Kirsten Reviews: Roadside Magic by Lilith Saintcrow

, by Kt Clapsadl

Roadside Magic by Lilith Saintcrow
Gallow and Ragges #2

New York Times bestselling author Lilith Saintcrow returns to dark fantasy with a new series where the fairy world inhabits diners, dive bars and trailer parks.

The Seelie and unSeelie Courts are both in plague-ravaged tatters. The Wild Hunt roams unchecked, taking who and what it will, and the walls between the human world and the world of the sidhe are thinning rapidly. Gallow is the only hope of human and sidhe both.

But all Jeremy wants to do is find Robin Ragged . . . and survive. Unfortunately, everyone who meets him has other plans. Including the Ragged, who is fleeing for her life—and the King of Unwinter, whose poisoned blade has cut deep into Jeremy's flesh...

As the second book in the Gallow and Ragged series by Lilith Saintcrow, Roadside Magic is definitely not a book that stands on its own. One must have read the previous book to be caught up on the various plots set in motion by both the Seelie and unSeelie courts and the many characters caught tangled in them on both sides.

The Wild Hunt is loose and swallows up anyone it chooses while the Seelie courts suffer from the effects of a plague. This puts Jeremy Gallow in a position to be of great importance, but he is only interested in finding Robin Ragged. The Ragged is running for her life, and meanwhile Gallow is suffering from a wound inflicted by the King of Unwinter.

There are others on the Ragged’s trail, including one of Gallow’s old friends, Crenn, and Gallow is in turn being pursued by the Wild Hunt on the behalf Unwinter.

The action is somewhat slow to pick up steam as it takes almost half of the book for Gallow and the Ragged to be reunited, and it would have been nice for them to share more of the story. There are plenty of action scenes that highlight the expertise of both Gallow and Crenn, and more of the world of the Seelie is revealed, but at times the book feels like an extended chase. This may be appropriate with the Wild Hunt being involved, but for anyone expecting a more straightforward plot that can stand on its own, this book is very much about the journey as much as it is resolution of the problems facing its protagonists.

(Received a copy from the publisher)


Order Links:

Other Reviews:
     Rabid Reads
     Hot Listens
     Metaphors and Moonlight

Previous Books:
     1. Trailer Park Fae

Blog Tour Early Review: Flameout by Keri Arthur

, by Kt Clapsadl

Flameout by Keri Arthur
Souls of Fire #3

Emberly and her red hot partner, Jackson, have hit an impasse in their battle against the crazed humans infected by a plague-like virus derived from vampire blood. Their quest to unearth the leader of the group leads them into an ambush—and leaves Emberly at odds with her former lover, Sam, who’s pressuring her to join his Paranormal Investigations Team.

To make matters worse, three local witches have been kidnapped—and if their spells fall into the wrong hands, Emberly’s powers could end up smothered. With time ticking until the virus consumes the world, Emberly and Jackson must race to save the witches, find a cure, and smoke out their nemesis—or go down in a blaze of glory...

The best thing by far about this series continues to be Emberly's character and FLAMEOUT was no exception. I just simply love how she's so fierce and determined, never wavering from her cause. She's willing to sacrifice anything and everything for others at all times, and more often than not this selfless nature comes at a great cost to her. She's come so close to death more times than I can count, and her injury and scar count are countless. All this is more than admirable, and draws me to her. But what really makes me continually fall in love with her character is that despite all that strength, she's so vulnerable as well. It would have been so easy after everything she's been through and all the so many lifetimes she's endured with heartbreak for it all to have made her bitter. And yet she's not, and so selfless, and I love her for it. All this was only further proved in FLAMEOUT as other people she cared about, even if only peripherally were held over her head as blackmail, and not even for one second does she think of faltering. As I said, it makes her vulnerable, yet so strong at the same time.

The romance continues to be messy, messy, messy in this series. Of course what else could it be when phoenixes are cursed to always have heartbreak in their lives. They fall in love once per lifetime and it's always destined to end badly. That being said, since this lifetime's love, Sam isn't completely out of the picture, but acts like he hates her instead, well it makes things a bit dicey. Emberly has found comfort, but not love of course, in the arms of a fire fae named Jackson, but there were hints in this book that it won't be long term. I'm glad she's found a bit of peace, but you can still feel that insane tension between her and Sam. If you had asked me previously if there was a chance for them, I probably would have said no. However, they just keep getting thrust back towards each other and when it all boils down to it, despite his anger, Sam keeps protecting her and risking his life for hers. So I'm holding out hope that they can break the vicious phoenix heartbreak cycle and find a way to overcome their past.

As far as the plot on this one, it's funny, it felt like both a lot and yet not a whole lot actually happened. While reading, I felt everything moved at a very steady pace, and I felt fully engrossed. However after finishing the book I realized that aside from the last few chapters, nothing major actually happened. It was a bunch of investigating and more posturing and threats that build up to the ending events. That being said, considering I didn't realize the lack of real overall plot momentum until I sat down to write this review, I don't think it's a problem at all. In the moment of reading, I was fully engaged, and in the end that's all I ask for.

FIREBRAND is another strong installment in the Souls of Fire series that I thoroughly enjoyed. Keri Arthur truly is a powerhouse in the genre and I've yet to read a book of her's that I haven't loved, and FIREBRAND is no exception. Fans of the series, and Keri's works will be more than pleased.

(Received a copy from the publisher)


Order Links:

Other Reviews:
     The Genre Mix Book Reviews
Previous Books:
     1. Fireborn
     2. Wicked Embers

Early Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

, by Kt Clapsadl

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Monsters of Verity #1

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

I'm honestly not sure how I feel about this one. On one hand it was very intriguing and had a unique premise, but on the other I felt more frustrated than not throughout the entire book. I enjoyed the concept of the monsters spontaneously being created out of the violence from humans, an evil spawns evil type deal, as well as the mob boss set up. Those things were really interesting and kept me hooked into the story, but I felt like too much was left unexplained. Granted it did seem like the monsters themselves didn't know WHY they came to be, or their purpose other than evil, but still even a little bit more world building would have gone a long way. The writing is very lyrical and I felt like at times the focus was much more on making the words flow rather than digging into the world or characters. Some may prefer this, but lyrical typically just isn't my style, I'd rather have a meatier story and character development than poetic type writing.

Speaking of the evil thing, the main monster doesn't want to be evil, or a monster. He wants to be human, and while I think it was supposed to come across as noble and show the polar opposites as the human girl counterpart went out of her way to try and force herself to be evil. I think force is the key word here as the whole thing just seemed forced and honestly rather emo at time. Unfortunately, it just all felt shallow to me and was a large source of my frustration with the book. That being said, despite my normal preference of having romance in books, it was rather refreshing to not have even a hint of it in this one. There were no messy love triangles nor angst as the characters danced around one another. They had more than enough to deal with without any messy teen romance drama, and I appreciated the lack in this case. Could they end up together in future books? Sure, but I'm sure it will feel like more of a natural flow than any instalove.

I realize this review seems mostly negative, but despite all my frustration, I never wanted to put the book down. Everything flowed and kept a steady pace, and I continually wanted to find out what happens next. I am hopeful that the next book in the series will expand on those intriguing parts and delve further into the characters. To be honest I was debating on a 2 or 3 star rating for this book, but in the end I'll go a bit easier and chalk any frustrations to growing pains in this start to an interesting new world.

(Received a copy from the publisher)


Order Links:

Other Reviews:
     The Eater of Books!
     Books with Chemistry

Early Review: The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele

, by Kt Clapsadl

The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele
Marked Girl #1

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (Los Angeles)…

When Cedric, crowned prince of Caelum, and his fellow royal friends (including his betrothed, Kat) find themselves stranded in modern-day L.A. via a magical portal and an evil traitor named Malquin, all they want to do is get home to Caelum—soon. Then they meet Liv, a filmmaker foster girl who just wants to get out of the system and on with her life. As she and Cedric bond, they’ll discover that she’s more connected to his world than they ever could’ve imagined…and that finding home is no easy task…

I really enjoyed THE MARKED GIRL as it was a fast paced read that was simply a lot of fun. It felt a little like the movie Enchanted, with the crew from Caelum going through a portal to our world and completely out of place. I love the fish out of water theme as it's so much fun to see things fresh and new with people out of their element. There's a certain amount of innocence there on both sides as they stumbled along, both the Caleum people as they found out about all our technology, and Liv as she was thrust into a battle full of magic and everything she never knew existed.

One of the best things about THE MARKED GIRL had to be the characters. They were all full of depth, making it easy to be attached to all of them. A lot of times in books, I find myself getting attached to the main pair of characters and perhaps a side character or two, but not the entire cast like this one. Everyone from Liv and Savannah, to the entire Caelum crew, not just Cedric stole my heart. In fact even the "villain" of this story almost made me sympathetic to his plight as well. Almost.

I also really enjoyed how the plot slowly progressed and it became more and more obvious that there was so much more going on than just a group of magical people stumbling into our world. It was no coincidence that it was Liv they stumbled on to, and kept running into, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them unfurl the mystery. It just made for great pacing in my opinion.

As much as I loved the characters and the plot line, I wasn't so sure about the romance to be honest. It was a sort of love triangle? Maybe? To be honest it was a bit confusing. Cedric has a betrothed fiancee, Kat, but their relationship seemed to be more about duty than love. However, Kat does seem to be threatened by his attraction to Liv, so that lends more to the love triangle angle. That being said, because of this betrothal Liv being attracted/encouraging any romance between herself and Cedric just didn't quite sit right. So as a result I just couldn't get attached to the romance side of things.

All in all THE MARKED GIRL is a great start to a new series that will more than please any YA urban fantasy fan.

(Received a copy from the publisher)


Order Links:

Other Reviews:
     The Eater of Books!
     Brittany's Book Ramble
     A Page with a View

Review: The Hunt by Megan Shepard

, by Kt Clapsadl

The Hunt by Megan Shepard
The Cage #2

They’ve left the cage—but they’re not free yet.

After their failed escape attempt, Cora, Lucky, and Mali have been demoted to the lowest level of human captives and placed in a safari-themed environment called the Hunt, along with wild animals and other human outcasts. They must serve new Kindred masters—Cora as a lounge singer, Lucky as an animal wrangler, and Mali as a safari guide—and follow new rules or face dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, Nok and Rolf have been moved into an enormous dollhouse, observed around the clock by Kindred scientists interested in Nok’s pregnancy. And Leon, the only one who successfully escaped, has teamed up with villainous Mosca black-market traders.

>The former inhabitants of the Cage are threatened on all fronts—and maybe worst of all, one of the Hunt’s Kindred safari guests begins to play a twisted game of cat and mouse with Cora. Separated and constantly under watch, she and the others must struggle to stay alive, never mind find a way back to each other. When Cassian secretly offers to train Cora to develop her psychic abilities—to prove the worthiness of humanity in a series of tests called the Gauntlet—she’ll have to decide fast if she dares to trust the Kindred who betrayed her, or if she can forge her own way to freedom.

I have very polar opposite feelings about this series. On one hand, I love the concept behind the world, and the overall plotline as well as the suspense that keep me more than hooked. And by hooked I mean that I simply couldn't put the book down, I had to keep reading to see what happened next. However I just can't seem to fully care about the characters, and considering I'm a very character driven reader, it made for a problematic read. While I won't say I dislike the characters, it was more that I was simply ambient to them. I didn't feel any attachment to them, and that just made me feel overall detached from their story. The entire cast felt more to be on the surface level when I wanted to dig further in for a little more depth into these characters.  

The exception to this lack of full depth would perhaps be Cora, although I found her to be rather annoying at times, so that didn't help the character "cause" either. She just has a nasty habit of being stubborn and secretive for the sake of being so rather than a good motivation/plan. I'm all for a rebellious character, but when you're in the situation she's in her actions came across as brash and petulant rather than brave. That being said, Cassian did seem to have more clear motivations this time around versus the last book, even if they were "alien" compared to the humans (pun intended). He makes some pretty dire decisions in this that have long reaching consequences that do have me pretty desperate to get my hands on the next book. As for the rest of the cast, while they each play their parts and roles in the story and I cared about them at least on the surface, I felt like they were just playing parts rather than integral pieces of the story. Even though we spend parts of the book in their "heads" I just didn't feel there was enough meat there to attach me to them since everything kept bouncing around perspective-wise.

Speaking of wanting the next book, despite my ambient feelings towards the characters, I was completely hooked by the plot of this book. Combine that with the intriguing and rather horrifying world behind the story, and this is why I felt like I couldn't put the book down. This is saying something as while I wasn't attached to the characters themselves, what was going on around them and the overall plot did have me fully hooked. Not only is it an alien world, but there's so many different facets to that, and I felt like each new chapter brought a new horror and depth to the story, even more in this second installment in the series. There's so many different angles that just kept me wanting more and more as everything was revealed. And that ending cliffhanger? Boy what a doozy that was, and it opened up things for even more possibilities and danger!

Overall despite my character frustrations in the end the intense plot and intriguing world outweighs it all making THE HUNT a good read, and I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

(Received a copy from the publisher)


Order Links:

Other Reviews:
     Kissing Blue Karen
     Book Nerd
     Sarah Elizabeth's Bookshelf

Previous Books:
     1. The Cage

Early Review: Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh + Interview & Excerpt

, by Kt Clapsadl

Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh
Psy-Changlings #15

The Psy-Changeling world has undergone a staggering transformation and now stands at a crossroads. The Trinity Accord promises a new era of cooperation between disparate races and groups. It is a beacon of hope held together by many hands: Old enemies. New allies. Wary loners.

But a century of distrust and suspicion can’t be so easily forgotten and threatens to shatter Trinity from within at any moment. As rival members vie for dominance, chaos and evil gather in the shadows and a kidnapped woman’s cry for help washes up in San Francisco, while the Consortium turns its murderous gaze toward a child who is the embodiment of change, of love, of piercing hope: A child who is both Psy…and changeling.

To find the lost, protect the vulnerable—and save Trinity—no one can stand alone. This is a time of loyalty across divisions, of bonds woven into the heart and the soul, of heroes known and unknown standing back to back and holding the line. But is an allegiance of honor even possible with traitors lurking in their midst?
Considering ALLEGIANCE OF HONOR is a compilation book, I feel I should start with talking about my experience with the series. I’m a huge fan of Nalini’s Archangel books, but just hadn’t read her even more popular Psy-Changling series. A few months ago I gave it a try and fell in love. I read the first few books back to back, reading them as fast as I could. And then life intervened and I wound up setting the series aside. That all changed a few weeks ago when I decided to pick up the next book in the series, and I was a goner. I wound up devouring all the many many books in this series back to back, winding up with very little sleep over a two week period because I just couldn’t stop reading them. If I wasn’t working or taking care of my family, I was turning the pages in these books as fast as I could, sleep be darned. There’s just something about this incredible world and cast of characters that is so alluring. Each book built upon the last and while you did get that coveted HEA at the end of each book, and move onto the next couple in each book, you never really say goodbye to any of the couples. Everything is so entwined in this series and I love. Granted there were a few books/couples I enjoyed less in this series as they just didn’t quite jive for me, but the overall series and the previous couple focuses intertwined into each book kept me more than sucked in even during the few times where I wasn’t fully in love with the current couple in focus.

Getting back to ALLEGIANCE OF HONOR, even with reading almost the entire series back to back you lose somewhat “sight” of some of the previous couples, so this refresher and catch up with all the characters was utterly fantastic. It brought the series even more of a cohesive feel and I loved every moment of it. And not only do we catch up with almost the entire cast thus far, but there’s a larger overarching plotline as well. Honestly when I saw that this was going to be a compliation book, I had thought we’d just bounce from couple to couple with an update on “where they are now” with no real tie in or arching storyline, almost as in an anthology. But this book couldn’t be further from that, with the plot having just as much focus as all the check ins with favorite characters. It truly was a stellar read that I loved.

Without a doubt, ALLEGIANCE OF HONOR is an absolute must, must, MUST read for fans of the series. It is 100% wish fulfillment and I cannot express just how much I loved this book. I’m so very glad the series isn’t ending here and I can’t wait to see the next chapter this incredible series brings.

(Received a copy from the publisher)


Order Links:

Other Reviews:
     Wit and Sin
     The Book Eaters
     Book Binge

Previous Books:
     1. Slave to Sensation
     2. Visions of Heat
     3. Caressed by Ice
     4. Mine to Possess
     5. Hostage to Pleasure
     6. Branded by Fire
     7. Blaze of Memory
     8. Bonds of Justice
     9. Play of Passion
     10. Kiss of Snow
     11. Tangle of Need
     12. Heart of Obsidian
     12.5. Night Shift
     13. Shield of Winter
     14. Shards of Hope

Nalini Singh on the future of the Psy-Changeling series

Is Allegiance of Honor the end of the Psy-Changeling series?

No, it’s not. :) I ADORE this world and the characters and I have so many Psy-Changeling stories yet to tell. (I've often joked that I'll be writing this series until I'm ninety-eight!)

Where do you see the Psy-Changeling world going from here? Who is the next book about?

(Slightly spoilery answer to follow if you’re just starting the series).

Allegiance of Honor sets up a lot of possibilities for the future. There are many avenues I could take. However, for me, this arc is all about what happens not just to the Psy, but to the world, now that Silence has fallen and all the rules have changed.

We’ve had the immediate aftermath books, both of which focused on the Psy race (Shield of Winter &Shards of Hope), but what about the wider long-term future? Because Silence existed for a reason. The Psy still have these incredible abilities that have the potential to drive them murderously insane, and the world is still a fractured triumvirate. And there are players about whom we know very little, like the falcons and BlackSea.

As for who’s book is next, I’m not ready to announce it yet because I want to be certain this character is ready – but I think you’ll be pleased. ;-)

Lucas had had to chase Naya around the aerie at bedtime last night—her walk might still be a little shaky, but she was a rocket when it came to crawling. Dressed only in a diaper, she’d laughed uproariously and said a loud, firm “No” each time Lucas caught her and put her in her crib.

After which she’d clamber out—she’d figured out how to escape a month earlier—and the game would begin again. Of course, since Lucas was a cat, he’d been having just as much fun as their daughter. Sascha, meanwhile, had sat in the living room with a cup of hot chocolate and just indulged in the sight of her mate playing with their cub.

She’d had to pretend to be stern when Naya ran over and pleaded her case with loud sounds and wild gesticulations of her hands. “No, Naya,” she’d said, biting her tongue in an effort not to laugh. “It’s time for bed. Go with Papa.”

At which point, Naya had growled at her, eyes sparkling with mischief.

And Sascha had cracked, laughing so hard she’d had to put down her hot chocolate before she spilled it. Lucas had shaken his head as Naya plopped down on her diaper-covered butt and joined in, clapping her hands at having made her mommy laugh. “No discipline.” Lucas had mock-growled at her before picking up their misbehaving baby. “And you”—a growly nuzzle that made Naya laugh harder and pat his stubbledcheek—“time for bed.”

He’d finally got her to sleep—by walking around with her pressed up against his bare chest.

Today, their cub was playing in the living area just outside the kitchen nook. Sascha had locked the aerie door to ensure Naya wouldn’t undo the latch and go out onto the balcony, and Lucas had childproofed the entire main area of the aerie, so Naya was free to roam as she liked. A lot of the time she practiced her walking skills. And no matter how often she fell down, she started back up again after a little break.

Stubborn, determined baby.

Peeking out from the kitchen, Sascha found her concentrating on stacking the colored alphabet blocks Faith and Vaughn had given her as a gift. Beside her sat a more than slightly ragged wolf plush toy, aka “The Toy That Shall Not Be Named.” Hawke had given that to Naya when she was a newborn, and it remained her favorite snuggle toy, much to her father’s despair.

Though Lucas did enjoy it when Naya went leopard on the toy, growling and “fighting” with the wolf. Then he’d smile and say, “That’s my girl.”

Amazon Reviews Subscribe to RSS Facebook Friend me on Goodreads Email me