Book Tour & Review - Succubus by @BrandonBVarnell


Succubus


Series: The Executioner Series, Book 1
Author: Brandon Varnell
Published: December 1st, 2016
Pages: 324
Audience: Adult/ New Adult
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban


Source:  I received this book for free from YA Bound Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review.


Blurb:

Christian is the Catholic Church’s best executioner. Dedicated. Devout. Deadly. Ever since the Church saved him from the decimated ruins of his hometown, his commitment to their cause has been unshakable.


Then he’s sent to execute Lilith, who lives in Seal Beach, California. He’s baffled. Lilith is afraid of men. The Church believes she’s a succubus, but he just can’t see it. Yet the way men—both human and monster alike—act as if they’ve been possessed whenever she’s near is disturbing.


With lustful men attacking Lilith and monsters attacking him for being near Lilith, Christian must uncover what’s really going on, and soon, or innocent blood will run through the streets—as will his own.


Love. It can kill a man.


My Thoughts:

If you follow me at all on ANY of my social media platforms you know that I’m a lover of anime & manga. So when I saw the gorgeous cover for Succubus and read the interesting blurb, I became super excited.

Lets take a moment to look at the cover again.

Beautiful.

Now. Back to my thoughts. The world in which we find Christian and Lilith is a unique twist on the age-old story of secret supernatural world hidden/ governed by the mysterious Catholic Church. I found the executioners and the many other branches within the Church that deals with the supernatural, as well as, the various paranormal creatures that were introduced in this first installment intriguing. The world itself was superbly built and it captivated me fully.

I’ll be honest, it was hard for me to get into the book at first. Christian is a dry character – which is not a bad thing, but it took me well past the 15% mark to start connecting with him. Honestly, it wasn’t until he and Lilith began interacting for me to really enjoy his narrative. His stoic, pure, and honorable character is VERY reminiscent of the anime hero architype. It was refreshing to see that in an American novel.

“Math had never been her strongest subject. It would not be inaccurate to say that she royally sucked at math. In fact, she didn’t just suck at math; she was so splendidly horrible that mathematician’s everywhere cringed whenever she attempted to solve a mathematical equation.” – Succubus, Brandon Varnell

Typically, I enjoy characters like Christian, but I tend to connect with them more when their counterparts are more lively or mischievous. Lilith, although a great character in her own right, doesn’t shine next to Christian. Her shyness only exasperates Christians. In an anime or more visual medium like manga – two shy characters falling in love would be more interesting. Honestly, I would have liked it more if Tristian were more involved in the story. His presences would have added that quirkiness that was missing.

Varnell’s writing is engaging and descriptive (for me it was a little too descriptive at times – to where my eyes glazed over – , but that is my own personal quirk). He tends to overuse certain words. Specifically, carnelian. After the third time within a few pages, it stood out like a flashlight in a dark room. My biggest issue is the massive cliffhanger. Typically, I don’t mind them if they’re done right, but this one left me frustrated – and not in the good way. 

“Or was she simply uncomfortable sending a man to do a woman’s job?” – Succubus, Brandon Varnell

If you’re a fan of anime, Japanese light novels, stoic heroes with pure hearts, damaged heroines who are not as weak as they seem, quirky supporting characters, the idea of secret supernatural creatures living among us, and a frustrating cliffhanger then Succubus is the book for you. 


About Brandon Varnell:

Brandon Varnell is a writer. The end.

... Just kidding.

Brandon Varnell is the writer of the American Kitsune series. He has absolutely no skill at anything aside from writing and looking half-baked. He used to play guitar, but due to laziness, he never went anywhere with it. He also used to play a lot of video games, but after suffering this terrible affliction called book addiction, he only plays occasionally these days. Brandon lives mostly within his own imagination, but can occasionally be found in Phoenix, Arizona.

Outside of writing, he likes to read. His general reading preferences are Japanese light novels and manga, but he also enjoys a good sci-fi or fantasy story. If the story can mix both sci-fi and fantasy elements, then all the better. He also likes fanservice. Just don't tell anyone. It's kind of his guilty pleasure.


Book Tour - Children of the God's by @JessicaTherrien + #GIVEAWAY


Children of the God's


Author: Jessica Therrien
Published: October 5th, 2016
Pages: 780
Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Folk Tales, Myths


Source:  I received this book for free from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review.



Blurb:

Elyse knows what it means to keep a secret. She's been keeping secrets her whole life. Two, actually. First, that she ages five times slower than average people, so that while she looks eighteen years old, she's well over eighty. Second, that her blood has a mysterious power to heal. For Elyse, these things don't make her special. They make life dangerous. After the death of her parents, she's been careful to keep her secret as closely guarded as possible. Now, only one other person in the world knows about her age and ability. Or so she thinks. Elyse is not the only one keeping secrets. There are others like her all over the world, descendants of the very people the Greeks considered gods. She is one of them, and they have been waiting for her for a long time. Some are waiting for her to put an end to centuries of traditions that have oppressed their people under the guise of safeguarding them. Others are determined to keep her from doing just that. But for Elyse, the game is just beginning-and she's not entirely willing to play by their rules.



About Jessica Therrien:

Jessica Therrien is the author of OPPRESSION and UPRISING , books 1 & 2 in her YA paranormal romance/adventure series, CHILDREN OF THE GODS. OPPRESSION was published by ZOVA Books in February of 2012, and UPRISING will be released in May of 2013.

Jessica is a graduate of San Diego State University. She lived in Taiwan for a year where she learned Chinese, but she lives in Chula Vista now, where everyone speaks Spanish instead. 

Jessica is currently writing book three in her CHILDREN OF THE GODS series. icture book.


Book Review - Sun and Moon by Desiree Williams @DWilliamsBooks

Sun and Moon


Author: Desiree Williams
Published: April 28th, 2016
Pages: 255
Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Clean Romance


Source:  I received this book for free from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review.


Blurb:

There is nothing in life that eighteen year old Zara craves more than her freedom. Stolen from her home in Cadrebia at the age of eight, Zara has spent more years than she cared to admit as a slave to the Tankadesh courts. Her days are filled with protecting the princess, while she spends nights entertaining the king and his officials with her mastery of weapons. Any spare moment in between, she plots escape. 

Yet her hopes for freedom come to a crashing halt when a stranger arrives bearing the mark of her assigned lifemate, and he threatens war if she isn’t turned over into his care. But a lifemate is not part of the plan. Her dreams, of choosing her own path and being the master of her own will, weaken as her Moon seeks to claim his Sun. 

Is it possible that this stranger, with gentle blue eyes and a ready smile, didn’t come to be her new master? That there could be more to his tale? 

Zara soon finds that neither her captivity nor her parents’ deaths were mere random attacks. And by returning to Cadrebia, she may have put the future of the royal line—and her Moon—in jeopardy. While Zara breathes in her first taste of freedom, her enemies move in, seeking to rob Cadrebia of its blessed prophecy. 

To keep what she holds dear, Zara must rise above the pain and uncertainty to claim the lifemate assigned to her, or more than her freedom will be stolen this time.


My Review:

When I signed up for this review, I wasn’t sure how I would react to the story. Lately, it seems that every book I pick up has left a bad taste in my mouth, but not this one.

What a refreshing read!

First, I’d like to start with the writing. It’s crisp and beautiful. Desiree weaves emotion and small bits of detail in nearly every description and dialogue. Even though Sun and Moon is a fantasy, there isn’t the massive amount of world building with info-dumps of description. Desiree masterfully weaves her world building along with her character’s growth and development.

“Embrace the rain if you can, Jaedon. My father used to say it was a blessing that touched your whole body but could never be held in your arms.” - Sun and Moon by Desiree Williams

Although I loved the writing and the world our heroine finds herself in, I found that – at times – it seemed to be too “happily ever after”. If it weren’t for the political conspiracy and the scattered bits of action, I would have found the story to be very Disney. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but I tend to enjoy a bit more intrigue.

“If pain was the Light Giver’s purpose, she’d rather do without” – Sun and Moon by Desiree Williams

One of my favorite aspects about Sun and Moon is how faith is woven throughout the story. The citizens Cadrebia worship the Light Giver, who protects, guides, and assigns life mates to those who are devoted. The heroine, Zara, struggles with her faith along with her fear of others. It was refreshing to see her come into her faith, allowing it to heal her wounds so she can accept the love of others (and to show love in return).

“That was her free will – her choice to work righteousness where evil sought to prevail.” - Sun and Moon by Desiree Williams

Zara is a character that I rather enjoyed. Actually, I enjoyed every character. Some were a little too perfect. *cough* Jaedon *cough* BUT all of the characters have chances to grow and develop. So, I allowed myself to look over the sugary-sweetness that is main characters and their romance. Zara’s growth was the most profound. Her journey was both difficult and easy – I know, it seems crazy to say that, but I can’t think of a way to describe it.

If you like a light fantasy with squeaky clean characters and romance. A heroine who prevails over her own painful past to embrace a difficult, but rewarding destiny. Not too much action, but a steady plot that centers around character growth and development with a Disney worthy Happily Ever After. Then Sun and Moon is the book for you.


About Desiree Williams:

Desiree Williams is a dreamer by day and chocoholic by night. She lives in the beautiful state of Kentucky with her husband and daughter, where she juggles life as a wannabe supermom. Desiree is a lover of food and avoider of dirty dishes. She delights in making people laugh and strives to bring hope and love with her wherever she goes.


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Book Tour & Review: Petrified by Olaf Moriarty Solstrand (@olafmoriarty) + #GIVEAWAY


Petrified


Author: Olaf Moriarty Solstrand
Published: August 15th, 2016
Pages: 143
Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy


Source:  I received this book for free from YA Bound Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review.


Blurb:

Gunhild is a private in the Royal Army. She’s headstrong and reckless, but she’s also the best troll hunter in the country, and when a troll gets away with a national treasure, she’s the only person with any chance of getting it back.

Kirabo was on his way home to Aberash after a fulfilled research mission, but he managed to enter the wrong coordinates into his spaceship. Now he and his PA robot are stranded on a far-off planet, and they don’t have enough fuel to get back home.

As genres collide on Troll Island, Earth, the troll hunter and the space explorer have to overcome their differences and work together if they want to survive this fairytale.


My Review:

Okay, when I first saw the cover to Petrified, I will have to say the spaceship and young girl in a medieval getup intrigued me. Then the blurb added a bit a fuel to the fire and I wasn’t wrong to pick up this novel.

Trolls + Robots + Aliens = so much yes!

Petrified is THE most unique YA novel I read this year. It’s like Lord of the Rings meets Independence Day except the main character is a kick ass teenage heroine and a sassy robot side kick thrown in the mix. It was obvious to me that Solstrand poured time into world building and characterization. Even with all the world and character development, there was plenty of action to keep the plot rolling. No boredom here.

Gunhild is an amazing YA character. There’s not many novels with a female protag that goes on a self-discovery that doesn’t including falling in love. I mean, how many novels have you read where the female protag sets out on an adventure and comes back changed for the better without some romance sub-plot? Not Petrified. Gunhilds evolution from fearless, hot-head to calculated heroine makes her an amazing role model for any young girl who will pick this book up... Who wouldn’t want to read about a strong, female warrior?

If you like fantasy elements smashed with science fiction, substantial character growth, and no romance. Then Petrified is the book for you.



Book Review: Rose Petal Graves by Olivia Wildenstein @OWildWrites

Rose Petal Graves


Series: The Lost Clan Series
Author: Olivia Wildenstein
Published: May 15th, 2016
Pages: 183
Audience: New Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Myths, Faeries


Source:  I received this book for free from YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review.


Blurb:

I thought losing my mother would be the greatest shock of my life, but the greatest shock came after her death. 

Founded two centuries ago by an aloof and powerful tribe of Gottwa Indians, Rowan was a quiet town, so quiet that I fled after graduation. Staying away was the plan, but Mom died suddenly, so I rushed home. 

Dad said she suffered a stroke after she dug up one of the ancient graves in our backyard, which happens to be the town cemetery. Creepy, I know. Creepier still, there was no corpse inside the old coffin, only fresh rose petals. 

As we made preparations for Mom’s burial, Cruz, the new medical examiner, arrived. I should have felt relieved, but how could I? He was unnervingly handsome, glowed like a human firefly, and knew absolutely nothing about examining dead bodies. 

But, he did know what killed my mother…or rather who. 


My Review:

I have a huge spot in my heart for the paranormal genre – especially if it involves shifters or faeries. Some of the first books that really caught my attention growing up involved faerie stories and although, every single one of my writing idea’s fall firmly in the science fiction genre, I will ALWAYS enjoy a good paranormal.

Rose Petal Graves – I mean that title. Just wow. And then I saw the cover for Rose Petal Graves, I nearly died from its beauty, but when I read the blurb I squealed in joy. I’ve been craving a good faerie story.

The story is a quick read, but that’s to be expected of a novella. Rose Petal Graves is an opening story to Wildenstein’s new series and open it did. The book opens on the main character Catori or Cat, going home to bury her mother where she finds the handsome medical examiner, Cruz, waiting for her. Soon after all the action begins and before you know it you are left with a huge cliffhanger. Usually I’m super okay with cliffhangers, but the one at the end of this novella seemed rushed and unfinished.

Cat is a character that I have severe mixed feelings about. I understand her in most ways because her sassy independence paired with her cynicism reminds me a lot of myself as a teenager. Her reactions to painting the door was exactly something I would have done in my grief in my younger years.

“I was offered condolences and patted so many times on my way out that when I stepped onto pavement, it felt like freedom.” – Olivia Wildenstein, Rose Petal Graves

Other than that, I really didn’t like her very much. She is very selfish to those around her, especially to her closest friends and family. The whole wind chime bit got me right in the feels. I almost despised Cat when she threw her mother’s wind chime in the trash because some sexy guy asked her to. Not cool. There wasn’t much depth of character development in this story and I hope that is redeemed in the next book – I want to like her.

All of the other characters didn’t have the chance for development as well and although on the surface I liked them, I want a little more. Especially from Cruz since they seemed to have a bit of a romance spark going on.

“The sparks that had erupted over my skin the first night he touched me exploded inside my body.” – Olivia Wildenstein, Rose Petal Graves

All that being said, I adored the faerie/ Native American folklore. Mixed with Wildenstein’s elegant writing style made this novella worth it. Although I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I would have hoped, I am intrigued by the morsel that is Rose Petal Graves and will be picking up the first novel in The Lost Clan Series. 


Book Tour & Review: Grimm & White by @Emilyhansen5 + #GIVEAWAY


Grimm & White

Author: Emily Hansen
Publisher: Emily Hansen
Published: January 26th, 2016
Pages: 287
Audience: YA
Genre: Fairytale, Urban Fantasy

Source: I received a copy of this book from Bewitching Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

Who would you choose? 

I want you to put your hand over your heart. Press down against the skin, meld your fingers into the flesh, and listen to the beats. Can you hear how that one organ is keeping you alive? One pump. Two pumps. Three. 

Alice White Cabot would consider you lucky. She can press down in that same exact spot and she would feel…nothing. Allie does have: ten fingers and toes, one set of working lungs, a healthy liver, two small kidneys, stringy veins, long intestines, two-hundred and six breakable bones, and a big mouth. But in the empty chest cavity where the beating organ should be pulsing blood to the rest of Allie’s body, sits a void that only one person can fill. She is under the curse of the Heartless, and on her nineteenth birthday she will have to rip out the heart of the one she loves or she herself will die. 

Kallin Grimm is a nineteen-year-old boy from the Chicago suburbs. He’s a regular guy who likes football, video games, and hanging out with his friend Lennon. A few exceptions break his normal routine, like the incredible strength Kallin has that he can’t explain. Not to mention, Kallin is in love with a girl that he has never met. The only means of communication they have is a pen and an enchanted journal that was given to Kallin by his father. The journal’s twin belongs to Allie and whatever is written in one can be seen in the other. For the past year they have shared their secrets and their souls, which is why Allie knows they can never meet. It is the only way to keep his heart safe. 

Enter the dark world of curses, secrets, and a history as old as time. The novel opens on Allie’s eighteenth birthday. With one year left, she, along with her best friend Miles set off from California to find out more about the curse, her past, and to stay as far away from Kallin Grimm as she can. Their first lead is in Chicago. Maybe this curse is stronger than she thinks. Tick-Tick-Tick. 


My Review:

I have loved the Brothers Grimm and all their tales since I was a small child. In High School, I wrote poetry comparing Disney princesses to their Grimm stories. In College, I took every chance to use the Grimm Brother’s or any of their stories as subject matter – my final paper on “The Irony of Grimm’s Fairy Tales” won two local awards. Just last year my husband bought me the complete first edition of all their fairy tales for an anniversary present.

Why am I telling you this? Because I wanted you to know that when I saw the title for Grimm & White and the read the blurb – I was more than excited to read this novel!

 “Life is a war that can never be won. Some battles, the bullet grazes our armor. Other days we are ravaged and ruined and barely hanging on.” – Grimm & White, by Emily Hansen

In the world of Grimm & White, we find Allie – a sarcastic teen with a personality verging on the morbid, due to her literally having no heart. A curse placed on her family condemned all heartless to murder the one they love on their 19th birthday or they will die. Allie is set on never falling in love, but once her grandmother gave her a magical journal that connects to another one held by a boy named Kallin – they fall headfirst down a rabbit hole of angst-ridden love.

“Even my cat knows loving me is a mistake.” – Grimm & White, by Emily Hansen

First, I want to delve into the writing. Hansen is a master at description without being overtly so. Her words flowed almost like poetry off the page, making me feel more connected to the story.

For Example:

“Regret takes hold in places you can’t touch. It’s a damn itch you will never be able to scratch.” – Grimm & White, by Emily Hansen

From the first page you can tell that she put many hours of thought not only into the intricacies of the story, but in the nuances of each character. There wasn’t a one that didn’t have a history or an angle that either contributed to or hindered the solution of Allie and Kallin’s plight.

“Lies in my house are dispensed like dealing a deck of cards. Each flip turns over new information, but some cards trump the rest.” – Grimm & White, by Emily Hansen

Grimm & White is told from both the perspective of Allie and Kallin. Because of that we are able to see inside both of their minds. Both have their own set of issues and hang ups. Both are struggling with their emotions in vastly different ways. Both are endearing and perfect for each other.

Bravo! Hansen.

It’s a lost art in today’s YA to show a blossoming romance instead of insta-love. From the beginning of the book when they are just writing to each other to when they meet to the drama that unfolds, you can see how they grow in their love. It’s refreshing.

From Allie:

“He never told me about the gold specs that float in the bottom corners of his green eyes. I might have found my favorite thing in the world.” – Grimm & White, by Emily Hansen
“I find myself caring about his opinion of me.” – Grimm & White, by Emily Hansen

To Kallin:

“It’s not like I can tell my friends or family that the girl I’m in love with could be a figment of my imagination.” – Grimm & White, by Emily Hansen
 “A kindness like hers, one that is not boastful, will go unnoticed if you blink too long.” – Grimm & White, by Emily Hansen

The magical world of Grimm & White is full of everything I adored from the Grimm Brother’s tales. Dark characters, morbid curses, strange creatures, and with a promise that not every ending comes with a “Happily Ever After”. If that is what you’re into, I beg you – click on the purchase link and get you a copy.



About Emily Hansen:

Emily Hansen is a writer currently living in Baltimore City. She grew up in Illinois and will always call Chicago home. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Fiction. She is a 9th grade English teacher. She became a writer because she thinks that people should not have to look far to find magic in their lives. Her obsessions range from depressing poetry to one or ten cups of coffee a day. Grimm and White is her first novel.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/City.Writer.Emily

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Emilyhansen5  

Blog: http://emilyannhansen.weebly.com

Blog: http://itsnotyou-itsme.weebly.com


Book Tour & Review: The Little Flame Series (1-5) by @melissalummis + #Giveaway


The Little Flame Series

Author: Melissa Lummis
Publisher: PeacePipe Productions
Published: September 30th, 2014
Pages: 495
Audience: New Adult, Adult, 18+
Genre: Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy

Source: I received a copy of this book from Bewitching Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

Fiamette Jurato is on a mission: to fix her broken past. She’s teamed up with the world famous DJ, Maximillian, to search for the ex lover who can help her put all the pieces back together. There’s only one problem: he’s been dead for over two hundred years.

As a healer to the supernatural, she’s no stranger to navigating the impossible maze of magical complications. But getting lost in the magic isn’t the problem; finding her way back home is. 


My Review:

This book series is for 18+ due to graphic sexual scenes. If that is not your scene then you should probably move on.

Every now and then I run across a book (or in this case a series) that is a great mix of storytelling and character development that is neatly wrapped in a lighthearted package. The Little Flame Series, books 1-5 are exactly that.

In the Little Flame world, paranormals live side-by-side with humans in what I gathered was modern America in relative peace. The series is centered on Fiamette or Fia. She is a healer - a supe with preternatural abilities allowing her to see the Qi, the physical life force, of the universe and be able to channel it - or so she thinks. Her healing abilities are different and much stronger than other healers and then there is how she has to “feed” – not to mention who she has to feed from - in order to refuel her energy reserves.

“Sometimes, the best way – the safe way – to hunt was allow oneself to be hunted.” – Little Flame Series Box Set, Melissa Lummis

This world is fantastic. From the way the supes are organized to how Lummis integrated them into our human world – everything blended and worked within this universe. Over the five books in this box set, you discover a little more with each story that adds to the overall plot. Within there are subplots that not only add depth to characters, but give you more perspective on the world Fia lives in and the emotional and physical conflicts between all the characters.

“She sounded like the young, insecure girl she was – a lovely girl who didn’t know if she was enough. My stomach felt an old, familiar pang.” – Little Flame Series Box Set, Melissa Lummis

Fia is a great main character. Lummis did an amazing job making her relatable and complex. I felt like she was every bit her “age” with her inner musings like the quote above. I adored that Fia’s strength came from her intense devotion to those around her – especially those she loves. Her inner monologue is both hilarious and endearing – particularly there were a few times I laughed when she was being intimate.

“I felt like a safe being unlocked on click of the tumblers at a time. Five to the left. Twenty-three to the right. Nine to the left. Oh – I came undone in a bright wave of pleasure.” – Little Flame Series Box Set, Melissa Lummis

Although I love how she described the sensation above, it made me chuckle. Not sure why – it’s probably just me.

Speaking of the writing, I enjoyed how Lummis weaves lighthearted humor throughout each story and when she introduces complex situations and heavy emotional scenes, Lummis can turn on the depth.

 “I didn’t want to be without his skin that smelled like ancient forests warmed in the summer sun.” – Little Flame Series Box Set, Melissa Lummis

The Little Flame series is one of the few books that I read where the main character breaks the fourth wall. Sometimes it works and other’s it seems out of place. In this series it was the latter. Every time Fia would address the reader it seemed a bit sudden and rude - which isn’t Fia’s personality at all. I’m sure Lummis was going for sassy – which is exactly Fia’s character, but it didn’t come off that way to me.

“Most healers sensed it through intuition, thus the third eye association. Chakra theory. Look it up.” – Little Flame Series Box Set, Melissa Lummis

Max is an interesting love interest. He’s a DJ and surrounds himself with interesting supes. Fia and Max run into each other while she was working as a dancer for one of his shows. They hit it off, but Fia struggles with her succubus nature and her feelings for Max. Their relationship is natural and progresses in a way that is believable regarding the subplots and background that is uncovered throughout the series. Although, I feel that – at times – Max is a little bland compared to the sassy Fia, they are a good fit.

“In that simple act of comfort, I discovered that unconditional acceptant and, dare I say, love were real. I squeezed him tighter, and he chuckled.” – Little Flame Series Box Set, Melissa Lummis

There is a pseudo-love triangle. It’s not your typical “who do I pick” type of situation, instead it’s brings more complications and brings plenty of realistic drama to Fia’s life. It doesn’t truly develop until later in the series when Fia’s emotions for Max become actualized.

There are so many other characters in this series that are equally amazing in their own right. Each side character is just as developed as the main ones with intricate backstories and their own plot lines that do add to the overall plot. There isn’t a single character that I didn’t like and that’s including the antagonists. Not that I liked their antagonizing, but their characters were spot on.

“How did he do this to me? How did he steal the sulk and self-pity right out of me and replace it with this lightness?” – Little Flame Series Box Set, Melissa Lummis

Overall, if you’re looking for a series that is fun, full of magical vengeance, steamy love scenes, supernaturals around every turn, antics galore, and a female lead who finds herself in hilarious situations – The Little Flame Series is for you.



Melissa Lummis writes new age suspense in a fantasy setting, but her stories are also straight up, steamy adult romance. The Love and Light Series is currently available at Amazon exclusively, as well as the Little Flame Series, a spin off focusing on the character Fiamette from the Love and Light world.

 

mellissa lummis.jpg

Melissa considers herself a truth seeker and a peaceful warrior, in addition to a paranormal and fantasy author. With too many interests for her own good, she has rarely been content with one vocation. Her first professional life was as a high school English teacher, which led to another incarnation as a wife and an instructional designer /technical writer. After starting a family, she found herself reincarnated yet again as a mother, yoga instructor, and personal trainer.

While all her past lives have contributed to who she is today, yoga has become a part of how she gives back, maintaining her Registered Yoga Teacher status with Yoga Alliance so she can help people one-on-one to overcome physical limitations and heal themselves. But she has always been and always will be a writer. She’s authored dozens of wellness articles for various publications, as well as maintains a blog focusing on wellness, healing, and living a life on purpose.

A Yankee by birth and a Penn State graduate, she lives in rural Virginia with her husband, two children, an Alaskan Malamute, and a myriad of forest creatures. Melissa believes the universe conspires to help an adventurer, and if we live our lives as if it is a daring escapade (and it is!), then everything we need will find its way to us. 


Book Tour & Review: Princess of Tyrone by Katie Hamstead @KatieTeller1


Princess of Tyrone

Author: Katie Hamstead
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Published: March 31st, 2016
Pages: 256
Audience: YA
Genre: SciFi, Fantasy, Fairy Tale

Source: I received a copy of this book from YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

Apolline is happy hunting magical creatures on her pirate infested outer-perimeter planet. She is a fantastic shot, and doesn’t flinch at the blood and guts of her kills. Never once did she consider she could be the missing Princess of Tyrone. 

All her life, she has heard the story of the Princess, cursed to sleep for eternity, unless her betrothed, the Prince of Oran, gave her true love’s kiss. Although Apolline knows she is betrothed, she thinks her fairy guardians arranged it out of ignorance of human ways. The thought she could be a princess is inconceivable.

Then Allard appears. Handsome, charming—but he’s not hers to have. He’s betrothed, too. Her guardians warn her against her new found friendship, but she and Allard meet in secret anyway. Despite her rough exterior, he sees beyond her gun-slinging bravado, and their love blossoms.

But the deadline for the sleeping curse is approaching. If Apolline falls in love with the wrong person, she could end up sleeping forever. 

A quirky, adventurous retelling of Sleeping Beauty, with a less than princess-ly princess!


My Review:

One of my favorite types of books are fairy-tale retellings. Especially when they are re-imagined as science fiction. When the Princess of Tyrone showed up in my email, I jumped at the opportunity to review it. Literally.

First, look at that cover. Just soak in the beauty. Lovely, right?

Princess of Tyrone is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty with all the fantasy and science fiction/ galactic goodness. With the exception of a few other retellings, most I've come across have been mostly fluff. So, I wasn’t expecting such depth in Princess of Tyrone. There was not only a complex plot line, but Hamstead intertwined other Grimm Brother tales into the history of this universe, as well as, included a varied cast of fairy tale characters in the current time of Princess of Tyrone.

Apolline is one of my favorite protags that I’ve read this year. She’s exactly how I imagined a girl raised in an enchanted wood on some distant planet to behave. I love her tomboy side:

“Are you telling me she misses out on the best part?” I lifted the heart in front of Ashlan’s face and squeezed it, making blood ooze down my arm. – Princess of Tyrone, Katie Hamstead

And how she’s interested in weird stuff:

“I loved her lab; it appealed to my gory side. She, like Sophronia, had animal parts on shelves, but Fantine’s were in jars and cans to be sued for her potions.” – Princess of Tyrone, Katie Hamstead

She had legit reasons for not wanting to be pretty and it wasn’t just “to be different than other girls”:

“I had no desire to look pretty. We lived on an outer perimeter planet where girls who made themselves look pretty usually were whores.” – Princess of Tyrone, Katie Hamstead

Apolline’s snarky sense of humor was refreshing. Especially when Allard came into the picture. She didn’t just fall over her feet at the sight of some handsome guy.

“That was… impressive. Very classy.” I rolled my eyes. “Look around you. This isn’t a ballroom.” – Princess of Tyrone, Katie Hamstead

Speaking of Allard… I loved him. His and Apolline’s romance story arc is my favorite part of this book. The tension of the “I’m betrothed to someone else, but I’m really starting to like you” was amazing. Although, going into the story, if you ever watched Sleeping Beauty, you know the outcome of their romance. BUT it doesn’t deter the intense feels as you watch the two of them struggle with their own emotions.

“Opening them quickly, I forced my feelings aside. I couldn’t have feelings for him, it was breaking a vow. A vow I didn’t make, but a vow all the same.” – Princess of Tyrone, Katie Hamstead

I loved how over time Apolline allowed herself the freedom to be more than just a huntress who lives with three eccentric ladies in the woods. She opens herself up to the idea of being attached to someone else. To explore the idea of wearing dresses or visiting with people her own age.

“The slight smile, and twinkle in his eyes told me he felt he’d accomplished something. My heart melted, and I didn’t feel like I needed to be so tough around him.” – Princess of Tyrone, Katie Hamstead

All of the supporting characters were amazingly written with their own background story’s that gave them depth and a realism that added to the overall story. I especially liked the background story between Apolline’s parents and the antagonist – Bryanna.

“Happily ever after is something you have to make yourself, it won’t just be handed to you. I think the king and queen are happy, despite all their tragedy. So just imagine how much happier they will be when their daughter returns.” – Princess of Tyrone, Katie Hamstead

You will love Princess of Tyrone if you’re a fan of the Grimm Brothers, Firefly (I mean – who isn’t), a huntress who is also a princess, a relentless prince, and a love story that is half angst and half so sweet your teeth may hurt. 



About Katie Hamstead:

Born and raised in Australia, Katie's early years of day dreaming in the "bush", and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.

After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog.

She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing.

When her debut novel, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, climbed into bestselling status, she believed she was onto something, and now has a slew of novels now available, and is published through Curiosity Quills Press, Soul Mate Publishing, and REUTS Publishing.

Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports, and be a good wife and mother. She now works as an Acquisitions Editor to help support her family. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.


Book Review: Borrowed Magic by @shari_lambert

Borrowed Magic

Author: Shari Lambert
Publisher: Shari Lambert
Published: January 30th, 2016
Pages: 287
Audience: YA
Genre: Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery

Source: I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

After a three-year siege, Lord Kern, the dark mage, is dead. Magic has left Tredare, and life is almost back to normal. 

For everyone except Maren, that is.

Before the siege, an attack by Lord Kern left Maren near death and with a sliver of magic buried deep inside her. Now, for reasons Maren doesn’t understand, that magic has been triggered, giving her the ability to “see” the truth: that her world is nothing more than a magical façade; and that the kingdom’s hero may not be a hero at all.

But this gift of sight comes at a high cost. Maren is in constant pain, and fears her own death is imminent. Plus, no one believes her suspicions that another Dark Mage has risen, and that Tredare may be in just as much danger as it was when Kern was alive. 

With the country’s future in the hands of a man who’s vowed revenge on its king, Maren must convince someone else of the truth. Unfortunately, the only person powerful enough to help is also the one man she can’t trust; the man she almost married; the man who abandoned her and disappeared for three years: Kern’s son.

As Tredare crumbles around them, Maren must persuade him to help - before the king is murdered by the very hero he reveres; and before the same magic that gives Maren the gift of sight also takes her life.


My Review:

Not many books keep me on the edge of my seat, but Borrowed Magic’s nerve-wracking plot and unrelenting heroine was the perfect recipe for just that.

The story starts after a three-year war against the dark mage Kern. Maren, our heroine, is the King and Queen’s closest friend and is nervously awaiting the return of her childhood friend, Phillip, whom she hasn’t seen since he left Maren confused and broken-hearted. When Phillip returns with fellow war hero and mystery-man Teige, who makes Maren uncomfortable – in more than one way. She discovers that not everything is what it seems and becomes a pawn in a deadly game.

“Respect, over time, could transform into love and sincere devotion. It would make people follow a leader without questions, trusting in him not to lead them astray.” – Borrowed Magic, Shari Lambert

I’ll tell the truth. The story started off kind of weird. You were thrown into a conversation between the Queen and Maren without context and I don’t think anything said was explained later. However, once Phillip and Teige arrived, the plot moved along at a steady, building pace that put my emotions through the ringer.

Lamberts prose was on point – it was polished and vivid.

“That’s what poetry is,” she said, running her hand over the well-worn cover. “Truth in beautiful words.” – Borrowed Magic, Shari Lambert

One of my biggest pet-peeves in literature is a weak heroine. I want the girls I read about to be flawed, but strong of character and Lambert delivered when she wrote Maren. Maren is a different type of heroine – she a lady, grew up in a castle, and lives in a society where woman do not have leadership roles. She’s not a warrior/ bad-ass. HOWEVER, that doesn’t negate her strength. Maren is intelligent – the King’s friend and trusted adviser (although in a non-official capacity). She is sweet, kind, and gracious to all those around her even Lady Kira – the castle mean girl – and even those she find’s unsavory.

Maren’s struggles throughout the story are hard and although she succumbs to A LOT, she doesn’t go down without a fight. Sometimes her self-preservation is non-existent and I wanted to scream at her, but even though I felt that there were times she could have saved herself pain, I don’t feel her character would allow even an ounce of selfishness when her loved ones are involved. I simply adored how Maren - who isn’t your typical heroine -was integral to saving the kingdom.

Phillip is a brooding Lord with an interesting history that you discover well into the story. He was the one who found the soldiers and trained them in order to finish the war against Kern – although Phillip was the one to put a sword in his heart. Phillip and Maren have a long history – they loved each other since childhood. Yet, when Phillip discovers a secret that he thinks Maren kept from him, they part after a series of hurtful words were spoken.

“She’d always wondered about girls who cried over a broken heart. Now she understood. It was something intangible that she couldn’t explain. But it brought with it a physical pain that shot through her chest and robbed her of breath.” – Borrowed Magic, Shari Lambert

I won’t lie and say that didn’t bother me because it soooooo did and Maren’s continuous declarations of wanting Phillip to trust her were echoes of what I was thinking. Yet, I completely understood both sides and their reactions. They were young and when they meet again after 3 years and a devastating war, they were both changed. Their love story is beautifully woven throughout a gristly tale. Both characters growth is immense and they have plenty of hardship, but love is never an easy road.

“She recognized the feel of his arms and the sound of his voice, but is was more than that. She recognized him.” – Borrowed Magic, Shari Lambert

Lambert is a master at building your anticipation and tearing your heart out to where you felt there was no happy ending in sight. Although I adored this book, the ending felt rushed. There were a few emotional points that I felt were skipped over that didn’t rise to the standard Lambert started the book with.

If you are a fan of medieval fantasy with mages, a monarchy that you would be happy to live under, a heroine that is selfless and brave, and a deep plot that demands your attention then look no further than Borrowed Magic. 


Book Review: On the Verge by @GarenGlazier

Just look at this GORGEOUS cover!

Just look at this GORGEOUS cover!

On the Verge

Author: Garen Glazier
Publisher: Only Child Press
Published: September 16th, 2015
Pages: 224
Audience: NA/ Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology

Source: I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Blurb:

Freya is just a student at the University of Washington worried about grades and making her next tuition payment until a gorgeous succubus interrupts her post-exam latte with a proposition: come work for her boss, Seattle’s reclusive heiress and antiquities collector Imogen Beldame. Eagerly agreeing despite a nagging feeling in the pit of her stomach, Freya finds herself swept up in a deadly quest at the behest of her psychopathic new employer. Beldame has given her until Halloween to collect three magical pigments that hold the key to crafting mesmerizing portraits that can access the Verge, an undiscovered borderland on the edge of human reality, and the powerful beings that call it home. 

Freya’s reluctant journey takes her to a goblin stronghold in the Cascades for the color blue, to the Seattle Underground to request the color red from Baba Yaga, and to the Fremont home of a beautifully gruesome Cambodian ahp, or spirit of the night, for the color yellow. Working together with Rusty, an enigmatically disfigured man intimately connected with the Verge, and a motley crew of mercurial demons and loyal friends, Freya must come up with a plan to stop Beldame and preserve the fragile balance between fantasy and reality that is at its most vulnerable on Halloween.


My Review:

On the Verge is a supernatural adventure filled with macabre thrills and a dark, sensual energy that will leave you turning the page well into the night. How do I know this? Because I lived it.

Prepare yourself for a lot of quotes because if there was any book deserving of a million quotes in its review it’s On the Verge.

“The best art is a spiritual experience that unites us once again with our true selves, and often what we see on the canvas is raw, unsettling, and even disturbing, because it’s true. Art reveals to us the divine and the damned in all of us.” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier

Freya is a senior in art history who drifts between school and sleep without much regard to anything separate of Seattle’s art scene. Enter, Ophidia, a representative for a popular, albeit eccentric art dealer with an offer of a part-time job that although against her instincts, Freya accepts. This job leads Freya to the Verge:

"The Verge is a borderland that surrounds your world. It's an undiscovered frontier on the edge of human reality wherein exist all the creatures and beings of myth and legend. We[...]are the dreams and nightmares, gods and devils of the human imagination." – On The Verge, Garen Glazier

The Verge is an alternative dimension where beings of human imagination and passion are brought to life before they emerge into our world. Every creature known to mankind. Glazier is a genius to create this world with the Verge because there is no limit to what can happen or what creatures from mankind’s legends she could bring to life. Within the world of the Verge, beings can be either bound to physical objects in our realm and they can be sent back to the darkness of the Verge if something vital is taken, making them lose their identity.

“Freya couldn’t help but note the strangeness of the scene, a grown woman in mourning clothes cradling an enchanted little dolly in the middle of a meat-eating plant menagerie.” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier

Glazier's prose is exquisite, sinuous, and poetic. Making the complex, prodigious plot sing with perfection. Within the unique and vast universe Glazier created, she keeps within her own boundaries and laws – both of which are realistic and interesting. There is plenty of external and internal conflict for the protagonist, as well as, a complex centralized conflict – due to demonic alliances and lack thereof - that affects mankind. From start to finish, this plot – it sucks you in to where putting the book down is akin to climbing Mt. Everest. Not many could pull it off.

“For a bookish girl with artistic sensibilities and a naiveté born from spending too much time alone with her daydreams, she actually felt a bit excited about what might be in store for her.” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier

Freya is an amazing heroine for this fantastical world that Glazier created not only because she has a type of dark sophistication mixed with some skepticism, but because she isn’t like most fantasy heroines that fall into the lost hero or the warrior hero. She’s just some art hipster who finds herself in a life threatening situation that leads to a wild journey through Seattle and the Verge. Freya is a very real, grounded character in a world of fantastic beings. She laments her situations:

“Oh, man, I cannot believe I am here to see a witch about bugs,” Freya said. “How is this my life now?” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier

Her emotions are complex and diverse:

“She woke from these disconcerting visions feeling the excitement of a lover tempted and the mortification of a transgressor caught in the act.” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier

All these things grounding her character and making her relatable.

“The man was tall and imposing with a lugubriousness that pervaded the atmosphere around him. Freya always envisioned him as a kind of Teutonic angel, full of latent wrath and self-righteous superiority.” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier

Other characters, both from the Verge and from our world, fill this book with so much depth. Glazier plays with the notion that nobody – human or creature – is truly evil or good. Both have propensity for either. I don’t want to go into much detail about the characters because I want to leave them as a surprise for you, but I will say that those who fall on the side of evil are wondrously creepy and take a sick pleasure from the results of their actions.

Then there is Rusty, he is not your typical love interest. He’s a meaty, mountain man with a disfigured face – not exactly the muscular man-models seen in almost any novel with a romantic subplot. At the beginning, I was actually expecting for Freya and the sexy-but-moody professor to get together because that is was usually happens. I was pleasantly surprised for Freya and Rusty.

“She had found that the truth was sometimes hard but always real…” – On The Verge, Garen Glazier

My only and I mean ONLY complaint - because this novel is in itself a work of art - is Glazer’s tendencies to overuse her descriptions. I understand that the characters are all intellectuals, the scene is set in the art community of Seattle, and the main character is a deep-thinking hipster. But there’s no need for an excess of words such as “lugubriousness” and “crepuscular” to be thrown into the narrative. It makes the passages seem longer – probably because I had to use the dictionary function on my Kindle often.

Garen Glazer is a mistress of written word and I am so thrilled to have had the pleasure of reading her work. Fans of fantasy and adventure will love this tale of an art student’s incredible journey through an extraordinary world. It’s a story that has been told a million times, but Glaziers refreshingly modern retelling will capture and engage readers from start to finish. Although the book ends solidly, with all major plot lines tied up nicely, due to the complex world and the nature of the Verge itself there is room for a sequel. One I hope to see.

Book Review: The Killer Contract Agency


Title: The Killer Contract Agency

Author: Jessica Samuels

Published Date: November 30th, 2015

Audience: Young Adult

Genre: Science Fiction/ Fantasy/ Paranormal


Blurb from Good Reads:

Salina Sinclair hunts Malians, an alien species that preys on weak teenagers, making them crazy enough to kill themselves. But after being nearly burned alive by one, Salina is contacted by The Killer Contract Agency. Wielding the powers of The Bracelet and with her mentor, Carter, by her side, she exacts her revenge by taking out the Malians responsible for her near death.

But something big is happening with the Agency and operatives are dying. Will she find out what it is before it's too late, or will the Agency be destroyed?


My Review:

This review is going to be short and sweet because it really hurts me to write it. Truly, I’ve been fretting over it for days now. I didn’t want to be the first person to leave a review on this books Good Reads or Amazon links because I wanted the author to have that elated feeling of getting a good review. I remember how it felt with my first book and it is an amazing feeling. I also remember the gut wrenching hurt of getting a one-star review as well.

Just like Jessica Samuels, I am an independent author and like her my success thrives on getting good reviews. However, in order to get them you have to have a quality product and The Killer Contract Agency just wasn’t it.

There wasn’t a thing I liked about this book and that’s saying something because I ALWAYS try to find something positive. The plot was all over the place. The characters were flat and were childish – even the adult characters. The writing was juvenile – full of grammar and spelling mistakes.

“I knew that Laurice was behind it, since she was jealous of me for stupid reason. It was always her, and no one else. No one could hurt me this badly and get away with it, especially not her. I hated her for a reason, and I really wanted her to pay. How could she do this to me?” – The Killer Contract Agency, Jessica Samuels.

That was one of the good examples. When I chose to review this book, nothing about the cover art or blurb really drew me in. I honestly chose it because Jessica Samuels is an indie author who didn’t have any reviews for her book and I wanted to give her a chance. Now, I really wish I hadn’t.

A huge part of me wants to give her two stars, but honestly the second one would really be a pity-star.

I chose to read this book as a part of review tour through YA Bound Book Tours.

YA Bound Book Tours