Friday, 28 August 2015

Review: Magic Shifts - Ilona Andrews

In the latest Kate Daniels novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews, magic is coming and going in waves in post-Shift Atlanta—and each crest leaves danger in its wake . . .

After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Curran misses the constant challenges of leading the shapeshifters.

So when the Pack offers him its stake in the Mercenary Guild, Curran seizes the opportunity—too bad the Guild wants nothing to do with him and Kate. Luckily, as a veteran merc, Kate can take over any of the Guild’s unfinished jobs in order to bring in money and build their reputation. But what Kate and Curran don’t realize is that the odd jobs they’ve been working are all connected.

An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece . . .

The Kate Daniels Series:
A Questionable Client (Short Story in the Magic Graves anthology)
Magic Bites
Magic Burns
Magic Strikes
Magic Mourns (Novella included in the Must Love Hellhounds anthology or available separately as an ebook)
Magic Bleeds
Magic Dreams (Novella included in the Hexed anthology or available separately as an ebook)
Magic Slays
Magic Tests (Short Story included in the An Apple for the Creature anthology)
Magic Gifts (Novella available for a limited time as a free ebook from the authors and included in the print version of Gunmetal Magic)
Gunmetal Magic (Kate Daniel's World book 1)
Retribution Clause (Short Story in the Hex Appeal anthology)
Magic Rises
Magic Steals (Novella included in the Night Shift anthology)
Magic Breaks
Magic Shifts

Visit Ilona Andrews' website for more information

I think I lost the ability to write a sensible review of anything written by Ilona and Gordon Andrews a long time ago and that goes double when it comes to their Kate Daniels series. I just absolutely adore this world and these characters and will never get enough of them. I have been eagerly waiting for Magic Shifts for a year now, I reread the entire series in the run up to it's release, I dove into the book the moment I got my hands on a copy and I absolutely loved it. I loved it so much that I read it twice within three weeks of the release date, something I hardly ever do.

Kate and Curran are without a doubt my favourite fictional couple and we get to see them on top form here. Things were a little rocky in Magic Rises, they improved in Magic Breaks but in Magic Shifts they are back in full force. They are a couple to be reckoned with, come after one and you have to take them both on because they always, always have each other's backs. I love that they're equals, Curran may have the edge on Kate physically but she's no slouch and with her skill with her sword and her powerful brand of magic she's a powerhouse in her own rights and Curran respects that about her. There may be times that he longs to lock her away from the world to keep her safe but he respects her and her abilities and knows that she can stand on her own two feet so instead he chooses to stand with her so they can fight their enemies together. There are some particularly poignant moments between the two of them in this book and there was definitely more than one point where I had tears in my eyes. I love seeing how far they've come as a couple and they really are stronger than ever now.

After the ending of the last book we knew there would be huge changes in this instalment, Curran and Kate are separating themselves from the pack and it's a complicated process that has a knock on effect on their friends and family. I don't want to say too much about what happens but I am very happy with the way things are currently playing out and I think it's going to be very interesting to see where the couple go from here. As always we get to catch up with some of our favourite side characters, some we don't see as much of as I'd have liked (I missed Derek in particular) but I enjoyed what we do see of them and they never fail to add humour to any situation. Julie really gets a chance to shine and there are some wonderful bonding moments between her and both Kate and Curran. Plus we have the reappearance of both Cuddles and Grendel who never fail to make my day.

One of the things I love about this series is the way the authors are always including new creatures to keep things fresh. I'd hate to spoil things for you so I'm keeping this vague but we get the chance to explore some Arabic mythology this time around and we see the Andrews' twist on some powerful new enemies for Kate. Of course just because they have new people to fight doesn't mean that their biggest threat has left the picture. Roland is still very much on the scene and his motives are still unknown. There are some moments when I'm convinced that he wants to be a proper father to Kate and that he's curious about the idea of having a daughter and family to love but there are other times when I keep expecting him to try and wipe her off the face of the planet and I actually kind of love how ambiguous he is. I honestly have no idea how this series is going to end and it's fantastic that the authors are able to keep me guessing.

Magic Shifts was everything I want from a Kate Daniels book, it was full of action, intrigue and mayhem, there were heartfelt declarations, hilarious conversations, moments of compete and utter anxious terror, interesting twists and a couple of huge hints about major events to come. In short it was perfect! So begins the incredibly long wait for book 9, although I know I'll reread the series at least once between now and then to tide me over.

Source: Purchased

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Thursday, 27 August 2015

One - Sarah Crossan

Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined . . .

From Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this moving and beautifully crafted novel about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?

Visit Sarah Crossan's website for more information

I knew before going in that One was going to break my heart but what I wasn't expecting was how beautiful the story would be. I don't tend to read many verse novels, in fact the last one I read was The Weight of Water, also by this author, three years ago but there is no doubt that this writing style can be extremely powerful when done well. Sarah Crossan definitely has the skill to pull it off and One is now my favourite of her novels.

This is the story of conjoined twins Grace and Tippi, they are joined from the waist down so although they each have two arms they only have one pelvis and two legs between them. Their condition has led to high medical bills which the family struggle to pay and it causes no end of difficulties for the girls when it comes to living their daily lives but the pair are overwhelmingly positive in their outlook. It was great to see them both as individuals and the way they work together as a team, they have an incredibly deep bond with each other and although there are times they wish for privacy most of the time they're just happy to be together.

When the girls start school for the first time it was heartbreaking to see how they were treated by the outside world, the cruel remarks don't just effect the twins though, both their younger sister and their parents are also under a lot of extra pressure. School isn't all bad though and for the first time they have a chance to make friends with people outside the family. Grace and Tippi go through so much but they are always a team, they're best friends as well as sisters and no matter what happens outside they always have each other to turn to.

I'm not going to say anything else about the story because I want readers to be able to enjoy it for themselves. It's being marked by Bloomsbury as "The ONE book to read this summer" and for once I'm completely on board with the marketing hype. If you're looking for something a little different, something that will give you an insight into the really rare condition of conjoined twins but is really all about sisterhood, love and friendship, then you really should pick up a copy of One. It's a beautiful book and it's one that has stuck with me in the weeks since I finished reading it.

Source: Received from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review

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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Review: Girl From Above: Escape - Pippa DaCosta

"There’s no quicker way to get yourself killed than trusting someone in the black." ~ Caleb.

Caleb Shepperd knows Fran has her own motives for helping him escape prison, but he’s not about to let a little thing like past betrayal stand in the way of his next paycheck. Until he’s forced to meet with the sexy and psychotic pirate, Adelina Cande. They’ve met before. When he seduced her, cleared out her credit account, and left her for dead in-the-black.

Caleb figures Adelina holds a grudge when she plants a bomb on his ship and demands he steal a fleet freighter for her, that is, if he ever wants to fly again. Get him drunk enough and he’ll try anything once, but this time, he has to balance his own greed, with the needs of a vengeful pirate and the scheming of his dubious second-in-command, Fran. What could possibly go wrong?

In the heart of Chitec headquarters, #1001 enlists an eager young technician to aid in her escape. But it’s not freedom she wants. It’s revenge. The memories of a life that don’t belong to her demand she finishes what she started. She believes she killed Caleb, now she's targeting Chitec CEO Chen Hung, and not even the hopeful technician can dissuade her.

Synthetics don't make mistakes.

She thought she knew the truth.

She was wrong.

The 1000 Revolution:
Girl From Above: Betrayal
Girl From Above: Escape
Girl From Above: Trapped (release date to be confirmed)

Visit Pippa DaCosta's website for more information

After thoroughly enjoying the first book in this series I couldn't wait to dive back into this world and spend more time with Caleb and #1001. The story picks up not long after the last one ended, #1001 has been caught by Chitec and is about to be decommissioned, she believes that she murdered Caleb and although she was only carrying out orders she feels very conflicted about what happened. When a lab technician agrees to help her escape #1001 knows this is her last chance to make her father suffer for what he did to her and she will do whatever it takes to get her revenge.

Meanwhile Caleb has also been captured and he is struggling to survive on an inhospitable prison planet. His second in command, Fran, may have come to his rescue but Caleb knows that she can't be trusted and the deal she made with a pirate family to save him has ended up dumping him out of the frying pan and into the fire.

If you thought these characters made questionable choices in the first instalment you've not seen anything yet, they all have their own agendas and loyalty is a word that most of them don't know the meaning of. Any alliances they make are fleeting and only last until a better offer comes along so no matter what kind of friendships you think they have you can never be quite sure that their bonds will last. It's just so much fun to read about characters who are so morally ambiguous, I may not always agree with their choices but Pippa DaCosta always does a good job of making their decisions believable.

Caleb is a loveable rogue and I just can't resist him. He's not a good guy, in fact he does some truly horrible things, but he does have his own code of honour and he never claims to be something he's not. #1001 is probably my favourite though, she thinks of herself as completely inhuman but from her thoughts and actions it's obvious that deep down inside her human side is still very much in control. She longs for revenge against the people who wronged her but she also craves friendship and wants something more from life.

I really don't want to say too much about this story apart from to warn you to expect the unexpected. Nothing is what it seems and there are plenty of twists to keep you guessing. I have absolutely no idea where the story will go from here but I do know that the next instalment will be jumping to the top of my to read pile the minute I can get my hands on it!

Source: Received from Pippa DaCosta in exchange for an honest review

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Review: Girl From Above: Betrayal - Pippa DaCosta

"My name is #1001, and I am not ready to die." I’d only just begun to live.

When Captain Caleb Shepperd is released from prison, all he wants to do is keep his head down and earn a living smuggling illegal cargo through the nine systems. So when a synth stows away on his ship, and brings with her a crap-ton of problems, including guilt-ridden secrets he thought he’d escaped, he’d prefer to toss her out the airlock. The problem is, she’s priceless tech, and he’s fresh out of credit.

#1001 is not meant to exist. Created for a single purpose, she has one simple order: to kill. But not everything is as it seems. Buried deep inside, she remembers... Remembers when she was human. And she remembers what Shepperd did to her. She’s not ready to die, but she is ready to kill.

From the bestselling author of the Veil Series comes an action packed story of love, redemption, and revenge.

Pippa DaCosta captures the grit and realism of her urban fantasy stories and injects it, along with some down-and-dirty passion, into the sci-fi genre.

WARNING: 18+ only. Contains graphic adult content, including sex, drug use, violence, and a plethora of curse words. Not for the easily offended.

The 1000 Revolution:
Girl From Above: Betrayal
Girl From Above: Escape
Girl From Above: Trapped (release date to be confirmed)

Visit Pippa DaCosta's website for more information

There are only 1000 synths in existence, these highly advanced synthetic humans can be purchased the super rich so that their memories and consciousness can be transferred to the synth when they die. But if only 1000 of them were created who is #1001, where did she come from and why is she so different to the others? #1001 wants to live, she's managed to escape captivity and she has a plan but is it a coincidence that it's Caleb's ship that she ends up on? Caleb makes a living smuggling cargo but a stowaway synth is too hot for him and he knows he'll be in all kinds of trouble if he's caught. All he wants to do is get rid of her fast and if he can make some money while he's at it then he'll be happy to take the bonus. What Caleb doesn't realise is that he and #1001 have history and now it's high time to pay for the mistakes of his past.

Oh what a fun read Girl From Above: Betrayal is and if you like your characters morally ambiguous you are going to love Caleb and his crew. None of these characters are what you'd call good guys, they're all willing to bend the rules if it benefits them and they're all out for themselves above anyone else even if that means betraying each other. Caleb is the worst of the lot but somehow I found myself loving him anyway. As soon as I picked this up I started getting Firefly vibes and I have to admit picturing Caleb as Captain Malcolm definitely didn't hurt my enjoyment of the story.

This world is dark, the characters are twisted and I was completely hooked. The blurb contains the following warning "Contains graphic adult content, including sex, drug use, violence, and a plethora of curse words. Not for the easily offended." and I definitely stand by that, it isn't going to be the right book for everyone but if you're like me that warning will just make you want to read it even more. I loved this story and can't wait to dive into the next instalment.

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

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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Review: Anything but Broken - Joelle Knox

After five years, tragedy brings Hannah Casey back to Hurricane Creek to bury what’s left of her family. She’s flunking out of college, haunted by scandal, and the only person who cares is Sean Whitlow, an irresistible bad boy with a soft spot for her. The problem? He’s her dead sister’s ex.

Sean doesn’t bleed red, he bleeds motor oil. During the week, he struggles to turn his auto repair shop into a profitable business. But when Saturday night rolls around, he’s the reigning stock-car king of the local race track. He doesn’t know how to lose–or how to walk away and leave Hannah alone with her grief.

Between her grades and her wealthy family’s dark secrets, Hannah’s barely holding her life together. And the last thing Sean needs is to get tangled up with another Casey girl. As the attraction between them spins out of control, they’ll either find a love with no limits–or go up in flames.

Hurricane Creek Series:
Anything but Broken
Anything but Perfect (2016)
Antyhign but Tempted (2016)

Visit Joelle Knox's website for more information.

Anything but Broken is the first book in the new Hurricane Creek series by Joelle Knox, AKA writing duo Bree and Donna who you may already know under one of their other pen names: Moira Rogers or Kit Rocha. I can understand why these authors choose to write under several names because each of their personas have a very distinctive voice and writing style, I'm a huge fan of everything that they write but not all of their books will appeal to everyone and it's good to have an easy way to tell what you're signing up for before you buy one of their books. Anything but Broken is like nothing they've done before but it still has innate their flare for story telling and for creating characters you'll come to care about.

Hannah hasn't returned to her home town since the death of her sister five years ago but now another tragedy has brought her back, this time a car crash that killed her father outright and left her mother in a coma. Her life is falling apart around her and Hannah doesn't even know how to start picking up the pieces. Sean used to date Hannah's sister and when he realises how alone Hannah is he sets out to take care of her. The attraction between them is intense but Sean is more interested in helping Hannah put her life back together and he doesn't want to rush her into anything. The connection between them is undeniable but they both have plenty of issues to work through if they are going to have any chance at making a relationship work.

Too often I find that NA romances revolve around guys who are players which leads to drama with exes or a lot bitchiness amongst the female characters and I'm sick of reading them so it's nice to find something that breaks the mould. The intensity in this story comes from the character's, from their past experiences and their way of looking at life, so there is actually very little in the way of conflict caused by the people around them. Hannah has been through a lot, her father was an alcoholic and her mother didn't deal with things very well so her childhood wasn't great. Her sister suffered with bipolar disorder but was never given the help she desperately needed because of the way her mother reacted and Hannah has spent years blaming herself for her sister's death and struggling to come to terms with what happened. She felt ostracised by her family and she never got the chance to make peace with them or get answers to the many questions she had. It's had a huge impact on her and now she's struggling to come to terms with everything and find a way to move forward.

Sean was her first crush but as her big sister's boyfriend he was completely off limits, of course five years later everything has changed. She's still just as attracted to him as ever but it looks like he might return the attraction and she's not quite sure what to do with that, especially considering the family secrets she is still keeping from him. I absolutely loved Sean, he was the perfect blend of protective, caring lover and sexy, slightly dangerous bad boy. He was an everyday guy who worked hard to keep his garage running by day and who spent his evenings and weekends as a race car driver. I've never really thought of stock-car racing as particularly sexy but Sean convinced me and I'm definitely looking forward to more of that side of things as the series continues. What I loved most about Sean was his patience and the way he looked out for Hannah, he can see just how broken she is but that doesn't scare him off and he works hard to help her build her confidence and get her life back on track.

Alongside the main couple we also have a great cast of secondary characters, I loved Sean's family and the way they took Hannah into the fold was really nice to see. There is a lot of fun banter between the siblings but they all care deeply about each other and I hope we get to see more of them all as the series continues. Hannah gets the chance to reconnect with her childhood friend Evie and I really loved seeing a strong and supportive female friendship between them, there is no petty jealousy, you just have two young women who care about each other and are there to support each other through the hard times. My favourite secondary character was Sean's friend Gibb though, in the beginning he is very against Sean's relationship with Hannah and I have to admit I was a little wary of his character but he really grew on me. Gibb obviously didn't want to see his friend get hurt and was trying to protect Sean and I could respect him for that but what I liked about him most was his ability to realise when he was in the wrong and the way he stepped up for Hannah to help her deal with something when he was in a unique position to offer her advice. Once we get to know him it becomes obvious that he's a really caring guy and I was incredibly excited to find out he's the hero of the next book.

I was already a huge fan of this writing duo but I'm definitely going to be adding their new Joelle Knox pen name to my list of auto-buy authors. I have a feeling that this is going to turn into one of my favourite NA series and it's definitely one I'll be recommending to anyone who likes to read about realistic, flawed characters who are dealing with tough emotional issues and who find the strength to rebuild their lives.

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

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Monday, 24 August 2015

Cover Reveal: Say You're Mine - Diane Alberts (+ Giveaway)

I'm a massive fan of Diane Alberts' contemporary romances so I'm excited to be taking part in the cover reveal for her upcoming novel, Say You're Mine, which is being released by Entangled Publishing in December.

About the book:

She’s a challenge he can’t afford to lose . . .

Navy SEAL Steven Thomas has only ever been able to count on three things: waking up in the morning, going to sleep sometime during the night, and Lauren Brixton. She’s been his best friend since grade school, and what they have is the only relationship he’s managed not to ruin.

Until one drunken night puts that all in jeopardy.

Lauren’s watched Steven flit from one-night stand to one-night stand, seemingly not interested in something more. So when the long-ignored attraction between the two of them blows up in their faces, she does the only thing she can—she pretends she doesn’t want him. But all’s fair in love and war, and Steven’s not about to lose the only person in his life who matters . . .

Author Bio:

Diane Alberts is a USA TODAY bestselling Contemporary Romance author with Entangled Publishing. Under the name Jen McLaughlin, she also writes New York Times, USA TODAY, and Wall Street Journal bestselling books with Penguin Random House. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestselling lists. Diane is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.

Diane has always been a dreamer with a vivid imagination, but it wasn’t until 2011 that she put her pen where her brain was, and became a published author. Since receiving her first contract offer, she has yet to stop writing. Though she lives in the mountains, she really wishes she was surrounded by a hot, sunny beach with crystal clear water. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania with her four kids, a husband, a schnauzer mutt, and four cats. Her goal is to write so many fantastic stories that even a non-romance reader will know her name.

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To celebrate the upcoming release of Say You're Mine Diane Alberts is giving away ebook copies of Temporarily Yours and Stealing His Heart, two previous books in the Shillings Agency series. You can enter using the rafflecopter form below and the winner will be contacted directly by the author or her assistant in order to arrange sending out the prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Review: 30 Days - Christine d'Abo

For years, Alyssa has been going to bed with a memory. Is she ready to wake up with a fantasy?

Some people wait their whole lives to find their soul mate, but not Alyssa Barrow. She met Rob at nineteen, and they were set to live happily ever after—until he became ill. In his final days, Rob urged his beautiful, young wife not to abandon happiness—or pleasure. He even left her a special gift, a sexy game plan to help her move on: Thirty cards with instructions for thirty days of passion. You’ll know when the time is right, he’d said. Now it’s two years later, and when Alyssa meets her hot new neighbor, Harrison Kemp, she begins to think the right time is right now . . .

From his sculpted thighs to his devilish grin, Harrison is the kind of man women want. Before she can lose her nerve, Alyssa tells Harrison about her long-ignored cards…and asks him to help her fulfill them. It’s a favor he’s more than happy to, um, perform. With his skillful touch, and the hot press of his lips against her skin, Alyssa finds herself re-awakening to life—and a host of other sensations. But what began as not-so-innocent fun soon grows into true intimacy, and Alyssa realizes she’s opening herself up not just to sex . . . but to love. When it comes to a future with Harrison, what’s really in the cards?

Saucy, heartwarming, and insightful, 30 Days explores the agony—and the ecstasy—of starting over, and how a little encouragement, and a little courage, can go a long way . . .

Visit Shiloh Walker's website for more information

Alyssa already had what she thought would be her happily ever after, she married her first love and they were incredibly happy together until her husband, Rob, became ill. Knowing he was dying Rob made Alyssa promise that when she was ready she would move on and find happiness with someone else. Alyssa was sure she would never be able to get past Rob's death but now two years on she is finally starting to feel like she could move on with her life, she'll never forget Rob but she doesn't want to be alone forever either. Rob left Alyssa a letter for when she was ready and when she discovers it contains 30 cards with sexy instructions to help build her confidence she just needs to find someone to test them out with. Then Harrison moves into her apartment complex on a short term lease and she realises he's perfect, not only is he completely gorgeous but he'll be gone in three months so she doesn't have to risk getting her heart involved in a rebound relationship.

30 Days was a beautiful, heartfelt story that shows it is possible to move on with your life even after suffering the most terrible tragedy. It was obvious how much Alyssa had loved Rob and how hard she found even the thought of moving on but at the same time she deserved to find happiness again and I enjoyed seeing her come out of her shell both emotionally and sexually. She was obviously very young and inexperienced when she met Rob and it seemed like even though they were best friends and very compatible they never had enough time to fully explore each other sexually. Rob wanted Alyssa to be able to push her boundaries and find out what she really enjoys and the cards were his way of helping her move on. At first I thought it would be a bit weird having Rob's presence in her current relationship in the form of the cards but it was actually handled really well and I think Alyssa found Rob's continued support rather comforting.

Harrison was a great character too, he was obviously more than happy to let Alyssa experiment on him and I enjoyed the fun banter between the couple. He had his own secrets and reasons for keeping Alyssa at arms length and I would really have loved to be able to get inside his head and see exactly why he reacted the way he did sometimes. I think that would have helped me connect with them as a couple even more but even without it I still thought they fit well together and I believed that they would make a good couple. Christine d'Abo always writes great sex scenes and she didn't disappoint me here, 30 Days was a sweet and emotional story but it was also funny and hot as hell. The cards certainly gave me a few ideas that I'd like to try out in the future!

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

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