Monday, September 5, 2016

Smoke and Mirrors Review + #Excerpt

Smoke and Mirrors
Blackhollow Academy Series
Book #1
Jess Haines

Genre: Young Adult/New Adult Urban Fantasy
Release Date: May 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0988972803

Pages: 290
Goodreads Rating: 4.00
My Rating: 4.5

Book Description:

A girl who uses her illusions to fool the world into thinking she's just like all the other magi.

A dragon who sees through her lies.

Together they just might survive a world that wants to control or destroy them both.

Kimberly may wield ultimate cosmic power, but even a mage has to pay the rent. No one will hire her for her magic talents until she's got the credentials, so she’s stuck in a crappy rent controlled apartment with her mother, yearning for treats she can't afford at her part time job in a cafĂ©, counting down the days until she graduates the secret Blackhollow Academy school for magi. Only then will she have the certificate she needs to land her dream job in a coven.

The problem? She needs a familiar to graduate.

As an illusionist, she doesn't have the ability to summon or create a familiar of her own. Her only option is to convince a supernatural creature to let her bind it instead. Since having a powerful Other at her beck and call would guarantee her a place in a coven after she graduates—and legendary treasure hoards are an added bonus—she thinks binding a dragon as her familiar will solve all her problems...

Because sometimes a girl needs a dragon, not a knight....

My Take on the Book:

Wow! I can’t get over how much I actually enjoyed this book. I’m normally a fan of all things Urban Fantasy and very big on fiction that has a supernatural quality to it so it wasn’t surprising when I jumped at the opportunity to review this title. When I found out that it had magic and dragons I was even more intrigued. It also didn’t hurt that I heard many a great thing about the author’s writing style!

It wasn’t the setting that surprised me, but the characters. I genuinely liked them, even in moments of what I felt were utter stupidity on their respective parts.

Kimberly has pride. Usually those characters tend to irk me, but she is also kind hearted and all around nice so she’s balanced out. Cormac is a bit of a mystery; I wasn’t sure how I was meant to feel about him but I found myself kinda happy that his character existed.

I felt like the story progressed nicely and the action was spot on BUT I also felt like the progression of the relationship between our leads was a bit rushed. There was plenty of chemistry and you could tell it was heading that way but it was a little too instantaneous for my taste.

Honestly… that was my only complaint. I love reading books like this that keep me smiling and ignoring my real world responsibilities lol. This was a definite strong start to what I can only suspect will be another strong series.

4.5 Quills

I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment and to bide my time, grabbing the H&W Investigations Series. The writing style was really smooth and the characters developed. It’s descriptive but not jargony with can be a big problem for books like this.

I can’t really think of anything to compare it to off the top of my head but I do think it’s definitely a book worth your time. If you have read the H&W series, I have been told that this is set in the same world but luckily for me, easily read as a standalone with a few nods to the series in question. Kudos Ms. Haines, kudos… this a great book!

EXCERPT: Smoke and Mirrors
Blackhollow Academy Book 1
Jess Haines  

Viper made a soft hissing sound of irritation between his teeth, pulling back from her. “Cormac has no vision. I know what I want and I’m prepared to offer anything to get it. You have but to ask.”

Well. There was one thing. Her cheeks flared crimson and she squirmed a bit before stuttering out another question, swallowing back her embarrassment.

“You keep a hoard like a dragon, right? I don’t suppose you would consider loaning me a little? I swear I’d pay it back.”

His head tipped to one side, and he looked her up and down anew. She suspected he was just noticing her frayed cuffs and cheap shoes. He’d been so intent on getting whatever it was he wanted out of her that he hadn’t paid attention to the package it came in until now. When she caught the very slight curl of his lip, there and gone in a flash, embarrassed heat filled her cheeks.

Feeling both dirty and humiliated, she ducked her head. “Never mind. I shouldn’t have asked. I’m sorry, I don’t think I can do this.”

“Come now, I’m sure it’s not that hard. All it takes is a yes.”

“No,” she said, this time with a bit more vehemence. Cormac was right. There was something off about Viper, and never mind what a perfect ass she’d just made of herself. Worst of all, that flash of disgust showed he obviously had no respect for her. At least Cormac never made her feel tolerated. “Thank you for the offer, but I’ll find some other way of getting what I need.”

He slowly rose to stand, heaving a sigh as he settled back on his heels.

“That’s unfortunate. This would have been much easier if you had agreed.”

Kimberly would have asked what he meant by that, but the look in his eyes froze her in place.

His eyes burned a molten gold as he spread his arms, which were expanding and shifting at an alarming rate. Faster than she might have thought possible, he was growing, his clothing melting and skin disappearing under a layer of metallic scales. Nearby, people were noticing, shouting and screaming in fear as they stampeded in every direction to escape the shapechanging Other in their midst.

When he ceased growing, from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail, he was over thirty feet long, with a wingspan half again that size.

Kimberly sat immobile, unable to so much as squeak in terror as the beast before her lurched back to arch its neck and spread its wings, barbed tail lashing as it growled at her. One thick, talon-tipped paw lashed out, flattening her on the grass and squeezing the air out of her lungs. It gave an awkward, one-legged hop forward to catch its balance before clenching its claws to dig deep furrows in the grass and close around her waist and legs, pinning her.

Then those wide, ribbed wings began to flap, the sun playing off the tones of brass and copper and gold. The ground fell away, people scattering before the airborne monster.

And Kimberly could do nothing but pray, staring up at this great beast that had her in its claws.

She’d gotten what she’d asked for. Now she would have to pay the price.

About The Author

I'm a displaced New Yorker with a penchant for the silly, the obscure, and the fantastical. These days, you can find me in the Tampa area. I'm currently working on the H&W Investigations urban fantasy series and the Blackhollow Academy young adult/new adult contemporary fantasy series. Find out more about my books, drop me a line, or join my mailing list!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Wicka Book Blitz + #Giveaway

Christy Deveaux

Release Date: May 28, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance

Book Description:

While mourning the loss of a mother figure, Elizabeth Blake, a smart but socially introverted seventeen year old girl from Ann Arbor Michigan, thinks she’s enrolling in an international school in the south of France to finish her final year of high school. Instead, she falls in love; finds out that she is a witch from an ancient family –– who weren’t thought to exist anymore; and discovers that her life is in danger, as the Elders believe that she is the heir to a legend they fear above all else.

Wicka, the debut novel by Christy Deveaux, has been compared to other fantasy paranormal tales such as Twilight, written by Stephanie Meyer and Harry Potter, written by J.K. Rowling. Young adults and grown ups alike are sure to love this adventure filled magical romance.
Grab your copy for 99¢ for a limited time only!
Book Trailer:

About the Author

Christy Deveaux is the author of The Chronicles of Elizabeth Blake series. Her highly anticipated first book in the series, Wicka, was just released this spring (2014). Inspired by traveling across Europe solo at a very young age, and many travel adventures since, the character and story line behind Elizabeth Blake was born. Christy majored in political science and earned a cross-disciplinary degree from the University of Western Ontario. She lives in Toronto, Ontario with her husband, three children and a fish named Cow.

Enter The Giveaway Here
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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Soul Finder #Cover Reveal

Soul Finder
Jacinta Maree
(The Immortal Gene, #2)

Release Date: September 16th 2016
Genres: Dystopian, New Adult, Supernatural

Since being discovered as Soulless, Nadia has become a target for both terrorist groups and government corporations. Now, her only hope for survival rests in the hands of the man sent out to kill her: Diesel, the Mad Dog terrorist.

Diesel is determined to free himself of the never ending curse of reincarnation and the haunting memories that plague his mind. But when his search leads him to Nadia, a greater desire stills him from taking her life.

Unable to see into Diesel’s cracking mind, Nadia instead puts her faith into his strength, fueled by eleven generations of unmatched rage and insanity. Their tight-rope relationship balances the two between life and death, love and rage, trust and betrayal.

Tension pulls at the hems of their dangerous companionship, and as time runs out all madmen must eventually make their choice.

Book two of the thrilling Immortal Gene series dives deeper into the danger of trusting your heart over your head.

Sequel to:

About the Author

Born in Melbourne Australia, Jacinta Maree considers herself a chocoholic with an obsession with dragons, video gaming and Japan. She writes a variety of genres including YA paranormal, steampunk, horror, new adult, dystopian and fantasy. Winner of 2014 Horror of the year and bestselling author, Jacinta writes to bring enjoyment to others while fulfilling her own need to explore the weird and the impossible.

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Blood & Magic Series by Danielle Annett Review + #Giveaway
Cursed by Fire
Blood & Magic Series
Book #1
Danielle Annett

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: January 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-1507538555

Pages: 202
Cover Design: Regina Wamba @ Mae I Design

Goodreads Rating: 3.62
My Rating: 4.5

Book Description:

It has been six years since the Awakening and peace in Spokane, Washington is still tenuous at best. The vampires and shifters are all vying for control of the city and the humans seem to be the ones suffering the consequences, or so it seems.

Aria Naveed has spent the last two years of her life fighting to make the many wrongs of the world right, but soon finds out that the humans aren’t as weak as they appear and may be a more terrifying foe than any of the other races combined.

When a stranger rolls into town with trouble on his heels, Aria finds herself trapped in the middle of a battle that could cost her more than she has bargained for as a fight for justice turns into an unexpected fight for her life.
My Take on the Book:

My reactions in this book were all over the map, ranging from googley eyes and squees to anger on what felt like mere minutes.

It’s a genuinely good book with an intriguing cast of characters and an exciting premise; one that kept me up till late at night and early into the morning…

The Great (Pros):

  • Powers. I loved the idea of people specific powers. Sure, there are other with similar powers but it’s not a generalized set of abilities. ANNNDDD the way they were introduced was pretty cool! 

  • James. Love him! He’s a great friend and swoon worthy. His friendship with Aria is so realistic and awesome… if you ignore his whole going furry side and her unpredictable firework status. Everyone needs a James in there life.

  • Aria. Kicking butts and taking names, this girl is too awesome. She’s a great lead character! She’s a bit stubborn so she makes so majorly stupid decisions but her heart is always in the right place. 

  • Storyline. I liked the ‘newness’ of this storyline. It gives you some backstory so you do see some similarities to other books in this genre but nothing as polished.

  • Supernaturals. I like how all the supernaturals and their systems are formed and explained. I really like how different this in particular is from other books and series.

  • Cover Art. You should never judge a book by its cover, and yet it’s what most of us look at first, so it never hurts to have a book with such an awesome covert image.

The Not So Great (Cons):

  • Jumpy Story. Some parts came off as for lack of a better word jumpy. The flow was compromised almost reading like a form of staccato. 
  • Relationships. While most of the relationships are believable and progress naturally, some seemed forced and lacking which severely impacted to dynamics. It’s very clear that the author is trying to take their relationships somewhere but it kind of fell flat in some places. 
  • Improper foreshadowing. There were some occurrences where it seems like the author is having Aria foreshadow an event or some revelation but her ‘knowledge’ of the situation has yet to be revealed to her. It’s hard to explain without spoiling the story so I’ll attempt it but be warned that it may give away something you as the reader might find important. Ex. Aria notes that only one person in the pack drives a certain vehicle and suggests that the pack knows who this person is, as does she, but then in a later portion she has said character explain to her what he is. It interrupts the flow of the story because you have to reread those sections a couple of times. 

4.5 Quills

This was a solid start to a pretty awesome story! I'm definitely hooked! Its a solid read for anyone who love vampires and shifters and magic.

Kissed by Fire
Blood & Magic Series
Book #2
Danielle Annett

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: September 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1516881994 

Pages: 192
Cover Design: Regina Wamba @ Mae I Design

Goodreads Rating: 3.92
My Rating: 5.0

Book Description:

As Friend of the Pack, Aria Naveed should be untouchable, protected by the most influential group in the Pacific Northwest. But someone is unleashing rogue vampires to hunt her down, and she is determined to find out why.

When Aria gains command of Sanborn Place and takes on a case involving a mysterious paranormal, her life is put in more peril than ever as she finds herself bound to an influential power player. She doesn’t want to be anyone’s puppet, but must tread carefully as she traverses the streets of Spokane, WA, or risk being overwhelmed by the forces moving against her.

As the only known pyrokinetic in the area, Aria is in high demand, but not for her services. It seems that to those in power, she’s worth more dead than alive, and if a mysterious enemy has their way, she won’t live long enough to find out why.
My Take on the Book:

I was initially a fan or Declan, even going as far as getting a smidge giddy when he popped up on page. He was in a dead heat tie with James. I loved them both. But after reading book 1 in its entirety, I concluded that he was a jerk. I didn’t think anything would make him tolerable. But no other character has ever redeemed himself as well and as thoroughly as he did. By the end of this book I was back on team Declan and getting giddy when he popped up on page again. *I still love James though, and would 1 or both of them ;) *
If it’s possible, which I guess it is, this book was exponentially better than the last. That’s saying something cause the last book was ah-maze-ing.
Aria is still the feisty firecracker that I loved from Cursed by Fire and she doesn’t seem to be losing that quality anytime soon. I love how strong she is. Physically she’s not anything re-donk-you-lus but she never goes down without putting up a fight. I loved these qualities about her, but she is still flawed and human so she definitely drove me nuts and made me angry. There were times I wanted to yell at her.

As far as length goes, this book was a lot quicker to read. Luckily, it wasn’t lacking in anything so the story didn’t suffer. It progressed nicely and filled the gaps and answered questions from book 1.

5 Quills

Are you a fan of Patricia Briggs’ “Mercy Thompson” or Suzanne Johnson’s “Sentinels of New Orleans”? Did you like the first couple of “Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vamp” Series or “Anita Blake”? Then this is definitely the series for you! And now I’m done with the cheesy infomercial lol. Seriously though, this series is great so far. The characters are awesome and the storylines are pretty cool. If you liked any of the books mentioned above, then this is a series you may want to give a chance.

 About The Author
 Danielle Annett is a reader, writer, photographer, and the blogger behind Coffee and Characters. Born in the SF Bay area, she now resides in Spokane, WA, the primary location for her Blood & Magic series.

Addicted to coffee at an early age, she spends her restless nights putting pen to paper as she tries to get all of the stories out of her head before the dogs wake up the rest of the house and vie for her attention.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Enter The Giveaway Here
One (1) winner will receive a print copy of books 1 & 2 + a $10 Amazon Gift Card (INT)

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