Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New Beginnings (Changes #2) by Jay Howard

3 stars
Format: ebook
Published by Smashwords
Published in August 31st 2012
ISBN13: 9781476293646
Where to Buy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
View on Goodreads

Note: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
In the small village of Holmsford, residents old and new gear up for the Christmas celebrations, but not everything goes to plan. Secrets and sleigh rides, new love and heartache, all get mixed up in the festive pot.

In the McTavish household, Maggie is certain Iain is still hiding something. Her son, James, is now settled, but what of their tempestuous daughter, Chloe?

Chloe is struggling to find the love she craves and forge a new career. Then she drops a bombshell in her mother’s lap that threatens to blow the family apart.

My Review:
I liked the overall story; it was very convincing in the outcome and telling.  The interactions between the characters is thought-provoking to read and fascinating to follow.  I did find the description to be lacking in parts mainly concerning the towns and in others like the horses there was an abundance of explanation.  It is an enjoyable follow up to her first novel.

Born in England, part raised in Wales, Jay Howard also introduced herself to her other country, Canada. She has muddled her way through life until discovering the beauty of Somerset and the joyful pain of writing.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fifty Shades of Mr Darcy: A Parody by William Codpiece Thwackery

2 stars
Genres: Parody
Format: ebook
200 pages
Published by Pocket Star
Published in November 13th 2012 (first published November 1st 2012)
ISBN: 1476727589
ISBN13: 9781476727585
Where to Buy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
View on Goodreads

Note: I received this book from Netgalley

Synopsis from Goodreads:
A titillating mashup of an erotic bestseller and a romantic classic, peppered with puns, this eBook is sure to satisfy those who love Fifty Shades of Grey and Pride and Prejudice!  When Mr. Elliot Bingley comes to court Lizzy Bennet’s sister, she meets his mysterious, grey-eyed friend, a Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. It takes only one meeting before Lizzy is lured into Darcy’s secret world of lascivious practices and lusty urges. Her heart is racing and her bloomers quivering at the thought of submitting to Mr. Darcy’s every whim…

My Review:
There was some hilarious parts running throughout the whole thing and it was an inventive use of characterization.  I found the book hard to get through and I wanted to skip over parts, it just did not keep my interest.  It was an enjoyable one time read but not one that I will be repeating. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Haunted Places: True Encounters with the World Beyond by Hans Holzer

2 stars
Format: ebook
52 pages
Published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers
Publish in September 25th 2012
ISBN: 1453279172
ISBN13: 9781453279175
Where to Buy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
View on Goodreads

Note: I received this book via Netgalley.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Join paranormal expert and ghost hunter Hans Holzer as he investigates the most famous haunted locations around the world.

Ghosts have been known to haunt not only houses but other locations as well—such as dark forests, trains, ships, and even airplanes. Professor Hans Holzer looks at several of the most menacing of these cases, from the ghost bride of Nob Hill in San Francisco to the “gray man” of Pawley’s Island in South Carolina and the haunted organ at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

My Review:
As the book consisted of various anecdotes about a haunted place but it was presented in a story tale like manner.  For me there was a lack of substance related to each place and no real explanation.  The storyline seemed to follow emotion rather than fact which was what I expected when I first picked up the book.  Overall this book did not meet my expectations of what I wanted to read and even though the stories were fascinating I found the whole thing hard to get through.

Hans Holzer, whose investigations into the paranormal took him to haunted houses and other sites all over the world, wrote more than 140 books on ghosts, the afterlife, witchcraft, extraterrestrial beings, and other phenomena associated with the realm he called “the other side.” Among his famous subjects was the Long Island house that inspired The Amityville Horror book and film adaptations. Holzer studied at the University of Vienna, Austria, and at Columbia University, New York, earning a master’s degree in comparative religion. He taught parapsychology at the New York Institute of Technology. Holzer died in 2009.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

As You Wish by Myra Nour

3 stars
5 Flames
Fantasy, Erotic
Format: ebook
129 pages
Published by Ellora's Cave
Published in March 3rd 2004
ISBN: 1843608146
ISBN13: 9781843608141
Where to Buy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
View on Goodreads

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Nick's life was perfect. He was a successful businessman-and just as successful with the ladies. He had everything he wished, or so he thought. Then a lovely magical creature shook up his world and made him rethink what he valued. Amira wanted only one thing-to escape the curse of the djinn. She had served many selfish masters through the millennia. Her hope was that one day a Master would discover the way to give her freedom. Her new Master was a shock. He was darkly handsome, just like her long-dead lover Omar. However, it didn't take long for Nick to show his true colors as a charming but uncommitted playboy. But Amira gradually discovers admirable qualities in her Master, in spite of his self-centered lifestyle. Maybe it was Nick's physical similarity to Omar that drew her so strongly to him, but she isn't content to play out the typical djinn/Master role. Amira is determined to teach her Master there is more to life than physical lust and fulfillment. Every time Nick makes a wish, Amira twists it in surprising ways. Although irritated at his beautiful genie for her tricks, he becomes more drawn to her sweet nature. Each wish he asks for is filled with hot women and wild sex-wishes most men would consider a dream come true. But Nick soon finds himself desiring just one woman's love-his genie.

My review:
Nour provides a hot and steamy setting all the way through, making the book very enticing to read and enjoy. Nick goes through a variety of personality shifts throughout the book. He starts off cocky but later becomes much nicer and then shifts back to his original attitude, giving off a conflicting impression. In contrast to Nick, Amira is a much more believable and relatable character, having a great sense of humor despite centuries of captivity as a genie, granting her master’s sexual desires. Throughout everything Nour does a superb job having both characters learn to come together to save one another from their own solitude.

I was provided a copy of the book by BTS eMag for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review – all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About the Author:
Myra Nour grew up reading s/f, fantasy, and romance, so she was really thrilled when these elements were combined in Futuristic Romances. She enjoys writing within all these elements, whether the hero is a handsome man from another planet, or a tiny fairy from another dimension. Myra’s background is in counseling, and she likes using her knowledge to create believable characters. She also enjoys lively dialogue and, of course, using her imagination to create other worlds with lots of action/adventure, as well as romance. She uses her handsome husband as inspiration for her heroes - he is a body builder, a soldier, and has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Summer In Salem (Electi #1) by Brina Courtney

4 stars
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Mystery, Romance
Format: ebook
Pages: 191
Published by Laurelis Press
Published in September 2012
View on Goodreads

Note: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Teagen’s summer has been turned upside down by a body, a pentagram necklace, and an old flame.

Nine months ago, Teagan Matthews' boyfriend disappeared and took her sense of stability with him. But when the opportunity to live with her aging grandmother in Salem arises, she decides it's time to get on with her life. A new home, new job and new friends are adding up to a beautiful summer...

...until a young girl's body shows up one night in town, wearing a necklace exactly like Teagan's.

Now a guy looking remarkably like her missing boyfriend has arrived in Salem along with a mysterious stranger who may have some answers that Teagan has desperately been searching for. Teagan must now decide who to trust. It's a matter of life... and her death.

My Review:
Overall the premise was extremely refreshing and the story was a quick read.  I got caught up in the setting and plot right away and was not disappointed.

Character wise Teagen was a good heroine.  Her rationality was believable as well as her emotional interactions with those around her.  I think my favorite character in the whole story was Lark though, she really drew my attention in a good way and in reality she seemed like someone I would want to be friends with.  Seth is still kind of a mystery for me but I did like him.  He was very cryptic at first but he ended up growing on me.

I felt that Jason needed a little more explanation, I never really liked him as a character and I did not understand his reasoning for what he did.  Also, the book needed a little bit more explanation, I know what it is but the importance of it never really came through.  Those two things confused me a little during the whole book.  Courtney set the ending up very nicely for a sequel though so maybe those two things will be explained in more detail.
Brina Courtney is a young adult author obsessed with chocolate, crime shows, and fantasy movies. She's spent the last few years as an elementary teacher and a high school cheering coach. She lives in a small town in Pennsylvania with her husband and two very loud, small dogs.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ageless by Cege Smith

4 stars
Genres: Fantasy, Vampires, Romance
Format: ebook
Published in August 10th 2012
Where to Buy: Amazon
View on Goodreads

Note: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis by Goodreads:
On the eve of her eighteenth birthday, Violet Swanson is introduced to a world that she never knew existed. Thoughts of finals and college applications fly out the window when she finds out that her the topic of her final term paper, the Fountain of Youth, may actually exist.

Together with her best friend Margo, and the handsome, mysterious Montrose brothers, Violet tries to decipher the clues in her family history to find the Fountain's location. Jeremiah and Jonah Montrose have their own secrets, and Violet quickly finds herself caught between them. All will be revealed on Violet's birthday, but her past is reaching out putting her entire future at stake.

My Review:
The concept was interesting.  I like the revitalizing take on vampires and the perception behind their existence. 

The characters were relatable of interesting.  I did not like how Violet did not really seem to care about her grandparents very much.  She is a little clueless and goes with her emotions but she does come off as a strong character.  Jonah is a fun, refreshing character and part of the comic relief.  He seems witty but a little afraid of his brother.  Jeremiah seemed like the least developed character, I get the whole mysterious nature thing but I wanted to know more about him and get more emotion from him. Margo had a lot of spirit and even though she wasn't one of the lead vampires she still stood up for what she believed in. and I really liked her positive attitude throughout the whole story.

On a side note being able to celebrate Violet’s birthday after everything that happened and not knowing if her grandparents were even alive seems a little weird.  I get the celebrating of someone’s birthday but when everyone has the chance of getting killed at every moment I wouldn't be throwing a full blown party or letting down my guard. 

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book.  It set itself up for a sequel pretty nicely without leaving a huge cliffhanger that I can appreciate.

More on the author’s website:

Friday, October 26, 2012

New Upcoming Releases: October 29th - November 4

Monday, October 29th:

Tuesday, October 30th:

Dani “Mega” O’Malley plays by her own set of rules—and in a world overrun by Dark Fae, her biggest rule is: Do what it takes to survive. Possessing rare talents and the all-powerful Sword of Light, Dani is more than equipped for the task. In fact, she’s one of the rare humans who can defend themselves against the Unseelie. But now, amid the pandemonium, her greatest gifts have turned into serious liabilities.

Dani’s ex–best friend, MacKayla Lane, wants her dead, the terrifying Unseelie princes have put a price on her head, and Inspector Jayne, the head of the police force, is after her sword and will stop at nothing to get it. What’s more, people are being mysteriously frozen to death all over the city, encased on the spot in sub-zero, icy tableaux.

When Dublin’s most seductive nightclub gets blanketed in hoarfrost, Dani finds herself at the mercy of Ryodan, the club’s ruthless, immortal owner. He needs her quick wit and exceptional skill to figure out what’s freezing Fae and humans dead in their tracks—and Ryodan will do anything to ensure her compliance.

Dodging bullets, fangs, and fists, Dani must strike treacherous bargains and make desperate alliances to save her beloved Dublin—before everything and everyone in it gets iced.

Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancé, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.

When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin... and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancé, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?

Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.

THE SANCTUARY is the gripping story of vigilante priest, Danny Hansen, who is now serving a fifty year prison term in California for the murder of two abusive men. Filled with remorse, Danny is determined to live out his days by a code of non-violence and maneuvers deftly within a ruthless prison system.

But when Renee Gilmore, the woman he loves, receives a box containing a bloody finger and draconian demands from a mysterious enemy on the outside, Danny must find a way to escape.

They are both drawn into a terrifying game of life and death. If Renee fails, the priest will die; if Danny fails, Renee will die. And the body count will not stop at two.

THE SANCTUARY is Ted Dekker at his best, a powerful thriller that relentlessly plumbs the depths of punishment and rehabilitation, both in a flawed corrections system and in the human heart.

In Eloisa James's companion story to The Ugly Duchess, Sir Griffin Barry, captain of the infamous pirate ship The Poppy, is back in England to claim the wife he hasn't seen since their wedding day . . . but this is one treasure that will not be so easy to capture.

Seventeen-year-old Ari Alexander just broke that rule and saw the last person she expected hovering above her bed — arrogant Jackson Locke, the most popular boy in her school. She expects instant execution or some kind of freak alien punishment, but instead, Jackson issues a challenge: help him, or everyone on Earth will die.

Ari knows she should report him, but everything about Jackson makes her question what she’s been taught about his kind. And against her instincts, she’s falling for him. But Ari isn’t just any girl, and Jackson wants more than her attention. She’s a military legacy who’s been trained by her father and exposed to war strategies and societal information no one can know — especially an alien spy, like Jackson. Giving Jackson the information he needs will betray her father and her country, but keeping silent will start a war.

Wednesday, October 31st:

After Dark (The 19th Year #1)  by Emi Gayle

What eighteen year old Mac Thorne doesn’t know will probably kill her.

In exactly eight months, five days, three hours and thirteen minutes, Mac has to choose what she’ll be for the rest of her life.

She has no choice but to pick. As a Changeling, it’s her birthright. To Mac, it’s a birthchore. Like going to school with humans, interacting with humans, and pretending to be human during the pesky daylight hours.

Once darkness descends, Mac can change into any supernatural form that exists—which makes her as happy as she can be. That is, until Winn Thomas, the biggest geek in her senior class figures out there’s more to what hides in the dark than most are willing to acknowledge.

In this first of the 19th Year Trilogy, Winn might know more about Mac than even she does, and that knowledge could end their lives, unless Mac ensures the powers-that-be have no choice but to keep him around.

Thursday, November 1st:

While covertly investigating a controversial neurological research program, expose filmmaker Jevin Banks is drawn into a far-reaching conspiracy involving one of the world's largest pharmaceutical firms. After giving up his career as an escape artist and illusionist in the wake of his wife and sons' tragic death, Jevin is seeking not only answers about the questionable mind-to-mind communication program, but also answers to why his family suffered as they did.

Rooted in ground-breaking science and inspired by actual research, "Placebo" explores the far reaches of science, consciousness, and faith. Readers will love this taut, intelligent, and emotionally gripping new thriller from master storyteller Steven James.

Friday, November 2nd

Inhale. Exhale.
Breathe . . .
The world is dead.
The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.

has been stealing for a long time. She's a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she's never been caught before. If she's careful, it'll be easy. If she's careful.

should be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it's also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn't every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.

wants to tell him that none of this is fair; they'd planned a trip together, the two of them, and she'd hoped he'd discover her out here, not another girl.

And as they walk into the Outlands with two days' worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?

Jacqueline Carey, New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Kushiel’s Legacy novels, presents an all-new world featuring a woman caught between the normal and paranormal worlds, while enforcing order in both. Introducing Daisy Johanssen, reluctant hell-spawn…

The Midwestern resort town of Pemkowet boasts a diverse population: eccentric locals, wealthy summer people, and tourists by the busload; not to mention fairies, sprites, vampires, naiads, ogres and a whole host of eldritch folk, presided over by Hel, a reclusive Norse goddess.

To Daisy Johanssen, fathered by an incubus and raised by a single mother, it’s home. And as Hel’s enforcer and the designated liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department, it’s up to her to ensure relations between the mundane and eldritch communities run smoothly.

But when a young man from a nearby college drowns—and signs point to eldritch involvement—the town’s booming paranormal tourism trade is at stake. Teamed up with her childhood crush, Officer Cody Fairfax, a sexy werewolf on the down-low, Daisy must solve the crime—and keep a tight rein on the darker side of her nature. For if she’s ever tempted to invoke her demonic birthright, it could accidentally unleash nothing less than Armageddon.

Disciple (Part I) by L. Blankenship

2 stars
Genres: Fantasy
Format: ebook
Published in October 15th 2012
ISBN: 0966476549
ISBN13: 9780966476545
Where to Buy: Amazon
View on Goodreads

Note: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Everything Kate Carpenter knows is being tested.  As a lowborn country girl her talents exceed her station and Kate moves up the ranks right into the middle of war.  The measure of her talents and magic will be tested and not only against the monsters that seem to be surrounding her but also from the people in her mists. 

My Review:
Thrown into a world that is not fully explained, Blakenship takes the reading right into the mists of the journey.  Confronted by a confused Kate who does not really know her place and dragged into a world where everyone knows magic, I admit I was a little lost in the beginning.  Even though the story kept me delightfully entertained I kept banging my head wanting more explanation of why everything was happening.  This is definitely a darker side of the fantasy land full of killing and betrayal.  I did not think that the characters were well-rounded, there were very few character flaws and a lot of the characters were more black and white then mixed with a little gray. 

About the Author:
L. Blankenship started writing animal stories as a kid and it's just gotten completely out of hand since then. Now she's out publishing her gritty fantasy and hard science fiction adventures. L grew up in New Hampshire but currently lives near Washington, DC.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Red and Her Wolf (Kingdom #3) by Marie Hall

3 stars
Genres: fairy tale, fantasy
Format: Kindle Edition
200 pages
Published by Marie Hall
Published in September 27th 2012
Where to Buy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
View on Goodreads

Note: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

As memories return Violet’s life is not what she thought.  Born a child of the dark she is thrown back into a fairy tale world right into the arms of her supposed enemy.  Ewan found her at last and she is everything he had ever wanted, the only problem now is to make her not hate him. 

My Review:
Continuing on with this fairy tale series Maria Hall once again did not disappoint in the construction of the characters.  I loved the interactions with Hatter and Alice in them; Hall did a wonderful job bringing them back into the story.   Violet and Ewan had a great deal of chemistry.

I did however not like the parts between Danika and Miriam.  Even though those parts did end up explaining a lot I wanted to skip over those parts and get back to Violet and Ewan.  The only think about Ewan that bugged me was his accent, I found it to be kind of annoying, but then again I don't think accents translate very well onto paper.

About the Author:
Marie Hall has always held a dangerous fascination for creatures that go bump in the night. And mermaids. And of course fairies. Trolls. Unicorns. Shapeshifters. Vampires. Scottish brogues. Kilts. Beefy arms. Ummm... Bad boys! Especially the sexy ones.

Then the day came she realized apart from the sexy bad boy she married, there'd be no vampires/shapeshifters/mermaids/fairies/or even stinky trolls in her future unless she wrote about them. More often than not she can be found roaming the wild, lush tropical forest she calls her backyard (a.k.a. Hawaii) and day dreaming constantly about her latest project.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Kilala Princess, Volumes 1 – 5 by Rika Tanaka

Volume 1
3 stars
Illustrator: Nao Kodaka
Genres: Fantasy, romance, manga
Format: Paperback

88 pages (Based on first volume)
Published by TokyoPop (first published December 31st 2006) - (Based on first volume)
Published in January 9th 2007 - (Based on first volume)more details...
ISBN: 1598167677
ISBN13: 9781598167672
Where to Buy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
View on Goodreads

When Kilala awakens a sleeping prince named Rei, she magically gains the power of the princesses! But when her friend Erica is kidnapped, she and Rei must set off on a quest to rescue her! Filled with the most popular Disney princesses--Ariel, Cinderella, Jasmine, Snow White, Belle--TOKYOPOP's Kilala Princess is a truly enchanting new series!

My Review:
When I first picked this up I absolutely loved the idea of a manga with Disney princesses in it.  Unfortunately, the series fell a little flat for me.  Kilala was at best annoying and over the top girly.  A little is ok but she is all hearts and butterflies up in her own little world.  As much as I fell in love with Disney and wanted to love this series I was struggling to just get through it.  The drawing however was fabulous with well-defined character emotions.  The Disney princesses and other characters were amazing too. 

About the Author:
Rika Tanaka is best known as the author of 'Kilala Princess', a Disney oriented manga much like 'Kingdom Hearts'.

Volume 3
Volume 2

Volume 5
Volume 4

No Turning Back: The Life and Death of Animal Species by Richard Ellis

4 stars
Genres: non-fiction, science
Format: ebook
438 pages
Published by Open Road
Published in September 18th 2012        
ISBN: 1453271155
ISBN13: 9781453271155
Where to Buy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
View on Goodreads

Note: I received this copy from Open Road via Netgalley

A noted naturalist's fascinating inquiry into the life and death of animal species Just about every species that has ever lived on earth is extinct. The trilobites, which dominated the ocean floors for 300 million years, are gone. The last of the dinosaurs was wiped out by a Mount Everest-sized meteorite that slammed into the earth 65 million years ago. The great flying reptiles are gone, and so are the marine reptiles, some of them larger than a humpback whale. Before humans crossed the Bering land bridge some 15,000 years ago, North America was populated by mastodons, mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, and cave bears. They too are MIA. Passenger pigeons once flew over North America in flocks that numbered in the billions; the last one died in 1914.

In this book you will meet creatures that were driven to extinction even more recently, as well as some that were brought back from the brink. You will even encounter animals not known to exist until recently -- an antidote to extinction.

My Review:
Ellis looks at the various factors that have contributed and still are to the extinction or the species being threatened.  The majority of this book deals with extinction that has occurred in the past and what might transpire (or inevitably will at the rate we are going) in the future.  Ellis is able to masterfully bring science to the everyday individual.  While some parts are still dry Ellis mixes in a variety of interesting anecdotes and facts from modern things. 

One of the key points people should take from this book is just how much of an impact humans have had on bringing forth the extinction of species and moving the process along.

About the Author:
Richard Ellis is one of America's leading marine conservationists, and is generally recognized as the foremost painter of marine natural history subjects in the world. His paintings of whales have appeared in Audubon, National Wildlife, Australian Geographic, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and numerous other national and interna­tional publications.

Video featuring the author: