Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Review: Wicked Ugly Bad - Cassandra Gannon

Once Upon a Time...

Scarlett Riding is NOT an ugly stepsister. Cinderella is the evil one in the family and Letty is determined to prove it. Unfortunately, that’s kinda hard to do from behind bars. After the debacle at the ball, Letty and her sister Dru were dragged off to the Wicked, Ugly and Bad Mental Health Treatment Center and Maximum Security Prison. While Cindy’s planning her dream wedding, her two stepsisters are being forced to endure life in the dreariest dungeon in the land.

Luckily, Letty has a plan to change that unhappy ending. If she can just get to Prince Charming and prove the glass slipper doesn’t fit Cinderella’s foot, she can reclaim her life. In order to do that, though, she needs to convince The Big Bad Wolf to lend a hand in organizing a jailbreak.

Marrok Wolf isn’t sure what to make of the idealistic redhead in his group therapy sessions. With fifty counts of Badness on his criminal record, Marrok’s used to being surrounded by crooks and scumbags. Scarlett wants to lecture him about equal rights for trolls! When the little do-gooder comes up with an elaborate plan to break their entire “share circle” out of prison, though, Marrok is certainly willing to go along with the plot. And not just because he wants to see her naked. The woman may not be wicked, ugly, or Bad, but she’s definitely the only one who can save him.

Together with a wicked witch, a timid bridge ogre, an evil prince, and other villains straight out of a storybook, Scarlett and Marrok are about to make sure that Baddies finally have a happily ever after.

A Kinda Fairytale Series:
Wicked Ugly Bad
Beast in Shining Armor
The Kingpin of Camelot
Happily Ever Witch (release date to be confirmed)

Visit Cassandra Gannon's page on Goodreads for more information

Review:
Okay I'm going to hold my hands up and say that if I'd stumbled across this cover on Amazon I don't think I'd even have got as far as reading the blurb, the only reason I even picked this up was because Ilona Andrews raved about the third book in the series (The Kingpin of Camelot) and I can't read a series out of order so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm so glad for that recommendation though because I had so much fun reading Wicked Ugly Bad! This is a fairytale retelling that is totally different to any others that I've come across, in fact it's not really a retelling, more a completely new story but with characters you may find familiar.

Cassandra Gannon has created a world where characters are either born "good" or "bad", there doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason over who gets put into which camp, it's something you're categorised as at birth and you can't do anything to change it. What is very clear is that this is a world designed to let "good" characters thrive and where "bad" characters are constantly discriminated against. Scarlet Riding (Letty) is bad, she was born bad and she's happy to be bad just like her grandmother but she knows there is a big difference between being bad and being evil. In fact the evil one in her family is definitely her stepsister Cinderella but Cindy has conned everyone into believing she's the hard done one in the family who has been abused by Letty and her sister Dru for years.

Cindy has set Letty and Dru up and now they've been imprisoned in the Wicked Ugly Bad Mental Health Treatment Centre and Maximum Security Prison while Cindy plans her wedding to Prince Charming. Letty is determined to show everyone that Cindy is lying (she even has the glass slipper to prove it!) but first she has to arrange a prison break with the help of her support group.

I don't want to say too much more about this novel but it was absolutely hilarious, nothing you've ever believed about your favourite fairytale characters is true and the author makes it so incredibly easy to see Cindy as the bad one and have us rooting for the ugly stepsisters. I'm not going to lie there were a few spelling mistakes and this could have been incredible with a proper edit but there are FAR less errors than a lot of self published novels and I was enjoying the story so much that I just didn't care about the problems. I loved the characters, there was a brilliant romance, the humour was fantastic and the story was full of adventure. This series has me excited and I can't wait to see how the author twists all the other fairytales on their head as it continues.

Source: Purchased

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Monday, 6 November 2017

Review: Blind Faith - Rebecca Zanetti

A betrayal he couldn't forget . . .

For Nate Dean, love is a four-letter word. As part of a secret black-ops military unit, he and his brothers were genetically engineered by the government to be ruthless soldiers with an expiration date. They were loyal only to one another . . . until Nate laid eyes on the woman who stole his heart and blew his world apart. Now, years later, his family is still paying the price for his mistake. But as time runs out, there's only one person who can save his family: the very woman Nate swore he'd never trust again.

A love she couldn't deny . . .

The moment Audrey Madison spies Nate across a crowded ballroom, she can barely breathe. He's just as undeniably sexy as she remembers, yet there's an edge to him now that's as irresistible as it is dangerous. When he asks for her help, Audrey can't refuse. But she has secrets of her own--secrets that, if Nate ever discovers them, may cost them both their lives . . .

Sin Brothers Series:
Forgotten Sins
Sweet Revenge
Blind Faith
Total Surrender

Visit Rebecca Zanetti's website for more information

Review:
Nate is the second oldest of the Dean brothers and he's always taken on the role of protector of the youngest two alongside his Matt. In fact in some ways Nate was the one who worked hardest to give them as much of a childhood as they could have growing up on an army base where they were being trained as super-soldiers. Matt did the hard jobs to keep them safe but Nate was the centre of their family all the same. We've seen in the previous books what a horrific childhood they suffered thanks to the Commander and we also know they all have bombs literally ticking away inside their skulls waiting to destroy them if they can't be disarmed in time. In the last book we found out that the girl who broke Nate's heart may be the one person who has the answers they need so Nate goes in search of Audrey and answers.

Audrey's mother is doctor and scientist who plays a key role in the Commander's off the books programs including the creation and training of the Dean brothers. She threw Audrey and Nate together deliberately because she wanted to see how the boys would react to falling in love and she betrayed both of them deeply with her actions. Audrey never really had anyone who loved her before Nate and she was heartbroken when the Commander forced them apart but she was proud of the brothers for escaping and has always imagined them living a happy life somewhere without her. She only stayed behind because she was determined to put a stop to the Commander's experiments once and for all. When Audrey sees Nate all of her old feelings immediately come rushing back but there are so many secrets and misunderstandings between them that it is hard for either of them to trust each other fully.

I've loved every book in this series but I have to admit I think Blind Faith was my favourite so far, this series really does have everything I want from romantic suspense - fantastic action packed storylines, lots of twists and betrayals, a great cast of characters (I'm a sucker for a group of brothers who care about each other as much as the Deans do!) and hot but sweet romances. Nate and Audrey have brilliant chemistry but they were friends first and that shines through in every interaction between them along with a deep sense of caring and protectiveness. Throw in the chance to catch up with the other brothers and a few more hints about what could have become of the youngest Jory and I was on cloud nine reading this. I absolutely can't wait to read the next book but I have to admit I'm kind of sad the series is coming to an end!

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

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Sunday, 5 November 2017

Review: Full of Briars - Seanan McGuire

Meet Quentin Sollys. Squire. Hockey fan. Canadian. And Crown Prince to the entire continent of North America, known as “the Westlands” to the fae, currently ruled by his parents, High King Aethlin and High Queen Maida. Not that most people know that, since he’s a blind foster squired to a changeling—not exactly something that screams “hidden royalty.”

But with a new Queen on the throne in the Mists, his parents have finally come to town to see how he’s doing…and to take him home with them. That’s going to be a problem, since Quentin doesn’t particularly want to leave, and his knight, Sir October Daye, doesn’t particularly want to let him go.

Set after Chimes at Midnight and before The Winter Long, it’s finally time to meet the parents in our first-ever story narrated by Quentin himself.

October Daye Series:
In Little Stars (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Rosemary and Rue
A Local Habitation
An Artificial Night
Late Eclipses
Through This House (Short story in the Home Improvement: Undead Edition anthology)
One Salt Sea
In Sea-Salt Tears (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Ashes of Honor
Rat-Catcher (Free short story available on the Lightspeed Magazine website)
No Sooner Met (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Chimes at Midnight
Never Shines the Sun (Short story included in the print version of Chimes at Midnight)
Forbid the Sea (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Stage of Fools (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Voice of Lions (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Act of Hares (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Instruments of Darkness (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
With Honest Trifles (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Winter Long
Heaps of Pearl (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Shore to Shore (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Fixed Stars (Free short story available on the Baen website)
A Red-Rose Chain
Full of Briars (Short story)
Once Broken Faith
Dreams and Slumbers (Short story included in the print version of Once Broken Faith)
The Brightest Fell
Night and Silence (2018)
When Sorrows Come (2019)

Visit Seanan McGuire's website for more information

Review:
This short story fits into the series timeline between Chimes at Midnight and The Winter Long so please don't read it before that point or you'll end up with spoilers! It's the first (but hopefully not the last!) Quentin POV story though and it's definitely well worth reading.

If you were disappointed that you didn't get to see Toby meeting Quentin's parents at the end of Chimes of Midnight then this story is for you. I really enjoyed getting the chance to see the High King and Queen, especially because Toby is always so awkward on major social occasions, but what I liked most was seeing characters like Toby, Tybalt and May through Quentin's eyes. Quentin has come a long way since he started training as Toby's squire and while I'm really pleased with the way he now thinks about changelings I was a bit irritated that he still doesn't seem to have a very high opinion of Tybalt. I took it that he's acting like a protective brother who doesn't think anyone could be good enough for Toby but I love Tybalt so I was a bit disappointed Quentin doesn't approve of their relationship. I did like enjoy the little hints at the direction Quentin's love life is taking though and am definitely looking forward to seeing more of that romance in the rest of the series.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
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Review: A Red-Rose Chain - Seanan McGuire

Things are looking up.

For the first time in what feels like years, October “Toby” Daye has been able to pause long enough to take a breath and look at her life—and she likes what she sees. She has friends. She has allies. She has a squire to train and a King of Cats to love, and maybe, just maybe, she can let her guard down for a change.

Or not. When Queen Windermere’s seneschal is elf-shot and thrown into an enchanted sleep by agents from the neighboring Kingdom of Silences, Toby finds herself in a role she never expected to play: that of a diplomat. She must travel to Portland, Oregon, to convince King Rhys of Silences not to go to war against the Mists. But nothing is that simple, and what October finds in Silences is worse than she would ever have imagined.

How far will Toby go when lives are on the line, and when allies both old and new are threatened by a force she had never expected to face again? How much is October willing to give up, and how much is she willing to change? In Faerie, what’s past is never really gone.

It’s just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.

October Daye Series:
In Little Stars (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Rosemary and Rue
A Local Habitation
An Artificial Night
Late Eclipses
Through This House (Short story in the Home Improvement: Undead Edition anthology)
One Salt Sea
In Sea-Salt Tears (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Ashes of Honor
Rat-Catcher (Free short story available on the Lightspeed Magazine website)
No Sooner Met (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Chimes at Midnight
Never Shines the Sun (Short story included in the print version of Chimes at Midnight)
Forbid the Sea (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Stage of Fools (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Voice of Lions (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Act of Hares (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
Instruments of Darkness (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
With Honest Trifles (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Winter Long
Heaps of Pearl (Free short story available on Seanan's website)
Shore to Shore (Short story available to purchase through Patreon)
The Fixed Stars (Free short story available on the Baen website)
A Red-Rose Chain
Full of Briars (Short story)
Once Broken Faith
Dreams and Slumbers (Short story included in the print version of Once Broken Faith)
The Brightest Fell
Night and Silence (2018)
When Sorrows Come (2019)

Visit Seanan McGuire's website for more information

Review:
When the Kingdom of Silences declares war on the Mists by using elfshot against Queen Windermere's seneschal Toby finds herself in a position she's not used to and definitely hasn't been trained for - that of a diplomat! Arden sends Toby to Silences to try and talk them out of starting the war but Toby has never really been the best at holding her tongue and when her allies come under attack there is nothing that will stop her from doing whatever it takes to protect them.

I think I've probably lost all ability to be rational about this series, I just can't get enough of these characters and I love spending time in this world. Toby is probably the least likely person to be called diplomatic so I thought it was absolutely hilarious to see her sent into such a difficult position, especially when we find out who her true enemy is in this case. She has her usually allies with her - Tybalt, Quentin, May and even Walther this time - but she's also out of her comfort zone, in completely unfamiliar territory and enemy number one in the eyes of the King of Silences. Even though she should have diplomatic immunity we all know that the bad guys never play by the rules and the bad guys here are evil to the extreme. I was so angry about some of the things going on in Silences but that definitely shows how invested I am in this series.

I don't want to say too much about Silences but I really enjoyed getting the chance to visit another court and see how different things were there, we meet some really interesting characters too and get a chance to find out a lot more about Walther's background too (I love his character by the way!). We even get to visit another King of Cats and there were several characters introduced in this book that I'm hoping we'll see more of later down the line. Toby's growing in strength and her relationship with Tybalt is rock solid. No matter how much he worries about her I love that he doesn't try to stop her doing what needs to be done and that he's always a reassuring presence at her back. Quentin and May were fabulous as always and although we don't see the Luidaeg face to face there are a couple of phone calls that are full of her usual sarcastic wit.

This is definitely one of my favourite urban fantasy series and it's one I think everyone should read!

Source: Received from DAW Books in exchange for an honest review.

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Saturday, 4 November 2017

Book Trailer: The Jewel - Amy Ewing

I have absolutely no excuse for not starting the Lone City series by Amy Ewing yet - I even have the first two books sitting on my shelves giving me the side eye as I type this - but I stumbled across the book trailer and thought I'd give the series some love by sharing it here. I really need to bump this up the to read pile!

A shocking and compelling new YA series from debut author, Amy Ewing; The Handmaid's Tale meets The Other Boleyn Girl in a world where beauty and brutality collide.

Violet Lasting is no longer a human being. Tomorrow she becomes Lot 197, auctioned to the highest royal bidder in the Jewel of the Lone City. Tomorrow she becomes the Surrogate of the House of the Lake, her sole purpose to produce a healthy heir for the Duchess. Imprisoned in the opulent cage of the palace, Violet learns the brutal ways of the Jewel, where the royal women compete to secure their bloodline and the surrogates are treated as disposable commodities. Destined to carry the child of a woman she despises, Violet enters a living death of captivity – until she sets eyes on Ash Lockwood, the royal Companion. Compelled towards each other by a reckless, clandestine passion, Violet and Ash dance like puppets in a deadly game of court politics, until they become each other’s jeopardy – and salvation.



Has anyone read this series yet? If so leave me a comment telling me why I need to read it!

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Review: The Bone Witch - Rin Chupeco

The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

Lyrical and action packed, this new fantasy series by acclaimed author Rin Chupeco will leave you breathless.

Bone Witch Series:
The Bone Witch
The Heart Forger (2018)

Visit Rin Chupeco's website for more information

Review:
Tea had no idea she was a Bone Witch until the day she accidentally raised her brother from his coffin in the middle of his funeral! She didn't quite bring Fox back to life in the traditional sense of the word but his spirit is back and his body is now much more indestructible than it was before. Although people often seek out Bone Witches when they are in need of help they are also treated with suspicion in most villages so Tea is lucky to be accepted as an apprentice to another Bone Witch called Mykaela. Tea and Fox travel with Mykaela to the city where Tea will begin training in magic skills to become an Asha.

The story is skilfully told in two parts, there is young Tea who is a little naive and desperately trying to find her place in the world, she is eager to learn and willing to do whatever it takes to achieve her goals, then there is an older Tea, one who has obviously seen more of the world and who has become jaded because of it. She is a harder character and one who is set on revenge for the wrongs she has suffered and she is telling her story to a travelling Bard. The two stories unravel alongside each other and it was really interesting waiting to see how the younger version of Tea would eventually become the older one.

I've seen a lot of mixed reviews for this book but I enjoyed every minute of it. The main complaint amongst my friends has been that the story was a little slow to unfold and they struggled with some of the language but I personally though the writing was absolutely beautiful. Yes this is a fairly slow story but the world building is so rich and detailed that I just loved spending time exploring it. I can definitely see why the story is compared to Memoirs of a Geisha because Tea's apprenticeship was very similar to Geisha training. This is a fantasy world but it's definitely based on Japanese culture and I think Rin Chupeco did a brilliant job bringing those two elements together.

The Bone Witch is a very promising start to a new series and I'm definitely looking forward to reading the sequel to find out what happens next.

Source: Received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Review: The Dragons of Nova - Elise Kova

Cvareh returns home to his sky world of Nova with the genius crafter Arianna as his temperamental guest. The mercurial inventor possesses all the Xin family needs to turn the tides of a centuries-old power struggle, but the secrets she harbors must be earned with trust -- hard to come by for Ari, especially when it comes to Dragons. On Nova, Ari finds herself closer to exacting vengeance against the traitor who killed everything -- and everyone – she once loved. But before Ari can complete her campaign of revenge, the Crimson Court exposes her shadowed past and reveals something even more dangerous sparking between her and Cvareh.

While Nova is embroiled in blood sport and political games, the rebels on Loom prepare for an all-out assault on their Dragon oppressors. Florence unexpectedly finds herself at the forefront of change, as her unique blend of skills -- and quick-shooting accuracy -- makes her a force to be reckoned with. For the future of her world, she vows vengeance against the Dragons.

Before the rebellion can rise, though, the Guilds must fall.

Loom Saga:
The Alchemists of Loom
The Dragons of Nova
The Rebels of Gold (December 2017)

Visit Elise Kova's website for more information

Review:
Where the first book focused on Loom and the lives of the fenthri as they are controlled by the dragons this sequel gives readers a chance to travel to Nova to see how the other half live. We still get to watch what's happening with the guilds on Loom through Florence's eyes but Ari has travelled with Cvareh to meet with his sister Petra and see if they can come to some kind of alliance against the current dragon king. Ari holds the key to Petra and House Xin, currently the weakest of the dragon houses, to change their fortunes and come out on top for once, but Ari made the mistake of trusting a dragon once before and it nearly cost her everything so she's not going to be swayed to Petra's cause easily.

In The Dragons of Nova Elise Nova has taken everything I loved about the first book and ramped it up a gear, we still have the wonderful world building (which has just become even more fascinating now that we're seeing how the dragons live), the rich, multilayered characters and a plot full of political machinations, back stabbing and betrayals. Ari is completely out of her element on Nova and surrounded by her enemies but she's not going to let that stop her plans, she will do anything to stop the dragon king but she's only going to work with House Xin if they can prove to her that they'll make life better for the fenthri in the long term. Cvareh finds himself strangely torn between following his sister's orders and wanting to bend the rules for Ari's sake. His life is made more difficult by the fact that they must keep Ari's identity a secret because if any of the dragons from House Rok find out Petra is working with a chimera then all hell will break lose.

There are so many things I want to talk about in this series, I love the diversity, the positive female role models and also the way it raises questions about personal identity and racism. Ari is an openly bisexual character and that's treated as perfectly normal in this world which is wonderful. There are so many positive messages throughout this novel but they're all just woven in so naturally that it never bogs down the story and makes this feel like an issues book. I love it when an author can create a rich and detailed fantasy world that is so much better than our own in so many ways. The story is fast paced and full of action, things on Loom are reaching crisis point and Florence is right in the middle of planning a rebellion, Ari and Cvareh are busy on Nova trying to bring out the same goal but in a totally different way. There are plots within plots and a lot of people are playing one side against the other so it's hard to tell where most of their loyalties lie. Just when you think one thing is about to happen the author twists things around and turns the world upside down so she always keeps you guessing.

This series is absolutely fantastic and I can't wait to get my hands on the final book, The Rebels of Gold, in December!

Source: Received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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