Friday, 24 April 2015

Review: The Deepest Poison - Beth Cato

Octavia Leander, a young healer with incredible powers, has found her place among Miss Percival's medicians-in-training. Called to the frontlines of a never-ending war between Caskentia and the immoral Wasters, the two women must uncover the source of a devastating illness that is killing thousands of soldiers. But when Octavia's natural talents far outshine her teacher's, jealousy threatens to destroy their relationship—as time runs out to save the encampment.

Fans of Beth Cato's debut, The Clockwork Dagger, will love this journey into Octavia's past—as well as an exclusive excerpt from the sequel, The Clockwork Crown!

Clockwork Dagger Duology:
The Deepest Poison (Short Story)
The Clockwork Dagger
The Clockwork Crown

Visit Beth Cato's website for more information

The Deepest Poison is a short story set before beginning of The Clockwork Dagger. Technically it's a prequel so it can be read before either of the full length novels (which is what I did) but I do think you'll probably enjoy it more if you read it after the first book. The story is very short, less than 50 pages, and for me I didn't feel the author had enough time to introduce a whole new world and new characters in a way that made me feel invested in them.

There isn't really too much I can say about The Deepest Poison because not a great deal happens and I didn't really understand where it fits into the series as a whole. The story is set in an army camp and a mysterious illness is killing thousands of soldiers. Two healers, Octavia and Miss Percival, are trying to uncover what is causing the sickness and searching for a cure but there seems to be a rift forming between them as the younger woman's healing abilities start to far outreach those of her mentor. I believe that Octavia is the main character in the next two books and I'll be interested to see things from her point of view rather than Miss Percival's.

Although I found myself a bit lost when reading The Deepest Poison it was definitely enough to intrigue me and make me want to read The Clockwork Dagger though so it's achieved it's goal there and I may even come back and reread this after I've read the next book to see if it makes more sense to me. Personally, although this is technically a prequel, I wouldn't recommend starting the series here but I'll come back and update this review if my opinion changes after reading the next story.

Source: Received from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review

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Thursday, 23 April 2015

Review: Valentine - Samantha Young

Joss & Braden. Ellie & Adam. Jo & Cam. Olivia & Nate. Hannah & Marco. Shanon & Cole. And one Valentine’s Day they’ll never forget.

It’s Valentine’s Day! How do Joss & Braden, Ellie & Adam, Jo & Cam, Olivia & Nate, Hannah & Marco and Shannon & Cole keep the fire burning in their relationships while trying to juggle busy careers and the joyful chaos of parenthood? Find out in VALENTINE, six sexy and emotional short stories, one for each couple in the On Dublin Street series so far, making up a short novella about one very special day.

VALENTINE: An On Dublin Street Novella is a special gift to fans of the series in thanks for supporting HERO, her first standalone contemporary romance.

On Dublin Street Series:
On Dublin Street
Until Fountain Bridge (Novella)
Down London Road
Castle Hill (Novella)
Before Jamaica Lane
Fall from India Place
Echoes of Scotland Street
Valentine (Novella)
Moonlight on Nightingale Lane

Visit Samantha Young's website or the On Dublin Street website for more information

I'm a huge fan of Samantha Young's On Dublin Street series and I absolutely love it when author's revisit favourite couples and give us a glimpse of how they're getting on after we've read about their HEA. I especially love it when authors give their fans these little snippets for free as a thank you for supporting their work and that's exactly what Samantha Young has done with Valentine.

This novella contains 6 short stories, one about each of the previous couples in the series and shows them celebrating valentine's day together. Some of them are home babysitting, others are getting a rare night away from the kids and normal day to day responsibilities while the younger couples are just wanting to do something special with the ones they love. Some of the couples are stronger than ever where others are going through a rough patch and need to reconnect. Each of these stories offers something different, some are super romantic, others tug at your heart strings but they all include a little spice and they're all very realistic for the couple they feature.

This is a fab little collection and I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with everyone and seeing how they're getting on. Of course we all have our favourite couples and I'm sure you'll love some stories more than others but they're all great little slices of life and this is well worth a read if you're a fan of the series.

Source: Free read from the author (downloaded from Amazon)

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Review: Reckoning - S.J. Harper

Join Agents Emma Monroe and Zack Armstrong.
She’s sacrificed. He’s suffered. They’ve both been betrayed.
Now it’s time for a reckoning.

Special Agent Emma Monroe has a secret. She’s a Fallen Siren, cursed by the gods and banished to Earth for her failure to prevent the kidnapping of Persephone. As an FBI agent she saves the lives of others believing redemption could be one rescue away.

Her partner Zack is a werewolf and former Black Ops sniper who once carried out a string of questionable assignments. Now he’s determined to atone for his past. Ironically, there’s a portion of his past Zack doesn’t remember—an affair with Emma. Giving into their attraction for one another almost led to their undoing. Now it’s back to business as usual.

While trying to unravel the mystery behind a series of kidnappings in Southern California, Emma and Zack become entangled with political tensions in the vampire and Were worlds. Not to mention the struggles they face in their relationship with one another. With so much uncertainty, they come to realize the only thing they can really count on is one another…or can they?

Fallen Siren Series:
Captured (Novella)

Visit S.J. Harper's website for more information

Emma is a siren who was cursed thousands of years ago by the goddess Demeter for not preventing Hades from kidnapping her daughter Persephone. Emma and her sisters have spent their whole lives trying to atone for their mistake in the hope that they will achieve redemption and be allowed to return to their home. As part of their punishment they are forbidden from falling in love, if they do their partner will suffer Demeter's wrath. Emma is working as an FBI agent and has a strong bond with her werewolf partner Zack but to protect him and save his life she had to wipe his memory of the intimate part of their relationship. It's the worst kind of torture for Emma, she gets to spend her days with the man she loves knowing that they can never have any kind of personal relationship. Zack may not remember the time they spent together but that doesn't mean he has lost his feelings for her and he doesn't understand what has Emma running so scared when he knows she is attracted to him.

This series is going to break my heart, I can't even tell you how much I love Zack and want him and Emma to find a way to be together but everything is against them and has been from the very beginning. The opening few pages of this book almost had me jumping for joy but even though I knew deep down that things couldn't possibly be what I thought they were I still found myself incredibly disappointed when I realised that Emma has started a relationship with someone else. The only reason she is with the vampire Kallistos is because she knows there is no chance she will fall in love with him and that's a pretty sad kind of relationship if you ask me. She is with him because she wants a connection with someone but he will never be that equal partner she has in Zack. I hate to say it but I'm really not a fan of Kallistos, I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him and I don't think he has Emma's best interests at heart. Unlike Zack I can't imagine Kallistos risking anything to protect her unless he has something else to get out of it. Kallistos lies to her, he treats her like his property and I don't think he has any respect for her.

Seeing Emma with Kallistos was enough to drive me crazy, it was just so obvious that they're wrong for each other and I really wanted to climb into the book and shake some sense into her. I can understand why she is afraid to be with Zack and she's doing it to protect him but that's no reason to be with someone else. I know she's a siren but women can be single and happy for crying out loud! We do get a bit of light at the end of the tunnel as far as Emma and Zack goes later on in the book but they aren't out of the woods yet and it's quite obvious that Demeter has a few more tricks up her sleeves when it comes to the two of them. I really do want to see them work things out though because they're obviously meant to be together.

I know I've spent a lot of time talking about the romance but that isn't all that this series is about and just like with the previous stories there is plenty of action and mystery going on as Emma and Zack investigate another missing persons case. This time they are looking into the disappearance of three teenage girls, girls from poor families that have received no ransom demands. Emma is determined to find them and bring them home but as they dig deeper they find more questions than answers. Can they find the girls in time or have they already lost their lives?

This series is going from strength to strength and I really hope we don't have to wait too much longer for the next instalment!

Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Review: Froi of the Exiles - Melina Marchetta

Blood sings to blood . . .
Those born last will make the first . . .
For Charyn will be barren no more.

The curse on Lumatere has been broken, and Froi, wild as he is, has finally found somewhere he feels he belongs: bythe side of Finnikin and the queen. However, he must channel his savage side when he is sent on a mission to a rival kingdom. With a frenzied princess roaming the palace, and danger lurking in every corner, Froi needs to discover the truth before it's too late.

Lumatere Chronicles:
Finnikin of the Rock
Froi of the Exiles
Ferragost (Novella)
Quintana of Charyn
Lady Celie (Novella) (2015)

Visit Melina Marchetta's website for more information

I absolutely loved Finnikin of the Rock when I read it last year but I have to admit I was nervous when I realised that Froi was the main character of the sequel. After one particular scene with him in the first book I was absolutely convinced that I would never be able to like his character and had nearly made up my mind not to continue with the series but then by the time I finished reading Finnikin Melina Marchetta had already gone some way towards showing a nicer side to Froi so I decided to give it a chance. I'm glad I did because this series really is fantastic, it's dark and some of the characters go through some pretty horrific things but I'm totally invested in what happens to them and desperate to see how the series finishes.

If you read the first book (and I really don't recommend continuing with this review if you haven't!) then you'll know exactly what scene with Froi I'm talking about and I'm sure I'm not the only one who was horrified by his actions. I still haven't forgiven him for what he tried to do to Isaboe and to be honest I don't think I ever will but I still ended up growing to really care about his characters and that just proves what a fantastic writer Melina Marchetta is. Froi is a messed up guy, he had a terrible upbringing and saw a lot of horrific things when he was living on the streets. I'm not trying to excuse his actions, there really is NO excuse for what he did, but it does make his thought processes easier to understand. His whole life has been about pain and he learned at a very young age that if you're not the one dishing it out then you're the one who is being made to suffer. Like I said that's no excuse but Froi never once tried to excuse his actions. It is obvious that he regrets what he did and he tries every single day to make up for it but he doesn't ask for, or expect, forgiveness. I couldn't have come to like him if I didn't feel like he regretted his actions and was trying to atone for his past mistakes and he totally won me around.

Froi of the Exiles is a huge book (just over 700 pages) but it's one I absolutely devoured and didn't want to put down for a minute. It's set three years after the first book and although this is mainly Froi's story we also get to catch up with all our favourite characters and see how they're getting on now. There have been big improvements for some of them and life in Lumatere is finally starting to settle down now that all of the refugees have been able to return home but there is still a lot of resentment and confusion between those who were left behind and those who were on the outside. Finnikin and Isaboe are trying to bring their people back together but it isn't easy and everyone is desperate for revenge against the king of Charyn, the person who cursed them in the first place. When they have the opportunity to get close to the king Froi is sent undercover but what he discovers when he reaches Charyn is completely unexpected. In fact, the people there are suffering just as much as the people of Lumatere have and Froi has some very difficult decisions to make, especially when it comes to Charyn's princes Quintana.

I absolutely loved Quintana, she is completely crazy but utterly brilliant and she's one of the most complex characters I've come across in a long time. I don't really want to tell you much about her because it's much better for you to discover her for yourself but she has been put in such an impossible situation that she's pretty much split her mind in two to protect herself. She definitely has multiple personalities and it was completely heartbreaking to see how much she has suffered for her people. She's so funny though, at one moment she'll be completely innocent and naive but the next she's like a wild cat spitting and fighting to defend herself. I loved how Froi was able to see through her sharp edges and understand how vulnerable she was and seeing the two of them together was adorable.

I honestly don't have the words for how much I loved this book. Melina Marchetta turned me into an emotional wreck, she ripped my heart into shreds and then set fire to the remains one minute but then had me laughing out loud the next. This is a book of heartbreaking tragedies and incredible injustices but also of characters with huge amounts of inner strength and hearts of gold. There are epic love stories and wonderful friendships as well as deep betrayals and surprising family connections. The plot is so complex that it's impossible to guess what will happen next and there were times when I was so shocked I nearly fell out of my chair. I will warn you now that it ends on a killer cliffhanger - seriously if you thought the ending of Finnikin of the Rock was bad you've not seen anything yet! - so you're going to want to get your hands on a copy of Quintana of Charyn ready for as soon as you finish this book. I have so much love for this series and I really do think it's one that everyone should read. It may be set in a fantasy setting but there are so many things about it that make it feel relevant to today, the characters are incredibly easy to relate to and I don't think many people would be able to read these books without getting some kind of strong emotional reaction to what happens.

Source: Received from Walker in exchange for an honest review

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Sunday, 19 April 2015

Birthday Giveaway Winners!

I have the winners of my birthday giveaways to announce today with the help of Rafflecopter

First we have the UK giveaway for a signed copy of Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Secondly we have the international giveaway for a signed copy of Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations to you both! I have sent you an email asking for your addresses and you now have 1 week to respond or a new winner/s will be chosen. I will be sending out the prizes for these giveaways so your details won't be shared with anyone else.

Thanks so much to both Hodder & Stoughton and Mira Ink for sponsoring these giveaway & thanks to everyone who entered. I'm sorry if you didn't win but I'll have more giveaways coming up soon so make sure you check back for another chance to win prizes.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Review: Rock Hard - Nalini Singh

In New York Times Bestselling author Nalini Singh’s newest contemporary romance, passion ignites between a gorgeous, sinfully sexy man who built himself up from nothing and a shy woman who has a terrible secret in her past . . .

Wealthy businessman Gabriel Bishop rules the boardroom with the same determination and ruthlessness that made him a rock star on the rugby field. He knows what he wants, and he’ll go after it no-holds-barred.

And what he wants is Charlotte Baird.

Charlotte knows she’s a mouse. Emotionally scarred and painfully shy, she just wants to do her job and remain as invisible as possible. But the new CEO—a brilliant, broad-shouldered T-Rex of a man who growls and storms through the office, leaving carnage in his wake—clearly has other plans. Plans that may be equal parts business and bedroom.

If Charlotte intends to survive this battle of wits and hearts, the mouse will have to learn to wrangle the T-Rex. Game on.

Rock Kiss Series:
Rock Addiction
Rock Courtship (Novella)
Rock Hard

Visit Nalini Singh's website for more information

It wasn't easy for Charlie to put her life back together after escaping from an abusive relationship but she has worked hard to get where she is now and although she is still painfully shy she is good at her job and is independent. When Gabriel is brought in to completely overhaul the company she works for Charlie is terrified she's about to be fired but instead she finds herself promoted and working directly for Gabriel as his personal assistant. Gabriel is a terrifying T-Rex of a man, he demands a great deal from his staff and puts Charlie under a huge amount of pressure but at the same time she feels incredibly safe around him. No matter how scary she finds him she knows without a doubt that he would never hurt her and she finds herself gaining confidence in herself with him at her side. Gabriel wants Charlie from the moment he sets eyes on her and it doesn't take him long to realise just how special she is. He can see she's been hurt in the past though and he is more than willing to take his time stalking his prey.

This series really does get better and better with every single book, I've been looking forward to Charlie mouse and T-Rex's story for such a long time now and it was totally worth the wait. I've always been a huge fan of Nalini Singh for her paranormal romances but with this series she's proving that she's just as good at writing contemporary and this book was utterly perfect. I don't think I would change a single thing about it and just thinking about how much I enjoyed reading it has me wanting to pick it back up and devour it for a second time.

We all know that alpha heroes have become a huge trend in contemporary romances recently and I love strong, dominant heroes as much as the next girl but I'm often disappointed because some authors seem to think that alpha male is equivalent to domineering, abusive arse. If you want to meet a REAL alpha let me introduce you to Gabriel. Yes the man is grumpy and domineering at work, he knows what he wants and he expects his staff to do it immediately - he isn't known as the T-Rex for nothing - but he isn't unreasonable. He expects hard work from everyone else because he works hard himself, he puts in longer hours than anyone and wouldn't ask you to do something that he wasn't willing to do too. Outside the office Gabriel is the nicest guy you could ever hope to meet, he is sweet, kind, funny and thoughtful. He has a take charge attitude but he also knows when to take a step back and hand the reigns over to someone else.

I have a lot of respect for the way Gabriel treated Charlie, he set his sights on her very quickly but he could see that she was skittish and nervous and he respected her need for space and to take things slowly. He takes time to get to know her, to build trust between them and to just show her what a great guy he is before he even hints at wanting anything more than a business relationship between them. When he finally makes his move he knows just how far to push her so that things start to move forwards but he backs off immediately the second she gets nervous.

I absolutely loved seeing Charlie's confidence in herself increase, even before they're in a relationship Gabriel has a way of building her up and showing her just how special she is. She starts the story very mousy and almost afraid of her own shadow, something that isn't too surprising when you find out about her history, but by the end of the book she can really fight her own corner. I thought Nalini Singh handled her past sensitively and Charlie's progression was perfect, she wasn't cured of her fears overnight - nobody who had survived what she did could be - but she makes steady progress because she has the support of a guy who is willing to listen to her needs. Gabriel's instincts make him want to protect Charlie but he understands how important her independence is to her and he helps her live life on her own terms.

The whole Rock Kiss series has been brilliant but Rock Hard takes things up to a whole new level and Charlie and Gabriel are definitely one of my favourite Nalini Singh couples. I know I'll be reading this story again and again while I wait for the next book in the series to release and I'm really hoping that we're going to get stories about Gabriel's brothers that will allow us to catch up with these two too. I can't recommend Nalini Singh's books highly enough, she never lets me down and always, always makes me fall head over heels for her characters.

Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

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Monday, 13 April 2015

Review: Taken by a Dragon - Felicity Heaton

Possessed by a need to save a beautiful Amazon warrior from the vision he witnessed, Loke snatched her from the midst of the battle between the Third and Fifth realm of the demons, and carried her to his home deep in the black mountains of Hell to protect her. But as the fierce little female awakens, he finds she’s anything but grateful, and his dragon instincts roar to life to warn she might be more to him than an enemy—she might be his fated female.

Anais remembers meeting a handsome warrior in the heat of battle, a man who was her enemy but who looked at her with eyes that held dark heat and wicked promises. When she wakes to find that same dragon shifter has taken her captive, desire is the last thing on her mind, but escaping him to return to Archangel, the hunter organisation she works for, sounds less than appealing when he reveals the reason he took her—to stop her from dying.

Can Loke protect Anais from the dangers of his realm and how far will he go to save her from the future he keeps witnessing? Can Anais resist the fierce attraction that burns between them as hot as fire and stay true to Archangel or will her heart be taken by the dragon?

Eternal Mates Series:
(This series is set in the same world as the Vampire Erotic Theatre series but can be read completely separately)
Kissed by a Dark Prince
Claimed by a Demon King
Tempted by a Rogue Prince
Hunted by a Jaguar
Craved by an Alpha
Bitten by a Hellcat
Taken by a Dragon

Vampire Erotic Theatre Series:

Visit Felicity Heaton's website for more information

I've loved the whole Eternal Mates series so far but since I have a special soft spot for dragons I have to admit I was even more excited for Taken by a Dragon than normal. There is just something about dragons that fascinates me and I can totally get on board with a sexy hero who can turn into a beautiful, majestic, fire breathing beast! So to say I had high hopes for this is an understatement and happily it was just as good as I hoped it would be.

If you've read the previous book you may well remember when a dragon captured Anais during the battle for the Third Realm in Claimed by a Demon King. I've been desperate to know what happened to her ever since so it was great to finally get her story. Dragons have the gift of foresight and the moment Loke saw Anais he realised she would die on the battlefield. There was something so magnificent about her that he refused to stand by and watch her death though so instead he scooped her up and took her to his home in the mountains of hell. Loke may have been trying to do the right thing but Anais was horrified to wake up and find herself his prisoner. She is determined to escape and find her way back to the battle no matter what it takes but as she spends time with Loke she starts to see that his intentions were honourable and wonder whether she really wishes to return home. Unfortunately Hell is full of danger and Anais may not survive long enough to make her choice.

What I love most about this series is that the women are just as capable of fighting and protecting themselves as the men are. As a member of Archangel Anais is a warrior, she has spent years training to fight so although she isn't as physically powerful as a dragon she isn't a completely helpless human either. She stands her ground against Loke and isn't afraid to tell him exactly what she thinks of being kidnapped and taken away from everything she's ever known. Unsurprisingly Loke was my favourite though, he was possessive, demanding and very alpha but he also had a totally sweet and caring side. He would do anything to keep Anais safe, even if it meant battling his entire species to do it.

I loved spending time with these two and I really, really hope that we're going to get the chance to spend more time with the dragons as the series continues. It was interesting to see the hierarchy of the dragon clan and there were certainly some unlikeable and dangerous characters amongst them but there were a couple who have me intrigued. We also had the chance to catch up with a few of the previous characters and I'm getting more and more certain that my favourite is going to get his story told soon. I haven't seen an announcement about the next book yet but it will definitely be jumping to the top of my list the minute I can get my hands on a copy no matter which character it stars.

Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review

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