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Review: “The Dragon’s Prize” by Sophie Park

“The Dragon’s Prize” by Sophie Park

Available from: Amazon
Released on: 7 January 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: The prince has been kidnapped! Carried off in broad daylight by a dragon with no hope of being saved except an exorbitant ransom. Only one royal guard is brave enough to attempt a rescue: Sandra.

Known for being the best warrior in the guard, Sandra’s prowess was also her downfall. Disgraced and moments away from an unfair execution, Sandra seizes this last chance at redemption. Her journey will take her across a forbidding wilderness where she’ll face off against deadly conspiracies and hungry trolls before ever getting a chance to challenge the dragon. With the kingdom’s ruin, and her own life, hanging in the balance how can she possibly triumph against such odds?

Review: I’ve been Miss Review Girl over here, jumping not just on one soapbox but a whole stack of them, about how so many books–especially epic fantasy–have Pointless Female Syndrome, with women characters thrown in to say HEY WE HAS A GIRL. And then proceed to make her an idiot, or just completely pointless, or with the entire purpose of sacrificing everything she has and is for the male hero.

Honestly? I would rather a book with only male characters.

When the author of The Dragon’s Prize approached me for a review, I already had a sizeable To Be Read pile, but a lead character in an epic fantasy that’s a female warrior? Then I saw other themes in the sequel that drew my eye, though I won’t say what since I haven’t read it yet, but I knew I had to try it.

I’m so glad that I did.

First off, the writer drops you right into the story, writes action very well, and is funny. The story and book moved along at a great pace, and I was giggling through much of it. (The writer and character have my sense of humor.)

This is what I liked even better: our main character is a female warrior, member of the royal guard and everyone hates her. But not because she’s a woman, because she’s a commoner. And when they turn on her (which happens early so I feel okay noting it), they beat her up but sexual assault doesn’t happen or is even an idea. (Too many authors use this for shock value, I think, without working with it realistically or really thinking it through.)

Even if I didn’t like the rest of the book, this would have thrilled me. Not only a strong female lead but actual gender equality in the story, because it wasn’t A Thing. She was just another warrior. But I did like the rest of the book, a lot: our hero, a kickass woman. Our sidekick? Also a pretty kickass woman. And the one they have to go save? The prince!

Seriously. This was great. 5 Fireballs of Awesomeness and I can’t wait to read the sequel.

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Review: “Slice of Life” by Ellie Ann & Others

“Slice of Life” by Ellie Ann & Others

Available from: Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Released on: 12 January 2015
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review, as part of this book’s blog tour.

Description: “This was no longer her world against the queen. It was the queen’s world against her.”

The Queen wants to destroy the life force of earth and has destroyed the last being that can stop her. Or so she thinks . . .

The last powerful mage in the world, Princess Aura, is the sole witness to the nefarious plot. The good news is she knows how to stop it. The bad news? She can’t do it alone.

Aura must summon someone she hoped never to see again. Saint George, her lover who left five years ago for another woman. And another. And another.

Can they work together long enough to defeat the queen and save the world?

Told collectively by a troupe of digital artists, Slice of Life employs every medium available: prose, pictures, poetry, illustration, audio scenes, and music, to provide an immersive and exciting reading experience.

Review: I was first drawn to this book for the intriguing “multi-media” concept, as I had not read a story comprised of narrative, illustrations, with a “saga” and music and audio scenes that you could listen along with. So for all that, it was fun. (Although the narrators didn’t quite click with me.)

The story itself was interesting too, taking a whole bunch of fairy tales and tossing them on their ear, while still being a standard fairy tale in many ways.

Unfortunately, this story lacked something for me to really be drawn in. Maybe it really did try to do too much and in too small a span to really feel it all. Some parts were very rushed and so you couldn’t quite hook into the story, and the characters didn’t have as much development since they were so busy rushing through the plot.

Still, it was fun and different and interesting. 3.5 Fireballs.

Review: “The Blood Detail” by Arvin Loudermilk

“The Blood Detail” by Arvin Loudermilk

Available from: Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Released on: 20 January 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: Vigil No. 1, a novella.

“The city of Los Angeles is infested with vampires. I’ll bet you had no idea. I sure as hell didn’t. My name is Grace Kimble and I was on patrol the first time I ran into one of these murderous bastards. The perp in question had just drunk a girl dry, and was looking to do the same to me. Totally outmatched, I took the only option I had left. I put up my dukes.”

Review: I can’t say that I disliked this story, but I can’t say that I really liked it either. It was a quick read, and moved along at a very active pace. For the story it was telling, or the piece of the story, that worked for it. It was well-written and I did like the overall idea.

Grace was a jerk, but she was written that way and the character is aware of it, so that works and she has her endearing points. Some personal development aspects felt a little forced, however.

Ultimately, there was just some factor missing for me to say that I liked it. I think this is just a me thing and another fan of paranormal suspense would get a lot out of the story. For me, though, it’s 3 Fireballs.

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Paulina Woods is Visiting! [Tour Stop]

Stone Guardian

“Stone Guardian” (Witches Amulet #1) by Paulina Woods

Published on… 18 November 2014
Published as… Fantasy Romance

About the Book

Element – Fire (Healer/Destroyer)
Royal House – Purple

Milcah was born to rule along side an evil mother. Milcah’s father was taken against his will and forced to give up his seed to produce a child with unimaginable powers. At a young age she was taken away from the only home she knows and forced to forget, again and again.
Raised by a detached stepmother, Milcah learned to depend on herself and her best friend, Mary for support. When Mary suggest a vacation, with a scenic route, to the Grand Canyon Milcah believes she is finally getting the chance to see outside her small town. Packing a few things and climbing into her old beat up car, she never imagined she would find a new side of herself.

Lost on a back road, Milcah meets her destiny in a small town named Beacon. When her mind is unlocked, she finds she has a past that will lead to the salvation or damnation of the world.

This is book one in The Witches Amulet series.

Buy the Book at Amazon

About the Author

Paulina Woods Author Photo
Paulina is a small town girl with big dreams. She is the second oldest of three talented siblings.

As early as three she was directing her family around acting out whatever current story was in her head. At four between her older brother and her, a whole universe was created which the younger siblings were introduced into as they were born.

Her natural ability to tell a story took her down many paths. She wrote plays, poems, small children books and short stories all before she entered high school.

When picking a career her councilor told her writing was a dying art and so she went to school for veterinarian science. Three years later she dropped out of university and enrolled in the local community college with a major in journalism

In 2008 she graduated with her BA in Communication/Journalism from Cal State Fullerton.

Life happened and her dreams were put on hold until 2013 when she started a review blog. This year her first book in her Witches Amulet series will be released.

~* Website * Newsletter * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads * Amazon *~

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Review: “Fireworks at Midnight” by Tara Quan [Tour Stop]

“Fireworks at Midnight” (A Witch’s Night Out) by Tara Quan

Available from: Amazon, AllRomance, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo or Decadent Publishing
Released on: 12 December 2014

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review, as part of this book’s blog tour.

Description: Recent college graduate and part-time cat familiar Dulcina “Sweets” Gato is having the worst New Year’s Eve in living memory. End of year expenses trigger serious cash flow problems, and her microwave just went up in smoke. To make matters worse, her best friend’s overprotective big brother is back in town, and his return threatens to put a huge crimper on her nocturnal activities. The only thing she can look forward to is Madame Eve’s 1-Night Stand service. After all, she’s sick and tired of being a 21-year-old virgin.

Enforcement Agent Mikal Knight is a warlock on a mission. Having finally scored a transfer to Washington, D.C., he’s now at liberty to pursue the object of his desires—his baby sister’s best friend. But first, he has a vigilante to track down and a mysterious matchmaking service to investigate. Sent on an undercover operation, he resigns himself to a pointless 1-Night Stand on New Year’s Eve. As luck would have it, his mystery date’s identity might let him kill several birds with one stone.

Review: What could possibly be worse than a morning without coffee? A man as dark as it coming to your rescue who you have avoided for years. Dulcina, or Sweets, as everyone but Mikal Knight called her. was a struggling artist, familiar to a shut in earth mage, and in desperate need of a fun night out. Mikal, or Midnight, is an agent for a magical group called Enforcement, and half-brother to the earth mage Sweets shared a house, and a business with.

The thing I love most about this story is the fact that Sweets has visions of the future, a gift of precognition, very strong visions if something is about to happen, and has spent her adult life altering situations where she would end up connecting with Mikal. I love the lesson she learns that sometimes, in books, authors have a sick sense of humor, and play fate like a harp string. Without giving too much away let me say that the wait was worth it.

Tara Quan writes a fun and steamy romance story, she details every situation well, until you feel like you could be watching a movie, not reading a book. This couple is fun, and addictive. I wish this story was longer, because I could spend days lost in the playfulness between them, and the eroticism her writing offers.

I give this story five fireballs my only criticism would be the length of the story, which to me is not anything more than like standing at the end of a concert and cheering encore.

5fireballs[1]

Review: “Frosty Relations” by Tara Quan [Tour Stop]

“Frosty Relations” (A Witch’s Night Out) by Tara Quan

Available from: Amazon, AllRomance, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo or Decadent Publishing
Released on: 21 November 2014

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review, as part of this book’s blog tour.

Description: Attorney Jack Frost never understood why holidays did weird things to people. His secretary went on vacation, his best friend ditched their annual Aspen trip, and the law firm’s stubborn human resources assistant refuses his clerical support request. What’s a warlock to do on Christmas Eve but go on a 1-Night Stand? But when an oddly familiar empath shows up as his date, this ice mage has a hard time denying the magic of the winter solstice.

Faced with an anemic employment market and financial woes, college graduate and former witch Mina Mao lands an HR assistant job at Frost and Sons. Having spent her day saving Christmas from Frost Junior’s Grinch-like behavior, she accepts the gift of Madame Eve’s service and heads over to the Castillo Capital. When her date turns out to be her childhood crush and workplace nemesis, she braces herself for the sexiest icy ride of her life.

Review: Jack Frost might be an ice mage, but he makes this story blazingly hot. Let me say, I read fast, so when I got a book that was as short as this I was concerned because I would not have time to become invested in the characters, that concern was completely unfounded.

From the opening paragraph you are drawn into the daily life of Mina Mao then receive just enough of her and Jack’s background to tell you what you need to know to make the characters come to life, and entwine you in their lives. The sex scenes (one full on and one quick dream snippet) are hot (and with this main man, deliciously cold at times) well written and the descriptive talent of the author make them come to life. Could I have done with a whole weekend worth of reading about these characters and the terrifically written erotic scenes? Oh yes, but this wickedly perfect short was a satisfying way to curl up in bed on a weeknight.

I like the unique take on magic in a modern world, and how different Tara Quan handles the interaction of magic between the characters. I learned a little mandarin in the book as well, though probably nothing I would wish to use in polite company.

I gave this book five fireballs. It has heat, cold, rich, poor, danger and seduction, such a great depth of description that I was in awe of Tara Quan’s ability to paint a picture with words. If I could add a fireball for the Joss Whedon references I would.

Elizabeth McKenna is Visiting!

Venice in the Moonlight

“Venice in the Moonlight” by Elizabeth McKenna

Published on… 2 October 2013
Published as… Historical Romance

Elizabeth McKenna’s Boom Baby Blast

1. One Random Fact: I fell in love with my husband in high school, though we didn’t date until we were in our mid-twenties.

2. Fictional Character You’d Really Like to Be: Nancy Drew. She had great clothes, drove a convertible, and solved mysteries. What more could you want?

3. Your Authorial Theme Song: Since I write romance, I’m going to go with Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”.

4. Favorite Part of Being a Writer: I love meeting new people through my social media sites. For shy people like me, the internet is wonderful.

5. Name of Your First Pet (Can include family or significant others…): Maggie was the name of the black lab my husband and I bought the month we were married. She died six years ago and I can still cry about it. She was the sweetest dog.

6. Music, Television or Silence While Writing: Silence is the best when I’m writing fiction. In my day job as a technical writer, I often listen to classical music (I find myself too distracted if I listen to other genres).

7. Early Riser or Night Owl: I’m an early riser. My day starts at 4:30 am and ends around 9 pm. I actually don’t like this schedule. I would prefer to sleep until 7 or 8 am – maybe when I retire!!

8. Favorite Season: I live in Wisconsin and get all four seasons, but Fall is definitely my favorite.

9. Did You Always Want to be a Writer: Yes. I was a Journalism major in college, though I didn’t start writing fiction until I was around 40 years old.

About the Book

Considered useless by his cold-hearted father, Nico Foscari, eldest son of one of the founding families in Venice, hides his pain behind gambling, drinking and womanizing.

After her husband’s untimely demise, Marietta Gatti returns to her hometown of Venice in hopes of starting a new life and finding the happiness that was missing in her forced marriage.

When Fate throws them together, friendship begins to grow into love until Marietta learns a Foscari family secret that may have cost her father his life. Now, she must choose between vengeance, forgiveness, and love.

Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel takes you back to eighteenth century Carnival, where lovers meet discreetly, and masks make everyone equal.

Buy the Book at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Elizabeth McKenna Author Photo
Elizabeth McKenna works as a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. Though her love of books reaches back to her childhood, she had never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene). She had always wanted to write fiction, so she combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write her debut novel Cera’s Place. Her short story, The Gypsy Casts a Spell, is available for free on her website http://elizabethmckenna.com/. She hopes you will enjoy her latest novel, Venice in the Moonlight, as much as others have enjoyed her previous works.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and a sassy Labrador. When she isn’t writing, working, or being a mom, she’s sleeping.

~* Website *~

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Review: “Fire Sign” by M. A. Petterson

“Fire Sign” by M. A. Petterson

Available from: Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Released on: 26 July 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: A beautiful forensic engineer hiding a tragic past reluctantly teams up with a troubled cop to stop a serial arsonist targeting churches.

Dr. Anja Toussaint believes that her own dreadful youth foretells who the arsonist is and the shocking motive behind the fires. But Detective Gil Dolan stubbornly sets his sights on a white supremacist previously convicted of arson and just released from prison.

Unfortunately, when Anja blocks his efforts the arrogant cop sets his own plan into motion that leads them both into a fiery trap.

Review: On the whole, I enjoyed this story. It was a quick and fairly easy read, and I really loved the premise/set-up of the main character as the forensic engineer/arson investigator, particularly a woman. I’m not entirely sure if I liked Anja or not, but she’s the type of character that I think was written that way. She made for a unique narrative voice, though, and I did like that.

Some elements of Anja, and Dolan, felt kind of stereotyped, or at least common for characters in this sort of genre. But then, sometimes things are common for a reason: they’re common, so I can’t decide if that’s really a detractor. Also the “near miss” for Anja and Dolan felt kind of odd, a little shoe-horned into the plot and I wasn’t crazy about that. (There was another detail that felt similar and didn’t go anywhere that I wasn’t crazy about, but I don’t want to spoiler anything.)

Also, there was one plot turn that felt like a bit too big a leap for anyone to make who wasn’t Sherlock Holmes so I’d have liked to see more development there, although a small twist at the end was a good one.

So, while there were some elements that didn’t quite hit the right notes for me, over all, I did like the story. 4 Fireballs.

4 Fireballs

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Mickey Corrigan is Visiting! [Tour Stop]

Songs of the Maniacs

“Song of the Maniacs” by Mickey Corrigan

Published on… 31 October 2014
Published as… New Adult, Romantic Thriller

About the Book

When the real you is someone you don’t know, then you sing the songs of the maniacs.

Who are we when we lose everything, including our personalities? From her office at a mental health institute in the tropics, a troubled young woman counsels deeply disturbed clients while coping with her own heightening concerns. These include frightening consciousness lapses, violent memories of a high school sexual relationship, a menacing stalker, and an annoyingly arousing visitor who may or may not be insane. All this on a single stormy day at a time when a new mental health disorder has become epidemic and is threatening to distort memory and identity, unmooring the validity of reality itself.

A seductive and chilling novella, Songs of the Maniacs takes readers on a fascinating descent into the abyss beneath the lush surfaces of contemporary American paradise.

Buy the Book at Amazon

About the Author

Mickey Corrigan Author Photo
Mickey J. Corrigan lives and writes and gets into trouble in South Florida. She publishes with pulpy presses with names like Breathless, Champagne and Bottom Drawer. Recent books include the edgy novellas in The Hard Stuff series from The Wild Rose Press (Whiskey Sour Noir, Vodka WarriorTequila Dirty); and the thriller Sugar Babies. Salt Publishing recently released the neo-noir novel Songs of the Maniacs.

~* Website *~

Review: “The School of Night” by Colin Falconer

“The School of Night” (The William Shakespeare Detective Agency) by Colin Falconer

Available from: Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Released on: 7 October 2014
I received this book free in exchange for an honest review, as part of this book’s blog tour.

Description: “My name is William Shakespeare. No, not that Shakespeare; and no jests please, I’ve heard them all. I’m the other one, the ne’er do well cousin, the loafer, known to family and friends as the dunce, the one who could not recite Cicero or Horace, who could never be as good as his clever cuz, the one who has just come to Bishopsgate from Stratford with silly dreams in his head and a longing to make something more of himself than just a glover’s handyman.”

What he finds in London is Lady Elizabeth Talbot, who is willing to pass a few shillings to this blundering brawler if he will help her find her husband. Poor William does not realize the trail will lead to the truth behind the death of Shakespeare’s great rival, Christopher Marlowe – or to a lifelong love affair with a woman far above his station.

Each book tells the story of William’s adventures as England’s first gumshoe, set against turbulent Elizabethan politics; of his romantic pursuit of the impossible Elizabeth Talbot; while charting the career of his up and coming dramatist cousin, the bard of Stratford, but just Will to his family.

Review: This book I loved. Being a Shakespeare fan, this naturally drew my attention but it following not the bard but the cousin of the same name made it fun. There was just enough history to keep it feeling real, but enough drama and adventure to keep it lively.

I completely hooked into Cousin Will, as just the type of character I love, and I thought that Elizabeth was a great mix of a woman of her age but with those bits of the Modern Women that we like to see. The romantic sub-plot was light, but I liked it.

Falconer’s style and Voice of the character was amazingly readable, and now I want to run off and read his other historical fiction. 5 Fireballs.

5 Fireballs

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