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SPIRITED LEGACY – A Lost Library Novel, Book 2 – by Kate Baray – Cover Release!

Synopsis
Lizzie receives an offer she can’t refuse—an internship at the Lost Library, home to hundreds of magical books. And to make the deal even sweeter, her prospective boss has offered to act as her magic mentor. What’s a girl to say, but yes? Except…there are the questions of her unresolved love affair, her recently acquired arch enemy, and a haunting past.
 
Can Lizzie tackle a new job, learn the magical ropes of spell casting, and save her relationship with an amazing man—all while eluding her nemesis? She’ll sure as hell try.
 
Join Lizzie as she muddles through another magical adventure, with old friends and new, making the most of what life—and the afterlife—throw at her.
Excerpt
Suddenly, the fight shifted. She hadn’t realized that John had been fighting defensively, until he wasn’t. The seething mass of tawny, silver, and reddish fur seemed to heave. Before Lizzie could properly process what had happened, the body of a red wolf—much smaller than John—was lying in a pile next to the tapestry wall. Her ears were ringing from the sound of the two shots Max had fired almost immediately, hitting first the torso then the head of the prone wolf. She couldn’t imagine he had survived his impact with the wall. Whether a broken neck or a bullet killed him, the result was the same. Even from across the large entryway, Lizzie could clearly see the open, staring eyes and the motionless body heaped into a pile of unnatural angles, loose skin, and bloodied fur. 
 
Her stomach roiled and her mouth started to water in a way that predicted the very real possibility she’d lose the contents of her stomach. She inhaled cautiously. Then exhaled very slowly, fearful a fast breath might push her nausea into vomiting. She’d seen a Lycan killed before—but she hadn’t been this close to the corpse. She took another slow breath.
 
As she struggled to stay calm, she couldn’t help but see John. His body intertwined with pale patches of fur. With just the two, she could see more detail as the fight continued. The paler wolf’s dangling and useless foreleg. The blood—definitely not John’s—splashed across his rib cage. The increasingly sluggish movements as both wolves tired. Wrapped up in the push and pull, the clawing and grabbing, Lizzie could feel her nausea recede. John would be fine. John would be fine. Almost a chant in her head.
 
This excerpt is unedited and subject to change.
MeetTheAuthor


 
Kate Baray is a paranormal romance and urban fantasy writer. She writes and lives in Austin, Texas with her pack of pointers and a bloodhound. Kate has worked as an attorney, a manager, a tractor sales person, and a dog trainer, but writing is her passion. When she’s not writing, she volunteers with a search and rescue team, sweeps up hairy dust bunnies, and watches British mysteries. Sign up for Kate’s newsletter: http://eepurl.com/WD6UD

 

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Review: Napoleon, A Pierced Series Novella By J.C. Mells

nap
The last “Pierced” for a while… so if you haven’t read them all, start from the first and sweep right through! These books are like chocolate, you can’t get enough!

I don’t know whether to be happy – or to cry!! I just finished Napoleon, a novella in the world of the Pierced series. And this is going to be the last in the series for a while, as J.C. is going to be moving on to other writings for a while. So – one of my favorite character’s stories comes to a head – but I don’t get my Pierced now! Ah well. I can always go back and reread when I miss Pierce, Lucas, Napoleon and all the gang. And hey, if you haven’t read the series yet, you are in the enviable position of being able to start at the beginning and go straight through, so there is always that!

Napoleon is such a great character. But let’s back up a bit. When Pierce and Lucas, the main characters of the series, first meet, Lucas is wearing a pink gay-pride T-shirt while trying to kidnap her. So, through the rest of the series, she calls him “Pink” – which is hysterical as he is a huge guy, rough, tough and no nonsense. But he wears this shirt, and many others in the same theme throughout the series, to support his sister’s adopted child, Napoleon, who is gay. And of course, being a gay werewolf is pretty far outside the realm of “acceptable behavior” in the wolfie world.

Now, after all the trials and tribulations of the previous books, we pick up from the last as Napoleon and his friend, Moused, take off for the Big Apple and college.

Moused and Nap go to New York. There ought to be a movie about that, surely.

The only problem is the very hunky, very straight, and undeniably uber-arrogant and spoiled future heir to the Uppsala Pack of Sweden, the largest pack in Europe. Living in Nowhere, Nevada for the summer, the home of Napoleon’s pack, the Prince has made Nap’s life a complete misery, alternately flirting with and flinging Nap away. Thank goodness Prince Sixten Dahl is off for Oxford while Napoleon is for NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and Moused for Columbia. OH, but wait . . . there’s more! For Six is not headed for Oxford after all – and Nap’s life has just become a living hell once again. Crushing on the straight guy. Oy.

J.C. Mells has brought me so much joy with her Pierced series. Her Nowhere Pack is a true treat – mixing wolves, vamps and humans, straights and gays. All the things the straight-laced Packs really, really don’t comprehend. Read the series. If you follow my reviews, you will know if you like the same books I do. And this series is one of my absolute favorites! And remember, J.C. is still giving away free copies of her second in the series, Escaped for a link to your Amazon review of Pierced!

Let me know how you like the series! Bet you will . . .

Review: Hot Blooded By Amanda Carlson

hotblood
I recommend reading the first book before reading this one. You can read this book first, but the story line will be much clearer if you read in order.

In the first book of the series, Full Blooded, we are introduced to Jessica McClain. Jessica is an oddity – born the daughter of her packs Alpha, life should be good. But there is a problem with that – female werewolves aren’t supposed to exist. And no one in the pack is willing to let her forget that she is a freak of nature. Once past puberty and not having shifted, Jessica thought she would live out her life as a human. She left the pack behind, starting a new life with a new name.
Everything was going well, until her wolf decided it was time to surface.

Hot Blooded, the second book of the series, picks up just after the events of the previous book. Told almost entirely on the road, with brief phone updates connecting Jessica to her father and pack at home, Jessica and her rather ‘unusual’ traveling companions, including two vampires loaned to her by the Vampire queen.

It took me a while to read Hot Blooded for the publisher. I started to read the book, but soon realized that I would be much better served to read the first book first. It pulled the story together for me, in a manner which I wasn’t feeling until reading the first. While there are things I didn’t care for all that much. Jessica is a bit of a Mary Sue, overcoming apparently insurmountable odds on her own.

What I did enjoy about the story is just how compassionate Jessica is for all creatures, including humans – a personality quirk that her werewolf brethren definitely are not happy about. Jessica is strong, intelligent and has her own mind, a rarity in the urban fantasy heroine tropes of the day, making her a perfect addition to the genre. I hope that she retains that compassion across the series.

A pissed-off goddess, a bright yellow Humvee, a couple of werewolves, a couple of vampires on loan (and of course, vampires being vampires, there is a heavy price to pay should she live long enough to return. Just sayin’), issues resolved and new issues opened and unresolved leads to an exciting story line which I expect much from in the future.
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I received Hot Blooded from the publisher in return for an honest review. I purchased Full Blooded on my own in order to keep the series in order and to gain a better understanding of the story line. Great cover, though!

Review: Shaman Rises – The Final Volume Of The Walker Papers by C.E. Murphy

shamanrises
I don’t really like the white shirt, it washes her out, but the book itself? AWESOME!!! PUBLICATION DATE: JUNE 24, 2014!! PREORDER YOUR COPY NOW!

The stories that I want to tell, especially as a director, don’t necessarily have a perfect ending because, the older you get, the more you appreciate a good day versus a happy ending. You understand that life continues on the next day; the reality of things is what happens tomorrow. – Drew Barrymore

I am convinced that it is not the fear of death, of our lives ending that haunts our sleep so much as the fear… that as far as the world is concerned, we might as well never have lived. – Harold Kushner

I don’t know whether to smile at another great Joanne Walker book by C. E. Murphy, or to cry like a baby because this is the end. The last volume in this amazing series. And amazing it is. Ms. Murphy created in Joanne Walker, born Siobhan Walkingstick, one of the most interesting, strong and non-stupid heroines of all time.

Beginning back in 2005, we first met Joanne, a mechanic for the Seattle Police Department, whose life was suddenly turned on its head. Flying back from Ireland, where she has just buried her mother, Jo looks down from her window – to see a young woman fleeing across the parking lot of a church, and a man with a wicked looking knife. Jumping into a cab with a 70-odd year old cab driver, Gary, Joanne tracks the church, finds the woman – and suddenly finds that she has three days to learn to use her shamanic powers in order to save the world from Cernunnos and the Wild Hunt.

What followed was one of those series that I simply couldn’t put down – that I made a point of re-reading every single volume before the next came out. Well, re-listening, as Gabra Zackman (well, Christine Carroll did the first volume) literally nailed the character and voice of Joann, a smart but often fragile heroine, strong, hardheaded, and more than willing to do the hard things to protect her friends and her city. With her best friend Gary, a 70-odd year old taxi driver, and a diverse group of magical and non-magical friends, the series has held my heart for the last ten years.

In this, the final volume, all the stories of the previous books come together, the warp and weave of an immaculate tapestry, story lines resolved, lives saved and lost, with each character’s part reaching full resolution, whether in joy or in heartrending pain. Characters we have loved throughout the series are brought back to the story line in order to fulfill their destinies and do their part to save a world threatened by their oldest and most vicious enemy, The Master a monster of darkness, death and spite, intent on blackening all goodness in the world. And it is Joanne’s job, with the help of her friends, to stop the blackness descending upon the world.

As the book blurb states, and which means more than I can say:

Lives will be lost as the repercussions of all Joanne’s final transformation into her full Shamanic abilities come to her doorstep. Before the end, she’ll mourn, rejoice—and surrender everything for the hope of the world’s survival. She’ll be a warrior and a healer. Because she is finally a Shaman Rising.

I can’t stress enough how much I will miss Joanne Walker. She has brought me many hours of joy over the last several years. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I won’t go back over and again to read her tale. If you haven’t read the series before, start at the first, and work your way through. If you love stupendous, well-realized character development, meticulous world building, and stories which will make you laugh, cry, suffer, and generally run through the gamut of human emotions with the heroine and her friends, I can’t recommend this series highly enough.

Goodbye, Joanne. I will think of you often, and with great regard.

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Note: I received my copy of Shaman Rises from Netgalley in return for an honest review. I have “honestly” loved this series from its inception, and will miss the exploits of Joanne and her friends more than I can say.

 

Review: Lost Library By New Author Kate Baray

library
A great story by a new author who I will definitely be following! Click for the Goodreads page!

There are a lot of things that catch my attention about different books. Interesting story lines, great character development and wonderful world building are all equally important to me. In the case of Lost Library: An Urban Fantasy Romance it is the heroine of the piece that truly tickled my fancy and kept me reading. This is not to say that the story line and world building aren’t superb. They are. But I could really identify with Lizzie. Maybe it is the fact that she is a lot like me. She works at home, rarely sees even her own clients, and has a terrific best friend, Kenna. She just never sees herself as anyone who is brave or anyone who could be spectacular in any way. But that is about to change.

A book has shown up a Lizzie’s house. A very unusual book. Very old and bound in leather, at first she thinks there is nothing in the book. But she slowly realizes that not only is there writing on the first page of the book, but every time she opens it the writing, and the hand it is written in, changes. Now, if only it wasn’t all blurry and unreadable . . .

Kate Baray has written a fast paced, interesting book which I glad to say is much more story than ‘romantic scenes.’ Her magical world building is both unusual and comprehensive, and made me smile over the creativity. Overall, the only thing I don’t care for is that now I have to wait for the next book! It seems clear that there is more coming in what I hope will turn out to be a series. However, there is no real “cliffhanger” at the end. There is plenty of room for “more” but if you want a stand-alone, well, you could certainly end here and be satisfied. Of course, again, I really like Lizzie and hope that we can learn more in future about her growth as magical ‘Record Keeper’ and her interactions with others of the magical world.

Highly recommended – and not just for romance readers. While there is an undercurrent of romance and “boy gets girl” there is good, solid storytelling to be had in what appears to be Ms. Baray’s first published work. I look forward to more from this talented writer! Besides, anyone with a pack of pointers and a bloodhound has got my attention anyway!

Review: Shield of Winter By Nalini Singh – Book 13 Of The Psy-Changeling Series

winter
Thank you to Penguin’s “First To Read” program for the opportunity to read and review this wonderful novel! Click to preorder your copy now.

In the end, they’d all grown up under a regime that attempted to turn them into tools for the use of others—tools meant to be discarded once they passed their use-by date.

 

First, I must confess that this is my first Psy-Changeling book. Ms. Singh’s work has been on my “to read” list for quite some time, but I simply haven’t had the opportunity to read any of her works. When Penguin Books gave me the opportunity to read Shield of Winter I literally jumped at the chance. What a great excuse to move it to the top of my reading pile!

Going into the story I was well aware of the fact that this is Lucky 13 in the Psy-Changeling series, (actually, there are also quite a few “shorts” and novellas also extant in this world) so I feared that I couldn’t expect to really understand what was going on. However, I must say, I was wrong about that. Looking at the long list of characters in the front of the book, I worried that I would be lost or confused, but Ms. Singh is such a brilliant writer that before the first chapter was over I was completely riveted.

This is a deeply layered series, with one of the more unusual premises extant in the UF genre. In the world of the Psy there is no emotion – no love, no hate, only mercilessly unemotional characters, driven a slavish obsession with perfection in all things. There is only The Silence, controlled by the NetMind and DarkMind, the twin entities that knew every corner of the vast psychic network that connected all Psy on the planet

Now, however, that link is broken, the Silence is no more. But all is not well, as the cold, emotionless Psy struggle to live in a new reality, where emotion is not a crime to be punished by devastating psychic brain wipes. Silence was a deeply flawed construct – but a necessary one, as cruel as it may have been. And now a deadly contagion is whipping through the Psy population with deadly result. In order to save the Psy population, changes must be made, and the Empaths, nearly wiped from existence in the past, may be the only beings who can save the world.

The first step is finding and bringing in Ivy, an Empath who, though she was subjected to the brutality of a mind wipe as a child, gives hope that she may actually be a savior. Sent to find her and bring her back is Vasic, a sort of “super soldier assassin” on a par with the Terminator.

Now, I understand that Ms. Singh’s works are based more in the “Paranormal Romance” end of the Contemporary Fantasy genre, and I can work with that. However, I will admit to having an overwhelming problem with Ivy. She was an unpleasant character to my way of thinking. Needy and clinging don’t do it for me in a heroine and Ivy has that in spades. Vasic was a much more empathetic character. He has done horrific things in his life, things he understands to be unforgivable, even though he did these things under the control of a sort of “hive mind. His pain and sense of hopelessness, and his attempts to do the right thing even though he doesn’t feel worthy of living touched me on a visceral level and kept me reading just a much as the amazing world that I was learning.

Unlike other readers of the series (I have read the reviews) I was not as interested in the “romantic” side of the story, so my problems with Ivy didn’t overwhelm my sheer enjoyment of a well built world, a stunning concept, and great writing. Overall, I am looking forward to starting the series at the first book and learning about how this new situation has come to pass.

Review: Shiftless – Aimee Easterling – A Paranormal Fantasy

Sometimes, being a female werewolf can be a flat out nightmare. Especially when your father, the pack alpha, is a brutal, psychotic mess whose only interaction with you is to issue orders on your birthday every year, then walk away. And things are made even more difficult when you can’t seem to manage your shifts, making the thought of saving yourself from the situation even more impossible.

shif
A new author with a fresh perspective on the werewolf world. Worth spending a bit of your precious reading time with.

Hated by her own father and marginalized by her father’s repressive, misogynist pack, Terra struggles with her change and, when her father demands on her sixteenth birthday that she be mated and bred, Terra finally gathers her strength and flees her fathers hateful pack. Now on her own, life as the equivalent of a teenaged runaway is hard, cold, and more often hungry than not. Then, when the unthinkable happens, Terra knows that it is time to step up and bring her wolf under control – to lock her away and live solely in the human world.

Flash forward ten years, and we find Terra curled up in a chair in a bookstore, intent on a Patricia Briggs novel. If she can’t have a pack, she can at least read about them, right? But again, fate deals her a blow as a pair of werewolves, an alpha – on leash of all things – and his beta walk into the bookstore, and straight into Terra’s life. Oh, shit. Not another alpha! And the world continues to crash around her when her father reappears in her live with ultimatums and torments, threatening to force her back into the life of servitude she has worked so hard to escape.

Will the alpha known as Wolfie and his highly unusual pack be able to protect Terra and her nephew from the torments of her father? Or will she be forced to give up her life, to bend to the will of her brutal former pack in order to save her nephew and the members of Wolfie’s pack?

This is a first novel for Aimee Easterling, and for a first, it is very well written. Even more pleasant, it is well edited, which in and of itself is a positive. The book has many of the same tropes as the ubiquitous werewolf and paranormal romance novel, which in itself is not a bad thing. Ms. Easterling has put her own unique twist onto the culture, especially in regards to Wolfie and his oddball, loveable pack. They were my favorite characters, from the yahoos (you will get the reference when you read the book) to the lesbian couple, something one doesn’t often show up in the werewolf/paranormal genre, and is a pairing that I found quite refreshing.

Overall, this is a pleasant, quirky read, recommended for a lazy afternoon with tea and a quilt, curled in your favorite chair. The book does end on a tiny bit of a cliffhanger, but not unpleasantly so. I look forward to reading the next book and watching to see if wildly disparate groups can learn to function as a community.

This book was reviewed at the request of Readergiveaways.com. All remarks and thoughts are my own.

Review: Rise of the Retics (Rosehaven: the Hidden City)

Intolerance is the most socially acceptable form of egotism, for it permits us to assume superiority without personal boasting. – Sydney J. Harris

rise
Highly creative, with exceptional world-building! Click to order.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good outnumber you, and we always will. – Patton Oswalt

The right to survival. Throughout history, there have been those who have seen that right stripped, demeaned, destroyed. Native Americans decimated by the white invaders, the Jews (and everyone else) by the Nazis, and everyone not of their religion by the Church. And the depredations of the Church weigh heavily upon the world and the lives of those who are “different” in Rise of the Retics. In this new and fascinating world, based loosely upon the Spanish Inquisition, the church and government attempt to decimate all of the retics, creatures of myth and legend. Driven into refugee camps and denied the most basic of rights, this is their tale, a tale of imagination and great humor, yet also of viciousness and discrimination, pain and angst. And as much as I would like to say that it is only the humans who bring pain, it is also the retics who bring about pain and intolerance amongst their own.

Lantz is brilliant in his character development and perspective, his humor and world building. There are levels and degrees of creativity that are rare in many more ‘idolized’ modern books. While Lantz’s writing is perfect for the preteen audience, it is extremely pleasant for a more adult audience as well. Honestly, I would like to see this wonderful novel rise to the level of the Harry Potter series in popularity. It is more creative, the characters both more and less likable, the world fascinating and beautifully written.

And let us not forget the footnotes – they are absolutely hysterical, and lend an extra level of brightness to the story.

All in all, if you are open to a new and creative world, filled with layers and dimensions, I would highly recommend Lantz’s story. It was, in a word, fantastic.

I received this book from Storycartel in return for a realistic review. All thoughts on the book are my own. It is beautifully written, though it could use a bit of an edit. I would recommend it to the adventurous reader!

Yippee! Beta Reading Book Three – The Pierced Series by J. C. Mells

Perfect Cover 2
The cover for “Perfect” – Book three of the J. C. Mells “Pierced” series!

Just finished the Beta and, OMFG!!! J. C. does it again – another brilliant story full of pain and hate, love and understanding and a tremendous cast of characters. Watch here – I will let you know as soon as I know when it is coming out – and you have to read this book! Of course, if you haven’t read the first ones, you have to read those too- – – these are too good to miss!

Thanks, J. C. Mells!!!

 

“Can’t live with him, can’t live without him.”

Never have these words seemed more true to Pierce as she deals with the aftermath of Salt Lake City. She and Lucas can’t seem to stay apart from each other for very long without the night panics happening again – but being together is almost as torturous. Will her past ever allow her to be intimate with him? Can she afford to let her guard down and allow herself to be happy? She’s still suffering from the post-traumatic stress of what happened to her the last time she did that.

But on the plus side, their little town of Nowhere is coming along in leaps and bounds. So much so, that it has appeared on the radar of the wolf community. Or at least Pierce’s presence has.

Suddenly it seems like Nowhere is THE place to be these days..

pierce
Who is Pierce?

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Keep your eyes open – I will post when the book is published!

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