October 31, 2015

Bought, Borrowed & Bagged [174]

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. 

October 29, 2015

Suped Up: Stop At Nothing by Kate SeRine + Writing Essentials

Series: Protect & Serve 1
Format: eGalley
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Romantic Suspense

When a high-profile investigation goes wrong, FBI Agent Kyle Dawson is transferred back home where he is forced to confront his demons…and the only woman he ever loved. Three years ago, Kyle and Abby Morrow shared a wild, passionate summer—then Abby broke his heart.


Kyle never stopped loving Abby. So when Abby uncovers evidence of a human-trafficking ring, leading to her sister’s kidnapping, he swears he’ll stop at nothing to bring her sister home and keep Abby safe. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse and blindsided by their own explosive desires, they must set aside the past before it’s too late.

4.5 Cauldrons

October 28, 2015

Shelley Loved It: The Revolution of Ivy by Amy Engel

Series: The Book of Ivy 2
Format: E-Galley | 400 pages
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult | Dystopian

Ivy Westfall is beyond the fence and she is alone. Abandoned by her family and separated from Bishop Lattimer, Ivy must find a way to survive on her own in a land filled with countless dangers, both human and natural.

She has traded a more civilized type of cruelty--forced marriages and murder plots--for the bare-knuckled brutality required to survive outside Westfall's borders.

But there is hope beyond the fence, as well. And when Bishop reappears in Ivy's life, she must decide if returning to Westfall to take a final stand for what she believes is right is worth losing everything she's fought for.

October 27, 2015

Loved It: Owl and the City of Angels by Kristi Charish + Myths, Thieves, & a Giveaway

Series: Adventures of Owl 2
Format: eGalley
Release Date: October 5, 2015
Publisher: Pocket Star
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Urban Fantasy

The wild second adventure for unforgettable antiquities thief Owl—a modern-day “Indiana Jane” who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world—from the pen of rising urban fantasy star Kristi Charish. For fans of Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, Jennifer Estep, Jenn Bennett, and the like.

Alix Hiboux, better known as Owl, international antiquities thief for hire, is settling into her new contract job for Vegas mogul Mr. Kurosawa, a red dragon with a penchant for ancient, supernatural artifacts. And now he has his sights set on some treasures of the mysterious Syrian City of the Dead that are sitting in a recluse’s private collection.

There’s just one wrinkle. To stop the resurrection of an undead army that could wreak havoc on Los Angeles, Owl must break into a heavily guarded archaeological sight in one of the most volatile regions in the world. A detour through Libya and a run-in with Somali pirates sends the clock ticking hastily toward total paranormal disaster.

Meanwhile, Alexander and the Paris vampires have stopped stalking Owl’s apartment, but they have by no means forgotten their death grudge against her. To top everything off, Owl finds out the hard way that there is nothing heavenly about the City of Angels.

October 25, 2015

New #BBB: November12 Bows & Blooms

*takes deep calming breaths*

I'm coming clean...

The reading slump is real, but's it's only half the story. The truth is I've been distracted and this is the cause of my distraction:

Bought, Borrowed & Bagged [173]

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. 

October 23, 2015

Loved It: A Ghostly Murder by Tonya Kappes + #FBF: Evil Cheerleaders by R.L. Stein

Series: Ghostly Southern Mysteries 4
Format: eGalley
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Publisher: Avon Witness
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Paranormal | Humorous

Emma Lee Raines knows there's only one cure for a bad case of murder!

I told you I was sick, reads the heastone abouve Mamie Sue Preston's grave. She was the richest woman in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky, and also the biggest hypochondriac. Ironic, considering someone killed her-proprietor of the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, know all this? Because Mamie Sue's ghost told her, that's how! And she's offering big bucks to find the perp.

The catch is, Mamie Sue was buried by the Raines family's archrival, Burns Funeral Home. Would the Burneses stoop to framing Emma Lee's granny? With an enterprising maid, a penny-pinching pastor, and a slimy Lexington lawyer all making a killing off Mamie Sue's estate, Emma Lee needs a teammate-like her dreamboat boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross. Because ith millions at stake, snooping around is definitely bad for Emma Lee's health.

October 22, 2015

Persuasion by Martina Boone

Martina Boone
Heirs of Watson Island 2
Simon Pulse
October 27, 2015
YA Fantasy | Paranormal Romance

As reporters chasing rumors of a stolen shipment of Civil War gold descend on Watson Island, Barrie Watson discovers more is buried at Colesworth Place than treasure. A mysterious, magical man claims the key to the Watson and Beaufort gifts and the Colesworth curse also lies beneath the mansion, and Barrie has no option but to help him find it. While she and Eight Beaufort struggle to make sense of the escalating danger and their growing feelings for each other, Barrie must decide not only whom to trust, but which gift is more reliable—Eight’s or her own. With the fate of the founding families at stake, she has to choose between what she feels deep in her heart and what will keep her loved ones safe.

Help me welcome Martina Boone today at Talk Supe to share with us what's it's like to be Barrie Watson for a day. There's also a giveaway at the end plus more opportunities for you to win amazing book prizes. 

Something Wicked Rises started this week, this is but one piece of many. Check it!

October 21, 2015

Shelley Liked: Unspoken by C.C. Hunter

Series: Shadow Falls: After Dark 3
Format: Paperback | 416 pages
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: Young Adult | Paranormal Romance

The final breathtaking YA romance in New York Times bestselling author C. C. Hunter's Shadow Falls: After Dark trilogy.

Despite her super-speed, inhuman strength, and enhanced senses, Della Tsang's new life as a vampire certainly hasn't been a walk in the park. Especially since she was "reborn" and found herself bound to the mysterious, infuriating, and hunky Chase. But if there's one thing that's always kept Della going, it's her dream of being an elite paranormal investigator.

When Della tries to solve a twenty year old murder--and clear her father's name--she uncovers secrets about the vampire council and the boy she's bonded to. Feeling even more betrayed by Chase because he's kept so much from her, she's determined to keep him as far away from her heart as she can. But together they work a cold case that will lead them into the darkest and ugliest vampire gangs in Texas... and into the scariest reaches of her heart.

3.5 Cauldrons

October 20, 2015

Loved It: Raging Sea by Terri Brisbin + Celtic Trivia & Giveaway

Series: Stone Circle 2
Format: ARC
Release Date: October 6, 2015 
Publisher: Signet Eclipse
Source: Publisher
Genre: Epic Fantasy | Romance

Eons ago, seven ancient deities trapped the goddess of chaos under a ring of stones. But now, in the darkest days of the 13th century, Chaela threatens to escape, leaving the fate of all humanity in the hands of two young lovers...

Ran believed herself to be a normal fisherman’s daughter, until a turbulant storm unleashed within her powers she never knew she had. Those powers have drawn her into the battle of two warring factions: the Warriors of Destiny, whom she knows in her heart to be noble, and a menacing army holding her father captive. Her hope for survival is in the hands of Soren, the man she once loved, the man who betrayed her, and the only man she can trust in a raging battle against evil.

October 19, 2015

Girl Crush Mondays: Rachel Dawson of Blue Blooded by Shelly Bell

Series: Benediction 3
Format: eGalley
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Erotic Suspense | BDSM

A woman who refuses to be tied down...

Investigative reporter Rachel Dawson is always looking for her next big story. While working on a feature about BDSM, she lands a one-night, no-holds-barred pass into the exclusive sex club, Benediction. Rachel doesn't have a deviant bone in her body—or so she thought—until the infuriating, ex-soldier Logan Bradford convinces her to try rope bondage under his capable hands. But a steamy night turns deadly when Rachel and Logan witness a gruesome murder.

A Dom who's determined to bind her to him...

Framed for a crime they didn't commit and hunted by corrupt FBI agents, they flee. As Rachel and Logan search for evidence to clear their names, the attraction they've been fighting ignites into fiery passion. Love is the last thing Rachel wants, but night by night, as Logan binds her body, he unravels the knots around her heart. And when they uncover a shocking political conspiracy, Rachel will stop at nothing to reveal the truth…and it just might kill her.

October 17, 2015

Bought, Borrowed, & Bagged [172]: Something Wicked Rises Schedule + Halloween Giveaway

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. 

October 16, 2015

Library Round-up: Night Broken, Half A King, & The Diviners

After yearS, I paid my local library a visit and those are my loot! Sigh, I missed the smell and feel of my church. I'll make it a point to support it more. Meanwhile, below are my mini-reviews for my borrows.

October 15, 2015

Shelley Loved It: Alice Takes Back Wonderland by David D. Hammons

Series: Standalone
Format: MOBI | 271 pages
Release Date: September 28, 2015
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Source: Publisher
Genre: YA | Dark Fantasy | Paranormal Romance

After ten years of being told she can’t tell the difference between real life and a fairy tale, Alice finally stops believing in Wonderland. So when the White Rabbit shows up at her house, Alice thinks she’s going crazy. Only when the White Rabbit kicks her down the rabbit hole does Alice realize that the magical land she visited as a child is real. But all is not well in Wonderland.

The Ace of Spades has taken over Wonderland and is systematically dismantling all that makes it wonderful. Plain is replacing wondrous, logical is replacing magical, and reason is destroying madness. Alice decides she must help the Mad Hatter and all those fighting to keep Wonderland wonderful. But how can she face such danger when she is just a girl?

Alice must journey across the stars to unite an army. She discovers that fairy tales are real in the magical world beyond the rabbit hole. But they are not the fairy tales she knows. Fairy tales have dangers and adventures of their own, and Alice must overcome the trials of these old stories if she wants to unite the lands against Ace.

With the help of Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Snow White and heroes old and new, Alice may have the strength to take back Wonderland.

October 14, 2015

Shot of YA: Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown

Series: Standalone
Format: eGalley
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: YA Historical | Suspense-Mystery

Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the homefront as a Girl Guide and messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, high-level mathematics, and complex puzzles and codes, hoping to make him proud.

When Sam is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche she’s torn—this could be the adventure she’s dreamed of, but how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband to the war? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes there’s no way she can refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity.

Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known to the members of LDB only as Velvet. Deep undercover within the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Samantha must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she finds herself forming a forbidden attraction to the enemy-a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Samantha discover the truth and find Velvet before it’s too late…for them both?

From author Teri Brown comes the thrilling story of one girl’s journey into a deadly world of spycraft and betrayal—with unforgettable consequences.

More like 2.5

October 13, 2015

Boob Tube Binges: Nasty Lawyers, Foreign Affairs, Sleuths, & Zombies...

And I've been reading a little less, and watching a lot of TV. Here's my mini round-up!

Madam Secretary
CBS | 2014-Current | 2 Seasons | 43 mins. per ep

I just stumbled upon Madam Secretary last month when I got bored and Netflix didn't have a lot of shows that interests me. I love Tea Leoni so I thought I'd give the first episode a try and see if I'll like it. Madam Secretary is entertaining enough but the hook isn't quite as strong with me. It's very episodic and the series arc isn't as compelling as I hoped it would be. That said, the cast have great chemistry and I guess it helps that Tea and her TV husband, Tim Daly, are dating in real life.

How To Get Away With Murder
ABC | 2014-Current | 2 Seasons | 43 mins. per ep

How To Get Away With Murder is how you do primetime TV! Viola Davis deserves her Emmy win 100%, she's such a commanding character to watch. Her portrayal of embattled lawyer/professor, Annalise Keating, is electric! Ugh! I can't get enough of her!

This season's arc is yet another nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat mysterious not to mention scandalous! Who knew Annalise not just dips, but bathes, in the lady pond with none other than Jean Grey! As for the season arc, it seems Annalise herself is going to be a victim of an attack soon as she's seen on the floor of her client's house, bathed in blood, in the throes of death. Who attacked her? Was she attacked or is it in defense of a stranger? Gunshot or knife wound? Gah! NEED TO KNOW!

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries
Netflix (Australian Series) | 2012-2015 | 3 Seasons |1 hr per ep

Possibly one of my favorite Netflix find! Phryne Fisher's Essie Davis is such a delight to watch on screen. The show captured the 20's vibe perfectly from the costume down to the dialogue and mannerisms. It's also a cozy mystery, very episodic, and the series arc is romantic in nature. Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is a delightful and addictive, a definite must-see if you're a fan of historical series.

The Walking Dead
AMC | 2010-Current | 6 Seasons | 45 mins. per ep

Still reeling from The Walking Dead's season premier last Sunday. Like WTF?! How in the hell are Rick & Co. going to survive that legion?! Are they the only non-zombies? I can't even wrap my head around the logistics of how they plan to successfully herd the undead away from that pit and their (currogated) walled subdivision onto someplace else!

Also, I love the flashback-fast forward style of this season. It's a great device pulling the story from opposite directions which will converge somewhere in the middle. Andrew Lincoln also warned fans to prep for more deaths. I mean it's a weekly thing, but I think he means we're going to lose another series favorite. My money is on Alanna Masterson who plays Tara Chambler, girl's preggers and a bulging belly might be difficult to disguise with all the running and fighting her crowd does. Or how about Maggie Greene-Rhee aka Lauren Cohan? She took a solid beating for a couple of seasons thanks to the death of her father and sister, is Glenn enough to motivate her to live? What's your prediction?

Talk Supe

October 12, 2015

Greeks, SEALs + Giveaway: Havoc Rising by Brian S. Leon

Havoc Rising
Brian S. Leon
Urban Fantasy
Red Adept Publishing
June 16, 2015

Eternal life. Eternal battle.

Steve—Diomedes Tydides to his Trojan War buddies—just had a bad day on his charter fishing boat in San Diego, but when the goddess Athena calls on her faithful warrior for another secret mission, he’s ready. The bomb that exploded inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art isn’t the crime American authorities think it is. Someone also stole the Cup of Jamshid, and Diomedes knows its fortune-telling abilities won’t be used for anything benign.

Though Diomedes recovers the Cup from a determined shaman holed up beneath Central Park, when he finds his allies slain and the Cup taken once more, he knows he’s up against a truly powerful enemy. Over a millennium has passed since Diomedes last contended with Medea of Colchis, deranged wife of Jason the Argonaut, but neither her madness nor her devotion to Hecate, goddess of witchcraft, has waned, and she intends to use the Cup of Jamshid to release across the world a dark brand of chaos unseen in human history.

Immortal since the Trojan War, Diomedes must once again fight for mortals he understands less and less, against a divine evil he may never truly defeat.

Havoc Rising in 5 words... The Iliad meets Tom Clancy.

I love The Illiad or The Trojan War. Of all the heroes in that epic, why choose Diomedes to headline your novel?
Outstanding question. Most people familiar with the Trojan War are aware of Achilles and his diva-like antics, but few who have even read the Iliad remember Diomedes, who was the King of Argos at the time. Well before the Trojan War and even before he was old enough to drive by today’s standards he was a feared warrior from the War of the Epigoni. By all accounts he was one of the wisest, bravest and most honorable of all the heroes who fought in the Trojan War and easily as deadly and feared as Achilles. As a matter of fact in the Iliad several times the Trojans pray that the Greeks would send anyone, including Achilles, but not Diomedes to fight. And Diomedes is the only mortal ever to wound a god in combat—not just any god, but Ares himself. And in fact, he also wounds Aphrodite. Granted, he did it with the help of Athena, who favored him above all others, including Odysseus. He is also the only mortal that she ever revealed herself to in her full form. Agamemnon and Nestor both considered his counsel as invaluable. He devised the plan to sneak into Troy to steal the Palladium with Odysseus, who wimped out on him during the mission. The theft of the artifact led to the downfall of Troy and places Diomedes in line as possibly the first commando in history. He was such an honorable and wise king and warrior that Athena offered him the gift of immortality. No one knows much about what happened to him after the war but it left me a perfect back story for my books. I just made the assumption that he accepts Athena’s offer, though it comes at a price—using his abilities to protect humanity. And that’s how my hero came about. He is about as bad ass a hero as you could want. One of my favorite quotes from Book 5 of the Iliad sums it up:

Not a word of retreat. You’ll never persuade me.
It’s not my nature to shrink from battle, cringe in fear with the fighting strength still steady in my chest.
I shrink from mounting our chariot—no retreat—on foot as I am, I’ll meet them man-to-man.
Athena would never let me flinch.

Can you tell us more about Steve aka Diomedes Tydides?
By all appearances, Steve Dore is a simple 35-ish charter fishing boat captain in San Diego, and a former Navy SEAL (not to mention former pretty much every special operations soldier in history, from French Grey Musketeer to British 2nd Commandos). His true identity, Diomedes Tydides (Greek for “Son of Tydeus”), is known only by a few, who also know he is a Guardian or a protector of mankind and a champion for Athena. He functions as a troubleshooter for Athena’s Metis Foundation, a think tank type organization dedicated to peaceful solutions to worldwide problems. When the issues and problems fall outside normal human parameters, Diomedes is sent in to solve things in any way necessary. He is a formidable soldier, both faster and stronger than a normal human thanks to his connection to Athena (a la the powers she gave him on the battlefield at Troy to fight Ares and Aphrodite) and necessary since the beings and creatures he deals with are far from human. Unfortunately after 3200 years of doing this, he is losing his connection with humanity and identifies better with his most trusted companions, a pair of notorious Fae brothers. He views himself as a blunt instrument--a last line of defense--and is unafraid to kill when necessary but duty and honor bound to protect the humans he feels less and less connected to. He is the consummate soldier.

Why "adapt" another Greek hero/pantheon instead of something less popular?
Well, to be honest, Diomedes is one of the lesser known characters from the epic, but the truth is the more I researched him and his back story, the more I knew I had to use him. I really like the idea that he had an existing backstory. It somehow made him seem more real. Plus he left me 3200 years to play with and I have no intention of limiting my stories to strictly Greek or even Roman mythology. I will and do use myths, legends and folklore from around the world and across history.

Is the Cup of Jamshid a real myth or something of your creation? Is this similar to the infamous Holy Grail?
I try very hard not to make anything up unless I have to. There’s way too much cool stuff out there and I try to connect myth to reality whenever I can. Saying that, the Cup of Jamshid is a “real” legendary object. In fact, it is the item that gave rise to the concept of the Crystal Ball used to foresee events. Some argue that it was in fact a crystal ball and not a cup at all, though most scholars agree the legend suggests it’s a cup. And Jamshid was a pretty powerful guy—plus he created wine according to his legend.

The blurb has a lot of potential antagonists, who are the villains here and can you tell us more about them?
Well in truth there is one main antagonist who is using a lot of players to achieve her end game. The main big bad is the nutcase Medea—also from Greek mythology. She was the wife of Jason, from the Argonaut story and a very powerful witch in her own right and a chief priestess of Hecate. The woman is bent. She killed all but one of her kids, another husband, an uncle, a few others and all because she was pissed off or didn’t get what she wanted. But she was always considered a very powerful witch. I did not change that part, only the part where she is still alive and still plotting revenge.

Along the way Diomedes also contends with a Mapuche Shaman called a Kalku and its Wekufe familiar (South American) and a host of minions that include Ifrits and ghouls (Persian), Androktasiai, Phonoi and Stryx (Greek) among others. All of these are as true to their myths, legends and folklore as I could keep them. And of course, this doesn’t include his allies—everything from Peri (Persian Fae) to wizards in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (yep, that is a real group).

I am a big fan of Medea! Is HAVOC RISING part of a series or standalone?
Series for sure. I’m almost finished with Book Two, tentatively titles the Half Breed, which is much more Fae-centric, and I have most of Book Three written as well. I also have storylines for seven more books plotted out, too.

Romantic elements are almost always a staple in a lot of books these days. I love that HAVOC RISING went against the grain and has no romance, out of curiosity though, what made you forgo this popular device?
I’m a guy. But to be perfectly honest, there is a tad of romance, but it serves a very specific purpose, which is to help Diomedes connect to his humanity again. Plus I use it very much for humor. Diomedes: good with weapons, not so good with women. Very minor part of the story though. It was also a side effect of having a strong female character as well.

That's very surprising. I'd think after living for centuries, he'd have polished his style and picked up some skills along the way. What is the hook of HAVOC RISING and which fanbase will this novel appeal to the most?
If you like Butcher’s Dresden Files, you’ll like this book. If you like myths and legends you’ll like this book. If you like action adventure you’ll like this book. My hook is that I try to rely on the various myths and legends in their truest original forms and not limit myself to one type, like just Greek. I also weave as much reality into the story as possible: for example, the terrorist organization in the story, Jundallah is real and they trace their origins in what is now Iran to a race called the Medes, who were historically founded by Medus, the one surviving son of Medea.

Brian S. Leon is truly a jack of all trades and a master of none. He writes just to do something with all the useless degrees and skills he’s accumulated over the years. Most of them have no practical application in civilized society, anyway. His interests include mythology and fishing, in pursuit of which he has explored jungles and museums, oceans and seas all over the world.

His credentials include an undergraduate degree from the University of Miami and a master’s degree from San Diego State University, plus extensive postgraduate work in evolutionary biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he studied animals most people aren’t even aware exist and theories no one really cares about anyway.

Over his varied career, Brian’s articles have been published in academic journals and popular magazines that most normal people would never read. They can be found in The American Society of Primatologists, the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Proceedings of the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the like. 

His more mainstream work came as an editor for Marlin and FlyFishing in Salt Waters magazines, where he published articles about fishing and fishing techniques around the world. He won a Charlie Award in 2004 from the Florida Magazine Association for Best Editorial, and several of his photographs have appeared on a number of magazine covers—almost an achievement of note, if they weren’t all fishing magazines. 

Always a picky reader, Mr. Leon enjoys stories by classical masters like Homer and Jules Verne as well as modern writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, David Morrell and Jim Butcher. These books, in combination with an inordinate amount of free time, inspired him to come up with tales of his own.

Brian currently resides in San Diego, California.

Follow Brian

5 sets of the Copper Ridge Series 
(Part Time Cowboy, Brokedown Cowboy and Bad News Cowboy)

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER. Sweepstakes opens 8/3/2015 at 12:01 AM (EDT) and closes 8/25/2015 at 11:59 PM (EDT). 
Open to legal residents of the U.S. and Canada who have reached the age of majority or older. Void where prohibited by law. Void in Quebec. 
Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. 
Full details and Official Rules available here
Sponsor: Harlequin Enterprises Limited.

Talk Supe

October 11, 2015

Steampunk Sundays: Storms of Lazarusby Karen Kincy

Series: Shadows of Asphodel 2
Format: Mobi
Release Date: July 29, 2015 
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Source: Publisher
Recommended By: Candace's Book Blog
Genre: Steampunk | Dieselpunk

Sometimes escape is impossible. Sometimes love isn’t enough.

1913. Christmas Eve. Ardis hardly expects a quiet holiday with Wendel, between fleeing Constantinople and hiding from an ancient society of assassins. And they owe a debt to a certain archmage.

In K√∂nigsberg, Prussia, they work with Konstantin on the next evolution of Project Lazarus. Wendel once called K√∂nigsberg home, the city now besieged by the Russians and their clockwork engines of war. This may be Wendel’s last chance to save his family and find redemption, but he’s tormented by nightmares and tempted by laudanum.

Ardis fears her love isn’t enough to save Wendel. Her hands are full piloting the automatons, and she’s terrified to tell him a secret of her own. Will they—and their love—survive the storms of war?

October 10, 2015

Bought, Borrowed & Bagged [171]: Pride and Prejudice and #Zombies

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. 

October 8, 2015

Loved It: Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

Series: Menagerie 1
Format: eGalley
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy

When Delilah Marlow visits a famous traveling carnival, Metzger's Menagerie, she is an ordinary woman in a not-quite-ordinary world. But under the macabre circus black-top, she discovers a fierce, sharp-clawed creature lurking just beneath her human veneer. Captured and put on exhibition, Delilah in her black swan burlesque costume is stripped of her worldly possessions, including her own name, as she's forced to "perform" in town after town.

But there is breathtaking beauty behind the seamy and grotesque reality of the carnival. Gallagher, her handler, is as kind as he is cryptic and strong. The other "attractions"—mermaids, minotaurs, gryphons and kelpies—are strange, yes, but they share a bond forged by the brutal realities of captivity. And as Delilah struggles for her freedom, and for her fellow menagerie, she'll discover a strength and a purpose she never knew existed.

Renowned author Rachel Vincent weaves an intoxicating blend of carnival magic and startling humanity in this intricately woven and powerful tale.

What if mythical creatures were real and they're on display in a zoo or a circus? What if their existence meant that millions of children died and/or were taken away from their parents so they can live? What if the person you grew up with, your lover, best friend, or relative is of the otherworldly lot, would you still love them? Or would you condemn them with disgust and hatred? 

This is basically the plot of MENAGERIE, Rachel Vincent's fantasy novel, slightly dystopic, can be metaphorical, extremely captivating. The novel is told in various perspectives from characters inside, outside, and Delilah, the main character who all her life believed she was human up until she visited the MENAGERIE and witnessed the atrocities done to the attractions inside. The experience unleashed her other form and it was pretty gruesome after that. What Delilah exactly is, I'll leave it to you to discover. Just know that you'll be pumping your fist in the air with glee and anticipation.

Born of blood and wrath!

Anomalies aside, what I found utterly disturbing about MENAGERIE is how the others were treated. It's completely horrific and a full demonstration of how man be viciously evil when faced with someone and something they don't understand. I understand the concept of survival, annihilation to save your species or race. But to go beyond that and subject your threats to despicable torture is beyond evil IMO.

Perhaps the most striking quality of MENAGERIE is how human the story is. Juxtaposed with the monstrous creatures is how much better they are than the humans who are holding them captive. The moral of the story being ones form or appearance doesn't dictate ones character. Are you starting to get the metaphor here? MENAGERIE is striking on two counts: as a fantasy it's utterly compelling, you'll be rapt in attention as soon as you crack the book open; at the same time, it feels a lot like a fable, a cautionary tale tailored to remind us that the real monsters are not those who have deformities or proclivities that are not the same as ours. The real monsters are those who fail to respect the existence of others simply because they don't meet the status quo.

Violent, dark, and provoking series debut, MENAGERIE will stir all sorts of feelings from you and I can almost guarantee RVincent will leave you with lingering thoughts long after you've finished the novel.

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October 7, 2015

Shelley Liked It: Endless by Kate Brian

Series: Shadowlands 3
Format: Hardcover | 304 pages
Release Date: July 22, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal

Rory Miller didn't just fall in love with Tristan Parrish. She fell in love with the idea of forever. He was the one who told her the truth about her existence in Juniper Landing: that her mortal life is over, and she will now spend eternity on the island, helping others in limbo move on. But like Juniper Landing, a bright island with dark secrets, Tristan is too good to be true. The mysterious, heartbreakingly beautiful boy Rory thought she knew is responsible for unthinkable evil—sending good souls to the Shadowlands in order to get himself a second chance at life on Earth. He has already claimed Rory's friend Aaron and her own father, but when Tristan sends her sister, Darcy, to the Shadowlands, too, Rory decides to take matters into her own hands. She will do anything to save her family, even if it means going to hell and back.

ENDLESS is the finale to the Shadowlands trilogy by author Kate Brian. After the cliffhanger ending to Hereafter, Rory Miller is fit to be tied. She's just found out a devastating secret about her romantic interest Tristan Parrish, her father and friends have been sent to Shadowlands aka Hell. What's worse is that someone she knows and trusts has been sending souls to Shadowlands aka Hell and it might take Rory's last breath to find out who is responsible, and bring back her family from a fate of eternity damnation and torture. 

If you've read the previous installments, then you know that Rory, her sister Darcy, and her father moved to Juniper Landing because they were supposed to be in the witness protection program. Well, that was the theory anyway. Rory learned that they were actually dead and just waiting to be moved to their final destination. Juniper Landing is sort of an in-between place where people stop before heading to their final destination. You can definitely call Juniper a weigh station. Those who end up on Juniper, have issues that they need to resolve before moving on. Some are definitely good, some are inherently evil, twisted, and sick. 

To make things even more interesting, Rory is what's called a Lifer. I.E. belonging to a group of souls that are charged with helping others resolve their issues, and guiding them to their next destination. Lifer's can tell what a person has done in order to get to Juniper. Once again, this story mixes mystery elements to go along with supernatural ones. The whole idea that Tristan is a traitor was absolutely absurd in my opinion. Of course, if you were spoiled by the synopsis, then you know what I mean. The main cast of Lifers, besides Rory, are Tristan, Bea, Kevin, Lauren, Joaquin, Krista, Pete, Fisher, Nadia, Aaron, and Cori.

There is another person's perspective which I won't spoil for you because it ties up everything that happens in ENDLESS, to Rory and her family, and leads to the revelation of who is really behind the turmoil that the residents of Juniper are forced to face. I really, really hate dick measuring contests aka three way love triangles. I could do without them but unfortunately for this book, the author spends way too much time sifting out who Rory belongs to. 

As I have often repeated, I look for character growth from one book to the next. I think there is some growth for Rory in ENDLESS. I think she's definitely a good person, with a wonderful heart, but she's too trusting at times. She's definitely unstoppable when something happens to her friends and family. But on the other hand, a person can get really close to Rory, and then stab her right in the back without Rory seeing it coming. I asked myself if I would have made the same choices as Rory did in the end. But, alas, isn't that what free choice is all about? The freedom to make their own choices with regrets?

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