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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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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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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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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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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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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Midnight Burning (The Norse Chronicles, #1)Midnight Burning by Karissa Laurel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Solina Mundy lost her brother four months ago, and she is heading to Alaska to deal with his belongs, and look into his death. When she gets there, she finds his friends don’t share her desire to solve the mystery except for one, Skyla. Both Skyla and Solina, are determined to get to the bottom of Mani’s death in spite of Val, the over-enthusiastic would-be lover of Solina, and Thorin, the seemingly quiet boss of Mani. The two men act like Mani’s death was a tragic happenstance rather than a violent end, deserving of investigation.

Dreams have haunted Solina, and she discovers her own life tied to her twin’s in more ways than expected. Soon she finds she is in over her head as things take an unexpected turn.

From the first page I was hooked, and as the story delved deeper into the mystery of Mani’s death, I found myself drawn into the characters and their lives. Solina is strong, funny, and independent, when away from her family. She gets rescued, but she also takes care of herself; it’s a give and take. All of the characters have flaws, and no one is simply a perfect being, or so beautiful it hurts, as you find so often in stories like this. I love that about this story. The beauty of the characters comes from getting to know them, much like getting to know people in real life. Sure, some are outwardly beautiful, but they are inwardly beautiful once you get to know them; much like real life.

Additionally, I love that there is a touch of romance in this book, but it doesn’t hit you over the head. It felt real because there are subtitles and complications, but no real ‘hit you over the head’ moments. I realize many people use books to escape, and I can guarantee that while being realistic in its timeline, this book should have you feeling excitement for the blooming love interest. No one falls in love in one day, thankfully.

There is a lot of tension in this book, and the action, and pace are well balanced; I had a hard time putting the book down. In fact, I don’t think I did. This book was a one day read for me, which is saying something because I’m insanely busy! It’s ok though, that homework I was supposed to be doing will get done…eventually.

Life may be seemingly mundane in the beginning, but it takes on a Nordic mythological twist [much like the series title “Norse Chronicles” suggests]. Karissa weaves the old fables into current times, and I think it’s where she shines the brightest. I’d love to expound, but I fear it would spoil things. Suffice it to say; it’s a great read and worth all five stars I’ve given it.

Side note: I discovered this series quite by accident by discovering Karissa Laurel on Facebook first, and then finding out more about her books. I’m ecstatic I did. I highly recommend her Facebook, if you find yourself a fan and you have Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karissalaurel/. She is not only a brilliant writer, but her fan group is fun.

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The Operator (The Peri Reed Chronicles, #2)The Operator by Kim Harrison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Peri has forgotten her past again and will need help to rebuild some of it to take down the agency for whom she once worked. She explores the idea of a drug that could save her from betrayal, keep her from memory loss, and allow her to time jump as she always has. Like everything, it comes at a price. Whether she is willing to pay that price is the question.

This book is a rollercoaster of deception, emotion and trust issues. When you can’t remember parts of your life, it’s difficult to know who’s on your side, but Peri has great intuition, and it speaks to her, sometimes literally. The confusion that situation sometimes adds is hilarious, but sometimes it’s stressful. Thankfully, the loyalty she engenders from friends and strangers alike comes in handy. I enjoy Peri’s stories. She’s strong while being flawed. Writing flawed characters while staying true to the character is something I think Kim Harrison does an excellent job of exploring without letting the characters or the readers down.

I look forward to book three of this series; it will be a difficult wait. I was able to pre-read this awesomeness thanks to an ARC.

Be sure to read the Drafter before reading this book. Kim is great at seeding details about her previous book/s into current ones. Everything makes so much more sense if you read The Drafter, and its short story addition of Side Swiped which was a cool snapshot of Silas’s life.

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The Reaper Virus (The Reaper Virus, #1)The Reaper Virus by Nathan Barnes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Reaper Virus is about a man who works for a College Campus police station when the zombie apocalypse hits his town. Our protagonist, Nathan tells us about the quick decline of civilization via a communications log style, and so we get a small glimpse of his daily work life before the crap hits the fan. He is forced to escape his location in an attempt to get back to his wife and child who are across the city.

I listened to the audio version of this book. The narrator sounds like he’s giving orders to troops throughout most of the story. His attempts to do other voices, especially female voices, is awful until he gets to a character named Phil at which point he suddenly seems to master the ability. The female voice issue isn’t that his natural voice is too low, it’s how he imagines feminine voices appear to sound. It’s grating.

At some point in the story, I either developed an appreciation for the narrator or Stockholm syndrome type feelings towards his vocal style. It’s also possible he softened his tone and got better; I’m not sure which.

The story itself reads at first like a prep list for the Zompacalpyse and later like a “how to escape” from various exercises – added to a “here’s how every zombie looked”- list. It’s repetitive and dull.

Halfway through the story the character, Nathan, cleverly named after the author, started mentioning God when it hadn’t really come up before. I wouldn’t care except it started getting pretty heavy, but it wasn’t in the “I’m starting to believe because holy crap I might be eaten in a few mins!” kind of way. In one line he calls God cruel and a moment later talks about how he can’t wait to see him. I can’t say much without spoiling the story, but it was illogical.

There was zero point to the epilogue. The ending was too hurried, and the words spent in the pointless epilogue could have been used to enrich the end. It didn’t feel hurried in the “gotta do it!” kind of way; more like the writer ran out of juice. It was disappointing.

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You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)You’re Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Felicia Day is blunt, witty, and downright hilarious. Her early life was not easy, but it was interesting. As a fellow nerd of the 90’s, writing, gaming, and female-dom (yes, I totally made up a word), I was able to understand 100% of what she was saying or had lived something similar.

Perhaps my identification with this book is also in part the reason for its high rating, but objectively, I don’t feel that’s the case. It’s well written, flows well, and I happened to get to listen to Felicia read parts of it which made it that much better. Whisper-sync is amazing, thank you Amazon!

Her tale of the gamer-gate horrors she experienced are indeed horrifying, and while this was near the end of the book, she ended the whole thing on a high note.

Finally, if you are a gamer, especially if you experienced life in the dial-up 90’s, you will likely find this book amusing. If you love Felicia Day, you will enjoy this book. If you loved “The Guild,” this book will probably fascinate you. It’s a good read, or listen, or both!

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