Monday, May 2, 2016

4 STARS | Daughter of the Sun by Zoe Kalo

Title: Daughter of the Sun
Series: Cult of the Cat #1
Author: Zoe Kalo
Age Group: Young Adult
Genres: Fantasy, Mythology
Elements: Deities, Shifters
Publisher: Zoe Kalo
Format: Kindle Edition
Published: May 1st, 2016
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Events: Book Tour
Rating: ★★★★

Sixteen-year-old Trinity was born during a solar eclipse and left at the doorsteps of a convent along with a torn piece of papyrus covered with ancient symbols. Raised by nuns in the English countryside, she leads a quiet life until she’s whisked away to the Island of Cats and a grandmother she never knew.

But before they can get to know each other, her grandmother dies. All that Trinity has left is a mysterious eye-shaped ring. And a thousand grieving cats. As Trinity tries to solve the enigma of the torn papyrus, she discovers a world of bloody sacrifices and evil curses, and a prophecy that points to her and her new feline abilities.

Unwilling to believe that any of the Egyptian gods could still be alive, Trinity turns to eighteen-year-old Seth and is instantly pulled into a vortex of sensations that forces her to confront her true self—and a horrifying destiny.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Daughter of the Sun. The mystery of who Trinity really is and the history of her family really pulls you in. Then there's the strange things happening to her and and around the Island of Cats. It was heartbreaking that Trinity never really got to know her grandmother before she died. I really liked the friendship that forms between Trinity and Ara. At first they seemed so different, but they really fit well as friends. There's a little romance, not a lot, but enough to make some steamy scenes between Trinity and Seth. But it's all kinds of complicated too. I absolutely loved Slugger. That cat is just all kinds of awesome. I'm not usually a big fan of Egyptian mythology, but I found what was shared in Daughter of the Sun to be interesting. I liked how it really brought the whole story together. There's a lot of surprises and shocks. And the ending has left me wanting to know what's going to happen next. I really need to know.

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A certified bookworm, Zoe Kalo has always been obsessed with books and reading. Reading led to writing—compulsively. No surprise that at 16, she wrote her first novel, which her classmates read and passed around secretly. The pleasure of writing and sharing her fantasy worlds has stayed with her, so now she wants to pass her stories to you with no secrecy—but with lots of mystery…

A daughter of adventurous expats, she’s had the good fortune of living on 3 continents, learning 4 languages, and experiencing a multicultural life. Currently, she’s working on a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature, which she balances between writing, taking care of her clowder of cats, and searching for the perfect bottle of pinot noir.

Monday, April 18, 2016

4 STARS | Behind My Mask by Holland Kohl

Title: Behind My Mask
Series: Blood and Envy #1
Author: Holland Kohl
Age Group: Adult
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, MC
Publisher: Holland Kohl
Format: Kindle Edition
Published: January 22nd, 2016
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Events: Review Request
Rating: ★★★★

Haunted by her past, Envy Harris lives each day under the facade of an assumed life. She is Anna Wharton, the dutiful wife of a star professor, arm-candy, and hostess. To outsiders, she has it all. But when the parties end and the guests leave, Envy is left alone with nothing but memories of her Father’s death and the demons that are still searching for her. Envy has nowhere to go and nobody she can trust, but that all changes the moment she meets Lorne.

Lorne Beringer wants nothing more than to start over and leave his criminal ties behind him along with the Hell’s Demons MC. He worked his ass off to get accepted into a prestigious program at an Ivy League school and won’t jeopardize it for anything, that is until he meets Envy. She’s everything he could want in a woman. Only she’s not the woman he thinks she is.

The past has a way of catching up to you. It will either drag you down into the murky depths of despair or be a catalyst for revenge. Entangled in more ways than they know, Lorne and Envy need to face their pasts before they can have a future.

Please note: This book contains profanity and deals with serious themes including violence and murder.
Both Envy and Lorne have had their lives destroyed by the Hell's Demons MC. As children, Envy was the daughter of the MC's President and loved by all, whereas Lorne the son of one of the club brothers, who lived with his mother most of the time, was disliked by many. Except Envy. But when two separate events that changed their lives forever, Envy leaves the MC she loves and becomes Anna and Lorne joins the MC he hates and becomes Blood. Years later, they meet again, but don't remember each other. They fall fast and hard for each other, but there are circumstances on both sides that could destroy what they have forever.

I really liked Behind My Mask. The circumstances that change Envy and Lorne's lives are so tragic. The first past remembrance scene that we read from Envy's POV is so heartbreaking. Then we learn what happened to Lorne and it just makes you really feel for these two. As children, they both had wanted to make something more of themselves than what the MC could offer, but with two tragic events, their lives were completely derailed.

Their lives are so entwined with the MC that it looks impossible, no matter how hard they try, to get free of it. I wanted so desperately for them to be able to just get away and have the life they always wanted, together if that were possible. Envy and Lorne are like two sides of the same coin. And I think that even after what happened at the end of this book, that there isn't going to be a way for them to separate from each other. No matter how much Envy may want that now.

I was so angry with Lorne at the end of this book and the cliffhanger makes me want the next book right now, so that I can see if he kept his promise and is able to fix what he did. For such a short book, it took me on a huge emotional roller coaster. I just really need to know what happens next.

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Holland lives in New York City. For fun, she likes to explore beautiful Brownstone Brooklyn and frequent vegan eateries.

Friday, April 15, 2016

5 STARS | Bring Me to Ruin by Tess Rider

Title: Bring Me to Ruin
Series: The Haunted Hollow #1
Author: Tess Rider
Age Group: Adult
Genres: Science Fiction, Paranormal, Romance, Suspense, Historical, Erotica, Cyberpunk, Steampunk
Elements: Witches, Fae, Ghosts, Banshees, Undead Things, Time Travel
Publisher: The Life Romantic Press
Format: Electronic ARC
Published: April 12th, 2016
Source: The Killion Group | NetGalley
Events: Review Request
Rating: ★★★★★

“You and he are fated to love. Nothing in this universe can stand between that kind of attraction. It crosses time, space and everything else in between… Love is a force of nature.”

The last thing Thea Maloney expects the day after her first love, Gerard Wyatt, is executed for a crime he didn't commit, is a chance to travel to the 22nd Century to a place called the Haunted Hollow. There time has splintered into hundreds of timelines and a savage ghost war has ravaged the planet. One man stands between what remains of the human race and extinction, a man known only as The General. A man who also happens to be another version of Gerard. Thea’s mission in this haunted place is to solve the riddle of the broken timelines and show the General the power of love before he makes a choice that will doom them all. But how do you convince a man who already thinks you’re the enemy and who’s known only horror his entire life that you’re his soulmate?

Raised in the trenches of the Great Ghost War, the General lives and breathes only one thing. Death. His enclave of ghost hunters and refugees is all that’s left of the human race and he will do anything to reverse humanity’s fate, even if it means rewriting history in a bold gambit to turn back time. What he doesn’t count on is the arrival of Thea Maloney, a woman who makes him feel things he’s never experienced before. He knows he should keep his distance from her, but it gets more difficult with each increasingly sensual encounter. Was she sent to seduce and spy on him, or worse, sabotage the enclave from the inside? Or could she be the one person who can save them all?
What can I say about Bring Me to Ruin? It was an amazing, heart-wrenching time travel story filled with love, hate, war, duty, loss, tragedy, faith, just everything. This book gave me so many feels. It's hard to express what I'm feeling right now. I loved all the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey time travel stuff in Bring Me to Ruin. I loved the romance that crosses time and dimensions. Thea and the General! Those two drove me nuts at times, but their love just melted me heart. The only thing I perhaps didn't like about Bring Me to Ruin was how long it was. It's a very long book, but the mind-blowing story more than makes up for how long it takes to read the book. I was sucked into the story and I'm really wanting the next book, like right now.

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Tess Rider lives with her wonderfully eccentric husband of almost fifteen years in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s an accountant by day, a novelist by night and an artist at heart 24/7.

Tess holds a B.A. in Art History and did her thesis on Remedios Varo, one of the lesser known female Surrealists, whose deeply personal work brings an exciting dreamworld to vivid life. Tess has long been interested in the impact of dreams, myths and the transcendental on the creative process. Later in life, while spending a year living in New Orleans, Tess had the opportunity to explore the religions of the Caribbean and found in their pantheons and histories inspiration for her writing and art.

Today, Tess is an active member of the San Francisco Area chapter of the RWA and is working hard on the next books in the Haunted Hollow series.

Friday, April 8, 2016

4 STARS | Trial by Fire by Chris Cannon

Title: Trial by Fire
Series: Going Down in Flames #3
Author: Chris Cannon
Age Group: Young Adult
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Elements: Dragons
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Format: Electronic ARC
Published: April 4th, 2016
Source: YA Bound Book Tours | NetGalley
Events: Book Tour
Rating: ★★★★
Series Reviews: Bridges Burned

Bryn’s hopes for a peaceful new semester at school go up in smoke when someone tries to kill her—again. She’s not sure which is scarier, facing the radicals who want to sacrifice her for their cause, or her impending nightmare-of-a-Directorate-arranged marriage to her nemesis, Jaxon.

The one bright spot in her life is Valmont, her smoking-hot knight who is assigned to watch over her twenty-four hours a day. Is what she feels for him real, or just a side effect of the dragon-knight bond? At this point, stopping the impending civil war might be easier than figuring out her love life.
Trial by Fire has a lot of secrets and mysteries that are revealed. The attacks are still happening at the Institute and it turns out that there are more Hybrids that no one knew about until now. I'm loving the direction that this series is going. The relationships are one of my favorite things in this series. I love how close Bryn is becoming with her grandparents. They aren't as cold and stony as we thought. I'm really enjoying the interactions between Bryn and Jaxon. They make a really great team. And Valmont! The dragon-knight bond is stronger than ever and I'm hoping that they never decide to break it. There's just so much to love about this book. I wish I had the next one right now!

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Chris Cannon lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and her three dogs, Pete the shih tzu who sleeps on her desk while she writes, Molly the ever-shedding yellow lab, and Tyson the sandwich-stealing German Shepherd Beagle. She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures or romantic comedies.

4 STARS | Bridges Burned by Chris Cannon

Title: Bridges Burned
Series: Going Down in Flames #2
Author: Chris Cannon
Age Group: Young Adult
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Elements: Dragons
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Format: Kindle Edition
Published: January 19th, 2015
Source: YA Bound Book Tours | NetGalley
Events: Book Tour
Rating: ★★★★

Don't just fight the system…burn it.

Since discovering she is a shape-shifting, fire-breathing dragon on her sixteenth birthday (surprise!), Bryn McKenna’s world has been thrown into chaos. Being a “crossbreed”—part Red dragon and part Blue—means Bryn will never fit in. Not with dragon society. Not with the archaic and controlling Directorate. And definitely not when she has striped hair and a not-so-popular affection for rule-breaking…

But sneaking around with her secret boyfriend, Zavien, gets a whole lot harder when he’s betrothed to someone else. Someone who isn't a mixed breed and totally forbidden. And for an added complication, it turns out Bryn’s former archnemesis Jaxon Westgate isn’t quite the evil asshat she thought. Now she’s caught between her desire to fit in and a need to set things on fire. Literally.

Because if Bryn can’t adapt to the status quo…well, then maybe it’s time for her to change it.
Bridges Burned is the second book in the Going Down in Flames series and starts right where the first book left off. After the attack at her grandparent's house, Bryn begins having problems with her boyfriend, Zavien, and the attacks have followed her to school. Between fighting for her life, playing nice with her grandparents, trying to figure out her love life, and evading an arranged marriage, Bryn has her work cut out for her.

The Institute is attacked by rogue dragons acting out against the Directorate, injuring many of the students. Dragon Society is on the brink of war, each attack is launched a different clan's power, so who's really behind the attack is unclear, but everyone is suspect until proven innocent. We see more of how Dragon Society functions and runs. There is a lot of upheaval in Bridges Burned, both societal and personal for Bryn. We really get to see how people really are in this book. Those Bryn thought friends turn out to be enemies and those she thought enemies turn out to be friends. Love and loyalty are tested in this book.

Bryn is a character that I can't help but love. She goes through so much in this book. Zavien turns out the be a jerk, Jaxon isn't as bad as she thought he was (although she still finds him annoying), her relationship with her grandparents improves after something that happens with her parents, and people are still trying to kill her. But even through all of this, she's still the same feisty, strong, resourceful girl she was in the first book. I was so disappointed with Zavien. I loved him in the first book, but he was such a jerk in this book. Like Bryn, I wanted to lob a fireball at this head. I actually really liked Jaxon in this book. He and Bryn have kind of become frenemies. And he's definitely more reliable than Zavien. Then there's Bryn's knight Valmont. He has a lot bigger role in this book and I loved seeing more of the knight-dragon bond. Clint and Ivy have proven to be really loyal friends and have stayed by Bryn's side through everything.

I really liked how Chris Cannon continued Bridges Burned right where Going Down in Flames ended. It gives a really nice flow to the story that I really liked. There's a lot of feels in this book. There's heartbreak, loss and tragedy, love and friendship, bonds are broken while others are forged stronger than ever. Tensions are rising to a fever pitch. Dragon society is in upheaval. And Bryn seems to be in the middle of it all. I'm looking forward to seeing where Chris Cannon takes us and the story in the next book!

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Chris Cannon lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and her three dogs, Pete the shih tzu who sleeps on her desk while she writes, Molly the ever-shedding yellow lab, and Tyson the sandwich-stealing German Shepherd Beagle. She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures or romantic comedies.

5 STARS | Perfekt Balance by S.T. Bende

Title: Perfekt Balance
Series: The Ære Saga #3
Author: S.T. Bende
Age Group: New Adult
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal, Mythology, Urban Fantasy
Elements: Deities
Publisher: S.T. Bende
Format: Electronic ARC
Published: April 5th, 2016
Source: S.T. Bende
Rating: ★★★★★
Series Reviews: Perfekt Order | The Asgardians | Perfekt Control

Become what you believe.

Elsa Fredriksen knows there’s a thin line between love and fear. As High Healer, she rights the wrongs committed by those who choose the darkness. But even Asgard’s secret weapon can’t undo every injury—especially when her fate is completely entwined with the god she’s trying to save.

Elsa’s in love with the Norse God of Justice. But Forse’s heart is ruled by fear—fear that the past will repeat itself; fear that opening his heart will compromise his ability to do his job; fear that he’ll hurt the one girl he desperately wants to protect. Again.

When Elsa faces off against the very monster she once swore to protect, her survival depends on a power she isn’t sure she can control. And when Forse’s worst nightmare unfolds in front of him, Elsa has to decide whether it’s more important to hold the realms in perfekt balance . . . or hold on to the guy she can’t imagine existing without.
In Perfekt Balance, we follow Elsa and Forse's story. Elsa struggles to learn her Unifier abilities, which would be fine if she wasn't needed to help apprehend one of Asgard's most wanted. Forse, Norse God of Justice and the love of Elsa's life, is by her side through it all, until the mission goes wrong and she's kidnapped. Now she needs to learn how to truly be Asgard's Unifier if she wants to save herself and her loved ones.

I have been looking forward to reading Elsa and Forse's story we first met them in the first book, Perfekt Order. I really liked learning more about what a Unifier's role is in the grand scheme of things. And I absolutely loved all the little hints of events to come in future books. My favorite part of course was the love story. Elsa and Forse really are the perfekt balance to each other. Then we even have some surprise revelations about Tyr and his biological family, which were completely unexpected. We are getting closer and closer to overlapping with the Elsker Saga, which I'm very excited about, and we see that in the hints I mentioned before. This addition to the Aere Saga was so exciting and just gave me all the feels. And that ending, on my goodness, Forse! I loved it all!

Elsa is Asgard's High Healer and interim Unifier until Mia can be trained in the role. She is more proficient as a Healer and has no clue as to how to be a Unifier. She's just kind of winging it. Elsa is this very spiritual and peaceful person, but in Perfekt Balance we see that she can be just as fierce as any of our Norse Crew. She loves with her whole heart and will do what needs to be done to protect those she loves. Elsa and Forse practically share one heart, as they beat in time with each other. But Forse hold a lot of guilt over his role in her parent's deaths, and that keeps him from completely opening his heart to her. I really just want to give Forse to biggest hug. I'm extremely happy that these two finally get their happy ever after. Forsa forever!

S.T. Bende has created, once again, a beautiful story that I couldn't help but fall in love with. Her Norse Crews are made up of honorable and loveable characters that you never want to leave. The way that she weaves her tales of Norse Mythology with this contemporary world leaves readers captivated well beyond the last page. Perfekt Balance is the perfekt addition to the Aere Saga and I'm extremely looking forward to continuing this series. Next year is too long to wait for the next book!

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Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, S.T. Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and Europe… where she became overly fond of McVities cookies. Her love of Scandinavian culture and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired the books of The Elsker Saga and The Ære Saga. She hopes her characters make you smile, and she dreams of skiing on Jotunheim and Hoth.

Find S.T. on Twitter @stbende, her website (, or send her an e-mail. While you're at it, introduce yourself to @UllMyhr and @TyrFredriksen—when they’re not saving the cosmos from dark elves, they love meeting new friends . . . especially the human kind.

Want to connect with fellow Norse god fans? S.T.'s readers have created a Facebook group! Head over to the RagnaRockstars page to chat with other readers, talk with S.T., and get access to exclusive content . . . including Ull POVs and sneak peeks at upcoming Ære Saga books!

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Skål, y’all!