Monday, 22 December 2014

Review: Sea Glass - Maria V. Snyder

A Game of Magic

Student magician Opal Cowan's newfound ability to steal others' powers makes her too powerful.

Trapped under house arrest, Opal dares to defy her imprisonment, searching for Ulrick, the man she thinks she loves. Thinks because she is sure another man - now her prisoner - has switched souls with Ulrick.

In hostile territory, without proof or allies, Opal isn't sure whom to trust. She doesn't know the real Ulrick's whereabouts and can't forget Kade, the handsome Stormdancer who doesn't want to let her get too close.

And now everyone is after Opal's special powers for their own deadly gain . . .

The Chronicles of Ixia:
Poison Study
Assassin Study (Short Story)
Magic Study
Fire Study
Power Study (Short Story)
Ice Study (Short Story)
Storm Glass
Sea Glass
Spy Glass
Shadow Study (2015)
Night Study (2016)

Visit Maria V. Snyder's website for more information

Review:
Now that the Council have found out about Opal's ability to steal other magician's powers they immediately see her as a threat. No matter how much she has done for them in the past it is all worth nothing now and they now want her under house arrest inside the Citadel where they can monitor her activities and decide what to do with her. The worst thing of all is that nobody believes her when she tells them that Devlen and Ulrick have swapped bodies so now Devlen has free reign of the Citadel and is as trusted as Ulrick would have been. Opal doesn't know what his goals are but she knows that nothing good can possibly come of them and since she's the only one who knows what's going on it's up to her to stop him. First she needs to find Ulrick and figure out a way to put his soul back in his own body but what if Ulrick wasn't quite the innocent victim in all this? Will he even want Opal's help?

While I think I prefer the Study series I'm still really enjoying the Glass books and I love being able to dive back into the world of Ixia. Although this is Opal's story we still get to see some familiar faces along the way and Janco in particular has a starring role in this story but I also loved catching up with Leif and of course Yelena too. Opal has always seemed much more innocent than Yelena, she is younger, more trusting and less able to stand up for herself, particularly in Storm Glass and during the beginning of this book. I was really pleased to see how much progress she makes in this novel though, she still has her moments but it was great to see her starting to gain confidence now that she's beginning to understand how her magic works and I was glad that she is standing up for herself more now. In fact by the end of the book she'd become pretty impressive. I actually like the fact that Opal and Yelena are so different and it's always fun to see how the two of them interact with each other.

There is a lot going on in Sea Glass, Opal finds herself in a whole heap of trouble and she has more than one enemy to deal with. We get to see more of the different Sitian clans which was interesting but at times it did feel like there was a little too much travelling going on. I would have liked to spend more time with some of the clans seeing Opal making use of her new found magical abilities. That's a fairly minor niggle though because there was so much going on that I was certainly never bored and I could happily have devoured the whole book in one sitting if only there were more hours in the day. One thing Opal really has to learn throughout this story is not to blindly trust people, even those who she feels closest to. There are a lot of people who aren't quite what they seem and that doesn't make it easy for her to figure out who are allies and who are enemies but that is something she is starting to get better at. She needs to learn to trust her gut instincts a little more and that is definitely something she is improving at.

There are some revelations at the end of Sea Glass that are going to make things very interesting for Opal in the future and I can't wait to read Spy Glass to see what happens to her next.

Source: Received from Mira Ink in exchange for an honest review

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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Review: Dangerous Territory - Emmy Curtis

A SEXY STRANGER

Flirting with danger is reporter Grace Grainger’s modus operandi. But she’s learned the hard way not to grow attached to the soldiers she’s embedded with in Afghanistan. To escape from her pain and loneliness, she fantasizes about the hot night she spent with a gorgeous stranger three years before in D.C. Grace never thought she’d see him again—let alone need him to rescue her . . .

AN EXPLOSIVE NIGHT

Air Force Master Sergeant Josh Travers knows journalists are nothing but trouble. So when he has to risk his team’s lives to save some reporter who’s been separated from her patrol, he’s not happy—until he recognizes her stunning eyes and delicious curves. Josh has never wanted a woman like he wants Grace. He needs her—even in an Afghan cave with a sandstorm and enemy troops closing in. This might be the end for both of them—or one hell of a beginning.

Alpha Ops Series:
Dangerous Territory (Novella)
Over the Line
Pushing the Limit

Visit Emmy Curtis's website for more information.

Review:
The first time Grace and Josh met they were strangers in a hotel bar both looking for a night of passion to help them forget their troubles, they share an intense night but with no expectations of ever seeing each other again and both walk away happy afterwards. Three years later and they both still remember that night fondly and wonder if their paths will ever cross again. Reporter Grace is now embedded with a military unit in Afghanistan reporting the realities of war, when a routine patrol goes horribly wrong she finds herself stranded alone and defenceless behind enemy lines. Josh is part of the pararescue team sent to rescue her and he's not happy about risking his life for a reporter who had no business being out in the field in the first place. It isn't until he arrives that he realises who Grace is and no matter how much he hates reporters the chemistry between them is still burning as hot as the night they met. Can he get her to safety and if he does will he be able to let her walk away from him a second time?

Dangerous Territory is Emmy Curtis's debut and a great introduction to her new Alpha Ops series. The story has just the right blend of action, suspense and danger combined with a nice amount of romance and a couple of hot sex scenes. I have to admit that as hot as the first sex scene was I did find it a little unbelievable that they'd get down and dirty in a cave when the Taliban are outside searching from them and that did reduce my rating a little, however their second encounter was much more appropriate and therefore more enjoyable.

I liked both of the main characters, I enjoyed seeing Josh get over his prejudice against reporters and realise that Grace wasn't just trying to make money by writing sleezy tabloid pieces. He had good reason to be suspicious because of the actions of others but he was quick to realise that he couldn't accuse her of the same thing. Although the romance develops fairly quickly I can forgive that in a novella and it didn't worry me too much in this case. I have to say if this is what Emmy Curtis can achieve in a novella I can't wait to see what she does with a full length book and I have very high expectations for the next story Over the Line.

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

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Review: Hard Knocks - Lori Foster

In the stunning prequel novella to her new mixed martial arts series, New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster brings together an elite fighter and the woman he’s determined to win.

Power. Brute strength. Unforgettable moves. It’s no wonder Harper Gates hasn’t been able to get her fling with Gage “Savage” Ringer out of her head. Months have passed since she laid eyes—or any other body parts—on him. Months without a word of contact… until, sidelined by injury, he comes back to town.

Staying focused on his training seemed like a smart move to Gage, even if he thought about Harper every day. Seeing her again only makes it clear how much is at stake. He’s got one night to earn back her trust. One night to show her that behind his breathtaking skill and ripped body is a man who’ll give her everything she needs.

Don’t miss No Limits, the first novel in Lori Foster’s Ultimate series.

Ultimate Series:
Hard Knocks (Novella)
No Limits
Holding Strong (March 2015)

Visit Lori Foster's website for more information.

Review:
Hard Knocks is the prequel novella to Lori Foster's Ultimate series and it was definitely enough to make me want to spend more time with this group of characters. The story introduces us to a group of fighters who all train at the same gym, most of them are in different weight ranges so rarely compete against each other and there is a great bond between them all. The fighters are very supportive of each other and I enjoyed the banter between them.

This particular story is about Gage and Harper, the couple have known each other for a long time and they were on the verge of beginning a relationship when Gage moved to America to train for an upcoming fight. Harper spent weeks waiting for him to contact her and was hurt that he was able to forget her so easily. Thanks to an injury Gage is back in the country and now he's not focused on the fight he plans to dedicate himself to Harper so they can finally get their relationship started.

This is a fairly short story (around 100 pages) so there isn't a lot of time to focus on the romance but because there is obviously so much history between Gage and Harper things didn't feel rushed or forced. They have great chemistry and I enjoyed the banter between them both as well as seeing the other fighters teasing them. It seemed like everyone else had seen their relationship coming and the only ones who weren't sure of the other's feelings were the couple in question. I liked what we've seen of the gym and the way the fighters go out of their way to give back to the community by helping troubled teens and I'm definitely looking forward to getting to know each of the guys better. I already have a feeling that Armie is going to be my favourite but I guess I'll have to wait and see if that's right or not.

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

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Saturday, 20 December 2014

Review: The Longest Night - Alyxandra Harvey

Since the Blood Moon battle six years ago, Lucy, and her hot vampire boyfriend Nicholas Drake, have kept the peace between the vampires of Violet Hill and the Helios-Ra hunters. But breaking up fights between rogue hunter Aggie and irresistible rebel Callahan is proving a big challenge; Aggie just can't accept that behind Cal's burning blue eyes, he is in control of his bloodlust. As Lucy's best friend and Nicholas's sister, Solange, return home for the group's Winter Solstice celebrations, Aggie struggles to admit the real reason she finds Cal a threat – and risks far more than her heart . . .

An action-packed tale of dark romance from the author of the bestselling Drake Chronicles series. The perfect way for fans of Stephenie Meyer, L.J. Smith and Rachel Caine to enjoy the long winter nights.

The Drake Chronicles:
Corsets and Crossbows (Novella)
Lost Girls (Novella included in the UK paperback of Blood Moon)
My Love Lies Bleeding (released in the US with the title Hearts at Stake)
Blood Feud
Out for Blood
A Killer First Date (Novella)
Bleeding Hearts
A Field Guide to Vampires: Annotated by Lucy Hamilton (Novella)
Blood Moon
Sound and Fury (Novella included in the UK paperback of Blood Prophecy)
Blood Prophecy
A Tithe of Blood and Ashes (Novella)
The Longest Night (Novella)

Visit Alyxandra Harvey's website for more information

Review:
The Longest Night is a short novella that is set about 6 years on from events in Blood Prophecy and it was absolutely fantastic to catch up with a 23 year old Lucy now she's out of school and doing her own thing.

Never one to settle for an easy life Lucy and Nicholas have opened up their home to take in troubled teenagers, both Helios-Ra and vampires alike. They have spent the last few years building cooperation between the vampires and the Helios-Ra but there will always be some who don't want to abide by the truce and those are the teenagers that Lucy is determined to help no matter how difficult they make her job. One particular teenager is really giving her grief - Aggie is a young girl who lost the sister who raised her in the Blood Moon massacre. She finds it impossible to trust any vampire and is convinced that they are all evil monsters who are just waiting for any chance to attack and she's more than willing to hurt them before they get a chance. Can Lucy persuade her that some vampires are good and sometimes it's the humans who are the monsters?

I loved getting the chance to catch up with older versions of Lucy and Nicholas along with some of the other characters like Solange, Kieran, Hunter and Quinn. I have to admit I wasn't so sure about the newer characters to start with though, Aggie in particular irritated me to start with but she really grows up throughout the story and I liked her by the end. I do think that the events in Blood Prophecy would have a long term effect on all the people who were caught on the sidelines so I enjoyed seeing that side of things explored. It made me sad that there was still so much bad blood between the Helios-Ra and the Drakes though, I had hoped the hunters would have learned their lesson and moved forward a little more.

The Longest Night was a nice addition to the series though, it's not a good place to start if you haven't read the books but if, like me, you're missing the Drakes and looking for another fix then I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Source: Purchased

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Review: A Tithe of Blood and Ashes - Alyxandra Harvey

Lucy has survived her vampire best friend's mysterious illness, her first term at the Helios-Ra vampire hunting academy, dating one of the Drake brothers, and an all out vampire-human war.

She considers herself lucky.

But what if something - or someone - else is behind it?

The Drake Chronicles:
Corsets and Crossbows (Novella)
Lost Girls (Novella included in the UK paperback of Blood Moon)
My Love Lies Bleeding (released in the US with the title Hearts at Stake)
Blood Feud
Out for Blood
A Killer First Date (Novella)
Bleeding Hearts
A Field Guide to Vampires: Annotated by Lucy Hamilton (Novella)
Blood Moon
Sound and Fury (Novella included in the UK paperback of Blood Prophecy)
Blood Prophecy
A Tithe of Blood and Ashes (Novella)
The Longest Night (Novella)

Visit Alyxandra Harvey's website for more information

Review:
I love these little novellas that Alyxandra Harvey has written allowing us to revisit the characters from her Drake Chronicles series. Lucy has always been a particular favourite character of mine so I will devour any book or story written from her point of view. A Tithe of Blood and Ashes is set about 2 months on from events in Blood Prophecy so this story will contain spoilers if you're not completely up to date with all the full length novels in the series but it's well worth picking up if you're a fan of this world.

Lucy is in the middle of her exams and more than a little stressed out but things are about to get worse when she discovers she has suddenly become a homing beacon for every Hel-Blar vampire in the area. What she can't work out is why they are being drawn to her and nobody else. Something strange is going on and Lucy won't stop until she's figured out exactly what is going on - and why her parents are keeping secrets from her.

This may only be a short story (around 50 pages) but it has everything I've come to expect from this series, Lucy's trademark snark and sarcasm, plenty of action, the hot Drake brothers (Nicholas in particular!) and of course the Helios-Ra members who are all too ready to fight any vampire, not just the bad ones. I don't want to say too much about the story because it's far to easy to give spoilers for such a short novella but this is a fun read and one I'd definitely recommend to fans of the series.

Source: Purchased

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Review: Shield of Winter - Nalini Singh

Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he's done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch - if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life:

If the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake . . .

Having rebuilt her life after medical 'treatment' that violated her mind and sought to stifle her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she'll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption.

But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy's fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness . . .

Psy-Changeling Series:
Beat of Temptation (Novella included in Wild Invitation and the An Enchanted Season anthology)
Whisper of Sin (Novella included in the Burning Up anthology or as a separate ebook)
Slave to Sensation
Visions of Heat
Caressed by Ice
Stroke of Enticement (Novella included in Wild Invitation and The Magical Christmas Cat anthology)
Mine to Possess
Hostage to Pleasure
Branded by Fire
Blaze of Memory
Bonds of Justice
Play of Passion
Declaration of Courtship (Novella included in Wild Invitation)
Kiss of Snow
Texture of Intimacy (Novella included in Wild Invitation)
Tangle of Need
Heart of Obsidian
Shield of Winter

Visit Nalini Singh's website for more information

Review:
Nalini Singh has done it again and Shield of Winter is a FANTASTIC instalment to the Psy-Changeling series. Every time I think it can't possibly get better she works her magic and blows my mind with her amazing characters! I have been dying to read Vasic's book for ages now and I loved every minute of it.

It's been painful watching Vasic's deterioration over the last few books, he has come closer and closer to the edge and you could feel how tired he was of living with the things he'd been forced to do since childhood. Although we've seen for ourselves how much Vasic has to offer he never sees the good in himself, all he can think about is the lives he has taken in his role as an Arrow and how much he regrets his past. The fact that he feels so much guilt shows us that his conditioning isn't quite what it should be, even at the height of Silence he was obviously showing signs of fracture and the symptoms are only getting worse.

Aden is like a brother to Vasic, they have been friends since childhood and always did their best to protect each other but being raised by a man like Ming was never going to be easy and we all know how rough the Arrow's have had it. I absolutely love the bond between these characters though, Aden is determined to do whatever it takes to stop Vasic from self destructing and he is making sure to send him on jobs that aren't going to make him suffer even more. I think this is a really interesting time for the Arrows, we're getting to see them making their own minds up about a lot of things, Silence included, and they're starting to see that there are other options open to them.

To give Vasic something positive to focus on Aden puts him in charge of protecting a group of E designation Psy, these empaths may just hold the cure for the rot that is spreading across the Psy-Net and it is vital that they succeed or it could be the end for the entire Psy race. Vasic has always had strong protective instincts but Ivy is like no one else he's ever met before and spending time with her changes him in ways he could never have imagined. Their relationship is one of the sweetest Psy/Psy relationships we've seen and I loved every minute of it. Ivy is a fantastic character, as an empath she was never able to successfully hold onto Silence so she is used to feeling deeply and isn't as cold as some of the previous characters were in the beginning. It was wonderful to see how Ivy instantly warmed not just to Vasic and Aden but also to all of the other Arrows, she is a real beacon of hope for them and I think she's going to be the one who shows them all what it is like to have a proper family. I don't want to give spoilers so I'll just say that things get extremely interesting (and very, very funny) when the passion starts to build between Vasic and Ivy. There was a particular conversation when Vasic askes Judd for advice that was absolutely priceless. You've got to give these Psy guys credit - they like to do their research and it more than pays off for the lucky ladies in their lives.

Shield of Winter was an emotional roller coaster, one minute I'd be laughing out loud and the next I would be heartbroken and crying for everything that both Vasic and Ivy have been through. This was a really heart wrenching read so it needed the humour to lighten it up but Nalini Singh got the balance just right. I loved seeing how things are progressing in the world since the major changes in the last book, a lot of things are happening and it's sure to be a bumpy ride but I'm pleased with the direction things are taking. My only worry is that I've now got to somehow survive the wait for Shards of Hope next summer, write faster Nalini please, please, please write faster!!

Source: Purchased

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Friday, 19 December 2014

Review: Heart of Obsidian - Nalini Singh

A dangerous, volatile rebel, hands stained blood red.

A woman whose very existence has been erased.

A love story so dark, it may shatter the world itself.

A deadly price that must be paid.

The day of reckoning is here.

Psy-Changeling Series:
Beat of Temptation (Novella included in Wild Invitation and the An Enchanted Season anthology)
Whisper of Sin (Novella included in the Burning Up anthology or as a separate ebook)
Slave to Sensation
Visions of Heat
Caressed by Ice
Stroke of Enticement (Novella included in Wild Invitation and The Magical Christmas Cat anthology)
Mine to Possess
Hostage to Pleasure
Branded by Fire
Blaze of Memory
Bonds of Justice
Play of Passion
Declaration of Courtship (Novella included in Wild Invitation)
Kiss of Snow
Texture of Intimacy (Novella included in Wild Invitation)
Tangle of Need
Heart of Obsidian
Shield of Winter

Visit Nalini Singh's website for more information

Review:
I don't think I even have the words to say how much I loved Heart of Obsidian, it's definitely a new favourite book from this series and it went up against some serious competition to win that spot. I have been fascinated with Kaleb since we first met him, the seemingly cold councillor has always left me with the impression that there is a molten core underneath that icy exterior but I couldn't even have begun to guess how much I would come to love him as I read this book.

Kaleb grew up in hell, raised by a monster and trained from a young age to ignore any kind of pain or suffering. He is an incredibly powerful Cardinal who clawed his way onto the Council and was determined to do anything to take complete control of the Psy-Net. Now his goal is in sight but there is a rot that is spreading through the net, one that could destroy the Psy if it isn't stopped. Kaleb is the only one who is capable of saving the net but there is only one reason for him to save the Psy and that is the woman who was stolen from him and hidden seven years ago. Kaleb has spent years searching for Sahara and she is finally within his reach but she has spent those missing years suffering the worst kind of torture and there may not be much of her mind left to save.

I don't really want to say too much more and risk spoiling the story to anyone who hasn't read this book yet. Don't let the lack of words fool you though, this really is the best book in the series and it took me on a complete emotional roller coaster. Kaleb and Sahara have a history that goes back to their childhood but it's a history of shared pain and suffering. They have both been through terrible things but have become even stronger because of that and I loved every minute of their journey. The flashbacks of their childhoods were heartbreaking but that just made seeing them reconnect in the present even more beautiful, there is a raw passion between them that shows the emotional connection that was forged when they were children and that bond comes back stronger than ever now they're adults.

Kaleb is a dangerous man, someone who could have come across as cold but he would do anything for Sahara, he would burn the world to the ground to protect her but he would also save it if she asked him to. I think one of the most heartbreaking things about Kaleb is that he is unable to see the good inside himself, he has done some incredibly selfless things but he never takes credit for those. It is much easier for him to see himself as a monster and it takes Sahara's faith to show him the good he has done. I love that they accept each other so completely - both the good and the bad - neither of them judges the other they just stand side by side prepared to fight for each other and their relationship. My heart broke for the children they should have been but I cried tears of happiness for the adults they have become.

The last few books have been mainly focused on the Changelings but with Silence on the verge of collapsing and Pure-Psy doing anything to try and maintain it we knew we were going to see some major upheaval for the Psy-Net. This book really does start to mix things up a bit and it's going to be really interesting to see how the Psy react to the latest developments. Can they find a way past Silence or has the rot that is spreading through the net caused irreparable damage? We may not see as much of the Changelings in this book but we do get a chance to catch up with a few old faces and I was so fascinated with what was going on with Kaleb and Sahara that I didn't really have time to miss the others. It made a nice change for the focus to be on the Psy and I think one of the strengths of this series is that there are so many different characters and races for us to spend time with.

If you're a fan of the series and haven't got to Heart of Obsidian yet then I really don't know what you're waiting for. This is a must read instalment and one that I'm sure fans will adore. If you haven't discovered these books yet then I can't recommend them highly enough. Nalini Singh has become my favourite author for a reason, both the Psy-Changeling and her Guild Hunter books are absolutely wonderful. She is a master at creating detailed worlds, fantastic characters and brilliant romances and I will never be able to get enough of her writing.

Source: Purchased

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