Thursday, October 1, 2015

Review: Never Never by Brianna Shrum

Release Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Source: NetGalley
Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Twitter
James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up.
When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child—at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up.
But grow up he does.

And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.
This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan.
Except one.

Boy, this was just kinda bleak and depressing.
I don't know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't this. I guess I was hoping for something different? To be honest, Peter Pan & his Co. are nowhere near my favorite characters. Even as a child, I thought he was obnoxious and stupid, and the Disney movie just depressed me. What was wrong with those people? Why the Hell did Wendy act like such an adult? Why wouldn't her parents let her stay with her brothers in the nursery? God! Those people were cruel! No wonder she wandered off with that creepy Pan kid. And then, why didn't he come back and live with her family at the end of the story?

The whole thing was just f-ed up. To me, anyway.
Point is, I don't even like this story when it's not being retold in some horribly gloomy way from Hook's perspective. But if you are one of the millions of readers who adore anything Pan-related, you may have an entirely different experience than I did.
Unfortunately, there was nothing about this one that I enjoyed. Sorry.

Was Hook supposed to be a villain by the end? If so, I thought the author did a poor job convincing me that he had done anything wrong. And Pan? I wanted him dead. Tiger Lilly, too! Someone please run both those bitches through with a sword!

Wendy? Shove that obnoxious little twat overboard, please. And her idiot brothers. And while you're at it, the rest of those spineless Lost Boys, as well. All of 'em.
I wanna hear a big SPLASH!

Well, Anne, if a book can make you feel this angry, then the author did a good job, right? 
Ok, maybe you have a point. If the author's point was to make me hate every single character in this story...job well done!
Thing is, I was also bored during this book. Like, reallyreallyreally bored. The writing wasn't bad, but the story just sort of drug on and on and on and on without anything exciting going down.
It was just one shitty thing after another happening to James Hook. And it felt like I was reading it in Real Time. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Admittedly, I'm not a fan of stories that don't give a reader hope. I don't enjoy reading defeatist stuff, and I don't enjoy watching someone self-destruct. Particularly when there was nothing they could have done to change the outcome. And I especially don't enjoy reading about it when there's no action.
Hook and Pan fight. Hook could kill him...but because {insert inexplicable reason here} doesn't. Pan does something childishly evil. Wash, rinse, repeat.
And then it ends.

When I closed the book last night, I was ready to give this one star for wasting my time. But I honestly think the author is a good writer, so maybe it's just that it wasn't my cuppa.

Recommended for hardcore fans of this story only.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review: The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2) by Mary E. Pearson

Release Date: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Source: Library
Author Links: Goodreads | Website
Intrigue abounds in this hotly anticipated sequel to The Kiss of Deception!
Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save her life, Lia's erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.
Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: there's Rafe, who lied to Lia, but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be barbarians. Now that she lives amongst them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny.

If you weren't a fan of the first book (and some of my friends were not), then I don't think anything about this book is going to change your mind. Sorry.

If you've been chomping at the bit (because maybe you're a horse?) to find out what happened to Lia, Raffe, & Kaden once they got inside the walls of Venda? Then I think you'll be pretty happy with Pearson's book. Secrets, magic, prophesies, and (as the title suggests) betrayal! Good stuff.

Best part of the book for me? 
The Heart of Betrayal is exactly what I hoped it would be, in that the non-love-triangle-triangle didn't morph into a real Triangle. Sure, Kaden is still in love with Lia, but she doesn't return anything but friendship. There's none of that wishy-washy Who-Do-I-Really-Love shit happening here.
It's Raffe. Boom! End of discussion.
Kaden can just keep on pining...

And why should she have feelings for Kaden? I mean, Raffe is putting his ass on the line to save her, and, meanwhile, Kaden has turned her over to his evil boss! Sure, he's hoping he can protect her, but I'm not sure why he thinks that would make him her go-to guy for romance.
Psssht. Men.
However! After finding out more of his backstory, I'm definitely hoping he gets a HEA. Poor guy. That sob story got me right in the feels, and I can see why the fella might have a few issues.

Alrighty, I do have one complaint...
Pearson didn't do the bestest job recapping what happened in the last book. Some authors are better than others when it comes to this, and I'm afraid that Pearson isn't one of the good ones.
Now, I know a lot of you out there probably reread the previous books before you crack open the brand new ones. But I read a shitload of books each year, and simply don't have the time to do that. And while I may remember the general theme of most books, after a year or so, I just can't remember the details. I tend to rely on the authors to give my mind a hard shove gentle nudge when I'm reading books that are part of a series. And, honestly, that wasn't very well done here. I was still trying to play catch-up right till the end.

I said that to say this: if you don't have a stellar memory for details, then you may want to go ahead and do a reread before picking this one up. 
Oh, and watch out for that CLIFFHANGER at the end!
Dear God, Pearson! Are you trying to give me a heart attack, woman?!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Guest Post & #Giveaway - The Bloodforged by Erin Lindsey! (US/CA)

Multiple Points-of-View: Epic or epic fail?

One of the traditional hallmarks of epic fantasy is a large cast of characters, many of whom end up as “point-of-view characters” in their own right – meaning that parts of the story are told from their unique perspectives. As a series goes on, additional characters are folded into the mix, sometimes to the extent that it becomes difficult to form any real attachment to them as individuals, or even to keep track of who’s doing what. No surprise, then, that “too many POV characters” is one of the most consistent complaints about epic fantasy.

But multiple POVs can also be a real strength. Done well, it gives the narrative a sense of scale. And like throwing on a pair of 3D glasses at the movies, each new lens adds depth and texture, making the world leap out at us in glorious relief.

In other words, like just about anything else, multiple POVs can be done well or poorly, and the success of this particular technique can make or break a story. So what’s the key to doing it well?

It’s a question I had to tackle head-on when I sat down to write The Bloodforged. I was sending my characters off in three different directions, which meant three separate stories told from four different points of view. Ugh. I knew I was setting myself up for a challenge. So I tried to think about my experience as a reader: Which books with multiple POVs worked really well for me, which ones failed to impress, and why? What did the most successful examples have in common?

Here’s what I came up with.

1. Minimalism. Wait, what? Wouldn’t that argue for only one POV? Well, no – not necessarily. Imagine A Song of Ice and Fire from only Jon Snow’s POV. Interesting, maybe, but also quite limited in its perspective; readers would learn next to nothing about the Game of Thrones afoot in the wider world of Westeros, including how it impacts on the supernatural struggle unfolding beyond the Wall. On the flip side, if we followed only Tyrion, we’d have very little inkling of the DOOM bearing down on the Seven Kingdoms. So – both of these characters seem to be essential to do the story justice. But what about Victarion Greyjoy? Areo Hotah? Any of the Martells? Sure, they add new information, but is it genuinely important stuff that we couldn’t learn from an existing character? Personally, I’m doubtful. My favourite books only introduced a new POV when it really counted, when that perspective added more than just a splash of colour.

2. Each POV has its own discrete story arc. That includes a beginning, middle, and end – complete with dramatic climax. Minor cameos aside, each POV character has his/her own journey, one that’s engaging in its own right. POV shifts often hit “pause” on one story to take up another; that can be disruptive and annoying if the story you’ve paused is much more interesting than the one you’re cutting to. In many cases, I’ve found myself skipping entire chapters because I just don’t care enough about Character X and cannot wait to get back to Character Y. That’s a lot less likely to happen if Characters X and Y both have interesting stories with their own momentum. (Worth noting here that this doesn’t necessarily mean each character lives through a different plot, just that they respond to, and are shaped by, those events differently.)

3. Distinctive character voices. One of the goals of having multiple POVs is to add depth through different perspectives, but that doesn’t work so well if all the characters think, feel, and sound the same. This is especially true when we’re seeing the same events through more than one character’s eyes. Cutting between them starts to feel mechanical and unnecessary, and instead of adding depth, the characters seem flat. Different POVs should feel different; we shouldn’t need to be told that we’re in Tyrion’s head, because his head shouldn’t read like anyone else’s. That way, when we swap to someone else’s head, it’s a refreshing change of pace.

4. One POV adds suspense to another. This is one of the coolest things you can do with multiple POVs. It can be a real nail-biter if you know more than the characters about what’s going on, or if you hit pause on one story at a suspenseful moment to take up another. This one is used with caution – I’ve been driven absolutely bonkers by unnecessary cliffhangers that cause me to skip the intervening chapters – but done right, it drives the momentum forward. For example, in Return of the Jedi, the Battle of Endor is all the more exciting because we know that Lando can’t blow up the Death Star unless Han and company disable the shield. At the same time, Luke’s POV reveals that the whole thing is a trap cunningly laid by Emperor Palpatine. Cutting back and forth between these POVs ramps up the tension.

Once I’d identified these commonalities between my favourite POV jugglers, I felt a lot more comfortable that I could weave together the separate plotlines of The Bloodforged in ways that improved the story instead of confusing it.

I’m sure I missed more than a few, though. So how about it: What are your favourite stories featuring multiple POVs, and why did they work? Inquiring authors want to know!


Erin Lindsey is on an epic quest to write the perfect vacation novel for fantasy lovers. THE BLOODFORGED, Book 2 of the Bloodbound trilogy, releases on September 29. She also writes fantasy mystery as E.L. Tettensor. You can find Erin on her website:, or on Twitter @etettensor.



The epic saga that started in The Bloodbound continues…

As war between Alden and Oridia intensifies, King Erik must defend his kingdom from treachery and enemies on all sides—but the greatest danger lurks closer to home…

When the war began, Lady Alix Black played a minor role, scouting at the edge of the kings retinue in relative anonymity. Though shes once again facing an attacking Oridian force determined to destroy all she holds dear, she is now bodyguard to the king and wife to the prince. Still, she is unprepared for what the revival of the war will mean. Erik is willing to take drastic measures to defend his domain, even if it means sending Prince Liam into a deadly web of intrigue and traveling into the perilous wild lands of Harram himself. Only the biggest threat to the kingdom might be one that neither Alix nor Erik could have imagined, or prepared for…



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Sunday, September 27, 2015

[Coffee Shop Talks] Share Your October Reading List!

Wicked Ever After (A Blud Novel Book 7) - Oct 5, 2015 by Delilah S. Dawson
Silver on the Road (The Devil's West) - Oct 6, 2015 by Laura Anne Gilman
Ice Like Fire (Snow Like Ashes Series) – October 13, 2015 by Sara Raasch
An Ancient Peace: Peacekeeper #1 – October 6, 2015 by Tanya Huff 
Willful Machines – October 20, 2015 by Tim Floreen 

What's on your reading list? 


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Review: Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels #8) by Ilona Andrews

Release Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Ace
Source: Library
Author Links: Goodreads | Twitter | Website
In the latest Kate Daniels novel from #1 New York Timesbestselling author Ilona Andrews, magic is coming and going in waves in post-Shift Atlanta—and each crest leaves danger in its wake…
After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Curran misses the constant challenges of leading the shapeshifters.
So when the Pack offers him its stake in the Mercenary Guild, Curran seizes the opportunity—too bad the Guild wants nothing to do with him and Kate. Luckily, as a veteran merc, Kate can take over any of the Guild’s unfinished jobs in order to bring in money and build their reputation. But what Kate and Curran don’t realize is that the odd jobs they’ve been working are all connected.
An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece…

I'm not sure I'm even capable of giving a Kate Daniels book less than 5 stars anymore, so take my opinion of this book with a grain of salt. Some of my friends were disappointed with this one because it was maybe a transition sort of book. You know, what with Kate & Curran having left the Pack in the last book. So, yeah, this book is sorta setting up how they're going to live, what they're going to do, etc.. Didn't matter. I could Kate Daniels' grocery list, and probably fangirl over it.
To me, this was gold, and I loved every minute of it!

Also, and some of you may think I'm a total traitor for this, but Roland is quickly becoming my favorite character in the series. I can't get enough of him! Anyone else kinda loving him a little bit?

This time around we're learning about genies & ghouls, which (I thought) was a pretty cool change of pace from the shifters & vampires. And, no, I'm not going to spoil any of the don't worry. Just know that team Andrews manages to put their special spin on these characters, and makes it all very unique to the KD world. I thought end bit about the ghouls was pretty cool!

Ok, there are already way too many awesome reviews for this one out there, so I'm not going to go into depth with this one. 
However, I feel the need to mention one more thing...

Bottom line, if you're a Kate Daniels fanatic, you definitely don't want to miss this one! 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Spotlight, Excerpt, & $100 #Giveaway - Autumn Moon by Jan DeLima!

Autumn Moon by Jan DeLima
The Celtic Wolves Series, Book 3
Elen and Cormack’s story
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Publisher: ACE
Date of Publication: September 29, 2015

The heart of a warrior, the soul of a wolf, and the desires of a man…

For centuries, Cormack has lived between worlds—a man trapped in the body of a wolf, shunned by humans and shifters alike. Only one person has ever welcomed his company: Elen, a kindred outcast who is feared by others of her ancient Celtic race for her strange healing abilities. 

Cormack has always valued Elen’s kindness and understanding, but after a desperate act of friendship causes Elen to free him from his curse, he realizes he wants more. He wants all of her—completely and forever. Except before Cormack can win Elen’s heart, Pendaran, the evil leader of the Guardians, captures her, determined to manipulate her incredible power to aid him in his twisted war against the shapeshifting tribes. 

Now Cormack must use all of his skills as a warrior and a wolf to save the woman he loves—before Pendaran’s vile schemes destroy them all…


Too wired to sleep, Elen opened the wine and poured a glass, sipping quietly as she walked over to the bed.  Cormack slept above the coverlet and on his back, with one arm raised over his head, while the other rested by his side.  His hair was still damp from his shower, and he wore jeans but no shirt, as if he’d just rested his head and sleep claimed him first.

His chest rose and fell with even breaths.  She was not one to marvel over physical attributes, but this was Cormack, and his body was meant for pleasure, like a goddess had molded him for her personal divine gratification.  His frame was large, and toned, with wide shoulders and a firm chest that tapered down to his hips.  His hardened stomach would provide the perfect friction were she to ride him just like this.

And as that image flooded her mind, another, more wicked one, followed.  It was greedy, and selfish, but all her niceness had been used up for the day.  He looked peaceful, and innocent, but the man was practically immortal after all.  Their kind did not die from lack of sleep.  They might go mad, of course, but that took a few weeks.  And had he not said, do with me as you will?

She needed to touch him.  That was all.  Well, no, she wanted more, but for now that would do.  Taking a sip of her wine, she gently set the glass on an end table by the bed, and gave into temptation.  Starting by his heart, she brushed lightly across his chest, tracing down the indent between, and lingering on the valleys and curves of his muscles.  Flattening her hand over his stomach, she felt the soft hair that began just above the waistband of his jeans and disappeared below.  She had never seen him in this restful state, at least not in his human form, and took in her ravenous fill.

Her hand lingered over the button of his jeans.  She swallowed, wanting… Oh, how she wanted.  It burned like molten earth, fed by a need that had been denied for too long.  Even now she felt her body moisten and swell just from imagining what waited beyond that closure, and how it would feel inside her.

Or how it would taste.

She thumbed the button.  A quick flick was all it would take.

A sound made her jolt, an intake of breath perhaps, followed by a sudden rise under her hands.  She snapped her eyes to his face.

Cormack was awake.

And watching her.

A fire raged within his cerulean gaze.  “Kill me now if you stop, Elen, because then I’ll know I’m well and truly cursed and I cannot be tortured anymore.”

Prequel for Autumn Moon:

First chapter for Autumn Moon:

Jan DeLima is the author of the Celtic Wolves novels, including Summer Moon and Celtic Moon. She lives in Maine with her husband and their two sons. Unlike many authors, Jan didn’t pen stories at an early age, but she has always been a dedicated reader.  It wasn’t until after her children entered school that she began writing. Raised in a military family, she lived in different countries such as Thailand and Germany, but home base has always been Maine.

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