Early Review: Archangel's Shadows by Nalini Singh

, by Kt Clapsadl

Archangel's Shadows by Nalini Singh
Guild Hunter #7

Return to New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s sensual and painfully beautiful Guild Hunter world in her new novel of sacrifice, loyalty, and the choices of love that can shatter the heart.

In the wake of a brutal war, the archangel Raphael and his hunter consort, Elena, are dealing with the treacherously shifting tides of archangelic politics and the people of a battered but not broken city. The last thing their city needs is more death, especially a death that bears the eerie signature of an insane enemy archangel who cannot— should not—be walking the streets.

This hunt must be undertaken with stealth and without alerting their people. It must be handled by those who can become shadows themselves…

Ash is a gifted tracker and a woman cursed with the ability to sense the secrets of anyone she touches. But there’s one man she knows all too well without a single instant of skin contact: Janvier, the dangerously sexy Cajun vampire who has fascinated and infuriated her for years. Now, as they track down a merciless killer, their cat-and-mouse game of flirtation and provocation has turned into a profound one of the heart. And this time, it is Ash’s secret, dark and terrible, that threatens to destroy them both.

Oh my goodness did I love this book. I have to admit that I've been anticipating Ashwini and Janvier's story for a long time now, ever since reading their short story, and then all of the little hints and by plays in the rest of the series. The tension between the two was so palatable and oh so yummy. I just knew their story would be fireworks once we finally got there, and I was right. Ash and Janvier have this connection that just sucks you right in, but it's the banter that really seals the deal. There's no gushy love here, but that constant enemies to lovers tension that I absolutely love. Not that they are enemies, or ever really were, it's just that the tension and by play between them has that feeling, making for exactly my kind of romance. I realize I'm probably sounding like a bit of a fan girl here, but the book was simply that perfect for me. 

Onto other things aside from my love for Ash & Janvier. The plotline of this one was really intense, and kept me hooked from the start. I also liked the large focus on Elena and Raphael as well, always a plus. But what really stole the show for me was learning more about Nassir. He's always been a bit of a creepy mystery that I wanted to know about, and that wish was granted in this book. I cracked up so many times at what would come out of his mouth or how he would act. He's a bit out there and anything but civilized, unless he's wearing it as a disguise. I loved seeing him shed that and get a glimpse into who he really is. Now I think it's a toss up on whose book I want to see more next, Illium or Nassir. 

Let me just say, ARCHANGEL'S SHADOW was worth every bit of the wait. I devoured this book in one setting, staying up until the wee hours of the morning as I just couldn't get enough. Trust me, this is the book fans have been waiting for. 

(Received a copy from the publisher)


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Other Reviews:

Previous Books:
     1. Angels' Blood
     2. Archangel's Kiss
     3. Archangel's Consort
     4. Archangel's Blade
     5. Archangel's Storm
     6. Archangel's Legion

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Review: Unbinding by Eileen Wilks

, by Kt Clapsadl

Unbinding by Eileen Wilks
World of the Lupi #11

In the newest Novel of the Lupi, the human and elven worlds are both about to come under attack…

After questing through the sidhe realms with her ex-hellhound lover, Nathan, Kai Tallman Michalski has finally returned home. But she knows Nathan will eventually be called back to serve his queen—and Kai will have to decide whether to enter her majesty’s service as well. Sure, the job comes with great bennies, but there’s one big downside: she would have to swear absolute fealty to the Queen of Winter.

For now, though, Kai is glad to be home, and glad that Nathan completed his mission for his queen with surprising ease. But what seemed to be a quick conclusion turns out to be anything but. The two of them helped thwart the sidhe god of chaos—and he is not happy about that. He’s got plans for them. Plans, too, for the sidhe who killed him some three millennia ago. Nor has he abandoned his plans for Earth, as they learn when chaos begins bursting out all over...

The plot behind UNBINDING was a bit different, and didn't have quite the same feel to it as the rest of the books in the series, at least to me. But that could easily be explained away by my preference for the werewolf focused books. Sure, a lot of this takes place with wolves playing a large part in things, but they weren't the full focus. Even so, once I got over missing the wolf focus, I enjoyed the plot of this one. The chaos god sure made things interesting, and the intensity of everything kept me sucked in. At one point in the book where something major happens that's a game changer, well let's just say by that point I couldn't have put the book down even if I had wanted to. I just had to know how things were going to work out, and to me, that's a sign of a really great read.

I enjoyed seeing Kai grow in Unbinding. At the start she was stubborn, petulant, and more than a bit biased against the Elves. Frankly she did get on my nerves a bit at the start as she was just blindly negative against the Elves, and in turn the things they offered her. I guess I just found it a bit hypocritical as her lover, while not an Elf, was sworn to them, and hypocrisy is one of my pet peeves. Luckily that didn't hold me up too much as it didn't talk up too much of the page time, and she did grow over the course of the book, as her perceptions started to change. Another aspect she made large growth in was her self confidence. She started out the book not feeling like she was important nor was her magic really powerful or useful, but then as time went on, she started to see and understand her value. I just really enjoy seeing a character progress and grow as it makes it very easy to attach to them, which in turn makes for an even better read. 

So many times long running series like this one start to go stale after a while, but I'm finding myself enjoying each book as much as the last. Fans of the series should be more than pleased with this latest installment, and here's to hopefully many more to come.

(Received a copy from the publisher)


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Other Reviews:

Previous Books:

1. Tempting Danger
2. Mortal Danger
3. Blood Lines
4. Night Season
5. Mortal Sins
6. Blood Magic
7. Blood Challenge
8. Death Magic
10. Ritual Magic

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Review: Reckoning by S.J. Harper

, by Kt Clapsadl

Reckoning by S.J. Harper
Fallen Siren #2

Join Agents Emma Monroe and Zack Armstrong.
She’s sacrificed. He’s suffered. They’ve both been betrayed.
Now it’s time for a reckoning.

Special Agent Emma Monroe has a secret. She’s a Fallen Siren, cursed by the gods and banished to Earth for her failure to prevent the kidnapping of Persephone. As an FBI agent she saves the lives of others believing redemption could be one rescue away.

er partner Zack is a werewolf and former Black Ops sniper who once carried out a string of questionable assignments. Now he’s determined to atone for his past. Ironically, there’s a portion of his past Zack doesn’t remember—an affair with Emma. Giving into their attraction for one another almost led to their undoing. Now it’s back to business as usual.

While trying to unravel the mystery behind a series of kidnappings in Southern California, Emma and Zack become entangled with political tensions in the vampire and Were worlds. Not to mention the struggles they face in their relationship with one another. With so much uncertainty, they come to realize the only thing they can really count on is one another…or can they?

I had forgotten just how much I loved the first book in this series until I started reading this one, and then it all came back to me. I just love the mix of elements from the romance, to the greek mythology, and the FBI cases to solve. Then of course add in all the other supernatural types, and I'm one happy reader. I'm a big fan of variety in my books, especially when they are come together so well like in this book. The characters and the world are very vivid, and I had no trouble at all getting sucked right into the story.

Onto the romance. I have to admit that at first I was a bit leery as it seemed to be venturing into love triangle territory, but luckily that's not really the case. Sure, there are two "romantic" interests, Kallistos and Zach, but the former isn't really about love. Emma's a Siren, and therefore smexiness is just part of who she is, so Kallistos is the perfect fit for a companion to keep her safe from the dangers of acting on her love for Zach. I was really happy that she had him, even if there never would be love there. However, that really didn't make it any easier on my heartstrings when it came to things with her and Zach. They have the kind of connection that you just can't help rooting for, but that path seems to lead to nothing but heartache. Every time I thought they may have a chance, the rug got pulled out from under again. I'm really really hoping Emma finds a way to finally put Demeter in her place and out of messing with her life, but as it's already been thousands of years, it probably won't be any time soon. But hey a girl can hope, right?

RECKONING and the Fallen Siren series have earned a place on my must read shelf. I'll be eagerly anticipating the next book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a great Urban Fantasy read with some romance thrown in. Trust me, you'll want to give this one a look. 

(Received a copy from the publisher)


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Other Reviews:
     a GREAT read
     Tome Tender
     KT Book Reviews

Previous Books:
     0.5. Captured
     1. Cursed

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Kirsten Reviews: Iron Night by M. L. Brennan

, by Kt Clapsadl

Iron Night by M.L. Brennan
Generation V #2

Underemployed by day. Undead by night.

Underachieving film theory graduate and vampire Fortitude Scott may be waiting tables at a snooty restaurant run by a tyrannical chef who hates him, but the other parts of his life finally seem to be stabilizing. He's learning how to rule the Scott family territory, hanging out more with his shapeshifting friend Suzume Hollis, and has actually found a decent roommate for once.

Until he finds his roommate’s dead body.

The Scott family cover-up machine swings into gear, but Fort is the only person trying to figure out who (or what) actually killed his friend. His hunt for a murderer leads to a creature that scares even his sociopathic family, and puts them all in deadly peril.

Keeping secrets, killing monsters, and still having to make it to work on time? Sometimes being a vampire really sucks.

Iron Night, the second book in the American Vampire series by M.L. Brennan picks up more or less where the last book left off.

Fortitude Scott is still not quite a vampire, at least not on par with his sister Prudence, or his mother Madeline, fearsome matriarch of their family, but he’s a great deal less human than he was before, a fact that weighs on his mind as he tries to balance training with his brother Chivalry with a job as a waiter, and handling the rest of his family. That is, until he comes home to find his roommate dead in their apartment.

That’s when things begin to go sideways. Something, or someone, has dared to murder a human in Madeline Scott’s territory, and Forth and Suzume have to find out who it is before word gets out that the Scott clan might be vulnerable, thus speeding up a power struggle that is coming as Madeline grows older.

Fort and Suzume Hollis, kitsune, friend, and someone who generally confuses Fort, are on the case. But so is Matt McMahon, once the partner of Fort’s foster father, now a private investigator, and dangerously close to knowing too much about Fort’s family, a fact that could get him killed.

This book builds on the foundation of the previous one, expanding both the world, including new supernatural creatures and their political machinations, as well as Fort’s own transformation as he tries to balance his increasingly powerful vampiric impulses, and the responsibilities that his mother is placing on his shoulders. It all comes together wonderfully, and there are a number of interesting plot points that set up a promising continuation to this series.

(Received a copy from the publisher)


Order Links:

Other Reviews:
     Between Dreams and Reality
     All Things Urban Fantasy
     Romancing the Darkside

Previous Books:
     1. Generation V

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Exclusive Excerpt from Dead Over Heels

, by Kt Clapsadl

Today we're happy to be hosting an exclusive excerpt of Dead Over Heels by Alison Kemper. You'll want to get your hands on this one!
Vrrr-vrrr! I find my feet and wave the Weedwacker like a sword. Vrrr-vrrr! The vinyl string spins close to their ashy flesh.
At that moment, my brain seems to unlock. On TV, they’d been joking around, calling the infection “Zombie Flu.” And now I know for sure that’s exactly what’s in front of me. Because these three people look like something straight out of a horror movie. Scabbed, slimy skin, streaked with dirt and blood. Rough, jerking motions.
Jesus. This can’t be happening.
My breath comes fast. I keep my eyes locked on the flesh-eaters. One gal trips over her high heels but keeps reaching in my direction, arms extended, eyes rolled back in her sockets.
Vrrrrrr-vrrrrr! I herd them back, revving the motor into a loud whine. “Take that, flu people!” They retreat into the copse. Vrrr-v—
The motor spins into silence. Oh, no.
No, no, no. Damn thing ran outta gas! For a moment I stand staring at the useless Weedwacker.
I toss the machine to the ground and take off.
In two seconds flat, the infected are out of the trees and on my tail, moaning their dadgum heads off. That sound they make—“Rawwwrrr!”—it’s like T-Rex crossed with dying cow.
Or exactly like the sound a zombie makes.
My pulse drums in my ears as I clamber up the steep hill.
Up the hill? Why the hell am I climbing up the hill? Toward the house? Toward that girl? What am I thinking? Now ain’t the time to be a hero. I need to get the hell outta here! Down the road, in the woods—someplace far, far away. These infected people aren’t fast; I could outrun them in two seconds on level ground.
But the girl. Eva, Ava, whatever. She doesn’t know about the flu monsters in her front yard. Her parents are gone. She’s alone in that house. I can’t just leave her.
I scrabble up the incline, my feet twisting on loose rocks.
Golfer-zombie’s slap-up behind me, lower down the slope. He might be slow, but I’m slow, too, fumbling up this slant. He grabs and catches my shoelace. Desperate, I thrash out and kick his mouth. Crack. The steel toe of my boot connects with his teeth.
Part of me wants to apologize, but instead I’m screaming my fool head off. A terrified, frantic sound in the back of my throat. Gotta get up this hill.
I reach the crappy, half-rotted steps, concrete crumbling beneath my shoes. Almost there.
“Girl!” I shout. “Hey, girl.”
My feet hit the gravel drive, and I’m sprinting now, leaving the infected still halfway up the hill.
“Evie,” I yell. “Ada!”
No movement at the house.
Damn it all to hell.
I throw myself against the front door, pounding with my fists, kicking with my boots. The infected finally reach the top of the slope and regroup on the gravel driveway.
“Rawr,” they chorus and begin to shamble in my direction.
Crap. The girl’s probably got her iPod cranked up and can’t hear a thing. One last try and then I gotta bolt.
“Girl! Girl! Hey, you,” I holler.
A rattle at the lock and the door swings open. Hair in a ponytail, workout clothes, and sneakers. And attitude oozing from every pore.
“My name,” she says, “is not Girl or Hey you. It’s Ava.”

“Well, Ava, let me in your damn house. There’s zombies out here.”

Author Info:

Alison Kemper writes fun, flirty romances set during a zombie apocalypse. Her first novel DONNA OF THE DEAD (Entangled Teen) spent several weeks on the Kindle YA Humor bestseller list.

Her new novel DEAD OVER HEELS will be released September 29, 2014-- just in time for Halloween reading!

She loves to meet new people and talk books, so send her a friend request or connect with her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Find Alison Online:
Website  *  Twitter  *  Goodreads  *  Facebook

Book Info:

The end of the world just might be their perfect beginning…

Glenview, North Carolina. Also known―at least to sixteen-year-old Ava Pegg―as the Land of Incredibly Boring Vacations. What exactly were her parents thinking when they bought a summer home here? Then the cute-but-really-annoying boy next door shows up at her place in a panic…hollering something about flesh-eating zombies attacking the town.

At first, Ava’s certain that Cole spent a little too much time with his head in the moonshine barrel. But when someone―or something―rotted and terrifying emerges from behind the woodpile, Ava realizes this is no hooch hallucination. The undead are walking in Glenview, and they are hungry. Panicked, Ava and Cole flee into the national forest. No supplies, no weapons. Just two teenagers who don’t even like each other fighting for their lives. But that’s the funny thing about the Zombpocalypse. You never know when you’ll meet your undead end. Or when you’ll fall dead over heels for a boy…

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Review: Red Blooded by Amanda Carlson

, by Kt Clapsadl

Red Blooded by Amanda Carlson
Jessica McClain #4

Jessica is going to Hell.

After settling a fragile truce between the vampires, werewolves and witches, the last thing Jessica wants to do is face the demons head on. But when the Prince of Hell kidnapped her brother, he set into motion a chain of events that even Jessica doesn't have the power to stop.

Now, Jessica must go into battle again. But Hell is a whole new beast -- new rules, more dangerous demons, and an entirely foreign realm. And when Jessica is dropped into the Underworld too soon, without protection or the help of her friends, she must figure out just how powerful she can be... or she will never make it out alive.

This series started out so strong for me, but unfortunately has been mostly mediocre since. I just find the lack of progression frustrating, and despite all the almost frenetic action in each book, I just don't feel like we are getting anywhere. Sure, answers were finally revealed that had been pestering from the start, but frankly the answers seemed almost too pat. The addition of a new character contributed to that, and she was completely predictable, to the point that it was incredibly annoying that the characters couldn't see what was right in front of them. 

Getting back to the frenetic action pacing, while it was exciting and it kept me pretty hooked in the book, it vastly overshadowed character development and interaction. I think it just took more than a bit of the emotion out of things. I've said this several times over the last couple of books, but the romance between Jessica and Roarke is stilted. There's supposed to be so much between them, but there never seems to any real time together to build/show that connection. I guess I just don't feel it, which is a shame. 

I realize this review is mostly negative, but it's just largely frustrations as I feel like this series has so much potential that it's not quite reaching. That being said, due to the high action pacing of this book, I was pretty hooked into the book while reading it. As I said, I'm just looking for something a bit deeper and hopefully the next book will deliver that.

(Received a copy from the publisher)


Order Links:

Other Reviews:
     Between Dreams and Reality
     The Nocturnal Library
     Gizmo's Reviews

Previous Books:
     1. Full Blooded
     2. Hot Blooded   
     3. Cold Blooded

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Early Review: Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

, by Kt Clapsadl

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios
Dark Caravan Cycle #1

Forced to obey her master.
Compelled to help her enemy.
Determined to free herself.

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

Inspired by Arabian Nights, EXQUISITE CAPTIVE brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.

Let's start off with what I loved. Boy was there so much in this one. The world is amazing detailed and unique. The author has created one heck of a world and storyline that is fresh and new. No stale world and creatures here. Sure, Jinni (genies) have been done before, but not like this, or at least I haven't read anything like this. All of the different world rules were intricate, and I loved seeing how everything played out with the wishes and limitations. Speaking of Jinni, I absolutely loved Nalia's character. Sure she's a bit rough around the edges and plays the pity poor me for much of the beginning, but that doesn't take too long for her to start changing and getting stronger. I loved seeing her move out of her guilt and start to work towards taking charge of her life. I see a very long and rough road, but also great things for her future. Speaking of the future, I'm really anxious to see where things lead with Raif. There's a lot of yummy potential there, and this is one of those times where I wish this wasn't written as a YA, but even so, I'm really enjoying how things are playing out in the romance department. There's plenty more little things that I loved about EXQUISITE CAPTIVE but I'll leave it here on the good category.

And now onto the not so good things. This book could have easily been a solid five star read for me if it had not of been for two glaring issues I had. First up, the somewhat relationship between Nalia and her master. I have to admit at one point I almost DNF this book due to those almost Stockholm syndrome issues. I realize Nalia was really mixed up and feeling/experiencing affection for the first time, but honestly her reactions to Malek's affections really turned my stomach, making it really hard to continue reading at points. He was utterly and completely abusive and like the typical abuser, extremely apologetic afterwards, "beating himself up" over it. And then of course Nalia plays the perfect victim and makes excuses. It just didn't sit well with me and I started massively skimming. Luckily in the overall grand scheme of things, this issue wasn't a large part of the book, and other things eclipsed it, I just had a hard time reading it while it was front and center. And now onto the other not so good thing, the flashes to the villian's perspective. Those sections were utterly horrifying, and I don't think they served any real benefit to the story. I honestly wish they hadn't of been included because they broke up the flow of the series, and were just too much in my opinion. I would have still felt the threat to Nalia without adding in those graphic sections.

So all in all, this was a very enjoyable and refreshing read. I highly recommend this to any paranormal/fantasy fans looking for a great story that's a bit different than anything else out there. Trust me, if you are looking for a solid block of entertainment, look no further than EXQUISITE CAPTIVE.

(Received a copy from the publisher)


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Other Reviews:
     The (YA) Bookcase
     Book Fever
     Dark Faerie Tales

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Early Review: Priestess Dreaming by Yasmine Galenorn

, by Kt Clapsadl

Priestess Dreaming by Yasmine Galenorn
Otherworld #16

We're the D'Artigo sisters: savvy half-human, half-Fae operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. My sister Delilah is a two-faced werecat and a Death Maiden. Menolly is a vampire married to a gorgeous werepuma. And me? I'm a Moon witch married to three gorgeous husbands, and I'm about to journey through the veils to search for a long lost legend...

With the war in Otherworld raging, the Queen of Shadow and Night summons me to her court. Aeval orders me to embark on a hunt through the mists to find an ancient ally she once knew. I must seek out The Merlin and wake him from his long sleep. But Morgaine and Bran are along for the journey, and the pair pose a threat to both me and my quest. Now, surrounded by danger on all sides, I must pray they are allies rather than enemies, as we undertake a perilous search through the labyrinth of time...

I always look forward to Camile's books the most as I love her trio of men so much, but I'm not so sure how I feel about the romance department in this one. I mean Camile has these three awesome husbands and some of my favorite parts of her books has been watching the three men bumbling along trying to work together and balance their time with Camile, etc. However, this time around Camile is separated from two of them leaving that fun dynamic out. There was a pretty emotional beginning as Camile dealt with Trillian having to leave for a time, which was really hard on her. But when Smoky had a problem with Camile needing to leave to go on a very dangerous quest, she basically shut him down completely claiming it was her duty. It just left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth as Smoky seems to frequently get the short end of things. I guess I was just hoping for more of the dynamic between all four of them, and that just didn't happen. That being said, the smexy scenes were still there, perhaps not as hot as they have been in the past, but definitely still steamy.

Camile being separated by all but one of her men aside, I was largely enjoying this book. The quest gave things a bit of a different feel and a change of pace that I liked. Add that into the growing world dynamic with the dragons and the reveals that happen surrounding Morgaine and I was utterly hooked. The book was one heck of a journey, and I've always been a fan of quest books. But I will note that while I was really enjoying the storyline, the ending turned a bit sour for me as I felt the resolution was way too easy. Things were portrayed as the biggest bad they've face, which when you consider just how many foes they've come up again, that's saying something. And yet... The resolution was so easy, that I had to go back and re-read those paragraphs to make sure I didn't miss something. Sure there's warnings for consequences on their actions, but to me that's not enough to make up for how easy the final showdown went. It honestly left me scratching my head, but I guess only time will tell as to what those repercussions will hold. Maybe they'll balance the easy go this round next time.

So all in all, this is another good read in this long running series that's showing no signs of slowing up. Fans of the series should be pleased with Camile's latest installment, and if they are anything like me, they will finish and will already be looking for the next one. Bring on more books!

(Received a copy from the publisher)


Order Links:

Other Reviews:

Previous Books:
     1. Witchling
     2. Changeling
     3. Darkling
     4. Dragon Wytch
     5. Night Huntress
     6. Demon Mistress
     7. Bone Magic
     8. Harvest Hunting
     9. Blood Wyne
     10. Courting Darkness
     11. Shaded Vision
     12. Shadow Rising
     13. Haunted Moon
     14. Autumn Whispers
     15. Crimson Veil
     15.5. Flight from Hell

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Early Review: Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer

, by Kt Clapsadl

Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer
Elemental #5

Earth. Fire. Air. Water.

One misstep and they lose it all. For the last time.

Michael Merrick understands pressure. He's the only parent his three brothers have had for years. His power to control Earth could kill someone if he miscalculates. Now an Elemental Guide has it in for his family, and he's all that stands in the way.

His girlfriend, Hannah, understands pressure too. She's got a child of her own, and a job as a firefighter that could put her life in danger at any moment.

But there are people who have had enough of Michael's defiance, his family's 'bad luck'. Before he knows it, Michael's enemies have turned into the Merricks' enemies, and they're armed for war.

They're not interested in surrender. But Michael isn't the white flag type anyway. Everything is set for the final showdown.

Four elements, one family. Will they hold together, or be torn apart?

SACRIFICE just wasn't what I was expecting. Perhaps I had too high of hopes based on all the build up over the previous books and novellas, but I just don't feel like this book gave the series the proper send off that it deserved. Things just were not settled at all in the end and were left far to open for my tastes. Perhaps that means that this series isn't actually finished, but I'm not really sure who the next book would be about as all of the characters have seen their "day." Even so, putting the lack of a finalized ending aside, I still don't feel like this book was as strong as the previous ones. Michael just seems stuck in an overbearing protecting rut, shutting the rest of the world out and refusing any help. Frankly while some of that showed in the previous books, him being wise and the glue that held the family together was what came through more. I loved how everyone could really count on him to be fair and know what to say to reassure them. So I was really excited to see things from his side, but unfortunately felt let down as that element just seemed missing this time around. That being said, he did grow by leaps and bounds by the end of the book, so there's a plus, but again, I would have like to have seen more of the Michael that's we've seen in the previous books rather than how things played out in this one.

Another character that came across completely differently than had been previously portrayed was Hannah. I just didn't get her at all. Never would I have guess she would have had such a chip on her shoulder, and so many of her actions came across as childish and immature despite her claiming to be a grown up. It just didn't jive with what had been shown before, and it left the romance stilted and stale. With Michael being so closed off and Hannah being anything but understanding about everything, I was left scratching my head at what was really going on there. I mean they are supposed to be two adults in a relationship, and yet, there just didn't seem to be anything real there. I just didn't get it, and it soured the read for me.

The plot behind Sacrifice left me wanting more as well. The villain seemed just a bit over the top as liked to play with his victims which is in complete contrast to anyone the brothers have faced previously. I'm not sure I liked this element. Sure, it ramped up the tension a bit, but I don't think it drew me in emotionally toward their plight, and when you consider just how much craziness occurs in this book, I should have been more emotionally invested. Unfortunately I just wasn't making this a mediocre read overall for me. I wanted so much more from this book and it just wasn't there. I still think fans of the series should read SACRIFICE to see Michael's side of things and hope along with me that the series will be continued.

(Received a copy from the publisher)


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     4. Secret

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Early Review: In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis

, by Kt Clapsadl

In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
Not a Drop to Drink #2

The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.

This is going to be a very hard review to write, especially when it comes to rating due to high expectations. I absolutely LOVED Not a Drop to Drink, so when I saw this companion novel, I knew I would have to read it. That being said, while I enjoyed IN A HANDFUL OF DUST, I wasn't completely sucked in like I was with the first book. Don't get me wrong, it was a good read, but it just didn't have the same all consuming feel that the first one did. The first time around the bleakness was all consuming, but this time it didn't have the same sucker punch feeling, which I was hoping to be repeated.

I think a lot of my different feelings this time around had to do with Lucy's character. She's so stark in comparison to Lynn. Sure Lynn came a long way in accepting others, but Lucy just seems to be way too far on the opposite spectrum. Their world is harsh, and she just seemed too trusting, naive, and somewhat selfish to match that. It just didn't seem to jive for me. That being said, it was interesting to see their harsh world from a different perspective. Granted this story did pick up 10 years down the road from where Lynn's book left off, so perhaps Lucy really was sheltered that much "off page" to make this naiveness make sense, but somehow I just doubt it as the circumstances just wouldn't have allowed too much of an easy life. And I think that's where my sticking point lies. The first time around it was the stark world that drew me in as much as the characters and Lucy's different view of things lessened the harsh feel a bit.

But putting all that aside, let's get onto the things I enjoyed. IN A HANDFUL OF DUST opened the stark world up even further, bringing us looks into how others have survived this bleak landscape. There were so many horrors along the way, some of which were so shocking they turned my stomach. What some people will do to survive is both incredible and horrifying it's hard to wrap your head around it. I really have to give the author kudos for expanding this world realistically (When you look outside of Lucy's view and really take in what's going on that is.) Things are not easy, nor are they all bad, and I feel the balance was well played as I never lost hope despite the terrible situations they found themselves.

It's funny, at the close of Not a Drop to Drink, I was completely content with the world to have ended there stay a stand alone, but now that I've read IN A HANDFUL OF DUST, I'm no longer content as after that ending I want more. I feel like there's so much more of a story to be told either from Lucy or Lynn, although I'd prefer the latter of course. Unfortunately it doesn't seem like there will be more books. But either way, Mindy McGinnis has more than earned herself on my authors to watch out for list, and I'll be on the lookout for what she has coming next. If you enjoyed Not a Drop to Drink, then IN A HANDFUL OF DUST should be on your must read list.

(Received a copy from the publisher)


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