Early Review: Blood Lust by Alexandra Ivy

, by Kt Clapsadl

Blood Lust by Alexandra Ivy
The Sentinels #3

Blessed and cursed by their hidden abilities, the Sentinels have no choice but to live, and love, on the edge of humanity…

The Sentinel assassin, Bas, is facing the greatest challenge of his outcast existence. His young daughter, Molly, has been kidnapped. But her disappearance has brought the return of her mother, Myst, whom Bas has never forgotten--or forgiven.

Haunted by a vision that she's destined to create a weapon that will destroy thousands, Myst was never impulsive--until she met the irresistibly handsome Bas. But with the Brotherhood, the enemy of the high-bloods hunting for her, Myst had to stay on the run, to keep her child, and the world, safe. Now, with the most important thing in both their lives at stake, she and Bas must embark on a treacherous journey to save Molly, to confront the truth of Myst's fate--and to face their fierce desire for one another.

I really enjoy this series. It has all the great parts of a strong urban fantasy with a full plot and plenty of action while also having all the yummy romance parts of paranormal romance. Each book moves the overall plot of the series while still having such a large focus on the romance, and I love it. BLOOD LUST was no exception. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's now my favorite book in the series. It combines two of my favorite tropes, enemies to lovers and reunited lovers into one super tension filled yummy read. I knew from the first time Bas stepped onto the page in the previous books I HAD to read his story. He had broody scorned lover written all over him, and yet I just knew there was so much more to the mysterious Myst than Bas's anger showed her to be. I was right and boy do the sparks fly in this one. It's one of those books where you just immerse your self and settle in to watch the sparks fly. Seriously if you love a good enemies to lovers book with a fierce attraction between the pair, this one is for you. 

Romance aside, there also was a really great plot in BLOOD LUST that kept me more than hooked. There's a big threat looming over not only Bas and Myst's heads but their entire race. What made it even more suspenseful was that it all revolved around a prophecy and no one really knew what it meant, only that it was so terrifying that Myst was willing to sacrifice everything to prevent it. I have to admit that I did guess early on what the prophecy really meant, but that actually made me enjoy it even more as I was able to savor the read a bit more rather than frantically turning the pages just to get to the reveal.

Another great thing about this book was the inclusion/foreshadowing of another couple, Lana and Wolfe. Or at least I hope they will become a couple. One of the reasons I love enemies to lovers books so much is all the oh so yummy tension that they bring, just like in BLOOD LUST. However there's plenty of tension between Lana and Wolfe, it practically sizzled right off the page, and they weren't even the focus of this book! It made everything all the more enjoyable the way future and past couples were weaved into the story seamlessly, making the series all the richer for it.

All in all if you love a tension filled romance with one heck of a plot, BLOOD LUST is the book for you. And if you haven't read the previous Sentinel books, make sure you check them out too as they are all entertaining reads.
 
(Received a copy from the publisher)

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     All Things Urban Fantasy
     Romance Book Reviews for You
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Previous Books:
     1. Born in Blood
     2. Blood Assassin

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


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)

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     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)



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


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)

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     Elitist Book Reviews

Previous Books:
     1. The League of Seven



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)

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

Previous Books:
     1. Half-Resurrection Blues


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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