Kirsten Reviews: Chaos Choreography by Seanan McGuire

, by Kt Clapsadl

Chaos Choreography by Seanan McGuire
InCryptid #5

Verity Price is back on the West Coast and getting back into the swing of the family business: cryptozoology. She’s rescuing cryptids from bad situations, protecting them from monster-hunters, and generally risking life and limb for the greater good, with her ex-Covenant partner/husband, Dominic, by her side. Her ballroom dance career is behind her—or so she thinks. When Verity gets the call from the producers of Dance or Die, the reality show she almost won several years before, she finds the lure impossible to resist, and she and Dominic are off to L.A. for one last shot at the big time.

Of course, nothing is that simple. When two contestants turn up dead, Verity will need every ally she can find with the investigation, without blowing her cover…



Chaos Choreography is the fifth book in Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series and returns readers to the life of Verity Price. As the member of the Price family who has held onto dreams regarding a more “mundane” life, Verity has thought about her abbreviated career as a dancer more than once. So when she gets a call inviting her back to the stage as a participant on Dance or Die, a So You Think You Can Dance sort of television show, Verity decides to give dancing one more shot.

If she wins, Verity and her husband Dominic (formerly of the Covenant, still not wholly beloved by the rest of the Price family) will spend a year in New York, but if she loses, then she’ll commit herself completely to her work as a cryptozoologist without regret.

Of course nothing is ever that simple, and Verity soon finds that on top of dealing with other contestants and judges, some of them more friendly than others, something is killing dancers as they’re eliminated from the show. As she works to solve the mystery it becomes clear to readers and Verity herself that while she loves to dance, cryptozoology is where she truly makes a difference.

As with the rest of the series, there are plenty of interesting secondary characters, both humans and cryptids, among them Pax an Ukupani and Malena a chupacabra, as well as a few dragons, and of course the Aeslin mice. The focus is more on dance than fight scenes in this book, as it should be, and McGuire gives both the attention and detail they deserve, showing that Verity excels at both, and this mirrors how she is working to reconcile these two aspects of her own life.

Longtime readers of this series will definitely get a kick (pun intended) out of this latest book, but anyone new to the Price family should start at the beginning in order to appreciate how far Verity has come and the obstacles she’ll soon be facing in future adventures.
(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Other Reviews:
     All Things Urban Fantasy
     Drey's Library
     Urban Fantasy Investigations

Previous Books:
     1. Discount Armageddon
     2. Midnight Blue-Light Special
     3. Half-Off Ragnarok
     4. Pocket Apocalypse


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Kirsten Reviews: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop

, by Kt Clapsadl

Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop
The Others #4

For centuries, the Others and humans have lived side by side in uneasy peace. But when humankind oversteps its bounds, the Others will have to decide how much humanity they’re willing to tolerate—both within themselves and within their community...

Since the Others allied themselves with the cassandra sangue, the fragile yet powerful human blood prophets who were being exploited by their own kind, the delicate dynamic between humans and Others changed. Some, like Simon Wolfgard, wolf shifter and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn, see the new, closer companionship as beneficial—both personally and practically.

But not everyone is convinced. A group of radical humans is seeking to usurp land through a series of violent attacks on the Others. What they don’t realize is that there are older and more dangerous forces than shifters and vampires protecting the land that belongs to the Others—and those forces are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect what is theirs…

Marked in Flesh, the fourth book in Anne Bishop's The Others series continues the set in Namid, a world very much like our own, but one where humans are not the dominant form of life on the planet and are prey for the Others. As things stand, the Others have allowed humans to settle many parts of the planet, but have given them strict boundaries and control all natural resources that humans need to survive. The arrangement has worked, more or less for centuries, but every so often a group of humans radicalizes and begins stirring up trouble. In this case, the Humans First League have been attempting to provoke the Others with a series of attacks which break the treaty between the races and have awakened the Elders, Others so powerful that they are only whispers and unfortunately, these humans don’t believe the old stories.

Placed squarely in the middle of this conflict are the Others and humans of the Lakeside Courtyard. Simon Wolfguard, Wolf and leader of the Courtyard and blood prophet Meg Corbyn see the benefits in maintaining peaceful relations between the races, but must now contend with humans who see the Others and anyone associated with them as pests to be eliminated. However, these humans have no idea what sort of forces they have disturbed with their greed for the planet’s resources, and the time for talking has passed, war has arrived and while the Elders did not strike first, their wrath will leave scars on the entire world.

This series has a richly imagined world as well as a premise that can be seen as a bit of a cautionary tale, given the current misuse of natural resources, and there are many times in the book where readers will find themselves cheering on the forces of nature pushing back against human encroachment.

There are also plenty of interesting characters, with the focus being largely on the Lakeside Courtyard Others, humans associated with them, as well as several groups aligned with Lakeside. Bonds between the human law enforcement are strengthened, new characters enter the Courtyard, and some notable steps are taken by both Simon and Meg who are navigating the intricacies between humans and Others with some awkward and sweet moments.

The war has come, and its impact will not only determine the fate of many, but also very future of humanity's survival on Namid.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

Rating:





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Other Reviews:
     Between Dreams and Reality
     Rabid Reads
     Hot Listens

Previous Books:
     1. Written in Red
     2. Murder of Crows
     3. Vision in Silver
     4. Marked in Flesh (Katie's Review)



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Early Review: All Fixed Up by Linda Grimes

, by Kt Clapsadl

All Fixed Up by Linda Grimes
Ciel Halligan #4

The hilarious adventures of human chameleon Ciel Halligan continue in the fourth installment of this original urban fantasy series, All Fixed Up.

Ciel Halligan, aura adaptor extraordinaire, has a lot of experience filling in for her clients--as them. A rare genetic quirk gives her the ability to absorb human energy and project it back out in a flawless imitation. She's hard at work, posing as a well-known and celebrated astronaut, about to make a stunning announcement on behalf of the space program...when the photographer documenting the job sees right through her aura. Worse, it soon becomes apparent that he not only knows Ciel’s not who she's supposed to be, but means her harm.

When Ciel's elderly Aunt Helen—also an aura adaptor—is murdered in Central Park, and the same photographer shows up at the funeral, Ciel starts to feel even more exposed. Then more adaptors are killed in the same way, and she becomes terrified her friends and family are being systematically exterminated ... and it's starting to look like she's the ultimate target. She turns to Billy Doyle, her best-friend-turned-boyfriend, for help, but when an unexpected crisis causes him to take off without a word, she's left to rely on her not-so-former crush, CIA agent Mark Fielding.

Staying alive, keeping control of her romantic life, and unraveling the mystery of why adaptors are being pursued becomes a harder balancing act than ever in this new Ciel Halligan adventure from Linda Grimes.

I really enjoyed ALL FIXED UP just as I have the rest of the series. They are so much fun, full of hilarious hijinx, and it’s always interesting to see what mess Ciel gets herself into in each new book, and this one was no exception. Things kicked off to a hilarious start with Ciel winding up on a job impersonating an astronaut doing a flight demo propo. Only problem is that Ciel get extreme motion sickness, so hilarity ensues as she can’t show it. Of course that’s just the start of the mayhem and hijinks. She gets herself into more than a few pickles in this book, almost more than her normal I daresay, and it’s always fun to see how she gets herself out of her messes. Typically I just sit back and laugh, but I have to admit one particular event and choice left me more than a little shocked, and frankly I’m still reeling at her choices days after finishing the book. I’m going to be vague here to avoid spoilers, but at one point I literally wanted to reach through the page and scream at her to STOP! While I understand what she was going through/thinking at that moment, it was such a shocker and utterly the wrong choice in my opinion that it just stopped me in my tracks. The funny thing about that is that while her choice horrified me, I have a feeling others may have the opposite feeling depending on where they stand on certain things.

Shocking choices aside, as always I loved the cast of characters in ALL FIXED UP, they are so rich and full of depth. I truly love the utterly strong family bonds and the quirks that not only Ciel, but everyone else had. From the two ruling matriarchs, Mo and Ro, to Ciel’s brothers, Billy, and Mark, the list goes on and on, each and every single one stood out as a fully fleshed character. The various bonds and dimensions between all their relationships truly make this series shine. Add that into the fast paced and high stakes plot, and oh yeah all the extremely hilarious moments, and you have one heck of a winner.

Fans of the series will be more than pleased with this fantastic new installment in the Ciel Halligan series. A guaranteed solid block of hilarious entertainment, ALL FIXED UP is not to be missed!

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Previous Books:
     1. In a Fix
     2. Quick Fix
     3. The Big Fix


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Kirsten Reviews: The Dragon Lantern by Alan Gratz

, by Kt Clapsadl

The Dragon Lantern by Alan Gratz
The League of Seven #2


Archie Dent is convinced that he and his friends Hachi and Fergus are the first three members of a new League of Seven: a group of heroes who come together to fight the Mangleborn whenever the monsters arise to destroy humanity. His belief is put to the test when they are forced to undertake separate missions. Archie and his faithful Tik-Tok servant Mr. Rivets pursue a shapeshifting girl who has stolen the Dragon Lantern, an ancient artifact with mysterious powers. And Hachi and Fergus travel to New Orleans to find Madame Blavatsky, the only person who knows the circumstances surrounding the death of Hachi’s father.

In the course of their adventures the three heroes meet potential candidates to join their League. At the same time, they learn deep-rooted secrets that could destroy the League forever...

The Dragon Lantern, the second book in the A League of Seven series by Alan Gratz is a steampunk adventure for young readers that adults may liken to League of Extraordinary Gentleman. The book is illustrated by Brett Helquist, and the chapter heading images both highlight events in story while not spoiling readers for what’s to come next.

The tale picks up where the last book left off with Archie Dent unsure of whether being one of the League of Seven is as easy as he’s been told. Archie, Fergus and Hachi have come together in order to fight the Mangleborn, monsters who humanity is fighting again, and things have gone a bit sideways at this point. They don’t see much of an improvement when the three heroes are obliged to take on separate missions. That puts Archie and his Tik-Tok servant Mr. Rivets on the trail of a shapeshifting girl who has stolen an ancient artifact called the Dragon Lantern, and while the group aren’t sure what it does, they are told its powers have something to do with Archie’s indestructibility. In the meantime, Hachi and Fergus must travel to New Orleans in search of Madame Blavatsky who may be the only person with information about the death of Hachi’s father.

Dragon Lantern blends history and alternate paths it might have taken with the addition of large steam-powered machines, some of which are attempting to gain their freedom, such as Jesse James. Along their journey, Archie and the others meet people who help or hinder their quest and at the same time could be potential members of the League of Seven, among them General Custer, and Sings-in-the-Night, who was a victim of experimentation with the lantern and now has wings.

With the group split up, the action is also divided between the different plotlines, and some readers may not enjoy that aspect of it as much, however it’s a genre standard to separate protagonists in order to advance the story and raise the stakes. Young readers who like history, robots, and other things steampunk will enjoy a different take on the world, and adults will enjoy the story, creative retelling of events, and the fact that many nursery rhymes are actually codes which unlock puzzle traps and reveal the location of powerful artifacts.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

Rating:




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Other Reviews:
     Elitist Book Reviews

Previous Books:
     1. The League of Seven



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Kirsten Reviews: Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel José Older

, by Kt Clapsadl

Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel José Older
Bone Street Rumba #2

The streets of New York are hungry tonight...

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 botánica, 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.


Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel José Older continues his Bone Street Rumba series. The first hurdle for any sequel is to measure up to its predecessor and raise the stakes. In this case, the book picks up the story of Carlos Delacruz, a man who is neither fully alive nor completely dead. The exact circumstances of his death aren’t clear, and part of what occupies his existence “in between” is trying to figure out what happened to him. The rest of the time he works as part of the clean up crew or enforcement division of the New York Council of the Dead and hunts down and executes those ghosts or other supernatural beings who break the rules.

Of late there has been a number of murders around Brooklyn’s Von King Park which have the marks of a paranormal culprit, and Carlos is tasked with finding the perpetrator and dealing with them. At one point he and his team are able to interrupt an attack and the intended victim is someone Carlos knows fairly well, Kia, a teenage girl who works for one of Carlos’ friends. Although Kia is justifiably freaked out about the fact that now she’s been touched by a ghost she can see all the spirits and other creatures that most living people have no idea about, she’s far from the kind of girl who will sit out a fight, despite Carlos thinking doing so will protect her from the monsters.

As heroic protagonists go, Carlos is in a sorry state following the events of the last book, and is often the character about to run heedlessly into danger, if not for the intervention of other characters. While his state of mind made sense, at times it felt as if he should simply not be allowed anywhere without a buddy.

The story has several points of view, that of Carlos, as well as Kia and another character named Reza. This does provide other perspectives, but at times it felt as if Kia or Reza should have their own story, as there wasn’t enough room for Kia’s story or Reza’s past, and the route she to finding out that the dead don’t rest easy at all. There were a couple other side characters who deserve their own novels, and given some of the connections, but romantic and otherwise, this is very likely in the rest of the series.

The story moves along without stumbling as it bounces from one character to another, but there felt like there were some parts of the story weren’t tied together as strongly as they could be, and there was more explaining than should have been necessary. But, as a whole, the characters had clear goals and were all prepared to do whatever was necessary to get revenge, avenge lost loved ones, or protect their families. If readers have any issues with cursing, roaches or violence this may be too much for them, but Older’s stories are not prettied up, and the characters are up against stakes that compel them to make difficult choices and keep putting one foot in front of the other to keep going.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

Rating:



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Other Reviews:
     The Bibliosanctum
     Fantasy Literature
     Koeur's Book Reviews

Previous Books:
     1. Half-Resurrection Blues


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Review: Ruined by Amy Tintera

, by Kt Clapsadl

Ruined by Amy Tintera
Ruined #1

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

There are a few things this book does well, and a few not so well. Let's start with the good, the world building and intense plotline. I absolutely love the world behind RUINED. The fantasy elements with the Ruined and all their many different abilities hooked me in. When you combine that with the various lands, and the court politics/dynamics and I was completely sold. Throw in the fact that the Ruined are being hunted to extinction due to fear/predjudice and the revenge plotline, you have one heck of an intense read. It was incredibly fast paced, and I was simply amazed at how much was packed into the book. I realize the main plotline is nothing new, where the heroine infiltrates an enemy kingdom to achieve xyz revenge/goal, in fact I could probably name several books with very similar plots. But somehow it still felt fresh and exciting the entire read. And that in itself is mighty impressive, to take a been there, done that plot and make it fresh and new.

Now onto the not so great, the characters/relationship development, first up the heroine. Ooooo boy is Em a blood-thirsty little hellion! I have to admit, she and this book got off to a bit of a rocky start for me. We're thrust right into things with Em killing the princess Lera in order to take her place. It was an insanely vicious place to start, and made me take a step back to push the back button on my kindle several times as I thought I had accidentally started a few chapters in rather than at the beginning. But alas, the book starts in the middle of Em committing murder. Oh it's for a good "cause" of course, if revenge/protection of your own people really constitutes a good cause. Even so, Em just generally is an overall blood-thirsty character. There were several times in the book where she'd go off on random mental tangents that where calling them violent and vicious would be an understatement. She sure holds a lot of resentment, and perhaps it's somewhat understandable, but I have to admit being in her head was a jarring at times. It's a bit hard to stay sympathetic to a character's plight when you're also thinking that she might be more than a little psychopathic.

The other not so great would be the hero/romance. Frankly I just didn't get this one at all. Cas seemed, well weak. I had a hard time getting behind him as he seemed about as strong as a limp noodle. Where Em overcompensates with violent thoughts and behaviors, he's one heck of a pushover. Talk about polar opposites, to the point where I just wasn't feeling the connection one bit. It's like the words were there, but not the feelings. I think a little balance in both their personalities would have gone a long way. And in the book's defense, by the end of RUINED, I did feel like that balance was starting to come into play as Em learned to care about more than her violent revenge, and Cas started to stand up for things he believed in. So there is hope for the next book in the romance department eventually.

As I said, there were some good things and not so great things about RUINED, but since I was completely engrossed almost from the very start, I'll call this one a win overall. I'd recommend this one to anyone who enjoys a fast paced fantasy YA, with an incredibly strong (and blood-thirsty!) heroine, and interesting world behind it all.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Other Reviews:
     The Eater of Books!
     Du Livre
     Hit or Miss Books


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Review: Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

, by Kt Clapsadl

Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep
Black Blade #3

Bad Things Always Come In Threes…

As a thief, I'm good at three things: hiding in the shadows, getting in and out unseen, and uncovering secrets. I put these skills to work for the Sinclair Family, one of the magical mobs that run the tourist town of Cloudburst Falls.

Everyone knows Victor Draconi wants to take over all the other Families--and kill every last Sinclair. What they don't know is that I'm on to him, and no way will I let the man who murdered my mom get away with hurting all the other people I care about. Especially when I've got places to break into, stuff to steal, and Devon Sinclair fighting right by my side…



BRIGHT BLAZE OF MAGIC caught me off guard as I didn't realize it was the last book in the series. I wasn't expecting the final show down and for everything to be tied up at the end of this book, but instead expected another cliffhanger ending. I have to admit I'm a bit bummed now as I've really enjoyed this series, and I do hope the author eventually writes more because there's so much potential for more. Don't get me wrong, the ending is very satisfying and fans of the series should be more than pleased, but when it comes to Jennifer Estep's books well I'm always wanting more.

Despite this only being a trilogy, I feel like there were so many building and looming threads packed into the previous book. So I was really impressed with just how well everything came together in this book. Everything and I do mean everything comes to a head, and no punches are held. More than a few moments were utterly gut wrenching and while it made me miserable in a away, I thoroughly enjoyed every emotion packed moment. So massive kudos to the author for crafting a story that's so rich in both the characters and the stakes that you can't help but get sucked right into the character's plights, feeling every emotion right alongside them.

All in all, BRIGHT BLAZE OF MAGIC proves once again that a Jennifer Estep book, and series are simply not to be missed. If you're looking for a fast paced read with amazing characters, incredibly high stakes, and plenty of twists and turns, this series is meant for you!


(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Other Reviews:
     Rabid Reads
     Froms Dreams to Reality
     Gizmos Reviews

Previous Books:
     1. Cold Burn of Magic
     2. Dark Heart of Magic


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Kirsten Reviews: Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen

, by Kt Clapsadl

Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen
The Shadow #1

A rich, dark fantasy of destiny, death, and the supernatural world hiding beneath the surface.

Nettie Lonesome lives in a land of hard people and hard ground dusted with sand. She's a half-breed who dresses like a boy, raised by folks who don't call her a slave but use her like one. She knows of nothing else. That is, until the day a stranger attacks her. When nothing, not even a sickle to the eye can stop him, Nettie stabs him through the heart with a chunk of wood, and he turns into black sand.

And just like that, Nettie can see.

But her newfound sight is a blessing and a curse. Even if she doesn't understand what's under her own skin, she can sense what everyone else is hiding -- at least physically. The world is full of evil, and now she knows the source of all the sand in the desert. Haunted by the spirits, Nettie has no choice but to set out on a quest that might lead to her true kin... if the monsters along the way don't kill her first.

Wake of Vultures, by Delilah S. Dawson writing as Lila Bowen and the first book in The Shadow series is the sort of coming-of-age Western story that was once solely reserved for boys. It calls to mind such recent comic titles as Pretty Deadly and East of West, and with a female protagonist being confronted by an array of supernatural and very human monsters, it belongs to what may prove to be a further revival of the genre.

There may be many protagonists who believe themselves to be the most unlikely of heroines, but Nettie Lonesome has the deck stacked high against her. She stands out in a world that does not look kindly on women, mixed-race people, or anyone who does not let themselves be entirely broken by a harsh world and cruel people. Nettie, who is attracted to both women and men, and self-identifies as a man, preferring to dress as such, is a slave in all but name when she is attacked one day by a stranger. In defending herself, Nettie stabs the stranger through the heart with a piece of wood, only to be shocked when he turns into black sand.

This event, besides propelling Nettie into a greater wariness of people also makes her aware that there are more monsters in the world, and some of them have very sharp teeth. The difference is that now Nettie has the ability to see them for what they truly are. Such knowledge does not make life any easier, and now Nettie is aware of exactly what comes out of the desert at night to attack people, steal children, and drink blood. Although she is in no hurry to try her hand at heroics, Nettie’s soon encounters vampires, chupacabras, and harpies, and her journey takes her into the sand and toward an evil which she both fears and knows must be stopped.

As protagonists go, Nettie is both a survivor, and someone who, in spite of all the hardship she’s endured, a good person, who ultimately chooses to listen to her gentler instincts instead of being selfish and steering clear of danger. It is this kindness, bolstered by admirable ferocity and the determination that a person shouldn’t let other people dictate who they are that makes her so compelling, and the story one which demands a sequel.
(Received a copy from the publisher)

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     Paranormal Haven
     Dark Faerie Tales
     Gizmo's Reviews

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Early Review: Down with the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn

, by Kt Clapsadl

Down with the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn

There's a reason they say "be careful what you wish for." Just ask the girl who wished to be thinner and ended up smaller than Thumbelina, or the boy who asked for "balls of steel" and got them-literally. And never wish for your party to go on forever. Not unless you want your guests to be struck down by debilitating pain if they try to leave.
These are things Lennie only learns when it's too late-after she brings some of her uncles' moonshine to a party and toasts to dozens of wishes, including a big wish of her own: to bring back her best friend, Dylan, who was abducted and murdered six months ago.

Lennie didn't mean to cause so much chaos. She always thought her uncles' moonshine toast was just a tradition. And when they talked about carrying on their "important family legacy," she thought they meant good old-fashioned bootlegging.

As it turns out, they meant granting wishes. And Lennie has just granted more in one night than her uncles would grant in a year.

Now she has to find a way to undo the damage. But once granted, a wish can't be unmade...
When I read the blurb for this one I was incredibly intrigued. It sounded so interesting I knew I’d have to read it, and I’m so glad I did. I wound up devouring it in one setting turning the pages as fast as I could to see what happened next. DOWN WITH THE SHINE is a fun, and yet twisted story that was very entertaining. It felt almost like a twist between a backwoods small town you’d find in a movie mixed in the fantastical element of genie like wishes. It definitely made for an interesting mashup.

I would have loved to have rated DOWN WITH THE SHINE 5 stars considering how hooked I was and how much I enjoyed it while reading it, but unfortunately the heroine’s character is holding me back. I liked Lennie but parts of her personality and actions just rang false. She just didn’t quite ring true to me. She acted the wounded and outcasted party from everyone, and while that made sense in her school life due to how her classmates treated her, she also acted as if her uncles only tolerated her presence. There also was the deal with her dead best friend and while her words showed devastation at the loss, her actions sure didn’t. Things just didn’t line up, and that only held true the further in the book I read. I think the book meant to have her only feel as if she was outcasted and that it was her own misconceptions of other’s thoughts and feeling to her that were in the way, not real events. Unfortunately I felt there just wasn’t enough set up for this. It’s almost like the case of someone not realizing they are beautiful until the hero comes along and magically tells her that she is. Only in this case it wasn’t just her not realizing that other people are not outcasting her it’s her own fear in the way, but it also was her acting out against things that just weren’t there. I guess I feel like there was no set up at all for her insecurities and misconceptions, so I had a bit of a hard time believing them. Just rant a little false.

Frustrations with Lennie’s actions aside, I really loved the rest of DOWN WITH THE SHINE. There was just the right amount of fantasy elements intermeshed in. I particularly loved how vibrant and in depth the author painted the consequences of the rampant wishes, and the book definitely had more than a little sinister feeling to it. It’s one that makes you think because any wish no matter how simple could become amazingly twisted beyond recognition. Nothing comes without a price, even magical wishes it seems. I won’t spoil things, but suffice it to say things spiral way out of control in a hurry and it was incredibly entertaining to both watch that spiral and all the character’s scramble to try and fix things. Sometimes the fixes were worse than the original mess up, adding yet another layer that kept me hooked.

If you’re looking for a fun yet, slightly sinister and engrossing read that can be devoured in one setting, look no further than DOWN WITH THE SHINE. Perfect for fans of standalone novels with more than a little danger and fantasy elements, this one is not to be missed.
(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Other Reviews:
     My Guilty Obsession
     Fully Booked Reviews
     Down the Rabbit Hole

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Early Review: Soldier by Julie Kagawa

, by Kt Clapsadl

Soldier by Julie Kagawa
Talon #3

A fighter dedicated to saving humankind from dragons in strictest secrecy.

That was what Garret Xavier Sebastian thought he was part of as a soldier of the Order of St. George. What he learned from a fiery dragon hatchling twisted all he believed in and set him on a collision course with certain death-but not without a chance to put things right.

Betrayed and on the run again, Ember and rogue dragon Riley discover an unthinkable truth about Talon and St. George. They'll need Garret's skills and insider knowledge of the Order to negotiate an impossible deal-and if they fail, there will be no way to stop all-out war.


I have to admit I don’t really understand the love triangle in this series. It just doesn’t make sense or really work emotionally to be honest. I don’t know if there just isn’t enough depth to it to make it believable to me, or if thing just need to develop further, but honestly I’m let scratching my head. First off you have the complication that Dragons aren’t supposed to love or have partner, preferring to be solitary creatures. But then there’s this inexplicable bond pulling Ember and Riley together. It almost feels like the mating bond so common in shifter books which would make sense since the dragons are technically shifters although they are dragons really, just mimicking humans. But that there leads me to the other part of the triangle, Embers attraction and pull towards Garrett. She’s not supposed to be human nor be capable of love, and yet in so many ways Ember is very very human. While it’s something that was started to slowly be considered in SOLDIER, there’s really so much more to be figured out. I guess in the end I just need more from the romance for this triangle to work for me. As it stood in this book there was barely any moments romantically between Ember and either “boy” and even the ones that were seemed rushed and glossed over. I need more.

Onto the plot, this is one area where SOLDIER shined. The sheer amount of twists, turns, and machinations between all the various factions left my head spinning at times. It felt like Ember and co were under fire from all directions, and nothing and no one were safe one bit. It definitely made things more than interesting and the stakes incredibly high. Almost too high perhaps. By the end of the book I was left amazed at everything that had happened, the new developments and things revealed to come, and it’s hard to imagine a reasonable survival outcome for anyone. I almost feel like things are headed into unbeliveability territory. I could be wrong, but only time will tell in the next book to see how they get out of the building chaos.

Overall SOLDIER kept me entertained, but unfortunately it lacked the amount of depth I would like to have seen. This book and characters have so much potential in my opinion and I’d love to see so much more from them, but as seems to be the course for this series I feel like we’re only scratching the surface. I’m enjoying them well enough to continue the series as I’m definitely invested, but I can’t help hoping for more depth in books to come.
(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Other Reviews:
     The Thoughtful Spot
 

Previous Books:
     1. Talon
     2. Rogue

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