Tag: Fantasy

Guest Review: Bring the Heat by G.A. Aiken

Posted September 15, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Bring the Heat by G.A. AikenReviewer: Jen
Bring the Heat by G.A. Aiken
Series: Dragon Kin #9
Also in this series: Light My Fire, Dragon on Top, Bring the Heat
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: August 29th 2017
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 416
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

HE SAYS . . .I, Aidan the Divine, am . . . well, divine. My name was given to me by the Dragon Queen herself! I’m a delight! Cheerful. Charming. And a mighty warrior who is extremely handsome, with a very large and well-hidden hoard of gold. I am also royal-born, despite the fact that most in my family are horrendous beings who don’t deserve to live. And yet, Branwen the Awful—a low-born, no less—either tells me to shut up or, worse, ignores me completely.

SHE SAYS . . .I’ll admit, I ignore Aidan the Divine because it annoys him. A lot. But we have so much to do right now, I can’t worry about why he keeps staring at me, or why he always sits so close, or why he keeps looking at me like he’s thinking about kissing me. We have our nations to save and no time for such bloody foolishness . . . no matter how good Aidan looks or how long his spiked tail is. Because if we’re going to win this war before it destroys everything we love, we’ll have to face our enemies together, side by side and without distractions. But if we make it out alive, who knows what the future will hold . . .

My minute or so of lazy Googling didn’t give me a definitive answer, but this book feels like a partial conclusion (or at least a pivot point) in G.A. Aiken’s long running Dragon Kin series, since it resolves a couple conflicts in the series and checks in with tons of past characters. If you haven’t read the whole series, I’d argue you can still pick up the book and enjoy yourself, but I do think you’ll get more out of it if you’ve read at least a couple other books from the series. (You especially should read book 1 because that’s Annwyl’s book, and I love me some Annwyl!)

This time, the hero is Aidan the Divine, and the heroine is Branwen the Awful. If you’ve ever read a Dragon Kin book you know the names are totally ridiculous (and OMFG so hard to keep track of), but I do love the way the women are usually given brutal and powerful titles while the men often get the pretty and silly ones. In the grand tradition of the series, Branwen does indeed live up to her brutal name. She’s a tough, deadly military leader, but I really loved that she also has a lightness that some of the other heroines of the series don’t have. And Aidan is a cute match for her. He’s gorgeous and kind, and he is clearly smitten with Branwen even at the start of the book. He knows he has to wait patiently for Branwen to come around, though, and it showed how perfect a match he was for her.

But, this series isn’t really about relationship development. There’s no deep dive into characterization, no slow build up of tender feelings. All the books follow a similar formula, with lots of sex and lots of the woman being too busy kicking butt to realize that maybe she actually likes the guy attached to the penis she’s been enjoying, until she finally gets a clue and it’s the end. The appeal of this series for me is the way it’s so female-centric. The tone was set in book 1 with Annwyl, who is the baddest of all the badass warriors. (Seriously, she makes a major appearance in this book and she literally single handedly conquers hell. This lady ain’t messing around.) There’s been a lot of talk about female rage in fiction recently, and this series has that in spades. The women don’t get victimized, don’t get pushed around, don’t get dominated. They are the meanest, the strongest, and the smartest, and they rule the world. It is an incredibly satisfying fantasy, and I love to pick up a Dragon Kin book after I’ve read a few too many books about women getting held back, abused, slut shamed, and murdered. 

I think this book is one of my favorite installments in this series because I liked seeing the past characters and I enjoyed Branwen and Aidan. If you’ve read any of the others I think you might like it too. If you have read some and didn’t enjoy them, or if you don’t like raucous, funny, violent fairytales, you should probably move along.

Grade: 4 out of 5

 

four-stars


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Review: So I Married a Sorcerer by Kerrelyn Sparks

Posted August 31, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: So I Married a Sorcerer by Kerrelyn SparksReviewer: Holly
So I Married a Sorcerer (The Embraced, #2) by Kerrelyn Sparks
Series: The Embraced #2
Also in this series: How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days (The Embraced, #1)
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: August 29th 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 496
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Growing up on the Isle of Moon, Brigitta knows nothing of her past, except that she is Embraced: born with powers that forced her into hiding. Everything changes when she learns she’s a princess, hidden away from her villainous half-brother who now rules the kingdom. But he knows about Brigitta, and he’ll do anything to get her back. Unless a certain roguish pirate has anything to say about it…

Rupert is both an infamous pirate and a sorcerer with the power to harness the wind. He’s been waiting nineteen years for revenge—and he needs Brigitta to get it. What begins as a kidnapping of the fiery beauty turns into a fierce attraction. But can he win the captive princess’s heart?

So I Married a Sorcerer is the second book in The Embraced series. I skipped book one, How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days, and don’t feel like I missed anything. It stands alone well.

Brigitta and her 3 adopted sisters were raised together in a convent on the Isle of Moon after their families gave them up because they are Embraced – meaning they were born with magical powers. Brigitta knows nothing of her past, so when a naval fleet chases her ship down while she’s on her way to visit one of her sisters, she’s shocked to learn she’s actually a princess long thought dead. When she’s captured by pirates and she realizes the vision her sister foretold is coming true, she’s both frightened and exhilarated.  As she learns more about her biological family and the pirate Rupert, she can’t help but wonder …who is the hero of this story, and who is the villain?

Rupert has been waiting 19 years to gain his revenge against Brigitta’s family. When he finds out she’s alive, he knows this is the opportunity he’s been waiting for. By ransoming her to her brother, he’ll finally gain the leverage he needs to avenge his past. The problem? He’s having a hard time with the thought of putting Brigitta in danger. He should hate her. After all, she’s the sister of his greatest enemy. But it doesn’t take long for him to realize she’s completely innocent..and quite possibly destined to be his. Can he set aside his need for revenge to win her?

This is my first book by Sparks. I avoided her novels in the past because I thought they were really light and campy. While that may be true (or not! I’m not even sure why I thought that) of her other novels, this was actually a fairly dark read. Brigitta’s strength and quiet determination were lovely to read about. I really enjoyed her and Rupert, both together and apart. He had a rock solid core of honesty and goodness that really worked. Together they were well matched.

The adventure and world-building were also very well done. I really enjoyed the setting and learning more about the world. I plan to go back and read book one.

Filled with action, adventure, betrayal, revenge, love and a strong sense of family, So I Married a Sorcerer was a great read all around.

4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Bring the Heat by G.A. Aiken

Posted August 29, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: Bring the Heat by G.A. AikenReviewer: Tracy
Bring the Heat by G.A. Aiken
Series: Dragon Kin #9
Also in this series: Light My Fire, Dragon on Top, Bring the Heat
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: August 29th 2017
Pages: 416
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

HE SAYS . . .

I, Aidan the Divine, am . . . well, divine. My name was given to me by the Dragon Queen herself! I’m a delight! Cheerful. Charming. And a mighty warrior who is extremely handsome, with a very large and well-hidden hoard of gold. I am also royal-born, despite the fact that most in my family are horrendous beings who don’t deserve to live. And yet, Branwen the Awful—a low-born, no less—either tells me to shut up or, worse, ignores me completely.

SHE SAYS . . .

I’ll admit, I ignore Aidan the Divine because it annoys him. A lot. But we have so much to do right now, I can’t worry about why he keeps staring at me, or why he always sits so close, or why he keeps looking at me like he’s thinking about kissing me. We have our nations to save and no time for such bloody foolishness . . . no matter how good Aidan looks or how long his spiked tail is. Because if we’re going to win this war before it destroys everything we love, we’ll have to face our enemies together, side by side and without distractions. But if we make it out alive, who knows what the future will hold . . .

Our story takes us to the ongoing battle between the God Chramnesind’s followers/Zealots and the rest of the world.  They’ve been taking over/killing anyone who won’t claim Chramnesind as their God and that’s anyone who gets in their way.  Annwyl, her children aka The Abominations, her husband Fearghus and his entire family are fighting along with any nation they could get to fight with them.  Despite that it seems that the Zealots are winning the fight .  Things during the opening battle start to go all wrong…Annwyl is sucked into a well that suddenly disappears, mountains start collapsing and witches are singing spells all around them.

Branwen the Awful is fighting with members of the Mì-runach when the mountain they’re standing on collapses.  They manage to get away and plan to get back to their battalions but are intercepted by Brannie’s cousin Keita the Viper.  After being told by her aunt, Queen Rhiannon, and her mother that she must go with the Mì-runach and protect Keita while she heads to the Eastlands, Brannie is pissed.  She wants to get back to her men but ends up “protecting” Keita instead.

While they travel and run into trouble after trouble we read about what’s going on at the front, on the queen’s mountain, Annwyl who’s in hell, and with other characters. Brannie and Aidan, who are great friends decide that as a diversion they’ll sleep together but it means nothing and when Brannie is done, she’s done – no questions asked.  Of course Aidan is going to agree to anything he can in order to be with Brannie (we can tell he loves her).  But when it comes time to call it all off are either of them truly ready to say goodbye?

This was another fabulous story.  I loved how Aiken made this pretty much a fight for your life with a love story thrown in.  It’s tough and gritty and there’s not a lot of romance.  I don’t expect romance, however, as I know that most of the dragons in her stories aren’t the sweet, romantic types.  If she had tried to throw sappy romance into the story I would have been greatly confused. Lol.

The battle scenes as well as the behind the scenes plotting was awesome.  The dragons of Garbhan Isle, the Iron Dragons, the Daughters of the Steppes, the Eastlanders (whatever they are) added so much to the story and made it interesting, intriguing, humorous and sexy.  If you’ve loved the Dragon Kin series then you won’t want to miss this book.  If you haven’t read the series then I wouldn’t recommend starting with this book as you’ll be damned confused.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: The Leopard King by Ann Aguirre

Posted August 28, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Leopard King by Ann AguirreReviewer: Holly
The Leopard King (Ars Numina, #1) by Ann Aguirre
Series: Ars Numina #1
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: September 28th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 271
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Proud. Imperious. Impassioned.

Until three years ago, those words applied to Dominic Asher, the leader of Ash Valley. His family has ruled the feline branch of the Animari for hundreds of years, guiding the pride through perilous times. Unspeakable loss drove him into seclusion, a feral beast nobody can tame. Now he’s wrecked, a leopard king in exile, and he wants nothing more than to die.

Fierce. Loyal. Determined.

Fortunately for Dom, those words still apply to Pru Bristow, his dead mate’s best friend. She’s had her heart broken too, but she never quits. With the conclave approaching, alliances with the Pine Ridge pack and Burnt Amber clans on the verge of collapse, she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to drag their leader back, before his second can start a war.

At best theirs seems like a desperate alliance, but when their mate bond turns hot and fierce, there’s no end to the questions and the doubts. Neither of them expects to fall in love. But sometimes people don’t know what they’re looking for until they find it.

The Leopard King is the first book in Ann Aguirre’s Ars Numina series. Ahh, the angst! The first few chapters of this book were Intense (with a capital I). It lightened up some after that, but overall this was a pretty dark read. I really enjoyed the way the romance and the story arc progressed.

Dominic Asher was the leader of the Ash Valley shifters until his wife was murdered. For the past three years he’s been hiding away in a mountain retreat, slowing wasting away. When Pru, his dead wife’s best friend, shows up and says he needs to return to the pack, he wants nothing to do with her or his place as leader. Pru is a Latent (meaning she can’t Shift), so Dom tells her he won’t return until she can Shift and go back as his mate. Something he knows will never happen.

Pru spent years trying to force the change. The best way is through some kind of strong emotion, so she’s tried everything from slitting her wrists to jumping off buildings to make it happen. She’d given up years ago, but for Dom and the good of the pack she’s willing to try again.

Dom didn’t expect to have such a visceral reaction to Pru hurting herself. Nor did he realize the depth of her inner strength or her stubbornness. It isn’t long before her attempts to Shift firmly pull him back into the land of the living.

Pru really made this book for me. Dom was great, don’t get me wrong, but I adored Pru. She was calm and level-headed under pressure, fierce and strong when she needed to be, and stubborn enough to get any job done. There were a few times I got frustrated with her for rushing into things without thinking them over, but overall she was pretty awesome.

Dom’s anger and grief over hist lost mate was heartbreaking and visceral. Those early chapters just slayed me. His slow transition back into the land of the living with Pru’s help was fabulous to read about. I’m telling you, Aguirre really knows how to hit those emotional high notes.

The action lacked a little something. I’m not sure what. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the action scenes, exactly, just that I felt like something was missing from them. It was almost like they were glossed over in some ways, which lessened their impact on me as a reader. Aside from that, I really enjoyed the way the story progressed and all the secondary characters. I’m really looking forward to starting the next book.

Danger, intrigue, heartbreak, healing and love….The Leopard King has it all.

4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Lord of the Seas by Sabrina Jarema

Posted August 9, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Lord of the Seas by Sabrina JaremaReviewer: Tracy
Lord of the Seas by Sabrina Jarema
Series: Viking Lords #3
Also in this series: Lord of the Runes
Published by Lyrical Press
Publication Date: August 8th 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

He stood with the other men, glittering with the gold jewelry he’d had her polish, and wearing the fine clothing she’d cleaned and laid out for him. He’d washed with the water she’d drawn and would sit down to a meal she’d serve him.

Yet here she was, watching him. And she would fall under his spell a little more, like so many other women had.

She’d thought to hate him, and perhaps she did. Her mother had once said she hated Edward for being so handsome, and desirable, and unattainable. Yet, she’d also said she loved him. The two weren’t so different when love went unanswered. Perhaps she was more like her mother than she realized.

Her mother might have pined her life away, but she wouldn’t. She’d keep fighting and weaving until she was free of Rorik forever. They said the Norns, as well as the Valkyries, wove men’s fates in their magical looms. Her loom wasn’t magical and she was no Valkyrie, so let them tangle the destinies of men in the threads of the wyrd.

She would weave her own fate.

Elfwynn is the bastard daughter of a Northumbrian Lord.  Her father has shown her in every way he can that he loves her – even acknowledging her birth which will give her a third of his estate should he die.  His wife is a complete bitch and hates Elfwynn because she wants her two kids to inherit everything and wants Elfwynn to get nothing.

Elfwynn’s father, Edward, is almost attacked by Rorik but tried to talk with him and make a deal/payment rather than be raided.  In the midst of their talks one of Rorik’s ships is set on fire.  As repayment for burning his ship Rorik seeks to get payment by kidnapping one of Edward’s daughters. Rorik takes Elfwynn but when a ransom demand is sent, the reply comes back that she’s a bastard and not worth Edward paying for her.  Elfwynn is devastated at the betrayal and Rorik is a bit shocked.  He has no choice but to take her with him when his crew returns home.  Elfwynn tells Rorik that the Northumbrian churches pay for hostages and that he should take her to a town where that could happen. He plans to, but he needs to get home first to deal with things there.

Elfwynn is treated as a guest in Vargfjell, Rorik’s home.  The people are nicer to her there than they are at home and as much as she wants to go home she actually likes it there.  She is surprised that all of the stories that she heard of the Norse were almost all wrong.

Rorik is both frustrated by and attracted to Elfwynn and her smart mouth.  He finds peace in her presence but knows that he can’t keep her forever.  He is not a man to settle down anyway so that thought should be ridiculous, right?  Of course, as they spend more time in each other’s company they start to have stronger feelings for each other and fall in love.  Elfwynn still wants to go home, however, and Rorik’s not sure how to take that.  With their people fighting each other and their different religious beliefs could they ever be together?

When I read books one and two in the Viking Lords series I didn’t care for Rorik all that much.  He seemed like an ok guy but when they talked of his raiding and his many women he seemed like a bit of a bastard.  I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book and I can say I was pleasantly surprised.

Rorik is a guy who isn’t a king or a jarl but acts the part.  He doesn’t want a title – he just takes care of his people with his wealth.  He thinks he doesn’t want the responsibility because his father abused his power before he died.  He has temper issues and knows that he could never have just one woman as he might pass on his temper as well as his father’s craziness.  Elfwynn helps him see that his father was just a bastard and Rorik’s anger at it all was situational – not genetic.  This helps Rorik deal with his issues and makes him see his future in a whole new light.  I loved that Elfwynn could be the one that shined the light on his past.  He needed that and because it was her it brought the two closer together.

Elfwynn was a great character.  I loved her strength and perseverance with both her mother/father issues and her dealings with Rorik.  She wasn’t about to be bossed around by him and I loved that she stood up to him time and time again.  She was tough while still being soft and feminine and it was a great combination.

The series so far has been great and I’m happy to say that I really liked Rorik by the end of this book – shocker! Lol  If you like books about Vikings this is a great series to read.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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