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Friday, October 20, 2017

Blog Tour Book Review: Sleeper by Lexi Blake


 Author: Lexi Blake
Series: Hunter #3, Thieves #8
Audience: +18
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: DLZ Entertainment LLC
Release Date: October 17th 2017
My Rating: 5 cups
Source: InkSlinger PR
Blurb (from Goodreads):
When Neil’s past catches up to him, Kelsey must choose between her new family and an old love…

With tensions rising between the Council and demonkind, Kelsey finds herself investigating a series of murders that threaten the fragile truce between them. If she can’t stop these killings soon, they could ignite a fire sure to burn the supernatural world down.

Unfortunately for her, Kelsey’s problems don’t stop with a pile of dead halflings. Her connection with Marcus is frayed at best, and Gray hasn’t been heard from in months. Her only semblance of peace comes from a new man in her life. When Gray storms back into the picture, her love life goes from incredibly complicated to apocalyptic.

Just as Kelsey begins to unravel the mystery, the forces of Heaven decide to take an interest in her actions. Outclassed with these powers in play, Kelsey knows that one misstep could leave the human and supernatural worlds in ashes.

*Disclaimer: I received an eARC from Inkslinger PR in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my rating or the content of my review in any way.

It's no secret I love Lexi Blake's books with all my heart. Usually when that happens I get insanely high expectations for other projects the author in question might have, but I shouldn't have worried. I've been immersed in the world of the Hunter for the past days and let me tell you, if the fourth installment was here already, I'd be reading it right now with the same excitement.

I love Kelsey so much, and I love to see where the story takes her. She's a badass and I love her for it. She's grown so much from when I first met her in Hunter and I feel like she still has so much to discover about herself. I like that she finds those tiny moments when she fights with her nature. I normally don't like that, but Blake does a wonderful job at writing the struggle Kelsey is going through with accepting who she really is and what she really needs and wants. I also love to see how she can be both lying to herself and honest with herself. I love her sarcasm. She's slowly becoming one of my favorite heroines in the genre, to be honest. She's brave and she's reckless, but she's also smart about it. She's selfless without being conceited about it, and while at times this pushes her to be self-destructive, I understand where she's coming from. I really do.

The story revealed certain aspects of the Hunter and Thieves world that I previously hadn't known about, mostly because I haven't read the original series before. It's not that I was lost, but I would have liked to have that extra knowledge. Then again, at the same time I'm kind of happy I'm missing some details, because this way I can have the same experiences as Kelsey when it comes to discovering the vastness of the world Blake has created. I don't think it's necessary to have read the previous series to understand what's going on in this one, but I feel like I'm missing a piece of the puzzle that I, personally, want to have. So I'll definitely be reading that one in the future.

I love the fact that my favorite werewolf a.k.a Trent finally gets more page time. There's an interesting relationship development that I've been hoping for since Addict, the previous book, but at the same time, this also means another relationship is changing. I don't know how to say this without spoiling things for people who haven't yet read the book, so I'll leave it at that.

I'll be honest. Gray isn't my favorite male in the series, but he is growing on me. Must have something to do with what happened to him previously, but he's slowly getting in my good graces, so to speak.

The thing I love about this book and this series actually, is that it's not solely about Kelsey. I feel like this series is about everyone, we just get the story through Kelsey's eyes. Everyone gets affected by what happens in this book, everyone grows as characters, everyone is important. Which just goes to show the mark of a true storyteller, and only serves to prove why Blake is one of my favorite authors. Blake manages to write a wonderful story about a lot of characters, where everyone gets to say their piece, and I felt like I could really connect with those people, way more than I expected in a 1st person POV story.

There's an interesting development in the book and I wonder how that will play out in the future, how it will affect certain characters. The plot is fast paced and I read the book really fast. Which makes me sad because I need Outcast, the next book in the series, out now. And I need to read the original series, to find out more about the world and get to have more time with my favorite characters.

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“Your Highness, please back away. In fact, it would be best if you left the room altogether.” Felix put himself between me and Roberts. “Kelsey, I need you to push her down. Push her back down for a few moments. Marcus will be back soon and he’s going to take care of you. Being around those angels unsettled you. I don’t know if you noticed, but at the end of the meeting, your ward fell off. You didn’t have it on when Oliver shook your hand. He’s unbalanced and now you are, too. It’s like a contagion for someone like you. Oliver’s illness has called up your inner wolf and she’s angry.”
“Perhaps if I touch her,” Henri began. “I’m an academic. I don’t have the same connection she has with Marcus, but I might be able to help.”
“I’m not unbalanced.” It didn’t matter that my hands were shaking and they had been ever since I’d left the angels behind. “I’m going to talk to the wolf whether you like it or not. He’s been handling silver. It’s the only reason his hands wouldn’t have healed. Even then, a couple of hours would have done it. Unless the freaking silver he held came straight from Heaven. What about it, Roberts? How did you spend last night?”
The wolf was shaking his head. “I don’t know.”
That wasn’t an answer I was willing to accept. I was about to explain that to everyone when Chad stepped up and got in my face.
“I’m taking him out of here now,” Chad explained. “You’ll let me or we’re going to have trouble.”
I was ready for trouble. I was fairly sure I grinned, the idea of fighting a vamp lifting my spirits high. For the first time in what felt like hours, I went still. “You’re not going anywhere.”
Chad turned, his shoulders squaring, and I felt the world begin to bend around me. Chad belongs to one of the rarest classes of vampire—the magicians. As far as I knew, he was the only one walking the night at this time. He could form illusions so real you could taste food, feel imaginary rain on your skin, utterly believe whatever he wanted you to believe. I’d come up against him before. I might be one of the only people in the world who could see through him.
“It won’t work,” I said calmly as reality seemed to go dark and I heard the hissing of snakes all around me. “Do you not remember what happened the last time you pulled this shit on me? It took three tranqs to take me down. I don’t think you have those on you today.”
“I won’t need them.” Chad lifted his hand and the world shifted.
“Holy shit,” Casey said, climbing up on his desk. “What the fuck is happening?”
Snakes were happening. They were crawling from the woodwork, twitching and hissing my way. The fibers of the carpet beneath my feet lengthened and formed more snakes until they were a menacing mass, threatening everyone in the room.
Well, except for Chad, who had lifted his husband into his arms and prepared to take him away.
I let my wolf loose a bit. She knew this was all an illusion. That primitive part of my brain that Chad was accessing, the lizard brain that merely wanted to survive, was taken over by the wolf inside me. The alpha wolf didn’t want mere survival. She wanted to dominate, and that meant seeing past fear, trusting her instincts over what her eyes perceived.
The minute I opened the door, I felt her surge through me.
“I’m not letting you go. I can’t. I’m conducting a murder investigation, and I believe your boy here just became my prime suspect.” My hands twitched, eager for a fight, and I realized how long it had been since Marcus and I had thrown down.
Too long. Remember that whole thing about needing sex or violence to feed my inner wolf? Well, she was hungry and there was a whole lot of violence in Chad’s eyes.
I welcomed it. I could feel the need rise like a wave threatening to engulf me. This was why I had a trainer in the first place.
I gritted my teeth because Chad turned on his power. I could feel those fucking snakes climbing my legs and sinking their fangs into me. I refused to pay any attention to them despite the fact that I ached to rip the fuckers off me and toss them aside. To do that would have given the magician more power. If I bought into it, if I took my eyes off the only thing in the room that was real, I would end up like Casey, who was screaming like a girl.
“Let me pass, Hunter,” Chad said.
I stood my ground like the good Gandalf I was. Except I kind of wanted to shove my nonexistent staff right up old Chad’s ass, and then we would see if he sent snakes my way again.
The anger rose, rapid and quick, a flash fire coursing through me. I didn’t even realize when I had reached for the fireplace poker. All I knew was it was suddenly in my hands and I was going to use it. I could see myself shoving that piece of wrought iron right through his heart. It wouldn’t kill him. I would need wood for that, but then again, I didn’t want the fight over so quickly.
I raised the poker, ready to start.
“Stop it, both of you.” Donovan stepped in between us, but I didn’t care at that moment. I hadn’t felt this way in forever, not since Marcus had taken me in. I hadn’t been so out of control that I didn’t care who I hurt as long as I got to hurt someone. I would fuck up Donovan, too. All that mattered was seeing blood, feeling bones crush.
“You see, I told you she’s far gone and I can’t fix her anymore. I’ve called Gray and he has an idea of what to do,” Marcus was saying.
I wasn’t listening.
I started to bring the poker down Donovan’s way, but I was stopped in mid swing. A hand held my wrist, an arm going around my middle and hauling me back against muscled flesh.
“Stop it,” Trent growled in my ear. “You stand down right this second.”    


     NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Lexi Blake lives in North Texas with her husband, three kids, and the laziest rescue dog in the world. She began writing at a young age, concentrating on plays and journalism. It wasn’t until she started writing romance and urban fantasy that she found the stories of her heart. She likes to find humor in the strangest places and believes in happy endings no matter how odd the couple, threesome, or foursome may seem.



FACEBOOK / TWITTER / WEBSITE / AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Blog Tour Spotlight: Pupcakes by Annie England Noblin




ABOUT PUPCAKES
Sit! Stay! Speak! author Annie England Noblin’s novel takes one woman starting over, adds an aging pug named Teddy Roosevelt, and proves the power of a well-baked dog treat.

All she wants is a settled-down life.
What she gets is a dog—and a whole new normal . . .
There he stood in the doorway: overweight, depressed and nearly homeless—a pug named Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy was Brydie Benson’s latest problem, arriving on top of her messy divorce and sudden move. Brydie needed a place to start over, so this rent-free home seemed a great idea. She just never counted on Teddy, or his owner, the Germantown Retirement Village’s toughest customer, Pauline Neumann.
And because rent-free doesn’t mean bills-free, Brydie gets a night-shift job at a big-box grocery. Whoever guessed there were so many people who wanted baked goods after midnight?
Then, she gets an idea—why not combine her baking skills with her new-found dog knowledge? And so her store Pupcakes is born. Along with a new start comes a possible new love, in the form of Nathan Reid, a local doctor with a sassy Irish Wolfhound named Sasha. And as fall turns to winter, and then to Christmas, Brydie begins to realize that life is a little bit like learning a new recipe for puff pastry—it takes a few tries to get it just right!

Excerpt

After dinner, Nathan refilled their wineglasses and led her into the living room. Sasha and Teddy had settled there as well, and when Nathan built a fire in the fireplace, Teddy dropped right in front of it and started to snore. Sasha wasn’t far behind him.
 “The living room at Mrs. Neumann’s house has a fireplace, too,” Brydie said. “I thought about lighting it the other night, but it hasn’t been lit in ages.”
“I’m sure she wouldn’t appreciate it if you burned her house down trying to light the fireplace,” Nathan replied.
“No, I can’t imagine that would make her too happy.”
“Listen,” Nathan said, scooting closer to her on the couch. “I’m sorry if I asked too many intrusive questions earlier. I’m hopeless at small talk, and when I get nervous, I tend to fall back into doctor mode. I swear I didn’t mean to interrogate you over chicken.”
“That’s okay,” Brydie replied. “It was actually kind of nice to talk about it with someone who doesn’t know anything about my life before I moved here.”
“How do you like Memphis so far?”
“It’s getting better,” Brydie said with a sly grin. Between the wine and the fire, she felt deliciously warm.
“I’m glad to hear it.”
Brydie watched him watching her. She liked the way his curly black hair fell in his eyes when he was concentrating. She liked the way his T-shirt fit, not too loose or too tight. She liked the way he asked her questions—soft, curious, but not intrusive. It made her want to tell him everything, anything, just to keep him looking at her. Paying attention to her.
But more than that, she realized, there was something familiar about him, comfortable. She couldn’t put her finger on what it was, but despite the constant butterflies in her stomach, he made her feel calmer somehow. She could understand why people would be drawn to him as a doctor. She could even understand why a woman might visit her elderly aunt in order to be near him.
Nathan moved a hand up to Brydie’s face, tucking a wandering strand of damp hair behind her ear. It sent a bolt of electricity through her, and when he moved his hand away, Brydie felt herself grabbing a fistful of his T-shirt and pulling him closer to her until her mouth was on his, and she could taste the wine on his lips.
Brydie fell back into the couch and pulled Nathan down on top of her. She could feel his hands exploring her body underneath her T-shirt, and she burned with a need she hadn’t known existed until that very moment.
“Do you want—” Nathan began in between frenzied kisses, but before he could finish, the ringing of his phone in his pocket cut him off.
“Ignore it,” Brydie murmured.
“I can’t,” Nathan said, pulling himself away from her with a groan. “I’m on call at the nursing home tonight.”


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ABOUT ANNIE ENGLAND NOBLIN
Annie England Noblin lives with her son, husband, and three dogs in the Missouri Ozarks. She graduated with an M.A. in creative writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches English and communications for Arkansas State University in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Her poetry has been featured in such publications as the Red Booth Review and the Moon City Review. She spends her free time playing make-believe, feeding stray cats, and working with animal shelters across the country to save homeless dogs.



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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Comic Book #27: Batwoman Vol.1 : The Many Arms of Death (Rebirth) by Marguerite Bennett, James IV Tynion

Author: Marguerite Bennett, James IV Tynion
Series: Batwoman (2017-) #1-6
Audience: +16
Genre: Comic Book
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: October 31st 2017
My Rating: 4 cups
Source: Netgalley
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Batwoman returns with her own series in BATWOMAN VOL. 1, as a part of DC Rebirth!

The newest chapter of Batwoman’s life begins here! Monster Venom is the hottest new bioweapon on the market…and to break up the syndicate spreading it around the world, Batwoman’s going to have to return to the place where she spent some of her darkest hours!

With writing from Marguerite Bennett (DC BOMBSHELLS) and James Tynion IV (DETECTIVE COMICS), as well as spectacular art from Steve Epting (CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER) and Ben Oliver (THE MULTIVERSITY), this new series spins directly out of the smash hit DETECTIVE COMICS series!

BATWOMAN VOL. 1 collects issues #1-6 and the one-shot special BATWOMAN: REBIRTH #1.
*Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley and DC Comics in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my rating or the content of my review in any way.

I went into reading this knowing nothing about Batwoman. I didn't even know Batwoman existed, to be honest. So I was surprised to see this redheaded heroine and read about her adventures, and let me tell you, I liked what I read.

The story is pretty interesting. We spend the entire first issue jumping through time, seeing brief instances from Batwoman/Kate Kane's life, since childhood to present times. This had me confused for a little bit, because for a while there I thought I was reading a similar story with Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman, which is different backstories of the same character. It took me a little bit to figure out it was small flashes of the same Kate Kane. This is probably due to me not knowing anything about Kane. We then see her trying to stop an attack at a pretty important market, which eventually leads her to a secluded island, where apparently Kate left her heart on many years ago. It was a pretty interesting concept, and I liked the flashbacks on the island, and trying to figure out what exactly happened. We still don't know a lot, so I'm hoping the future issues (if there are any) will shed some light onto what happened between Kate and Safiyah, where the latter is, and how big is this organization trying to bring down Kate.

I have to say, I wish the last issue in this volume, Rebirth #1 was at the beginning. This is actually the way I've been used to in DC comics so far, so I don't really understand why they decided to include that one at the end of the 6 issues of The Many Arms Of Death. That was the only thing that I didn't quite enjoy, mostly because it pulled me quite harshly from the original story.

The art is pretty great. There were a lot of vivid, really strong colors. The panels were not too crowded, and were easy to follow. There seemed to be a bit of a shift in drawing technique towards the last issues, but that didn't bother me as much as I expected. The art complements the story a lot, and it sort of follows the story and the timeline. The art in Rebirth however was pretty different than the one in TMAoD. Not a bad thing, just something that I noticed.

The pacing was great and I read it pretty fast. All in all, I think this is by far my favorite DC comic I've read so far. It was mysterious and dark enough to keep me wishing for more issues and page time. I will definitely read volume 2 when it comes out.



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