Review: Arctic Dawn by Karissa Laurel

Arctic Dawn (The Norse Chronicles, #2)Arctic Dawn by Karissa Laurel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book two picks up with Solina recovering from becoming a shooting star and remaining on her own and trying to stay hidden in a town she believes linked to Skyla, her missing friend. Solina works with Nikka, a bar owner, and Joe, the part time security officer for Nikka’s bar. Everything seems to be going well until a stranger appears and seems singularly interested in her. She calls on the only person she thinks can help her, Thorin.

The search for Skyla drives Solina to do things that she never imagined herself doing. Her internal strength grows as her powers grow, and the need to be rescued diminishes. Relationships with the people Solina got to know as a result of Mani’s death, morph as everyone finds themselves faced with a variety of dangerous situations.

A budding romance becomes stronger through the perilous scenarios, and Solina isn’t the only one challenged to change what they have believed in, or known. Whether relationships survive is dependent on trust, something not given freely, and Solina finds difficult with some.

In the end, a heart-wrenching betrayal will threaten everything and bring the world into sharper focus for Solina. Once more, her world flips, and she must acclimate.

I loved this book more than the first one, and I feel like the first book was more of a setup to this one; which is unusual in the world of sequels. The threading of modernisms with old Norse mythology is superb. Once again, Karissa weaves both into a story which is worthy of becoming my favorite. Her descriptions, word use, and ability to draw a reader in are inspirational to me as a budding author. She makes me want to be a better writer. If for some reason you do not jive with the story being told, at least recognize her brilliant writing talent. It’s rare these days that I find an author who makes me look up words, but I had to do that a couple of times with Karissa. I love that.

Things you might enjoy: Loads of snark [top notch snark, in fact]; a female character who is strong, but has weaknesses and is relatable; betrayal; and a subtle and complicated romantic relationship which is still blossoming from the first book. There is also the cast of characters who all have their own strengths and weaknesses and who add so much to this world to make it feel like a far off reality into which you can escape.

I am looking so forward to the third book that I will be re-reading these shortly. There is no reason for me to do so, except that the awesomeness of these two + the novella about Mani [Moonlight Falling], demand it. I look forward to seeing things I may not have seen before and the pure enjoyment of a reread. I’m totally fan girl-ing over this series, and it’s a nice feeling. Aside from Mark Lawrence, Dan Simmons, F. Paul Wilson, and the amazing Kim Harrison, who are my absolute favorites, it’s rare for me to get so excited about an author.

All my fan-girling aside, I recommend taking everything with a grain of salt lest it ruin your own experience. Nothing sucks the life of a thing more than too much hype. That said, READ THIS, if you love mythology and urban fantasy, this is the series for you. 😉

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Review Audio and Book: Rowan Wood – by Olivia Wildenstein

Rowan Wood Legends (The Lost Clan #2)Rowan Wood Legends by Olivia Wildenstein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Note: I’ve read the book and listened to the audiobook. This review covers both and my audiobook review from February is on Audible

Story Summary and Overall Thoughts:
This is a (mostly) young adult, supernatural, urban fantasy series where the main character is torn between two worlds. I recommend reading Rose Petal Graves before reading this book, and by proxy, the rest of this review.

I felt this book surpassed the first one with characterization and events. There was more mystery and things felt more realistic [for a book about supernatural beings] in this one. Interactions between Catori + Ace and Catori + Kajika were great, some felt exceptionally real. I adore Lily more than words can say, and the fact she’s deaf and everyone has to interact with her in specific ways is amazing. It’s uncommon to find characters with disabilities in books and when it’s done well, I appreciate it greatly.

Catori receives a book from a mysterious source and finds herself further drawn into the fae and hunter worlds while she tries to decipher what she was given. Trust is a major issue as it seems every time she turns around she is betrayed. Relationships with others ebb and flow as the events unfold and in the end, she finds things are not always as they seem and some souls are better than expected.

To sum up, the things I love:
– This book progresses the original story well.
– Catori is strong-willed, witty and kind, stands up for herself, but allows others to help her when she is in over her head. It’s a good balance.
– Ace has a great balance of arrogance and subtle kindness. He feels very real.
– Kajika who is a transplant from another time
– Olivia’s characterizations are always on point with the depth of characterization and behaviors.
– I also enjoy her dialogs.

Things I’m not overly fond of:
– There was little, story-wise, I’m not fond of and it’s not worth mentioning.

The audio quality and overall narration on this recording was awful.
– There was a hiss through the entire story.
– Each of the first few chapters had different sound qualities and vocal differences.
– A budding relationship, which is amazing in the book, comes across as “meh” in this reading.
– The narrator is boring, stilted in her speech, doesn’t vary her characters so when there are no speech tags you have to guess who’s speaking based on context. Sometimes this works, but generally, it doesn’t.
– Funny scenes didn’t strike me as amusing. Anger and frustration don’t come across as anything more than irritation, like someone swatting a bug but not really caring if they hit it.
– I felt the narrator’s interpretation of the story elements were off-base [this is subjective, I realize]. She reads scenes that were meant to have derision as though that portion were nothing more than a congenial chat. Scenes which should have been full of excitement were bland.

In short, I didn’t enjoy the narration of this book at all and I’m disappointed the previous narrator wasn’t used. She too had awful sound issues, but her reading brought the story to life in wonderful ways.

My recommendation is to read the actual book over listening to this audio version. So much emotion and nuance are lost via this reading.

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Review: Seduction by Jaymin Eve and Jane Washington

Seduction (Curse of the Gods, #3)Seduction by Jaymin Eve
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This the third book of a 5-book reverse harem series. I’d like to note this isn’t usually up my alley. I read everything by Jaymin Eve and when started reading this series I realized what it was. It’s definitely different, and while enjoyable for multiple elements, that is not one I tend to appreciate.

Willa is willful, clumsy, often hilarious, and ridiculous. The Abcurse brothers are amusing, and I love their differing personalities. The one thing all the brothers have in common is their appreciation for Willa, and the fact they are Gods. Of the three books thus far, I feel this one has more interesting twists and lets us in on more intriguing possibilities. I don’t want to spoil things, so let’s just say I liked the reveals more than in the previous books in the series. I *was disappointed my favorite brother wasn’t the ‘winner’ this time, but his scene was rather special, so I’ll deal.

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Review: Persuasion by Jaymin Eve and Jane Washington

Persuasion (Curse of the Gods, #2)Persuasion by Jaymin Eve
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Willa and the Abcurse brothers get closer in this book, and things get a lot more chaotic and exciting in this second book of a 5-book reverse harem series. [I’d like to note this isn’t usually up my alley. I read everything by Jaymin Eve and when started reading this series I realized what it was. It’s definitely different, and while enjoyable for multiple elements, that is not one I tend to appreciate.]

This book started off with more of a bang than the first one and ended up being tons fun with many hilarious, and sometimes tense moments. Willa always finds ways to get herself, and sometimes the guys, in trouble. Of course, most of the problems aren’t a direct result of Willa’s actions, more an indirect result.

We learn more about Topia, the God’s world, and learn more about the Dweller/Sol relations. Rau proves how much of an arse he is while gaining Willa a likely ally in the upcoming books.

The relationships between the group develop, with each brother showing interest in their own ways. I liked seeing how each one would push the limits and how far it would go before another brother would intercede.

Like the first book, the naming of this one seems pivotal on one or two significant scenes. I like that; it adds some allure to the naming scheme.

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Review for House of Darken by Jaymin Eve

House of Darken (Secret Keepers, #1)House of Darken by Jaymin Eve
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

House of Darken is a paranormal, urban fantasy with mystical beings and a go-getter protagonist. We see some of our favorite Jaymin Eve tropes like a host of protective males + one female, an unraveling mystery, love, and possibly true mates.

It’s a fun story, and I liked the base storyline concept. Thrown into a new society where Emma is a bottom feeder, she has to navigate a new neighborhood as well as a new school, both with politics and class issues. I felt this book had elements of Twilight [surroundings, teen protag thrown into a new school with a group everyone reveres but who also repel], the Supernatural Prison series, and the Walker Saga but it stood on its own.

Our mystery involves the disappearance of Emma’s guardians, plus the people who live on Daelight, the gated, and strange community where Emma’s family moved. Nothing is what it seems and Emma is thrown into a scenario she wasn’t prepared for. Her wits and spunk help her survive. When thrown into uncomfortable situations, Emma uses sarcasm coupled with intelligence and stands up for herself. I love the back and forth between her and Jero, especially when she calls out him out for his behavior. Her relationships with Star and Marsil are sweet, and I like the dynamic with Lexen. Her non-elite friends are also fun, adding a bit of humor and comparison for the unusual world of Elites Emma finds herself in. I felt this book provided us with an ending to the current goings on while leaving it open for a sequel. Jaymin always leaves us wanting more, but doesn’t leave us unfulfilled with the current storyline.

To sum up, the things I love:
– The protagonists take no crap attitude, especially when it comes to how guys treat her. She allows them to be men and be protective which gives them what they want and need but doesn’t let it take away from her independence and ability to take care of herself.
– The wit and sarcasm throughout the book.
– Numerous personality types with multiple layers, something for which I feel Jaymin has a natural talent and which you don’t always see in a lot of young adult books. Or adult books for that matter.
– The deep bonds people develop, albeit some are a little fast for my taste.
– Overarching storyline is interesting.
– Intrigue, action, humor, and love.

Things I’m not overly fond of:
– The speed at which people bond in romantic scenarios. I can’t go into this further without spoiling things.
– Mates is a theme throughout the author’s books, and it’s fun, but I’d like to see more mystery with it or just to have two people who learn to love each other over time. The mates thing is expected now [which doesn’t make it a particularly bad thing. It does make it predictable.]
– This one has become a huge pet peeve for me for some reason, and I acknowledge that. Use of the word ‘somehow’ in places it doesn’t need to be and which takes away from whatever is going on. I searched for examples to show here, and it came up 55 times.
– Examples: “They took in a grieving, broken mess of human and somehow provided me with what I needed to claw my way from the darkness.”
“She was a few inches taller than my five foot eight, but somehow still looked small next to the boys.”
– I realize this is my issue and it’s not a huge offense by any means. ‘Somehow’ has appeared in the last few books from Jaymin but in this one, it was prevalent. Some of the time it worked, but in most cases, it felt unnecessary or like a placeholder for another description.

Overall, I liked this book, and I’m looking forward to the next installment. Jaymin is a talented storyteller, and I always enjoy her books, regardless of personal peeves.

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Review: Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

Black Bird of the GallowsBlack Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, what a fabulous, fast paced, fun, and interesting read! This story has a unique perspective on an old tale of star crossed lovers. I look forward to reading more of Meg Kassel’s stuff. I appreciate Entangled allowing me to read an ARC when I stumbled across it on NetGalley.

>>The Story:
When Angie meets Reece for the first time, she feels a pull to him she can’t understand. He seems friendly and treats her with deference. Later at school, Angie realizes Reece fits in with the popular crowd which is not her group; she is a band nerd.

However, Reece is not the typical popular athlete stereotype, and despite fitting in with the athletes and school elite, Angie knows something about him is not normal. As Reece’s secrets unfold, Angie is caught up in a dangerous world she has no desire to believe exists and a race to save herself and her friends from the impending unknown disaster.

>>My Thoughts:
The story is well paced and kept me interested enough I didn’t sleep until completed. As it got closer to the end, I absolutely did not want to put the book down.

Most of the characters are multilayered and compelling aside from one character I felt could have been more three dimensional. Overall, there is excellent character development and evolution. I felt a kinship and empathy with the harbingers in spite of their profession, so the author did a great job making them empathetic while showing us who they are.

The tension between Angie and Reece is significant, pulling on heart strings and evoking a multitude of emotions. Their struggles to be friends, or potentially more, feel as realistic as it can between a harbinger and a human.

One of my favorite characters, aside from Angie, is Reece. As we learn more and more about him throughout the story, my heart breaks, soars, and beats erratically along with Angie.

My one major complaint is the ending felt a bit abrupt. I want to be clear I didn’t think it wasn’t a bad ending; it lacked an emotional pull I felt the rest of the book had in spades. Even with this mild disappointment, I felt the book deserved five stars for having such an interesting plot, is well written, having compelling characters and a pace that kept me constantly attached to my phone while reading.

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Check Out: Molten Dusk by Karissa Laurel

Release Blitz

Molten DuskTitle: Molten Dusk

by Karissa Laurel

Series: The Norse Chronicles #3

Publisher: Red Adept Publishing LLC

Release Date: August 23, 2017

Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Mythology

 

Summary:

While recovering from a devastating betrayal, Solina becomes increasingly drawn to Thorin as he helps her hunt down Skoll, the mythical wolf who vowed to kill her. If she can find and destroy the beast, she’ll bring a swift and brutal end to her enemies’ schemes. But nothing ever goes as planned in Solina’s strange new world.

During her search for Skoll, Solina uncovers a plot to unleash a battalion of legendary soldiers and launch an apocalyptic war. Before she and her allies can locate the fabled army, several ghosts from her past return to haunt her. Solina must fight for life and the fate of the world, or her hopes for love and a peaceful future will go up in flames.

Buy Links: Amazon

Molten Dusk Teaser 1Molten Dusk Teaser 2Molten Dusk Teaser 3

Author Bio:

Some of Karissa Laurel’s favorite things are coffee, chocolate, and super heroes. She can quote Princess Bride verbatim. She loves to read and has a sweet tooth for fantasy, sci-fi, and anything in between.

Sometimes her husband convinces her to put down the books and take the motorcycles out for a spin. When it snows, you’ll find her on the slopes. Karissa lives in North Carolina with her kid, her husband, the occasional in-law, and a very hairy husky named Bonnie

Author Links: Web / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest / YouTube

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Review: The Dark of the Moon by E.S. Bell

The Dark of the MoonThe Dark of the Moon by E.S. Bell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

On Lunos, where the sea is vast, and the land was broken apart by dragons centuries ago, sailors have the power. Sebastian Vaas is one such sailor. He’s also a skilled assassin hired to do one last job: kill Selena Koren, a powerful Paladin for the Aluren, and their Moon Temple.

One thing will complicate his plan; ten years ago Selena brought an end to the war which engendered unspeakable pain in Sebastian’s life. Now the former ‘Bloody Bastian’ has to choose whether he can kill her for the money, or go back on his word and run for the rest of his life from the darkness that hired him.

After Selena won the war for the Aluren, rather than being rewarded for her bravery, the Gods punish her for accidentally killing four hundred innocents. Immediately after her wave takes out the small island, a gaping, crescent shaped void appears in her chest near her heart. For ten years, Selena knows only cold, pain, and loneliness.

Sent away on a mission that reportedly will close her wound, Selena realizes nothing is as it seems, and everything can go wrong.

This ARC was on NetGalley, and I appreciate the publishers allowing me to read it. When I came across this book and read the synopsis, I was instantly intrigued. The book was a joy to read, and I’m thrilled to have a new author for my bookshelves [even if some of them are digital…the books, not the authors ;)].

Dark of the Moon is a solid 4.5 stars read for me, but as I don’t like to go down in star ratings for a half star, I gave it a 5.

I ended up purchasing the book because I’m absolutely going to be rereading it and I can see the author has updated it to resolve minor issues from the ARC.

The story, the characters, and the setting were all well thought out and well executed. I was impressed with the nautical knowledge, which admittedly, exceeds mine. The author weaves words into brilliant details that make you feel like you are part of the scene but leaves a decent amount to the imagination as well.

Occasionally, I felt the pacing was slow in favor of world building, but in general, I remained interested throughout the story. Internal struggles and external conflicts were superbly choreographed, bringing you to the frenzied climax and setting you down into a gentler set of conflicts.

This book ends on a bit of a cliff hanger, but it’s not the type where you feel your heart was ripped out and stomped on. It’s the type that provides enough closure to move on to a new book and come back when book two arrives bringing more wonder and darkness with it. I sincerely look forward to the second book next year [per the back of the book], and I can’t wait to see what horrors E.S. Bell throws at our merry band of sailors next.

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Review: Paternus by Dyrk Ashton

PaternusPaternus by Dyrk Ashton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a story told from multiple points of view, omnipresent style, we learn of the Cataclysm, and the first and second apocalypse. In time, we are introduced to Fi, the main focus of our story, and Zeke, a co-worker and the man Fiona is interested in. Through miscommunications and fumbles, Fi believes Zeke doesn’t like her which will make working with him awkward and will make things difficult for Zeke who truly loves her.

After the mishap with Zeke, and while on her way to work, a bum accosts Fi and later, the hospital where she works is ravaged. Confused and scared, Fi seeks safety with Zeke and the old man she cares for and discovers she has been unwittingly involved in a conflict of mythical and godly proportions where the bad gods will stop at nothing to take over the world and the good gods seem to be losing the battle.

It took some adjusting to get used to the story telling as it’s been a while since the last time I read an omnipresent POV book. I loved knowing thoughts and feelings of most of the characters, even in little snippets. It added some depth to characters I wouldn’t otherwise have must investment in.

The storyline was really clever, well researched, well thought out and I very much enjoyed it. When it ends, it doesn’t make me feel as if I’ve been robbed of an ending, but likewise it leaves me wanting more.

Dyrk’s characters feel realistic, with real problems, flaws, miscommunications, while being attractive, or plump, or maybe hideous for a variety of reasons. Even the mythical or legendary creatures are made visceral.

I’d definitely recommend this book if you have an interest in myth and legend, but be aware it covers a ton of myth and legend, not just the major ones. Well done!

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Book and Audio Book Review: Rose Petal Graves by Olivia Wildenstein

Rose Petal Graves (The Lost Clan #1)Rose Petal Graves by Olivia Wildenstein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We meet Catori Price left Rowan to go to school in Boston. She is called back home to attend to the death of her mother and finds an inconsolable father, an old friend who will do anything for her, and a mystery. When the young, good looking, and glowing skinned medical examiner shows up a day early, Catori is annoyed, especially when she discovers her father agrees to let him stay.

Exchanged barbs, and vague, but mysterious comments from Cruz take things in an new direction. An old book is delivered and full of local history creating new mysteries. New people arrive, engendering more loss, and all of it causes mixed feelings over a choice Catori ultimately has to make.

I listened to the audio book version of this, which I won in a raffle. I enjoyed this telling of the story greatly. Stephanie Fritz does a brilliant job of reading, you can feel the emotion of the character even through the narration. Her male voices were decent and not overdone. Her female voices ranged pretty well.

The one thing that greatly needs to change about the narration is the audio quality. It was awful and distracted from the story several times. Had it not been for the audio hiss, occasional echoes and background noise, this would have been a five performance.

The story itself was a fabulous take on the Fae and Native cultures. There are things I didn’t believe on reading them, but they are explained later, and done in a way where things make sense. Everything felt well thought out, subtle at times and with fabulous descriptions. The author has an eye for human nuanced behaviors, ticks, and emotions. I thought it was well written, had good pacing and kept me wanting more. Overall I found one inconsistency near the end of the book but it wasn’t a huge problem, it was more of an annoyance and didn’t change the story in any real way.

There is a bit of a love tangle, but it’s not the typical scenario where guys are constantly vying for the female. Cartori is put in situations where guys may have feelings for her but she wants to be friends, or enemies, and things work out differently.

I know what I want her ultimate choice to be, and Catori certainly leans that way until a betrayal sets everything back. It seems so hard to reach that final option by the end of book one. That book two comes out in a little more than two weeks is a relief. I hope it works out as I hope. 😉

Note: The tribe referenced in the book is not real and that was to avoid appropriating history that didn’t belong to the writer and to avoid offending a tribe by manipulating their history. I’ve seen some people have taken issue with this in their reviews, but considering the author was taking into account the sensitivities tribes have already had to face through appropriation or changing of their histories from carelessness, I think this was a thoughtful choice.

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