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Category Archives: Charmaine

Book Review – Jinn & Juice by Nicole Peeler

Cursed to be a jinni for a thousand years, Lyla nears the end of her servitude — only to be bound once again against her will. Will she risk all to be human? Born in ancient Persia, Lyla turned to her house Jinni, Kouros, for help escaping an arranged marriage. Kouros did make it impossible for her to marry — by cursing Lyla to live a thousand years as a Jinni herself.

If she can remain unBound, Lyla’s curse will soon be over. But Ozan Sawyer, a Magi with the ability to See, Call, and Bind jinn has other plans.

Oz needs Lyla to help him penetrate Pittsburgh’s steel-soaked magic, a juice potent but poisonous to supernatural creatures, in order to find a missing girl with her own mysterious connection to Kouros. Unfortunately for Lyla, becoming Bound to Oz may risk more than just her chance to be human once more — it could risk her very soul…Jinn and Juice is the first in a new series by fantasy writer, Nicole Peeler, set in a world of immortal curses, powerful jinni and belly dancing

Nicole Peeler and I have always seen eye to eye. Her Jane True series is a firm favourite of Kristal and myself. Not only does she nail the Urban Fantasy genre every single time, but her characters are everything I love and more. I kid you not, this lady can do no wrong! So how excited was I for her new book, Jinn & Juice. A new world and new characters, the possibilities were endless. Are you getting the gist of how excited I was? Well my excitement was well placed. This book delivered and then some!

The story is about Lyla, cursed to be a jinni in some wicked bargain a loooong time ago, her curse will be lifted if she can keep from being bound by a Magi (pesky humans who can bind and use jinni) Of course life is NEVER this simple and Lyla ends up bound… This is where things really get interesting. Oz, the Magi who has bound her really isn’t anything like the others of his kind that Lyla has encountered. For a start he’s kind, and he’s not selfish, and he needs her help to help someone else. From here the story twists and turns and I guarantee you wont see the ending coming.

When it comes to anything Nicole Peeler I like my heroines hilarious, snarky, kick-ass and generally pretty damn awesome. Lyla ticks these boxes easily, she is one sassy lady! Every step of the way she is nothing but authentically herself. You find out very quickly that even though as a jinni she must follow her masters orders, she still has her ways to skirt certain issues. Let me tell you, you’ll never look at a cantaloupe the same again!

Which brings me to the potential recipient of the cantaloupe treatment, Oz. At first he seemed barely a cardboard cut-out compared to Lyla’s loud and rambunctious personality. But bit by bit he won me over, he may not have smacked me over the head with other worldly pizazz, but he did add the very important carefully constructed human element that the story needed. In fact, he really was the ying to Lyla’s yang. You could tell from the start that this guy was Mr nice, and there is nothing wrong with that!

As always, Nicole Peeler’s world building was on point. Everything was meticulously laid out, from the steel poisoned magic running under Pittsburgh, right through to the magical realm, Sideways. I loved Lyla’s back story and not once did I feel like I’d learnt everything about her or this world, which personally I am all for. I don’t want to be done learning new facts about this universe and these characters, everything I’ve learnt so far has me wanting to know more. I was thankful that time was taken to explain all of the detail, but not once did the story feel bogged down by it. The weird and wonderful supporting characters obviously had a lot of care and thought put into them, creepy (Trip & Trap) AND kooky (pretty much everyone else) they really topped off an already fantastic read. I have to make special mention of Yulia, I never have been so amazed and petrified simultaneously by a supernatural creature, but this wisp had me (she also had me googling all things wisp related)….

 This book is the start of what I am sure will be an awesome series.

I can’t wait.

Jinn and Juice

By Nicole Peeler

photo credit: danseuse via photopin (license)photo credit: SmokeWisps-4.free via photopin (license)

Series Love…. (Charm’s summer reading)

Nope I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth! Although at the moment it does seem like I have a wee bit. No, here in New Zealand we are in the middle of one of the most beautiful summers we’ve had in the last couple of years, so while I have been reading… I’ve also been camping, swimming, fishing and BBQing (not in that exact order!) So in short, it’s been a busy time of sunshine fun!

Home Bay, Motutapu, New Zealand 2015

Home Bay, Motutapu, New Zealand 2015

Anyway, back to reading…We took a little break over the Christmas holidays and in that time I decided to read a series that I’ve been DYING to read forever (recommended by Kristal) AND re-read a series that I’m in looove with… So in case you’re after a new amazing series, here is a little rundown on each of them.


The Kate Daniels Series by Ilona Andrews

Kate Daniels - Magic Bites (Book #1)

Kate Daniels – Magic Bites (Book #1)

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels)

By Ilona Andrews

This urban fantasy series is everything I hoped it would be and SO much more! I have to start by saying, if I could be anyone, ANYONE from a book then I want to be Kate. She is so badass it’s ridiculous. She gets in and gets the job done. No whining, no frivolity, no damsel in distress. She fights till the very end every. single. time.

This world where magic and technology battle is gritty, violent and not at all a kind of fairy-tale magical land. The cold hard reality is people die (often gruesomely) there are endless villains and bad things always happen to good people. I love the authors vision in these books, the world is expertly detailed and you can picture everything in your mind. A magical ward collapses? You see it buckle and shatter. A werewolf changes shape, you see it in your mind, gruesome detail and all. Like I said, the detail is just stunning.

Which brings me to my last point, Curran. Uh, this beast of a man has pretty quickly knocked all other book boyfriends off their comfy pedestals. Seriously. Oh and the chemistry between him and Kate is so entertaining that I would re-read this entire series right now just on that basis! I’m currently up to book 6 and haven’t tired of the story at all, in fact it’s taking a lot of willpower to space out these last two books instead of devouring them in 2 weeks like I did with the first 5! Whether or not you are an Urban Fantasy fan this is definitely a must read.


The Knitting in the City Series by Penny Reid

The KitC Series - Neanderthal Seeks Human (Book #1)

The KitC Series – Neanderthal Seeks Human (Book #1)

Romance series aren’t always for me, I find a lot of the time I read book one and am happy with where the story ends and then voila, there’s a book two and suddenly the characters are going through all kinds of unneeded angst… This is where Penny Reid is oh so different and is also why she is one of my very favourite authors. In the Knitting in the City series each book is focussed on a different woman from a knitting circle they all belong to. So not only do we get a book dedicated to each one of them, but we also get to see their story get little mentions and begin to develop or carry on and flesh out throughout the stories of the other women too. It’s the BEST. THE BEST.

Another reason why I think I love this series so much is that these women (and their leading men) are all different and a little quirky. We’re not talking run of the mill romance… No we are talking about complete originality. Each character definitely has their own voice and their own original story. Now, the thing with this is, every time you read another book from the series you change your mind about who is your favourite character! I swear even after re-reading this series, after each book I was like ‘oh this couple is TOTALLY my fav’… until the next book where I’d be busy deciding that no, this couple is actually my fav!

His everyday voice was a thing of beauty, but his growly voice made me want to lick his face

— Sandra – Love Hacked (KitC Book #3)

I still have trouble picking my favourite book out of the five that have been published so far (potentially BatM)… I love that while they do have an order, you can read them as a standalone (excluding Neanderthal Marries Human) although I guarantee once you read one you’re going to want to read them all! Penny Reid has definitely taken this genre and made it her own with her unique and fun take on everything romance related. The women are freaking awesome, the men are freaking hot and the stories will have you laughing, crying and swooning (sometimes all at the same time). I kid you not.

 

Blog Tour & Book Review – Books, Blogs & Reality by Ryan Ringbloom

Books Blogs Reality Book 

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Books, Blogs, & Reality

by Ryan

Ringbloom

Publication Date: October 24, 2014

Genres: Contemporary, Humor, New Adult, Romance

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from Kobo

Books Blogs Reality Cover

Synopsis:

Life can suck…

When reality becomes overwhelming, seeking comfort in fictional fantasies keeps hope alive. And while

this escape may be a little delusional, it’s also therapeutic.

Sharing secrets is daunting, but virtual friends don’t often judge and they are always ready to share a

glass of wine…or three…while typing out life’s latest endeavors.

Brooke believes obstacles only add to romance, not detract. Rachael longs for a more intense

relationship, or so she thinks. Lizzie misses the excitement in her life, but sometimes new situations find

you when you’re not even looking. And Jess believes a tiger can change his stripes. It can’t.

Bound by a shared passion for blogging about happily ever afters, these four young women use

keyboard therapy to work through their expectations, anxieties, and inadequacies, all with the hopes of

achieving the perfection found in romance novels.

Completely blinded by what they think life should be, they navigate their unique paths in search of what

they envision is right. But when reality taunts them with persistent curve balls, will they be strong

enough to choose wisely? Or will their happy endings escape them?

Add to Goodreads

About the Author

Ryan Ringbloom

Ryan Ringbloom is a YA/NA author who lives for anything Romance. The

passion, love, angst, awkwardness… she loves all of it. When Ryan needs a break from reality she sneaks

off to read a romantic story or write one of her own. Drinking coffee, reading Tweets and hugs from her

five year old are the best part of her day.

Feel free to contact her, she would love it!

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REVIEW

This story is everything I love in a good romance/chick-lit read. When I sit down to read this type of genre I need to not want to put it down, and this book absolutely had me enthralled from the start. In fact, I started and finished it in just one sitting!

In this story we follow 4 women, all book junkies & bloggers and all part of a tight online friendship foursome. I love how the author captured the intricacies of online relationships. How we can spill some of our most intimate and mundane thoughts and life events to these people we have never met, yet still feel a connection with.

The book was very cleverly broken down so we get a good sense of each woman’s character. They all are clearly very different… different lives & different personalities. The back and forth between the four of them in cyberspace was SO entertaining. It had me giggling a lot of the time! I really enjoyed how their online catch-up were interspaced between what was really going on in each of their lives, things aren’t always so rosy in the real world that’s for sure!

There was a lesson to be learnt for each of the ladies in this book. While sometimes I found myself (good-naturedly) eye-rolling them, I quickly realized I had a soft spot for each one of them as I watched them navigate their romantic issues and dish out advice to each other. I could never pick a favourite, and that for me really proves the amazing job that this author has done in MAKING me love all of her characters. Not an easy feat at all!

This book has everything you need for an entertaining read. I love that I read a book that has variety, that had me laughing pretty much the whole way and that managed to wrap up the storylines so I felt content, something that is definitely not always a sure thing. It was a nice quick read and definitely one of the better books of this genre that I’ve read this year. Definitely a highly recommend for a weekend where you want to sip a hot chocolate and play voyeur…

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Book Review – An Imaginary House by the Sea (Bridgeport #1) by Cecily Gates

Kindly received from author in return for an honest review

“Love is a messy thing. That hopelessly devoted, deep-in-your-bones kind of love we used to dream about when we were kids—it turns out that it’s hard. It aches. It takes time. Like a house that weathers the ages, it must be built, brick by brick.”

Snarky and ambitious Dawn Campbell almost had it all: a job producing lavish celebrity events, a hip downtown apartment, and a studmuffin of a boyfriend. But after losing all three in one fell swoop, Dawn finds herself resorting to the unimaginable: returning home to Bridgeport, an oceanside town where the air smells sweet but not much happens.

When a chance encounter brings her into the sturdy arms of John Brown, her childhood best friend, old feelings come rushing back. As the sparks fly, life finally starts to look up for Dawn…until she meets his wife.

Marguerite Brown has everything that Dawn doesn’t: a killer fashion sense, a breathtaking beauty, and a French accent—oh, and the kind of temperament that makes great white sharks seem docile in comparison. Determined to release John from an unhappy marriage, Dawn turns on the charm and makes a plan to finally win back her one-that-got-away.

But after Dawn stumbles upon a secret that, up until now, Marguerite has meticulously kept hidden, the two women are thrust into an unexpected friendship. An Imaginary House by the Sea follows Dawn’s journey towards self-rediscovery, finding purpose, and building a more complex, steadfast kind of love than she could have ever imagined.

 

I have to admit. Dawn and I definitely did not see eye to eye in a lot of instances in this story. She came into the story shallow and self-absorbed, maybe a little wishy-washy. As many times as I was impressed with her snarky remarks and self-preservation skills, I was also shaking my head and eye rolling her. However, that’s how she came into the story. Part way through the book I found myself seeing more and more glimpses of a different Dawn. By the end of the book I had decided that actually, I really loved Dawn, she had grown into someone I really connected with, someone who I fervently wanted everything good for and I ended up really respecting this woman who was brave enough to take stock of her shortcomings and make a change.

At the heart of this book is the development and growth of a woman who was lost in life without even knowing it, she thought she had everything she ever wanted. This is not a story where a boy comes along and suddenly everything is complete and perfect, this is no fairy-tale. It is a story full of heart and heartbreak. This book had me in tears more than once. It had my heart and my mind tied up in knots. I felt torn between what I wanted for the characters and it reminded me that the universe is completely and utterly unfair… And apparently it has no sense of timing either.

One part that I absolutely LOVED in this book, which sometimes can be more a miss than a hit, was the use of flashbacks. You can’t tell a story like this without delving into the past and I loved how we watched Dawn and John together as awkward teenagers, stolen moments that were peppered into the current day story-telling at just the right time. These flashbacks really added depth to their chemistry and connection, highlighting all of the change between them, yet at the same time affirming everything that had stayed the same.

I loved that I read a book where I connected to the supporting characters in the way I did here. John’s wife Marguerite definitely deserves a special mention. Her story really made the book for me. It was carefully and beautifully written, approached in a way that showed there was so much more to this character than her situation and it was thanks to this, that my heart was split in so many different directions.

This is one of those books that will have you questioning your perceptions of people and possibly even that blurry line between what is right in the perfect world vs. what happens in the reality of the world. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spoken about the emotional toll this book takes but there is a lot to celebrate and be positive within it as well. Happily ever afters are so much sweeter after an emotional roller coaster aren’t they! So no, it’s not a doom and gloom read, but I love books that make me feel and this definitely had me feeling every emotion possible. This is absolutely a book that is well worth reading and I’m looking forward to following the series on.

 

  photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin ccphoto credit: Nick Kenrick.. via photopin cc

Book Review – Elite (Citizen Saga #1) by Nicola Claire

ARC kindly received from author in return for an honest review

Have you been a model Citizen today?

Selena Carstairs has been raised an Elite. She lives the life of privileged luxury, never wanting for anything. Respected. Admired. Honoured.

But life is not what it seems…

The island of Wánměi has a strict set of rules. Be a model Citizen and all will be rewarded. Disobey the law and the consequences are dire. For Selena, the urge to defy is in her blood. Out of boredom? Or something else? But she never knew just what penalty she’d have to pay for her latest stunt.

Trent Masters is a Citizen, born and bred. The leader of a small group of revolutionaries desperately trying to free their beloved city of Wánměi. He knows a world exists beyond the island’s borders. He knows a life exists without the heavy handed manipulation and tight fisted control of those in charge.

What he didn’t know was that an Elite would have more chance of challenging the Overseers who control Wánměi than a rebel ever could. And he certainly wasn’t expecting her to capture his heart as stealthily as she moves under the darkness of a hot and humid night.

Citizen versus Elite. The battle has begun.

Here at OUaBB we don’t get enough opportunities to read New Zealand authors. I have a few on my TBR, but I have to admit it’s been a while… So how excited was I when I got the opportunity to read this book! It’s the first in a series and while is definitely still in my range of genre loves, is almost a little on the outer edges. So… I thought I’d take a risk and read something different. The risk DEFINITELY paid off, Nicola Claire can count on herself having a new fan!

Selena on the surface has everything anyone could ever want, money, status and connections. A life that could be led in luxurious ignorance, a life that many would call her crazy for questioning. But there’s something that just will not let her accept the status quo. Something that has her out there risking more than she realizes for reasons that not even she understands quite yet. We’re catapulted into this CRAZY dystopian world with Selena taking her defiance to a whole new level, straight away it’s suspense building, heart stopping action. We aren’t given the whole story, we don’t exactly know what this world is or who Selena is… All of this information slowly begins to unravel after the event that threw us so completely into this story. It’s this technique, the fast paced action mixed perfectly with the storytelling, which really had me enthralled.

The repetitive question ‘Have you been a model citizen today’ gives you a pretty good idea of what world you’ve stepped into. Controlling society is everything. Humans are sheep. Everybody lives by the rules, everybody is ruled by fear. In this world computers will keep you in line, artificial intelligence will make sure you are doing what you’re supposed to be doing, where you’re supposed to be, with who you’re supposed to be doing it with. This is not a world with impulse, freedom or choice. The whole idea of it is such a complete mindf***!

So while the world is robotic and controlled, the main characters in this story are anything but. Selena and Trent are both fiery emotive characters. I absolutely LOVED Trent. Getting into his mind and watching the story unravel in his eyes as well as Selina’s was exactly what the story needed. He had a serious amount of heart, which I love to see in any leading man situation, but especially in leading men like him, seemingly gruff and lives for the cause. The storyline between Trent and Selina really did hold so much of the charm of this book for me. I’m always a sucker for a killer human aspect and these two had the chemistry that nailed it.

This book gives you everything yet leaves you wanting so much more. Every time you feel like something has been resolved you realize there is still so much more to come. I loved that it’s set up this very detailed world and this storyline for the series and it has a firm direction. I LOVED that there was obviously a cliffhanger element but I didn’t feel like throwing my kindle at the wall in impatient frustration. I love that I’ve found a new series obsession, something a little out of my norm that I can’t wait to follow on into book 2 & 3. If you’re looking for a book to mix up your usual reading list then I seriously recommend this to you. I’m positive you’ll be like me and won’t be able to put it down!

Elite (Citizen Saga, Book 1)

By Nicola Claire

photo credit: Laxaa via photopin cc

Book Review – The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

ARC Received from Netgalley

Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.

This book was a very welcome surprise for me. I knew it was a historical YA type read. I knew that it focussed on America amidst the women’s suffrage movement and I hoped it was really going to grab my attention. And thanks to very clever writing it absolutely did!

Olivia is the daughter of a dentist father, is supposed to be the perfectly behaved young lady that society expects her to be… She is also book smart and is a progressive thinker. She strives to be a part of the movement that intends to earn women the same rights as men and is enamoured with the changing tide of what is expected of women. She is, in so many way, the epitome of a teenager… She is just the 1900 equivalent to our modern day teens. These days we strive for our children to question everything, we encourage independent thought and tell them that they can do anything. However this was not always the case and if there is one thing this book does very well it’s that it reminds us to remember just how far we’ve come and what’s at stake if we become complacent.

I am a history buff, I love a good historical read, so this book was always going to catch my interest. However this book has something more than that, a point of difference that really makes its presence known. The very mysterious hypnotist Henri Reverie manages to bestow on Olivia a very unwelcome gift. Resulting in not only her seeing things ‘the way they really are’ but seeing them with so much gruesome detail that suddenly there are fangs, yellow eyes and evilness personified at every turn. THIS detail. THIS part of the story is what pushes this book into the ‘something special pile’.

At the very basis of the story it is a fictional telling of a young females experience during the time where women were fighting for their right to vote. For their right to be heard. For their right to fight to be equals. What the author has done so cleverly is write it in a way that it’s an accessible history lesson, rich in descriptive supernatural elements. This story is a story that makes me proud to be female, proud of where we’ve come. Education and entertainment wrapped so perfectly together you don’t realize where one ends and the next begins, definitely a ‘must read’.

The Cure for Dreaming

By Cat Winters

photo credit: El Bibliomata via photopin ccphoto credit: national museum of american history via photopin cc

Book Review – Scenes from the City (Knitting in the City #4.5) by Penny Reid

ARC Kindly provided by Penny Reid in exchange for an honest review

What makes Penny Reid such a darn awesome author? The fact that she creates delicious sinful treats for her readers such as this collection of Knitting in the City short stories. I LOVE a good novella accompaniment to a series and Penny Reid has well and truly delivered.

I really struggle to pick my favourite couples from this series, so I can’t tell you how grateful I am that this book checks in with everyone we’ve read about so far. It really felt like the gift that kept on giving. Each scene packed a punch. Don’t for one second think that short means light on story or detail, each character’s scene was just right, from quirky and random, to heartfelt and sweet and everything in between. When Penny Reid writes she tells the story that the characters need her to tell, which makes her hit the mark Every. Single. Time.

This little book is broken up into 5 parts. There’s the quirky mixed with steamy in Janie & Quinn’s storyline, their honeymoon in fact. Since it’s been a while since I’ve read their 2 books it was nice to remind myself why they were the couple that made me obsessed with this series.

The second is Elizabeth and Nico… Oh my goodness what I wouldn’t give to have that kind of homecoming after a horrible day, these two set each other on fire whether they’re being intense or sweet. Then we move onto Sandra & Alex, this one had me giggling almost the whole way through. I love these two, the things that they get up to! This story just goes to show there really is someone out there for everyone.

The fourth scene is Ashley & Drew, I have SUCH a soft spot for these two. They made my heart explode in Beauty and the Mustache so I was elated to get more of them. I would’ve taken any glimpse into their lives but this beautiful short little story about their reunion threatened to make me have a case of exploding heart all over again. I seriously don’t know if I’ll ever get enough of them.

Finally we begin the story of Fiona & Greg. This story was the longest of the five stories and for good reason. We haven’t had the Fiona & Greg book yet, (Happily Ever Ninja) it’s due 2015. Of course I was always going to read it, because I’m an obsessed fan-girl reader of this series… But after this, I am even more impatient to devour their story. The scene is set, their background has been laid bare, the chemistry is brewing and by the end all I wanted was more. It was a very smart move to introduce us to them in this format. I’m already so invested in their story, I am definitely going to be re-reading this little introduction before I dive into their full length book.

So there you have it. Christmas has come early in the form of a Penny Reid novella. A 5+ star read for me and a necessity if you are a Knitting in the City series fan. Seriously. Just go and get the book before it disappears. (December 15th) You’ll miss out on the amazingness if you don’t and nobody likes to miss out!

 

photo credit: joathina via photopin cc

Holiday Time Reading list!!! (AKA an eccentric collection of reading material)

So off on holiday I go and of course a priority is to make sure my Kindle is fully stocked with a selection of reading material. (Lets just ignore the fact I have an outrageous TBR pile at the moment) Holiday time calls for new books!!! So here’s a list of my intended reads…


1. ARC of Scenes From The City (A selection of Knitting in the City short stories) by Penny Reid

   

aka… the Festivus Surprise
100% of proceeds go to Toys for Tots.
This book cannot be read as a standalone. It is a collection of short scenes following the ladies from the ‘Knitting in the City’ series and will only be available in eBook format from December 1 – December 15, 2014.
‘Neanderthal Seeks Honeymoon’ – Janie and Quinn
‘Friends Definitely With Benefits’ – Elizabeth and Nico
‘Hacking the Hacker’ – Sandra and Alex
‘Beauty and the Beard’ – Ashley and Drew
‘Ninja at First Sight’ – Fiona and Greg

2. Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1) by Ilona Andrews

Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up paranormal problems. Atlanta has two factions struggling for power. Masters of the Dead are necromancers who control vampires. The Pack are a paramilitary clan of shapechangers. When Kate’s guardian is killed, she is caught between.

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels)

By Ilona Andrews

3. Seventh Grave and no Body by (Charley Davidson #7)  Darynda Jones

Twelve. Twelve of the deadliest beasts ever forged in the fires of hell have escaped onto our plane, and they want nothing more than to rip out the jugular of Charley Davidson and serve her lifeless, mangled body to Satan for dinner. So there’s that. But Charley has more on her plate than a mob of testy hellhounds. For one thing, her father has disappeared, and the more she retraces his last steps, the more she learns he was conducting an investigation of his own, one that has Charley questioning everything she’s ever known about him. Add to that an ex-BFF who is haunting her night and day, a rash of suicides that has authorities baffled, and a drop-dead sexy fiancé who has attracted the attentions of a local celebrity, and Charley is not having the best week of her life.

A tad north of hell, a hop, skip, and a jump past the realm of eternity, is a little place called Earth, and Charley Davidson, grim reaper extraordinaire, is determined to do everything in her power to protect it.

We’re doomed.  


Book Review – See How She Awakens (The Izzy Chronicles) by Michelle Graves

ARC received in return for an honest review

The Seer has fallen, yet the prophecy remains.
The World will burn, unless the Seer is Awakened.

Izzy is lost to the void, doing everything within her power to forget the past two years of her life, when a voice calls out to her from the fog. Aberto begs for her to return while Kennan’s voice implores her to remember. Everything within her is telling her to stay in the void, but then Aberto tells her the one thing powerful enough to pull her from oblivion, Molly is dying.

What awaits Izzy on the mortal plane is more terrifying than she could’ve imagined. The darkness is on the rise and no one seems to see it, or they don’t want to admit to the truth. With the darkness more powerful than ever, Izzy must find a way to push the past behind her and protect her loved ones, even if it means losing herself forever.

Will Izzy fall to the darkness or will she finally discover who she was always destined to be? Find out what happens when the Seer finally Awakens.  

There was a lot that needed to be resolved in Izzy’s world going into this book and I have to say I was more than a little bit nervous to see what was going to happen! Really this story could’ve gone a few different ways. Reaching the conclusion of a series is big, especially a series which you have been obsessed with. Every reader going into a final book definitely has a picture in their mind of what they are hoping the conclusion will look like, myself included…

Izzy thought once she fell the prophecy would be fulfilled and the world would be safe from the darkness… But this is not the case… Not even close. While Izzy is languishing in the void, people she loves are dying, she knows she has to stop the darkness, she just doesn’t know if she’s strong enough to after being so utterly and completely broken.

What I loved about this book is that now we’ve come full circle the pace was slowed down a bit so we could focus on the characters and details. There is still a ton of action, don’t get me wrong! But the feel of this book is very much a goodbye, so we take the time to work through Izzy’s final battle, which is just as much with herself as it is with the darkness. There was no way that Izzy was going to be her usual bouncy back chatting-self going into this book, she was far too broken. The overall tone was definitely darker and heavy with despair and that was important for the story being told. But happiness is a state of mind and can be accomplished many ways. I loved that Michelle Graves managed to not only continue with Izzy’s character development and work through the despair and challenges she was facing, but also managed to by the end give us glimpses of the old Izzy. In this aspect of the story I was completely satisfied!

The romance part of this book was a tricky one. Obviously with previous events it wasn’t going to be simple no matter what way it was approached. After having a few days to digest I do feel like the end was fitting. Now, this doesn’t mean that I wasn’t hoping for ‘more’ because the hopeless lover of romance in me did hope for sunshine and rainbows and over the top gestures of romance. But I know what this story entailed and I understand why the ending was what is was. I guess it’s just one of those things where I understand it and it works perfectly for the story, but there’s still a part of me that’s protesting. Which I actually think is a really clever way to end a series, that I feel so passionate about it really shows that it’s hit the mark.

I’m sad to say goodbye to Izzy and the rest of the crew but at the same time I’m glad her story has finished on a high note. This series was the perfect length and had an amazingly balanced mix of everything that you love to see in this genre. I know if Michelle Graves writes anything in the future I will be one very excited reader!

 photo credit: vanz via photopin <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licensesphoto credit: Eddi van W. via photopin cc

Book Review – Darkest Before Dawn by Pippa DaCosta

Received from author in return for an honest review

“It’s too late to save myself, but I’ll save her, even if it kills me.”

When Akil leaves a nine year old half-blood girl on Muse’s doorstep, it’s not long before the demons come hunting, but this time Muse isn’t the target. The Institute, Muse’s immortal brother, and the Princes of Hell, all want a piece of the little half-blood. What’s so special about Dawn, and why has Akil conveniently disappeared just as Muse needs answers?

To save the half-blood girl, Muse must first save herself, but is it already too late? Muse’s humanity is failing. Her demon hungers. The darkness coiled around her heart lures her toward madness. And all that stands between Muse and her demon’s lust for destruction, is the hope that some half-bloods do get happy endings.

The veil weakens. Titles will fall. A new Prince rises. And if Muse can’t stop them, the demons will have their day.

You literally feel like you have been thrown head first into this instalment of Muse’s story and this feeling is definitely what is intended. No time wasted on build up, just straight into fast paced action, no time to think or feel. Are you starting to get the gist of why I am such a fan of this series? From the start it has held its momentum up to almost super-sonic, you never get a chance to slow down and feel maybe even a little bored. Although, considering this is a story about demons I would expect no less.

Throughout the books Muse has developed a lot as a character, we’ve seen where she’s come from and watched her grow into herself. In this book it gets taken up a notch once again when Akil shows up on her doorstep with a half-blood child and little instruction about what she’s to do before he disappears. Muse (pretty naively) hopes that she can give this little girl a shot at a life that she missed out on. The storyline with these two reminds me of a parent so wanting their child to have everything they didn’t and it’s no different here for Muse, except instead of ballet lessons and fancy new bikes, we’re talking about the right to not being owned and abused and living to survive another day.

“Sometimes, there is no right thing. Sometimes wrong wins, and that’s okay. Life can’t be distilled down to right and wrong. It’s all about that messy gray area in between and how we deal with it….”

Really, if that was the only thing Muse had to concentrate on then she’d probably fly through any obstacle coming her way no problem. But she still has her ex-owners dark essence trying to suffocate her heart and soul, feeding on her every time things get out of control, she’s still in her love/hate relationship with the institute, a relationship that is definitely more hate than love at the moment, on top of that she’s got major demon problems and of course her two biggest conundrums of them all, Stefan and Akil…

Stefan is slipping away. There is so much unspoken between them, so much love and hate that it really feels like a lost cause. Stefan is not what he was, he can’t control his demon and he is so powerful that he could potentially turn out to be a far stronger player in the netherworld than anyone ever imagined. Meanwhile while we are getting to grips with Stefan’s darker demon side we are slowly peeling back the layers to see more of Akil’s ‘human’ side. The Prince of Greed does not love. The Prince of Greed is supposed to be completely and utterly selfish and indestructible…. So why then, are we seeing more hints that this character is SO much more than what Muse sees him as? The one scene of him in his Mammon form laying in his empty house completely heartbroken has to be one of my favourite scenes of his so far. I am absolutely 100% not ashamed to say that I am team Akil all of the way. I know that he’s an asshole, a demon with no humanity… But damn it! I kinda love him.

Jesus, he was unrefined, raw, and wild. I caught the gleam of the demon glaring back at me. Chaos caged. He wasn’t a man. That being inside him, simmering just below his trembling flesh, was an eternal demon-not of this world, not belonging to humanity in any way. He was unreal, so far beyond my naïve comprehension that I could no more hope to understand him than I could the workings of the universe.

These books are slowly getting darker and grittier. There were a few times in this book where I forced myself to read through it. Trying to reconcile that an innocent looking child and a terrifying demon are one and the same is not easy work for a human brain. I loved that this book made me feel like this because that is the reality of Muse’s world. The chaos around these storylines is confusing and perfect all at the same time. These books don’t drip in ‘happily ever afters’. Half-bloods don’t get that luxury so as readers we don’t either. Like I said, it’s perfect.

I made the mistake of reading the included excerpt of the next book… BIG mistake. HUGE. Because now I am dying of impatience to see where this story is going to go next. I need some relationship resolution. I need some institute resolution. I need I need I need!!! If anything after this book I have more questions rather than less of them. There is still so much further for Muse’s story to go and I have a feeling it’s going to be explosive.

 photo credit: johnb/Derbys/UK. via photopin cc