February 28, 2015

Bought, Borrowed & Bagged #140: House of Cards, Meet the new POTUS & FLOTUS

BB&B (Bought, Borrowed and Bagged) is a weekly meme, inspired my The Story Siren and Pop Culture Junkie, where we share with you the books that we have bought, borrowed or bagged (won or gifted) plus a recap of the previous week's reviews, upcoming reviews, on going events and book movie or television news. 

BB&B is an homage Barron's Books & Baubles from Karen Marie Moning's smash hit series, Fever. 

from publishers & authors

Big & Small

HOUSE OF CARDS S3 just got dumped in Netflix and I've been binge watching the show since yesterday. Here's a trailer in case you haven't seen any of the episodes yet.

Last Week's Reviews

It's a new year and there's a new linky for my humble weekly recap meme. Whether you're a return participant or a new hopper, THANK YOU for joining, your participation is much appreciated. 

Also as this is a laid-back meme, please use your LABEL OR TAG LINKS and not your post links that way you don't have to update your linky every week. 

February 27, 2015

Suped Feature: Friends to Lovers Trope feat. Bec McMaster, Susanna Ives, Kristen Callihan, and Sara Humphreys

Friends to lovers. Possibly one of the most favored and popular trope in romance novels. There's just something so sexy and exciting about a relationship that starts with bickering, dangerous plotting, and hateful thoughts concerning the other party. It's a different, and definitely a dysfunctional foreplay, that almost never fails. 

I love this trope! After all, the Bible says "Love thy enemy," and if my nemesis is like these four hunky males, I wouldn't mind turning the other cheek (and more) to them.

It’s a fine line between love and hate, and these heroes know that first hand! Here to tell us the signs that you may be falling from your enemy are Leo Barrons (Of Silk and Steam by Bec McMaster), Lord Randall (Wicked, My Love by Susanna Ives), Adam, King of the GIM (Soulbound by Kristen Callihan), and Killian Bane (Vampires Never Cry Wolf by Sara Humphreys). 

Leo Barrons, Of Silk and Steam:
  1. You find yourself looking forward to matching wits with her, even when she comes out the victor. 
  2. You make rash challenges, like promising to help her outrun assassins, in exchange for a single kiss... 
  3. You trust her with information that could ruin you, knowing it's the only way to get past her quest for revenge against your family. 
*I do love the part where you tricked Mina in showing you her boobies*

Lord Randall, Wicked, My Love:
  1. You want to be with your enemy all the time, even if you’re just going to bicker and insult each other. 
  2. You get confused as to whether you’re fighting or flirting. 
  3. Things turn ugly and you turn to your enemy because you know she’s there, your enemy in thick and thin. 
*Tsk, hanging out to bicker? Sounds like foreplay to me*

Adam, King of the GIM Soulbound:
  1. Certainly you want to tup her. But when you imagine holding her after you tup? Trouble, my friends. Trouble. 
  2. Even when she annoys that bloody hell out of you, she’s the only person you want to be around. Irritating, that. 
  3. When it is foregone conclusion that you will lay down your life for her. 
*Oh yeah, I remember how you'd bait Eliza in the dungeons just so she'd stick around and talk to you*

Killian Bane, Vampires Never Cry Wolf:
  1. I couldn't stay away from her. No matter what I did or what I said, I was drawn to Sadie and I kept going back to her damn club night after night. I couldn't get enough of her and I never will. 
  2. I walked away from my duty as crown prince. No title and no amount of power could possibly replace having Sadie by my side. 
  3. I knew I was done for when I realized that I'd rather fight with Sadie than make love with anyone else. 
*Giving up your crown? Now THAT is a sacrifice!*

To hear more on how these hero tried (and failed) to resist their enemies check out their stories!

Leo Barrons: Of Silk and Steam by Bec McMaster
Lord Randall: WickedMy Love by Susanna Ives
Adam, King of the GIM: Soulbound by Kristen Callihan
Killian Bane: Vampires Never Cry Wolf by Sara Humphreys

This post is brought to us by the lovely people over at Sourcebooks

February 26, 2015

Suped Up: Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop

Series: The Others 3
Format: eGalley
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Roc
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Fantasy

The Others freed the cassandra sangue to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before—both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn’s help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him.

Meg is still deep in the throes of her addiction to the euphoria she feels when she cuts and speaks prophecy. She knows each slice of her blade tempts death. But Others and humans alike need answers, and her visions may be Simon’s only hope of ending the conflict.

For the shadows of war are deepening across the Atlantik, and the prejudice of a fanatic faction is threatening to bring the battle right to Meg and Simon’s doorstep.

February 25, 2015

Loved It: A Ghostly Undertaking by Tonya Kappes

Series: A Ghostly Southern Mystery 1
Format: eGalley
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
From USA Today bestselling author Tonya Kappes, comes a brand new hilarious and fun paranormal mystery series a bout Emma Lee Raines, a funeral home director who can suddenly see dead people!

Bopped on the head from a falling plastic Santa, local undertaker Emma Lee Raines is told she’s suffering from “funeral trauma.” It’s trauma all right, because the not so dearly departed keep talking to her. Take Ruthie Sue Payne--innkeeper, gossip queen, and arch-nemesis of Emma Lee’s granny-she’s adamant that she didn’t just fall down those stairs. She was pushed.

Ruthie has no idea who wanted her pushing up daisies. All s he knows is that she can’t cross over until the matter is laid to eternal rest. In the land of the living, Emma Lee’s high-school crush, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, isn’t ready to rule out foul play. Granny Raines, the widow of Ruthie’s ex-husband a nd co-owner of the Sleepy Hollow Inn, is the prime suspect. Now Emma Lee is stuck playing detective or risk being haunted forever.

February 23, 2015

Shelley Liked It: The Vault by Emily McKay

Series: The Farm 3
Format: Paperback | 400 pages
Released: December 2, 2014
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Borrowed from the Library
Genre: YA | Dystopian
In a world where vampires rule and teenaged humans are quarantined as a food source, there is only one choice—resist or die. But fighting the vampires comes at a terrible cost to twin sisters Mel and Lily and their best friend Carter...

With Lily exposed to the vampire virus and lying in a coma, it’s up to Mel and Carter to search for the cure. Time is not on their side. With every passing heartbeat, Mel is becoming more and more purely vampire.

Desperate, Carter and Mel decide to split up. Carter will recruit human rebels from the Farm in San Angelo to infiltrate the guarded kingdom of the vampire Sabrina and steal the cure. Mel will go back to her mentor, her friend, her betrayer, Sebastian, who is the only one who can access an underground vault that may house the secret to the cure.

That is, if he’s still alive after she staked him to the ground. Now her worst enemy may be their best hope for curing Lily—and saving the human race.

3.5 Cauldrons

THE VAULT, according to author Emily McKay, is the final installment in The Farm trilogy. The Vault is one again told in 3 separate narratives; Sisters Mel and Lily Price, and Carter Olson. The story picks up right where The Lair left off. Mel and Carter face risky choices and decisions to save Lily, including going in separate directions to order to find a cure before they lose Lily completely to the Tick virus.

As a summary, thanks to the En371 virus being released in Texas, people turned into vampire-like mutants called Ticks and quickly decimated the Southwest, Midwest and later the entire country. But, to know what truly happened and why, you need to read these books in order as they were released. In order to save and protect the remaining young people who survived, Farms were built. This is where we were first introduced to Melanie and Lily and where Carter found them, and rescued them. This is where Lily protected her autistic sister by holing themselves up in a closet and trading for goods and services necessary to escape the Farm.

I will say that the main story line for THE VAULT is finding a cure for Lily, who has been infected with the Tick virus (read The Lair). The clock is quickly ticking down to when Lily will completely lose her humanity and become a blood thirsty monster. With Carter refusing to allow Lily to fall into darkness, he makes some bold choices, including seeking out a rival vampire named Sabrina, who may have access to the cure, and trusting someone who betrayed Lily. Meanwhile, Mel, who has been a vampire for 8 weeks, must once again face her mentor, savior, and the person she left staked to the ground, Sebastian. 

I would be a failure as a reviewer if I didn't mention the relationships between not only Carter and Lily, but Mel and Sebastian as well. Each of these characters would do almost anything to save the person they love. Take Carter for example. Not only is he the leader of the rebellion against the vampires, but he is truly in love with Lily. So much so, that he put his life on the line time and time again searching a variety of Farms for her, rescuing her and Mel, and not losing hope of finding a cure.

Mel and Sebastian's relationship runs both hot and cold but if you even think for a minute that either of them truly doesn't care about the other, no matter what vile things Sebastian may have done in the past, then you are crazy. The really important part of this story is the reunion between sisters. How can they ever go back to what they once had with Lily's choice of saving Mel by having Sebastian turn her? They've both faced and dealt with so much over the course of The Farm. Will their relationship ever heal, or will it linger for the rest of their lives?

You really can't fault anyone's choices in THE VAULT. Not Carters. Not Mel's. Not even Lily's. Even though Lily's POV are few and far between, they were just enough to understand what was happening to her as she slowly loses herself. I hate when characters you like are introduced, and then suddenly, BOOM, they go missing. Where did they go? Are they alive or dead? What really happened to Mel and Lily's mom and uncle who remain missing?

I'm not entirely satisfied with how The Farm Trilogy ended. There are a number of loose ends that haven't been wrapped up, and I am not one who allows my imagination to figure out what happens next. Perhaps one day, McKay will revisit this series and explain how Mel, Carter, Lily, and Sebastian fared knowing that they weren't out of the woods. Were they able to cure those already affected with the Tick virus? I need to know what happened to secondary characters that become a vital part of Carter's rebellion and caught my attention, especially Joe and baby Josie, Dawn and Darren.


Follow Me: Gizmo's Reviews Blog | Facebook | @GizmosReviews | Goodreads

February 22, 2015

Steampunk Sundays: Of Silk and Steam by Bec McMaster

Series: London Steampunk 5
Format: eGalley
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Adult Steampunk
Enemies. Allies. Lovers.

When her beloved father was assassinated, Lady Aramina swore revenge. The man responsible is well beyond her grasp, but his dangerously seductive heir, Leo Barrons, is fair game. When Mina obtains evidence proving that Leo is illegitimate, she has the means to destroy both the killer and his son, a man who troubles her heart and tempts her body.

A woman of mystery, Mina's long driven Leo crazy with glimpses of a fiery passion that lurks beneath her icy veneer. He knows she's hiding something, and he's determined to unravel her layer by silken layer. He just doesn't expect the beautiful liar to be the key to overthrowing the corrupt prince consort… or to saving his own carefully walled-off heart.

And so it has come full circle. What was started in Kiss of Steel has now been concluded in OF SILK AND STEAM, book 5 of Bec McMaster's fiery and sexy series, London Steampunk. This latest installment is explosively action packed, filled to the brim with damaging secrets, devastating betrayals, tempered with love and loyalty. Should BMcMaster decide to end the series at this point, I wouldn't have complaints because she gave full closure on every long standing conflict and wrapped-up every story thread, big and small.

OF SILK AND STEAM is predominantly a friends-to-lovers kind of story. For 5 books, we saw the rivalry and tension build and swell between Lady Aramina, Duchess of Casavian, and, Leo Barrons, the Duke of Caine's heir. Their long standing feud started when Caine allegedly murdered Lady Aramina's father. Undeterred, Leo Barrons relentlessly pursued Lady Aramina through high water and Hell (intentionally reversed) and said pursuit was fruitful because these two eventually had their HEA.

It's a little challenging to characterize these two as characters, and as a couple. In so few words, Lady Aramina is fire and ice, haughty yet passionate, and very loyal. Leo Barrons is playful, arresting, principled, determined, and Aramina's perfect match. As a couple? These two are dangerous. I'm barely skimming the surface because as I mentioned, it took 5 frickin' books to get them (and us) here. And that's partly why OF SILK AND STEAM has an epic feel to it, BMcMaster has been building up London Steampunk to this moment from all angles and the novel's scope is all encompassing. Now all the previous books are tied together by OF SILK AND STEAM. All the previous characters made cameos not just BMcMaster wants to give us treat, but because they all play important roles in ousting the cruel tyrant that is the Prince Consort: Blade the Devil of Whitechapel and leader of the Nighthawks, Lena and her tinkering genius, Lynch and Rosaling's humanist efforts, and even Lady Peregrine's stealth and skill as a Nighthawk proved integral in winning their impromptu coup de

If you remove the romance and paranormal elements of OF SILK AND STEAM, you'll end up with a civil war story of sorts. The vein of this novel lie on the conflict between classes, discrimination between humans and the paranormal citizens of London, political conlfict within the Echelon, and other odds and ends that makes up for this ticking bomb. Add a madman into the equation and a Queen who's been manipulated and abused close to breaking, and you end up with a story akin to Tolstoy's epic novels.... albeit fantastical and definitely fictional. But you get my drift, right?

The best part? OF SILK AND STEAM isn't the last book of the series. It may close off this particular story arc but there's more to come! I had the pleasure of interviewing the super cool Bec McMaster and here's a snippet of it:

Braine: How many books are you still planning to write for London Steampunk?

Bec McMaster: [As mentioned], if I continue the series, I will have to start a new story arc. I have two arcs in mind, which excite me, so I'm dabbling with one of those ideas at the moment. I've basically plotted out six books, all featuring characters that have appeared in the previous series, though right now I'm playing with a couple of other worlds and stories to keep me fresh.

The rest of the interview will be published on Romance at Random on March 11, 2015. We talked about a lot of things, and not to toot my own horn, it's a juicy one because Bec was so game and shared a lot of great things about this novel and the series. I hope you'll catch it!

February 21, 2015

Bought, Borrowed & Bagged #139: John Green is a Pirate!

BB&B (Bought, Borrowed and Bagged) is a weekly meme, inspired my The Story Siren and Pop Culture Junkie, where we share with you the books that we have bought, borrowed or bagged (won or gifted) plus a recap of the previous week's reviews, upcoming reviews, on going events and book movie or television news. 

BB&B is an homage Barron's Books & Baubles from Karen Marie Moning's smash hit series, Fever. 

This week was both fun and challenging. First we were snowed, or rather, ICED in. Ours isn't as bad as Boston's, but the roads were icy and not all the streets are salted. So we stayed in and played outside instead. 

Also my desktop had hardware problems so blogging turned into an obstacle course for me. Thank gooodness for scheduled posts! Still there were posts where I have to make from mobile devices. I had to use 3 different ones to complete a post. It was EXHAUSTING so I apologize if I wasn't able to visit YOUR blog this week.

from publishers & authors

Big & Small

My kid follows the Green Brothers' YouTube channels and I would watch it sometimes with him because they make geekdom hella cool! So I thought I'd share this video with you. I think you'll find it interesting becauseJohn Green pirated a copy of his own book, Paper Towns. Find out why and do enjoy!

Last Week's Reviews

It's a new year and there's a new linky for my humble weekly recap meme. Whether you're a return participant or a new hopper, THANK YOU for joining, your participation is much appreciated. 

Also as this is a laid-back meme, please use your LABEL OR TAG LINKS and not your post links that way you don't have to update your linky every week. 

Suped Up: Alpha & Omega: A Companion Novella to Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

Series: Alpha & Omega 0.5
Format: Mobi
Release Date: Ocotber 20, 2008
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Purchased
Genre: Urban Fantasy
In Cry Wolf, New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs started a new urban fantasy series set in the world of Mercy Thompson -- but with rules of its own. Now, read "Alpha and Omega," the novella that inspired the new series, and see how it all began...Anna Latham never knew werewolves existed, until the night she survived a violent attack... and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the Chicago pack, she's learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. But when she discovers wrongdoing in her pack, she has to go above her Alpha's head to ask for help.Charles Cornick is the son -- and enforcer -- of the leader of the North American werewolves. Now his father has sent him to Chicago to clean up a problem there. Charles never expected to find Anna, a rare Omega wolf -- and he certainly never expected to recognize her as his mate...

This novella was originally published in On the Prowl

**This review was originally published in 2012**

Before you pick up the series you HAVE to read the novella first. There are "holes" in book 1 that might baffle you and the answers are here in Alpha and Omega the companion novella to Cry Wolf.

Here we witness how Anna and Charles first met and how Brother Wolf (Charles' nickname for his wolf) chose Anna to be his mate. We are told the tale of Anna's traumatic experience in the Chicago pack under the the weak Alpha Leo and his manic mate, Isabelle.

The wolf wanted to bed her and claim her as his own.

Anna was Changed against her will and wasn't oriented on the consequences of being a Werewolf like not being able to have children for example. On top of that Anna was demoralized, assaulted, raped and passed around like a whore in Leo's pack. That factoid coupled with Anna's battered look made Charles protective of Anna.

He'd have to call his brother, Samuel,, and tell him that he'd finally learned that his face wouldn't crack if he smiled. all it had taken to teach him was an Omega werewolf.

Charles' original mission was to investigate suspicious activities happening in Chicago but his last minute rendezvous with Anna proved to be serendipitous for them both. I for one was squealing and giggling like a high school girl in this three chapter novella. Charles is all Male like his father Bran, he's had previous dalliances with other women but no one made him and his wolf feel the way Anna made him feel.

Here are my favorite parts mostly Charles' dialogue with Anna:

My wolf is more interested in courting you than in asserting his dominance
But you are mine, and the thought of you hurt, of being able to do nothing about it, is an anger that even an Omega wolf cannot easily soothe.
If you had let me, he said, I'd have courted you gently and won your heart. 
I don't like sex, wasn't enthusiastic before the Change. And after being passed around like a whore for a year, until Isabelle put a stop to it, I like it even less. But if I am yours, then you damned well are going to be mine. [Anna]
I promise you will enjoy sex with  me...

Too bad that part of the story (in detail) will never see the light of day.