Wednesday 30 April 2014

Review: Cracked

Title: Cracked (Soul Eater #1)
Author: Eliza Crewe
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Released: 5th November 2013
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cracked initially entered my life as a way of very briefly distracting me from my work, but whose deliciousness soon had me charmed and hooked.  And of course when I say this, I am freely admitting my delight with the blood, guts and general bodily destruction that goes on here.  You've been warned.
Meda is the one who brings all this to the forefront and, perhaps unsurprisingly at this point, I loved her.  As a soul-eater, she immediately had my attention.  Her lack of knowledge about her kind added a layer of mystery, but Eliza Crewe had no trouble in making me happy simply by giving me such a character.  As a protagonist, she ensured that attention stayed.  I don't think I've ever come across a voice like hers.  When we meet her she is on the hunt for food, Meda-style, and she had me from there.  She is both biting and witty, giving this book a level of humour and plain entertainment that I just didn't expect.  Her character comes even more into focus in the presence of secondary characters, which meant there is not long to wait.  Her mental running commentary when Jo, Chi and Uri turn up had me laughing and, to be honest, agreeing with her.  Chi in particular warranted a raised eyebrow several times over; initially he seemed to be quite the idiot, but I think by the end he'd become something of a loveable one.  Meda was undoubtedly the star of the show, but the secondary characters were also nicely rounded.
If the characters are a delightful bunch, so, too, is the demon-Templar mix.  The society of crusaders is Meda's ticket to finding out more about her kind, but of course she can't reveal her true identity since their job is to kill those like her.  It was not a combination I was anticipating, yet it was one that worked nicely.  Crewe sets a reasonable pace, throwing in a couple of startling revelations for good measure.  I liked the focus Meda maintained, not getting overly distracted.  Part of the result of this, or perhaps it was the cause, was the lack of romance.  When I met Chi I thought I had it all figured out, but it turned out (thankfully, I think) that I was wrong.  Its absence was surprising, but welcome.  I know, I know.  Usually I'm all for bookish love, but here it was more true to Meda's personality.  Instead what we had were sweet secondary relationships - so, you know, it wasn't all blood and fighting and soul-eating craziness.  But mostly.

Cracked proved to be an exceptionally delightful read I didn't see coming.  If I could sum it up in a word, it would probably be entertaining.  It was ridiculously funny, and the characters - main and secondary alike - were certainly attention-grabbing figures.  Throw in demon hordes and a (surprisingly) secret society with a healthy dollop of carnage and this book ceased to be simply a distraction.  In fact, I'm pretty sure this one was made with me in mind.  And perhaps you as well, if these things also call to you.

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Of Breakable Things

Welcome to the Release Day Blitz for

Of Breakable Things by A. Lynden Rolland

presented by Month9Books!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

A captivating debut about the fragility of life, love, and perspective. 
Alex Ash was born broken. Living with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is like living on death row, but she is willing to fight for her frail life as long as it includes the boy next door. Chase has always held the pieces of her together, but when he dies tragically, Alex’s unfavorable fate becomes a blessing in disguise. 
Faced with a choice, she finds herself in a peculiar world where rooms can absorb emotions and secrets are buried six feet under. Among limitless minds, envious spirits, and soulless banshees, Alex hardly rests in peace.

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Title: Of Breakable Things
Author: A. Lynden Rolland
Publisher: Month9Books
Publication Date: April 29, 2014

Available for Purchase:
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A. Lynden RollandA. Lynden Rolland was born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland, a picturesque town obsessed with boats and blue crabs. She has always been intrigued by the dramatic and the broken, compiling her eccentric tales of tragic characters in a weathered notebook she began to carry in grade school. She is a sports fanatic, a coffee addict, and a lover of Sauvignon Blanc, thunderstorms and autumn leaves. When she isn’t hunched behind a laptop at her local bookstore, she can be found chasing her two vivacious children. She now resides just outside Annapolis with her husband and young sons.

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Monday 21 April 2014

Review: A Breath of Frost

Title: A Breath of Frost (The Lovegrove Legacy #1)
Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Released: 7th January 2013
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

1814 London sees Emma, Gretchen and Penelope discover that magic runs in the family and that the cousins are, in fact, witches.  This discovery, unfortunately, comes with something of a damper, as it seems they unwittingly opened up portals to the underworld.  Among the foul and dangerous things coming through these portals are the spirits of the Greymalkin Sisters, dark witches who are now murdering young witches in a quest for more power.  Somehow, it is Emma who stumbles upon each corpse.  The cousins need to locate and seal the gates as quickly as possible, but someone is working against them to help the Sisters.  It is only a matter of time before any hope or possibility of winning this fight becomes impossible.

This was a fairly solid read, although I admit this wasn't entirely what I'd hoped.  Having enjoyed Harvey's Drake Chronicles I came with certain expectations.  These were met in part and, with a little more work, it could have been even better.  The bones were definitely there, and very promising.  What seemed to be missing, however, were key points of explanation, parts of conversation; transitions were disjointed and causal points unclear.  This improved over the course of the book, with the second half being stronger than the opening, and this is where I started to get more involved in events.  The plot, such as it was, was not an overly complex one, but Harvey made it reasonably compelling nevertheless.  I quite liked the portrayal of the Graymalkin Sisters, each suitably villainous and distinct in their own way.  The worldbuilding in general, although in need of some improvement, was decent enough.
I'm not sure how attached I became to the characters.  Certainly I liked our three leads, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of them.  Amusing and feisty, they kept me entertained - Emma in particular, who took the forefront in this instalment.  But it's hard to detect any deeper sentiment.  Possibly part of the problem was the frequent jump between perspectives, which was split not only between the cousins but others as well.  Even beyond that, though, I think there was something elusive that just prevented me from fully connecting.  Still, there's sufficient time left for me to feel differently.  What was good, beyond a doubt, was to see a good connection between these three girls.  As family, as friends, they had a strong relationship.  Romance was present in the book, but it was this relationship that took the focus more, I think, which was a nice change.

While not as promising as I might have hoped, A Breath of Frost was still a decent start to a new series by a well-established author.  I have hopes that there will be improvements as the series goes on and, if so, this should turn out to be something truly enjoyable.

Sunday 13 April 2014

Review: Of Darkness and Crowns

Title: Of Darkness and Crowns (Goddess Wars #2)
Author: Trisha Wolfe
Publisher: Self-published
Released: 20th March 2014
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Spoilers for those who haven't read the first book.

It was a long wait for this book.  And when it finally came - imagine me staring in shock and then clapping manically when I saw Trisha Wolfe's name in my inbox at this point - I did a very silly thing.  Rather than spreading it out, savouring it, as I should have done, I devoured it in a matter of hours.

Totally worth it, though.

Bale, the dark moon goddess, is still in Prince Caben's body, and Kaliope, leader of the Nactue Guard, is even more determined to track him down and save him.  But it seems as if the odds are stacked against her.  Bale's influence on Caben is destructive, both in terms of the literal war he is now waging and on his mental state.  Kal is now a weakness to him.  On her side, she's struggling to bear the responsibility of the kingdom that Caben entrusted to her, and the traitor in their midst.  Her link to Bale is greater than she realised, and her determination to defeat the goddess through whatever means necessary is clouded by her feelings for Caben.  If she hopes to destroy Bale, she may have to destroy Caben, too.  It's a choice that may prove to be impossible, but either way it'll come with unbearable consequences.

As soon as you start this, you are plunged into war, with the sound of sword meeting sword and heads being chopped off.  Not a bad way to start.  This set the tone for the rest of the book, with armies and fighting and politics taking the focus.  Depending on your preference, this isn't actually bad.  Of course there were emotional moments interspersed throughout - this is Trisha Wolfe, after all - but I thought for this middle instalment, it was quite appropriate for these things to be only complementary, seeing as they were in the middle of a war.  Those emotional moments were further well placed, breaking up the tension at just the right times and creating tension of a different kind. I also quite liked that, because this is dual PoV, we get to see both sides of the war.  (Oh, hush.  I don't just mean that we get more of Caben.)  It was good to be afforded extra insight into how the kingdoms work, improving my feel for the world I became part of.  Not only that, it was interesting to see Kal and Caben actually fighting against each other.

The first book left me with the pain of Bale possessing Caben.  The pain increased here, where it was only too clear how much Bale's presence was destroying his mind.  The darkness was one thing.  Playing host to such a dark being was sure to have a corrosive effect, but to see him try and struggle with Bale, only to be severely punished for it, was not easy.  And having two minds in one head is never conducive to sanity.  This Caben, unlike the confident yet charming prince that we meet in the first book, is truly quite dark, his heart and mind filled with all sorts of shadows.  His battle with himself and with Bale was not easy, and I'm glad in this Wolfe made him a combination of weak and strong.

The same was with Kal, although her strength dominated, which I approved of.  She has different battles going on, not only with Caben and Bale, but also within the political structure she thought she knew and could handle.  I could appreciate her struggle to cope with all the responsibility that had been placed on her; I certainly wouldn't know what to do with it, being just as afraid as her of letting people down or making things worse.  She had to confront her relationship with her father, the empress...and herself.  Since Caben became part of her life and Bale was brought back, everything changed, and now, for her, everything is being challenged once again.

Of Darkness and Crowns was a highly satisfactory sequel.  Perhaps one of the things that might have made it better was if it was longer.  While the pace was good, I was expecting to be in for a longer haul.  Nevertheless, it didn't fail to elicit all those feelings that reading a Wolfe book usually creates.  Yet again, this author delivers, and it goes without saying that I'm front in line waiting for the next book.

Sunday 6 April 2014

Book Blitz (Excerpt & Giveaway): The Goddess Wars Series

Of Silver and Beasts (Goddess Wars #1)
Release Date:  April 19th 2013
New Adult Fantasy
Summary from Goodreads:
In the sand-covered queendom of Cavan, the goddess once saved a young Kaliope’s life, preventing the mercury her father attempted to hide in her blood from reaching her heart. Now, a cybernetic clamp filters it, but the silver streaks swirling faintly beneath her skin are a constant reminder that she’s different.

When nineteen-year-old Kaliope is chosen as head of the Nactue Guard, she becomes the sworn protector to her empress. In the midst of an invasion on a neighboring land, Kaliope is placed in charge of guarding Prince Caben, the last heir to his kingdom. But when they’re attacked by the feared Otherworlders, Caben and Kaliope are abducted and taken below to a realm where they must fight for their life in a caged arena.

Kaliope struggles to protect her princely charge, keeping him and herself alive while battling inhumanly opponents, and trying to save the stolen, sacred relic that will restore her empress’s life force and all of Cavan. And if she can somehow awaken the goddess within her, she may save what’s most important.

New Adult Dark Fantasy: Intended for readers 17 years of age and older.

Available from:
(FREE for a limited time! Get your copy below!)
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Excerpt from Book 1 - I couldn't decide between two awesome ones, so I hope you guys love this one as much as I do!
I don't know if I've been asleep for hours or minutes, but the adrenaline rushing system to act makes it impossible to sleep.  Nudging Caben's slumbering body, I say, "Wake up."
    He's still lying on his side, his lefgs curled up where they had been tangles with mine while we slept.  His arms reach out, searching for something as his eyes crack open.  "It's not morning," he deadpans.
    "I don't know if it is or not, but we've slept enough."  I prod him once more, rousing him fully awake.  "Get-"
    "Don't make me bark another order," he snaps.  "Climb back into bed."
    He rolls over.
    Annoyed, and having had just about enough of his chauvinistic arrogance, I lift my bare foot to kick his backside.  Before my heel meets his rump, his arm reaches behind and he grabs my ankle.  I swallow my yelp as he pulls me onto the cot.  Landing on my back, I bite my lip, holding in my cry as the bar beneath the mattress gouges into my spine.  But all thoughts of aches and revenge flee my mind as Caben pulls my ankle and slides my body underneath his.  Hovering above me - half his weight on the cot, half on top of me - he presses me into the bedding.
    His hand lowers my foot to the bed, then slowly slides up the side of my leg until it reaches my stomach.  Lifting the bottom of my tunic, he rests his palm on my waist, on the small curve above my hip.  His eyes never waver, his heated gaze holding mine.
    "Before we begin nefariously plotting," he says, low and husky, his breath skimming my cheek.  "I want to know - I'll only ask this once."
    Unsure of what he's demanding, I squint, and my breath halts as his eyes drop to my chest.  I swallow.  My eyes close.
    "Kaliope."  He says my name with the hint of accent I now know I only hear when he's taken off-guard.  When he drops his barriers, either in anger, urgency, or fear.  I wonder what emotion is causing him to lose control now.  And will his lilt deepen out of alarm or revulsion when he sees my chest?
    I open my eyes.
    The steady thump of his heart beats against my arm.  It speeds as the tension thickens the slight span of air between us.
    No matter what happens later, whether we live or die, I at least have control over this moment.  Even if we survive, and he goes off to rule his kingdom and I to lead the Nactue, I can keep this one moment.
    One stolen moment out of a lifetime of duty.
    Taking a breath and releasing it in tiny clips that make my breastbone ache, I cover his hand with mine.  The metal cuffs on our wrists clank together.  I force his hand slowly upward - onto my rib cage...around the swell of my breast - to the hard glass covering.
    I fight the urge to shut my eyes and close myself off from the many, sudden emotions that cross his face.  His eyes enlarge, and a crease forms between his brows as his features shift to confusion.  And when I think my body will die from tremors, he finally breathes, his full lips pressing together in discernment.
    Attempting to remove his hand and rise, I shift sideways, but he holds his place, firmly pressed against me.  The rough pad of his fingertip traces the scar tissue around the casing.  His deep, stormy eyes follow the hollow of my neck until they land on my collarbone.  And with a movement so subtle, he turns his hand over and pulls my tunic down, exposing the clamp.
    My insides threaten to combust.  Every nerve in my body is ready to set the mercury aflame - my dread is complete.  I have to force some word from his mouth, some action from him, to end this torment.
    Only when he begins to lower his mouth toward mine, I freeze, wondering if he's merely accepting me because again, we could die, and I'm the last chance he'll have to be with a woman before then.
    But his lip pass mine, brush over my chin and jawline, and instead find the sensitive, scarred skin of my chest.  He plants a soft kiss, and then another.  My throat thickens.  My nostrils flare as a burning sensation blazes behind my sinuses.  It quickly subsides when the unshed tears I'm holding back release.  I blink, and they quietly trail down the sides of my temples.

Of Darkness and Crowns (Goddess Wars #2)
Release Date: September 1, 2013
New Adult Fantasy


Summary from Goodreads:
The moon goddess has taken up residency within Prince Caben, darkening his mind and soul. Now he hunts the very women he sacrificed his life to save, his conflicting desires for love and power raging a battle within him. Kaliope possesses the key to setting Bale free, and Caben will stop at nothing to see his goddess restored. Even if that means destroying the kingdom he’s sworn to protect, and the infuriating woman who torments his thoughts.
Kaliope, now the leader to the newly formed Nactue Guard, has vowed to save Caben. But with a traitor lurking among her people, and powers she’s unable to fully control, Kaliope’s mission becomes shrouded with doubt. Her new role as watcher over Caben’s kingdom brings a burden she’s unable to bear alone, and appointing the right person in charge of the prince’s affairs has turned a kingdom against the Nactue leader. Saving her stubborn, willful prince from the darkness overtaking him will be the battle of her life, and she needs people she can trust by her side. But bad blood between members of the Nactue obscure Kaliope’s journey, while her feelings for Caben cloud her judgment.

When the time comes to do what she must to destroy the goddess of chaos, will she be able to if it means losing Caben forever?

Book two of the Goddess Wars is told in dual point of view from Kaliope and Caben. New Adult Dark Fantasy, intended for readers 17 years of age and older. 

Available from:
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About the Author
From an early age, Trisha Wolfe dreamed up fantasy worlds and characters and was accused of talking to herself. Today, she lives in South Carolina with her family and writes full time, using her fantasy worlds as an excuse to continue talking to herself. For more information on Trisha Wolfe and her works, please visit:

***Author Links***
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