Sunday, 21 January 2018

Review: Total Surrender - Rebecca Zanetti

A fight he must win . . .

Piper Oliver knows she can't trust him. They warned her that the tall, dark, and sexy black-ops soldier Jory Dean would try to win her over with his steel-gray eyes and deadly charm, but she won't be conned by this man they call a traitor. All she has to do is figure out the science necessary to save his life, and she's done. Something isn't adding up, though, and she won't rest until she uncovers the truth-even if it's buried in his deep, dangerous kiss.

A passion she can't resist . . .

Jory will do anything to reunite with and save his brothers-even kidnap the gorgeous woman who's working to deactivate the deadly chip in their spines. But the forces determined to destroy his family won't let them go so easily. Keeping Piper alive is more than he bargained for-and so is his burning desire for her. But with every second bringing him closer to certain death, can he afford to lose himself in her hot and willing embrace?

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

Blood Brothers Series:
(Spin off from the Sin Brothers)
Deadly Silence
Lethal Lies
Twisted Truths

Visit Rebecca Zanetti's website for more information

Review:
As much as I've loved all the books in the Sin Brother's series Jory's story is the one I've been desperately waiting for since the very beginning. We've not had a chance to get to know him in the previous stories because he's been missing this whole time but we've seen glimpses of him as a child through all of his brother's eyes and I was desperate to see them all finally reunited. It turns out that Jory has been back in the Commander's control for the last few years, the video the brother's saw of him being shot wasn't faked and he was in a coma for years before requiring huge amounts of physiotherapy to get back on his feet. Now he's physically as strong as ever but the death chip implanted in his spine was damaged by the bullet and unless the Commander's top doctors can find a way to connect to it and enter the deactivation code he only has weeks to live.

Piper has been given the task of fixing Jory's chip. She has been told she is working with a traitor to her country and that they need her to save him so that they can get information about terrorist plans but she has no idea that Jory was actually the Commander's own creation. Piper has every reason to distrust Jory but the longer she spends with him working to fix the chip the more she realises that things aren't adding up around her and starts to question what she's been told. Jory will do anything to escape and get Piper back to his brothers so that she can deactivate their chips, he knows there is no chance for him because of the damage to his chip but he wants to save the others and he wants to see them one last time before he dies.

This whole series has been fantastic but I think Total Surrender was my favourite, I loved getting to know both Jory and Piper and it was brilliant to catch up with the previous couples too. There are some incredibly surprising revelations in this book and we get to see the family grow in more ways than one. Jory and Piper's romance was spot on, they go from wary strangers to reluctant allies to much, much more and I admired Piper's determination to do whatever it took to save her man and his brothers. I also love the strong bond between the Dean family, I waited a long time to see the brother's reunited and I'm not going to lie there were tears in my eye when they finally found each other again. This series has everything I want from a romantic suspense and I'm absolutely thrilled that there is a spin off series too, I can't wait to meet the Blood Brothers in Deadly Silence!

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

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Saturday, 20 January 2018

Review: The Golden Umbrella: Nepalese Folktales

Golden Umbrella is like a multi-coloured lantern. The folktales included in this collection cover almost the entire spectrum of human emotions and situations. Some of them have the mellow fragrance of love, while some others reek of hatred and jealousy. Some tales have ghosts and apparitions as their main characters while in some one will find people indulging in cannibalism.

All the tales have been picked up from small villages. They express various aspects of country life, offer an insight into the complexities of human mind and provide a panoramic view of the cultural and social life of Nepali villages. Also reflected in them are many local life-styles, activities, beliefs, feelings, superstitions, customs and inhibitions, as well as a deep faith in the supernatural.

Golden Umbrella has everything: love and revenge, miracles and magic, infidelity and betrayal, greed and magnanimity - you name it.

Fascinating folktales that will hold the reader spellbound.

Review:
The Golden Umbrella is a collection of 22 Nepalese Folktales that have been collected from across the country by five authors (Eva Kipp, Hem Rai, Dilip Sapkota, Rajendra Bajracharya and Parmeswari Shrestha) and illustrated by Eva Kipp.

These stories are all very short (1-2 pages) but they remind me a little of the original Grimm tales (although not quite so dark) or Rudyard Kipling's Just So stories, they're written with a moral in mind and they get to the point very quickly.

You'll find stories about cannibals, jealous husbands, unfaithful wives, magical creatures, demons, witches and even a ghost and they're meant to portray a range of emotions from love to jealousy or bravery against impossible odds.

This book was a quick read and something that is very easy to dip in and out of. The translation to English isn't always perfect but that was easy to ignore and I found myself really enjoying the stories. A nice little reminder of our trip to Nepal!

Here are a couple of the illustrations

Source: Christmas present from my Dad

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Paperback:

Review: Lonely Planet Nepal

Lonely Planet Nepal is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Soak in the hustle-and-bustle of Kathmandu's Durbar Square, trek to the base of the world's highest mountain, or raft the rapids of the Bhote Kosi; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Nepal and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Nepal Travel Guide:
  • Colour maps and images throughout
  • Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests
  • Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots
  • Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices
  • Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss
  • Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, religion, art, literature, cinema, music, architecture, politics, landscapes, wildlife, environmental issues.
  • Over 11 colour maps
  • Covers Kathmandu, Kathmandu Valley & Around, Pokhara, The Terai & Mahabharat Range, and trekking, biking, rafting and kayaking routes and more
The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Nepal, our most comprehensive guide to Nepal, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.
  • Looking for more extensive trekking coverage? Check out Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya for all you need to know to have a safe and rewarding trek.
  • Looking for a guide focused on other countries in the region? Check out our Lonely Planet Bhutan guide, India guide, and Tibet guide for a comprehensive look at all the region has to offer; or Discover India, a photo-rich guide to India's most popular attractions.
Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet, Bradley Mayhew, Lindsay Brown and Stuart Butler.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

Visit the Lonely Planet website for more information

Review:
I've always loved the Lonely Planet travel guides and this one is no exception, I purchased the 2015 edition of the Nepal guide before our trip last year and it was full of invaluable advice on everything from Nepal's history, local customs and religion to language guides, dos and don'ts and suggested itineraries for the main destinations. There is also a section on trekking (which I can't really comment on because we didn't use it) but I'd probably recommend purchasing the separate trekking guide if that's the purpose of your trip.

This guide includes a small section about the destruction caused in the 2015 earthquake but this edition was published within months of the disaster and there has been a lot of rebuilding work carried out since then so it isn't completely up to date. You will notice that a lot of the old temples in and around Kathmandu and Bhaktapur are still undergoing repair so there is a lot of wooden scaffolding around and unfortunately some buildings were completely destroyed but considering it had only been 2 years I was impressed by how much rebuilding had already been done. Lonely Planet is publishing an updated Nepal guide in July 2018 that will probably be slightly more accurate but we still found this was an incredibly useful guide.

We were staying with Nepalese family so had local tour guides for our entire trip but this book really is packed with interesting information about many of the larger temples and places of note and it has some fantastic itineraries for the main areas. We used the guide in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Bhaktapur and Chitwan National Park and there were definitely experiences we would have missed out on if we hadn't read about them in here first. The book gives a good rough idea of entrance fees for most attractions but we did notice that these weren't always completely correct.

If you're planning a trip to Nepal it is well worth trying to travel around the country to some of the larger cities and the National Park, there are so many amazing things to see and do that it's impossible to fit everything in in one trip - even without doing any of the major trekking routes! One piece of advice I can't stress highly enough is not to drink the local water without boiling it first though and if you do end up having a stomach issue go to one of the many local pharmacies as quickly as possible because the local medication is far better than anything you can purchase at home to take with you.

I'd definitely recommend purchasing this guide before your trip and it is well worth taking the time to read up on local customs and tips for travelling before you leave home. Take the time to learn a few Nepali phrases (the most important one being Namaste which can be used as hello, goodbye and just as a general friendly gesture), the Nepalese people are incredibly friendly and welcoming and very quick to smile even if communicating can be hard because of the language barrier.

Source: Purchased

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December 2015 Edition Paperback / Kindle or Preorder the updated July 2018 Edition:

Friday, 19 January 2018

Review: Oath Bound - Rachel Vincent

US Cover
The Tower Syndicate will fall...

The secret daughter of the head of an infamous Skilled crime family, Sera Brandt has hidden her past, her potential and especially her powers. But when a tragedy strikes her other family, Sera needs justice. And the only way to get it is to reveal her heritage- including a rare Skill-and take the reins of the TowerSyndicate from her cunning and malicious aunt.

If he can figure out how...

Kristopher Daniels might have the answer. He's fought the syndicate to protect his sisters, but he'd never realized just how close to the new heir he needed to get...

And if they can survive

Neither is used to trusting. But there's something between them that can't be ignored. And so Sera is on the run with a man she can't figure out, a target on her back and the new knowledge of just how powerful she really is....

Unbound Trilogy:
Blood Bound
Shadow Bound
Oath Bound

Visit Rachel Vincent's website for more information

Review:
Oath Bound is the final book in Rachel Vincent's Unbound trilogy and it was another great story, this world has been absolutely fascinating and I'm actually sad that this was the last book because I'd have loved to spend more time here. Kris has seen first hand how the Tower Syndicate nearly destroyed both his sisters and he is determined to bring them down once and for all so they can't hurt anyone else. He has been working with Kori and Kenley to slowly release people from their bindings but when Kenley is kidnapped and taken back into syndicate control Kris will stop at nothing to get her back.

Sera was the only survivor in a tragedy that killed her entire family, she is desperate for revenge against the person who cost her everything but the only way she can make them pay is by asking the syndicate for help. It's a move that could cost her everything but she's desperate enough to take that risk. When Kris sneaks into the Tower headquarters looking for his sister he ends up taking Sera with him as a bargaining tool. Neither of them have any reason to trust the other, especially considering the circumstances of their meeting and the huge secret that Sera is keeping, but it quickly becomes clear that they're in over their heads and the only chance they have of rescuing Kenley and staying alive themselves is by working together to bring the syndicate down for good.

This was another fast paced story full of plenty of action and a nice amount of romance. I enjoyed the bickering between Sera and Kris and I loved that she didn't let him off the hook for effectively kidnapping her, even if he did save her life in the process. Their romance was a nice slow build which made it believable and they were a cute couple. I enjoyed getting the chance to catch up with previous characters from the series, they all have a part to play in this book and it was good to see them working together to fight a common enemy.

This series has been a lot of fun to read and it's one I'm sure I'll end up rereading in the future. My one minor complaint is that I felt like there was possibly going to be a fourth book at one point so I didn't think things were quite finished as far as the Cavazos Syndicate. Don't get me wrong there are no big cliffhangers and this story felt completely resolved but I would have liked to revisit Cam and Liv's situation and helped them get their freedom too. The way things were left made it clear that good things would happen in the future but I would have liked to witness that for myself. That's a really minor issue though because I loved the way things ended for the rest of the characters!

The Unbound books are definitely darker than Rachel Vincent's Shifters series but she's created another interesting world that had me hooked from beginning to end.

Source: Purchased

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UK Cover
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Review: Shadow Bound - Rachel Vincent

US Cover
If you live in the dark long enough,
you begin to forget the light...

Kori Daniels is a shadow-walker, able to travel instantly from one shadow to another. After weeks of confinement for betraying her boss, she's ready to break free of the Tower syndicate for good. But Jake Tower has one final job for Kori, one chance to secure freedom for herself and her sister, Kenley, even if it means taking it from someone else....

The job? Recruit Ian Holt-or kill him.

Ian's ability to manipulate the dark has drawn interest from every syndicate in the world, most notably an invitation from Jake Tower. Though he has no interest in organized crime, Ian accepts the invite, because he's on a mission of his own. Ian has come to kill Tower's top Binder: Kori's little sister.

Amid the tangle of lies, an unexpected thread of truth connecting Ian and Kori comes to light. But with opposing goals, they'll have to choose between love and liberty....

Unbound Trilogy:
Blood Bound
Shadow Bound
Oath Bound

Visit Rachel Vincent's website for more information

Review:
I first read Blood Bound when it was published back in 2011 but for some reason I never got around to picking up the rest of the series as they released. I'm so glad I finally came back to the series though because it's so different from anything else I've been reading recently. It was a good job I reread Blood Bound first though because Rachel Vincent has created a complex world with a large cast of characters and I wouldn't have enjoyed Shadow Bound half as much if I'd not been able to remember everything.

I have to admit I was surprised when I realised this story was going to be told from Kori and Ian's points of view rather than those of Liv and Cam. I honestly thought this whole series was going to be about the same couple and it was a little weird to move on when it didn't feel like their story was finished. I should have known to trust Rachel Vincent though, switching to Kori's point of view allows us to see the inner workings of the Tower Syndicate, something we didn't see in the first book. We met Kori in the previous book, she risked a lot to help Liv and Cam and she has paid a very high price for that since the end of the first book. Jake Tower is every bit as ruthless as Ruben Cavazos and Kori has been made an example off because of her betrayal. It was actually pretty hard to read about everything she has been though so even though there was no gratuitous detail this series is definitely a lot darker than the Shifters series ever was.

Kori has been given one last chance to prove her usefulness to Tower, she has to recruit Ian to the syndicate and if she fails then not only will her life be forfeit but her sister will also suffer the same torture that Kori only just survived. Ian is a new character to the series, he has his own reasons to want to infiltrate Tower's syndicate. He has absolutely no intention of signing up but he does plan to bring Tower down and save his brother's life in the process. These two are both incredibly protective of the people they care about and unfortunately the only way they can save the siblings they love is to destroy each other. They are both strong characters, Kori has survived hell and always comes back fighting, she has done everything she possibly can to defy Tower even knowing what it could cost her but she would never risk her sister. Ian definitely has a bit of a hero complex, he just can't resist a damsel in distress and as it becomes clear how desperate Kori's situation is he realises he needs to come up with a new plan.

I'm not going to go into any more detail about the plot but I loved the slow build romance between these two. The physical attraction is there from the very beginning but it takes a long time for trust to build and for them to start sharing secrets. We get to see a couple of brief appearances from Liv and Cam which was nice but I have to admit it didn't show them in the best light because they are firmly Cavazos' thumb and have no choice but to follow his orders. What I'm REALLY hoping is that the final book (told from the points of view of Kori's brother Kristopher and new character Sera) will let us see all three couples working together and finally bringing down both syndicates once and for all. I desperately want them all to have the happy endings they deserve!

Source: Purchased

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UK Cover
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Thursday, 18 January 2018

Review: Otherworld - Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller

The Company Welcomes you To OTHERWORLD The new generation of gaming.

Welcome to real life 2.0.
Are you ready to play?

There are no screens. There are no controls.
You don’t just see and hear it—you taste, smell, and touch it too.
In this new reality there are no rules to follow, no laws to break.
You can indulge your every desire.
Why would you ever want to leave?
Step into Otherworld.
Leave your body behind.

Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller have created a brilliant and terrifying view of a possible future that’s not far away. OTHERWORLD asks the question we’ll all soon be asking: if technology can deliver everything we want, how much are we willing to pay?

Otherworld Series:
Otherworld
Otherearth (2018)

Visit Kirsten Miller's website for more information

Review:
I love stories that look at what technology might make possible in the not too distant future and with virtual reality something that is becoming more and more easily accessible Otherworld appealed to me as soon as I heard about it. The virtual reality game in this book is way more advanced than anything we have now though, it is a full on experience where you can not only see and interact with your surroundings but you can also taste and touch everything in the Otherworld as if it was completely real.

This story has two very distinct storylines, first there is the action adventure that Simon is on inside the Otherworld, his quest is to track down his best friend Kat and find a way to bring her safely out of the virtual reality environment. Then there is the real world which is more of a mystery story where Simon is trying to find out more about the company that created the Otherworld and a rash of mysterious illnesses that seem to be effecting people in his city.

This was a really fun story to read, it doesn't take itself too seriously and I have to admit it could have done with a little more development of the main characters but if you just relax and go along for the ride it's an amusing journey. I think I enjoyed the story taking place inside the Otherworld slightly more, Simon collects a ragtag group of allies as he goes along and the virtual world created was really vibrant and interesting. I had a harder time with the real life side of the plot because it was harder to suspend belief that Simon was able to uncover all these secrets and sneak into secure facilities without having too much difficulty.

Otherworld was definitely a story I enjoyed though and I'll definitely be picking up the sequel when it's released later this year.

Source: Received from Rock the Boat in exchange for an honest review

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Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Review: Unchained by a Forbidden Love - Felicity Heaton

Lost to the darkness, Fuery wages a daily war against the corruption that lives within him, constantly in danger of slipping into the black abyss and becoming the monster all elves fear. Work as an assassin gives him purpose, but what reason is there to go on when he killed the light of his life - his fated mate?

Shaia has spent forty-two centuries mourning her mate. Tired and worn down, she agrees to wed a male of her family's choosing, following tradition that has always bound her as a female and hoping she will be able to gain just a little freedom in return. But as she resigns herself to being the mate of a male she could never love, fate places an old friend in her path - one who tells her that her lost love is alive.

Will Shaia find the courage to break with tradition and leave the elf kingdom in search of her mate? And as a ray of light pierces his soul again, can Fuery find the strength to win his battle against the darkness or will it devour him and that light of their forbidden love forever?

Eternal Mates Series:
(This series is set in the same world as the Vampire Erotic Theatre series but can be read completely separately)
Kissed by a Dark Prince
Claimed by a Demon King
Tempted by a Rogue Prince
Hunted by a Jaguar
Craved by an Alpha
Bitten by a Hellcat
Taken by a Dragon
Marked by an Assassin
Possessed by a Dark Warrior
Awakened by a Demoness
Haunted by the King of Death
Tuned by a Tiger
Tamed by a Tiger
Treasured by a Tiger
Unchained by a Forbidden Love

Vampire Erotic Theatre Series:
Covet
Crave
Seduce
Enslave
Bewitch
Unleash

Visit Felicity Heaton's website for more information

Review:
If you're a fan of the Eternal Mates series then you'll probably remember meeting Fuery before, he's one of the elves who is very, very close to giving into the darkness inside him and becoming completely lost to bloodlust. The only things keeping him going have been his bond with fellow assassin Hartt and seeing Prince Vail start to recover since meeting his fated mate Rosalind. Fuery is full of doubt and self loathing after certain events in his past have left him broken, he accidentally killed his fated mate in a fit of rage and doesn't believe he deserves forgiveness or redemption.

Shaia has been grieving for the mate she lost over four centuries ago and she has been kept from living a full life by a very overprotective family and a patriarchal society that believe women should be cosseted and looked after by the men in their lives. She is desperate to break free and make her own choices but when her family caught her at a low point they persuaded her to agree to marry a man of their choosing. The last thing she wants is to end up stuck in a loveless marriage and when an old friend gives her hope that the one thing she has always wanted more than anything might still be possible she has to face her fears and go searching for the happily ever after she deserves.

I'm a sucker for a broken hero so of course I've been waiting what feels like forever to get my hands on Fuery's book. He was so heartbreakingly sad and broken by the events of his past and even when he's confronted with the truth he is scared to believe it. The only thing that's kept him going this long is the strong bond of friendship he has with fellow assassin Hartt and I really loved the bond between them. I may have been a little annoyed by Hartt's actions at times when it came to Shaia but he was only ever trying to protect Fuery so I could forgive him for that and I really hope we get a story about him in the future. Shaia has spent her whole life being protected by her family and has never really had to face the world on her own but she's brave and determined so I enjoyed seeing her stretch her wings and fight for the things she wanted most. Their romance was surprisingly sweet considering the darkness Fuery has inside him and I loved seeing them work through their demons together.

Unchained by a Forbidden Love was another fab instalment to the Eternal Mates series and I'm already looking forward to the next one!

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

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Blog Tour: Unchained by a Forbidden Love - Felicity Heaton




Felicity Heaton

Lost to the darkness, Fuery wages a daily war against the corruption that lives within him, constantly in danger of slipping into the black abyss and becoming the monster all elves fear. Work as an assassin gives him purpose, but what reason is there to go on when he killed the light of his life - his fated mate?

Shaia has spent forty-two centuries mourning her mate. Tired and worn down, she agrees to wed a male of her family's choosing, following tradition that has always bound her as a female and hoping she will be able to gain just a little freedom in return. But as she resigns herself to being the mate of a male she could never love, fate places an old friend in her path - one who tells her that her lost love is alive.

Will Shaia find the courage to break with tradition and leave the elf kingdom in search of her mate? And as a ray of light pierces his soul again, can Fuery find the strength to win his battle against the darkness or will it devour him and that light of their forbidden love forever?




Enter the grand tour-wide giveaway to win an Amazon Kindle Fire HD plus books 1-7 of the Eternal Mates series in e-book or audiobook at the Unchained by a Forbidden Love book page. This giveaway is international and open to everyone, and ends at midnight on January 28th.

Enter now: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/unchained-by-a-forbidden-love-paranormal-romance-novel.php



Shaia despised having to walk with the male beside her, hated the way he treated her as if she was fragile and liable to break. He never spoke to her as an equal, never entertained her when she tried to converse about things he believed she didn’t need to know about purely because she was a female.

It annoyed her.

Almost as much as the ridiculous outdated traditions of elf society that had bred those opinions into him.

But he was necessary.

She had put off her family for so long that they had finally reached the end of their tether and were determined to marry her off at last.

They had found a suitable male for her, had negotiated with him, and now it was time to seal the deal.

She cursed elf society.

It treated her like a possession or an asset.

Not a living, breathing thing with free will.

Shaia scoffed under her breath at that. Free will?

She looked around the rolling green landscape bathed in light, at the fields that lined the worn earth road, and the males who toiled in them. Males. Ahead, in the village that nestled between one of the hills and the broad stream, the stalls of the market and the mills would produce the same results.

Males.

Not a single female ran a store or a mill. Not a single female toiled in the fields to turn the earth or harvest the crops, restricted to tasks like sowing seeds that society thought fitted their more delicate constitutions.

Not a single female fought in the ranks of the elf army.

Her heart plummeted in her chest and she pushed away from thoughts of the legions, but she wasn’t quite quick enough to spare herself the pain that came whenever she thought of that noble duty or saw soldiers passing through the village.

She felt Eirwyn’s eyes on her as a vile shudder over her skin and glanced across at him. Concern lit his violet eyes. Concern she could almost fool herself was real. Perhaps she was misreading him again, mistaking frustration for concern. He often became annoyed with her whenever she fell silent, drifting along in her own world and captured by her own thoughts rather than talking with him about whatever dull topic he had chosen and believed suited her feeble female mind.

Males.

Gods, she wished she had the strength and courage to stand up, tell her family that she would never marry and she was going to leave this small world behind and search for a meaning in life in the greater one beyond the borders of the elf kingdom.

Borders that had been her cage for her entire life, one she had never quite been able to break free from despite her best efforts.

She had travelled the length and breadth of the kingdom, had visited every region but the one around the palace, but not once had she managed to muster the bravery to do something her family would view as unforgivable.

Something society would view as disgraceful, and akin to committing a damned crime even though males could do it freely and without consequence or scorn.

She had never crossed the border.

She had reached it once, had stared down from a high mountain peak into the valley beyond, knowing it was part of the First Realm of the demons. She had gone back and forth for hours, fighting with the idea of setting foot in it and breaking with convention, flouting the rules of her family and society.

In the end, she had lacked the courage to take that step.

Her family were all she had, and although their relationship was strained by the things they had done, the thought of them turning their backs on her because she had done something society would view as disrespectful towards them, and unladylike of her, hurt too much for her to dare go through with it.
Even when her heart longed to see what lay beyond the elf kingdom in those shadowy lands she had surveyed from the peak.

She stared into Eirwyn’s eyes, verging on speaking her mind and telling him that she hated what he represented, she despised that she was going to willingly leave one cage to enter another. The black slashes of his eyebrows dipped low and his lips thinned, a flare of irritation lighting his eyes as he slowed to a halt.

Could he see everything she wanted to tell him in her eyes? Could he see into her heart and see that it would never be his?

It belonged to another.

Gods damn convention and the slow pace of her species.

Other species in Hell had moved forward, their females given freedom and power, and a will of their own.

Why couldn’t the elves move at that same pace?

Had anything really changed in the last forty-five centuries? The village was the same. The people in it hadn’t changed. Even the larger towns had barely progressed. Her world was stagnant. Boring. She longed to shake things up, to do something that would alter her cage or perhaps break free of it.

Gods, she longed for that.

She had tasted true freedom once, so many centuries ago. It still felt like yesterday to her at times, when she allowed herself to think back to those halcyon days and managed to feel warmth from remembering them, hope and light, not cold and pain.

And darkness.

Four thousand five hundred years had passed since her birth, and what had truly changed in that time? Society had barely shuffled forwards a few steps. Females were growing stronger, beginning to gain more power and more respect, but it had taken her entire lifetime for it to happen and such power and respect was limited to the larger towns. In the villages, females were still treated like chattel, given to the male who offered the best payment to her family.

In her case, Eirwyn had offered both the highest bid and been the most persistent of her suitors.
Her family had caught her at a low point, when she had been depressed from the long months she had passed alone at her small home far from the village and her feet had carried her back to her family’s house, a need to speak with others and see the faces of her kin dragging her back to them.

She had been weak, tired from fighting with them when she wanted to spend time with them in peace and happiness, wanted to relive the days that had come before she had matured and they had started looking for a suitor for her, an eligible male that filled their every need and desire.

She had regretted agreeing to it just seconds after the words had left her lips, but Eirwyn had been swift to swoop on her and announce their future marriage to the entire village, and now the deed was done.

She would marry him, and she would live with him.

But she would never love him.

She stifled another sigh and forced a smile for him. He was handsome enough, with his regal features and his long black hair tied into a neat ponytail at the nape of his neck, allowed to flow down his back to blend with his tailored black tunic that reached his knees and accentuated his fine figure, but she felt nothing for him.

Whenever she looked at him, she saw another. She saw a male who had lit a fire inside her, a spark that had burned in her heart and had given her strength, and more than ever she wanted to find the courage to stand on her own two feet and push back against tradition to claim the life she wanted for herself.

He began walking again, talking about the crops this year, as if he played any part in their success. He owned land, paid males to work it, and profited off their success.

Coin was the one thing she lacked, and the one thing it was impossible for her to come by without her parents, or a male. Eirwyn would at least provide that for her she supposed. No more scrounging for seed to grow her own vegetables and fruit, or relying on her parents to send her an allowance.

Hopefully, Eirwyn would allow her to continue working with nature in his garden, and she could lose herself in it for hours, filling her day with work and avoiding him as much as possible.

Shaia stared off into the distance where the windmills stood proud on top of several of the hills above the village, their blades rotating slowly in the gentle breeze that stirred the wheat fields surrounding them.

Her thoughts drifted as her eyes settled on one windmill in particular, set away from the village and high on a hill above the others.

She had met the son of that family several times in her youth, could remember how proud his family had been when he had joined the legions and had been chosen to serve under Prince Vail, and how relieved they had been when he had survived the battle near the borders of the free realm, a war begun by that prince when he had turned on his own men.

At the time, Shaia had cursed them, had wished it had been another male who had returned from that brutal battle and not their son.

The loss of that male, and the darkness of her desire for him to have survived and their son to have died instead, had propelled her into a deep depression that had consumed her for years, had clouded her heart and her mind, and had taken her decades to escape.

It was a depression that still consumed her from time to time.

“Shaia?” Eirwyn’s bass voice penetrated her thoughts and she pulled herself away from her past and the pain that lived there and back to him. “You seem out of sorts today. Shall we not go back?”

She shook her head. “The walk will do me good. It will lift my spirits.”

A lie, but one that came easily to her when the alternative was returning back to her family home while her parents were out. She didn’t want to be alone with Eirwyn and he would insist on remaining with her until her parents returned. It was better to be out in the open, surrounded by others, tasting what little freedom she had.

What she really wanted was to convince him to walk the hills with her, or visit the stream so she could wade in its crisp waters and cool down, escaping the blistering heat of summer. Eirwyn would refuse though. He had made it clear that he thought it unladylike of her to want to do such things, and that her constitution would suffer.

She scoffed under her breath at that.

Females weren’t as delicate as he believed.

Her eyes drifted back to the mill in the distance again. That family had a daughter too, one younger than she was and a female who was often the subject of rumours in the village. Shaia loved to hear the latest tales of her, pretended to be affronted and shocked, and even dismayed by the things she heard, while being envious and wishing she were in Iolanthe’s boots.

Iolanthe roamed Hell, travelled far and wide, and even into the mortal realm at times, an independent female bent on doing things her way.

A strong female.

One who didn’t allow anyone to stand in her way.

It inspired her, kept that fire burning inside her, but the flames fanned by whatever latest tale she heard soon died back, leaving only a feeble spark behind, one quickly constrained again and subdued.

Eirwyn gestured towards the hills on the other side of the stream, to the trees that blanketed several of the slopes, and she nodded and smiled, did her best to be congenial and please him.

Her family had caught her at a low point when she had come to visit them, had convinced her that if she married, she might be happy again.

She knew it was just another cage, but she was tired, and everything seemed so bleak now. Her life no longer had any meaning. What reason did she have to go on existing?

Gods, she hated how easily she slipped into these dark moments that felt as if they were going to consume her, her will stripped from her and a desperate need for company filling her, as if that would chase the cold emptiness from her heart.

It was after a particularly brutal bout of depression, when she had still lived at home with her family, that her parents had called in a doctor from the nearest town to tend to her.

Depression was a cage, but it had given her some freedom.

The doctor had spoken with her parents, stating that she needed a hobby or some space to help ease her mood. When her parents had asked her what she wanted, she had spoken from her heart, requesting that she be allowed a small home of her own to run, away from the village.

Her parents had been reluctant, but had eventually agreed when the doctor had pressed them. Her new home had lifted her spirits, and had given her a taste of freedom, allowing her to come and go as she pleased. She had buried herself in her garden, the long days flying past as she toiled from the moment it grew light until it became too dark to see.

But the loneliness, the solitude, got to her at times, especially during the longer winter nights, and her thoughts always turned to her past, and a time when her heart had been full and overflowing.

Then, the emptiness rose inside her to consume her again.

Driving her back home in an attempt to fill it.

“Shaia?” A male voice curled around her and she frowned and looked around as they entered the fringes of the village, seeking the source of it.

None of the males coming and going along the avenues between the thatched houses were familiar to her.

“Do you know that male?” Eirwyn said and she glanced up at him, catching him scowling in the direction of the village square as he smoothed his ponytail, his actions clipped and reeking of irritation.
Shaia looked there.

A handsome male strode towards them along the broad road between the grey stone two-storey buildings, his fitted black tunic detailed with elegant pale green embroidery around the edges of the two long panels at the front that reached his knees, the matching ones at the back, and around the cuffs.

Tight black trousers hugged his lean muscular legs, tucked into polished black knee-high riding boots. Their silver clasps reflected the light, dazzling her as much as his wide smile and bright violet eyes.

Eirwyn pulled a face beside her, and she could understand why. While his own tunic and trousers were fine and tailored for him, they couldn’t compare to the ones the male wore.

They bore symbols only those high in the court of Prince Loren could wear.

The male’s smile became a grin and he waved, glanced over his shoulder and said something to someone behind him, and then picked up pace, heading towards Shaia.

She blinked as she finally recognised him.




Book 1: Kissed by a Dark Prince (Only 99c at all retailers!)
Book 2: Claimed by a Demon King
Book 3: Tempted by a Rogue Prince
Book 4: Hunted by a Jaguar
Book 5: Craved by an Alpha
Book 6: Bitten by a Hellcat
Book 7: Taken by a Dragon
Book 8: Marked by an Assassin
Book 9: Possessed by a Dark Warrior
Book 10: Awakened by a Demoness
Book 11: Haunted by the King of Death
Book 12: Turned by a Tiger
Book 13: Tamed by a Tiger
Book 14: Treasured by a Tiger
Book 15: Unchained by a Forbidden Love


Felicity Heaton is a New York Times and USA Today international best-selling author writing passionate paranormal romance books. In her books, she creates detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons! If you’re a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will enjoy her books too.

If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, the best-selling Her Angel series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires then try the Vampires Realm series or any of her stand-alone vampire romance books. If you're looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate and erotic then try the best-selling Vampire Erotic Theatre series. Or if you prefer huge detailed worlds filled with hot-blooded alpha males in every species, from elves to demons to dragons to shifters and angels, then take a look at the new Eternal Mates series.

If you want to know more about Felicity, or want to get in touch, you can find her at the following places:

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Review: Cherish Hard - Nalini Singh

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh kicks off her new Hard Play contemporary romance series with a sizzling story that’ll leave you smiling…

Sailor Bishop has only one goal for his future – to create a successful landscaping business. No distractions allowed. Then he comes face-to-face and lips-to-lips with a woman who blushes like an innocent… and kisses like pure sin.

Ísa Rain craves a man who will cherish her, aches to create a loving family of her own. Trading steamy kisses with a hot gardener in a parking lot? Not the way to true love. Then a deal with the devil (aka her CEO-mother) makes Ísa a corporate VP for the summer. Her main task? Working closely with a certain hot gardener.

And Sailor Bishop has wickedness on his mind.

As Ísa starts to fall for a man who makes her want to throttle and pounce on him at the same time, she knows she has to choose – play it safe and steady, or risk all her dreams and hope Sailor doesn’t destroy her heart.

Rock Kiss Series:
Rock Addiction
Rock Courtship (Novella)
Rock Hard (Crossover with the Hard Play series)
Rock Redemption
Rock Wedding

Hard Play Series:
(Spin off from the Rock Kiss series featuring the Bishop brothers)
Cherish Hard
Rock Hard (Crossover with the Rock Kiss series)

Visit Nalini Singh's website for more information

Review:
I love the whole Rock Kiss series but Rock Hard was definitely my favourite so I was thrilled when I found out that Nalini Singh was writing a spin off series about the rest of the Bishop/Esera brothers. They're such a tight-knit family so I was really looking forward to getting to know everyone better. If you've read Rock Hard then you'll have already met Sailor and Isa because Cherish Hard is actually set before Gabriel and Charlie's book but it was really fun to go back and see how they met and became a couple. It was also interesting to see a different side to Gabriel from back when he was still single and to get to know the other brothers a little better too.

Isa comes from a wealthy and very driven family and her mother is determined to see Isa follow in her footsteps and take over the family business. All Isa really wants is a peaceful life though, she'd much rather focus on her career as a teacher but her mother uses her younger siblings to emotionally manipulate her into doing what she wants her to. Sailor comes from a very different, much more supportive family, one who supports him and has helped him follow his dreams to become a landscape gardener. He's been so busy focusing on his business that he doesn't have time for romance but that all changes when he meets Isa and he's determined to prove to her how great they would be together.

This was such an enjoyable story, the romance between Isa and Sailor was really sweet and I liked that there wasn't much drama between them as a couple, any stresses on their relationship come from outside factors but they work together to deal with their issues and sort things out like sensible adults. I felt so sorry for Isa, her mother was such a nasty piece of work but luckily she had a great bond with her siblings. She was really like a replacement mother for them and I loved the way Sailor stepped up beside her to help them when they were in trouble. I also enjoyed seeing the Bishop/Esera clan welcome Isa and her family into the fold. I can't decide which brother's story I'm more excited about but I have a feeling I'm going to love them all so I guess it doesn't really matter!

Nalini Singh has been an auto-buy author for me ever since I got hooked on her Guild Hunter and Psy-Changeling series so I'm happy that her contemporary romances are just as brilliant as her paranormal ones.

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

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Monday, 15 January 2018

Review: Danger's Cure - Amanda Carlson

Before it’s too late…

Holly and her crew are on a quest to uncover the locations of the medi-pods following the clues Roman left behind, hoping to find at least one that hasn’t been destroyed before the government catches on.

The only problem is, someone already has. Strange UACs are popping up all over, and in order to take them out, the crew risks exposing itself.

When they do, what they find is chilling. The secret government group has a dark purpose. Holly and her friends have no choice but to launch an all-out war to set things to rights. But some factors have already been set in motion, and undoing them might take too much time and come at too high a cost.

Holly Danger Series:
Danger's Halo
Danger's Vice
Danger's Race
Danger's Cure
Danger's Hunt (March 2018)

Visit Amanda Carlson's website for more information

Review:
This series is just getting better and better, Danger's Cure sees Holly and her friends working together trying to track down one of the high-spec medi-pods that has the capability of curing the seekers. Unfortunately they're not the only ones hunting for them and with time running out for Mary the stakes have never been higher.

We see more of the group working together in this instalment and things get pretty dicey for them as a rogue government agency does everything it can to stop them finding the cure. There is more going on with the government than meets the eye so Holly and her friends are facing danger on all sides now. We finally start to see Case open up more about his background, even if it was reluctantly, but I'm glad that he seems to be coming more of a fully trusted member of the crew. It's understandable why they've been wary of him in the past but I'm hoping that now they know more about him they'll find it easier to trust his intentions. Daze as always steals the show and I love how they're all like a big, slightly dysfunctional family.

The action is really ramping up and we're learning more about this world all the time which makes for great reading. These are the kind of books I can pick up and easily devour in one sitting so I'm really glad that it's only a couple of months until book 5, Danger's Hunt, is being published. If you like Amanda Carlson's urban fantasy books you should definitely give this futuristic dystopian sci-fi a try!

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

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Sunday, 14 January 2018

Review: The Last Namsara - Kristen Ciccarelli

Destroyer. Death bringer. Dragon-slayer. I am more weapon than girl.

Asha is a dragon-slayer. Reviled by the very people she's sworn to protect, she kills to atone for the wicked deed she committed as a child - one that almost destroyed her city, and left her with a terrible scar.

But protecting her father's kingdom is a lonely destiny: no matter how many dragons she kills, her people still think she's wicked.

Even worse, to unite the fractured kingdom she must marry Jarek, the cruel commandant. As the wedding day approaches, Asha longs for freedom.

Just when it seems her fate is sealed, the king offers her a way out: her freedom in exchange for the head of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard.

And the only person standing in her way is a defiant slave boy . . .

THE LAST NAMSARA is an extraordinary story about courage, loyalty and star-crossed love, set in a kingdom that trembles on the edge of war.

Iskari Series:
The Last Namsara
The Caged Queen (2018)
The Soul Thief (2019)

Visit the Kristen Ciccarelli's website for more information

Review:
Asha broke the rules as a child, she told the forbidden stories in the hills outside her city and it drew the attention of Kozu, the most powerful dragon in the kingdom. When she stopped giving him the stories he wanted Kozu flew into a rage, nearly burning Asha to death and destroying half of the city with a rain of fire. Ever since then Asha has been haunted by what happened and has desperately tried to make amends to her people by hunting and destroying the dragons. If she can only find and defeat Kozu her people will be safe and she might even be able to avoid the arranged marriage between her and the commander of her father's army, Jarek.

I love dragons so of course any book about them automatically ends up on my wish list but I have to admit I was a little disappointed when the opening scene starts with Asha capturing a dragon and cutting it's head off - I prefer my dragons as regal allies rather than vicious enemies! Luckily it doesn't take long to figure out there is much more to this story than a one girl mission to kill as many dragons as possible though. Asha is a complicated character, she knows her father hates the old stories but they are a way for her to feel close to the mother she lost as a young girl so they bring a comfort to her even when she knows they could cost her everything. We get to learn snippets of these stories at the beginning of each chapter and they're well worth paying attention to because they give us hints at what is really going on in the rest of the story.

Asha isn't the easiest character to like in the beginning, she's very stubborn and quite closed off to those around her but she's had to become that way to guard herself after everything that happened when she was a child. The entire city blame her for what happened to them and people look at her with fear and hatred wherever she goes so she has no choice but to brazen it out rather than crumble under their disapproval. She goes on a real emotional journey throughout the story learning to trust her own instincts and to question everything she's always been told about both her past and the dragons. I really enjoyed the changes in her and admired the way she stood up for what she believed in even when the price of failure would be so high.

Her only allies have been her brother Dax and her cousin Safire. For much of the story Dax seemed pretty useless but he actually has his own secrets and becomes much more interesting as you start to uncover what is going on with him, I'm really hoping we'll see more of his side of the story as the series continues. Safire was a very positive influence on Asha, she's been treated terribly because of her heritage but she's fierce and determined and she's Asha's biggest ally. Then you have Torwin, the slave boy who Asha frees at great personal risk to herself. He's another great character and one who has an important role to play in showing Asha the truth of what is really going on around her.

The Last Namsara is a brilliant debut and although it doesn't end on a cliffhanger I'm eager to dive back into his world to find out what happens next. Kristen Ciccarelli is definitely an author to watch out for.

Source: Received from Gollancz in exchange for an honest review.

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Saturday, 13 January 2018

Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Illustrated Edition - J.K. Rowling & Jim Kaye

Celebrate 20 years of Harry Potter magic!

An extraordinary creative achievement by an extraordinary talent, Jim Kay's inspired reimagining of J.K. Rowling's classic series has captured a devoted following worldwide. This stunning new fully illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban brings more breathtaking scenes and unforgettable characters - including Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Professor Trelawney. With paint, pencil and pixels, Kay conjures the wizarding world as we have never seen it before. Fizzing with magic and brimming with humour, this full-colour edition will captivate fans and new readers alike as Harry, now in his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, faces Dementors, death omens and - of course - danger.

Harry Potter Series:
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Illustrated Edition (Illustrated by Jim Kay)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: 20th Anniversary House Editions
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Illustrated Edition (Illustrated by Jim Kay)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Illustrated Edition (Illustrated by Jim Kay)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Play Script written with John Tiffany & Jack Thorne)

Pottermore Presents:
Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies (Short Story Collection)
Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists (Short Story Collection)
Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide (Short Story Collection)

Other Harry Potter Books & Products:
Harry Potter: Winter at Hogwarts: A Magical Colouring Set (Colouring Book, Gift Tags & a build your own 3D Firebolt in a Keepsake Box)
Incredibuilds: Harry Potter: House-Elves (Deluxe Book and Model Set)
Incredibuilds: Harry Potter: Buckbeak (Deluxe Book and Model Set)
Incredibuilds: Harry Potter: Quidditch (Deluxe Book and Model Set)
J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World: Magical Film Projections: Creatures (Activity Book)
Harry Potter: Magical Film Projections: Patronus Charm (Activity Book)
Harry Potter: The Character Vault - Jody Revenson
IncrediBuilds: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Niffler (Deluxe Book and Model Set)

Visit J.K. Rowling's website or the Pottermore website for more information

Animated Trailer:



Jim Kay talks about Illustrating the series:



Review:
It's no secret I'm a crazy Potterhead, I have a ridiculously large collection of books and merchandise but there is no doubt that these gorgeous illustrated editions are some of my favourite items. Jim Kay's gorgeous artwork just adds a whole new level to J.K. Rowling's incredible stories and I can't wait to have the whole collection complete.

As with the previous illustrated editions this is a fantastic quality hardback with glossy pages and illustrations on pretty much every page. The text is a good size and easy to read and I love the way the illustrations vary from tiny little pictures surrounded by text, to subtle background images with text over the top, right through to beautiful full double page spreads. This book in particular has images of Crookshanks and Scabbers scattered throughout which was a fantastic detail (if you remember Crookshanks spends a lot of time chasing Scabbers in this story!).

I've already reviewed the story of Prisoner of Azkaban (you can read that review HERE) so I'm not going to go into detail again but this is still one of my favourite books of the series and Jim Kay's illustrations have only added to that love.

I could have included hundreds of pictures with this review but I've tried to narrow it down to just a few favourites, you'll just have to buy the book if you want to see the rest!






Source: Purchased

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