Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Master of Crows

Master of Crows

What would you do to win your freedom? 

This is the question that sets bondwoman, Martise of Asher, on a dangerous path. In exchange for her freedom, she bargains with her masters, the mage-priests of Conclave, to spy on the renegade sorcerer, Silhara of Neith. The priests want Martise to expose the sorcerer's treachery and turn him over to Conclave justice. A risky endeavor, but one she accepts without hesitation--until she falls in love with her intended target. 

Silhara of Neith, Master of Crows, is a desperate man. The god called Corruption invades his mind, seducing him with promises of limitless power if he will help it gain dominion over the world. Silhara struggles against Corruption's influence and searches for ways to destroy the god. When Conclave sends Martise as an apprentice to help him, he knows she's a spy. Now he fights a war on two fronts--against the god who would possess him and the apprentice who would betray him. 

Mage and spy search together for a ritual that will annihilate Corruption, but in doing so, they discover secrets about each other that may damn them both. Silhara must decide if his fate, and the fate of nations, is worth the soul of the woman he has come to love, and Martise must choose continued enslavement or freedom at the cost of a man's life. And love. 

Author: Grace Draven

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Wow.  Where to begin?  This is one of my favorite books I have read in a long time; it has it all as far as I'm concerned.  Both the story and the world build slowly over time, letting you really get to understand the characters and their drives and motivations.  It builds to a slow burn and then smolders right along with you.  Too often I find romance books are about broken people getting rescued by their one true love.  Not so with Master of Crows.  Martise and Silhara have synergy that is fascinating to watch, especially when they are in conflict.  What really startled me is that the secondary characters are complete: Silhara's servant, the nomad clansmen, even the dog.  Each is unique and has his or her own personality and way of interacting with the others.  The story is complex and gorgeous.  There is vengeance and blood. There is death and the undead, spells and black magic.  But there is also love. There is laughter. There is humor and strength and gentleness. And at Neith, there are always oranges.

Spoilers:
There is sex in this book.  Not just "cut to the next scene just after their lips meet and they sink softly into bed" sex, either.  Wonderfully descriptive and steamy sex, but no so descriptive that it reads like an anatomy book.  There are whores, and descriptions of degradation and humiliation of one houri in particular that may be disturbing to some.   That being said, sex and intimacy are used for flavor and spice, not as the main goal of the story.  It's a hot steamy romance, not erotica.

I bought this book all by myself and get nothing for this review.

Whew!

It sure has been a LONG time.  I've been reading and working and moving and working and teaching and... It's been a busy year with not nearly as much time for reading as I'd like.  The good news is that I've read some really amazing books - some real crap, too, but I won't bother you with those.

So anyway, on with the reviews!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Moorigad Dragon & Reap Not the Dragon



Saving a life shouldn't come with so many complications.   --    Saving Marcus’s life should have qualified as a good deed. Except, that’s not why Kyra saves him. She’s pulled to the deed by something supernatural. But then Marcus sees Kyra’s hybrid dragon and she finds herself bound to protect him. A bond already causing tension between Kyra and her best friend, Sebastian. Only, Kyra will find it is not easy defying Death. Yet, she is determined―even at the cost of her own life.

Bad things happen in the blink of an eye.  --  Sebastian has built his life around his tarot cards, more so since taking refuge at Mystic’s Magical Carnival. Trying to include Kyra in that part of his life goes all wrong. Now Kyra’s interest in Marcus stands between Sebastian and Kyra, and places Kyra in emanate danger. Sebastian needs to make her see, needs to steer her away from Marcus, needs to save her from the consequences of her decisions before it’s too late. If he needs to, Sebastian will bare his most guarded secrets to protect her...

Author: Debra Kristi
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This was my first journey to the Dark Carnival and I was pleasantly surprised.  The setting is gorgeously detailed yet leaves enough to the imagination that you can make it your own.  The characters of Sebastian and Marcus come off the page and leave vibrant, strong impressions.  Kyra is an interesting contradiction - a powerful dragon shapechanger, but completely compelled by a mysterious and supernatural force.  An interesting read with a well-defined background and cast of characters, and the action never stops!  A quick read and worth the time. 

It's hard to talk about the second book without giving mega-spoilers, but it's worth reading.  It may be even better than the first!


Spoilers:
Kyra is less detailed in the first book and the supernatural compulsion essentially brainwashes her. This causes her to acts in ways she might not if she had her free will, and that was uncomfortable for me in some scenes.  There are (of course) elements of the supernatural and some mild horror elements, but nothing particularly gory or nightmarish.

I received a download of this book for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Path In the Darkness - Sequel to Outsystem

path in the darkness tour banner 2 The colony ship Intrepid is falling into a star. The ship’s AI has lost control of the engines and core systems. Battling a saboteur who strives to isolate him, his last act is to wake Colonel Tanis Richards from stasis. Tanis finds herself alone on a dying ship, unable to contact the AI. She must discover what has happened and save the Intrepid from burning up in the star’s angry red light. Even if she is successful, the journey to the colony world of New Eden is just beginning. With decades of travel ahead, she will have to find a path in the darkness.

Buy on Amazon

Put Path in the Darkness on your TBR list here
 

About the author:

Michael Cooper has been writing since the day he closed Return of the King and wanted more. He's written a lot of fantasy that he never tried to get published, but one day decided to try his hand at science fiction, of which he has published one book (Outsystem) and is working on the sequel, A Path in the Darkness. Michael is a software engineer at a company which builds sites and services around the open-source CMS named Drupal and enjoys the creativity involved in building web applications. When not writing stories or code Michael is spending time with his wife and daughter, or doing carpentry--a hobby which he has been growing over the years. His other interests include astronomy, cars and racing, blacksmithing, movies, and just about any creative work one can do.

Follow M.D. Cooper:

Facebook / Website / Amazon

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Riding For Redemption

Riding for Redemption


Desperate to find her place in the world, Sara Beth dreams of applying for the Miss Wrangler Montana competition that tours with the rodeo circuit. Riding horses has become her anchor until a near fatal accident takes more from her than she’d ever willingly sacrifice.
Determined to prove his business training, Johnny seeks out the Rourke family to call in an old favor. When he embroils himself in Sara Beth’s life, he has to prove they’re nothing more than friends. Seeking independence, both Sara Beth and Johnny lean on each other more and more, until love threatens their friendship. Will they seek out each other or be confused by their dreams? Can either of them leave their past and embrace their future?

Author: Bonnie R. Paulson
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This is an interesting, quick read.  It explores themes of healing, friendship, recovery from tragedy, and growing wiser.  I love that the romance is founded on friendship and not on superficial things like appearance or money or being rescued (although those certainly play a part).  Sara Beth is a strong character on her own and watching her grow and develop is a pleasure.  The author uses dry wit and a subtle sense of humor to excellent effect in this story.

Spoilers:
This is the second book in the series and I was a little worried because I had not read the first one.  It was not a problem, though.  I understood everything that was going on.  I did go back and read the first book in the series, "Romancing Redemption" and some of the story made more sense, but I was fine without having read it first.  That being said, the book is part of a series, and those seeking closure to the story will be wonderfully disappointed.  There is a little profanity scattered throughout the book, but no smut.

I received a download of this book for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Outsystem

outsystem
Outsystem

Major Richards needs to get out of the Sol System Demoted by the military and hung out to dry, the media labels her the Butcher of Toro. Despite her soiled record, Tanis still one of the best military counter-insurgency officers in the Terran Space Force. And they need her to find the terrorists responsible for trying to destroy the GSS Intrepid, a massive interstellar colony ship in the final phases of construction at the Mars Outer Shipyards. It’ll be her ticket out of the Sol system, but Tanis discovers she is up against more than mercenaries and assassins. Major corporations and governments have a vested interest in ensuring the Intrepid never leaves Sol, ultimately pitting Tanis against factions inside her own military. With few friends left, Tanis will need to fight for her life to get outsystem.
 

Author: M.D. Cooper Facebook / Website / Amazon


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I really enjoyed this book!  The combination of sci-fi that is thoroughly grounded in science and politics that are equally well grounded in reality was refreshing and kept my attention.  Major Tanis Richards is a strong, intelligent, and charismatic woman who has a good sense of humor, and is able to navigate the treacherous grounds of military hierarchy and politics very well.  The story kept me reading long after I should have gone to bed, and absorbed my lunch breaks until I finally finished the book. I highly recommend this book to fans of the David Weber's Honor Harrington Series, and Elizabeth Bear's Jenny Casey Trilogy.

Spoilers:
As if the banner above doesn't give it away... There's a sequel!  But the good news is that it's available now.  Some readers have said they had trouble understanding when the Tanis' artificial intelligence implant was "speaking" and when it was actually Tanis' internal monologue, but I think that's kind of the point.  The blurring of the real and the virtual is crucial to the setting and the way people interact with their environment.  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Whiskey Witches

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Detective Paige Whiskey comes from a long line of witches. They may not all be the most powerful, but they are outspoken and supportive of their community. She alone has no gifts. She can’t summon fire, can’t read minds. She knows the arcane. She’s studied it. That, along with her connection to the Whiskey Witches, lands her some pretty strange cases.

Like the sacrificial murders of St. Francisville, Louisiana. There’s a killer on the loose, choosing people in a vain attempt to raise a demon. Not just any demon, though. A man born long ago, made a demon in order to protect the Gate to Hell.

Together with demon hunter, Dexx Colt, her kitchen-witch grandmother, and her paranormal investigator brother-in-law, they unravel a conspiracy far bigger than a few simple murders, and re-discover Paige’s gift.

She’s a demon summoner and she’s key to the killer’s plan.


Author: SM Blooding
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This was a well-written book that kept my attention from the first couple pages onward.  The plot and premise are fascinating and present a new take on the whole concept of angels and demons.  Paige Whiskey is a realistic character who, despite her powers still has good days and bad days, comes up with brilliant plans yet still makes bad decisions, and is wholly, entirely human.  The cast of supporting characters is equally well-imagined and described and they breathe extra life into the story.  I highly recommend this series.

Spoilers:
If you are offended by a presentation of Christianity that is at all different than what is taught in most churches, this book is probably not for you since this story blurs the line between guardian angels and predatory demons so that it is hard to tell who is who.  Profanity abounds in this book, but it is not used for the sake of being "edgy" or "hip," the words are sincerely meant in context.  There is talk of sex, but no intimate sexual content or descriptions.  This story does not end with the book, and I am intrigued to see what the sequel will bring.  It's definitely on my "to buy" list! 

 I received a download of this book for my honest opinion.