ARC Review: Infinity Key by Chrysoula Tzavelas

The Particulars: Urb18243141an Fantasy, Candlemark& Gleam, available in print and as e-book
The Source: ARC from Netgalley

The Grade: A-

The Blurb:

While her best friend is pulled into the supernatural underworld, Branwyn isn’t about to sit on the sidelines. Unfortunately, Branwyn is decidedly mortal, and in the supernatural underworld, humans are weak and helpless, no better than toys, tools and prey. But she isn’t having any of that. Branwyn wants to face the world on her own terms, mortal or not.

When she strikes a bargain with an imprisoned faerie, Branwyn thinks she’s found the solution. He’ll teach her magic and she’ll use that magic on his behalf. It’s a great deal, until she discovers what the faeries really want from her: there’s a door that only she can open…


The Review:

I supported the Kickstarter for Matchbox Girls solely based on C.E Murphy’s blurb. And after reading it, I was glad I did. So when Infinity Key appeared on NetGalley, I requested it on the spot. And after reading it, I can say it was better than Matchbox Girls. I can also say that this is one of those reviews that cannot tell all the reasons why this book is awesome , since doing so would veer into spoiler territory.

If Matchbox Girls focused on Nephilim and Angels, this book focused on the Faeries, and their wish to be free from their prison. The Faerie world that Chrysoula Tzavelas have created is just the kind of Faerie world I want to read about: Unpredictable, dangerous and filled to the rim with manipulative beings. It was fascinating to see how the Faeries treated her, and how all of them were willing to strike a deal with her. Luckily, Branwyn were wise enough to avoid deals most of the time.

I really liked Branwyn. She was blunt, outspoken and utterly loyal to her friends and family. And determined to save Penny. It was interesting to see how Branwyn changed from being in the Underlight realm, and other Faerie realms. Yet she also remained her. It was fascinating to follow Branwyn, and see how her quest to create the Key went. It wasn’t easy, but it moved forward. It was fascinating to see how Branwyn and Tarn interacted. There wasn’t any romance, but  the time she spent in Faerie changed her, and Tarn was affected by her presence in subtle ways.

But the book also took place in LA. And it was interesting to see how Branwyn was around her friends and family, how she struggled to keep a secret exactly what she was involved in. Yet, as the quest went on, she had no choice but to tell them, to reveal at least part of what’s going on. And their reaction was telling. They were worried, and they had reason to be worried.

Because this book involved a good dose of kaiju as well, and let me tell you: kaiju is creepy.

The different plot threads was connected in ways that gradually was revealed, and everything that happened slowly built towards the end. And the twist at the end was a delightful surprise, that made total sense.

The only thing I disliked with this book was Branwyn’s tendency to act first and think about the consequences later. On the other hand, that’s part of Branwyn’s personality, and Branwyn is what makes this book so good.

ARC Review: Diamond Dust by Vivian Arend

16118795The Particulars: Paranormal Romance, Samhain Publishing, available as e-book

The Grade: B

The Source: ARC from the Author

The Blurb:

She can’t shift, but she can shake their world.

Caroline Bradley is having one hell of a week. Her wolf lover has sniffed out his mate, making her an instant free agent. Not only that, Takhini territory has been overrun with aggressive bear-shifters electing a clan leader, and the wolf pack is feeling the effects—pushing her diplomatic skills to the limit.

Tyler Harrison is a grizzly on a mission. If he’s going to win the majority of the bears’ votes, he needs one final thing: a female companion. The only woman in town with influence over wolves, humans, and more bears than he’d like to admit, is Caroline.

Despite the sexual pull between them, though, Tyler’s not seeking a permanent relationship. And Caroline isn’t looking to be anyone else’s political pawn. But she should have remembered that when shifters are involved, changes happen in the blink of an eye.

Warning: Billionaire bear hero plus kick-ass human heroine equals a sexually volatile power struggle. Get ready for what might be the naughtiest game of tag that’s ever been played in the great outdoors.


The Review:

I love Vivian Arend’s Takhini Wolves novels, and I am really glad that I requested this ARC.

It was interesting to revisit Whitehorse, and see how the Takhini pack prepared for the Bears Convent. It was interesting to get to know the Bears, and see how they handled the politics.

This was Tyler and Caroline’s story, and I really enjoyed it. I loved the fact that bears doesn’t have insta-mates like the wolves does, and that have resulted in a tradition of arranged marriages. It was interesting to watch Caroline deal with the bears and their traditions. She is used to manipulating shifters, and got a spine. She needed it to deal with Tyler. Tyler was a bit arrogant, at times bordering on jerk. But he was also tender and protective toward Caroline.

It wasn’t a smooth romance. I loved to see how their world met and clashed in the beginning. Caroline is independent and used to deciding her own life. Tyler is used to giving orders. But I felt that they was a good match, and that they can bring change to the Bear society.

I really liked the other subplot that followed  the beginning of Evan’s romance with his mate. I think I know who his mate is, but I am not telling.

I had a bit trouble feeling that the romance built towards a HEA. Paradoxically, the source of that was  the interlude in the beginning was their wedding. Which removed a bit part of the feeling that they were building toward their HEA.


Friday Finds March 15:

I did Feed My Reader last year, but stopped since it felt too restrictive to me. I did like the idea, so I am giving this a try.
Jayne at Dear Author reviewed Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick, which reminded me of another book by Elizabeth Chadwick: The Shield of Pride. I loved it, but I lost my copy years ago. But I decided to see if the library had it, which they did so I plan to read it this weekend :).
( Curiosa: The Swedish title of Shield of Pride is Skuggornas borg which in English means the Castle of Shadows (!). Isn’t it facinating how two different books get so similar titles?)
I have wanted to read Draw one in the dark by Sarah Hoyt for years, but I never got around to. Until this week, when I discovered that it is one of the new additions to the Baen Library, so I promptly downloaded it. Free is always nice. Maybe I should give Darkship Thieves another try too..
I love Patricia Rice regencies. Especially her earlier ones. And the Marquess is really early. It has been on my wishlist for a long time, but when I discovered it on Kobo’s list of books eligible for 90% off, I snapped it up.

Wendy Roberts guestblogged over at MurderShewrites, and her books piqued my interest. I love Paranormal Suspense and Paranormal Mystery, so I definitely plan to read her sometime in the future.
CE Murphy’sre-read of the Belgariad made me want to re-read it, but I am not sure were my copies are and the Library’s copies are falling to pieces. Maybe my brother has them, since they were his to start with, I just borrowed them for 10 years or something :P.

Review: Fated by Benedict Jacka

The Particulars:  Urban Fantasy, Ace (US)/ Orbit (UK), available in Print and e-book

The Source: Purchased at Sf bokhandeln ( Swedish edition)

The Grade: B-

The Blurb:
Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex’s own powers aren’t as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future–allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success.

But when Alex is approached by multiple factions to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever’s inside must be beyond powerful. And thanks to his abilities, Alex can predict that by taking the job, his odds of survival are about to go from slim to none…

The Review:

I have wanted to read this ever since I saw it on the swedish publishers webpage. I know I could have bought the book in English, but I wanted to support the Swedish publisher for translating Urban Fantasy.

The World that Alex Verus lived in felt refreshing and belivable. The fact that nothing was black and white felt refreshing. The tension between light mages and dark mages felt realistic.  What I liked was that the conflict was based on so many things, from history to different ethics. As a result of this, everyone in the book had their own agendas. And I loved it.

I liked the fact that we got glimpses of Alex past in the book. But what I loved the most was the fact that he was a seer. It felt refreshing, yet totally logical in the way he used his gifts. I also loved the fact that he mostly of all wanted to live a quiet life.
Luna.. .I loved Luna. She was human, but with a twist.   I felt for her as she was pulled into the search for the fateweaver. Said search led them to some fascinating characters. I shuddered when they met Arachne. She might be friendly but I am glad I don’t live in Alex Verus version of London.

The plot was delightfully twisty.  Alex was in a“ damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation” from the start, and I loved it. It fascinating to follow how he was dragged into opening the fateweaver’s vault.  Alex slowly pieced the clues together, and the more he found out the deeper into trouble he got.   Despite all this, what I missed in the book was a sense of the stakes raising. No matter how much the bad guys threatened Alex, I never felt he was in danger. But it might have been something that was lost in the translation.

ARC review: Mountain Echoes by CE Murphy

The Particulars: Urban Fantasy, Luna, available in print and as e-book
The Source: ARC from Netgalley
The Grade: B+
The Blurb:
You can never go home again.

Joanne Walker has survived an encounter with the Master at great personal cost, but now her father is missing – stolen from the timeline. She must finally return to North Carolina to find him – and to meet Aidan, the son she left behind long ago.

That would be enough for any shaman to face, but Joanne’s beloved Appalachians are being torn apart by an evil reaching forward from the distant past. Anything that gets in its way becomes tainted – or worse.

And Aidan has gotten in the way.

Only by calling on every aspect of her shamanic powers can Joanne pull the past apart and weave a better future. It will take everything she has – and more.

Unless she can turn back time…

The Review:
If Raven Calls was about Jo discovering her Irish Heritage, this book is about her discovering her Cherokee heritage.
The vivid details in the setting sucked me in. I loved how the author described the Appalachian landscape, and how the Cherokee was connected to it. The struggle between traditions and the modern society that the author describe felt very delievable.
The Cherokee nation was closeknit, which made sense to me. I also liked the suspicion that Jo’s return caused. Their wariness made total sense, since she had been… prickly during her stay in Qualla boundary. In some ways, this book is about healing and making amends. I liked how she slowly started to build a relationship with her son, Aidan, at the same time while assuring his adoptive mother that Jo wasn’t there to usurp her place. I also liked how returning to Qualla Boundary made her look back at her time there during high school, and reflect over the mistakes and memories she had made. And there was Morrison. I loved the interactions between him and Jo, I felt like their relationship became more solid.
The plot was fast paced, and deliciously complex. Everything that happened in the book was connected, from Jo’s discovery of
The plot was a fast paced, and deliciously complex.
The plot was fast paced and deliciously complex. I loved how the fast pace threw unexpected twists a Jo, and forced her to discover new aspects of her gifts. The painful history of the Cherokee was a big theme in the plot, and I loved how Ms Murphy described how the pain had affected both the past and the present.
The biggest problem I had was that sometimes Jo did things that defied physics, which boggled my mind, since I couldn’t understand how she could do that. And, no, I am not talking about her gift to travel through time.

ARC Review: Wolf Nip by Vivian Arend

The Particulars: Paranormal Romance, Samhain Publishing, available as e-book
The source: ARC from the author
The Grade: B
The Blurb:
Cat got your tongue?

Tessa Williams is looking to make her mark outside the family business, and the unusual landlocked paddle wheeler she spots in Haines, Alaska, strikes her as the perfect location. Only the owner is being difficult, refusing to sell. Still, she’s sure that replacing her written queries with a little in-person charm is all she’ll need to shortly have her Eco-tour B&B on the road to success.

Local wolf-slash-owner of said vessel, Mark Weaver, isn’t hanging on to the landmark building out of spite. There are more reasons for holding back the sale than are easily explained on paper. A face-to-face meeting to resolve the matter only confounds it—when Mark recognizes Tessa as his mate.

But she’s a cat…and cats don’t do insta-mates.

The sexual attraction between them isn’t in question, just everything else. He wants her. She wants twue wuv. His wolf can’t figure out what the holdup is. Her cat thinks the entire situation, and the pack, are rather amusing.

Somewhere in here is the beginning of a beautiful relationship—if they don’t drive each other mad.

Warning: One hyper cat, one laid-back wolf. Inappropriate use of permanent markers, and a heaping side dish of cat/dog jokes. Shenanigans (read: nookie) in front of a roaring fire. Spiced liberally with sarcasm. Enjoy!

The Review:
This is the latest Granite Wolves novella, and I had a blast reading it.
I enjoyed reading about Tessa and Marks romance. From their first meeting, when Mark’s wolf says ” Mate!” and Tessa balks. It was intresting to see the differences between wolves and cats, and how their animals tried to nudge them into mating.
That said, I admired Tessa for her strength to hit the brakes, and insisting that they got to know each other first.
Following Tessa and Mark as they worked on renovating the paddlewheeler was a crashcourse in compromises. But it was also a case of mates complimenting each other, which they did in a beautiful way.
I giggled when I read about Tessa’s meeting with the pack. I liked how she held her ground, and grudingly won the pack’s respect.
The biggest problem I had was with Tessa. I liked her, but I never felt I saw how her emotions to Mark developed from attraction to love. Maybe that was why her lightbulb moment that she loved Mark felt rushed.

Friday Bargains: Discounts and coupons

Penguin have discounted the following books.( hat tip to Apesmom at Mobileread for compiling the list.  Several of them are on my Wishlist and I cannot buy them, since the discounts are US only. *sniffle*)

Magic Unchained by Jessica Andersen Kindle | Kobo
Irresistible by Mary Balogh Kindle | Kobo
In the company of Witches by Joey W. Hill Kindle | Kobo
If I fall by Kate Noble  Kindle | Kobo
Hunter’s Rise by Shiloh Walker   Kindle | Kobo
Wedded in Scandal by Jade Lee Kindle | Kobo
Shadow’s Fall by Dianne Sylvann Kindle | Kobo

Carina Press has discounted their upcoming releases to 2.99 this month at all stores. 
Rush by Maya Banks is discounted to 7.99 ( This one has a lot of mixed reviews. It seems that reviewers either hate it or love it)
Books on Board has a new coupon that gives 40 % off:  happy price (  I strongly recommend that you download the books you buy immediately, since I have had problem with their site recently)

Review: Wolf Games by Vivian Arend

The particulars: Paranormal Romance, Samhain Publishing, available in print and as e-book.
The Source: Purchased at Kobo
The Grade: B-
The blurb:

True love’s path never did run smooth.

Granite Lake Wolves, Book 3

After seven years of total denial, Maggie Raynor’s body–and her inner wolf–are in full revolt. Weak and shaky, she literally falls into the very large and capable arms of the Granite Lake Beta, Erik Costanov. The last thing she wants is a mate, particularly when just looking at another wolf scares her to death. And one as big and sexy as Erik? Really bad idea, no matter what her libido says.

Erik expected to meet Maggie in Whitehorse to escort her to the home of her sister, his pack’s Omega. Sheer chance puts him in the right place at the right time to catch her, but the realization that hits him with the force of a full body shot is no accident. She’s his mate. An even bigger shock? She wants no part of him–not until she resolves her issues.

She’ll have to work fast, because they’re both selected to represent the pack during the premier sporting event for wolves in the north. Not only will she have to work as a team with Erik, she’ll have to face down her fear of wolves. Let the Games begin

The Review:

This is the third story, and like the others I enjoyed it a lot.  

It was intresting to see another glimpse of the world Vivian Arend has created, in the shape of the Arctic Wolf Games.  I liked how it was a mix of outdoor sports and cleverness that won the games.

Maggie and Eric’s romance was sweet to follow.  Both of them recognized they were mates, but I really liked how they took it sloow.  Part of the reason was Maggie’s scars from the past ( and I loved the fact that she had them, since that often  is missing in PNR).
I cheered for Maggie as she regained her self confidence, and started to blossom into the strong wolf that she was.   Eric was the perfect compliment to Maggie. He was big, solid and confident. And when he focused on Maggie and what Maggie needed

The biggest problem I had was due to the fact I read three of the stories in a row. It was wonderful, but it also meant that  after awhile my attention started to wander a bit.

Review: Wolf Flight by Vivian Arend

 The Particulars: Paranormal Romance, Samhain publishing, available in Print and Digital
The source: purchased at allromance
The grade: B+
The blurb:
Tad Maxwell’s workaholism serves to keep his bush-pilot company in the air, and his inner werewolf in check. In the two years since he discovered his heritage, he’s resisted the longing to test the power of his wolf side. It would mean compromising his human principles.

Then Missy Leason re-enters his life. Ten years ago, their teenage attraction never went beyond hand-holding. Now their chemistry is off the charts, pushing him closer to the step he’s not sure it’s safe to take, especially with a human.

But Missy is more like Tad than he realizes. She’s wolf too,and a wolf pack is a dangerous place to have secrets. Missy’s Alpha has sniffed out her carefully hidden Omega powers. Her first response: run from the corrupt Alpha’s plan to make her his mate. Step two: get to Tad, and hope like hell his untapped powers are strong enough to negate her own.

Every touch with Missy is hot, hot, hot, but even finding out she’s pure wolf doesn’t solve Tad’s dilemma. Is she using him, or are they truly destined mates? Only one thing is certain. He will defend her to his last breath—on his terms. Even if it means losing his life.

The review:
This is Missy and Tad’s story. This isn’t the first time I read it, but I fell in love again with them. 

It was fascinating to get a glimpse, albeit brief, into how another pack worked.  It showed what good Alpha’s Keil and Robyn was.  But it was equally fascinating to find out about Omegas. What they could and couldn’t do.  I was also intrigued by the concept of First Mates, and the dangers that held.

The plot was gripping, I enjoyed the mix of romance and suspense. As Tad and Missy fumbled through the first step of their relationship, both of them were uncertain, and struggled with their secrets. But, it made it oh so much sweeter when they started to work together to defeat the bad guys.
In fact, my only problem with this book is that the Whistler alpha felt a bit predictable. Both in how he acted, and how he was described. .