whiner, though.  She does what’s necessary to cope with her condition, but she isn’t going to let any opportunity to really live pass her by.

I enjoyed both storylines, but the way they come together confused me at first. I did NOT expect it and, I’ll be honest, my brain had to take a step back and look at the whole story from a completely new angle after the reveal. The reread value of this book will be pretty good; once you “get it,” there are metaphors and allusions and other “Easter eggs” to find.

And I have to take a minute to talk about this cover.  OMG, it’s amazing! Staci Hart, of Quirky Bird, should win some awards for this cover.

badge3v4I’m pretty impressed with Heartborn and am happy to find that all YA books aren’t what I imagine. I struggled to set aside my linear, literal thinking for this book. If you know going in that you’ll have to do the same, or you aren’t burdened with that limitation in the first place, I think you’ll find this book very engaging.

Kat_Mandu_100Kat Mandu says…

I had a hard time deciding what to rate this.

On the one hand, the writing is lovely and descriptive, though sometimes it goes a bit over the top. For the most part I enjoyed the lushness of the setting and introductions to the characters and both worlds that are introduced in this book. There are a couple of pronouns that make it hard to tell who’s narrating, especially in fight scenes towards the end, but nothing that distracts me from the actual story.

On the other hand, as much as I enjoyed the build-up of the world, character, and plotlines, the execution of the ending really fell short with me. I didn’t know what happened, nor did I understand why the characters were doing what they were doing. We had a classic scenario of 2+2 = 17. Something was missing and it was something big, so it really drew away from what the story was trying to say.

I also didn’t find myself relating to any of the characters because we knew so little about their roles in the story. Then there was this beautiful world erected – but it wasn’t explained very well. The ending came and it sucked in all of that world-building and just vanished. Some of the character names were forgotten too easily; there were creatures that weren’t given a description, so you had to concoct your own; and although it was a good attempt at coalescing two very different storylines together, it mostly failed when it mattered most.

badge3v4If I could, I’d give it a 2.5 because even though I enjoyed most of what I read, the rest didn’t come together for me. I don’t feel like it’ll be something I pick up again because my brain hurts from thinking too hard about what the author was trying to convey. But then again, it started out super cool with its new take on angels who can create magic and wield swords.

So I’ll settle for a three and hope others are less confused than I am.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Hunter’s Mudman Now Available in Audio!

Back in March, Nell and I reviewed and loved Mudman by James A. Hunter. I’m happy to say that, for those of us who like listening to books, Mudman is now available as an audiobook, too!

Mudman AudioTitle: MudMan
Author: James A. Hunter
Series: The Golem Chronicles Book 1
Publisher: Shadow Alley Press
Publish Date: August 10, 2016 (audio)
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Narrated by: Armin Taylor
Cover Artist: Lou Harper

Publisher’s DescriptionLevi Adams is a soft spoken, middle-aged Mennonite man—at least he tries to be when he’s not murdering people.

Levi’s a golem, a Mudman, crafted from the muck, mire, and corpses of a World War II concentration camp—killing is just a part of his DNA. He doesn’t like it, but unfortunately he’s been saddled with a divine commission to dole out judgment on those who shed innocent blood. After seventy years as a cold-blooded murder machine, however, Levi’s trying to change his grisly nature. And the AA meetings and church services are helping. A little. But when he runs across a wounded girl, Sally Ryder, during one of his “hunting expeditions,” he realizes self-help may have to go on the back burner.

Someone is attempting to revive a pre-Babylonian murder god, and the road to rebirth is paved with dead bodies. Lots and lots of them.

Now, Levi must protect Ryder—the key to an unspeakable resurrection—and defeat a Nazi mage from Levi’s murky past. But the shadowy mage holds a terrible secret about the Mudman’s unorthodox birth, one offering insight into Levi’s morbid compulsion for bloodshed. It’s a secret Levi would pay anything to uncover: maybe even Ryder’s life. If Levi isn’t careful, he may end up turning into the monster he always imagined himself to be.

Get it on Audible!

All three novels in Hunter’s Yancy Lazarus series are also available in audio:

Excerpt from Mudman by James A. Hunter…

ZERO:
Awakening
June, 1943

He blinked his eyes open for the first time: a newborn stealing his first look at the world, which, in a way, is exactly what he was. Except no squealing, rosy-cheeked infant had ever been so big, so ugly, or so filled with blood-boiling rage. Never had a child been so appalling. He squinted at first, letting in only the merest trickle of light because even the wan illumination from the moon, which loitered over the world like a fat thumbnail, was harsh to his virgin eyes.

Smells came next: the scent of musky earth, the harsh tang of powdery slaked lime—used to mask the reek of decay—and buried beneath that, the sour stink of rotten flesh and burnt hair.

The sky spit down a misty drizzle, fine droplets of cool water that turned his gray skin slick. After a few moments more his eyes adjusted fully, allowing him, at last, to survey his surroundings. Mud and muck, deep brown and goopy, lined everything. It squished beneath his shoulder blades, clung to his arms and legs, and liberally coated the corpses crudely piled to his right. Despite the mud, the bodies appeared almost white, like angry specters waiting for him, welcoming him to this new hell with silent screams and vacant eyes.

How he knew anything was beyond him, since this was the first day of his life, the day—or rather night—of his unnatural birth. Surely, no baby pushed and fought its way into the world with dark and grisly thoughts of murder and death lingering in its mind, with knowledge of mass graves, heinous experimentation, and hasty executions. But he knew such things. Fragments of memories floated and swirled inside his skull, dancing a slow funeral dirge, parading incoherent snatches of imagery through his head.

The Wehrmacht march through the streets in their black spit-shined boots and high-collared, gray wool uniforms. Smart and dashing, those uniforms, dressing up the face of murder in civility and pageantry …
The Luftwaffe soars overhead. The buzz of the single-prop Focke-Wulf and the thunderous roar of the colossal Messerschmitt transport planes fill the air with their racket …

He clutches a small boy to his chest, his body trembling as he hides, holding his breath for fear of being heard. Terror and panic wriggle in his guts as the black-garbed Schutzstaffel—the SS—make their way from door to door, fists rapping on wood, rifle buttstocks smashing out windows, booted feet kicking their way inside …

Then, train cars, loaded to capacity, roll through his thoughts. Bodies press up against one another so tightly he can’t breathe—except he isn’t a he, but a she. And she is searching for her sister. They’d been separated in all the chaos …

So many images, circling around, each screaming more loudly than the last, each demanding he lend them an ear or an eye or a hand. He clutched at either side of his head. Broad, fleshy palms pressed in as though he could simply pulverize the images and send them back to whatever nightmare they’d come from. But they kept coming, and as they came—faster and faster, like a hail of automatic machine gunfire—his chest began to itch and burn. It felt like someone had taken a cherry-red fire iron and jabbed it into the meat covering his breastbone.

A huge hand flew to the pain, his fingers finding crude markings etched directly into the skin, cut deep into the muscle below. As he touched the mark, the jagged wound, the voices and visions coalesced into a single demand. A demand for retribution. The anger came next, flowing from the brand like gasoline pumping through his veins, scorching his insides and propelling him to action. He lumbered to his feet, the muck squishing around his thick toes, and made for the muddy wall of his earthen womb. In reality, an open grave. He dug his digits in and used his flabby, though powerfully built, arms to pull himself upward and free.

He lay on the edge of the pit for a long beat, charting the lay of the land, eyes scanning the dark, which covered everything like a velvety blanket. In the distance, not so far off, he saw a squat building. Some sort of bunker, outlined by the faint glow of light bulbs. He wasn’t surewhat he was. Where he was. Or how he’d gotten there. But, as the brand burned in his chest, he was certain of one thing: someone—or, perhaps, lots of someones—had quite the butcher’s bill to account for, and he was ready to collect.

About the Author…

Hey all, my name is James Hunter and I’m a writer, among other things. So just a little about me: I’m a former Marine Corps Sergeant, combat veteran, and pirate hunter (seriously). I’m also a member of The Royal Order of the Shellback—’cause that’s a real thing. I’ve also been a missionary and international aid worker in Bangkok, Thiland. And, a space-ship captain, can’t forget that.

Okay … the last one is only in my imagination.

Currently, I’m a stay at home Dad—taking care of my two kids—while also writing full time, making up absurd stories that I hope people will continue to buy. When I’m not working, writing, or spending time with family, I occasionally eat and sleep.

You can visit me to find out more at www.JamesAHunter.wordpress.com.

website | twitter | facebook

Bewitching Blog Tours

 

Unraveled by Jennifer Estep

Gin, Owen, Bria, and Finn take a “vacation” at an Old West theme park. In keeping with tradition, the “vacation” turns into a deadly showdown, with Gin and her friends playing the part of the white hats. Unraveled is another fun, fun adventure for beloved assassin.

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

UnraveledTitleUnraveled
AuthorJennifer Estep
SeriesElemental Assassin Book 15
Publish Date: August 30, 2016
Genre: Urban Fantasy
SourceNetGalley

Publisher’s DescriptionAfter the shocking revelations of the previous book, Bitter Bite, the world of Ashland’s become even more sinister, and Gin Blanco (aka Ashland’s most fearsome assassin, the Spider) no longer knows who—or what—she can count on. Only one thing is for certain: danger and new enemies await Gin in Unraveled.

What could go wrong when you’re trying to unravel a decades-old conspiracy?

As the current queen of the Ashland underworld, you would think that I, Gin Blanco, would know all about some secret society controlling things from behind the scenes. I might be the Spider, the city’s most fearsome assassin, but all my Ice and Stone elemental magic hasn’t done me a lick of good in learning more about “the Circle”. Despite my continued investigations, the trail’s gone as cold as the coming winter.

So when Finnegan Lane, my foster brother, gets word of a surprising inheritance, we figure why not skip town for someplace less dangerous for a few days? That place: Bullet Pointe, a fancy hotel resort complex plus Old West theme park that Finn now owns lock, stock, and barrel. At first, all the struttin’ cowboys and sassy saloon girls are just hokey fun. But add in some shady coincidences and Circle assassins lurking all around, and vacationing becomes wilder—and deadlier—than any of us expected.

Good thing this assassin brought plenty of knives to the gunfight…

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

God, I love this series! How much cheesier can you get than an Old West theme park as a setting?

Finn has inherited the theme park from his deceased mother. So he and Bria, Gin and Owen take off for the theme park. Finn wants to learn more about his mom and Gin wants to learn more about The Circle, a shady underworld organization who may be moving in on her territory. Along the way they go on a scavenger hunt for some valuable jewels and free the theme park from the clutches of The Circle, returning management of the park to one person who seems to really love it.

badge5v4Unraveled is a fun romp in the Western style. There’s even a showdown on Main Street, though it happens closer to midnight than high-noon. I’m not sure Gin has learned much more about The Circle than she knew before, but they are surely taking more notice of her. I can’t wait to see what the next novel has in store for Gin and her friends!

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Aces Wilde by Jenn Stark

I love this series!  Sara Wilde is back and stirring up more trouble in Book 5 of the Immortal Vegas series! Only this time, she’s getting closer to playing with a full deck!

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Aces WildeTitleAces Wilde
AuthorJenn Stark
SeriesImmortal Vegas Book 05
Publish Date: August 29th, 2016
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Source: provided by the author

Publisher’s DescriptionNever play the game without an Ace up your sleeve.

During her years of finding and selling artifacts on the arcane black market, Tarot reader Sara Wilde has made a bona fide killing. Now, as the recently appointed head of an ancient Connected syndicate, she’s forced to take a truly deadly role in the war on magic.

Within the House of Swords, every blade cuts deep. Usurpers and claimants attack from all sides, while the Magician’s insidious pull on Sara becomes ever more twisted and beguiling. As she struggles to strengthen her position and manage her new, unwieldy abilities, Sara discovers her greatest challenge yet: a master warrior determined to deliver the syndicate and everyone it protects to its mortal enemy.
Bolstered by an unexpected Ace and a mystical sword, and faced with a round-the-world race to outmaneuver friends and foes alike, Sara’s future balances on a merciless edge.

The cards can cut both ways when you play ACES WILDE.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested_Ivana_100Invested Ivana says…

The Minor Arcana is finally coming into play.  At the end of the last book, Sara discovered that there are four houses—those of swords, pents, cups, and wands—run by mortals, who are supposed to be the House of Representatives to the Major Arcana’s Senate. But they haven’t been heard of for a thousand years or more… until now.

badge4v4And of course, Sara has been made the head of one of them, the House of Swords. But Sara doesn’t fight with swords; she fights with guns and Tarot cards. How is she going to survive the inevitable challenges to her leadership when those challenges are decided by sword fight? Find a magical sword, of course. Finding magical artifacts is what Sarah does. 😉

Like all the novels in this series, I ate this one up like candy. I love the characters and the adventure and all the crazy situations Sara gets herself into. The Immortal Vegas series is fun urban fantasy at its finest! 4.5.

Nervous_Nellie_100Nervous Nellie says…

Nothing like being the new kid at school who’d somehow pissed off the Mafia.

or

He’d hung me out to dry so many times, my soul was starting to bleach out.

BOOM! Yeah! This is an urban fantasy, some violence, a little kissing, but so full of adventure I could not put it down.

I swear to you that this author writes so well that I feel like I’m living Sara Wilde’s life.  I can feel the over arc of the series building and if it doesn’t end with a huge EXPLOSION!! I will be surprised.

The characters in this series are so vivid that I had more than once stop and remind myself that Armaeus the Magician of the Arcana Council is really just a character and I cannot go and whoop his butt on behalf Sara.  Not that she can’t fight her own fights, but still…geez.  What a jerk.  I will backpedal a little here, however, because without Armaeus, there would be no one that I would love to hate.

Sara is dealt with some pretty serious self thinking issues in this book.  Is she really the one meant to do the bloody hand to hand fighting in this war to save the Connected children or would she do more good actually taking care of the Connected children like Father Jerome?  She also has the House of Swords to manage.  Is she really supposed to be the leader of this House of the minor Arcana?  The badge4v4Council tells her something, Father Jerome begs her to reconsider her place in the war and Armaeus is just aloof and seemingly uncaring.  But is he…really?

I thought that Stark had thrown just about everything at Sara and guess what?  I was so wrong.  The ending isn’t a cliffhanger, but it’s a ‘whoa’ moment all it’s own.  C’mon, Jenn, you are gonna give me a heart attack!!

Our reviews in this series…

FTC Notice: This book was provided free in exchange for an honest review. This is no way impacts my opinion of the book or the content of my review.