Saturday, December 20, 2014

eBook Review: At Star's End

Dr. Eos Rai has spent a lifetime dedicated to her mother's dream of finding the long-lost Mona Lisa. When Eos uncovers tantalizing evidence of Star's End--the last known location of the masterpiece--she's shocked when her employer, the Galactic Institute of Historic Preservation, refuses to back her expedition. Left with no choice, Eos must trust the most notorious treasure hunter in the galaxy, a man she finds infuriating, annoying and far too tempting.

Dathan Phoenix can sniff out relics at a stellar mile. With his brothers by his side, he takes the adventures that suit him and refuses to become a lazy, bitter failure like their father. When the gorgeous Eos Rai comes looking to hire him, he knows she's trouble, but he's lured into a hunt that turns into a wild and dangerous adventure. As Eos and Dathan are pushed to their limits, they discover treasure isn't the only thing they're drawn to...but how will their desire survive when Dathan demands the Mona Lisa as his payment?

A long long time ago I read a book about a girl who sought an artifact that would save her family's reputation as antiquity dealers and hopefully their debt. I'll be damned if I can remember the name of the book (and I can't even remember when I read it only know it was before I was logging into Goodreads that's like 20 years or so of reading journals written BY HAND to dig through), but it left me with this simmering sort of want for books about girls exploring and finding romance and being historically inclined.

So basically a female Indiana Jones.  

At Star's End is kind of my karma cookie for waiting for it.  There's action, adventure, tension, romance, space battles, weird cultures, weirder human eccentricities, family politics you shouldn't broach to save your soul, female merc, legends and above all a character named Dr. Eos Rai who is just all kinds of cool.  I wouldn't call this perfect - at one point, to avoid a worse fate, Eos is put into a position that forced her to place all her trust in the Phoenix brothers after a very short amount of time that if they had cut their losses would have left her in a situation of extreme degradation...but after some angry words its more or less hand waved away.  Either Eos had been in WORST situations or it was a plot point of convenience to push a couple of other points along.

Regardless Eos is my kind of gal.  Not once did she back down from the belief that finding the Mona Lisa fragment, and Star's End in general, was what she needed to accomplish.  Pirates, slavers, crazy mercs who the Phoenix brothers were constantly in contention with be damned she WOULD get there and prove her mother's words true.  I got a little tired of the trope "I find him attractive but wait wait don't let it on!!", since Dathan pretty much said "I dig you, you dig me, let's explore this".  Her reasoning was sound - Dathan also said it was going to be a short fling - it didn't feel like a genuine response from her.

Dathan was both attractive and infuriating at the same time.  He spent an awful lot of time comparing everything Eos said or did against an arbitrary set of guidelines born from dislike of "her kind" (Museum people).  He didn't acknowledge the true reason behind his fear of falling for her until literally everyone in the book had told him that's why he was pushing her away.  I mean seriously, Eos forgave him (whether I liked it not) for practically selling her int slavery at one point - how much more reason do you need to know a girl won't run out?

I did like the tidbits of world building Hackett wove in.  Eos' people for instance are born with intricate tattoos - something that had evolved over the generations since leaving Earththat was.  The rest is pretty standard sci fi space romance stuff, though the Phoenix brothers seemed to have some nifty gadgets running around.  Niklas (who Eos had worked with previously for a short time at the Museum, before he either quit, was booted or some combo therein) was a bit of a cipher for me.  He wavered back and forth between charming good boy charms and brooding recluse.  Zayn, who was definitely more my cup of tea, was brash and humorous and sarcastic.

In all this was a fun adventure with just enough romance to not be overwhelming that built had a believable rate given the situation (emotions run high!).  I'm interested to see what happens next for the Phoenix Bros...tho Hackett already laid the groundwork for Niklas' romance I believe.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

UNSPEAKABLE by Michelle K Pickett Pre-Order Special TODAY ONLY

“Breathe. No one will break me. I’m strong. Breathe. Just breathe.”

On the outside, Willow appears to have it all. She’s beautiful, smart, from an influential family, and she dates the most popular guy in school—Jaden. But she would walk away from it all in a second. Willow is tormented by lies and suffocating guilt, not the hearts and flowers people believe her life is full of.

She carries a dark secret. Plagued by nightmares and pain, the secret dominates her life. If she hadn’t walked away. If she had just…but she didn’t. And now she has to live with her choice. But when someone uncovers her family’s past, they use it against her, crushing her spirit little by little. She tells herself she just has to make it to graduation. Then she can leave Middleton, and her secret, far behind.

When Brody transfers to Cassidy High, he turns Willow’s life upside down. He shows her what it feels like to live again, really live. And suddenly, she isn’t satisfied with just surviving until graduation. She wants a normal life—with Brody—and he wants her. But the closer they become, the more it threatens to unravel the secret she’s worked so hard to hide.

Willow finds true love with Brody. Will she let his love save her, or walk away from him to keep her secret safe?

TODAY ONLY get Unspeakable for $2.99 on the Kindle (regularly priced $4.99)  This is book 1 in Pickett's Freedom series and due out February 10, 2015.  Its a Contemporary YA Romance.

Brody Victor lives life on the fringes. Moving from school to school with each transfer his mother’s job requires has taught Brody well: If there’s one thing harder than making friends, it’s saying goodbye to them. So he’s learned to close himself off. He’s a loner, and that’s how he likes it.
When his mother accepts a permanent position in Wisconsin, Brody begins to slowly open up. But old habits die hard and, for Brody, making friends doesn’t come easily. That is, until he meets Annabelle. Brody loses himself in her. Their connection runs deep and, for the first time, Brody truly lets someone inside. But life can be cruel. An unexpected job transfer uproots Brody from his home in Wisconsin, and Annabelle.
Vowing not to get involved with another girl after the heartbreak of losing Annabelle, Brody returns to life on the outside looking in. A loner by choice. Until the night he finds Willow. Friendly and beautiful, a guy can’t help but notice her, but Brody notices more than her beauty. When she flashes her full smile, a spark is missing from her hazel eyes and for reasons unknown to him, Brody needs to find the reason.

Along the way, he stumbles across a secret bigger than both of them.

The prequel novella, Finding Willow is available for free on the Kindle or you can read Finding Willow as part of the YA anthology WORLDS ENTWINED for $1.99 with authors Erica Kiefer, Jennifer Anne Davis, Kelly Risser, and Holly Kelly.

Love can be many things in Worlds Entwined. It's a place where the fate of a kingdom can rest with an unlikely princess, the sea holds more than just dreams, and a heart can be mended amidst a tragedy. While fairytales are few and far away, Worlds Entwined will be sure to keep your blood pumping and your heart fluttering through to the very last page.

Worlds Entwined features five novels from bestselling authors. Dive into these romantic and light fantasy worlds that show love is cruel, painful, sweet, wonderful and inspiring. Worlds Entwined is sure to keep you reading well into the night. Check out more about the included stories below:

The Key by Jennifer Anne Davis
Prince Darmik's kingdom is on the brink of upheaval and at the center is a girl who could be the key to its undoing. When given a choice, will he choose love or the kingdom he swore to protect? Rema's an ordinary girl with an extraordinary past… All she wants is to be free. But it comes at a price. She is forced to accept the proposal of a cruel prince, even though she loves another… his brother.

Rumors by Erica Kiefer
Seventeen-year-old Allie Collins would rather hide behind rumors than face the truth—her life will never be the same as it was before the accident. As a star athlete grieving in the shadows, she hopes to find normalcy in boys and basketball. When her best friend sets her up with the popular Shane Moretti, Allie drags her feet, reluctant for added complications. Then she decides that dating Shane would be the perfect shield from last summer’s tragedy. However, what starts as a mere distraction proves much more complex. As Shane leads Allie into questionable situations, gossip continues to swirl.

Never Forgotten by Kelly Risser
Life tasks a drastic turn for Meara Quinn. Her mom’s cancer returned, and they are moving to her mom’s childhood home in Peggy’s Cove. Meara has never met her grandparents and doesn’t know much about her mom’s childhood. Dreams of her dad help her realize that all is not as it seems. With her new boyfriend, Evan, and his sister, Katie, she embarks on a journey to discover who—or what—she is.

Rising by Holly Kelly
Sara is a criminal with a death sentence hanging over her head, who is being stalked by the deadliest assassin in the sea—only she doesn’t know it. Xanthus’s job is simple. All he has to do is break into her apartment and slit her throat. If only she weren’t so beautiful… so innocent. Will he do his duty and slay her, or will the executioner become the protector, and the hunter become the hunted?

Finding Willow by Michelle Pickett
Finding Willow is the prequel to Unspeakable, which will be releasing in 2015. This touching romance between Brody and Willow explores one girl’s quiet strength to survive the unbearable weight of a family secret alone, and the love and resolve of a boy determined to help her.

So...lots of choices and plenty of new books to check out!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

eBook Review: Falling from the Light

Phoenix, AZ

All Sydney Kildare wants is a minute in the slow lane, some time to decide where she’s going with her vampire lover, Malcolm Kelly. But after sitting out the last battle, the powerful Master Bronson is giving orders again, and he isn’t above blackmailing his former courier to get what he wants.

With Mal sent to track a vicious killer, Syd is forced to infiltrate a pharmaceutical company responsible for a drug that turns vampires into real monsters. She’s unprepared and alone, but fiercely determined. If her investigation doesn’t satisfy the Master, Malcolm will pay the price. A wrong turn throws her into the middle of a vampire power play. Caught between twisting forces, with their freedom at stake, she’ll have to decide what’s more important: love, power or revenge. But choosing what feels right might turn out all wrong.

The last book.  The last time I get to watch Syd and Mal avoid certain doom.  I'm not ready to let go. :clutches at Syd:

More seriously, Summers contacted me to review this last book as I have reviewed the previous two stories and she knows I'm down for anything Syd or Mal related.  When we last left our twosome Syd was dealing with the unexpected complication that she had to share Mal's attentions for at least another two years (thank you Master Bronson you pompous jerk) and that meant watching Mal be the world's biggest asshole (no wait that title goes to Richard F*cking Abel) in public and in private he's the Mal she loves.

Look I understand her anxiety here. In the last book Soraya suddenly popped up with all kinds of awesomeness in skills and looks, plus Mal just sort of told her that he's going to be a jerk on the streets and adoring lover in the sheets. Most women would take a step back and question this since coming from the outside it sounds like he's hiding something from her.  Which technically he is hiding something...just not from her.

That's okay though because Master Jerkbag Bronson more or less cottoned onto the fact that Syd was special and decided to use Syd's specialness to his own advantage...or he'd start kicking Mal's ass for the fun of seeing her panic.  Its Syd going undercover that sort of had me doubting Master Jerkbag's ability to be strategic; he didn't give her much to go on, tossed her into this thing with a very limited timeframe and bid her to hide it all from the folks who could help her. Probably, if this had been the corporate espionage it was discussed as being, things would have been fine.  Except it wasn't, so it couldn't be and things went south before Syd could do anything about it.

Enter Richard F*cking Abel.  This guy. Just...this guy.  Look when he popped around originally, as a low level scumsucker with aspirations to higher power, I didn't give him much thought. Who would? He appeared to have struck it lucky with as far as he had gotten, but quite frankly he didn't have the "oomph" most of the Master vampires seemed to exude.  This book he proved at least one thing - Master Jerkbag wasn't the only one who could come up with exotic ways to punish a person.

What he does to Syd, makes Syd do, forces Syd to endure is beyond contemptible.  There's a certain kind of twistedness needed to do what Richard F*cking Abel (yes that is his name for all eternity) did.  An eye towards seeing what makes a person tick.  Honestly he may have gotten away with it if Syd hadn't spent her entire life unconsciously building ticks into her personality that he could have never had her duplicate successfully without giving up the ghost.  As it is he only succeeded as far as he did because Syd was already emotionally in the ringer and Mal was adrift with no clear understanding of what Syd was really doing in Arizona.

In the end just desserts are delivered to everyone involved.  And Soraya survives.  Which is important to me at least. This is the last book in the series (for now...I hope) so loose ends are basically tied up.  The reality of Syd's self is kind of glossed over and abruptly introduced.  There was talk of it scattered throughout the books but between Mal's assignment and Syd's assignment there was much less discussed on the matter then I would have liked before it all kind of wrapped up. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

PR Special Edition: Sarah Morgan Guest Post + Giveaway!

Poisoned Rationality Special  Edition

Welcome to another Poisoned Rationality Special Edition!  Today we  welcome back Sarah Morgan, author of so many books you can't shake a stick, but especially the O'Neil Brothers series.  She's with us talking about how guys should figure out the perfect gift for their lady you know maybe make sure your fella is reading over your shoulder accidentally?
This winter, ex-skiing champion, reformed heartbreaker and single dad Tyler O'Neil has only one mission—making sure his daughter, Jess, has the best Christmas ever. The fact that his best friend, Brenna, is also temporarily moving into his chalet at the overbooked Snow Crystal resort is a delicious distraction he's simply going to have to ignore. Theirs is the one relationship he's never ruined, and he's not about to start now.

Ski pro Brenna Daniels knows all about the perils of unrequited love—she's been in love with Tyler for years. But living with him is absolute torture…how can she concentrate on being his friend when he's sleeping in the room next door? Then when Tyler kisses Brenna, suddenly the relationship she's always dreamed of feels so close she could almost touch it. Could this be the Christmas her dreams of a happy-ever-after finally come true?
 A Season of Living Dangerously
by: Sarah Morgan

A dear friend of mine once found a large box under the Christmas tree. It was neatly wrapped in festive paper and for the week before the big day she stared at it in anticipation, guessing at the contents. Excitement levels rose.
On Christmas Day she ripped off the paper to find…a set of saucepans.
She stared at the box and then at her husband. ‘Saucepans?’
He beamed. ‘You know how sometimes things stick to the pan when you cook? Nothing is sticking to this. It’s top of the range. The Ferrari of saucepans.’
I’m going to end the story there, but you can imagine her reaction (if they’d had a Ferrari he would have been under the wheels, but they didn’t and they’re still married so you can relax).
And here is the number one golden rule of present buying for men: never buy a woman a gift for the kitchen or the house unless she has asked for it. If a woman has asked for something for the kitchen, that’s different. No saucepans, no vacuum cleaners and no wooden spoons. In the first draft of this piece I added no kitchen knives, but my husband was reading over my shoulder and said he thinks sharp kitchen knives make great gifts so I reconsidered and decided that they would at least make it easier to take revenge on the person who just bought you the saucepans. Other gifts to avoid are anything that might convey an alternate meaning. So no cellulite cream, no low fat cook books and definitely no tummy control underwear.
A thoughtful gift does not have to be expensive. If money is tight then homemade ‘Vouchers’ offering different treats can be perfect gifts. ‘This voucher entitles the bearer to a foot massage’ or ‘a two hour lie in on a Sunday no matter how much the kids are screaming’ might be very welcome in some households. When our boys were little, my husband used to do the 5am shift at weekends. That meant more to me than anything sparkly sold in a jewelry store.
A gift should be something that reflects the interests of the recipient, not the giver. It shows that someone has paid attention. Both my sons listen during the year and if I happen to mention that I like something, they file it away in their brains and then at Christmas I find it under the tree (for any men out there, this is a good tip: It’s never too early to start listening for clues).
Last year I was playing with ideas for my new Puffin Island series and my eldest son gave me some adorable stuffed puffins that have been on my desk right through the writing of this series.
And don’t be afraid to ask for advice. When he was twelve, my youngest son told my husband he wanted to buy me a lipstick for Christmas because I liked lipstick. My husband blanched (lipstick was right at the top of his You Won’t Get it Right So Don’t Try list) but my son refused to be put off so he duly chaperoned him to a department store. My son made a beeline for a young, pretty sales assistant and said ‘I want to buy lipstick for my mum. She likes it shiny and not too red.’ They chose a lipstick together and it was perfect. But the most perfect thing for me was that he’d thought hard and gone to so much trouble to make it special. And that, in my opinion, is the most important element of any gift.
Tyler, the hero of my new release Maybe This Christmas, gives the heroine the one thing he knows she wants more than anything and that’s one of the reasons the ending of this book is special to me. A gift isn’t a demonstration of wealth, it’s about showing someone you care.
What thoughtful gift are you hoping to find under your tree this year?
Love Sarah

 About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes hot, happy contemporary romance and her trademark humour and sensuality have gained her fans across the globe. She has been nominated four years in succession for the prestigious RITA© Award from the Romance Writers of America and has won the award twice, in 2012 and 2013. She also won the RT Reviewers' Choice Award in 2012 and has made numerous appearances in their 'Top Pick' slot.

Sarah lives near London, and when she isn't reading or writing she loves being outdoors, preferably on vacation so she can forget the house needs tidying.  

Author Links:
Follow the Harlequin Holiday Reads Tour for more great authors and giveaway chances!

The Harlequin Holiday Reads prize-pack includes:
  • One mass market paperback of each of:
    • Christmas with the Billionaire by Carole Mortimer, Maisey Yates and Joss Wood
    • Maybe this Christmas by Sarah Morgan
    • Snow Angel Cove by RaeAnne
    • The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak
    • The Lodge on Holly Road by Sheila Roberts
  • One copy of Her Holiday Man by Shannon Stacey in the digital format of your choice
  • One package of ornament charms
  • One box of Harlequin-themed gift tags 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 5, 2014

Cover Reveal: Copper Veins (Copper Legacy Book 3) by Jennifer Allis Provost!

Sara’s pretty sure her life is perfect.

Not only are she and Micah finally married, her father, who’d been missing since the Magic Wars, has been found. Actually, he just strode up to the manor’s front door, but whatever. Sara knows better than to look a gift horse in the mouth.

But Baudoin Corbeau isn’t content to return to family life. He’s decided that he will be the force of change in the Mundane world, and lead the Elemental resistance to victory with his children at his side. What’s worse, Baudoin doesn’t approve of Sara’s marriage, and makes every attempt to separate her from Micah. 

After a visit to the Mundane realm leaves Sara, Max and Sadie imprisoned by the Peacekeepers, Sara’s doubts creep to the surface. Is her father right? Does she belong in the Mundane realm, not the Otherworld? Is Micah really the right man—make that elf—for her?

Was marrying him a mistake?

Title: COPPER VEINS (Copper Legacy #3)
Author: Jennifer Allis Provost
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Pub. Date: July 7th, 2015
Pages: 260
Find it: Goodreads
Previous Books:
Copper Girl (#1) Barnes and Noble // Amazon (Kindle / Print) // Review
Copper Ravens (#2) Barnes and Noble // Amazon (Kindle / Print) // Review

Jennifer Allis Provost is a native New Englander who lives in a sprawling colonial along with her beautiful and precocious twins, a dog, two birds, three cats, and a wonderful husband who never forgets to buy ice cream. As a child, she read anything and everything she could get her hands on, including a set of encyclopedias, but fantasy was always her favorite. She spends her days drinking vast amounts of coffee, arguing with her computer, and avoiding any and all domestic behavior. 

Author Links:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Book Review: Clean Sweep

On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is...different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, "normal" is a bit of a stretch for Dina.

And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night....Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.

Just so we're clear I own this three different ways - audiobook (read by Renee Raudman), dead tree copy (because of course I need to) and e-book (cause why not).  It has the distinct honor of being one of only three books I own three different ways (THE WAY OF KINGS and WORDS OF RADIANCE by Brandon Sanderson being the others).  For the purposes of this review I both read my dead tree copy and listened to the audiobook.

As I've said in the past, Ilona Andrews' books just speak to me.  Not just the Kate Daniels' books, but their shorter more outside the box stories (such as SILVER SHARK or SILENT BLADE) also interest me quite a lot.  CLEAN SWEEP is a purely self-pubbed novel, first in the Inkeeper Chronicles, that the Andrews' originally published chapter by chapter on their website.  Which I'm sad to say I didn't read as it was posted because I honestly have no patience for serial stories (its torture to only have a few pages here or there).  Once finished they touched it up and slapped it up on Kindle for sale more or less as an experiment.

As I understand it the book did phenomenally well and they're hard at work on Book 2 (amongst their other many projects).

In this more cut loose sort of style you can tell the Andrews' special brand of different writing.  Its hard to point to the specifics of what I mean, its more of a feeling.  The characters are just a shade not your customary urban fantasy archetypes and the world building is a mash up of urban fantasy, science fiction, magic and mystery.  As Dina explains (paraphrasing here), advanced technology looks as like magic to the unadvanced as to be undifferentiated.

I had more trouble getting along with the characters in this book.  Partially I think because Dina grated me the wrong way and partially because Renee Raudman (the audiobook narrator, who also does the Kate Daniels books) had a different twang to Dina's voice then I was hearing my head.  Dina spoke more like Sandra Bullock in Hope Floats in my head (which I have no idea how accurate that accent is for the South, the few folks I've met from the South all had flat accents more like the Mid-Atlantic where I'm from).  Then also Dina was just so...southern.

Born and bred in the north I find the South to be so laid back as to be practically sleeping next to the way I'm used to life.  Why do one or two things when you can accomplish four tasks for the same amount of effort and time?  Why does every meeting have to be a long conversation about how that person's family is getting on?  I know its cliche'd but by golly whenever I'm in any southern state I feel this jittery energy to get stuff done.  It used to amuse (then piss off) my friends down in Georgia.

Dina is the South personified.  The amount of courtesy chatter and pot boiler chit chat that occurred made me want to rip my hair at times.

That said I'm so thoroughly intrigued by the universe I paid extra hard attention to everything. I'm still a little iffy on the particulars, but I loved Her Grace (who is played by Helen Mirren in my head and no one can convince me otherwise understand?) and the rivalry of Sean and Arland. Khahn, in her review, remarked that their rivalry with each other outweighed their interest in Dina is so very true. Yes they both like her, and yes she's attracted to them, but these two would fight over anything if it meant beating the other.  Dina literally says at one point she's got bigger things to worry about then who she wants to sleep with.

Book two is currently being serialized on their website (here - SWEEP IN PEACE) which I'm waiting for the complete book before I dive in.  All in all I enjoyed this romp through a new world and I'm interested to see how things pan out.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pocket Star Holiday Deals
Its that time of year folks - a time to snuggle up with your loved ones, watch some mushy sappy feel good movies and (if you're me) curse every cold wet white flake even as you appreciate the pristine perfectness of a world covered in snow.

I'll be celebrating the only way I know how--bundled under a dozen down comforters while hugging a steaming hot cup of liquor laced hot cocoa to my chest and hoping Santa brings me David Tennant.

Oh um right then.

Pocket Star and Gallery Books are helping us celebrate by offering some short stories and novellas to get us in the mood.  Whether you want romance or just that warm feeling of love they've got you covered.
  • A HOLIDAY GAMBLE by Jane Feather
  • ROCKY MOUNTAIN MIRACLE by Christine Feehan
  • WHEN SPARKS FLY by Sabrina Jeffries
  • THE PERFECT GIFT by Dani-Lyn Alexander
  • THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN by Rexanne Becnel
  • BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE by Jennifer Probst,  Emma Chase, Kristen Proby, Melody Anne, and Kate Meader
I reviewed WHEN SPARKS FLY in the anthology it was previously part of (SNOWY NIGHT WITH A STRANGER) and will be reviewing I'M DREAMING OF AN UNDEAD CHRISTMAS, A HOLIDAY GAMBLE and BABY, IT'S COLD OUTSIDE later this month.

So give a hoot, give a holler, give a holiday cheer - there's something for every romance lover this year.