Early Review: Phantom Shadows by Dianne Duvall

, by Kt Clapsadl

Phantom Shadows by Diane Duvall 
Immortal Guardians #3

Dr. Melanie Lipton is no stranger to the supernatural. She knows immortals better than they know themselves, right down to their stubborn little genes. So although a handsome rogue immortal seems suspicious to her colleagues, Sebastien Newcombe intrigues Melanie. His history is checkered, his scars are impressive, and his ideas are daring. But it’s not his ideas that have Melanie fighting off surges of desire . . .

Bastien is used to being the bad guy. In fact, he can’t remember the last time he had an ally he could trust. But Melanie is different – and under her calm, professional exterior he senses a passion beyond anything in his centuries of experience. Giving in to temptation is out of the question – he can’t put her in danger. But she isn’t asking him . . .


To everyone but Dr. Melanie Lipton, Bastien Newcombe is a no good traitor that they would like to see dead and buried. Granted, with a past full of nasty things and an extremely poor attitude, Bastien hasn't exactly given the rest of the Immortals any reason to forgive and forget. But to Melanie he is so much more than that and she holds a fierce desire towards him. Content to live his life as the bad guy, Bastien hasn't done anything to discourage the negative attitudes towards him. So when Melanie starts to make her desires known, he is at a loss for how to handle it other than to fight her tooth and nail despite his own desires. But she isn't some weak little kitten, and she's set him in her sights, leaving no room for escape. What is a man to do when the woman he cares for won't take no for an answer even when it's for her own good?

I was very excited when I found out Phantom Shadows would feature Bastien. I've always had a soft spot for a tortured hero, especially ones that everyone else seems to despise. Perhaps that is because I know that deep down below the outward anger they show the world is a vulnerability that simply endears them to me. It also is really nice to see a role reversal from the normal situation in Urban Fantasies where the guy is the one doing the chasing. In Phantom Shadows it is Melanie that is relentless in her pursuit of Bastien, not letting him shy away thinking he doesn't deserve her. She seriously would not allow no for an answer. Don't get me wrong it wasn't like he didn't have a strong attraction to her from the start, it is more that he had an extreme hesitance to allow her close for fear of tarnishing her reputation. Luckily Melanie was able to see right through his facade to the man below.

The thing I enjoy the most about this series is the way the ongoing threats to the immortals are handled. Each book comes with some sort of resolution to the current in their face threat, keeping things fresh and exciting. But in addition to that resolution there also is more than enough left over for the next installment to hold my interest. In all honesty it can become a little tedious when there is a 100% new threat in each installment in a paranormal romance series. I just feel those types of books aren't as enjoyable since there already is such a large adjustment with the change in couple focus. Adding in a completely new villain each time just is a little too much for my tastes as it makes the "learning curve" even longer. So, again I really love the way these books are set up to have a continual threat that ties all of the books together. It made it so much easier to pick up the book and dive right in without any confusion even though I hadn't read the previous installment for quite some time.

With each new installment in the Immortal Guardians series I only fall more in love with the world and the amazing cast of characters. I just love how each new couple introduced only adds to the overall family feel of the Immortals, and I especially look forward to some of my favorites getting their own happily ever after. Well as much as they can while still battling down their latest foes that is. It is for that reason and many more that the next book in this series will be going on my most anticipated list. There isn't a release date set yet, but I can assure you I'll be stalking Dianne's website for the announcement. So in the end, Phantom Shadows is a must read for fans of the series, and for those who haven't read the first two installments, I have to ask what are you waiting for? Full of romance, danger, and a heck of a cast of characters, these books cannot possibly disappoint!

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Previous Books:
  1. Darkness Dawns
  2. Night Reigns


Kirsten Reviews: Doubletake by Rob Thurman

, by Kt Clapsadl

Doubletake by Rob Thurman
Cal Leandros #7



Half-human/half-monster Cal Leandros knows that family is a pain. But now that pain belongs to his half-brother, Niko. Niko's shady father is in town, and he needs a big favor. Even worse is the reunion being held by the devious Puck race-including the Leandros' friend, Robin- featuring a lottery that no Puck wants to win.

As Cal tries to keep both Niko and Robin from paying the ultimate price for their kin, a horrific reminder from Cal's own past arrives to remind him that blood is thicker than water-and that's why it's so much more fun to spill.




Rob Thurman continues the ‘Cal Leandros’ series with the seventh installment, entitled ‘Doubletake,’ which finds the series’ titular character dealing with an absentee father - that of his half-brother Niko, and a meeting of the pucks, yes, all of them. There’s a lot of hijinks afoot and a lottery, but not the kind that any puck would want to win. Robin Goodfellow is back, and he’s not all that happy about his involvement in any of this family’s business. But then, these three never are thrilled to see family, not when they bring so much trouble.

Cal is saddled with trying to keep Niko and Robin’s relatives from causing even more trouble than usual when his own past shows up, and in a typically unpleasant way.

The trick with any long-running series is resolving certain plot elements, while at the same time ensuring that more obstacles are pushed into the protagonist’s path.

In ‘Doubletake,’ the bond between Cal and Niko is one of the most important aspects of the story, and the theme of family is clearly the focus of the book. The stakes are raised when Cal’s humanity, the one thing that prevented him from being unbalanced and the danger that people have assumed he truly is, no longer keeps him in check.

Niko, for all his issues, loves Cal, and often serves as his conscience, and the only moral compass that Cal will listen to in times of trouble. Thurman is aware how much rests on these two brothers, and the story pays equal attention to their fraternal bond as well as the action and danger in which they invariably find themselves.

Some aspects of the book aren’t as strong - the Robin storyline, and the presence of certain characters fell short when compared to Niko and Cal’s bond being tested and their history expanded. However, the book is strong overall, although this story doesn’t hold up as a standalone, so new readers are advised to start at the beginning of the series to catch all the references.

The lesson of ‘Doubletake,’ and the entire series is that blood doesn’t always decide who a person is, but the people that one calls ‘family’ matter most of all.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Previous Books:
  1. Nightlife
  2. Moonshine
  3. Madhouse
  4. Deathwish
  5. Roadkill
  6. Blackout


Early Review: Through to You by Emily Hainsworth

, by Kt Clapsadl

Through to You by Emily Hainsworth 
 
Camden Pike has been grief-stricken since his girlfriend, Viv, died. Viv was the last good thing in his life: helping him rebuild his identity after a career-ending football injury, picking up the pieces when his home life shattered, and healing his pain long after the meds wore off. And now, he’d give anything for one more glimpse of her. But when Cam makes a visit to the site of Viv’s deadly car accident, he sees some kind of apparition. And it isn’t Viv.

The apparition’s name is Nina, and she’s not a ghost. She’s a girl from a parallel world, and in this world, Viv is still alive. Cam can’t believe his wildest dreams have come true. All he can focus on is getting his girlfriend back, no matter the cost. But things are different in this other world: Viv and Cam have both made very different choices, things between them have changed in unexpected ways, and Viv isn’t the same girl he remembers. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets, too, and the window between the worlds is shrinking every day. As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become and the part Nina played in his parallel story, he’s forced to choose—stay with Viv or let her go—before the window closes between them once and for all. 

It's been two months since Viv died and Camden Pike is no closer to dealing with the wreck he became when he lost her. She was everything to him, his rock in the world when he lost everything else that mattered. Then one night while visiting the memorial he sees an apparition of a girl in a green haze. At first he thinks he's losing it and the image is Viv's ghost conjured by his grief. But he's wrong, the apparition is actually Nina, a girl from a parallel world, one where Viv is still alive. Yet when he travels through the haze he finds things to be very different on the other side as the counterparts have made very different choices, leaving him with countless questions. Just who exactly is Nina and why is she so secretive. Why is Viv so different, and can his love for her overlook all of the startling differences? With the window of haze growing smaller each day, Cam only has a limited time to decide what he really wants before his second chance slips away forever.

I absolutely adored Cam. Everything about him felt so real, with all his emotions becoming my own as I was reading. The sheer amount of grief he is suffering in the beginning of the book is quite staggering and my heart bled for him. Not only does he feel the pain of losing the person who meant the absolute most in the world to him, but he also is dealing with a world of guilt as he blames himself for the accident. In all honesty it is almost a miracle that he was able to function as well as he did. Sure he shut everyone out, but he still was able to at least go through the motions of his life. Yet when he see's Nina's apparition he "wakes" up with a vengeance as he questions his own sanity even as his animosity towards someone else comes to the forefront. It was so heart breaking to see him struggle so hard as even though I knew he wasn't crazy, he didn't and that made it all the harder to bear.

In the opposite spectrum of emotions, his joy and relief upon meeting the parallel world's Liv is breath taking, yet again changing the emotional flavor of the novel. But even more impressive than the direct emotions experienced was the slow but steady personal growth as Cam slowly started to heal and find himself again. As he went from the extreme loss to hope, he still manages to keep his head rather level considering the rather extraordinary circumstances. I just wanted to shout out my encouragement when he didn't just accept things at face value, but made rather rational decisions. I'm not sure many of us would actually have the strength to do that in the face of getting such a profound second chance with a lost love.

I really enjoyed the simplistic style of the writing for this book. Everything was bare bones, with no real lengthy descriptions. I just felt like the raw and open nature of the writing really fit the story, especially as Cam was reeling in his grief as he wasn't going to be poetic in that state. That open nature did leave things a little obvious as the book progressed, making some of the plot twists predictable to me as a result. However, that didn't lessen the impact of them one bit as it was the emotion, not the actual events that made this book what it was. Several times throughout reading Through to You my heart felt like it had been ripped out of my chest as it bled for Cam and his suffering. This is such an emotionally impactive book that it is a beautiful yet staggering thing to experience. Anyone who has ever experienced love or loss should absolutely read this book!

(Received a copy from the publisher via Edelweiss)

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Waiting on Wednesday (114)

, by Kt Clapsadl

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights an upcoming release we are greatly anticipating.

My pick this week:

Shadow Rising - Sisters of the Otherworld #12
by Yasmine Galenorn
Publication Date: October 30th, 2012
Pre-Order:

 

We're the D'Artigo sisters: sexy, savvy ex-operatives from the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. Being half human, half-Fae means our powers go haywire at all the wrong times. My sister Camille is a wicked-good witch, with three gorgeous husbands. My sister Delilah is a two-faced werecat and a Death Maiden. And me? I'm Menolly, a jian-tu turned vampire, and I'm dating a sexy werepuma and the godfather of vampires. Unfortunately, life is about to get very, very nasty...

Nerissa and I can't decide on what we want to do for our promise ceremony and we're bickering like an old married couple. My sisters and I head to Otherworld for a meeting with Queen Asteria, where we discover that Shadow Wing has dispatched Telazhar to reignite the Scorching Wars. And as soon as we return back home, we find Gulakah, the Lord of Ghosts, waging a battle to control the magical beings over Earthside. Caught between two terrible enemies in a battle spanning two worlds, we can only hope we're in time to stop all-out annihilation.


Release Day Review: Alchemystic by Anton Strout

, by Kt Clapsadl

Alchemystic by Anton Strout 
The Spellman Chronicles #1

AN OLD FRIEND OF THE FAMILY… Alexandra Belarus is a struggling artist living in New York City, even though her family is rich in real estate, including a towering Gothic Gramercy Park building built by her great-great-grandfather. But the truth of her bloodline is revealed when she is attacked on the street and saved by an inhumanly powerful winged figure. A figure who knows the Belarus name…

Lexi’s great-great-grandfather was a Spellmason—an artisan who could work magic on stone. But in his day, dark forces conspired against him and his, so he left a spell of protection on his family. Now that Lexi is in danger, the spell has awoken her ancestor’s most trusted and fearsome creation: a gargoyle named Stanis.
< Lexi and Stanis are equally surprised to find themselves bound to each other. But as they learn to work together, they realize that only united can they save the city they both love… 

Unlike the rest of her real estate mogul family, Lexi Belarus is much more whimsical, preferring to surround herself in art like her great-great grandfather rather than focus on money. But everything changes when she is attacked and saved by a creature beyond imagination. Turns up dear old Grandad was involved in a lot more than just sculpture and real estate as he used alchemy and his Spellmason powers to create a gargoyle named Stanis out of stone to protect his family and legacy over the ages. Lexi quickly realizes that she has a bit of that same Spellmason power herself, albeit very rough and untrained, it still makes her an even bigger target for those who would seek to bring her family down. With time quickly running out on the protections placed upon her family home, she'll have to learn to master her abilities fast before even Stanis's protection isn't enough.

Lexi's voice in Alchemystic felt very fresh and unique. Although her talking about being a non-violent person at the beginning of the book was rather amusing to me as early on, it became very apparent that she has a rather nasty temper. Aside from that she's a fun and quirky girl who has a penchant for getting herself into trouble more often than not, but luckily she has fiercely loyal friends and her gargoyle protector to get her out of her messes relatively unscathed. In fact, the whole dynamic between the team really sucked me right into the book. Rory is like the sidekick friend everyone needs to have as she is spunky and fun, but also isn't afraid to speak her mind, especailly when she thinks Lexi is headed in the wrong direction. Also she can majorly kick butt, which honestly makes her rather awesome in my book. I even loved how Marshall's uber geekness in his role playing games wound up saving them more often than not. I mean the guy lives and breathes the stuff, but he also finds a way to apply that fantasy world into real life application when it matters most.

Now onto the gargoyle. Honestly, this was the number one factor that drew me to wanting to read this book. I'm still crazy in love with the Urban Fantasy genre, with the vamps, witches, fey, and weres galore, but I have to admit it is always refreshing to read about other types of creatures for a change of pace. I loved Stanis as he was very calm and steady throughout, being much like the stone he is made out of. Of course that does start to change as Lexi seeks to restore him to his full power, and bit by bit he gains a little more humanity. Don't get me wrong, he still is very strong and steady, there is just more emotion behind him rather than simple practicality. I cannot wait to see more of him in future books!

The magic behind Alchemystic was incredibly intriguing. It did take a while for any real answers to happen, but I never felt frustrated with the pace, as just enough was revealed to keep me moving along happily. That being said, I have a feeling the surface has only been scratched, and there will be so much more involved as Lexi learns more about her heritage and abilities. The only thing I could possibly complain about in Alchemystic was the complete lack of romance, which isn't really a complaint, but more of a stylistic preference. I will say that the intrigue of the story and the action kept me more than entertained, so I didn't miss the lack all that much in the end. All in all, Alchemystic was a very solid start to a new series, that will definitely be on my radar for future releases.

(Recevied a copy from the publisher)

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Book Birthdays: New Titles This Week (3)

, by Kt Clapsadl


I keep a google calendar of all the books releasing each week that are on my radar. With all of the many books I am excited about it is so easy to lose track of when things come out. Since I'm already doing this research for myself, I thought you guys might like it if I shared.

Releasing  9/24-9/30


Alchemystic by Anton Strout
The Spellmason Chronicles #1

AN OLD FRIEND OF THE FAMILY…

Alexandra Belarus is a struggling artist living in New York City, even though her family is rich in real estate, including a towering Gothic Gramercy Park building built by her great-great-grandfather. But the truth of her bloodline is revealed when she is attacked on the street and saved by an inhumanly powerful winged figure. A figure who knows the Belarus name…

Lexi’s great-great-grandfather was a Spellmason—an artisan who could work magic on stone. But in his day, dark forces conspired against him and his, so he left a spell of protection on his family. Now that Lexi is in danger, the spell has awoken her ancestor’s most trusted and fearsome creation: a gargoyle named Stanis.

Lexi and Stanis are equally surprised to find themselves bound to each other. But as they learn to work together, they realize that only united can they save the city they both love…


Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
White Rabbit Chronicles #1


She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.


Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real….

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….

I wish I could go back and do a thousand things differently.
I'd tell my sister no.
I'd never beg my mother to talk to my dad.
I'd zip my lips and swallow those hateful words.
Or, barring all of that, I'd hug my sister, my mom and my dad one last time.
I'd tell them I love them.
I wish... Yeah, I wish.

Amazon     The Book Depository

Covet by Melissa Darnell
The Clann #2

Dangerous to be together. Painful to be apart.
 
Savannah Colbert knows she broke up with Tristan Coleman for the right reasons. Most of all, to keep from killing him with her new vampire abilities. But try telling her heart. Now, lost in a sea of hostile Clann faces, Sav tries to come to terms with what she's becoming and what that means for her future. And that someone is doing their best to bully her into making a terrible mistake.

Tristan can't believe Sav won't even talk to him. If being apart is her decision, fine. Just don't expect him to honor it. But even as he prepares to fight for the girl he loves, forces beyond their control take them both in directions neither could have foreseen or prepared for.

A reckoning is coming…and not everyone will survive.

Amazon     The Book Depository

Dark Light of Day by Jill Archer
Noon Onyx #1


Armageddon is over. The demons won. And yet somehow…the world has continued. Survivors worship patron demons under a draconian system of tributes and rules. These laws keep the demons from warring among themselves, and the world from slipping back into chaos.

Noon Onyx grew up on the banks of the river Lethe, the daughter of a prominent politician, and a descendant of Lucifer’s warlords. Noon has a secret: She was born with waning magic, the dark, destructive, fiery power that is used to control demons and maintain the delicate peace among them. But a woman with waning magic is unheard of, and some would consider her an abomination.

Noon is summoned to attend St. Lucifer’s, a school of demon law. She must decide whether to declare her powers there…or to attempt to continue hiding them, knowing the price for doing so may be death. And once she meets the forbiddingly powerful Ari Carmine—who suspects Noon is harboring magic as deadly as his own—Noon realizes there may be more at stake than just her life.


Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel
Gone With the Respiration #2

Can the living coexist with the living dead?

That’s the question that has New Victorian society fiercely divided ever since the mysterious plague known as “The Laz” hit the city of New London and turned thousands into walking corpses. But while some of these zombies are mindless monsters, hungry for human flesh, others can still think, speak, reason, and control their ravenous new appetites.

Just ask Nora Dearly, the young lady of means who was nearly kidnapped by a band of sinister zombies but valiantly rescued by a dashing young man . . . of the dead variety.

Nora and her savior, the young zombie soldier Bram Griswold, fell hopelessly in love. But others feel only fear and loathing for the reanimated dead. Now, as tensions grow between pro- and anti-zombie factions, battle lines are being drawn in the streets. And though Bram is no longer in the New Victorian army, he and his ex-commando zombie comrades are determined to help keep the peace. That means taking a dangerous stand between The Changed, a radical group of sentient zombies fighting for survival, and The Murder, a masked squad of urban guerrillas hellbent on destroying the living dead. But zombies aren’t the only ones in danger: Their living allies are also in The Murder’s crosshairs, and for one vengeful zealot, Nora Dearly is the number one target.

As paranoia, prejudice, and terrorist attacks threaten to plunge the city into full-scale war, Nora’s scientist father and his team continue their desperate race to unlock the secrets of “The Laz” and find a cure. But their efforts may be doomed when a mysterious zombie appears bearing an entirely new strain of the illness—and the nation of New Victoria braces for a new wave of the apocalypse.

Lia Habel’s spellbinding, suspenseful sequel to Dearly, Departed takes her imaginative mash-up of period romance, futuristic thriller, and zombie drama to a whole new level of innovative and irresistible storytelling.

Amazon         The Book Depository

A Fractured Light by Jocelynn Davies
A Beautiful Dark #2


When she wakes up in unfamiliar surroundings, Skye knows something terrible has happened to her. It's not until she hears Asher, the dark, rebellious angel she fell in love with, that the memories come flooding back. She tries to put the past behind her, but she knows she'll be forever haunted by the ruthless betrayal that almost took her life.

Skye returns home, but with the knowledge of who she really is, nothing can ever be the same. As she tests the limits of her newfound powers, Skye discovers that she's capable of far more
than anyone could have imagined. Both the Order and the Rebellion want her for their side as war between the factions looms. She can't forget the terrifying truth she now knows about the Order, but something holds her back from embracing the Rebellion. 

Amazon     The Book Depository

How to Marry a Warlock in 10 Days by Saranna DeWylde
10 Days #2


GOT WARLOCK?


Middy Cherrywood does. She's got more warlock than she can hex with Dred Shadowins. He isn't just a billionaire playboy and Weekly Warlock centerfold. He's a spy for the High Chancellor, and he convinces Middy to pose as his fiancée for his latest mission. Too bad no one told his mother before she slipped Middy a potion that will make their sham engagement all too real in just ten days.

Dred Shadowins already has his hands full with cursed objects, possessed nuns, and dreams where Merlin makes him pay for taking his name in vain by relating his sexcapades with Nimue. But by the end of the mission, he's convinced his most difficult challenge is the hero's cape Middy's draped over his shoulders. Because he wants nothing more than to give her the one thing he may not be capable of providing: Happily Ever After.

Amazon     The Book Depository 

 Kiss of Surrender by Sandra Hill Deadly Angels #2

It's not easy being a Vampire Angel.

No one knows that better than Trond Sigurdsson. In the centuries since he last went out drinking and wenching with his Viking buds, Trond has been a gladiator, a cowboy, a ditch digger . . . even a sheik. But now he's the baddest of them all: a kick-ass Navy SEAL kicking butts of terrorist immortals with the help of his hotter-than-Hades female partner, police officer-turned-Special Forces operative Nicole Tasso—whom Trond dearly hopes to "partner" with very shortly in a whole different way.

The "cop" part of Nicole tells her there's something bizarre about her gorgeous godlike teammate. But her "all-woman" side can't help wondering how great it would be to have a virile Viking in her bed. Trond has secrets galore, but Nicole feels certain she can dig them out—and really get to the heart of this powerful, unnerving stranger whom she may be risking her soul to love.

Amazon     The Book Depository

It's Monday What Are You Reading (114)

, by Kt Clapsadl


It's Monday! What Are You Reading, is hosted by Book Journey, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.






Reviews for the past week:



Boyfriend From Hell by Jamie Quaid (Early Review)
Covet by Melissa Darnell (Early Review)
Fury's Kiss by Karen Chance (Early Review)

Boyfriend from Hell was interesting, but also complicated at the same time. I was just a little frustrated with they way the different aspects didn't quite seem to fit together. I'll still be checking out the next one though.

Covet was an incredibly intense follow up to Crave. I cannot wait to see what happens next after that killer ending!

Fury's Kiss has brought Dorina ahead in the race for my favorite series that Karen Chance writes. It's a pretty hefty book, but never once drags, making for an awesome read.

Kirsten's Book of the Week:


All Spell Breaks Loose by Lisa Shearin (Review)

Other Posts:

Book Blogger Confessions asked about Blogger Relationships.

Book Birthdays featured 7 new releases on my radar

Iced by Karen Marie Moning was featured for Waiting on Wednesday

This week's Bargain Books & Kindle Deals

We received 12 books and several signed posters in the past two weeks. Check out our Stacking the Shelves to see which ones.

Upcoming List:

Alchemystic by Anton Strout (Release Day Review)
Through to You by Emily Hainsworth (Early Review)
Phantom Shadows by Diane Duvall (Early Review)

Kirsten Reviews: Doubletake by Rob Thurman



Stacking the Shelves (11)

, by Kt Clapsadl



Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews

Here's the books that we have received in the last two weeks:

For Review:


Thank you Tor, Roc, Kensington Teen, & Ace!!


From Netgalley:
 
Thank you Grand Central & Harlequin!!


Won:




Thank you For What It's Worth & Literary Escapism!!


From the Library:




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