Friday, October 21, 2016

#Saturday Review - They Call Me Alexandra Gastone by T.A. Maclagan #YALit #Mystery

Series: Alexandra Gastone # 1
Format: Kindle, 226 pages
Release Date: May 20, 2015
Publisher: Full Fathom Five Digital
Source: Amazon
Genre: YA, Mystery, Contemporary

When your life is a lie, how do you know what’s real?

Alexandra Gastone has a simple plan: graduate high school, get into Princeton, work for the CIA, and serve her great nation.

She was told the plan back when her name was Milena Rokva, back before the real Alexandra and her family were killed in a car crash.

Milena was trained to be a sleeper agent by Perun, a clandestine organization from her true homeland of Olissa. There, Milena learned everything she needed to infiltrate the life of CIA analyst Albert Gastone, Alexandra’s grandfather, and the ranks of America’s top intelligence agency.

For seven years, “Alexandra” has been on standby and life’s been good. Grandpa Albert loves her, and her strategically chosen boyfriend, Grant, is amazing.

But things are about to change. Perun no longer needs her at the CIA in five years’ time. They need her active now.

Between her cover as a high school girl—juggling a homecoming dance, history reports, and an increasingly suspicious boyfriend—and her mission in this high-stakes spy game, the boundaries of her two lives are beginning to blur.

Will she stay true to the country she barely remembers, or has her loyalty shattered along with her identity?

“For the blood of the fallen. For the blood of the living. For Olissa we fight.”

They Call Me Alexandra Gastone is the first installment in author T.A. Maclagan's Alexandra Gastone duology. 17-year old Milena Rokva was given away by her father when she was only 7 years old. She was given to an organization called Perun who may be called freedom fighters in some circles. They claim to be fighting for Olissa independence from the US, who stood in while other countries tried to take over the country. Milena was trained to become a sleeper agent, and took the place of the real Alexandra Gastone when her family was killed.

"Lex" has always been thought of as necessary, especially by the woman who pushed her to her limits. She's necessary in order to get close to Albert Gastone, a public liaison and analyst at the CIA. She's supposed to go to college, and then apply to the CIA where she will become a mole for Perun. But, after being given the order to assassinate a foreign leader who is visting DC, while blaming her "grandfather" and then taking the responsibility, Lex's heart is torn to pieces. Is she faithful to Perun who trained her? Is she faithful to Albert who has done nothing but loved her and given her everything she ever wanted?

"I'd played a part for so long, who was I? A spy? A granddaughter? A high school student? A friend? A liar? A traitor? I was all of these people, and the contradictions where starting to rip me apart."

They Call Me Alexandra Gastone is an interesting story because no matter how hard you train someone to do a certain job, and try to break them to do what you want, they will always have free choice of finding other avenues to follow instead. I have to admit something. I actually really liked Grant as Lex's boyfriend. I admit that I have often found the characterization of Quarterbacks to be ego driven, steroid for brains, male sluts who want to sleep with the entire female population, and little of anything else. In this case, Grant is sweet and fun, and supportive even though he is totally out of his depth with Lex.

I also deeply care for Albert. He is such an adorable man, who has given his heart and his time to Lex and even goes as far as takes her around the globe! I love that he teachers her to question everything, which makes sense when so many plot twists are thrown at you by the author. I am curious about the setting of this book. Even though this reads as a contemporary/mystery, this story is set against the back drop of a major war in the Middle East. (shocking, right?) It is set against the back drop of $6.00 per gallon gasoline, which the media once screamed about earlier this decade. So, I ask the author, is this an alternative reality setting? Or a futuristic world?

This book reminds me a whole lot of the cold war stories I used to read as a kid. You never knew what was going to happen next, or whether or not your neighbor was actually a Russian sleeper agent. I am all in for the sequel, and I do hope the little surprise the author comes as a support mechanism for Lex, and not another difficult challenge.

#Friday Review - Three Dark Queens by Kendare Blake #YALit #Fantasy @KendareBlake @harperteen

Series: Three Dark Queens # 1
Format: Hardcover, 398 pages
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

When kingdom come, there will be one.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown. 

Three Dark Crowns is the first installment in author Kendare Blake's Three Dark Crowns series. On the island of Fennbirn, triplets, were born. Katharine, Arsinoe, and Mirabella. One is fated to become Queen, while the others are fated to die by one of the others. When the girls were six, they were taken and placed with host families. Katherine with Poisoners, Arsinoe with Naturalists, and Mirabella with Elementals. The story features a revolving storyline told in the third person narrative. 

Three dark queens
are born in a glen,
sweet little triplets
will never be friends.

Three dark sisters
all fair to be seen,
two to devour
and one to be Queen.

Katharine is the smallest, and the youngest of the triplets. She is also apparently the weakest of the three sisters. But, don't let that fool you. She has been preparing for Ten years to become the next poisoner Queen and can mix a mean brew of poison. Katharine has felt the affects of every imaginable poison thanks to her host family and survived even though it has taken a huge toll on her. One could say that because of those who have trained her, Katharine is the one who isn't afraid of killing in order to become the next Queen. 

Arsinoe is the second Queen introduced. She is supposed to be a Naturalist, who can make flowers bloom, and have a familiar like her best friend Jules. But, her talents seem to be holding back, leaving her exposed to being easily killed by her other sisters. Which is why it is easy to forgive her for wanting to escape to the mainland where she can be free. If you are looking at a character to really pay attention to outside the sisters, then I suggest Jules. Jules is really an interesting character, with a familiar who easily as badass as Jules is.

Mirabella is the elemental Queen who might be the strongest of the three sisters. Mirabella has access to fire, and wind, but fire may be her weakest link. She has been guided by priestesses of the Temple Rolanth. The priestesses, may have something up their sleeves to ensure that the poisoners reign as Queen, comes to an end. One could say that since Mira is the strongest, that she would have the edge. But, Mira is the one who has the most memories of the sisters and may not be able to kill them when it counts the most.

One of the more curious aspects of this story, is the aspects of romance that encompasses all three sisters. For Katharine, it is Pietyr, nephew of the woman raising her, and her personal attendant. For Mirabella, it is Joseph, a boy who was sent away for 5 years after trying to escape. I am not hopeful of this relationship, and no, I will not say why. For Arsinoe, it is Billy, one of her intended who comes to see her as a person, not as the next queen, and the one who understand who vulnerable she is to her sisters without her own gift.

I found myself actually feeling for each of the sisters. They've been through so much. They each are pushed, and pushed some more in order to overcome the obstacle of staying alive and becoming the last Queen standing. By the end, you have three sisters who are dangerous, and are looking forward to eliminating the other two. I would have liked a bit more world building, especially after the author mentions Cape Horn. Cape Horn is off the coast of Chile. So, does that make the mainland Chile? (Author response: Cape Horn was just an accidental cape of the same name! The Island isn't geographically off the coast of Chile. Not that you could travel thru the MISTS to find the Island! Thanks, Kendare!

There are a whole lot of secondary characters who play huge roles in this story. I would love to know more about their backgrounds. I want to know more about the Black Council, and how members are chosen. I want to know who came up with the idea that only ONE could be queen, while the others are killed. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

#Thursday Review - The Courier by Gerald Brandt (Science Fiction, Action & Adventure) @GeraldBrandt @dawbooks

Series: San Angeles # 1
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: DAW
Source: Publisher
Genre: Science Fiction

Kris Ballard is a motorcycle courier.  A nobody.  Level 2 trash in a multi-level city that stretches from San Francisco to the Mexican border—a land where corporations make all the rules.  A runaway since the age of fourteen, Kris struggled to set up her life, barely scraping by, working hard to make it without anyone's help. 

But a late day delivery changes everything when she walks in on the murder of one of her clients. Now she's stuck with a mysterious package that everyone wants. It looks like the corporations want Kris gone, and are willing to go to almost any length to make it happen. 

Hunted, scared, and alone, she retreats to the only place she knows she can hide: the Level 1 streets.  Fleeing from people that seem to know her every move, she is rescued by Miller—a member of an underground resistance group—only to be pulled deeper into a world she doesn't understand.

Together Kris and Miller barely manage to stay one step ahead of the corporate killers, but it's only a matter of time until Miller's resources and their luck run out..

The Courier is the first installment in author Gerald Brand'ts near future Science Fiction trilogy called San Angeles. Brandt's protagonist is Kris Ballard, a motorcycle courier in a world where corporations run everything, but use couriers for things they don't want to send over the Net. San Angeles is actually an area that stretches from San Diego to San Francisco. There are (7) levels to the megalopolis. The higher you go, the more likely you will be able to see actual sun, and not filtered light. Kris lives in the lower levels. 

Kris finds herself in a precarious situation after picking up a late delivery from her boss. Dispatch claims the pick-up and delivery will be quick and easy, and will make Kris some money she needs to keep her motorcycle running and food on her plate. But, after walking in on a scene straight out of a horror film, Kris finds herself on the run being chased by Quincy, a man who has no morals and no compunction about using brutal means to get what he wants. By a stroke of luck, Kris runs into an underground anti-corporation resistance group that sends Ian Miller to recruit her, and to get her out of the mess she's in. But, trouble is one-step behind her at all times.

Let's chat about Kris for a moment. Kris has a background that one would describe as continued abuse until she decides enough is enough. Loss of parents. Taken in by relatives, abused, and ignored. Kris experiences a plethora of bad situations where she is force to run and hide, and run some more until she finds that her luck may be coming to an end. She faces her mortality more times than not, but luckily, she understands the streets better than those chasing her. Kris isn't the only key character that Brandt focuses on, but the only one that truly matters. The other two characters are simply power hungry and don't give a hoot who they destroy in order to get what they want. Including Kris.

I'm going to say something that will make you mad, probably. Authors. Do. Not. Need to write rape scenes into book. Rape scenes are NOT entertainment. Abuse scenes are NOT entertainment. Authors can skim over the ugliness of rape and abuse by just saying that the character survived a part of her life that she doesn't want to dwell on or look back on. That being said. I loved the world building. I loved how Kris finds the strength to keep moving forward even though things look bleak. I love that this isn't just a story that takes place in San Angeles, but on a space station as well. I am positive that I will be reading the sequels called The Operative, (which the publisher kindly sent to me) as well as the final book in the trilogy.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

#Wednesday Review - Once Broken Faith (October Daye #10) by Seanan McGuire (Urban Fantasy)

Series: October Daye # 10
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 418 pages
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: DAW
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy

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.

Once Broken Faith is the TENTH installment in author Seanan McGuire's October Daye series. Time wise, Once Broken Faith takes place 6 weeks after the ending of A Red-Rose Chain. Toby Daye, Knight Errant, Hero of the Realm, Sworn to Sylvester Torquill of Shadow Hills, daughter to Amandine, first born of Oberon, Dochas Sidhe, Mentor to squire Quentin, Changeling, and engaged to Tybalt, King of Cats, has had an interesting year so far, let alone life. She's removed a fake queen who tried to banish her. She brought back the real Queen in the Mists kicking and screaming. She was sent by same Queen to prevent a war from happening between the Mists and the Kingdom of Silences. 

And, she came back with news of a possible cure for Elf Shot. Elf shot has been used for a very long time to knock pure blooded into a sort of unconscious that lasts for 100 years. But, Elf Shot kills Changelings like Toby. When King Aethlin Sollys, who overseas all of North America, calls for a conclave to determine whether or not he will approve Walther's alchemical cure for Elf Shot, Toby will once again be shoved into the spotlight and forced to face Fae politics, their shenanigans, and bigotry in all its glory. Here is where new characters, and new Kingdom's are introduced. (Nice map in the front of the book!)

Toby, who has been hit twice by elf shot, now stands on the precipice of having to not only explain her past actions in removing two Monarchs, but also has to face a hostile conclave filled with Kings and Queens who have no use for Changelings and may not be open to allowing the cure to be used. She has to once again be the hero of the realm that people have come to expect from her by solving several murders, while also realizing that her friends may become targets as well. 

Toby though doesn't stand alone. Not for a lack of trying. She has a nice group of allies in Tybalt, Quentin, Raj, Jazz, Karen Brown, and May who are used to seeing Toby act first, and then ask for forgiveness for her actions. They've seen Toby covered in blood, time and time again, and yet, they haven't abandoned her. Even Luidaeg, who gets a whole lot of story time, has become a supporter and protector of Toby, But, I think that subject will soon need to be addressed. I am rather emotionless about Toby and Sylvester's issues, but I think it is time to move on. It is better to forgive, then carry anger around that might cause you to make mistakes.

For series fans, don't forget to read Dreams and Silences. It is an 84 page novella that features Queen Arden, Walther, and Luidaeg. Story takes place right after the last page of Once Broken Faith. Well worth the time to read. And, in closing, if you are looking for novellas featuring some of the important secondary characters, McGuirre has a Chronicle Order of what books and novellas to read. The link can be found here >> October Daye Series Order

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

#Blog Tour (Excerpt/Review/Giveaway) - Curse on the Land by Faith Hunter (Urban Fantasy) @HunterFaith @AceRocBooks

Series: Soulwood/Nell Ingram # 2
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: ROC
Source: Publisher
Genre: Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 970451473325

Before Nell Ingram met skinwalker Jane Yellowrock, she had no one to rely on, finding strength only in her arcane connection to the dark woods around her. But now she has friends in the newly formed PsyLED team to keep her grounded — even if being part of the agency responsible for policing paranormals comes with dangers of its own…

After training at the PsyLED academy, Nell returns home to her woods to find the land feeling sick and restless. And that sickness is spreading. With the help of her team, under the leadership of agent Rick LaFleur, Nell tries to determine the cause. But nothing can prepare them for the evil that awaits: an entity that feeds on death itself. And it wants more….

Curse on the Land is the second installment in author Faith Hunter's Soulwood series. Nell Ingram returns to her Soulwood home having completed much of her training and earning a special circumstances waiver. As a newly minted Psychometry Law Enforcement Agent in probationary status, Nell has little time to relax and catch up with her family, before she is pulled back to work dealing with several different issues in and around her hometown. 

At home, Nell has issues with her land thanks to her previous encounter with members of God's Cloud of Glory Church who she broke away from. Nell's magical connection to the earth really is something and unexplainable. She can tell where the darkness is, and where she can recharge. We know that her lands gives her powers of healing and she knows that something needs to be done to cleanse her land. But, with a full time job now in front of her, she will need to address things as she is able. Nell also has a chance to actually be around her family without feeling guilty about past transgressions against her. 

As a newly minted "probie" agent, who now belongs to PsyLED Unit 18 along with Rick, Jojo, T. Laine, Tandy, and Occam, Nell has to deal with a possible radioactive accident that has affected a local Knoxville pond and as well as a local neighborhood. As a new agent, Nell has to learn the insides and outs of working with local police, and other federal agencies who are called in when things go sideways. After being attacked, Nell knows that there is something in the earth that not only likes her, but doesn't belong there. As a probie, even though she is ready to carry the brunt of the grunt work, she's become an important part of the team.

As Nell and teammates scurries like bunny rabbits trying to figure out the cause of the magical exposure incident, there are multiple incidents where wildlife and humans are being affected. Humans become violent, Animals, like geese and deer tend to walk around in circles before dying. I dare say that there is a whole lot of information provided by the author. I could say there is a bit too much, but this is Nell's new world now. She needs to be able to understand the acronyms while also dealing with others in her new capacity.

What is intriguing to me is how Hunter is dealing with the whole Nell and Occam issue. Will Nell and Occam be a couple, or are they just closer than teammates should be? Have to say that he is a typical southern man who isn't afraid to protect Nell from harm even when she puts herself in harm's way and doesn't feel like she needs anyone to save her. I am kind of curious to the entire Rick episode, and really I should say I am happy to see his previous exploits come back to bite him in the ass.

As a reader of both Soulwood and Jane Yellowrock, I am happy that the series cross but don't necessarily become a crossover episode like Supergirl and Flash. I like having certain characters from Jane's inner circle intermingle with Nell who always has some very interesting questions for Jane. I also am curious as to what Nell really is. Officially, she's being called non-human, paranormal, undifferentiated, but what exactly does that mean? I have to agree with other readers in saying that this series feels like an X-files episode, crossed with maybe Ghostbusters, which really doesn't bother me all that much.

“If it is a working, which I strongly question,” T. Laine went on, “it’s something new.” The moon witch was rubbing her upper arms, the skin of her palms dry and rasping on her jacket, the gesture a worried tic. One-handed, she tucked her too-long black bangs behind an ear. “If this is some magical attack, it’ll be a homegrown terrorist group, one utilizing witches. Maybe witches being used against their wills.”

I had read about that at Spook School. A full coven in Natchez, Mississippi, had been forced into a working that kept them trapped and slowly killed them as they were forced to keep the magical working going. I put that together with the fact that congress had still not made a determination about how paranormal beings would be viewed under the law, as equal citizens or something else entirely. If witches had launched some kind of magical weapon, or were even taking part unwillingly, that would likely increase the chance of the government forcing registration of all witches. Throughout history, registration of the populace, or part of the populace, had been a prelude to extermination. Step one of a pogrom.

“We need to report in,” she said, “and get Rick involved. Why don’t you send him the preliminary psymeter recording results and I’ll have a chat with him. While we talk, I need you to collect the geese and then find a comfortable spot to take readings of your own kind.”

Collect the geese. Ick. But I had killed my first chicken for the pot before I was ten, so dead birds weren’t particularly horrible. Still. Ick. 

Amazon | iBooks| Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Faith Hunter, fantasy writer, was born in Louisiana and raised all over the south. She writes three Urban Fantasy series: the Skinwalker series, featuring Jane Yellowrock, a Cherokee skinwalker who hunts rogue vampires. The Soulwood series, featuring earth magic user Nell Ingram. And the Rogue Mage novels, a dark, urban, post-apocalyptic, fantasy series featuring Thorn St. Croix, a stone mage. (There is a role playing game based on the series, ROGUE MAGE.)

Under the pen name Gwen Hunter, she writes action-adventure, mysteries, and thrillers. As Faith and Gwen, she has 30+ books in print in 29 countries.

Hunter writes full-time, tries to keep house, and is a workaholic with a passion for travel, jewelry making, white-water kayaking, and writing. She and her husband love to RV, traveling with their rescued Pomeranians to whitewater rivers all over the Southeast.

Find Faith online at her website, her blog, on TwitterFacebook, and Goodreads.

There is a tour-wide giveaway for 5 copies of CURSE ON THE LAND, 2 sets of the Soulwood novels (BLOOD OF THE EARTH & CURSE ON THE LAND), and a $25 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Giveaway runs October 17th to November 12th. If you’d like to share, the Rafflecopter code is below.


10/17: Tome Tender (review), Bad Bird Reads (review + giveaway)
10/18: Gizmo’s Reviews (review + excerpt), Vampire Book Club (review + Q&A)
10/19: Book Junkiez (review + excerpt)
10/20: The Book Nympho (review + Q&A)
10/21: Urban Fantasy Investigations (Q&A + giveaway), The Genre Minx Book Reviews (review + excerpt)
10/22: Literary Treasure Chest (review + giveaway), Angel’s Guilty Pleasures (excerpt + giveaway)
10/23: Mother Morgan, May I? (review + excerpt)
10/24: The Reading Addict (review + excerpt)
10/25: Romance Junkies (review)
10/26: The Irresponsible Reader (review + Q&A)
10/27: The Book Crumb Trail (review + Q&A)
10/28: One Book Two (review + giveaway)
10/29: drey’s library (review + Q&A + giveaway)
10/31: The Urban Paranormal Book Blog (Q&A + excerpt)
11/1: Bambi Unbridled (review + Q&A), Slippery Words (review + Q&A + excerpt)
11/2: Will Read for Feels (review + giveaway)
11/3: I Smell Sheep (review)
11/4: Books That Hook (review + excerpt)

#Blog Stop (Excerpt/Review/Giveaway) - Of Flame and Light by Cecy Robson (Paranormal Romance) @cecyrobson @TastyBookTours

Series: Weird Girls # 7
Format: Kindle, 350 pages
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Cecy Robson
Source: Tasty Book Tours
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Taran Wird holds the unique ability to conjure fire and lightening. She is mated to Gemini, Second in Command to the Squaw Valley Pack of the Lake Tahoe Region, and the sole werewolf to possess the ability to split into two wolves. And although they are mates, Taran's insecurities have driven them apart. 

Devastated by an injury that left her with a zombie-like limb, Taran struggles to regain command over her magic. But when her arm and her power turn against her, lashing out on those she most loves, she knows she can no longer carry this burden alone. Not that she likes the alternative.

The only way to regain control of her magic is to align and learn from the local coven of witches―the very ones who sought to banish her when she and her three unique sisters first moved to the mystical region. But although Taran is trying, the teachings don't come easy, and the tasks leave her weak and emotionally shattered.

Yet Taran must learn and learn fast. Time is running out. The fire she once mastered so easily has become her greatest adversary and is now slowly burning her alive . . .

Of Flame and Light is the seventh installment in author Cecy Robson's Weird Girls Series. For series regulars, Of Flame and Light takes place TWO months after the end of A Curse Unbroken. This book continues Taran Wird's narrative. Taran, who is able too able to wield flame, and lightning, and see glimpses of the future, has always been the sharp mouthed, kick-ass, sexy as sin sister who loves getting into arguments with their elderly neighbor Mrs. Mancuso.

But, ever since she lost her arm and it was replaced with Were magic, Taran has been in a funk. She's pushed people away, including Gemini who is supposed to be her mate, lost confidence in herself, and pretty much sank to the lowest point she could possibly go. What's worse is that her new arm is acting like it has a mind of its own, and it's causing huge problems for Taran and her sisters, especially Celia who is several months pregnant. Taran's issues controlling her magic become so dangerous, that Taran is forced into doing the one thing she would have chaffed at, call on Genevieve and the Witches to help her. 

Taran and her sisters have a love hate relationship with the Witches. The sisters still remember how they were treated when they first arrived in town. So, sending Taran into the viper’s nest, and forcing her to work with Genevieve and her coven, will push Taran to her limits of what she is able to tolerate. Thankfully for Taran, she meets some lesser witches like Paula, Merri, and Fiona who are agreeable in helping her with her new powers. Nobody should ever count Taran out. Not with her sisters Shayna, and Emme alongside.

Not with Bren, and around to have the sister’s backs. Not even with Gemini looking like a lost puppy dog who has had his heart shattered into bits and pieces, but who still refuses to let Taran wallow in her own darkness. Of Flame and Light could be considered a second chance at living for Taran. She's forced to look into herself, and dig deep in order to figure out how to live again, and how to live with her new arm and powers. At the same time, she has to put the pieces back together with Gemini, while also fighting zombies, and yet another powerful villain who is eager for payback.

In the end, Of Flame and Light is probably one of the deepest and painful stories that Cecy has written in this series. She takes a character who we all know and love and puts her back together again piece by piece. Not in an easy way. Never easy with the Wird sisters. But, in a way that makes sense and so that Taran while being stubborn to the core, also has the ability to come out on the other side when she puts her mind to it.

Excerpt #2
I hurry forward when I realize I’m just standing there, gaping at them.
I don’t think I take more than a few steps when something crunches beneath the sole of my left boot. I think it’s a stick, but the sound seems off, especially since the ground is so moist. I lift my foot only to jump away.
“T, you coming?” Shayna calls when I don’t move.
“T?” she asks again.
I swallow hard, hoping I’m imagining things as they run back to me.
“What’s wrong?” Emme asks. Unlike Shayna who’s fired up for all the action about to go down, I can sense the worry in her voice.
“Bren . . .” I begin, pointing to the spot near my feet. “Is that a, um, toe?”
He cocks his head. “Nah.”
Emme places her hand over her heart and sighs. “Oh, good—”
“It’s a thumb,” he answers. He sniffs the air. “Right hand, male, and the poor bastard’s been dead a long time.” He looks ahead. “Yeah, this shit’s not good. Call it in, Shayna, but type it. Don’t use voice-to text.”
“Why, dude?” Shayna asks, reaching for her phone in her back pocket.
“Because I’m not sure how well this bitch can hear, or if she has other things listening for her,” he responds.
He motions ahead to a crow. It squawks twice in our direction and flutters away.
Shayna lifts her phone to show us the blank screen. “Phone’s dead, kids.” She quickly pockets it and places a handful of toothpicks in her palm. “I wouldn’t bother, Emme,” she adds when Emme reaches for her phone. I doubt any of our phones are working.”
“She’s right,” Bren says. He shoves his phone into the backpack Emme is carrying and peels off his white T-shirt.
“This keeps getting better and better,” I mutter.
Bren strips out of his jeans, leaving only his underwear and shit-kickers on. “Em, stay behind me,” he tells her. “Shayna, you’ve got the rear.”
Which leaves me in front of Shayna and the most protected. I’ll be honest, this helpless damsel in distress role does nothing for my morale.
I march ahead, forcing myself to snap out of the shock of finding some guy’s thumb, push aside my fear, and tap into my inner diva. I remember a little too late that my inner diva is louder and usually sashays in platform stilettos. I slow my steps, careful not to disturb the creepy things hiding in the bushes.

Let me be the first to tell you, woods are bullshit and top of the scales of the scary meter, second only to graveyards. It’s the reason so many horror movies are based here, and why I’m watching out for psychos with machetes lurking behind trees. But given our past experiences, where danger lurks, so do the dark ones. I’ve had my fill of alleyways, construction sites, abandoned structures, but especially these damn eerie woods!

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Cecy Robson is an award-winning author of magical realms, to-die-for Alpha heroes, and young adult adventure. A double RITA® 2016 finalist for Once Pure and Once Kissed, and published author of more than fifteen titles, you can typically find her on her laptop or stumbling blindly in search of caffeine. 

Author Links:  Website Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway (Ultimate Weird Girls Prize Pack, including a Coach® purse stuffed with an autographed copy of Sealed with a Curse, an audiobook of A CURSED EMBRACE, t-shirts, a water bottle, magnets, signed postcards, pins, and bookmarks.)

Monday, October 17, 2016

#Monday Review - Stalking Jack The Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco #YALit #Suspense #Historical @KerriManiscalco @jimmy_books

Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper # 1
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Jimmy Paterson
Source: Library
Genre: YA, Thrillers, Suspense, Historical

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.

Stacking Jack the Ripper is the first installment in debut author Kerri Maniscalco's Stalking Jack the Ripper series. Stalking Jack the Ripper is a story that is dark and gruesome at times, fun where it can be, and romantic in other parts. The story is set in Victorian England, circa 1888, the series features 17-year old Audrey Rose Wadsworth as its protagonist. Audrey Rose is a forensic apprentice under the guise of her uncle Dr. Jonathan Wadsworth. She is intelligent, determined, and not really comfortable with fitting into societies expectations even though her aunt and father have impressed the importance of doing so. 

Maniscalco does a brilliant job of bringing Victorian England to life, while also taking some artistic changes to the time frame of the story and her villain, Jack the Ripper who is one of the more villainous murders in human history. Audrey becomes wrapped up in the Jack the Ripper murders after women are left propped up and savagely killed and innocent people are charged with their deaths. Audrey's journey would not be complete were it not for the inclusion of one Thomas Cresswell, who is not only as brilliant as Audrey, but perhaps even more arrogant because he isn't afraid to push Audrey out of her comfort zone. 

With a father like Audrey's who is petrified of diseases, and wanting to keep her wrapped up in bubble wrap until she marries, Audrey doesn't follow along like a meek Mary Sue waiting for the male alpha character to lead her where she needs to go. I dare say that the banter between Audrey and Thomas boarders on being Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson like. In case you're wondering, that's a good thing. The more snarky the banter, the more enjoyable the story. I like the dangers that Audrey faces and the way she handled each situation that was put into her way. 

I think the author sends a definite message to all young women that if you put your mind to it, and stick to what you want to do in your lives, you can do pretty much anything. Audrey wants to become a forensic scientist. She wants to be who she wants to be, and not let anyone put her in a mold and not let her express herself or who she actually is. The story's mystery is sound, and really I had no clue where it was going until the very end. That's a well written novel that doesn't really leave any bread crumbs for you to follow the the villain of the story.