Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Review: The Curse of the Tenth Grave - Darynda Jones

Part-time PI and full-time grim reaper, Charley Davidson has asked a lot of questions throughout her life: Why can I see dead people? Who is the hot supernatural entity following me? How do I get gum out of my sister's hair before she wakes up? But, "How do I trap not one god, but three?" was never among them. Until now. And since those gods are on earth to kill her daughter, she has little choice but to track them down, trap them, and cast them from this dimension.

But one of them stole her heart a very long time ago. Can a god of absolute death and destruction change his omniscient spots, or will his allegiance lie with his brothers?

Those are just some of the questions Charley must answer, and quick. Add to that a homeless girl on the run for her life, a man who's been framed for murdering a woman who is still very much alive, and a pendant made from god glass that has the entire supernatural world in an uproar, Charley has her hands full. If she can manage to take care of the whole world-destroying-gods thing, we're saved. If not, well...

Charley Davidson Series:
First Grave on the Right
For I Have Sinned (Novella)
Second Grave on the Left
Third Grave Dead Ahead
Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet
Fifth Grave Past the Light
Shimmer (Free Short Story)
Glow (Free Short Story)
Sixth Grave on the Edge
Seventh Grave and No Body
Eighth Grave After Dark
Brighter Than the Sun (Novella)
The Dirt on the Ninth Grave
The Curse of Tenth Grave
A Very Charley Christmas (Free Short Story)
Eleventh Grave in Moonlight
The Trouble with Twelfth Grave
Summoned to Thirteenth Grave

Visit Darynda Jones' website for more information

Review:
I'm so happy that this series is completely back on track now that Charley has her memory back. We're back to seeing her work her magic as she simultaneously tries to prove a man is innocent of murder, help a young runaway who believes she has been cursed, deal with a blackmailer, oh and try to figure out a way to stop the gods of Usen and thwart the apocalypse. All of that would be much easier if she wasn't trying to keep secrets from Reyes but he's been keeping her at arm's length ever since they got back from New York and she's got no idea how to bridge the gap between them (thank goodness for Cookie on that one because she comes up with a very creative way to get them talking again!).

There have been some really interesting revelations about both Charley and Reyes in the last couple of books, ones that are going to have a huge impact on the rest of the series so I'm dying to see how everything all comes together now we're in the final stretch. I did find myself frustrated that Charley still doesn't completely trust Reyes, he has been through so much trying to keep her safe and it just takes one small thing, that potentially happened years before they became a couple, for her to doubt his love for her. I could understand why she was keeping certain secrets but I was so relieved when everything was out in the open and that they're now fully back on track relationship wise.

It's also great to see Charley starting to push herself and figure out what her abilities actually are, she's learning all the time and is capable of far more than she ever expected. There was one moment that left me utterly heartbroken for Reyes in this book, he's lost so much already and it really isn't fair for even more to be taken from him. I was far more upset about that than I was about Charley's loss in the previous book but I am extremely worried about a certain revelation about Ubie and hope Charley is able to figure out a way to stop what is coming. Anyway, I'm glad I can dive straight into the next book so I won't have to wait to find out what happens next. I have a feeling I'm going to be binging the last three books very quickly!

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

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Monday, 25 March 2019

Review: The Dirt on the Ninth Grave - Darynda Jones

In a small village in New York Charley Davidson is living as Jane Doe, a girl with no memory of who she is or where she came from. So when she is working at a diner and slowly begins to realize she can see dead people, she's more than a little taken aback. Stranger still are the people entering her life. They seem to know things about her. Things they hide with lies and half-truths. Soon, she senses something far darker. A force that wants to cause her harm, she is sure of it. Her saving grace comes in the form of a new friend she feels she can confide in and the fry cook, a devastatingly handsome man whose smile is breathtaking and touch is scalding. He stays close, and she almost feels safe with him around.

But no one can outrun their past, and the more lies that swirl around her-even from her new and trusted friends-the more disoriented she becomes, until she is confronted by a man who claims to have been sent to kill her. Sent by the darkest force in the universe. A force that absolutely will not stop until she is dead. Thankfully, she has a Rottweiler. But that doesn't help in her quest to find her identity and recover what she's lost. That will take all her courage and a touch of the power she feels flowing like electricity through her veins. She almost feels sorry for him. The devil in blue jeans. The disarming fry cook who lies with every breath he takes. She will get to the bottom of what he knows if it kills her. Or him. Either way.

Charley Davidson Series:
First Grave on the Right
For I Have Sinned (Novella)
Second Grave on the Left
Third Grave Dead Ahead
Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet
Fifth Grave Past the Light
Shimmer (Free Short Story)
Glow (Free Short Story)
Sixth Grave on the Edge
Seventh Grave and No Body
Eighth Grave After Dark
Brighter Than the Sun (Novella)
The Dirt on the Ninth Grave
The Curse of Tenth Grave
A Very Charley Christmas (Free Short Story)
Eleventh Grave in Moonlight
The Trouble with Twelfth Grave
Summoned to Thirteenth Grave

Visit Darynda Jones' website for more information

Review:
I'm a huge fan of this series but I have to admit after the disappointment of book eight I put off starting this one for quite a while. I just wasn't sure what to expect from a Charley with no memory and was worried that this would be another filler book that didn't really add much to the overall story arc. In a way I was right about that, nothing huge happens in this book and I don't think you'd really miss much by skipping it. However, this was FAR better than book eight, it's back to being more of an action oriented story as Charley goes out of her way to try and solve a mystery and save people she's only just met. It feels like this series is starting to get back on track and I'm back to being excited to carry on reading it

Charley spends nearly the whole book in a strange kind of limbo wondering who she is and where she's from, more importantly she wonders why nobody has come looking for her. What she doesn't realise is that her closest friends and family have all inserted themselves into her new life so all of they're still with her even if she doesn't recognise them. I have to say I didn't really buy the reasoning of keeping their identities hidden from her, Charley is so distraught at not knowing who she is and she thinks she must have been a terrible person because nobody is looking for her and they could have saved her a lot of that pain by being honest with her.

It was interesting to see that even without knowing her history her personality hasn't changed. She still cares about the underdogs and wants to help people. Watching her try to figure out why she could see dead people everywhere she went was quite hilarious, particularly when she had a run in with a ghost horse! I also loved getting back that intense sexual tension between her and Reyes. Charley doesn't remember him but she's still totally attracted to him and doesn't understand why he goes from practically eating her with his eyes to acting like he hates her. Reyes on the other hand is dreadfully angry at Charley for leaving him, he's angry about the situation they're in and he's hurt that she could forget him but he still loves her and is desperately hoping she'll come back to him. It makes for some wonderful will they / won't they moments between them that I couldn't get enough of.

I'm very glad that Charley eventually gets her memory back, I don't think I could read another book of her second guessing herself and everyone around her because she knows they're hiding things but doesn't know what or why. I'm hoping that from here onwards we're going to get back to the series I love and I can't wait to see how Charley and Reyes' story ends.

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

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Sunday, 24 March 2019

Review: Brighter Than the Sun - Darynda Jones

Charley Davidson has enough to be getting on with. She is, after all, incredibly pregnant and feeling like she could pop at any moment. But, just her luck, twelve deadly beasts from hell have chosen this time to escape, and they've made Charley their target. She takes refuge at the only place they can't get to her: the grounds of an abandoned convent. Before long, Charley also has a new case to hold her attention: the decades-old murder of a newly-vowed nun she keeps seeing in the shadows of the convent.

Add to that the still unsolved murder of her father, the strange behavior of her husband, and Charley's tendency to attract the, shall we say, undead, and she has her hands full . . . but also tied. While the angry hellhounds can't traverse the consecrated soil, they lurk beyond its borders like evil sentries, so Charley has been forbidden from leaving the sacred grounds and is powerless to get the answers she wants.

Luckily, she has her loyal team with her, and they're a scrappy bunch. They scour the prophesies, searching for clues on the Twelve, and their presence is comforting - it's almost as though they've all been drawn to her as part of a bigger picture . . . But the good feelings don't last for long because Charley is about to get the surprise of her crazy, mixed-up, supernatural life.

Charley Davidson Series:
First Grave on the Right
For I Have Sinned (Novella)
Second Grave on the Left
Third Grave Dead Ahead
Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet
Fifth Grave Past the Light
Shimmer (Free Short Story)
Glow (Free Short Story)
Sixth Grave on the Edge
Seventh Grave and No Body
Eighth Grave After Dark
Brighter Than the Sun (Novella)
The Dirt on the Ninth Grave
The Curse of Tenth Grave
A Very Charley Christmas (Free Short Story)
Eleventh Grave in Moonlight
The Trouble with Twelfth Grave
Summoned to Thirteenth Grave

Visit Darynda Jones' website for more information

Review:
I'd been flying through this series and enjoying every minute of it but then I hit book eight and just kind of stalled. It pains me to say it but I just didn't feel the magic with this one. To be fair it's very hard to write an exciting book when your narrator is not only 8 months pregnant but also trapped in a convent to avoid being eaten by hellhounds. Charley has spent months stuck in one location and as much as her friends and family drop by to keep her company it's just really not the same as seeing her out and about kicking butt and taking names.

I was a bit wary when we found out Charley was pregnant, to be honest I prefer to avoid kids in UF books unless they're either old enough to be interesting characters in their own right, or come at the end of the series to signify the the fact that the main characters are finally getting to settle down and have their well earned happily ever after. I mean how is Charley supposed to deal with a potential apocalypse if she's carting around a newborn? Well that issue was kind of resolved but I'm not even sure I like the way that side of things was handled either. It just seems a bit pointless to bring a kid into things and then do what happened in this book.

So this book wasn't as full of action as the previous stories and if I'm honest the first half was kind of boring. I was frustrated with Charley for going against Reyes' wishes and trying to track down his birth parents when he specifically asked her not to but I think I was even more angry at the way that entire plot thread ended and I wanted to smack some sense into the pair of them for keeping such ridiculously stupid secrets from each other. I was also really irritated by Gemma and the way she kept trying to force Charley to accept Denise, the stepmother from hell, back into her life. Denise has been horrible to Charley throughout the entire series, was a monster to her when she was a child and now expects to be allowed to play grandmother of the year. No chance and the fact Gemma was taking Denise's side made me really mad. I have to admit I loved the way things played out with Denise though, I think that probably makes me a terrible person but I don't care because the whole thing was hilarious!

The story did improve towards the end, we finally start getting some answers about Charley's powers and why she's been given them. I still have a lot of questions and some things confused me a bit but we're getting answers and that's great. I'm still not sure how I feel about the twist at the end though, in some ways I think it'll make things really interesting and will hopefully send the series back in the right direction action and plot wise but in others it felt like a bit of a cop out. I guess I'll have to see how it plays out in book nine before I make my mind up. Even though this wasn't my favourite book I'm still hooked enough that I want to know how things play out so I'm definitely going to be continuing the series.

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

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Saturday, 23 March 2019

Review: North Cyprus (Bradt Travel Guide)

Hike up to Buffavento, stroll through the cloisters of Bellapais Abbey or go barefoot on the golden sands of the Karpas Peninsula. Rugged North Cyprus offers charming unspoilt villages, deserted beaches and hidden monasteries - things of the past in the developed south. Revised and expanded, the eighth edition of North Cyprus reveals churches, castles, classical ruins and newly accessible sites. Accompanying this is an entertaining and in-depth overview of the ancient and modern history that has shaped this complex and divided island.

Visit the Bradt website for more information

Review:
I'll admit that I usually go straight for Lonely Planet books when I'm looking for travel guides but since they don't have one specifically for North Cyprus (just for the island as a whole) I ended up choosing this Bradt one and being very happy with it.

This is a pretty comprehensive guide to North Cyprus full of interesting background information on the island. There is so much history to uncover in Cyprus and this guide includes a timeline of important events dating from 6000BC right through to more recent years. The division between the Turkish controlled North and Greek controlled South of the island is complex and versions of events are likely to differ depending on whether you ask someone from Greek or Turkish descent but the information included in this guide is factual and seems pretty non-biased which I appreciated.

As well as the history of the island you'll also find information on the types of flora and fauna you can expect to see, detailed information about the different regions in the North and notes about most of the main tourist attractions as well as the usual tourist tips and info you'd expect from a tour guide and some handy Turkish language hints. There are countless mosques, churches, monasteries, castles and even Roman ruins to explore, beautiful beaches (I wish we'd travelled at the right time to see the turtles who come every year to lay their eggs), wonderful scenery and friendly people. The North side of the island is much poorer than the South so they rely on tourism to boost their economy and because of that they're really very warm and welcoming.

Cyprus really is a beautiful island and the North is far less built up than the South which actually made it a really nice place to visit, you won't find western chains of shops and restaurants there (although everything is still priced in Euros so I'd recommend taking those not Turkish Lira) and it's far less unspoiled than most tourist destinations. This was really noticeable in the capital city Lefkoşa (Turkish) / Nicosia (Greek) which is split in two by the green line, a barbwire barricaded no mans land that marks the boarder between the North and South. If you have your passport you can walk across the boarder in certain places after passing through two checkpoints and as soon as you cross to the Greek south side you'll see an immediate difference spotting chains like Starbucks and KFC that are completely absent in the North.

This guide was published in 2015 so I expect some of the hotel and restaurant information is probably out of date by now but we did a week long coach touring trip that took us around most of the North so we didn't really need that information anyway. It did include information about most of the places we visited and although our tour guide was extremely knowledgable it was nice to be able to look up extra information in the book too and have it as a reference guide to look back on now we're home. If you're looking for a guide for Northern Cyprus then I'd highly recommend this one and the island itself is well worth paying a visit to.

Source: Purchased

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Friday, 22 March 2019

Review: Salvatore - Cecy Robson

Desperate men do desperate things . . .

Salvatore Torre is a dangerous man. If you’ve lived the life Sal has, rage is to be expected and maybe so is heart. After his father killed his mother in a jealous rage, Sal was left to raise his two younger brothers, becoming a parent long before he was ready.

Desperate for money to support his family, Sal sought help from his old friend, Vincent Maggiano, the son of New Jersey’s top crime boss being groomed to take over his ailing father’s empire.

Sal never planned to join the mob. He also never planned to fall for his brother’s sweet and ultra conservative counselor, Adrianna Daniels.

Aedry isn’t the type of girl Sal is usually drawn to. Her skirts are longer, her hair is tamer, and her heels aren’t clear. But he can’t deny the attraction he feels. And Salvatore’s dark, sexy, and dangerous persona is the exact opposite of the clean-cut business men who usually catch Aedry’s attention.

Neither planned on a life of crime nor did they plan on love. But now, both are in too far.

In Too Far Series:
Salvatore

Visit Cecy Robson's website for more information.

Review:
I've been a fan of Cecy Robson's books since she first started writing her Weird Girls urban fantasy series and I've followed as she moved into writing contemporary romances too. I already knew she writes excellent conflicted heroes but this time she's taken things a step darker as Salvatore is an enforcer for the mob. Don't go into this expecting it to be too dark though, Salvatore has done a lot of things he isn't proud of but he's never killed anyone and we don't see a huge amount of his gang life on page. There are a few scenes with his boss Vincent where lines are crossed and murder is involved but Salvatore is never the one pulling the trigger.

Salvatore never wanted to join the mob, he was actually training as an MMA fighter and close to hitting the big time but when his father brutally murdered his mother before killing himself Salvatore's life was turned upside-down overnight. Salvatore would to anything to protect his younger brothers Apollo and Gianno but he desperately needed money to fight for custody of them and stop them being swallowed up in a system he didn't trust to keep them safe. He turned to his childhood friend Vincent for help but that left him indebted to the son and heir of one of New Jersey's top crime bosses. Salvator's life is a dangerous one and he knows it's only a matter of time before he's forced to cross a line he can never come back from.

Aedry is the total opposite of Salvatore, she's shy, sweet and innocent with a heart of gold and a desperate need to help people. She is a guidance counsellor at the school Apollo and Gianno attend and she reaches out to Salvatore when his brothers get in trouble for fighting and skipping classes. The attraction between Aedry and Salvatore is instant but Salvatore is unwilling to pull her into his dangerous world and Aedry knows she'd never be able to hold the attention of someone so magnetic. Instead she focuses on helping his brothers and by doing that she starts to turn the whole family's lives around.

I have to admit I got a little frustrated that Salvatore kept pushing Aedry away but not giving her the full information on why he didn't feel good enough for her. He was trying to be noble but he was keeping so many secrets that she wasn't able to make an informed decision about whether she wanted to be in his life or not. I did think their romance was incredibly sweet though, I loved the interactions between the whole family and the way she became a motherly figure for Salvatore's brothers. She brought a lot of stability to all of their lives and I liked how protective they became of her when they thought Salvatore wasn't treating her right. Aedry put up with a lot from Salvatore, there were times when I wanted her to push back at him harder but in the end she did stand her ground and make the best choice for her own peace of mind.

The ending seemed a little too easy considering the situation Salvatore was in at the beginning but I really liked how things turned out for them as a family so I'm willing to overlook that. I did really enjoy the story and I'm looking forward to the next book in this series which I hope will be about Lucca and Autumn.

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

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Blog Tour: Salvatore - Cecy Robson


SALVATORE

by Cecy Robson
Publication Date: March 13, 2019
Genres: Adult, Gritty, Contemporary, Romance, Standalone


AVAILABLE NOW!



SYNOPSIS

Desperate men do desperate things . . .

Salvatore Torre is a dangerous man. If you’ve lived the life Sal has, rage is to be expected and maybe so is heart. After his father killed his mother in a jealous rage, Sal was left to raise his two younger brothers, becoming a parent long before he was ready.

Desperate for money to support his family, Sal sought help from his old friend, Vincent Maggiano, the son of New Jersey’s top crime boss being groomed to take over his ailing father’s empire.

Sal never planned to join the mob. He also never planned to fall for his brother’s sweet and ultra conservative counselor, Adrianna Daniels.

Aedry isn’t the type of girl Sal is usually drawn to. Her skirts are longer, her hair is tamer, and her heels aren’t clear. But he can’t deny the attraction he feels. And Salvatore’s dark, sexy, and dangerous persona is the exact opposite of the clean-cut business men who usually catch Aedry’s attention.

Neither planned on a life of crime nor did they plan on love. But now, both are in too far.



ABOUT CECY ROBSON:


Cecy Robson is an author of contemporary and new adult romance, young adult adventure, and award-winning urban fantasy. A double-nominated RITA® Finalist, Winner of the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and published author of more than twenty titles, you can typically find Cecy on her laptop or stumbling blindly in search of caffeine.

Connect with Cecy online:


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Thursday, 21 March 2019

Review: The Fever King - Victoria Lee

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Feverwake Series:
The Fever King
The Electric Heir (2020)

Visit Victoria Lee's website for more information

Review:
Set in a distant future after a worldwide plague wiped out a large chunk of the population and you'll find America has split into several different countries. Noam is an undocumented immigrant living in Carolinia who spends his time fighting against the government to try and get better rights for refugees. With regular outbreaks of the magical plague outside the boarders Carolinia is determined to keep people out and conditions in the refugee camps are just getting worse and worse. When the plague hits Noam's camp he is one of the only survivors and his newly gained, and incredibly rare, technomancer magical talent makes him a valuable tool that the government wants to use. Noam is determined to use his ability against the government but first he needs their help to learn how to use his ability.

I'll admit this was a total cover buy, I hadn't heard of the series before but when it popped up in the first reads program that cover and the blurb had me totally sold. I had very high hopes going in so I really hate to say this but I did end up feeling a little disappointed. There were a lot of really interesting ideas here but I don't think they were executed particularly well, the world building came in the form of sporadic info dumps that were boring to read and hard to understand. Even by the end of the book I didn't feel like I had a strong grasp of what happened to splinter America or even how the much of the world had survived the magical plague. I just have no idea how many countries are left or what kind of state they are in.

One bonus I'll give the story is that it does have good representation, the main character is mixed race and bisexual, there is a gay romance and it also raises interesting talking points about refugees and the way they are often demonised for doing nothing more than trying to survive. I just wish the world building had been better and the plot had been more cohesive. I also felt that the major plot twists were too well telegraphed because I saw them coming from a mile away. I liked the characters well enough but I don't feel particularly invested in their story and even though it ended on a pretty big cliffhanger I currently have very little interest in picking up the sequel. This is Victoria Lee's debut and I should probably give it some leeway because of that so that's why it gets 3 stars rather than 2 but unless I see some really glowing reviews for the next book I doubt I'll be continuing the series.

Source: Purchased

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