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Monday, August 31, 2015

Book Review: Endless Knight by Kresley Cole

Endless Knight (The Arcana Chronicles #2) by Kresley Cole
Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal/Fantasy Romance; Dystopian; Post Apocalyptic)
Date Published: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

In this seductive follow-up to Poison Princess, #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole takes us deeper into the dark world of the Arcana Chronicles.

Shocking secrets 
Evie has fully come into her powers as the Tarot Empress, and Jack was there to see it all. She now knows that the teens who've been reincarnated as the Tarot are in the throes of an epic battle. It's kill or be killed, and the future of mankind hangs in the balance.

Unexpected allies 
With threats lurking around every corner, Evie is forced to trust her newfound alliance. Together they must fight not only other Arcana, but also Bagmen zombies, post-apocalyptic storms, and cannibals.

Gut-wrenching treachery 
When Evie meets Death, things get even more complicated. Though falling for Jack, she's drawn to the dangerous Endless Knight as well. Somehow the Empress and Death share a history, one that Evie can't remember--but Death can't forget... 

Endless Knight is the second book in the Arcana Chronicles by Kresley Cole. The beginning was a little drawn out for me. I didn't feel like much of significance happened. We meet a few new players. Some good, some not so good. Jack was clearly hiding something, and Evie let it go. I wouldn't have been able to do that. I mean, I'm done reading the book, and it still bothers me.

Once Evie officially met Death, things start to pick up. I really enjoyed his back story. It took time before you were given the whole thing, but I liked that. I felt like the pacing was spot on. Death grew on me quite a bit. I think he got dealt a pretty bad card, no pun intended. The next actions he takes may make or break things for me, but as of right now,  I think I might be rooting for him.

Jack was coming into the cabin? I’d never have time to reach my clothes. Shit! I ducked down in the tub, draping my arms over my breasts, hoping the suds covered everything lower—
The door burst open. He stood in the doorway, dripping from rain.
I was so stunned by the intent look in his gray eyes that it took me a second to sputter, “O-out! Now!”
As if I hadn’t spoken, he entered, shutting the door behind him, tossing his crossbow and backpack on the table. He shook out his hair like an animal, sending little bites of cool water across my face and arms. Black locks whipped across his tanned face.
“What the hell are you doing? Get out!”
He removed his jacket and hung it on a rickety chair to dry in front of the fire. “We’re goan to talk,” he said, his accent thick. He dragged out another chair, sinking his tall frame into it.
“You doan like me here?” As his gaze leisurely roamed over me, he pulled a mason jar of clear liquid out of his backpack. He’d scored moonshine? Taking a sip from it, he rasped, “Then you’re welcome to stand up and walk out.”
I darted a glance at my clothes. I’d set out a clean outfit—jeans, a sweater, an almost-matching bra and panty set. Unfortunately, they were a good five feet away.
I cast him a baleful look, tightening my arms over my chest, sinking even lower in the bubbles. “You need to leave so I can get dressed.”
“Oh, doan let me stop you. But me, I ain’t leaving until you admit how you feel.”
“You’re going to blackmail me?” Now it was a matter of principle. He’d crossed the line by barging in here and taking a seat, and now he expected me to reward him for it?
“You can always go.” He propped his boots up on the table, easing back to balance his chair on two legs. With a smug grin, he put his hands behind his head.
He was so cocky, I wanted—nay, needed—to wipe that grin off his face. I’d reached my limit. I could die tomorrow, and I refused to spend my last night on earth getting manipulated by a moonshine-guzzling Cajun.
Besides, I wasn’t too shy. I’d worn my skimpy cheer uniform to school in front of slavering teenage boys, and my best friend Melissa had pantsed me routinely. “Fine.” I twisted in the tub to rise with my back to him, then stepped out and marched to my clothes—
Wham! He’d crashed back in his chair?
Stifling a grin, I wiped myself semi-dry with my old T-shirt, then pulled on my panties.
“E-Evie?” His voice sounded strangled.
I reached for my bra, might’ve showed side-boob, didn’t care. When I had the strap fastened, I glanced over one shoulder.
Next to the overturned chair, Jack knelt with his lips parted, breaths ragged. His chiseled cheekbones were flushed, and his muscles were tensed—like he was about to lunge at me. “You . . . you stood up?” He swiped a shaking hand over his mouth, and again, his eyes dark with lust. “Never thought you’d stand up, ma bonne fille.” My good girl.
With a shrug, I reached for my jeans. “If you can’t handle the heat, stay out of the cabin.”
He swallowed audibly. “Brûlant.” Sizzling hot. “And believe me, cher, I plan to handle that heat.” Then he was on his feet, coming for me, those heavy boots pounding the wood floor.
His every step multiplied my anticipation. He was going to kiss me again, and just the idea filled me with energy.
No, no, no! This was wrong. I didn’t want him to hit on me just because he was drunk and hard up.
Before I could put on my clothes, he’d spun me around, looping his arm around my lower back. “You swished that pretty ass in the wrong direction, bébé. You should’ve come to me when you were all naked and wet.”
“Don’t you dare make moves on me. You’re just going to accuse me again of mesmerizing you.”
“Non. I realized you didn’t have all your powers when I first started wanting you—that day I caught you alone in the school courtyard, in your cheer skirt . . .” His expression was smoldering. “I wanted to lay you back on that table and take you right there, Evangeline.”
I shivered at the way my name rolled off his tongue in that accent. Irresistible. I knew this, because I was struggling to resist.
He was right; I was gone for him. Stupid to fight it. I gazed up at him, whispering, “Just don’t hurt me again. If I kiss you, and then you get disgusted . . .”
He gave a low laugh, moving his hips against mine. “Does it feel like I’m disgusted?”
I gasped. “Jackson!”
He grinned that heart-stopping grin. Gorgeous lips. I wanted them on mine.
But just before he kissed me, he said, “You might be different from what I thought, but I’m goan to protect you. I’m goan to try to accept all this. But you got to accept me.”
“Accept you? What are you talking about?”
“I’m a nineteen-year-old bayou boy. I got a fondness for liquor. I’m goan to say stupid shit. Doan you go getting your feelings hurt at the drop of a hat.”
I laid my palm against his face. “You’re going to get more than your feelings hurt if you stay with me. And it will be my fault because I don’t want to separate from you. You wanted me to let you go.”
“That was before I realized something. I wasn’t goan to live a long life even before the apocalypse. Before we had cannibal miners, zombies, and slavers lurking around every corner. Now I figure I’ll spend my limited time left doing what I want.”
“And what do you want?”
His grin deepened. “You’re what I want, and I’d like to be doing you.” He leaned down, taking my lips with his own.
As we kissed, the drizzling rain began to pour, pelting the cabin’s tin roof. The last time I’d heard that sound was the night I’d gone to Jack’s home in the bayou.
He drew back. “Christ, your lips are sweet. Doux comme du sucre.” Sweet like sugar. He yanked off his shirt, revealing his damp, muscular chest, and the rosary around his neck. I’d missed seeing him like this.
His hands landed on my ass, giving it a possessive squeeze. “Tu es á moi, Evie. You’re mine. Every part of you.” He leaned down, took my lips again. Between kisses, he said, “I told you once and I’ll tell you again: There is nothing that can happen that we can’t get past. Just give me a chance to get to you. Promise me.”
“Jack . . .”
“Promise me. You doan leave me again.”
Staring at his lips, I nodded. “Would you always come for me?”
He drunkenly murmured, “Chase you like a junkyard dog.”
I laughed. How could I feel this much happiness in our situation? “I’m glad I don’t have to hide this any longer. No more secrets then—for either of us.” Wait. Had his eyes darted? “Do you have something you want to tell me?”
“Non, rien.” No, nothing.
“Are you . . . are you lying to me? Jack, nothing is more important than trust right now. Considering this game, this whole world, we have to be able to trust each other.”
“I’m not lying. You can trust me alone,” he said more firmly. “I got no secrets. Except for how bad I want you.”
Relieved, I gave him a shaky nod. “I believe you.”
“Good.” He scooped me up, lifting me against his chest to head for the cabin’s little bed. “That night by the pool, you would’ve let me have you if I’d gone slower. I’ll do that now. Nice and slow, me.”
“We can’t be together like that. What if I hurt you with my powers?”
“What a way to go, ma belle.”
“I’m serious.”
“So am I.” He strode toward the bed, dipping his mouth to mine for brief, wicked kisses, blanking my thoughts. “You love me too much to hurt me.”
I didn’t bother denying that, just leaned up for more of his lips. Our kiss grew deeper, tongues tangling. I’d heard the phrase “drunk from his lips.” I literally was from the moonshine.
There was French kissing, and then there was Cajun French kissing. Spicier, harder, wilder.
That’s how it was with Jack Deveaux. Burning out of control. Probably just as destructive as an inferno. And I didn’t care.
He drew back and tossed me on the bed—
The blanket collapsed; I was plummeting into a pit, arms flailing. At the last second, I snagged the edge with my fingertips.
Jack dove for me. He snatched my wrists just before I lost my grip. “Jesus! I’ve got you!”
I could barely hear him. An ear-splitting foghorn sounded from the roof of the cabin.
A signal for this . . . trap?
As Jack lifted me back into the room, I gazed below. Rusted rebar jutted from the ground at least ten feet down. He yanked me against him, cupping the back of my head protectively.
There’d been no mattress; someone had spread a thin layer of foam across a bed frame, then camouflaged it with a bright blanket and pillows.
“Dear God,” I muttered when the horn died down.
He hugged me tighter until I could feel his every shuddering breath. “I . . . I could’ve killed you.”
“Who would do this?” I asked, though I knew. That loud signal had been like a quitting-time horn for a factory—or for a mine.
“Cannibals.” Jack grabbed my clothes, shoved them into my arms. “If this is their trap, they’re goan to come running. We got to go, bébé. Fast.”

Read my reviews of the other books in this series!

Kresley Cole is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the electrifying Immortals After Dark paranormal series and the young adult Arcana Chronicles. She has also written five award-winning historical romances.

Since her first novel was released in 2003, Kresley has published twenty-two books with Simon & Schuster and has seen her releases translated into more than eighteen foreign languages. She has traveled over much of the world and draws from those experiences to create her memorable characters and settings. Two of her favorite places to visit include the rain forests of Central America and the Queensland area of Australia.

Cole’s trademark action, sensuality, and humor are exemplified in her popular Immortals After Dark Series, which revolves around the Lore, a secret stratum of hundreds of immortal creatures--ranging from Vampires to Lykae, Furies to Shifters, and Fey to Valkyrie--that each have their strengths, weaknesses, and age old prejudices against the others. Though they secretly live among humans, they constantly war among themselves, which gives her a lot of material.

In 2007, Kresley won the prestigious Romance Writers of America RITA award for best paranormal for her novel A Hunger Like No Other, and in January 2009, she became a #1 New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller with her sixth IAD installment, Kiss of a Demon King. In 2010, Kiss of a Demon King earned Kresley her second RITA award. 2011 brought Cole her second #1 NYT bestseller with Dreams of a Dark Warrior. In 2013, Kresley won a third RITA for Shadow's Claim and was inducted as only the 14th member of the RWA Hall of Fame.

She lives in Florida with her husband and far too many animals. She spends any free time traveling and enjoys all things related to boats and water.

To learn more about Kresley Cole and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on GoodreadsFacebook, and Twitter.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Book Review: The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak

The Heartbreakers (The Heartbreaker Chronicles #1) by Ali Novak
Genre: Young Adult (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

"When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. And he had no idea that I was the only girl in the world who hated his music."

Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara—even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD...for four hours. She's totally winning best birthday gift this year. At least she met a cute boy with soft brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes while getting her caffeine fix. Too bad she'll never see him again.

Except, Stella's life has suddenly turned into a cheesy love song. Because Starbucks Boy is Oliver Perry – lead singer for the Heartbreakers. And even after she calls his music crap, Oliver still gives Stella his phone number. And whispers quotes from her favorite Disney movie in her ear. OMG, what is her life?

But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver — dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band — when her sister could be dying of cancer?

Ali Novak wrote her debut novel My Life with the Walter Boys when she was just 15 years old, and has since penned her next book, The Heartbreakers. First a hit on the online community Wattpad, her second novel has over 38 million reads and is loved by readers around the world.

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak was a story about finding yourself. Stella's life had revolved around her sister, Cara's, sickness. While she really does want to be there for her sister because she blames herself for the cancer not being caught earlier, she also has used it as a crutch to hide behind when it comes to getting her life started. Meeting Oliver changes everything. Suddenly, she's presented with an opportunity that's too good to pass up. Once she's on the road with The Heartbreakers, they all become very close. I enjoyed the friendships that developed between Stella and all the band members as much as I enjoyed the romance. They all had some growing up to do, and they helped each other along the way. We should all be so lucky to have this kind of support system.

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak was kindly provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley for review. The opinions are my own.

Check out my review of the second book in this series!

Ali Novak writes contemporary young adult romance and is a recent graduate of the University of Madison Wisconsin's creative writing program. She wrote her first full length novel, My Life with the Walter Boys, at the age of fifteen. Since posting the story online, it has received more than 33 million reads and is now published by Sourcebooks Fire.

To learn more about Ali Novak and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on GoodreadsFacebookInstagramWattpadYouTube, and Twitter.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Book Review of Eden's Creatures by Valerie Zambito

Eden's Creatures by Valerie Zambito
Genre: New Adult (Paranormal/Fantasy Romance)
Date Published: July 2, 2015
Publisher: Self

Cal Taylor hates his life. A neglectful mother, an abusive stepfather, and town thugs all conspire to tear him down. But, he never could have imagined that his dreams of striking out on his own would take him to a whole different world. 

When he stumbles into the mystical Faedin, he can’t help but be drawn to the beautiful girl who captures him. Stassi is everything he’s not. Confident. Strong. Ruthless. More animal than human really. Before he knows it, they’re caught in a dangerous struggle for survival and neither are prepared for the cunning of the serpent that slithers just out of sight.

Eden's Creatures by Valerie Zambito puts a different spin on Eden, Fallen Angels, and Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Stassi seems to have an almost dream life in paradise, while Cal lives a pretty hellish life. Together they couldn't be more different, but they work. I didn't feel the chemistry as strong as I would have liked to between these two. They seemed to have strong feelings for each other at times, but they let their differences separate them too much. So, it was a little hard to back the relationship, when it didn't seem like either party was really ready or into it. The plot was pretty intriguing though. I feel like this was a Fallen Angel story, but yet it wasn't typical for a Fallen Angel story. It's also a coming of age story in an alternate reality. Basically, it was pretty much its own thing. I liked the originality it brought to the reader.

Eden's Creatures by Valerie Zambito was kindly provided to me by Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours for review. The opinions are my own.

Heroic fantasy author, Valerie Zambito, lives in New York with her family. A great love of world building, character creation, and all things magic led to the publication of her epic fantasy series, ISLAND SHIFTERS, in October, 2011. The first book in her paranormal fantasy series, ANGELS OF THE KNIGHTS, followed in 2012.

To learn more about Valerie Zambito and her books, visit her website & blog.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Book Review: See by Jamie Magee

See (See #1) by Jamie Magee
Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal Romance)
Date Published: May 5, 2012
Publisher: Self

Forgetting who you are, your ambitions, your passions is crippling….but remembering – embracing your purpose with a new sense of determination is more than empowering….it's life altering. Charlie Myers is on a life altering path that will cause the dammed to humble in silence.

One night…just a few friends, how could it go so wrong? That was the question seventeen year old Charlie Myers was asking when she found herself in the ER. Outwardly nothing was wrong with Charlie, she was a vision of perfect heath, internally she was battling a raging headache…one the doctor told her she would overcome shortly, but Charlie knew something else was wrong …very wrong.

Part of her had been stolen…she was missing memories. Those memories were sacred. They held the key to her sanity. They told her that the sinister whispers, the shadows that came to life before her were not as ominous as she felt they were. They held the bond with her late father, a famed musician. They caused her to forget the one talent that allowed her to face the darkness that haunted her every waking hour. They also masked a much deeper bond, the face of the one that had stolen her heart, long before the age of seventeen.

Sitting in the ER with her angry mother she couldn’t figure out what she was missing, or even how. Her thoughts told her that she needed to protect Britain, a friend of hers, but that didn’t make any sense – Britain didn’t need to be protected from anyone, he was strong, young, and absurdly wealthy. Charlie also knew that even though her friend Bianca called Charlie her best friend, she didn’t trust her …she was almost sure she despised her, but she couldn’t figure out why, or understand how random thoughts were telling her that she adored both Britain and Bianca – that they were her saviors – that they brought silence to the unstoppable whispers, but the silence scared Charlie. In her mind anyone or anything that could bring silence to something that dark could not be good.

Charlie wanted to stay in NY, figure out what she was missing, why, and who was behind it all, but her mother had other plans. Against her will, Charlie was sent to Salem to live with her sister, within that small town Charlie found her memories and so much more.

Her story begins now.

See is the first book in the See series by Jamie Magee. It's also the first book I've read by this author. I loved the concept behind this story, but for me, the pacing was too slow. Once the book got to the half way point, Charlie finally started getting some of her memories back. Up until that point, I really wasn't given much detail as to what was going on. By themselves, I enjoyed each character. I liked their personalities and the connection they all seen to have (even though I don't really understand it yet). By the end, I still don't feel like I have near enough information from the plot to know what's going on. I know this book is also a part of another series, so maybe I should have read those books to have more of a grasp of the situation, but since this was book 1 in this series, I felt safe.

Check out my review of another book by this author.

I'm an obsessive daydreamer. Lover of loud alternative music. I love to laugh until it hurts. Fall is my favorite season. Black is my favorite 'shade.' Strong believer in the saying: there is a reason for everything, therefore I search for 'marked moments' every moment of everyday...and I find them. Life is beautiful!

To learn more about Jamie Magee and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Book Review: Monsters All the Way Down by Ryan McSwain

Monsters All the Way Down by Ryan McSwain
Genre: Adult (Thriller)
Date Published: September 5, 2014
Publisher: Pithos Publishing

After a routine DNA background check, Brennan Wade is on the run for murders he does not remember committing. Pursued by a shadow agency, he fights to clear his name and catch the true killer. Brennan forges an uneasy alliance with Joan Runciter, the only woman to survive an attack, and together they delve into a world of secret history and ancient horror. As the body count rises and his true nature is revealed, Brennan must decide if the world's salvation is worth his own corruption.

Monsters All the Way Down contains an intriguing blend of Philip K. Dick's mind-bending paranoia and H. P. Lovecraft's cosmic horror. Ryan McSwain uses complex characters and familiar ideas to craft a story full of twists to keep you guessing right up to the end and beyond.

Monsters All the Way Down by Ryan McSwain was a very different type of book from what I usually read. The characters were ridiculously well fleshed out. I found myself sympathizing with almost all of them. .almost. There were twists and turns. Some I saw coming, but there was a completely unexpected aspect that I didn't see. This story was surprising, mysterious, and morbid. Each scene was written in a way you could clearly see what was going on no matter how horrific. It could easily be made into a series, but this book was such a satisfying read, I kinda hope the author keeps it a stand alone novel.

Monsters All the Way Down by Ryan McSwain was kindly provided to me by the author for review. The opinions are my own.

Ryan McSwain lives in Amarillo, Texas, with his wife and their two children. Ryan spends his days caring for his children, writing, and looking for that next novel, comic book, TV show, film, or album that will give him the brain tingles. It is unlikely he is standing behind you at this very instant, but you should turn around just to check.

His debut novel, Monsters All the Way Down, is available now.

Ryan loves to talk with readers, so if you have any questions, he'd love to hear them. It's your dime.

To learn more about Ryan McSwain and his books, visit his website.You can also find him on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Book Review: Ruin by C.J. Scott

Ruin (Summer in Winter #1) by C.J. Scott
Genre: New Adult (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: August 21, 2013
Publisher: Self

Kate Bell isn't perfect. Not even close. The things she got up to in college would cause her parents to fall off their pedestals in shock. Home for the summer vacation, Kate settles in for a long, boring break in the tiny backwater of Winter with folks who still treat her like she's twelve.

Then Ben Parker arrives and suddenly Winter gets interesting. He's hot, mysterious and good with his hands. Kate falls for him instantly, but her cop father warns her to stay away. But how can she stay away from someone as compelling as Ben? Someone who thinks she's perfect just the way she is?

When Ben's secrets catch up to him, not only is Kate's heart in danger of being broken, but Ben's entire future could be ruined. 

RUIN is a new adult contemporary romance intended for mature readers. It contains strong language and sexual situations.

Ruin is the first book in the Summer in Winter series by C.J. Scott. .   This was a short story about love, redemption,  and self forgiveness. Kate is a small town girl with big city dreams who's home from college for the summer. Ben is the mysterious, sexy, stranger who's in for a night. The attraction was instant, which you almost have to do with a short story, but at the same time there were moments that seemed to drag s little bit... mostly in the beginning. Ben has many secrets, and it drives Kate crazy not knowing what he's hiding. Some we're ready to figure out, others? Not so much. All in all, this was an entertaining little romance, and I'm curious to read Jane's story in the next book.

He gave me a sad smile. "I'm not a monk, Kate. If you kiss me...I can't stop there."
His words probably had the opposite effect to what he wanted. It spurred me on, because now I knew he was on the brink of giving in. On the brink of falling into the abyss with me.
I touched his face. His jaw was rough from his stubble. A small muscle pulsed against my fingers.
"Kate, please," he whispered. But he didn't pull away. Didn't stop me getting closer.
I stroked his lower lip with my thumb, and he groaned deep in his chest.
"Ben," I murmured.
He brushed my hair off my shoulder. His fingers caressed my neck, sending tiny tingles racing down my spine. My heart hammered against my ribs to the tune of kiss me, kiss me, kiss me. I wanted this man. Wanted to know him intimately.
My head told me it was impossible that I could feel this way after such a short time, but my heart was ignoring it, lost in a mad, chaotic rhythm of its own.
Ben's hand cupped my hip, his other pressed against my back. It was all the encouragement I needed. I closed the final small gap between us until I was crushed against his body. It was hard and ridged, warm.
Our lips met in a kiss that turned my legs to jelly. My knees buckled, but Ben's arms circled my waist. He held me there, firm yet gentle, like I was something precious. I felt dizzy and weightless. The world spun one way and I the other, out of control. I didn't care. It was exactly what I wanted to feel. Exactly how I'd always imagined a kiss should feel.
Yet I wanted more. The kiss filled me with longing that clawed at my heart. It wasn't enough. Not nearly enough.

C.J. loves reading stories that take her away to another world. If she's in the middle of an amazing book, she'll keep reading while cooking or cleaning (when she can be bothered doing either).

She likes interesting artwork but can't paint, sketch or make anything more complicated than a snowman from plasticine. She enjoys beautiful gardens but hates gardening. She also hates housework, cooking (see above) and writing about herself.

C.J. loves connecting with readers. The best place to interact with her and other fans is via her Facebook page. That's where she posts teasers and other stuff from her books.

To learn more about C.J. Scott and her books, visit her website. You can also check her out on Goodreads & Facebook.