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May 31, 2015

Steampunk Sundays: The Shadow Revolution by Clay & Susan Griffith + Series Intro

Series: Crown & Key 1
Format: eGalley
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Del Rey
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Steampunk
They are the realm’s last, best defense against supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more silver.

As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.

After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane—but quickly discover they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything they ever imagined.


Let me forewarn you that in the next few days or weeks, you'll see Clay and Susan Grffith's THE SHADOW REVOLUTION popping up in the blogosphere. If they sound vaguely familiar to you, the writing duo penned Vampire Empire, which I know some of you are familiar with, have read, and probably loved. I haven't had the pleasure of meeting their vampires, but I'm happy to report that Crown & Key is off to a fantastic start. Let's whip out the bullets!
  • I know a few of you don't read Steampunk. Understandable. Now even if Crown & Key is filed under this genre, THE SHADOW REVOLUTION is not riddled with Steampunk components, such as steamships, archaic/futuristic gadgets, and cleverly coined nouns. It's more historical paranormal similar to Kristen Callihan's Darkest London series minus the romance. 

  • Speaking of paranormal, the lead, Simon Archer, is by all intents and purposes, a (sexy) druid, and he's up against a pack of rabid werewolves. I love the supernatural element in this one, the magic is aether-based and the wolves are very scary. There's not much lore or myth incorporated just yet, just enough mentions to give us a good grasp of what Simon is and what he's capable of. 

  • Simon has a serious crush on Kate Anstruther and it's obvious that the feeling is mutual. However it seems that it's going to be a slow-buring one. I guess our heroes are more intent of ridding London its werewolf problem than scoring a few gropes and kisses. 

  • THE SHADOW REVOLUTION is packed with fast paced action, very character driven, engaging dialogue, and likable characters. The climax in particular came in waves and each one is better than the last. I had total bookgasm especially in the last quarter of the novel. 

  • I love Simon and Kate, they're flawed yet very ideal heroes. Both are very smart, discerning, witty, and they perfectly complement each other. Simon is the braun while Kate is the brains. Also Simon has this bad boy thing going on for him, infamous and known to be a trouble maker; while Kate is learned, an aristocrat, a bit haughty, but just as brave and daring as Simon.

    The secondary characters are just as great. Nick, Simon's partner/mentor, is like an elder Sherlock Holmes/Nicolas Flammel. Malcolm MacFarlane, aside from being a Scot (instant sexy points!) is super hunky and every bit of an Alpha. Charlotte, the young werewolf is perhaps my favorite of the cast. She's simply amazing! If you've read or have plans of reading THE SHADOW REVOLUTION, pay attention to the epic battle that ensued in the last quarter of the book. Charlotte kicked some serious ass during the battle! Woot!

Going back to my post intro. Even if you're not a reader of Steampunk but love a good action fantasy novel, please do yourself a favor and pick up THE SHADOW REVOLUTION. You won't be bogged down by engineered marvels and endless talk about machinery. You'll instead have a grand adventure in Victorian London, fighting off evil werewolves vicariously through Simon & Co. It also helps that the books are released in close succession so you don't have to wait too long to get your next fill. 

Instant gratification + extraordinary adventure = fantastic Summer read. Win-win!



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The Birth of a Series

The background concept of CROWN & KEY came to us originally from our publisher, Del Rey. They had developed an outline about a hidden history of the world where magic was real but secret. We were thrilled that they asked us to take this sprawling outline and craft a trilogy of novels introducing the world to readers. After much debate, we decided to focus on a few of the main characters (our favorites) and develop their histories. In the early 19th century, the ancient guild of magicians that has always controlled the shadowy world of sorcery as well as the horrific population of monsters shatters because of simmering rivalries and betrayal. The once orderly world of magic flies apart into revolution and bloody chaos. There are those who are trying to bury the old order and those who are desperate to revive it before the world is forever corrupted. Our story places our heroes into this treacherous world and reveals their hidden pasts as well as the mystical legacies of their fathers and mothers. All the while, the reader discovers the amazing magic around the world.

CROWN & KEY is designed to be a thrill ride of a series, but the best kind of thrill ride. While it is certainly fast-paced and action-oriented, it is populated with terrifying villains and memorable heroes who will stick with you. Our main heroes include Simon Archer, the handsome and jovial rake who hides the fact that he is the last surviving scribe, once one of the most powerful styles of magic on Earth. His primary partner is Kate Anstruther, brilliant scholar and alchemist, the headstrong daughter of a famous explorer, who is desperate to keep her family together and make a mark on the world with her mystical science. Malcolm MacFarlane is a grim Scottish monster hunter, tormented by his past and forced to confront his own intolerant view of his enemies. Penny Carter secretly worked her way up through a man’s world as an engineer, crafting weapons and tools of power based on steam and arcane energy sources.

The three books in the CROWN & KEY trilogy will be published in quick succession (The Shadow Revolution on June 2, The Undying Legion on June 30, The Conquering Dark on July 28) which means fans won’t have to wait long to get their hands on the entire series. This publishing scheme allowed us to view the entire trilogy a bit more omnisciently and fine tune the details over the course of writing three books. We could insure that important themes resonated through the entire series. We tightened the plot and linked the characters through subtle twists and turns that we might not have been able to accomplish if the early books were already published as we were writing the third. We are very pleased with the results and we hope readers will love and cheer the members of CROWN & KEY as much as we do.





Clay & Susan Griffith are a married couple who have written and published together for more than a decade. Their credits not only include two novels for Bantam Doubleday Dell in the mid-1990s and another novel for Pinnacle Entertainment Group in 2002 but also numerous short stories published in many anthologies, some featuring noted genre characters like Kolchak the Night Stalker and The Phantom. They've also written scripts for television and published graphic novels.


Follow Clay & Susan
Website | Facebook | @clayandsusan | Goodreads







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May 30, 2015

Bought, Borrowed & Bagged [153]: Burying The Ex


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. 




Bagged
from publishers & authors







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. 





May 29, 2015

Quick Hits: Wolf Bride by Elizabeth Moss + The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

  


Wolf Bride | Lust in the Tudor Court 1 | Elizabeth Moss
Erotic Historical Romance | Sourcebooks Casablanca | May 5, 2015
Bloggy Friends' Review: Nocturnal Book Reviews | Book Swoon


I was so excited to read WOLF BRIDE because I love the Tudor Court and anything that has to do with Henry VIII. It was also an added incentive that Lust in the Tudor Court was erotic historical romance and I sure could use a big dose of sexy in my life. 

Sadly, WOLF BRIDE wasn't what I hoped for. I wasn't regaled with descriptions of court life, the wardrobe, the silly protocols as the heroine, Eloise Tyrell, was so close to King Henry and Queen Anne. Instead I had pages and pages of sex, angst, more sex, zero courtship, and convoluted conflicts! I almost DNF'd this one but I was on the 88% mark and thought I might as well finish it since I made it that far. But boy was it a laborious 12%. Lord Wolf was a jackass and emotionally handicappped, and he was not sexy (to me at least) at all. In fact, I never understood his motivations and decision making process which further annoyed me. As for Eloise, the girl needs some personality (or a brain) and sass. She obeyed Wolf well but it's hard to appreciate that when she's been obedience throughout the novel. Nope, WOLF BRIDE isn't for me.


 



The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest | Medieval Fairy Tale Romance 1 | Emily Dickerson
Fairy Tale Retelling | Thomas Nelson | May 12, 2015 

at 47%
THE HUNTRESS OF THORNBECK FOREST by Emily Dickerson is a mash-up of Swan Lake and Robin Hood. I love the premise of this YA novel, after all, Robin of Locksley and the accursed Odette are two of my favorite fictional characters.

I can't help but feel insecure about not finishing THE HUNTRESS OF THORNBECK FOREST because a lot of people loved it! Almost half way through the novel I felt it was sorely missing something. For example, at this point, I feel we should've seen Odette in full Huntress mode. Instead all I got were her arrows left in the forest as clue for Jorgen, the forester and Odette's love interest. It's so bland and though we know that Odette and Jorgen are at odds, there's barely any tension between the two. 

But please don't take my word for it. A lot of people in Goodreads LOVED THE HUNTRESS OF THORNBECK FOREST so it might be one of those it's not you, it'e me kind of thing, you know? Give it a go, you might end up liking this title more than I did.






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May 28, 2015

Shelley Liked It: Endgame by C.J. Daugherty

Series: Night School 5
Format: E-Book | 315 pages
Release Date: June 4, 2015
Publisher: Bookouture
Source: NetGalley
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Broken. Scattered. But not defeated.

The spy is gone but the cost has been high - the rebels at Cimmeria Academy have lost their leader and Carter West is missing. Nathaniel can taste victory. But Allie and the other survivors aren't done yet. First they have to get Carter back. Then they plan to make Nathaniel pay.

One way or another - the game must end.

Endgame is the thrilling fifth and final book in the internationally bestselling Night School series.



ENDGAME is the fifth and final book in the Night School series. The story picks up right where Resistance left off. The opening chapter, in fact, is one big chase scene with non- stop action, and hold your breath suspense. The rest of the book is tension filled with Nathaniel once again hanging over every single thing that the Cimmeria students and teachers do, while Allie is trying to find a way to get Carter West back, and defeat Nathaniel once and for-all.

Allie has grown up rather quickly from the first novel forward. She went from being a trouble maker and angry girl who was thrown out of her parents house after getting into major trouble, to being sent to Cimmeria where she entered a entirely different world of beautiful and rich students. She's made friends with a core group who have been fighting by her side from almost the beginning. Carter, Sylvain, Rachel, Nicole, Zoe, Isabelle, Raj, Dom, Eloise, and Katie.  

Allie has watched friends die unnecessarily, and faced a megalomaniac in Nathaniel who twisted Allie's brother Christopher to joining him, while desiring Allie for himself to expand his powers and influence. She's become someone who knows how to fight after joining the secretive society known as Night School. She's a rebel leader against the normal and usual, and not shocking at all, pretty powerful in her own right thanks to her grandmother. 

However, always a however, she missed something pretty important that was right in front of her face. How can you truly call yourself a friend and miss THAT happening? Especially since EVERYONE else knew about it except you! Perhaps with everything that's been thrust onto Allie's lap since she arrived at Cimmeria, it took a toll on her. Perhaps it was because she was Nathaniel's target almost from the very beginning, and perhaps, because her friends were too busy to fill Allie in on OTHER things happening around her.

Didn't figure Sylvain into my thoughts of what was going to happen in ENDGAME, which is my mistake. Glad he was at there for the important moments in the story, and not missing in action. Perhaps I am a bit rough when it comes to him, and Allie's choices. I did start out hating him for many reasons, one being he was extremely possessive and grabby hands. But, one thing you can't fault him for is that he is someone you can count on when danger lurks around every corner. 

I was kind of surprised by the ending. Not at all what I was expecting and hoping for which is always nice. I do believe there was an alternative ending possible, but let's walk away knowing that the right couples are together, and that makes me happy. Let's walk away knowing that Allie did whatever she could do to survive until the very last page of the very last book along with most of her closest friends, teachers, and advisers by her side. Let's walk away knowing that Allie truly believes in what she's done, and let's hope that Allie finds a way to forgive her parents for what they've done to her and her brother.



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May 27, 2015

Boob Tube Binges: When Calls The Heart, Grace + Frankie, Bonus Blogger Angst

Hey there, Supies!

Sorry I've been MIA for a while now. Aside from the holiday weekend, I also experienced colossal technical difficulties! If you remember, my wireless adapter died a few months back and I haven't had the chance to resolve that issue. Then around Sunday, my laptop's battery started acting up as well. Grr!

And as if that wasn't enough, my Kindle Fire DIED! It won't turn on at all! And it was with a heavy heart that I sent it to gadget heaven. 

I was devastated and extremely angry over these turn of events not to mention the couple of books I've read in the previous days were dead as well. I'll get to that tomorrow. 

So what's a bored girl to do? Why watch Netflix of course! So here are the two shows I binged on during my mourning.



GRACE & FRANKIE (2015)
Netflix Original Series | Comedy | 13 Episodes | 25 mins. 


Tomlin and Fonda are geriatric magic! Am I allowed to say that? Let me preface it by saying that these two are certified GILF's! I can only hope I look half as good as these screen legends when I'm in my 70's. 

So the premise of Grace (Jane Fonda) & Frankie (Lily Tomlin) is this: these two are rivals and complete opposites in terms of their personalities. Their husbands (Martin Sheen & Sam Waterston) have been law partners for 20 years or so and after two decades, they came out of the closet and told their respective wives that they're in love and planned on getting married now that they can. 

So how do these two ladies deal with the devastation of being divorced in their 70's as their husbands openly flaunt their relationship? With much gumption, sense of humor, and pizazz! I found myself laughing so hard over the 13-25 min. episodes because Tomlin and Fonda are pure comedy gold together! The roles are made for these two, with Fonda as the uptight elitist snob, while Tomlin is the hippy, YOLO granny. There's also a lot of heartfelt, super touching moments to balance off the funnies. I promise you'll be hooked after watching the first episode. 




WHEN CALLS THE HEART (2014)
Hallmark Channel | Drama | Season 1 | 43 mins.


Westerns are really growing on me! I love the frontier setting, the costumes, the small-town scope of the plots, the colorful characters, everything! 

When Calls the Heart, based on Janette Oke's Canadian West book series, is a story of Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow), a young school teacher from a wealthy family back east, who moved to the west in a small coal mining town called Coal Valley. Soon enough, Elizabeth finds herself getting very invested in her student's education, very involved in the town's events, and crushing hard on a dreamy Mountie, Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing). 

When Calls the Heart was very likable and swoony! For a small town, Coal Valley is abundant with stories that are usually family related. On top of the domestic issues, there's also a series arc pertaining 47 dead miners who perished in a "freak accident". After investigation, it seems the company is responsible for it and by season finale, the town is split and the leads at the helm of the issue. 

My favorite part is the courtship between Elizabeth and Jack. It's very old school in that the men and women are proper, flirtatious without crossing the lines of sexy, and rife with romantic tension. The romantic development between Elizabeth and Jack took almost the entire season that when they finally shared their first kiss, I was screaming like a crazy 15yo into a blanket! OMG! The feels! Squee!!! 

Season 2 priemered last monh and I am anxious to look it up on On Demand so I'm caught up with the episodes. 






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May 24, 2015

Quick Hits: Disobedience by Alvania Scarborough + Edge S2P1 by Jamie Magee

Series: Harker's Hell 1
Format: Mobi
Release Date: June 16, 2014
Publisher: Silver Harbor Press
Source: Author
Recommended By: Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Genre: Western Historical | Fantasy
Harker’s Hell. Early settlers thought they’d found a western re-creationist’s heaven. Instead, the new world is a hellish version of the Old West. Now the seeds of long-ago conflict are stirring to life.

Dissonance Walker believed she’d seen the worst life had to offer, only to find she’s dead wrong. Sold to a secret organization by her parents for the price of a new stove, her ability to disobey is ripped away by a brutal experiment. Determined to find the key to restore her freedom, she manages to escape her captors, only to end up in the worst place for a woman that can’t say no—on a saloon stage, ready to be sold to the highest bidder.

Bram Spencer is sure the heat has baked his brains. With his friend murdered and his ranch under attack, he needs to attend a little unfinished business. Buying some fool woman because she pokes at scabs he thought long healed, isn’t on the list. It’s bad enough he has to go through the fuss of rescuing her, now he discovers the only way to grant her freedom is to marry her. This is why he never plays the hero—no good deed goes unpunished.

Secrets have a long life. Sometimes decades. Now the sins of the past have returned, ready to collect their dues. Only trust can save Dissonance and Bram from a shocking evil… but trust is a hard commodity to come by on the frontier.



A western sci-fi romantic fantasy. This criss-cross of genre is what lured me to read Alvania Scarborough's DISOBEDIENCE. Bounty hunters, outlaws, and gun slingers ruling this frontier, it's sure to be one wild ride. I love the old Western feel of the novel, after watching Hell on Wheels, I could clearly imagine Harker's Hell, tumbleweeds, horse manure, and all. I also liked the hidden treasure theory and the whole search for it as well as the crazy scientists who are after Dissonance. Exciting madcap of events towards the end there.

Dissonance Walker and Bram Spencer. These two were on fire! Kimberly, I didn't know you read super sexy reads like this!! You little sneak! Anyway, I'm surprised these two didn't start a fire with all the friction they've created in the bedroom. Whew! 

DISOBEDIENCE, though tagged Sci-Fi/Western Fantasy felt more like Western Historical romance for me. Not that it's bad, I was just expecting something like Cowboys and Aliens, with maybe some small nuances that would notate that this isn't exactly the Wild West. Also, Dissonance supposedly has a chip that compels her to obey a command. Fascinating premise but it's either the chip is flawed or Dissonance's will is stronger because the lady didn't have much problem disobeying IMO. Girl's sassy, not that it's bad, it just didn't match the premise. 

I recommend DISOBEDIENCE if you love Western Historical romances though. Just don't expect too much on the fantasy aspect.


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Series: Edge Season 2 Part 1
Format: Mobi
Release Date: May 18, 2015
Publisher: Self
Source: Author
Genre: New Adult | Fantasy
Immortals never resolve conflict with lovers or enemies. They either entomb the turmoil, literally, or shroud it in their past, never expecting to face the fight once more. Knowing if they ever did, for better or worse, life would never be the same again.

Five years ago life was good at the Boneyard. The Sons, led by Reveca Beauregard, were unstoppable. Judge was in love. For the first time in his existence, he’d found acceptance, balance, and a rush in a lover. He found it within the soul of Adair Vallet, a mortal. In one beat, the unthinkable befell the Sons. One of their own turned on them, forcing a divide. A Son had to die. A lover had to be let go. And for Judge, life stopped.

Today, Adair Vallet is oblivious of the man’s heart she still holds, yet she mourns the emptiness she feels within. Her life explodes into action when the dead rise and she’s forced into the clutches of the Pentacle Sons. Quickly she finds herself twisted into a malevolent past thick with betrayal, mysticism, and passion. Edge is a novella series in a Paranormal Biker Romance, set in the great city of New Orleans. Rich with action, mystery, romance, and mysticism.


DISCLAIMER: Edge is a serial and each "episode" has 4 chapters. The season 1 omnibus is already out. Season 2 just started, this is the first part. 

EDGE season 2, episode 1 was a little heartbreaking for me. We got a little peak into the Pentacle Sons' past and it wasn't a pretty backstory. Betrayals, deaths, sacrifices, love lost, gah! It's so hard when one of your own does the betraying. Also, I didn't really pay much attention to Adair in the previous episoded, that's all changed now for sure! I'm just not certain where this puts her in the whole scheme of things. Unless I got it wrong, I get the feeling that she's not necessarily Team Reveca right now...

Speaking of. Queen Bee, Reveca Beauregard, is sick and tired of all the bullshit that's going on around her. So what does she do? She frickin' moves an entire house, more like a mansion, using magic. Damn, can she do that for me too?! Anyway,  obviously, Reveca can't handle the pressure of her love life currently. King's pull is just too much and Talon is like the Tasmanial Devil, spinning little angry twisters and Reveca just needs a break from all of it! Good call, girl! Give the boys time out.

Speaking of Judge. Oh my, I think I got a crush on him. He went all Alpha here but Adair is so dense! With all that power and magic, why can't she figure out the obvious?! 


Complete Season 1






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