Early Review: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

, by Kt Clapsadl

Hunter by Mercedes Lackey
Hunter #1

Centuries ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were slashed open allowing hideous fantastical monsters to wreak havoc; destroying entire cities in their wake. Now, people must live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the evil creatures constantly trying to break in. Only the corps of teen Hunters with lightning reflexes and magical abilities can protect the populace from the daily attacks.

Joyeaux Charmand is a mountain girl from a close knit village who comes to the big city to join the Hunters. Joy thinks she is only there to perform her civic duty and protect the capitol Cits, or civilians, but as cameras follow her every move, she soon learns that the more successful she is in her hunts, the more famous she becomes.

With millions of fans watching her on reality TV, Joy begins to realize that Apex is not all it seems. She is forced to question everything she grew up believing about the legendary Hunters and the very world she lives in. Soon she finds that her fame may be part of a deep conspiracy that threatens to upend the protective structure built to keep dark magic out. The monsters are getting in and it is up to Joy to find out why.

HUNTER is one of those books where you have to immerse yourself and give the book plenty of time to fully take off. The beginning is very slow, almost painfully so. The world building is immense and full of info dumps, which slows the pacing a great deal. However, waiting for the payoff is worth it in the end. The book, once it takes off is very impressive, and I was fully hooked, it's just a matter of being patient through all of those early info-dumps. It's a bit of a shame, because I feel like this book had incredible potential, but the beginning slowness will likely deter many. Once things are set up, the fascinating world and interesting characters truly stand out, making me wish the early parts of the book would have been tightened to allow this new series to truly shine.

Joy was a really strong and interesting character for me. At the start sure, she seems very Mary Sue, however, as the book progresses, she starts to come out of her shell, and her strength shines. Of course, she's very special, which is a common theme in YA novels, but I didn't find her overtly so, or unrealistic. She's a game changer, and I can't wait to see how the story progresses as she makes her mark. 

Slow beginnings aside, all in all HUNTER was really entertaining read. The perfect blend of dystopian, scifi, fantasy, and paranormal all in one, HUNTER earns a recommendation from me.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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     Brittany Marie Reads
     Bookworm Coalition

Kirsten Reviews: The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes

, by Kt Clapsadl

The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes
Bring Down Heaven #1

Long before he was sent to hell, the Aeon known as Khoth-Kapira was the closest thing to a living god the world had ever known. Possessed of a vast intellect, he pioneered many of the wonders that persist in the world that lingered long after he was banished. Nearly every fragment of medical, economic and technological progress that the mortal races enjoyed could be traced back to him. But with his wonders came cruelty beyond measure: industrialized slavery, horrifying experimentations and a rage that would eventually force the world to bow to him.

Now, as Khoth-Kapira stirs the world begins to shudder with disasters yet to come.The epicenter is the city of Cier'Djaal. A religious war between two unstoppable military juggernauts begins to brew. The racial fury among many peoples of the world is about to explode. Demons begin to pour from the shadows at the head of a vicious cult worshipping dark powers.

And Lenk finds himself in the middle once more, his fate and the fate of Khoth-Kapira interlinked as the demon attempts to convince him of his earnestness.

"Your world is breaking around you," He Who Makes says, "let me fix it. Let me help you. Let me out."

The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes is the first book in his Bring Down Heaven trilogy, and from the first pages, readers step into an adventure winding down, or so the main characters believe.

The story picks up as a group of adventurers attempt to enter the city of Cir’Djaal in order to obtain money they are owed. The premise seems fairly simple from the outset, but as with any such characters, things quickly go sideways, and they find themselves in the middle of a foot war, and political power struggles.

Fair warning, this book throws a lot of characters of varying species, temperaments and histories at the reader very quickly. However, while the plot sprawls over a large landscape, its threads are woven tightly, and it all comes together into much larger picture with the various characters each having their own issues to wrestle with.

The leader is a young man named Lenk, who is only in charge because nobody else wants the job, and most of the time, makes the worst plans. He’d like to stop killing - something which he has a talent for doing very well, and yet would like to preserve his relationship with Kataria, a shict, who is conflicted about her connection with Lenk, as well as her faith. Then there is Dreadaeleon, a young wizard, who would like to prove himself, often at the detriment of others. Denaos is the quintessential rogue, and he’d like to avoid the city more than most of the others. Finally, Gariath is their ‘heavy,’ a dragonman, who protects the other members of the party, and yet struggles with how to reconcile that with his sense of identity. There are a number of secondary characters, some helpful, others decidedly not, and many who have stories worth exploring further.

As the story progresses, the book is divided up into sections, and as circumstances deteriorate, so do the relationships among the adventurers. There are no easy answers to any of the plotlines, and as a rule, everything is terrible, or might be if somebody breathes wrong.

There are a fair number of fantasy books that follow a formula, where the protagonists are all good, or at least the kind of characters you wouldn’t mind meeting in a dark alley. This book departs from this rather spectacularly, as this group is as dangerous to their enemies as they are to their allies, and might rescue someone, or cut them down, depending on their level of emotional instability. Even so, Sykes’ sense of humor comes through strongly, and even though there’s quite a bit of bloodshed, the jokes aren’t in short supply either.

In future books, it would be nice to see the characters stepping away from their own stories a bit more, in order to interact more, beyond fights with one another and their many enemies, and there is definitely plenty of story and its world to explore.
(Received a copy from the publisher)

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     The Bibliosanctum
     Fantasy Review Barn
     Smash Dragons

Early Review: Archangel's Enigma by Nalini Singh

, by Kt Clapsadl

Archangel's Enigma by Nalini Singh
Guild Hunter #8

Naasir is the most feral of the powerful group of vampires and angels known as the Seven, his loyalty pledged to the Archangel Raphael. When rumors surface of a plot to murder the former Archangel of Persia, now lost in the Sleep of the Ancients, Naasir is dispatched to find him. For only he possesses the tracking skills required—those more common to predatory animals than to man.

Enlisted to accompany Naasir, Andromeda, a young angelic scholar with dangerous secrets, is fascinated by his nature—at once playful and brilliant, sensual and brutal. As they race to find the Sleeping archangel before it’s too late, Naasir will force her to question all she knows...and tempt her to walk into the magnificent, feral darkness of his world. But first they must survive an enemy vicious enough to shatter the greatest taboo of the angelic race and plunge the world into a screaming nightmare…

I cannot express how much I loved ARCHANGEL'S ENIGMA, so much so that I don't know what to say in this review past a lot of fangirling and squeeing. There's many times where a book knocks my socks off, but I can't remember the last time where I finished the book and wanted to immediately re-read it.

I always loved the mystery behind Naasir in the previous books, but I have to admit I was a bit unsure how he would work as the hero. There's something just so feral and sometimes childlike about him, that make for a really interesting character, but I just wasn't sure how that would translate to the romance department. I shouldn't have worried at all. Nalini did an utterly amazing job at bringing his character truly to life. Naasir stole my heart from the very first page. Instead of his feralness and sometimes childlike wonder detracting from his attractiveness, it actually enhanced it. I wish I could describe just how incredible Naasir were, but to keep from spoiling I'll just let you find out for yourself.

Easily my number one read for the year, ARCHANGEL'S ENIGMA is an absolute must read. Run, do not walk to your nearest book store and snatch this one up. Just make sure to set aside enough time to devour it uninterrupted as you will not be able to put it down once you start.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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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

Kirsten Reviews: The Good, the Bad, and the Smug by Tom Holt

, by Kt Clapsadl

The Good, The Bad and The Smug by Tom Holt
YouSpace #4

A new novel from a master of comic fantasy, Tom Holt.

New Evil.
Same as the Old Evil, but with better PR.

Mordak isn't bad, as far as goblin kings go, but when someone, or something, starts pumping gold into the human kingdoms it puts his rule into serious jeopardy. Suddenly he's locked in an arms race with a species whose arms he once considered merely part of a calorie-controlled diet.

Helped by an elf with a background in journalism and a masters degree in being really pleased with herself, Mordak sets out to discover what on earth (if indeed, that's where he is) is going on. He knows that the truth is out there. If only he could remember where he put it.

The Good, the Bad, and the Smug - a novel beyond good and evil by Tom Holt is about a new kind of evil, the sort that knows its way around good infrastructure and sanitation regulations.

Mordak the goblin, is a king with some big ideas, and none of them include how best to make himself the most popular within the community of evildoers. He’s more focused on improving working conditions, securing long term financial stability for goblins, and the small matter of taking over the press. As the elves run all newspapers - or did, until Mordak comes along, this makes him either more evil than expected, or simply a goblin with a plan.

Unfortunately for Mordak, his schemes are hampered by the issue of humans suddenly having more gold than they know what to do with. And with all this newfound wealth, they are arming themselves, which makes goblins and other races a bit nervous about the potential for all-out war.

With the help of an elf named Efluviel, who only wants to be a journalist, and is helping the goblin king in order to get her job back, Mordak sets out to learn who is giving humans so much gold. They would be well-advised to consult a man who spins straw into gold, and seems to know know quite a bit about supply and demand. Meanwhile, another goblin, Ozork manages to transform into a human named Archie by accident, when he’s seeking the Realms of Transcendent Bliss, and winds up on a film set in New Zealand.

The three distinct narratives of this book are evenly paced, and while at first, seem disparate, come together neatly in a tale that is both intelligent, and quite funny. For readers who enjoy the books of Terry Pratchett, this will be swiftly read and enjoyed.
(Received a copy from the publisher)

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     The Book Plank
     Fantasy Literature
     Derelict Space Sheep

Previous Books:
     1. Doughnut
     2. When it's a Jar
     3. The Outsorcerer's Apprentice

Early Review: Wish Bound by J.C. Nelson

, by Kt Clapsadl

Wish Bound by J.C. Nelson
Grimm Agency #3

From the author of Armageddon Rules, the fanciful and fun continuation of the Grimm Agency novels...

As a partner at Grimm’s magical Agency, Marissa Locks is used to working odd jobs. But when an evil queen reappears in Kingdom, life becomes too strange to handle…

Even when she’s not starting it, trouble follows Marissa everywhere. First there was the incident with the homicidal Fairy Godmother. Then there was the time she accidentally started Armageddon. But the problems that always seem to arise on Marissa’s birthday take the cake.

This year, her annual bad-luck presents include an army of invading goblins, the resurrection of two vengeful enemies from hell, and the return of the Black Queen, the evil sorceress whose reign of terror still haunts Kingdom and who happens to have claimed Marissa as her servant.

As Marissa’s friends try to save her from the Black Queen’s clutches, Marissa fights to end a bitter war that started before her birth. But her quest for peace is about to bring up some inconvenient truths about her own past—ones that might cost her the happily ever after she’s always dreamed of…

This book is going to be really hard for me to review. I enjoyed it, but there were things that stuck out to me, keeping me from fully immersing and loving the story as much as I did in book two. But on the flip side, nothing really amazing stuck out to me, so unfortunately this review will focus on the less than great things. From the start, WISH BOUND proceeds at an almost frenetic pace. While this kept me completely hooked into the story, at times it was a a bit hard to follow. There's just so much going on with the story jumping all around that I found myself having to go back and re-read paragraphs just to make sure I didn't miss anything. I enjoy a fast paced plot as much as the next gal, but it needs to flow and allow me to fully immerse in the story, which just didn't happen here.

I have a feeling this is a series ending book, based on how many loose ends were tied up. After finishing I'm not quite sure about how I feel about everything in the end. On one hand, the end result has me content, but the path taken there and the motivating reasons which had been hid previously just seemed a bit forced to me. Between Grimm's secrecy, the reveal behind everything with Marissa, and the Dark Queen's motivations, I was left scratching my head at times. I feel like there's been this huge build up over the series, and while I wouldn't say the reveals fell flat, they didn't wow me either. Perhaps I'm judging things too harshly, but after the 2nd book knocking things out of the park for me, I was just hoping for a bigger end result.

I realize this review probably makes it seem like I wasn't a fan, but I did enjoy the book, if not as much as I had hoped I would. I almost wish I had more to say on the positive side to balance out the things that bothered me, because it is a good read. The book more than kept my attention, and I didn't want to put it down once I put it up. I'm glad I read WISH BOUND, and fans of the series should enjoy it as well. Marissa and company are left in a satisfying place that makes the overall journey in this series worth it

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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     Book Junkiez

Previous Books:
     1. Free Agent
     2. Armageddon Rules
   

Early Review: Crucible Zero by Devon Monk

, by Kt Clapsadl

Crucible Zero by Devon Monk
House Immortal #3

The national bestselling author of Infinity Bell returns to her “fresh and unique”* world where the truce between the ruling Houses has shattered and chaos now reigns. Only one woman has the power to save the world—but she could also destroy it...

Matilda Case never thought of herself as a hero. But because she is galvanized—and nearly immortal in her stitched, endlessly healing body—she doesn’t have much of a choice. Even if she doesn’t want to save the world, she’s the only one capable of traveling in time to do so.

But her rescue attempt hasn’t gone as planned. She’s stuck in an alternate universe, and her world is in danger of disappearing. Worst of all, an unfathomably powerful man who can also travel through history doesn’t want her to put things to rights. He’s willing to wage bloody war to stop Matilda, unless she surrenders control of time to him.

Now, with the minutes ticking, Matilda must make impossible decisions, knowing that one wrong choice will destroy her—and any chance of saving everything she loves...

This book was one heck of a ride, there just isn't a better way to describe it. From the opening where we are thrust into a whole new version of Matilda's world. The ending events of the last book completely changed everything, and those changes are anything but calm. I was on the edge of my seat from the start. It's amazing how a world can be so similar and yet so very very different at the same time. Ms. Monk did an incredible job bringing all these changes to life and all the vast implications. From the lack of technology, to having to step into someone else's shoes, to the incredible differences with the Galvenized, Tilly had her hands more than full. The biggest challenge was in the romance department. The changes there felt like a sucker punch to the gut to be honest as I was sucked right into everything along with Tilly. Watching how everything panned out in this book definitely made for an enthralling and utterly engrossing read. 

Series enders are always bittersweet for me with having to say goodbye to much loved characters, and CRUCIBLE ZERO is no exception. That being said, I'm really happy with how everything came together in the end in a very fulfilling matter, especially when you consider all the curveballs thrown in this last week. But don't take my word for it, go grab your copy and find out for yourself how great of a read this is. A guaranteed ride from start to finish, CRUCIBLE ZERO and the entire House Immortal series are must reads for avid fans of Urban Fantasy.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Previous Books:
     1. House Immortal
     2. Infinity Bell


Early Review: Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong

, by Kt Clapsadl

Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong
Cainsville #3

Olivia Taylor Jones's life has exploded. She's discovered she is not only adopted, but her real parents are convicted serial killers. Fleeing the media frenzy, she took refuge in the oddly secluded town of Cainsville. She has since solved the town's mysteries and finds herself not only the target of its secretive elders but also her stalker ex-fiancé.

Visions continue to haunt her: particularly a little blond girl in a green sundress who insists she has an important message for Olivia, one that may help her balance the light and darkness within herself. Death stalks both Olivia and the two men most important to her, as she desperately searches to understand whether ancient scripts are dictating the triangle that connects them. Will darkness prevail, or does Olivia have the power to prevent a tragic fate?


I'm a huge Kelley Armstrong fan, but this series has been a bit of an up and down for me. I absolutely loved the first book in this series, but the second book just didn't wow me. The lack of answers and forward momentum really slowed things down for me. So, this time around I have to admit I went into the book with just a bit of trepidation, worried about another book without explanations. I shouldn't have worried. After finishing DECEPTIONS, I'm happy to say that I was hooked from the start. Sure there's still a lot of things unanswered but between the things that were revealed and the plot/character momentum those questions didn't seem so important anymore. There just was a certain amount of intensity this time around that put things back on track and now I'm content to sit along for the ride. And a ride it was.

Another thing that made this book more addictive was the stronger prevalence of the love triangle. Sure it was hinted at previously, but it was only that, a hint. Typically I'm not the biggest fan of these as there's always a whole lot of angst involved. But for Olivia, Ricky, and Gabriel, it just somehow works. Perhaps that's because it's all tied into the plotline and secrets behind Cainsville, or perhaps because there's no real jealousy involved. Regardless, I found it interesting and I'm rather anxious to see how everything plays out in that department especially as it intertwines with each of their choices and future. I'm honestly not sure who I'm rooting for, and that's just fine with me.

All in all DECEPTIONS was a very enjoyable installment in the Cainsville series. I know I'll be counting down the days until the next book's release.  

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Other Reviews:
     Rabid Reads
     a GREAT read

Previous Books:
     1. Omens
     2. Visions
 

Early Review: Reawakened by Colleen Houck

, by Kt Clapsadl

Reawakened by Colleen Houck
The Reawakened #1

When seventeen-year-old Lilliana Young enters the Metropolitan Museum of Art one morning during spring break, the last thing she expects to find is a live Egyptian prince with godlike powers, who has been reawakened after a thousand years of mummification.

And she really can't imagine being chosen to aid him in an epic quest that will lead them across the globe to find his brothers and complete a grand ceremony that will save mankind.

But fate has taken hold of Lily, and she, along with her sun prince, Amon, must travel to the Valley of the Kings, raise his brothers, and stop an evil, shape-shifting god named Seth from taking over the world.

From New York Times bestselling author Colleen Houck comes an epic adventure about two star-crossed teens who must battle mythical forces and ancient curses on a journey with more twists and turns than the Nile itself.

When I realized REAWAKENED involved Egyptian lore, it instantly became an absolute must read. I've always had a fascination with ancient Egypt, and really enjoy books in this theme where the world is done well. In this case it wasn't just done well, but incredibly so. It reminded me so much of the Mummy movies that I really enjoyed, but also always wanted just a bit more from them, and this book delivers that. Of course that's not to say they are anything remotely alike in plot-line, as I'm more talking about the feeling and love of the lore.  REAWAKENED takes that ancient Egypt theme and amps it up tenfold bringing it to everything I could want. It's like Colleen Houck took everything there's to love about the movies, removed everything that wasn't so great and built upon it to make for a spellbinding read. 

As fantastic as the Egyptian lore was, the characters really stole the show overall. At the start of the book, Lily is almost a shell of who she blossoms to be by the end of the book. Her parents have forced perfection and an incredibly stale life upon her from their expectations. Amon's arrival turns everything upside down, and I really enjoyed watching her step outside that forced comfort zone. Speaking of Amon, he had his own comfort zone to step outside as well. I cannot imagine what it would be like to wake after a thousand years, especially into our modern world. Amon utterly fits the fish out of water description, and yet he was still so confident and strong. The pair of them were truly admirable and made this book such an amazing read.  

My only complaint about this book is that it ended and I'm now desperate to get my hands on the next one. Hopefully the wait won't be too long! Absolutely enthralling from the very first page, REAWAKENED is a simply must read book for fans of Egyptian lore. Trust me, this one is not to be missed.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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     The Eater of Books
     a GREAT read
     Nick's Book Blog

Early Review: Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews

, by Kt Clapsadl

Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews
Kate Daniels #8

In the latest Kate Daniels novel from #1 New York Times best-selling author Ilona Andrews, magic is coming and going in waves in post-Shift Atlanta—and each crest leaves danger in its wake…

After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Curran misses the constant challenges of leading the shapeshifters.

So when the Pack offers him its stake in the Mercenary Guild, Curran seizes the opportunity—too bad the Guild wants nothing to do with him and Kate. Luckily, as a veteran merc, Kate can take over any of the Guild’s unfinished jobs in order to bring in money and build their reputation. But what Kate and Curran don’t realize is that the odd jobs they’ve been working are all connected.

An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece…

The ending of the previous book was a serious game changer and I couldn't wait to get my hands MAGIC SHIFTS to see how everything panned out. So honestly I expected this book to be mostly about the repercussions of those game changing events, but it was that and oh so much more. Sometimes I'm in awe at how the stakes can continually be raised in a long running series. Every time I think "That's it, the author cannot possibly top this," and then the next book comes along and somehow they do. It truly is incredible.

I really love how these books make me both laugh and cry, and also keep me on the edge of my seat for the entire book. They definitely make for intense reads, almost to the point where I have to keep telling myself to slow down and savor the read, otherwise I'm so sucked in that I want to rush to the end. But I guess that's what they make "re-reads" for, and if there's ever been a series worthy of one, it's the Kate Daniels series. I've read all the books several times over, and MAGIC SHIFTS is sure to be the same. They simply are that incredible. Trust me, these are THE books to read for urban fantasy fans.

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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Other Reviews:
     Between Dreams and Reality

Previous Books:
     1. Magic Bites
     2. Magic Burns
     3. Magic Strikes
     4. Magic Bleeds
     5. Magic Slays
     5.5. Gunmetal Magic
     6. Magic Rises
     7. Magic Breaks

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