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Release Day Blitz: Dark Days – Semester 1 by Liz Meldon

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Title: Dark Days: Semester 1

Author: Liz Meldon

Genre: Enemies-to-Lovers Paranormal Romance

Release Day: December 6th, 2018

Dark Days Semester 1 Cover

Blurb

A vampire desperate to escape his past. A wolf shifter determined to protect her future.

A killer on the loose.

One year ago, wolf shifter Emma accepted her dream job teaching PE at a Norwegian international school, finally freeing herself from her mother’s incessant matchmaking. As the alpha’s heir, walking away from her pack, from her obligations—potentially even her fated mate—weighed heavy on her heart. But deep down, she knew it was the right decision.

Unfortunately, her sacrifice may have been for nothing—because the new history teacher has fangs.

With a reputation for kidnapping and selling shifters to research labs, a vampire is the last thing Emma needs in her life, but she refuses to be intimidated. This is her territory and she’s not going anywhere, so that grumpy, gorgeous vampire can suck it.

Forced together at a prestigious boarding school, two supernatural enemies are torn between ripping each other’s clothes off…

And ripping each other apart.

Eager for a fresh start, vampire Calder accepts an invitation to teach history at a private school above the Arctic Circle. Its remote location appeals to his sensibilities, and years of practice have taught him how to charm his human colleagues, but a certain gym teacher is seriously trying his last nerve.

All Calder wants to do is teach, so if the strikingly beautiful shifter refuses to see him as anything but the big bad vampire, perhaps he ought to lean into the part and really give her a show.

As summer turns to winter, humans disappear from nearby villages, gone without a trace and presumed missing—or worse.

Only one thing is certain: there are dark days ahead.

Even for creatures of the night.

Dark Days is a standalone enemies-to-lovers paranormal romance duet. While Book 1 has a cliffhanger, all will be resolved with a supernatural happily-ever-after in Book 2.

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Excerpt

My least favorite staff member had been assigned as a floater, helping wherever he could. Calder had shown up this afternoon the most dressed-down I had ever seen him, sporting a pair of dark jeans and a plain white T-shirt, just fitted enough to contour the muscular outline of his figure. I blamed Casual Friday, the last day of our homecoming spirit week, which had also included such hits as Crazy Hair Day, Crazy Hat Day—the works.

Predictably, there had been a squabble over where the vampire would be placed, groups of teenage girls bickering with one another until Calder graciously offered to share his time between everyone. I’d just rolled my eyes and done my best to ignore him, but he was kind of difficult to ignore with all that muscle normally hidden beneath a three-piece tweed suit on display.

I couldn’t blame the girls for fighting over him, either. The guy was gorgeous. They just didn’t know he was a vampiric ass beneath that shiny, hunky veneer.

After giving my precious gymnasium a onceover, the transformation for the upcoming dance making my inner wolf grumble, I folded the sheet of paper in half again and made my way to the far back corner, toward the door that would open to a hallway, my hallway, at the end of which sat my office. Hopefully the internet would have a suggestion or two for “cooler”, more “authentic”, on-theme drink names to appease the senior class president.

Never mind that she and the student council had come up with these ones in the first place.

One of the major items out of place during the prep stages were the chairs. Stacked some fifteen high, they sat bunched together in the back corner, and a crew of seniors had been moving them into the gym all afternoon, lugging the large black and gold chairs up from the storage room one or two at a time. As I neared the towers, my first thought was that they were stacked too high—that it wasn’t safe.

A suspicion proven correct mere moments later when someone on the other side of the chair wall tripped, their shoes squeaking out a familiar cry, followed by the clunk of chairs colliding with chairs. The row to my immediate left teetered, stacked too precariously tall, and I staggered back, tensed, waiting to catch the damn things, then pretend it had hurt me to do so.

Only the stack never fell.

Because some gorgeous vampire dick stopped it.

Calder appeared out of nowhere, his back to the stack, catching and righting it again in the span of about five seconds. It was a risk, using his speed around all these humans, but the music faintly whumping from the AV club’s speakers carried on, as did the chatter, the clatter of furniture, like nothing had ever happened.

“You okay?” I called, Calder and I no more than a foot apart, my heart in my throat as he stared me down, for once neither smarmy nor smirking.

“Yeah, I’m good,” the culprit on the other side called back, and I caught his shadow moving beneath the chair legs, marching back and forth, walking it off. “Tripped over my own feet.”

“These are stacked too high,” I said, still holding Calder’s gaze, unable to tear myself away, my stomach looping. “Cut them down by half so they don’t fall on someone.”

“Yes, Miss Kingsley.”

Calder smelled earthy today. Sandalwood. Oakmoss. Musk. My cheeks peppered with heat the longer I breathed him in, and when he eased away from the tower of chairs, I took a sizeable step back, crinkling the paper in my hand.

“I could have caught that,” I muttered, then ducked my head down and made a beeline for the nearby door. The metal handle squeaked when I gripped it, but the brightly lit corridor on the other side was mercifully silent. As soon as the door closed, the chaos outside disappeared. His scent vanished. Smoothing a hand over my loose waves, I dragged in a deep breath, then exhaled it slowly, making my way by the trio of closed, locked grey doors, beyond which was all my equipment. Balls. Netting. Rackets. The final door, way at the end of the hall, offered me guaranteed sanctuary, a private place to quiet my hammering heart.

The handle squeaked again, and I whirled around at the sound. Calder stalked in, letting the door slam shut behind him, and I turned away, unable to withstand that dark, brooding look for a second longer than necessary. If he wanted a proper thank-you for doing something I honestly could have done myself, he’d be waiting a long time.

I hadn’t made it more than three steps closer to my office before his hand snapped around my elbow, and my inner wolf snarled when he yanked me back and shoved me against the wall. Hackles up, my lips peeled back as the crumpled paper fluttered to the ground, forgotten at our feet. Calder caged me in with a hand on either side of my shoulders, his face ducking down to meet my eyeline…

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Author Bio

Liz is a Canadian author who grew up in the Middle East. She has a degree in Bioarchaeology from Western University, and when she isn’t writing about her own snarky characters, she is reading about other people’s snarky characters, babying her herb garden, loitering on social media, or taking care of her furbabies.

Liz dabbles in both paranormal and contemporary erotic romance. Her paranormals are usually dark and angsty, and her contemporaries are stress-free smutfests, but you’ll find both full of feels. Most of all, she loves writing realistic characters in fantastical settings.

Author LinksWebsite | BookBub | Booksprout | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | Amazon | Newsletter

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Book Review: Quelling (The Purification Era, Book 2) by Angie Grigaliunas

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, Angie Grigaliunas, for an honest review.  

Genre: YA

Plot: For years, Rabreah has longed to overthrow the power-abusing Hulcondans who control her city. Yet in the wake of an unauthorized rebel attack, Lord Masrekah takes over the hunt for the“terrorists” – and it’s only a matter of time until he figures out her secrets.If he hasn’t already. Resistance leader Sorek’s return is a welcome sight, but his easy infiltration of the enemy kindles Rabreah’s suspicion of where exactly his loyalties lie – and threatens her growing feelings for him.

Unaware of her sister’s double life, Ariliah continues to support the Hulcondans. But as the city spirals into violence, everything she’s ever believed starts to unravel. Afraid to confront her doubts, she clings to her splintering trust and a dangerous new connection with Lord Masrekah.

Yet as the Hulcondans bear down on the resistance and its allies, the truth becomes clear: there aren’t just two sides, the greatest enemies lurk inside the city, and even the most faithful supporter has a breaking point.

Opinion:

*Soft, yet dramatic, whimpering through an endless stream of tears*

*Incessant poking of arms and legs to check if I’m real*

*Attempts at forming words that come out as incoherent mumblings and squeaks*

This series will be the end of me.

The “terrorists” continue to move against the Hulcondan’s and to voice their propaganda by way of posters, attacks, and the most recent attempted murders of one of their most prominent Lords. But with the threats against the city showing no means of slowing, Lord Siserah decides to step aside and let decisions be made by the ruthless and brutal Lord Masrekah. With each citizen under close surveillance and forced to travel with an escort to their assignments and homes, fear is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. For Ariliah, the fear is that the Itzalin monsters will breach the wall to the city and destroy everything she loves. It is the fear of her abusive mother and the fear that the Hulcondans, who she trusts with her life, will parish trying to protect the citizens. But for Rabreah, it is a different form of fear entirely. Staying undetected as a rebel becomes increasingly difficult for Rabreah and her allies, especially when their leader, Sorek, returns to the city posing as a Hulcondan in order to get close to his enemy. Rabreah knows she must trust her leader with her life, even when her feelings for him start to change, but her distrust of men is always in the back of her mind. The truth of what they were taught as children to be right and wrong starts to blur for both of Ariliah and Rabreah, and they are forced to choose which side they want to be on when chaos hits.  

(Click here for my review of book one, Sowing, if you need a refresher haven’t read it)

*Sigh*…where to begin.

I was an Alpha and Beta reader for Angie for the second book in this amazing series, so this is my third time reading Quelling. As this is obviously the final edit, there were a few additions and changes from the copies that I read, but they only added to the splendor that these books possess.

I cannot stress enough how AMAZING this series is.

Angie has this irritating knack for ripping my soul into her characters, making me either trust them or hate them, and then completely twisting my feelings into something that I can barely grasp or fathom. I am a fiercely loyal person by nature, and Angie has made me overly protective of these characters and their lives. I feel every bit of anger and defiance that Rabreah possesses, and every act of pure innocence and uninhibited trust that Ariliah gives to those around her. Angie has put a mirror up to every woman in the world, sliced their beings into two, and thrown them into these fierce and brilliant female characters.

It is taking only the laws of physics to keep me from reaching through these pages and maiming anyone who tries to hurt these girls.

But Rabreah and Ariliah aren’t the only amazing characters in this series. The reader is introduced to several other members of the rebellion that each have heart wrenching and sorrowful stories. As Rabreah begins to meet more rebel members, she is introduced to an array of people with different jobs and backgrounds. This book holds countless eye-opening moments for Rabreah where her character is forced to question what she has been taught with what she can actually see. But of course, one of the most prominent rebel members is their fearless leader, Sorek.

Sorek returns as a Hulcondan in order to remain close to his enemy, and to act as a VERY convincing spy. Not only does this put Sorek RIGHT next to the frightening Lord Masrekah, but it tests the trust of Rabreah as she watches him immerse himself in his performance. Sorek is the epitome of a strong, upstanding and fearless male character. As the story went on I couldn’t help but love and adore him, as I think most of us will or have ended up doing. His tenderness and respect for Rabreah leaves me happily broken and weapy, and the ending to this book just about ripped my heart from my chest. In a good way.

Now on the other side of the fence we have the sweet and delicate Ariliah. Book two is where Ariliah shines, and where readers will REALLY begin to latch onto her. In Sowing Ariliah was a very timid girl who trusted and obeyed the hulcondan’s without question, never stood up for herself, and who seemed to be a shadow of who she could be. But in Quelling, she transforms into a woman who can and will stand up for herself. She is the little sister that we have always wanted, and you can’t help but want to standby her side and root her on.

But what I really can’t get over with this book, is that Angie has done the unthinkable.

She has made me question ALL of my previous opinions of this series,made me rethink one or two of my morals and beliefs, and even lessened a slight part of the man hater buried DEEP in my soul.

Brace yourselves.

I have a SLIGHT liking towards Masrekah now.

So it turns out that this horrible, ruthless, disgusting pig of a man just MIGHT not be the evil scum that he was perceived to be. Sneaky Angie, very sneaky. Lord Masrekah, to my utter shock, has become somewhat of a human being in book two. He has begun to show an interest in Ariliah, and even goes as far as to act almost protective over her but without making it seem beyond creepy…?! Trust me when I say, I am shocked at my changed feelings.Mostly because it took me three times of reading Quelling to have even ONE positive thought toward this guy.  But to make things stranger, I even sort of see the appeal of him now.

You know, like how a really attractive serial killer could be somewhat appealing. -_-

Characters aside, the overall story building in this series is really remarkable. These books keep me tense and hooked the entire time. It feels almost PAINFUL to put these books down and go to work! The countless attacks and threats, the gruesome moments, the literal “what in the actual f**k” moments in Quelling are what really put this series over the edge from great to AMAZING. There is SO much going on in this book and I can’t utter one word of it without revealing everything! This is a series that will force the reader to THINK and QUESTION their own feelings. I am blown away with the detail the Angie puts forth in her writing and the cruel yet beautiful world that she has created.

This is not a request for you to read this series.

This is a demand. Do it. You WILL NOT be disappointed.

 

5-stars

 

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Book Review: Joshua and the Shadow of Death (Berserker Series, Book 1) by Gary McPherson

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Disclaimer: I was sent an ARC copy of this book by JKS Communications on behalf of the author, for an honest review.

Genre: Fiction/Crime Thriller/Suspense/Mystery

Plot: “I never thought my life would turn out like this. My best friend Richard Brown is dead. Parts of his brain still paint the wall where he shot himself. Eighteen years ago, he and Barbara entrusted me with curing their adopted son, Harold. I was so sure of myself. After all, I had cured his half-brother at the orphanage. I thought I knew what I was doing, but now I’m not sure of anything.

Richard left me a note telling me to help Harold find the men responsible. Richard claims if we fail to solve his suicide that his company and everyone working there will be lost. What does that mean, and does it matter? How can I help? I am a psychiatrist, not a detective. If I fail, what will become of Barbara? Will Harold’s grief unleash the beast living inside him? The berserker is controlled, but he is not contained.”

Join childhood development psychiatrist Doctor Joshua Zeev as he attempts to find the answers to his best friend’s death and help the family through their grief. Can Joshua survive his insufficiencies? Does Maria’s patient love give him the focus that he needs to discover the truth, or will she be a distraction? Does his challenge of a lifetime, bring answers and closure, or even more perilous dangers?

Opinion:

A suspenseful thriller JUST in time for the holiday season!

Put on those trench coats and grab those magnifying glasses boys and girls, there’s a conspiracy afoot!

Joshua has spent many diligent years working with countless young boys at an orphanage in North Carolina. Two of his most memorable cases were that of two half brothers who were both left at an orphanage by their mother. Both boys were diagnosed by Joshua with “Berserker Syndrome”, a condition that makes the person fly into a blind rage so bizarre that it can be described as being possessed. After curing the youngest of the brothers, Bill, Joshua is enlisted by the adoptive parents of the oldest boy, Harold, in hopes that he may also be cured. Years later in California, Harold is a grown man and Joshua is still living with the family and working with Harold on his blind rage. But when the sudden suicide of Harold’s father Richard Brown occurs, Joshua’s concern for the young man is at an all time high. As he tries to find the reason for his friend’s sudden death, while also keeping Harold under control, Joshua finds himself with more questions than answers.

This story has just about everything I could ask for in a suspense thriller; a man with a dangerous blind rage, blackmail, countless deaths, and even a little bit of romance. Did somebody say swoon?! Though I was expecting a story that focused on the slightly disturbed inner workings of a young man who starts beating people to a pulp out of nowhere; I was instead welcomed with a mystery on the suicide of a man who ran a very profitable weapons company. Though I am not upset about this change of events, I must say that I feel slightly derailed from what I was expecting of this story.

I was hoping to have a better understanding of this “berserker syndrome”, which the reader is introduced to right away at the beginning of the story. The reader is taken through a part of Harold’s life as a young boy when Joshua is first treating him for his condition, and the author paints a nice picture of how little Harold can control his rages. But we are fast-forwarded years later to when Harold is a grown man, and the story turns into more of a “who-done-it” rather than focusing on Harold and his condition. It feels like this initial idea for the book to be based more on the psychiatric and mental side of the experiences of this family was thrown by the waste side a little. I wish it would have had bigger role in the overall telling of this story, instead of just going right into being a search to find out the reason for Richard brown’s suicide. I felt like I didn’t get an in-depth look into Harold as much as I would have liked, which in turn made it harder for me to connect with his character.

Our other main character in this story is Joshua, a psychiatrist who specializes in child development and who had coined “berserker syndrome”. I found that Joshua’s character could have also been given a little more depth and attention. Many times, I found myself slightly irritated with the comments he would make about suicide or other observations. He didn’t come across as the intelligent and worldly man that I think the author was trying to mold him to be. Instead, I found him to be a little dim and overly simplistic in the way he thought and spoke. There were a few examples of Joshua and other characters emotions being TOLD to the reader, rather than SHOWN. A book can tell me someone is sad, but I won’t believe it until I see the evidence backed by the actions of the character.

Characters aside, the overall story has an interesting and thoughtful plot. The Brown family runs a very successful weapons company. Now, I think this may be something to do with nuclear weapons, but I am not very clear on that. Anyways. One day Richard Brown shoots himself in the head in his office in front of Harold (super casual), which commences the true question of the story: WHY?! This takes the reader on a hunt to find the cause of Richard’s suicide, which eventually leads to a bigger scandal. Now I don’t want to give anything away, but BE WARNED that this book will reference some not so pleasant things. Nothing graphic, so don’t worry. I found the journey to the truth in this tale to be likable, but at times a bit too wordy. There was a lot of dialogue that wasn’t completely necessary, but I think was used to give the reader a deeper connection to the characters. Unfortunately, it didn’t for me and I just ended up skimming through those parts.

I think Joshua and the Shadow of Death was an entertaining and different read but didn’t quite hit the mark for me in terms of a deep connection and concern for the characters. I think the plot definitely makes it a great book that had me yearning for what really happened, and I found that I rather enjoyed that aspect of the book. I think the writing and character development can use a little work, but it is still very easy to read and enjoy.

3-stars

 

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Book Review: Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Entangled Publishing: Teen, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Teen/Fantasy

Plot: Princess Ivy has one goal—end the war against the Forces of Darkness.

Ivy’s magic is more powerful than any other Royal’s, but she needs a battle partner who can help her harness it. Prince Zach’s unparalleled skill with a sword should make them an unstoppable pair—if only they could agree on…well, just about anything.

But Ivy’s magic can only fully unlock with Zach’s help, and he’s not exactly cooperating.

Zach believes Ivy’s magic is dangerous. Ivy believes they’ll never win the war without it. Two warriors, one goal, and the fate of their world on the line. But the more they argue, the more they fall for each other. And only one of them can be right…

Opinion:

Goblins, dwarves, griffins, dragons, curses, witches, magic, Princes, Princesses, KISSES!

Oh my word, it MUST be another fairytale!

But NO! It isn’t! It’s BETTER than JUST another fairytale. This is the tale that puts all those other stories of fairies and….tales…to rest! ENOUGH of those sputtering damsels in distress. Poison apple this, lost slipper that! “But It can all be cured by TWU WUV’S FIRST KISS!”

LADIES! Get a HANDLE on yourselves!

HONESTLY!

By the seventh day of constant agony, I wished I hadn’t already killed the dwarf who cast this locking curse on me. I wanted the opportunity to kill him again. Slower this time.”

Ivy, Kiss of the Royal

In Ivy’s world, the ones with royal blood are the ones that fight on the front lines of battle. With the four kingdoms in a five-hundred-year battle against the Evil Queen and her dark forces, the need for royal warriors is in high demand. A partnership between a Prince and Princess is a force to be reckoned with, but the kiss that a Princess can bestow on a Prince is even stronger. Each kiss can heal a Prince of a curse put on them by a troll or dwarf, and it can also give the Princes the warrior power of ten men. The more pureblood a royal is, the stronger the kiss and magic. As Ivy is a direct descendant of the original Queen Myriana, her kisses are the most powerful. But with the death of her fifth Prince, Ivy must find another partner to go into battle with. Enter, Zach. Zach is unlike any Prince Ivy has ever met, and to say he is unorthodox is an understatement. Soon Zach and Ivy are given a dangerous task that holds every kingdom’s fate in their hands, but Zach refuses to kiss Ivy or cooperate with her in any way. With two very different outlooks, these two must come together to defeat a common enemy.

A prince that won’t kiss a princess?!? Color me SHOCKED and SPEECHLESS, and heavy on the sarcasm! 😉

Let’s just dive right in, shall we?

So where this story differs from our regularly scheduled fairytale programs, is that these Princes and Princesses are bred to be warriors. Literally. Princesses are sent to a place called Frieda to be paired with Princes and produce strong royals to be trained for war. Once a Prince or Princess has gone through training, they are bonded with a partner who matches their skillset or power. The more pureblood a royal is, the stronger they are. In this story, the Princesses are the real heroes. As the Princes charge into battle, the Princesses stay back an act as their eyes and ears; firing at anything that gets close to their Princes. If a prince goes down, their bonded Princess gives them a healing kiss and saves their lives. But these Princesses can kick ass too! They train just as hard as the Princes, and I love it!

Obviously, the main aspect of this story centers around kissing. When I started reading I kept thinking what a funny concept this was. For these Princesses to just be running around kissing Princes like it’s nothing? Oh, no big deal! But due to how these royals are raised, it isn’t a big deal. They believe in lust, but they don’t believe in love. They believe that love is a fantastical thought and idea that the “Romantica” created, and that there is no such thing. For these royals who put their lives on the line each day, kissing is what keeps them alive and fighting. It is a weapon, and that’s it.

But for Zach, that isn’t the case. Zach is a Saevallan Prince who travels to the Crown City of Myria with his Saevallan army to aid in the battle against the dark forces. He is rumored to be the best swordsman and fiercest warrior they have, which isn’t a lie. But Zach is unlike the rest of the royals. He was raised on the streets, didn’t acknowledge his royal blood until recently, and best of all…he was raised as a Romantica. DING DING DING. ROOOOMAANNNCEEE. So naturally the pairing between Ivy and Zach would be a formidable one, except for the part of Zach not wanting a partner. As a Romantica, Zach doesn’t agree with using the “kiss” as a weapon because it means something different to him. Which is true…but there is WAY more to it that I obviously can’t tell you.

As one could guess, a romance develops…but a difficult one at that! A boy who was raised on love and a girl who was raised to not even think it was real? Talk about complicated! As the two set out on their task, they encounter countless battles and dangers. Though I was a bit miffed about that ending, it wasn’t a complete issue for me. I wish the author would have wrapped everything up JUST a little better. I feel like I missed a ton of important moments between the ending of the story and the epilogue. I felt like this could have been elaborated on more because it left me feeling a bit rushed.

There is a ton of action in this story, a few close calls, countless arguments between Ivy and Zach, and a truly different outlook on the normal fairytale. These characters are developed in a way that showcases their fierceness, as well as their innocence and value. The reader is encased in a battle between doing what one is taught, and doing what one wants and feels. It is SUCH a different outlook and take on the “true loves kiss” idea and it is done PERFECTLY! I’m only wishing this was a ten part series…I want more, more, more!

When had I become someone who struggled with the difference between a kiss and a Kiss?”

Ivy, Kiss of the Royal

4-5-stars

 

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Book Review: The Prophecy (The Healer, Book 4) By. C.J. Anaya

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Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book by the author, C.J. Anaya, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Romance/YA/Fantasy

Plot: Armed with memories of her past life and the identity of her true soul mate, Hope is bound and determined to fulfill her destiny and heal the veil…on her own terms, that is. Unfortunately, Hope’s inability to play by the rules causes a rift in the group and discord with Tie. Dark forces are at work fighting to tear them apart, while Victor, Ms. Mori, and Dr. Fairmont attempt to understand Tie’s role in saving the world.

Hope’s inability to sense the veil, Angie’s visions of loved one’s deaths, Kirby’s vulnerability, and an unwanted bond with a dangerous kami are certain to prevent her from ending the conflict once and for all. The group needs answers found in an ancient prophecy and written in a language few understand.

And they have no idea where it is…

And Amatsu’s servants are hunting them…

And the veil is failing…

Opinion:

It has finally come: the end of the road. The last crumb of the pie. The last of the Mohicans.

(This has nothing to do with the Mohicans).

After a long and emotional tug of war between soulmates, centuries, Gods, demons and amnesia; the Prophecy Series has come to an end.

But to be honest, I am left feeling pretty disappointed by this installment.

With every bit of knowledge from her past life, and the dangers in her present, Hope has finally reunited with her soulmate and begun the task of healing the veil. But nothing ever comes easy for Hope. With the Black Blossom binding her to the demon God Amatsu, she struggles to fight against her forced feelings for the God of the underworld and her true feelings for the God of Marriage, Tie. But with the bond between Hope and Amatsu only growing stronger, Hope and her friends rush to find the prophecy in hopes of learning the true translation. Only with the prophecy will Hope and Tie have a chance at healing the veil and saving the world, which means they must travel back to where it all started. In Kagami.

This is the fourth book in The Healer series, so check out my reviews for Book 1 – The Healer, Book 2 – The Black Blossom and Book 3 – The Grass Cutter Sword!

Let me begin by saying how much I enjoyed reading this series. The entire storyline is creative, well developed, and extremely addicting. The separation between past and present lives is so eloquently laid out, and the movement of the story between 1000 A.D. to the present gives this series an extra layer of WOW. I truly commend this author for creating such an exciting and detailed world for us readers. Even though Kagami was a dangerous place for Hope, I couldn’t help but want to be there with Musubi and Victor. This series gave a mix of history into this well created fantasy story, while also showcasing some brilliant girl power and complete badassery by our female characters. My weakness is a strong and capable woman who can do anything, so thank you to the author for…mostly doing that.

I do however, have a few qualms with the last installment of this story. First is with Mikomi/Hope when it comes to her being this strong and fierce female character. In her first life she was Mikomi, and she was a princess of the Kagami empire in 1000 A.D. who was the prophesized Healer meant to heal the veil. This character was beaten by her father, forced to be meek and obedient due to her culture, and given nothing in terms of choices for her future. But was this girl weak, HELL NO. She had strong morals and a wicked sense of what she wanted for herself. She did what she wanted, regardless of the consequences or what path was set out for her. So why, pray tell, does she become such a doe-eyed, man-needing, pre-teen as Hope? It broke my heart a little to see her become this childish version of herself that NEEDED Tie so badly that she became less independent, and more DEPENDENT. Tie’s wishy-washy behavior of “I’ll fight for you” and “I’ll let you go” was nauseating. If he goes, LET HIM GO. BYE!! Heal that damn veil on your own girl, you got this! I know it was love that conquers all, and that was one of the message from this story, but the Tie meltdowns were making me wish Hope would just finish it. THANKFULLY, Angie was my saving grace for a female who doesn’t need a man to do anything.

The only other issue I have with The Prophecy is the reason that it took me so long to get through the last book of The Healer series. I had a hard time with the characters transitioning from their lives in 1000 A.D., to their lives in present times. It wasn’t exactly the flashbacks from then and now, because those were constructed perfectly. It seemed as if the characters went from being these strong and mature people, to immature adolescents. In Hope and Angie’s case, I could understand them acting a bit younger due to them ACTUALLY being teenagers. They had only just remembered their previous lives, so naturally the culture now will have made them a bit more…innocent and childish? Sure, I can get on board with that. Makes sense. But WHY are Victor and Tie acting this way? THESE GUYS ARE GODS WHO HAVE LIVED FOR CENTURIES. They literally went from being MEN to BOYS. Why is Bishu the only character that has kept his eloquent form of speaking, and why is he the only one that still holds himself like he’s had years upon years of walking this earth? This made it incredibly hard for me to read this last book in the series. It made these characters feel so transparent and ridiculous, which is the exact opposite of the people I knew them to be. Needless to say, I am more than a little bummed out about how they turned out.

But with my complaining of characters aside, a review of this story as a whole is what I am really trying to get to. Hope finds herself bound to the demon God Amatsu, with his darkness only growing stronger inside of her. The true question of this book is this: Can Hope overcome this binding and fight for what she really wants? Because that is the REAL question in this entire series isn’t it?! Mikomi and Hope have been suppressed and forced to do so many things through their lives, except choose their own fate. So gold star for that! The real PEARL of this story is Amatsu though. Move over Musubi, Amatsu is my new male love for The Healer series. What can I say? I love a bad boy! I love a hated character, especially one engulfed in darkness and bad decisions! SWOON! Thankfully my boy finds himself a happy ending, though it was a bit unexpected.

Lastly, I would like to comment on the battles and the imagination behind the place that Kagami had turned into. These battles are EPIC and there are a TON of them. Someone is constantly trying to kill Hope and her friends, and I have to be honest, I was feeling it. Demon cat-like creatures coming from the underworld trying to maul them? Um hello, sign me up! We even get to meet Bishu, a demon who was a God once upon a time who lives as a hell cat, but has a heart of gold! Aw. The world of Kagami is where this story really excels though. The trek to Hope’s former home is a dangerous one, and the forest they travel through is crawling with all sorts of dangers. Every aspect of this land can kill you, and everything is alive. This makes for an AMAZING and EXCITING adventure.

All in all, I did really enjoy this series. I was pretty disappointed with this book in regards to the characters, but the story makes up for it. I read a few other reviews from other readers who DO NOT share my opinions on the characters, so keep that in mind. These are just my feelings and observations. This is still an amazing and creative series, and I think it is well-worth any readers time.

3-stars

 

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Book Review: In the Company of Wolves (Of Witches and Werewolves, Book 2) by Cory Barclay

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Amazon.com – In The Company of Wolves (Of Witches and Werewolves, Book 2) by Cory Barclay

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Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book by the author, Cory Barclay, for an honest review

Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Supernatural/Adult

Plot: It’s 1592. Europe is in chaos. Religious factions have torn the region apart and witch-hunts have become a part of everyday life.

In the Company of Wolves follows three groups of travelers – a fearless female pirate roaming the North Sea, a priest and his wife escaping to England to avoid persecution, and a young thief from the slums of Germany looking for a better life. Each has a different reason for venturing out in such tumultuous times – fear, greed, family secrets.

Is the Werewolf of Bedburg still alive, roaming the countryside and killing innocent citizens? Many believe he’s still out there—that religious and political leaders have forsaken the truth in their cunning quest for power.

As each traveler searches for individual answers, these three seemingly separate stories converge in a place which may hold the key for them all. Based on true events involving one of the deadliest witch trials in European history, this tale of adventure, mystery, and the search for truth reminds us that, ultimately, no one is safe . . . in the company of wolves.

Opinion:

It’s September kids, and you know what that means! Eerie moonlight, creatures waking from the dead, torture chambers and stealing. Witch hunts and religious persecution, prostitutes and pirates. Poison, potions and pillaging!

Tis the season to be demented and murderous!

Welcome to Europe in 1592, where you can be burned alive for false accusations and having your own beliefs! Say hello to book 2 in the Of Witches and Werewolves series, In the Company of Wolves. OoOoOoOo…*dramatic fanning*…it’s gunna be a whirlwind!

With Europe in a religious tug of war for control and regular accusations of witchcraft and sorcery, no one is safe. Sybil Griswold and her husband Dieter have fled to England with their family, in hopes of starting a new life after escaping jail and killing a man. Hot on their trail is Gustav Koehler, a man hellbent on avenging the brother that Dieter killed and bringing Sybil and her family to trial. Back in Germany is Hugo, the younger brother of Sybil, who was left an orphan after the wrongful conviction of their father Peter Griswold, who was accused of being the Werewolf of Bedburg. Now living as a petty thief, Hugo’s life begins down a dark path as he is thrust into the throngs of murder and manipulation. Across the sea, we come to a ship called The Lion’s Pride. Rowaine Donnelly has just assumed the role of captain after castrating her predecessor, all the while searching for her father that is thought to be dead. Though living separate lives, these people are more intertwined in their own pasts and futures than they realize. Through turmoil and murder they are forced to trek in order to meet their goals, while learning more about themselves than they knew, along the way.

Due to this being the second book in the series, and the reader needing to read book one to know what’s happening, please see my review HERE to see how this series begins.

When I read The Devil in the Countryside I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive. Usually religious driven historical fictions are NOT my cup of tea, but as I started reading…I got HOOKED. Cory Barclay has such a talent from writing descriptive and “old-timey” stories that have a little fact twisted into every bit of fantasy he throws at the reader. With no surprise on my end, he did a fabulous job extending this addicting story with In the Company of Wolves. This series truly has what every dark mystery needs. It’s a who-done-it with carnage, accusations of sorcery, pirates, thieves, religious turmoil, shocking twists and a touch of romance. A ton of blood will be spilled during this read, but never fear, it isn’t THAT graphic.

Sybil and Dieter have started a new life in England, with the hopes of practicing Dieter’s newly shaped faith by means of a new church. They have made new friends and work towards living a simple life in peace, but that of course isn’t going to happen to these poor characters. Enter: Gustav Khoeler. Gustav has been tracking the couple for some time, unbeknownst to them, seeking revenge for the death of his brother Johannes. Gustav is a vile and disturbing character, and it seems that the crudest and most despicable acts happen in his company. Gustav is the true picture of a man that would do ANYTHING to get what he wants. By capturing the couple, Gustav plans to bring them to his father Ludwig Von Bergheim in Trier, where they will be put to trial and burned alive for their crimes. So ensues a chase, a capturing, another chase, and another capturing. Eventually running the group into a fearsome female pirate, by the name of Rowaine Donnelly.

Rowaine is a  truly fierce, empowered, and BADASS female. Not only does she castrate her own captain in order to take his place (yes, you read that correctly) but she has little to no fear and a whole lot of charm. Rowaine’s mission is to find her adoptive father, a man that is thought to be dead. Along the way she finds herself protecting Sybil and Dieter, who share various connections from their pasts. In agreement to help each other, Rowaine, Sybil and Dieter head back to Bedburg to find Rowaine’s long lost father. But being back in Bedburg is a risky place to be for Sybil and Dieter, considering they are still fugitives on the run. But what is interesting about the return to Bedburg, is that many characters from book one now believe that Sybil’s father WAS actually wrongfully labeled the Werewolf of Bedburg. Which of course continues the search for the real werewolf. Hmmmm….who done it, indeed.

While all this is happening, the reader also follows Hugo, Sybil’s younger brother that stayed behind in Bedburg. Hugo is by far my FAVORITE character this time around. He is young and fresh, but has a strong sense of morals and loyalty. But a few turn of events land Hugo in a place that he didn’t expect from himself, the apprentice to the torturer of Bedburg, the famous Ulrich. If there was a book based on Hugo’s travels alone, I would be on it before you could even give a release date. This kid has guts and spunk, and he will SHOCK you with what he does. He eventually ends up in the pit of this never-ending religious power struggle, and the role he takes on is an interesting one.

I feel like I am leaving you guys completely hanging here because there is SO much that happens in this story. There are some epic gun fights and show downs, especially near the end. There are new characters who make this story amazing, and some old ones who make it even better. Now this book focuses more on the select characters rather than the Werewolf of Bedburg, like in book one. But I imagine that book three will tie everything back together, giving the reader a nice assortment of both stories. I truly cannot express the level of writing and detail this author has given this series. Though it may feel like a long read, you will get hooked and won’t want to put the story down. This second installment has left me NEEDING to get my hands on book three, because I have to know what the author is going to me up with next!

5-stars

 

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Book Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

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Amazon.com – Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Random House Children’s – Delacorte Press, via NetGalley for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Plot: Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.

Opinion:

Though I DID read this MONTHS ago, I didn’t review it right away, which in turn has caused me to re-read it so that I could properly refresh myself.

So, my review for Ash Princess…better late than never, right?!

10 years ago, Princess Theodosia Eirene Houzzara’s country was invaded by the Kalovaxians. Her people were slaughtered and enslaved, her home overrun by her enemy, and her mother’s throat was slit before her eyes. Now at sixteen, Theodosia wears a new name, Thora the Ash Princess. She now lives among the people that brought destruction upon her kind, the Astreans, and endures torment and abuse to just live another day. But life as the Ash Princess doesn’t come without it’s catches. Her best friend is a Kalovaxian named Cress who is the daughter of the Theyn, the man that killed Theodosia’s mother; she is whipped and beaten by order of the Kaiser when rebel Astrean groups attack, and she is guarded at all times to ensure that she stays loyal to her enemy. But everything changes when the Kaiser forces Thora to kill a man from her childhood, a man loyal to her mother. Soon Thora finds herself in a position to strike against the Kaiser, and to exact revenge on the people that stole everything form her. But sometimes not everything is fair in love and war, and Theodosia must make a choice when it comes to what she thinks is right.

My mother was known as the Fire queen, regal and strong. But I am the Ash Princess, a living joke.” – Thora, Ash Princess

Okay guys, Check. This. Out.

If any of you know me, you know that I LOVE a great fantasy read about royals and a little bloodshed. It just makes my blood thrum with happiness! Ash Princess does just that by giving the reader a little romance, suspense, turmoil, a question of morals vs. karma, magic, and of course some killing to keep in interesting. This is definitely a story you will have no problem devouring and speeding through, but be warned that it might feel a little “young” depending on your age/preference (despite the killing, etc.) which I will get into in a moment.

Firstly, more about this story! Theodosia (Thora) is sixteen years old and living in her palace that the Kaiser and the Kalovaxians took over ten years prior. After Theodosia’s mother was killed, the Kaiser gave Theo the choice to die or live amongst her enemy. She chose to live, thus thrusting her into the lions’ den and leading a life pretending to hate her own people. The Kaiser is a brutal man who takes what he wants and has no remorse for what he does. He uses Theo as a tool against the Astreans by publicly whipping and beating Theo every time rebel groups try to fight against the Kalovaxians.

When the reader is first introduced to Theodosia, she is living as Thora the Ash Princess. Thora is a timid, meek and subservient girl. Her spirit is broken, and she seems to have given up on ever being rescued and freed from her cage. Though she does have a friend in the palace, Cress, it is still a friend she can’t speak freely to. She is forced to censor herself and put on an act to show the Kaiser that she is loyal to the Kalovaxians, and it is truly sad to read. But what I liked about Thora was that even when she had metaphorically locked Theodosia away, there were still moments where she showed the reader that she hadn’t completely lost herself.

‘“You requested my presence, your highness?” I ask, dropping into a curtsy so deep I am flat against the ground. Even after a decade, my bones still protest the posture. My body remembers-even when the rest of me forgets-that I am not made for curtsying.’ – Thora, Ash Princess

But after the Kaiser forces Thora to kill one of her own, things start to change drastically.  Thora finds herself among rebels that want to rescue her, but instead she makes the decision to stay and work as a spy. Now I can’t go in to too much more detail because I don’t want to give away the good stuff, but I CAN tell you guys about this little romance we have brewing!

Insert: A Love Triangle. Or…is it?

Soren, the Prinz of the Kalovaxians and the son of the cruel Kaiser. He has just come back from apprenticing under the Theyn for 5 years, and APPARENTLY he is a legendary and fierce warrior. Soren proves to be the opposite of his father, and seems like he might genuinely care about changing the world. Blaise is our other male in this triangle, and he is an Astrean who grew up with Theodosia. As part of the rebels plan for Theo, she must basically make the Prinz fall in love with her. Of course along the way some true feelings arise between Theo and the Prinz, but not without some moments happening between Theo and Blaise as well. I can honestly say guys, I am TORN on this one. Usually I ALWAYS favor one character over the other, but I don’t in this story! Will she choose Blaise? Will she choose Soren?? Well I don’t know, because the author left me with this annoyingly HUGE cliffhanger!

Now there is also some magic that is happening in this story. For the Astreans, Spritgems were sacred gems that made up the four elements: Fire, Air, Earth, Water. The gems would give the wielder an extra boost of power to use with their magical element, and were considered very sacred. A select few Astreans would spend years in temples praying to their gods in order to be blessed. Some would be blessed with powers and become guardians, while others would go mad. Once the Kalovaxians took over, they forced the remaining Astreans into the mines to mine for the Spiritgems, while disgracing their beliefs and using the gems as jewelry. Wicked, right? Of course, our poor Theo was forbidden to be around any sort of gems. But if you are wondering why this poor girl is called the “Ash Princess”, the obvious reason is this: the Kaiser forces Thora to wear a crown of ashes every time they throw a party. Now if that isn’t the most legendary and cruel symbol of someone destroying your entire life and forcing you to show it off, I don’t know what is.

The only qualms I have with this story are this: it feels a little TOO young at times, and some things aren’t fully explained. Now I know that our main character is sixteen, but there are some HEAVY things happening in this story that make this character grow up fast. My issue is that Theo, Blaise, and a few of the other characters act and speak in such an adolescent way…that I found myself getting confused. The author is pulling me back and forth between them being mature, and not mature, and I am just not sure which direction I should be going in. If this supposed to be a YA read, or a Teen YA read?

My other small problem is the author not fully explaining things, or not fully building up moments. For example: Blaise tells Theo that she always gets a certain look on her face when she is about to do something rebellious. Theo retorts that he can never stop her anyways. As the reader, I don’t recall this happening much at all? I feel like I am being told something rather than just coming to that conclusion on my own. Another example is when it is said that Soren is a legendary warrior. This seems so shocking to me because I can’t help but imagine Soren as a teenage boy, not a fierce and feared man. There was no context that proves he should be anything else than what I am visualizing, so it left me a bit confused.

Those things aside, I think this is a really great read. I am sitting her twiddling my thumbs waiting for the next book, which I know will be a while from now. Sorry for that LONG ass review, but there was just so much to talk about! Though I did have a few annoyances while reading Ash Princess, I wholeheartedly recommend it if you love YA/Fantasy reads. I am a sucker for anything with royalty and fantasy, so if you are the same then you will REALLY enjoy this book.

4-stars

 

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