Monday, February 08, 2016

Portrait of Rage by Cynthia H. Wise

Title: Portrait of Rage
Author: Cynthia H. Wise
Genre: Fiction, Paranormal
Series: The Marcel Experience #1

Paperback, 426 pages
Publication: October 31, 2015 by BookLogix  

Source: I received a review copy from the author in exchange for a honest review.

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Soon after Thomas Shear buys a house for his art gallery, the spirits of a killer’s child victims haunt his dreams. Believing they were conjured by stress and a vivid imagination, Tom hopes to vanquish the nightmares that leave him shaking and sweat-soaked by creating a series of life-sized portraits portraying;the suffering of each little girl.

When news of his portrait series spreads, however, Tom is confronted by the lead investigator for the missing children, Detective Mark Winward. Realizing he has become involved in something more sinister than he could ever have imagined and the detective’s number one suspect, Tom races to find the real killer before he is framed and someone Tom loves becomes the killer’s next victim.


Portrait of Rage was a big, big surprise. I knew it was going to be good but it went beyond my expectations. I was captivated within the first few pages and it had me hooked till the very end. The story is centered on an artist and a murder investigation. Thomas Sharp, our main character, recently purchased a perfect house to showcase his art, but what he didn’t except was it to be haunted...by little girls all under the age of sixteen. The girls’ terrorizes his dreams and his waking hours, urging him to find their murderer and it is through his art that readers follow along Thomas as he discovers what happened to the nine little girls and the identity of the killer.

Wise’s Portrait of Rage is impressive. The writing was natural and the story flowed seamlessly. The plot /structure was perfect and the pacing great. I can tell the author took time and consideration in everything she did, from how the story was setup to the words written on the pages. Everything from the setting, characters, and paranormal elements served its purpose and made the book come alive. For example, Thomas used painting as a medium to interpret the girls' messages. I thought this was clever and visually detailed that I can picture it perfectly in my mind. Another reason why I thought it was notable is because this is the author’s debut novel. If I didn’t know that already, one would have thought a seasoned author with multiple books under her belt wrote it.

Portrait of Rage is told through multiple POVs which gave readers an in-depth look at the characters and a wider perspective on the situation. I love seeing the story from Thomas, the detectives, and the killer’s point-of-view. Wise is a natural storyteller and she did a great job creating the perfect combination of mystery, thriller, suspense, and romance with a touch of supernatural. While the story is filled with tormented specters, there was an interesting turn of events with some of the characters possessing unique abilities. Portrait of Rage kept me at the edge of my seat the entire time. The story had so many twist and turns that when the big reveal came…I was speechless! I thought I had the killer pegged but I was so shocked when I found out who it was. Definitely didn’t see that one coming! I loved Portrait of Rage and I think it’s an excellent start to a new series and I can’t wait to see what the author has planned for The Marcel Experience. I highly recommend Portrait of Rage. I think it will appeal to a lot of people, as there is something for everyone. Read it, you won’t be disappointed!



Friday, January 22, 2016

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Title: The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancey
Genre: Dystopian, Young Adult
Series: The 5th Wave #1

Hardcover, 457 Pages
Publication: May 7, 2013 by G.B. Putman's Sons BFYR

Source: Personal Library

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After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the lucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother--or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

I swear wherever you look, whether it’s television or movies something is always being adapted from a book. I don’t have a problem with it; there are an abundance of books full of creative ideas and amazing stories waiting for you to get lost it. So it’s a no-brainer that producers/directors are looking to books for their next blockbuster film. I’ve heard of The 5th Wave for awhile but it never really caught my interest till I saw the trailer. After seeing the trailer, I knew I had to read the book!

The 5th Wave is a Dystopian following different teens/kids in the aftermath of an alien invasion. I’ve read a lot of Dystopian but not many involving aliens. So it was a nice change of scenery. It kills me to say this but the book wasn’t as good as that trailer. The freakin’ trailer! I had mix emotions with this one. There were more cons than pros. I like the whole alien concept but it was hard to differentiate the aliens from the human captors. The aliens weren’t believable, didn’t have enough background and the explanation was kind of weak. I felt as if the author just placed them into the story and expected readers to accept and believe it.

I also struggled with the writing and characters. The writing felt fragmented and incomplete….and sometimes, it downright made no sense. There were multiple POVs and it usually it works for me. However, the changing POVs between Cassie, Sammy, Ben, and Ethan were really confusing. I didn’t know when a character ended and another one began. It all blurred together. As for the characters themselves, they weren’t likeable at all. I felt nothing for them. I honestly don’t remember much about Sammy, Ben or Ringer. But I thought Cassie was annoying and Ethan a creepy stalker. Not any traits anyone admires. The only thing I enjoyed was the action scenes, which were only a handful if I remember correctly.

Sadly, The 5th Wave was a miss for me. I was really hoping to love it but it didn’t work for me at all. Ironically, I'm still planning to see the movie because that trailer looks awesome and full of action. I can’t believe I’m about to say this but I pray the movie is better than the book. 








Monday, January 18, 2016

Between a Vamp and a Hard Place by Jessica Sims

Title: Between a Vamp and a Hard Place
Author: Jessica Sims
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Midnight Liaisons #5 (?, possible standalone)

Mass Market Paperback, 384 Pages
Publication: December 29, 2015 by Pocket Books

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

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Lindsey Hughes loves antiques and couldn’t be happier to make a living in the estate sale business. But when her assistant accidentally buys an entire estate without her approval, Lindsey is forced to clean up the mess herself.

Lindsey travels to the newly purchased, age-old house in Venice, Italy, and soon discovers more than she (never) bargained for. While digging through the hoarder’s trove that fills every floor, she finds a secret staircase behind a wall that leads to a strange coffin…with an even stranger inhabitant.

Vampire Rand FitzWulf has been in his coffin for 600 years. But now that he’s awake, he’s ravenous, and there’s a delicious-smelling woman with a rare blood type in his basement. Luckily, Lindsey has more to offer than blood: she agrees to travel throughout Europe with Rand to help him get revenge on the one who turned him. But as the unlikely pair grows closer, will the billionaire vampire be overtaken by his thirst for blood—or his thirst for love?

It’s been a long time since I read a Paranormal Romance novel. Between a Vamp and a Hard Place was a fun, light read…and I forgot how much I missed and enjoyed them. This is my first Sims book but like all Paranormal Romance it features a different main couple, location and plot/problem. In Between a Vamp and a Hard Place, readers are introduced to Lindsey and her BFF/business partner Gemma, antiques dealers who make a living by hunting for valuables at estate sales. Lindsey and her friend have been in a slump and struggling with bills but finally hit a possible jackpot with an empty apartment in Italy. To their surprise they find a trove of valuable porcelains among other treasures…..and a 600-year-old Vampire.

For the most part, I liked Between a Vamp and a Hard Place. However, the overall plot has been used a few times before. Human girl meets sexy vampire. Sexy vampire seeks revenge on those who’ve wronged him; in this case who staked him and left him vulnerable and lost in the 21st Century. And said human girl falls for sexy vampire. At times I found Lindsey hilarious and likable but other times she just had me scratching my head. The whole ‘I’m attracted to you, not attracted to you’’ was getting a little tiring. She came off as confusing and indecisive…especially since she threw her career/job on the back burner. Rand, the 600-year-old Vampire was an okay male lead. I don’t know. Now that I finished reading the book…I don’t have anything really good or bad to say about him. Sadly he wasn’t memorable, nor was the overall plot of the story.

Between a Vamp and a Hard Place was a quick and light read, definitely what I needed to read this moment. As I’ve said, I enjoyed it but it didn’t have that ‘oomph ’ to make a lasting impression on me. Between a Vamp and a Hard Place is in the same vein as Molly Harper’s Half Moon Hollow series, so if you enjoy those books, you’ll definitely enjoy this one as well. If you’re looking for some light, brain candy, check this series out!



 


Friday, January 15, 2016

Spotlight & Giveaway: The Lie and the Lady by Kate Noble



Winner Takes All #2 
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Historical Romance
Published December 29, 2015 by Pocket Books
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John Turner was thinking only of winning a bet when he swapped identities with his friend, the Earl of Ashby. He didn’t wager on winning the fiery Countess of Churzy’s heart with his lies, or on falling for her in return.

Leticia, impoverished Countess of Churzy, was publicly humiliated when it came out that she had fallen for the man, not the master. She fled when she learned of his betrayal. But fate throws them together again, and some things are too intoxicating to be denied.

John is determined to regain her trust—and her love—this time as himself. Letty knows what choice she must make to survive, but if she turns her back on her dashing rogue – again – will she loose her chance at love forever?
 



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Friday, January 08, 2016

Mystic by Jason Denzel

Title: Mystic
Author: Jason Denzel
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Mystic #1

Hardcover, 304 pages
Publication: November 3, 2015 by Tor Books

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

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 I called to the Myst, and it sent us you.

For hundreds of years, high-born nobles have competed for the chance to learn of the Myst. Powerful, revered, and often reclusive, Mystics have the unique ability to summon and manipulate the Myst: the underlying energy that lives at the heart of the universe. Once in a very great while, they take an apprentice, always from the most privileged sects of society.

Such has always been the tradition—until a new High Mystic takes her seat and chooses Pomella AnDone, a restless, low-born teenager, as a candidate. Commoners have never been welcomed among the select few given the opportunity to rise beyond even the highest nobility. So when Pomella chooses to accept the summons and journey to Kelt Apar, she knows that she will have more to contend with than the competition for the apprenticeship.

Breaking both law and tradition, Pomella undergoes three trials against the other candidates to prove her worthiness. As the trials unfold, Pomella navigates a deadly world of intolerance and betrayal, unaware that ruthless conspirators intend to make her suffer for having the audacity to seek to unravel the secrets of the Myst.

There’s something about underdogs, quests, and ‘The Chosen One’ that always draws me in, like a moth to a flame. Mystic happened to have all three components, so I knew immediately that I wanted to read it. And it surely didn’t disappoint! Mystic is a young adult, coming-of-age story revolved around Pomella, a commoner invited to compete for an apprenticeship with the High Mystic.

At a glance, Mystic isn’t anything new or a game changer in the Fantasy genre. The tropes have all been used before, making for a slightly predictable read. This is Denzel’s debut novel, and while I really enjoyed the book, the writing/spelling of some of the words felt a bit clunky…pulling me from the story at times. Regardless of all that, what made the book enjoyable and worth the read are the characters. Within the first page I was hook…and all it took was a friendly banter between Pomella and her friend Bethy.

It usually takes me a few pages to get a feel of the character/book but I found Pomella instantly likeable; which doesn’t happen often. I loved that Pomella wasn’t afraid of taking chances. By accepting the invitation by the High Mystic, Pomella risked being labeled as ‘Unclaimed’ should she fail the competition, which means she would lose everything; like her friends, family, home and identity. I also found it refreshing to see Pomella put herself above all things and follow her dreams instead of choosing to stay put in her tiny village with a guy she known her whole life. So, big kudos for her. As for the fantasy/magic aspect of the novel, I thought it was pretty cool, albeit a little inchoate. Denzel did a good job at explaining the Myst but I thought it could have been more detailed. Which I hope will be remedied in future books.

Overall, Mystic was a good debut novel with the potential to be an amazing series. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy, Mystic Dragon and I can’t wait to see what Denzel has planned for Pomella and the gang. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a light-fantasy read with wonderful characters and world building.


Tuesday, January 05, 2016

[Series Spotlight]:The Witches of Echo Park series by Amber Benson + Giveaway

Hey Guys! Yup, I have another series spotlight for you all...two in a week! It's a new year, and what better way to begin a new year than starting a new series! Today's series spotlight is on Amber Benson's The Witches of Echo Park, an Urban Fantasy centered on Lyse MacAllister, who is next in line to be the matriarch of the LA Coven.


The Witches of Echo Park  was released last January and the sequel, The Last Dream Keeper comes out today January 5, 2016! In celebration of The Last Dream Keeper's release, up for grabs is the first book in the series, The Witches of Echo Park; courtesy of Penguin Random House! To enter please scroll to the bottom of the post.

Unbeknownst to most of humankind, a powerful network of witches thrives within the shadows of society, using their magic to keep the world in balance. But they are being eliminated—and we will all pay if their power falls…

When Lyse MacAllister’s great-aunt Eleanora, the woman who raised her, becomes deathly ill, Lyse puts her comfortable life in Georgia on hold to rush back to Los Angeles. And once she returns to Echo Park, Lyse discovers her great-aunt has been keeping secrets—extraordinary secrets—from her.

Not only is Lyse heir to Eleanora’s Victorian estate; she is also expected to take her great-aunt’s place in the Echo Park coven of witches. But to accept her destiny means to place herself in deadly peril—for the world of magic is under siege, and the battle the witches now fight may be their last…



Lyse MacAllister did not step into an easy role when she took over as master of the Echo Park coven of witches after her great-aunt Eleanora’s death. As she begins to forge the bonds that will help her lead her sisters, she struggles to come to terms with her growing powers. And she soon faces a deadly new threat. A group of fanatics intent on bringing about the end of times has invaded the witches Council—but the Council is turning a blind eye to the danger growing in its midst.

Only one witch is prophesied to be able to stop the encroaching darkness. And if Lyse and her blood sisters are to have any chance at protecting all we know from being lost forever, they must keep her safe—no matter what the cost…
 




GIVEAWAY
Thanks to the wonderful people at Penguin Random House, one lucky reader will win a copy of THE WITCHES OF ECHO PARK. To enter, fill out Rafflecopter below.

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Monday, January 04, 2016

[Series Spotlight]:Bone Street Rumba series by Daniel Jose Older + Giveaway

Today's series spotlight is on Daniel Jose Older's Bone Street Rumba series, an Urban Fantasy, Ghost-Noir that takes place in New York; full of ghosts, baddies and other things that go bump in the night.

Half-Resurrection Blues was released last January and the sequel, Midnight Taxi Tango comes out tomorrow, January 5, 2016. Have you read this series yet? No? Well, today is your lucky day! In anticipation of Midnight Taxi Tango's release, a lucky reader will have a chance to discover the world of Bone Street Rumba by winning their own copy of the first book in the series, Half-Resurrection Blues; courtesy of Penguin Random House!



Carlos Delacruz is one of the New York Council of the Dead’s most unusual agents—an inbetweener, partially resurrected from a death he barely recalls suffering, after a life that’s missing from his memory. He thinks he is one of a kind—until he encounters other entities walking the fine line between life and death.

One inbetweener is a sorcerer. He’s summoned a horde of implike ngks capable of eliminating spirits, and they’re spreading through the city like a plague. They’ve already taken out some of NYCOD’s finest, leaving Carlos desperate to stop their master before he opens up the entrada to the Underworld—which would destroy the balance between the living and the dead.

But in uncovering this man’s identity, Carlos confronts the truth of his own life—and death…
 




Carlos Delacruz straddles the line between the living and the not-so alive. As an agent for the Council of the Dead, he eliminates New York’s ghostlier problems. This time it’s a string of gruesome paranormal accidents in Brooklyn’s Von King Park that has already taken the lives of several locals—and is bound to take more. 
 
The incidents in the park have put Kia on edge. When she first met Carlos, he was the weird guy who came to Baba Eddie's bot├ínica, where she worked. But the closer they’ve gotten, the more she’s seeing the world from Carlos’s point of view. In fact, she’s starting to see ghosts. And the situation is far more sinister than that—because whatever is bringing out the dead, it’s only just getting started.








GIVEAWAY
Thanks to the wonderful people at Penguin Random House, I have the first book, HALF-RESURRECTION BLUES up for grabs.

US ONLY.
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