Saturday, March 28, 2015

*Stacking the Shelves* Featuring Gardens of Dreams & Desires

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course eBooks!

Hello all you book lovers and fiends! I hope you had a good week, and got a whole lot of reading done! This week has been a breath of fresh air. No rushes to read. No major additions to my TBR pile from Hades. And, things are only going to get more interesting from here! I hope you find something in this brief STS to your liking! 

The Week in Reviews:

Shelley's Birthday week books to read + blog tours:

This Shattered World by Kaufman & Spooner (YA)
Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle (UF) (04/01) 
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman (YA Fantasy) (04/02) 
The Diamond Conspiracy by Pip & Tee (Steampunk) (03/31)
Dark Heir by Faith Hunter (UF) (04/10)
Garden of Dreams & Desires by Kristen Painter (UF)

Received from Publisher (Hachette/Orbit):

Received via Edelweiss & NetGalley

Borrowed via Library

Amazon Deals of the Week


Friday, March 27, 2015

*Review/Giveaway Stop* Stones and Finger Bones by Jessica Minyard

Series: The Black Towers # 1
Format: E-Book, 306 pages
Release Date: February 12, 2015
Publisher: Centurion Books
Source: Xpresso Book Tours

Aurelia Barone, Jewel of Starry Stone, harbors no illusions about the purpose of her life as heir to the throne. But after two failed betrothals, she starts to feel like nothing more than a pawn being moved aimlessly about a game board.

Until the night she loses everything.

Kidnapped by a wise-cracking mercenary with more than one identity, Aurelia embarks on a mission across land and sea to avenge her father’s death.

But an evil is rising from the ashes of memory. Insidious magic is stirring. The dregs of a once-powerful nation are thirsty for blood and revenge.

They seek to harness Aurelia. To tempt her. To manipulate her. And if necessary, to destroy her. 

Stones and Finger Bones is the first story in The Black Towers series by new to me author Jessica Minyard. Minyard writes a tale about a world where magical users called the Salindiri once flourished, and are now mostly in hiding, or keeping a low profile. I do suggest that readers take a peek at the back of the book for a nice glossary of terms that Jessica has created. It will help you understand who the people are, and how the world got to this point.

Stones main protagonist is Princess Aurelia Barone VII aka "The Jewel of Starry Stone" who is heir to the crown of Myrinthia. Aurelia is the only child of King Aurelien Barone but doesn't exactly have a good track record when it comes to her betrothed. After Aurelia's father is murdered, she is kidnapped by a roguish assassin named Rycendithias (Rycen). This is where the real interesting parts come from.

Rycen and Aurelia find themselves chased by a drathraq (dark walker), and later come face to face with not only the truth about Aurelia's heritage, but the person who was supposed to have died after giving birth to her; her mother. They travel by sea, and by land to uncover secrets needed to defeat the drathraq and understand Aurelia's abilities. As with other fantasy novels, there is the momentarily romantic interlude between characters. I will say that the romance is NOT love at first sight. It is a bitter battle which slow burns into something else.

Stones and Finger Bones follows a similar pattern to other Young Adult Fantasy novels. There is danger, suspense, bitter politics, backstabbing and betrayal, and a heroine who has to learn how to deal with the fact that she's got some powerful abilities and therefore powerful enemies. The story is also told from the perspectives of other characters like Marel Barone (uncle), Gianmarelo Barone (cousin), and Kostadin, an immortal Salindiri who has his fingers on the pulse of everything that happens in this story.

I dare say that I will be looking forward to the sequel of this story since there are more than a few questions that remain unanswered. I do believe that Aurelia is an interesting enough character not to abandon her journey entirely before it's finished. Even though Stones is a dark story at times, there are scenes of humor which I definitely liked. I also believe the sequel could be much, much darker if Minyard ends up unleashing Aurelia on those who killed her father.  

Truth in reviewing. I received this E-book via Xpresso Book Tours (Giselle) for the express reason of positively promoting this story. My opinions are my own and therefore subject to my likes and dislikes. No money changed hands.

Jessica wrote and illustrated her first story in the fourth grade. “The Dragon of Grindley Grun” was about an evil wizard, a princess, and a dragon who was actually a prince. She likes to think her writing has evolved since that very first story, even though she still writes about magic and evil wizards...sometimes.

She likes to sing loudly and dance on occasion without being particularly talented at either. Her interests include reading, writing, procrastinating, animal advocacy, musicals, accessories, memes, Harry Potter, and sweet tea.

Jessica lives in Kentucky with a spoiled pitbull.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

*Book Review* A Curse Unbroken by Cecy Robson (UF/PNR)

Series: Weird Girls # 5
Publisher: Loveswept
Released: March 10, 2015
Source: NetGalley
Format: E-Book, 272 pages
Genre: UF, Romance

*Book Blurb*

The preternatural world is changing. After a massive magical throw down tore apart the established order, the dark elements are rebuilding their ranks unopposed. Celia Wird’s world is changing, too. She’s the mate of the pureblood were Aric, and his Warriors are honor-bound to protect her family as she and her sisters recover from unimaginable horrors.

Celia hesitates to reveal the true extent of the Wird sisters’ trauma, but they aren’t the only ones keeping secrets: Aric and the werewolf Elders are tracking a stone that grants limitless power. So is a tough coven of witches. Then Misha, a master vampire with his own plans for the stone, sends Celia after it. Can she and the vamps beat both the weres and the witches to the treasure before it falls into the wrong hands?

Fearing for Celia’s safety, Aric begs her to stay out of the hunt. What they don’t realize is that they’re the ones being hunted. But Celia’s ready to prove that she’s not easy prey.

The FIFTH installment of the Weird Girls series, A Curse Unbroken, picks up from where A Cursed Bloodline left off. The Wird sisters, Celia, Taran, Shayna, and Emme are struggling to return to a sense of normality after dealing with a major betrayal by Anara, a werewolf Elder, who left each of them scared; especially Celia, and Taran. But nothing is normal for the sisters who aren't supposed to exist. Who were cursed with abilities that nobody has seen before.

Cecy doesn't even give them a chance to catch their breaths and mourn for their losses before unleashing yet another dangerous entity on them. One who especially wants to eliminate Celia, and uses her fears against her; including flashbacks to her own painful childhood. If that wasn't enough after everything that's happen to the sisters, they are forced into searching for a powerful relic that could turn the tide of the battle to their favor. Everyone, witches, vampires, werewolves, The Tribe, they all want it for themselves and will do anything to get it.

I must truthfully and honestly say, that I am glad that Cecy is taking a break from telling Celia's story for now. I think that she has tortured and driven Celia as far as she can go without becoming one of those authors who is pictured laughing in glee at how many different ways she can make her character bleed, or come close to death. It's a wonder Celia hasn't had a complete nervous breakdown. Every time I read one of these books, I come away hearing Drowning Pool's Bodies in my head!

Another reason I am glad that Cecy is moving on to Taran next, is that I am sick and tired of the marry-go-round known as Misha who refuses to understand that Celia has chosen Aric as her mate and that she will marry him regardless of his unwanted and unnecessary sexual advances. Don't get me wrong. While I do like Misha as a friend, and an ally, he isn't mate material. If you want a character who is a sex buddy, well then Misha is available 24/7.

I'll be interested to see how she goes about resolving Taran's issues, (especially with Genevieve and Gemini) because man alive, this girl needs some serious anger management classes. I truly do feel unimaginable sorrow for this girl. Gone is the awesome, kickass, sarcastic character we saw before everything went sideways in A Cursed Bloodline. I want my Taran back! I also want more of Bren and Emme!

**I received this book for free from (Loveswept) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Other books in series:


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

*Early Book Review* Hellbender by Dana Cameron (UF)

Series: Fangborn # 3
Publisher: 47North
Released: March 31, 2015
Source: NetGalley
Format: E-Book, 272 pages
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Still grappling with the newfound powers she gained after opening Pandora’s box, Zoe shares the responsibility of protecting “Normal” humans. Having long preferred to keep to the shadows, she knows the pending revelation of the Fangborn will set the world on fire. With Fangborn enemies in the Order of Nicomedia forcing their hand, Zoe and her supernatural Family have no choice but to step into the spotlight. But that decision has garnered the attention of the powerful and otherworldly beings known as the Makers. They claim to have created the Fangborn—not as saviors, but as predators. And it seems they have their own plans for Zoe…and for the fate of all the Fangborn.

Hellbender is the THIRD installment in the Fangborn series by Dana Cameron. The series features archaeologist, and Fangborn werewolf Zoe Miller who was raised as a human, but recently found out that she's actually one of those who have been fighting evil in secret for generations. Zoe has literally opened Pandora's box searching for powerful Fangborn artifacts, and come away as one of the most powerful individuals in the world. But, with great power, comes greater responsibilities, and a huge target on her head.

The Fangborn are werewolves, vampires, and oracles, but there has been some eye opening new characters like dragons Quarrel, Yuan, and Nasserian. In this world, Vampires can heal, while Oracles are powerful in their ability to see the future. Zoe breaks the mold in that she's a combination of vamp, oracle, werewolf, and quite possibility, dragon. For Hellbender, Cameron pushes the story that much closer to I-Day where the Fangborn are planning to Identify themselves to the general public.

But, in the meantime, the Fangborn or Family, have been busy with the Order of Nicomedia who have been hunting, killing, and experimenting on them. They have also created a new monstrosity known as the Fellborn who have killed Zoe's friends and family. This has led to an all out war in Boston where Pack of Strays left us. Zoe somehow manages to find the ability to bend the time space continuum and travel to Japan where she finds yet another artifact, and information about the father she never knew.

This leads to the discovery of another one in Alaska, and the introduction of yet another powerful villain who captures Zoe. Zoe's immense powers have also awakened the Makers, who claim they created the Fangborn but are not happy about the current state of affairs. Nope, not happy at all. It is up to Zoe to find a way to not only deal with the Makers, but the Order and their powerful supporters.

There are some curious questions left over after reading Hellbender. The most important question I asked Dana, was whether or not this was the final book in the series. Her response was that she truly hopes for more! Therefore, let me say that if you've read this series, and enjoyed it, spread the word! I definitely encourage readers to start from Pack of Strays before you pick up Hellbender. Trust me. It will make a whole lot more sense if you follow the trail Cameron creates.

I love the fact that the Dragons play such an important part in this story. Zoe's relationship with Quarrel has come a long way since he threatened to eat her in Pack of Strays. I also love that Sean isn't entirely gone from this series, but is part of Zoe's mind lab. How unique is it to have your own mind lab to think things through and store things away from prying eyes?

There are so many possibilities and avenues to explore in this world, that I truly do hope that Cameron is able to write more. What happens to the Fangborn now that I-Day has come? Will Zoe continue her pursuit of Fangborn artifacts, or will she go back to being an archaeologist? Has she chosen the person that she truly is meant to be with? What is the Maker's next move and plans for Zoe and the Fangborn?

**I received this book for free from (47North) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Other Books in Series:

Monday, March 23, 2015

*Book Review* Steampunk - Dawn's Early Light by Pip Ballantine, Tee Morris

Series: Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences # 3
Publisher: Ace Penguin
Released: March 25, 2014
Source: Amazon
Format: E-Book, 384 pages
Genre: Science Fiction / Steampunk

Working for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, one sees innumerable technological wonders. But even veteran agents Braun and Books are unprepared for what the electrifying future holds…

After being ignominiously shipped out of England following their participation in the Janus affair, Braun and Books are ready to prove their worth as agents. But what starts as a simple mission in the States—intended to keep them out of trouble—suddenly turns into a scandalous and convoluted case that has connections reaching as far as Her Majesty the Queen.
Even with the help of two American agents from the Office of the Supernatural and the Metaphysical, Braun and Books have their work cut out for them as their chief suspect in a rash of nautical and aerial disasters is none other than Thomas Edison. Between the fantastic electric machines of Edison, the eccentricities of MoPO consultant Nikola Tesla, and the mysterious machinations of a new threat known only as the Maestro, they may find themselves in far worse danger than they ever have been in before…

Dawn's Early Light is the third installment in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. The story begins where The Janus Affair left off. Doctor Basil Sound, director of MPO, sends reinstated agent Eliza Braun, along with newly promoted agent Wellington Books, to America where they are supposed to help the Office of the Supernatural and the Metaphysical find out why ocean and air ships are disappearing off the coast of the Outer Banks. But, if you know anything about these characters, and writers, you know that nothing is that simple.

Right from the start, Eliza chases a would be thief on their transportation to America, while underneath it all, she has some issues with Welly's nonchalance about the kiss that took place in The Janus Affair. Sadly, this issue takes up a rather large portion of the story, when it could have been dealt with in a matter of moments. Eliza and Welly team up with Head Librarian Felicity Lovelace, and Wild Bill Wheatley, who Eliza has a grudge against from a previous mission.

As they scramble to stop the House of Usher, and inventor Thomas Edison from unleashing a deadly weapon on unsuspecting citizens, they leave behind a destructive path that takes them from North Carolina, to Detroit, to Arizona, and ending up in San Francisco. Along the way, they not only meet Thomas Edison and uncover his plans, but also Henry Ford, and Nikola Tesla who have their own issues with Edison.

Dawn's Early Light is such a wild, wild ride especially with Welly's new steam powered vehicle, the newest weapons that are on display, Eliza's spunk, determination, and sass, and Welly's new found status as an agent. I also found myself actually liking the possibility of Eliza and Wild Bill for a minute or two, but quickly tossed it out the window when my senses came back to me. I do believe that things are becoming much clearer now as to the House of Usher's intentions, the mystery behind who the Maestro is, and why the House of Usher is so focused on Wellington Thornhill Books, Esquire.

Felicity and Wild Bill are surprisingly characters and definitely a nice, albeit brief addition to the series. There are several other characters worthy of mention. The first is Van Sommerset, a bounty hunter/female priest sent to collect Welly. The second should be familiar to fans of this series. Sophia del Morte who has her very own storyline involving a member of the royal family, and the fact that she still works for the Maestro.

Dawn's Early Light isn't shy on the action, surprising twists, revelations, dangers, romance, or the shocking ending that leads into the fourth installment. Luckily, I don't have to hang around long to read The Diamond Conspiracy (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #4) because I am set to do a review/blog tour stop on April 1, 2015!

Other Books in Series:

Saturday, March 21, 2015

*Stacking the Shelves* Welcome to Spring!

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course eBooks!

The Week in Reviews:

Red by Alyxandra Harvey (YA Paranormal)

The Week in Books:

Received via Penguin Group Ace Hardcover

Received via NetGalley or Edelweiss
Bloomsbury USA Children's

Penguin Group Ace Hardcover

Simon & Schuster


Friday, March 20, 2015

*Book Review* Dead Heat by Patrica Briggs (UF)

Series* Alpha & Omega # 4
Publisher: Penguin/Ace
Released: March 3, 2015
Source: NetGalley/Publisher
Format: E-Book, 336 pages
Genre: Urban Fantasy


Praised as “the perfect blend of action, romance, suspense and paranormal,"* the Alpha and Omega novels transport readers into the realm of the werewolf, where Charles Cornick and Anna Latham embody opposite sides of the shifter personality. Now, a pleasure trip drops the couple into the middle of some bad supernatural business…

For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal--or at least it starts out that way...  Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up—and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire. 

Charles Cornick, the son and enforcer of Bran, the leader of the North American werewolves, and his mate Omega werewolf Anna Latham, return in the FOURTH installment of the Alpha & Omega series. It has been a few years since Fair Game was released (2012), but what hasn't changed is my adoration for this couple. At this point, I have put Anna and Charles above Mercy and Adam as one of my favorite couples. I'll admit that I like the fact that Charles is a badass enforcer and assassin, while Anna has taken a huge step into being a fantastic heroine all her own.

Dead Heat takes our couple from Montana, to Arizona. It is almost Anna's 26th birthday, and Charles wants to give her a unique gift. Since Anna has picked up riding horses, what's a better present than having a horse all her own? Add in the fact that the fae didn't all go quietly away, but have allowed the worst of the worst to escape and wreck havoc on humanities innocent children, and you have the ground work for yet another fantastic novel.

"The day I met you was the first day I ever felt joy."

There are several things that stand out for me in Dead Heat. First, we know that Charles has been around for a fairly long time. You know that he's had relationships and friendships with humans. Briggs introduces readers to one of Charles very best friends, Joseph Sani, his wife Maggie, and his family whose children are targeted by a fae called the Doll Collector. Briggs goes back in time to when Joseph, and Charles first met. We also get a look into Joseph's choice of remaining a human, and not choosing to become a wolf. I definitely respect his choice.

Second, I loved that Charles doesn't necessarily have protect Anna from others, but does so because Brother Wolf is in love with her and doesn't want to see her hurt. Anna has her own powers, and I dare say that they make Mercy look like a newbie. She doesn't have to do what other Alpha's tell her, has a calming influence on any wolf around her, and can push back just as hard as she gets. She doesn't have to constantly worry about whether Charles pack mates like her or want to kill her. Her experiences as a forcibly changed wolf also go a long way of helping a newbie wolf survive the transformation.

I'm not into horses all that much, but I do appreciate the obvious research and time that Briggs has put into differentiating between them. Probably took a bit of my enjoyment away from the story, but birthing a new werewolf, facing off against a villainous fae, and Charles's reminiscing about the past with Joseph made up for it.

Briggs starts and ends Dead Heat with an interesting plot line. Anna has now reached the point in her relationship with Charles where she wants a baby; Charles baby. But, can she have her own, or will she have to adopt them? You can probably imagine how many people truly hate Charles and would love nothing better to bring him down? Especially after Anna, Charles and FBI Special Agent Leslie Fisher, who returns in Dead Head, stopped the Fae in Fair Game. Apparently Briggs isn't done with the Fae plot line, so I won't be surprised if they return in the Fifth installment currently Untitled. How long until the FIFTH installment comes out? Please don't be another 3 years!

**I received this book for free from (Penguin/Ace) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Other Books in this Series:


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