Friday, 18 January 2019

Review: Three Trials - Kristy Cunning

So, I've checked off some life goals and added a few new ones to my list.

Goal #5: Get out of hell's belly without letting my ungrateful charges die.

Goal #6: Get a new name that's more badass.

Goal #7: Stop wasting my breath on lectures and start annoying the quad hell squad every time they annoy me. Fight fire with fire. Ha! Another hell pun.

Goal 8: Find out who the hell killed me.

I'll add more. I don't want to overwhelm myself before I even finish checking off my old goals. But seriously, I really do need a more badass name, considering how much I have to keep saving my damsels in distress.

I probably shouldn't call them damsels, since they're a little murderous and all.

Maybe I should add seeing a hell-certified psychologist to my list of goals.

**Sexual situations/content
**Reverse Harem
**Dark humor galore
**Language warning

The Dark Side Series:
Four Psychos
Thee Trials
Two Kingdoms
One Apocalypse

Visit Kristy Cunning's website for more information

Review:
Three Trials picks up Keyla's story right after the end of Four Psychos so Keyla and her men are stuck in hell and about to take part in a series of trials that they are very unlikely to survive. Luckily for the warriors they have a friendly ghost on their side and since she's appointed herself their guardian she is going to use whatever abilities she has to make sure they make it through.

I don't want to give too much away about this story but I enjoyed it even more than the first book. Keyla is still the snarky and hilarious girl we already knew and loved but I found myself liking the guys much more in this one because while they're still wary of her they do manage to treat her better than before. I like the fact that the romance is slow build in this series but things are starting to heat up a little as the guys are finding it harder and harder to resist temptation.

We get some really interesting revelations about Keyla's background here as we finally learn who she actually is and why she has such a strong connection to Kai, Jude, Ezekiel and Gage. There was also plenty of action and some really nice developments in the world building so I'm definitely looking forward to seeing where the story takes us next and I'll be diving into the next book very soon.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
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Thursday, 17 January 2019

Review: Tsumiko and the Enslaved Fox - Forthright

Tsumiko inherits an ancestral home, a vast fortune, and a butler who isn’t exactly human.

Humanity is rocked by the Emergence of a people who call themselves the Amaranthine. They are our myths and legends come to life. Neither human nor animal, yet embracing qualities of both, the inhuman races inspire both awe and fear. Every newsfeed is clogged with updates about the peace process, but some places don’t concern themselves with worldly affairs. Like the girls’ school run by Saint Midori’s of the Heavenly Lights, where Tsumiko Hajime grew up.

A letter from a long-lost aunt names Tsumiko heiress to an ancestral estate and its accompanying fortune. Only the legacy comes with an aloof heirloom: an inhuman butler. Argent has served the Hajime family for centuries, and Tsumiko must renew the generational bond or he’ll die. Argent hates her for the hold she has over him, but he craves her soul almost as much as he craves his freedom.

Amaranthine Saga:
Tsumiko and the Enslaved Fox
Kimiko and the Accidental Proposal
Tamiko and the Two Janitors (2019)

Visit Jessie Mihalik's website for more information

Review:
I first heard about Tsumiko and the Enslaved Fox when Ilona Andrews recommended it on her blog and that was enough to have me immediately downloading the sample to give it a try. I've never read manga or watched anime so this style of story was quite different to my usual fare but I really enjoyed the world that Forthright has created. I still have questions that I hope will be answered in future books but I was given enough information to pull me into the story without being overwhelmed by unnecessary details.

Tsumiko is an orphan who was working as a teacher at a boarding school while her brother is studying at college. I'm not sure if she's supporting him financially but they do have a very close connection and are friends as well as siblings. Tsumiko's life is turned upside-down when she discovers she has inherited a vast estate from a distant relative, now not only does she have control of a very large fortune and own a stately home but she has also inherited the staff that work on the estate. That includes a very special bond with her new butler, Argent. An Amaranthine fox, Argent has been enslaved to Tsumiko's family for centuries and he is not happy to have a new mistress that he will be forced to serve. Tsumiko is equally horrified about the thought of enslaving another person and determined to find a way to break the bond so that Argent can have his freedom.

This story is quite a slow burn one rather than an action packed adventure but it still managed to completely hold my attention and I was fascinated by the different types of Amaranthine that we are introduced to. It was interesting to see the connection between the shapeshifting Amaranthine and the not quite fully human Reavers who tend to them. I admit the whole tending thing could come across as a little creepy at times (like the way Argent would lick Tsumiko's neck or how they had to kiss the first time they met just to solidify their bond) but there was also an innocence to the connection between them. Tsumiko herself is quite naive about the new world she finds herself in and she was a tiny bit too innocent and pure for my taste but she does have an inner strength that shines through at times and she was very caring towards the people around her which is something I always appreciate.

Argent has suffered centuries of torment at the hands of Tsumiko's family so it was understandable that he found it difficult to trust her at first but I enjoyed seeing their connection grow as he got to know her better. I think what I loved most about this book was the side characters though. I really liked Michael and Sansa, other Reavers who worked on the estate as well as the younger fox Ginko who was the gardener. The connection between Tsumiko and her brother Akira was great and I'm really curious about his roommate Suuzu. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the next book in this series and seeing Forthright expand on the world they've created.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
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Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Review: The Queen's Gambit - Jessie Mihalik

When the Quint Confederacy and the Kos Empire went to war—again—Queen Samara wisely kept her Rogue Coalition out of the conflict. But staying neutral in a galactic war doesn’t pay the bills, not when both sides refuse to trade with neutral sectors.

With her people on the brink of starvation, Samara hatches a daring plan to snatch the kidnapped Kos Emperor from the Quint mercenaries holding him. The Kos Empire will pay a fortune for their emperor’s return, enough to feed the Coalition’s citizens while they wait for the return to a begrudging peace.

But when her plan goes sideways, Samara finds herself evading Quint mercenaries with the very man she intends to capture. And the more time she spends with Valentin Kos, the more she realizes that he’s not the coldly indifferent villain she imagined. Torn between duty and desire, Samara must decide if saving her people is worth giving up the one thing she’s always wanted.

Rogue Queen:
The Queen's Gambit
The Queen's Ambition (currently being published as an online serial via the author's blog)

Visit Jessie Mihalik's website for more information

Review:
I first read The Queen’s Gambit when it was available on Jessie Mihalik’s blog as a free online serial and I enjoyed it enough that I purchased the final, edited version when it went on sale. The story was officially edited and expanded upon before official publication and I enjoyed the story as much, if not more, the second time around.

Samara is a great character, she’s the queen of a ragtag group of refugees and rebels who are living in the outer reaches of the solar system and just trying to get by without drawing attention of two warring factions. The war has made food and other supplies scarce and her people are struggling just to survive on very low rations. Samara has done everything she can think of to get food for her people but desperation has made her a little reckless and now she’s decided to kidnap Valentin, the new Emperor of the Kos Federation hoping to use the ransom for food and supplies. After all Valentin’s war is the reason her people are suffering in the first place so the least he can do is provide the means to save them.

I don’t want to say much more about the story but things with Valentin aren’t all what they first seemed and Samara may have bitten off more than she can chew by abducting him. Now she just has to decide if she can work with him for the good of her people or whether he will stab her in the back at the first chance he gets.

Jessie Mihalik has created a fun futuristic world with lots of interesting technology but even though this is only a novella I never found myself lost or struggling to keep up. There was a nice amount of action, a good selection of side characters and I also enjoyed the developing romance. I’m already looking forward to reading the sequel and luckily I don’t have to wait long because the author has already started posting instalments of The Queen’s Advantage on her blog!

Source: Originally read as an online serial on Jessie Mihalik's blog but I then purchased a copy once it had been edited and published

Other Reviews:
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Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Review: Silk & Steel - Ariana Nash

A tormented dragon prince.
A captured elven assassin.
Duty demands they fight for their people but love has other plans.

Eroan, one of the last elven assassins, lives for one purpose: kill the queen.

He would have succeeded if not for her last line of defense: Prince Lysander. Now, captured and forced into the queen’s harem, Eroan sees another opportunity. Why kill just the queen when he can kill them all? It would be simple, if not for the troubled and alluring dragon prince. A warrior, a killer, and something else… something Eroan finds himself inexplicably drawn to.

Trapped in a life he despises, Lysander knows his time is running out.

If the queen doesn’t kill him for his failures, her enemies will. There’s nothing left to live for, until an elf assassin almost kills him. A stubborn, prideful, fool of an elf who doesn’t know when to quit. An elf who sparks a violent, forbidden desire in Lysander. If Lysander can’t save himself, maybe he can save the elf and maybe, just maybe… one stubborn elf will be enough to bring down the queen before her reign brings death to them all.

Silk & Steel is a 85,000 word full-length novel.

This series is a dark fantasy intended for mature readers.
Silk & Steel features gay and bisexual characters and encounters.

Silk & Steel Series:
Sealed with a Kiss (Prequel short story)
Silk and Steel
Iron and Fire (2019)

Visit Ariana Nash's website or Pippa DaCosta's website for more information

Review:
I'm a huge fan of Pippa DaCosta's writing so when I found out she was writing a dark fantasy M/M story under the pen name of Ariana Nash I immediately added it to my wish list. Throw in the fact that the main characters of Silk & Steel are an elven assassin and a dragon prince and I just couldn't wait to get started! Anyone who has ever read any of Pippa's stories will know that she excels at detailed world building and tortured heroes and she has outdone herself on both of those fronts with this book.

Eroan is one of the few surviving members of the elven assassins, his whole life has been spent training to kill the dragon queen although he has always known that he is more likely to die in the attempt than to actually succeed. He came so close to achieving his goal but he was captured by the dragon prince Lysander and now he is being held prisoner in their stronghold. The only thing keeping Eroan going is his dream of ending the dragon queen once and for all but the longer he spends in captivity being tortured the slimmer his chances appear.

Lysander has been his mother's plaything since he was a child, nothing he ever did was good enough to earn her acceptance and the title prince is a mockery when he is just as much a prisoner of his circumstances as Eroan. Lysander has given up hope of surviving his mother but there is something about the fierce and proud elf that makes him long for a future he knows is impossible. Perhaps if he can just manage to save Eroan then his entire life won't have been wasted but to do that he's going to have to stand up to the woman who has made his entire life a misery.

You only need to read the blurb for Silk & Steel and the warnings it contains to know that this story is going to be a dark one, it's actually quite uncomfortable to read at times but in that best kind of ways where your heart hurts but you just can't stop reading. The characters are complex with believable motives and although there is a great forbidden romance bubbling along in the background it's definitely  a slow build which works perfectly in this situation. That's not to say there's no heat in this story because there's still plenty of sex happening, both of the M/M and M/F variety, but Eroan and Lysander have a long road to travel if they want any chance at a happily ever after and they're nowhere near the finish line yet.

I'm ridiculously excited to see where this series is going to take us, there have already been plenty of unexpected developments and I'm sure Ariana Nash is going to throw in a few more curveballs along the way. This is shaping up to be one heck of a ride!

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

Other Reviews:
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Monday, 14 January 2019

Release Blitz: Sealed with A Curse Interactive Game App - Cecy Robson


Download the Free App and explore the Crazy Maple’s Chapters games

Choose your story with Chapters, the interactive story game that lets you choose your path in every story. Read through chapters and chapters of fun interactive stories that fit your mood, from romance to suspense!

Choose your story from our top collection of romance, fantasy, sci-fi, young adult, comedy, and drama series! Chapters combines a unique style of choose your own story gameplay with fiction stories from our top authors that you simply can't put down!

YOU get to make the choices in each story. Decide on hard life choices such as falling in love, discovering secrets, or unravelling deep mysteries! Make your choices wisely; every ending is different!

Chapters Features:
- Choose your story! Dive in and start making choices that affect the overall outcome!
- Adventures start with you choosing your name and style to reflect your personality.
- All stories come with info directly from the author!

Download the FREE APP here:

http://bit.ly/ChaptersAndroid

http://bit.ly/ChaptersDownload

Find Crazy Maple's Chapter Games on social media:

Facebook: http://bit.ly/FBChapters
Twitter http://bit.ly/ChaptersTwit

Game Trailer:



Giveaways:

Gem Giveaway:

Chapter Apps will provide five lucky winners with 100 gems

a Rafflecopter giveaway


US Only Autograph Print Bundle:

Cecy will give one US winner an autographed print bundle of Gone Hunting, A Curse Awakened, and The Weird Girls

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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:

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Review: A Whole New World - Liz Braswell

Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.

Twisted Tales Series:
A Whole New World - Liz Braswell
Once Upon a Dream - Liz Braswell
As Old As Time - Liz Braswell
Reflection - Elizabeth Lim
Part of Your World - Liz Braswell
Mirror, Mirror - Jen Calonita (2019)

Visit Liz Braswell's website for more information.

Review:
I grew up watching the Aladdin cartoon, it’s still one of my favourite Disney movies and I absolutely adore Robin Williams as the genie. Then last year I went to see the Aladdin musical with friends and I walked out of the theatre in the mood for Aladdin in book form, I knew A Whole New World was a twisted version of the story and it sounded like it would hit the spot perfectly so I couldn’t wait to dive in.

The beginning of this book follows the movie pretty much word for word, apart from a little extra from Aladdin’s childhood fans of the cartoon will easily be able to picture events as they unfold so I can understand why some people have said the beginning is a little on the slow side. That didn’t stop my enjoyment at all because it was exactly what I’d picked up this book hoping for.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Twisted Tale if the story stayed exactly the same as the original though and it doesn’t take long for the story to go in a completely different direction. What would have happened if Jafar had stolen the lamp before Aladdin had discovered the genie and made his wishes? Well you’re going to have to read the book for yourself to find out that but it does involve a street rat and a princess who join together to lead a revolution.

I really enjoyed Liz Braswell’s take on such a familiar story and I’m looking forward to seeing how she twists other familiar fairytales on their head.

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

Other Reviews:
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Paperback:

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Review: The Kiss Quotient - Helen Hoang

It's high time for Stella Lane to settle down and find a husband - or so her mother tells her. This is no easy task for a wealthy, successful woman like Stella, who also happens to have Asperger's. Analyzing data is easy; handling the awkwardness of one-on-one dates is hard. To overcome her lack of dating experience, Stella decides to hire a male escort to teach her how to be a good girlfriend.

Faced with mounting bills, Michael decides to use his good looks and charm to make extra cash on the side. He has a very firm no repeat customer policy, but he's tempted to bend that rule when Stella approaches him with an unconventional proposal.

The more time they spend together, the harder Michael falls for this disarming woman with a beautiful mind, and Stella discovers that love defies logic.

Visit Helen Hoang's website for more information

Review:
Since she turned 30 Stella's mother has started putting on the pressure about her getting married and starting to produce some much longed for grandkids. Stella doesn't want to let her parents down but as someone with Aspergers Syndrome she finds interpersonal relationships extremely difficult and her few attempts at sex have all ended in disaster because she couldn't bear to be touched so intimately by a practical stranger. She's extremely successful at her career but feels like a failure because of her struggles to hold down a relationship so she decides to hire a professional to teach her how to enjoy, or at least tolerate, sex. She's sure that once she's mastered sex she'll have a chance to find a husband and start building a family.

Michael has been an escort for three years, working on the side to earn enough money to cover his mother's medical bills. It wasn't a career path he went looking for and he's become pretty jaded about both women and sex so he finds Stella's openness about her goals incredibly refreshing. Michael is patient, calm and willing to take things very slowly so that Stella is always in control and feeling comfortable with what they're doing. He listens to her fears, goes out of his way to make things easier for her and never makes her feel awkward. In fact, he's the first person who seems to like her for her quirks rather than in spite of them.

I really loved The Kiss Quotient, it's like a gender swapped version of Pretty Woman and the story was both sweet, sexy and incredibly romantic. I loved Stella's personality, she's very intelligent and caring so although she finds it hard to read people she works hard to understand Michael and his family. She's a total novice when it comes to relationships but the way things slowly develop between them was totally believable and I loved how willing they both were to talk things through and discuss their hopes and dreams. Michael has a lot of baggage of his own and doesn't feel worthy of Stella thanks to some things in his past but he was really sweet and protective of her and they just fitted together as a couple so well. I wasn't a big fan of Stella's parents but Michael's mother and sisters more than made up for that and this whole book just left me with a massive smile on my face.

It's not often that I fall so totally in love with a contemporary romance story but The Kiss Quotient was a one sitting read that I absolutely devoured and I'm definitely going to be purchasing everything that Helen Hoang writes in the future.

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

Other Reviews:
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Paperback / Kindle:

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