Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Release Day Review: Injustice: Gods Among Us Year 2 Vol. 1 by Tom Taylor

Release Date: September 30, 2014
Publisher: DC
Source: NetGalley
Author Links: Goodreads | Twitter

The best-selling prequel to the hit videogame picks up right where it left off! Year one is over--now, year two begins. The death of one of their own has divided Earth's protectors as hero turns against hero. As Superman's iron grip on the world tightens, at the edge of the galaxy, anothe grave threat approaches...
INJUSTICE: GODS AMONG US YEAR 2 continues the story from the New York Times best-selling graphic novel with rising star writer Tom Taylor (EARTH 2) and a team of artists including Mike S. Miller, Bruno Redondo and Tom Derenick.


I was understandably worried that this would suck...or at least not live up to my expectations.
I mean, Injustice has been the on a short list of Must-Read titles for me since I managed to get my grubby paws on the first one.
After the shocking ending of Injustice: Gods Among Us Vol. 2, I've been wondering if this title could keep the momentum going. 
The deaths of several major characters, plus that thing that happened to Batman at the end?
How the hell is Taylor going to top that?!
I had no idea.
Fortunately, Taylor did.

The last two volumes focused on the roles that Batman and Wonder Woman were playing in Superman's decision making process. No, they certainly weren't the entirety of the cast, but they were heavily featured.
Take them out of the equation, and what power players do you have left?
Well, with Wonder Woman out of commission for a while, the role of sympathetic partner in crime falls to Hal Jordan. He believes in the world that Clark is trying to create, even if he has some doubts about the way it's being created. The end justifies the means.
And while you're inside Jordan's head, you can see where he's coming from.
I know, right?! Taylor is gooooood.
Exhibit A:
The U.S. senate/congress is getting ready to pull one of their We-Can't-Agree-On-Shit-So-We'll-Shut-Down-The-Government things. 
Supes says NO. That's unacceptable to him, and he sends Hal and Flash in to sort it out.
Jordan has some reservations about telling the United States government how to run things, and tells Superman that he doesn't think this is within his jurisdiction.
Superman replies that he has the entire space sector 2814 within his jurisdiction...and the United States falls within those bounds.
And you know what? 
I was cheering Hal on as he shut those monkeys in, and told them to Do Their Fucking Job.

Speaking of Green Lanterns...
What do the Guardians on Oa think of Superman's little hostile takeover?
Frankly, they aren't very happy campers. They have a strictly hands-off policy when it comes to letting worlds decide their own fate, and Superman isn't playing by those rules anymore. Ganthet makes an attempt to reason with Superman, but once Sinestro sticks his nose into it, things go sideways quickly.
"Hey, Clark? Why don't you ask Ganthet if the Guardians stood back and watched Krypton burn?"
And when Jordan takes a stand against the Blue Man Group, it turns into an all-out War between Lanterns.

At the end of the last volume, Batman was in pretty bad shape. Well, he's down, but not out. The resistance has him hidden away in...
Did you really think I' was going to tell you? Bwahahahahaha!
Not a chance.
So who's taking up the mantle of protector in Gotham?
Alrighty, let's meet the breakout star of the show: Jim Gordon! He may not be the badass that Bruce Wayne is, but he certainly delivers his lines! I would love to give you a hint as to what goes down, but I'm trying to avoid any major spoilers.
Although, Jim isn't the only game in Gotham. Oracle, and her Birds of Prey make an appearance as part of the resistance. And I have to say, it's nice to see Babs getting her geek on again!
Of course, there's also Gotham, itself. Or rather, the people of Gotham. It's arguably the dirtiest, roughest, toughest city in the DC universe, so would anyone expect the people in it to just lie down and take martial law?
That's soooo not happening...

Ok, while the last volume racked up a nice little death toll, this volume is surprisingly light. Don't get me wrong, not everybody's gettin' outta this one alive, but don't expect a bloodbath this time around.
And that's the thing I love about Injustice.
It never stops surprising me.

Highly Recommended! 

Monday, September 29, 2014

[Early Review] Chained by Night (Moonbound Clan Vampires #2) by Larissa Ione

Release date: September 30, 2014
Published by: Pocket 
Source: Provided by publisher

THE FUTURE OF HIS TRIBE Leader of the vampire clan MoonBound, Hunter will do what he must to save his people from extinction—or worse, a torturous eternity as vampire slaves and subjects of human experimentation.To keep his enemies at bay, he has agreed to mate a rival clan leader’s daughter in return for peace between the clans and an ally in the looming war with the humans. THE LOVER OF HIS SOUL But survival comes at a price. First, Hunter must break an ancient curse by successfully negotiating three deadly tests. Then he must resist the searing passions of the gorgeous vampire warrior he despises but is bound to mate. Will Hunter stay true to his word? Or will he risk everything for the woman he really loves: the vampire seductress’s identical twin sister?

Larissa Ione only grows stronger as her series mature, and this one is no exception.  Although I enjoyed the first book in this series, Bound by Night, I thought it was a bit bogged down by the necessary world building.  The world building was needed, but it wasn't always fun to read about.  There are no such issues with this follow-up!  Chained by Night is a fast-paced, action-packed paranormal romance that has me begging for the next book in this series.

The vampires in Moonbound Clan Vampires are different than any other vampires I have read about.  They live in clans, following one of two ancient approaches to living.  They are descended from native American people.  These vampires must drink blood to survive, but bagged blood is just fine by them.  The one thing necessary for them to survive is drinking blood from the opposite sex once a month.  In this world, vampires are subjugated to slavery by humans if they are caught by bounty hunters or the government.  Vampires are hunted by humans to either become slaves (house slaves, sex slaves, etc.) or they are experimented on by the government and private agencies.

This book is the story of Hunter, Rasha and Aylin.  Rasha is the daughter of a rival vampire clan and has been betrothed to Hunter, leader of the Moonbound Clan.  Hunter doesn't want to mate with Rasha, but agrees to the arrangement for political purposes.  Of course, no one can stand Rasha because she is a raging, manipulative bitch.  When Rasha journies to Moonbound territory, she brings her twin sister, Aylin, with her for help.  Aylin has a disability - a deformed thigh - that has made her an outcast for her entire life.  Although she is smart and pretty and kind, she has always been treated like the plague in her own clan who view disabilities as a weakness.  Sparks fly immediately between Aylin and Hunter which causes a lot of guilt and soul searching.  Moonbound does not view disabled vampires in the same way as other clans and welcomes Aylin as an equal.

I really liked the disabled heroine paired with the honor of Hunter.  As much as Hunter is obsessed with Aylin, he chooses to do the right thing, even if it means an eternity of miserableness for him.  He minimizes his true feelings for the good of his people, which is what a true leader should do.  It's no wonder that his people adore him.

When Hunter is forced to go on a quest to please the demon, Samnult, Rasha refuses to join him.  Instead, Aylin goes in her place.  I loved the quest they went on!  It was interesting and fun to read.  The world building in the demon realm was top notch - I loved the shifting landscape and their trials - trials of strength, determination, perseverance and character.  It was also a great opportunity to get Hunter and Aylin alone for some relationship building.  

Samnult is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters.  I'm always a sucker for a well-written demon, and Samnult fits the bill.  Is he really a demon as we know demons to be?  He is very powerful and knowledgeable but not what I would expect from a demon.  He adds depth to this story and I can't wait to hear more from him in the future.

The complicated relationship between Rasha and Aylin was great - it provided a good chunk of the meat in this story.  As much as I hated Rasha at times, she is a very intriguing character.  Raised to believe that she was the strongest and the most desireable, she tends to treat people with a difference of opinion poorly.  As much as she uses Aylin, she does love her sister.  Rasha does whatever she can think of to attach herself to Hunter, and only later to we learn just how far Rasha is willing to go to get her way.  

I was left wanting more information about Myne - another intriguing character that's all sorts of messed up.  Myne has a serious backstory that involves Hunter, and he has suffered more than most of the vampires in this book.  Myne is a loner and feels like less of a vampire because of his experiences.  He has a twisted relationship with Rasha that serves as the catalyst for action in this book.  We are left wondering what Myne is doing and where he is going.  I only hope to hear his story soon.

If you are a fan of paranormal romances with a twisty plot and steamy sex, than this is the book for you.  Larissa Ione only adds to her track record of well written, complex stories about vampires with this book.  If you read the first book and are hesitant, you need to give this one a try.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to this series in the future.

[Coffee Shop Talks] Self Published vs. Traditionally Published Authors!

What are your thoughts on self-published vs. traditionally published authors?

I've actually had several bad experiences with self-published novels so I tend to stick with traditionally published authors. I don't think all self-published authors produce poorly written or badly edited stories like the ones I've come across. Not at all. But I also won't pick up a self-published story unless it comes highly recommended by other bloggers that I trust or it's something written by a friend. 

What are your thoughts on self-published vs. traditionally published authors?

Guest Blogger

Saturday, September 27, 2014

[Early Review] Torture to her Soul (Monster in his Eyes #2) by J. M. Darhower

Release date: September 29, 2014
Published by: J.M. Darhower
Source:  Author
Purchase Link:  Amazon Pre-Order

Don't say it unless you mean it…  It's a simple concept, one I've said time and again, but something people don't seem to comprehend. You should choose every syllable carefully, because you never know when somebody will hold you to your word.  Somebody like me.  I'm not a good man. I'm not. I know. I have enough darkness inside of me to rid the world of every stitch of light. But there's one I could never harm, one light I couldn't bring myself to snuff out.  Karissa.  She thinks I'm a monster, and maybe I am. I taunt her with my touch, get a thrill out of torturing her soul. But I'm not the only one. The world is full of monsters, and I'm not the most dangerous one out there.  Not even close…  God help me, I love her.  I do.  And God help anyone who tries to take her from me.

Torture to her Soul is the rare sequel that is better than the original book.  This book is the continuation of Naz's and Karissa's story, with the major difference being that it is told from Naz's point of view.  I loved this sequel to pieces - it had romance, angst, drama and plot twists.  Not only did Naz have to face what he had previously done to Karissa, but he also had to deal with his own family, Ray Angelo and his tortured past.

You already know that Naz narrates this story.  But let's face it, Naz is who we want to hear from.  This is his story, not Karissa's.  This story was about Naz's soul - coming to terms with his life and with the kind of man he is and wants to be.  Maybe I felt more of a connection to this book because in my mind, Naz is the more interesting character.  While Karissa's life changed dramatically in Monster in his Eyes, the story was never hers.  For me, this was always about Naz, his life, his past and how that past has fueled him to become that man that he is at present.  Karissa becomes a part of this story, but the depth and emotion comes from Naz.

One thing I really enjoyed in this book was how Naz faced his demons.  We know from the previous book that Naz lost his wife at a young age.  He never really dealt with that and the rage and anger he felt overtook his emotions and left him a hollow, shell of a man.  That is until he met Karissa.  By not dealing with his wife's death, Naz became the monster he is.  It left him cold and calculating, with only revenge to keep him warm at night.  Although Karissa is the new love of his life, he has dealt with tremendous guilt over his feelings for her.

Naz didn't just stop with dealing with the fall-out of his wife's death, he also had to deal with his family, especially his father who has basically disowned him.  We meet Naz's father a few times, and one thing I learned quickly was that Naz's father imparts vast amounts of wisdom.  His wisdom might not always be pretty or nice to hear, but the man has lived a long life and understands people and their motivations.  "Don't say it unless you mean it," is just one of the kernels of truth that Naz's dad preaches, and it is a theme throughout this book.  This is a phrase that we hear directed at Naz, Karissa and Ray at different times.

Karissa was very distant from Naz at the beginning of this book, dealing with her own issues.  She had every right to hate Naz after what he did in the previous book, and she felt that she was being held prisoner in his house.  Karissa very slowly, agonizingly slowly, warms up to Naz.  He has to work very hard to get Karissa to even speak to him.  But this goes both ways.  Naz and Karissa must learn to trust one another again, and it's not something that is fixed after one good bout of hat sex!  Their story is not rushed, and in the end, it is obvious that these two belong together.

Ray Angelo plays an important role in this book.  You may remember Ray as the Boss.  He also happens to be Naz's father-in-law.  Ray is a very secretive and manipulative character.  He has used Naz to further his own agenda for many years, and when Naz starts questioning Ray's motives, Ray becomes increasingly cold towards him.  Ray had a blind hatred for Karissa, only because of what she represents to him, having nothing to do with the kind of person she is.  

There is a philosphical undertone that is front and center throughout this story.  We are continually faced with the question of if man can exist in gray, or only in a sense of black and white.  Does doing bad things make you a bad man?  Does a bad man deserve any good in his life?  These are all questions that Naz and Karissa tackle as their story plays out.

I enjoyed the ending very much.  From the Epilogue to Karissa's PoV chapter at the very end.  It was nice to get a glimpse of the man Naz becomes in the not so distant future.  

If you are a fan of smartly written, dark romances, then give this series a try.  The main character is written with so much anguish and depth that you have to love him at some point!  I am sad to leave Karissa and Naz behind, but every story comes to its end.  I applaud the author for ending this after two books and for not dragging it out.  This was a perfect ending to one of my favorite mafia couples!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Review: Fractured Dream (The Dreamer Saga #1) by K.M. Randall

Release Date: June 21, 2014
Publisher: Booktrope
Source: NetGalley
Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Twitter

Have you ever wondered where fairytales go once they’re created?
It’s been eight years since Story Sparks last had a dream. Now they’re back, tormenting her as nightmares she can’t remember upon waking. The black waters of Lake Sandeen, where her Uncle Peter disappeared decades before, may hold the secret to Story’s hidden memories, or a truth she’d rather not know. On a bright summer afternoon, Story and her two best friends, Elliott and Adam, take a hike to the lake, where they dive into the cool water and never reemerge. What they find is beyond anything they’ve ever imagined could be possible, a world where dangers lurk in the form of Big Bad Wolves, living Nightmares and meddlesome witches and gods.
Now Story must remember who she really is and somehow stop two worlds from ultimate annihilation, all while trying not to be too distracted by the inexplicable pull she feels toward a certain dark-eyed traveler who seems to have secrets of his own. The fates of the worlds are counting on her.

At the core of this story, there's a really interesting bunch of new ideas floating around.
The author has a definitely has a vivid imagination, and a talent for creating worlds.
So why only 2 stars?
Well, for starters, I almost DNF'd this book...twice.
The first time around, I was only about 5% into it, and I din't think I could take hearing the main character's name, Story, anymore.
And by that, I mean that instead of saying 'she did such-n-such', or 'her thoughts drifted',  or 'his friend was sad', the author used the character's proper name.
In fact, it was so annoying that I started highlighting her name on the pages in a effort to see if I was going crazy. 
I wasn't.
On one page alone, Story is used 13 times!
I haven't seen any other reviews that mentioned this though, so maybe I have an uncorrected copy, and the newer version is different?
Anyway, I put it down for a few weeks, and then decided I was just going to power through this sucker.
And I have to say, the name thing stopped pretty soon after that. So, YAY!
Ok. The second time I almost DNF'd, was about 20% through, and I just couldn't take the juvenile tone of the book. Story is 20 years old, and home from college on a break.
But everything about her and her friends screams HIGH SCHOOL. 
As in, somewhere between 15 and 16 years old. Which would be fine, if they were supposed to be immature. At 20 years old, they just sounded goofy.
I don't know how to properly explain it, but the characters just felt like they would have been very comfortable in a YA book.

Then there was the over-explaining.
For example, her friend, Elliott, get's all excited about meeting a goddess and says it was "Terramazing". 
"Story grinned at Elliott's silly quirk. He had a way of putting two words together when he was talking fast so that he could get the sentence out faster. She knew this one meant both terrifying and amazing."
Wow. Thanks for explaining that, 'cause I sure couldn't have figured it out on my own.

In fairness, the book got progressively better, until I finally was invested in the story enough to keep going...without motivating myself with promises of chocolate.
At that point, though, I mainly just wanted to know if all my guesses were correct about who certain people really were, and where certain threads of the plot were headed.
I was.
The Big Reveals were pretty easy to guess, and since I figured them out very early on, there weren't any GASP! moments for me. Boo!

I don't want to go out on a sour note, though.
So I want to say that the ideas the author came up with in this were actually pretty darn original. There's a whole mythology created about dual worlds, that mixed up gods and fairytales in a really interesting way. Some of it was pulled from recognizable tales, and some of it (Story's origin, especially) seemed wholly original.

This was evidently the first book in a series, but I'm not interested in reading the next one. At all.
However, there are lots of reviewers who loved Fractured Dream, so check out some of the other reviews, before you decide whether or not to grab this one.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

New Cover Art - The Vanishing Throne, Hell's Maw, The Diamond Conspiracy, & More!

Covers found through Amazon, Fic Fare, @_ElizabethMay,
 @RLNaquin & Pinterest via Christina Reads YA.

The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May

Hell's Maw by James Axler

Wolves of the Northern Rift by Jon Messenger

Phoenix in My Fortune by R.L. Naquin

Sept. 17th 2015 | Add to GoodReads

May 5, 2015 | Add to GoodReads

March 31, 2015 | Add to GoodReads

Dec. 15, 2014 | Add to GoodReads

April 7, 2015 | Add to GoodReads

March 15, 2015 | Add to GoodReads

Oct. 13, 2015 | Add to GoodReads

July 21, 2015

March 2, 2015 | Add to GoodReads

July 14, 2015 | Add to GoodReads

[Review] The Hook Up (Game On #1) by Kristen Callihan

Release date: September 8, 2014
Published by: Kristen Callihan
Source: Provided by author
Author links: http://www.kristencallihan.com/@Kris10Callihan
Buy links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The rules: no kissing on the mouth, no staying the night, no telling anyone, and above all… No falling in love.  Anna Jones just wants to finish college and figure out her life. Falling for star quarterback Drew Baylor is certainly not on her to do list. Confident and charming, he lives in the limelight and is way too gorgeous for his own good. If only she could ignore his heated stares and stop thinking about doing hot and dirty things with him. Easy right?  Too bad he’s committed to making her break every rule…
Football has been good to Drew. It’s given him recognition, two National Championships, and the Heisman. But what he really craves is sexy yet prickly Anna Jones. Her cutting humor and blatant disregard for his fame turns him on like nothing else. But there’s one problem: she's shut him down. Completely.  That is until a chance encounter leads to the hottest sex of their lives, along with the possibility of something great. Unfortunately, Anna wants it to remain a hook up. Now it’s up to Drew to tempt her with more: more sex, more satisfaction, more time with him. Until she’s truly hooked. It's a good thing Drew knows all about winning.  All’s fair in love and football…Game on.

Some of you may know the wonderful Kristin Callihan from her ah-mazing Darkest London series.  I'll be straight up with you....The Hook Up is absolutely nothing like her paranormal romance/steampunk series.  The Hook Up is all its own and it is New Adult solid gold.  Callihan proves that she is not pigeon-holed into writing one genre and succeeds in writing a deep, intricate new adult romance with the character depth that we have grown to expect from her.

The characters in this book are smart.  Yes.  Smart.  Anna Jones is not some swooning college girl with a silly, little girl crush that she wants to consummate with hot monkey sex.  Anna is focused on school and making something of herself.  She has a problem with relationships and she is the one that wants to love 'em and leave 'em.  Relationships are too messy and complicated for her.  She also has to come to terms with her self image and how her high school experiences have made her into the type of person she is today.  Drew is not some dumb jock.  He is surprisingly book smart and life smart.  He has suffered loss in his short life and how he copes with it makes him a stronger person.  He has lived the life of a college football star and has come out the other side.  Drew knows what he wants and is not afraid to go after it.  

Drew and Anna together are amazing.  There is a bit of a role reversal - Anna doesn't want people to see her with Drew for myriad reasons, while Drew wears his heart on his sleeve.  After breaking down her barriers, Anna and Drew sparkle on the pages.  There are few couples that I have rooted this hard for.  The chemistry is sizzling and I really liked how they both came to terms with their own personal demons on their own.  They were both strong enough to face their fears alone and I really appreciated that.

The dialogue is witty and fun.  I enjoyed Anna's snarky comments and the sarcasm that Drew displays.  This story also had a lot of angst.  There is quite a build up to Drew's and Anna's story, and a few twists and turns are thrown in along the way.  This is not just another new adult book - this is a story with substance and heart that will keep you thinking about it long after you reach the final page.  The story is well-written and fast paced, too.  I flew through this book, eager to see what would come next.  

The only thing I didn't love about this book was Anna's best friend, Iris.  I think she was used to show the opposite of Anna.  Iris is supposed to be in Anna's corner.  Although I think that Iris is supportive of Anna, she sometimes has a rough way of showing it.  

Overall, I loved every angsty, hot minute of this book.  Callihan has proven that she can write anything.  It is very well written and researched.  If you are a fan of the new adult genre, or contemporary romances with substance, then I urge you to pick this book up.  This is definitely my newest "highly recommended" new adult book.