Monday, 17 October 2016

Wings on Her Heels by Angelika Schwarz

Wings on Her Heels
A Romance/Suspense Novel
By:  Angelika Schwarz
Publish Date:  August 25, 2015, Indie Published
Genre:  Young Adult, Romance, Suspense, International
Pages:  341
Source:  Amazon Purchase

What is a beautiful young woman from Massachusetts doing on a desolate mountain range, somewhere in Europe, running for her life? Melanie leaves her sheltered Boston suburban life and takes on a temporary job in Germany. Presented in the 70’s Hippie era, Melanie and her roommate Anne discover Europe together.

High on life and living the dream in cosmopolitan Munich, Melanie can’t believe her luck. To complete her happiness, Richard, a successful architect, turns her head with his fascinating and adventurous charm. But then her good fortune takes a sudden turn. Her sweet journey transforms into a tainted mixture of fear and despair.

Who is Richard Von Hallenburg really?

Tender romantic moments, depicted from the stormy shores of Cape Cod to the lush, German, cornflower fields, provide cutting contrasts to the intriguing entanglements of love, friendship, betrayal and murder. Who and why would anyone want Richard and Melanie dead?

Can the Raincoat Lady lead Melanie on to the right path, or is it too late?
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Wings on Her Heels is initially a novel of young Melanie grabbing an amazing chance to work in Europe for a few months before settling down into marriage with Tony, and a job. This is a dream for many and Melanie decides to grab it, so if you’ve ever wanted to do Europe, check out this novel.

This is initially a fun, humorous and adventurous escapade as Melanie and co-worker Anne from New York take on Munich and the ski slopes.

This ends up being quite a journey. When we marry, it’s often difficult to see exactly what we’re getting into.

This is a great story to read for reminiscing the path we thought we wanted to take and took, but things turned out unexpectedly anyway. I really liked the overall viewpoint that the things we are drawn to may not be what are ultimately in our best interests. Still, there’s a little bit of what I call the Anna Karenina syndrome here in that the longed for dream of a young woman doesn’t end the way we’d all like it to. I’d like to find a story of a woman who gets her Count Alexei Vronsky and it works out fantastic, but maybe the story would be boreing?

Written in an easy reading nostalgic way, you will enjoy the humour, poignancy, and warmth of this satisfying story of a young woman sorting out what is truly important to her in life. 4.0 Stars!

Angelika loves to travel, and write, and you'll find her on the internet at these links:

Grab your copy of Wings here!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Edge of Faith by Marissa Campbell


Avelynn #2 – The Edge of Faith
By:  Marissa Campbell
Publish Date:  September 26, 2016, Indie Published
Genre:  Viking Romance, Early Medieval
Pages:  302

It's the year 871. Charges of treason, murder, and witchcraft follow Avelynn into exile as she flees England with Alrik. Arriving in Wales, they find refuge among Alrik's friends in the Welsh nobility. Cast out by his half-brothers, Alrik seeks to regain his honor and earn favor with the gods. When war threatens, Alrik embraces gold and the opportunity for his crew to become mercenaries, aiding the Southern Welsh kings in their fight against Rhodri the Great.

Desperate to return home, Avelynn seeks to find a way to prove her innocence, but she is pitted against Alrik as their desires for the future clash. With battle looming, Avelynn's faith in their relationship is further tested through a bitter struggle with Marared, a jealous lover from Alrik's past. Marared's threats turn deadly, and Avelynn runs afoul of magic and sorcery, causing her to question her beliefs and role as priestess.

When Avelynn and Alrik are betrayed, Avelynn is captured and Alrik is charged with regicide. The two become separated, a chasm of greed, deceit, and ambition driving them apart. In an act of harrowing faith, Avelynn will stop at nothing to find her way back to Alrik and break them both free from Wales's bloodthirsty grasp.

*********************************
The Edge of Faith is a crispy written medieval action tale that draws you right into the fast-paced sequel to Avelynn 1.

Avelynn is determined from the start to remain true to her people despite the fact that she’s had damning accusations thrown at her in the previous book that she’s escaped from and is working to clear up. Luckily she has Alrik, her Viking lover, and his boatload of warriors to support her, but they are faced with powerful hidden forces that are determined to undermine them.

The major theme is underhanded ambition and the many threads it weaves through the plot and characters. This is really well done by the author and many times I was surprised at the turn of events and wondered how Avelynn was going to come out ahead. She’s an excellent female MC as she’s very determined, independent and courageous. She’s also very experimental sexually!

I like how the author shows that although women of the time didn’t appear to wield much up-front power, through their use of intelligence, secret herbal knowledge (avoiding pregnancy, or poisoning problem people), various types of magic, and selective secretiveness (the men don’t have to know everything), they nevertheless managed many things to their liking and advantage. Avelynn herself is very clever in uncovering the truth about how she was defamed.

Avelynn is pagan and her faith is not well accepted at the place/time. She’s however very dedicated to the Goddess and even goes to make a dangerous offering to her at a special site. I thought her pretty brave to do the ritual all night all alone. I really liked the old nature magic, though not particularly blood sacrifice.

The story reveals many social conventions of the times and I was interested to see that they used a type of automatic fire starter of sorts. You get a good sense of how people dressed, and what their homes and meals were like. I’m reminded of shows like The Last Kingdom, and to some degree, The Vikings, as they share common threads and even historic persons. If you enjoyed these shows, be sure to check out this series.

The ending is a very exciting crescendo as we learn the truth of several things through an unexpected twist I didn’t see coming at all that ties into all the characters. I found the outcome really satisfying, even though there will be a book 3. The extensive use and explanation of pagan rituals and witchcraft portrayed through the book also makes this a great medieval Halloween read. Medieval historical fiction fans will love this. 4.6 Stars!

Marissa Campbell is a published freelance author, and co-author of the award-winning, spiritual self-help book Life: Living in Fulfillment Every Day. She is a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, Writer’s Community of Durham Region, and local critique group B7. When she is not writing, she is busy looking after her wonderful children, spending time with her fantastic husband, hanging out with her awesome friends, teaching yoga, dancing, laughing, and having fun!
Grab your copy here:

Check out Marissa on the web at these links:

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Fall of Thrones and Thorns by Jennifer Ellision

The Fall of Thrones and Thorns
Threats of Sky and Sea, #3
By:  Jennifer Ellision
Publish Date:  September 27, 2016
Genre:  Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages:  234 Print
Source:  Xpresso Book Tours

War hurtles in, a typhoon over the sea.

After Bree’s life was torn apart, Nereidium had represented a haven to her. A place that—if she could save it—was beyond the King’s reach.

And, at last, she’s arrived upon its shores. But things in Nereidium are not what they should be.

The land is plagued by a rash of mysterious earthquakes, the likes of which it’s never known. The governors are distracted by old traditions, while Bree and her friends grapple with changing identities and the sense that the longer they wait to take action… the greater the danger from Egria grows.

Bree is tired of living under the shadow of King Langdon’s power. And she’s tired of waiting for him to be the first to act.

In this final chapter of the Threats of Sky and Sea series, it all comes down to Nereidium or Egria. To Bree or the King. It’s kill… or be killed.

And not everyone will escape the battle unscathed. 


In this third and action-packed installment of Threats of Sky and Sea, Bree and her crew return to Nereidium with the realization that Bree, not Aleta, is the heir to the water wielder’s throne, and that Bree possesses previously unknown powers she is now getting to know. Bree is reunited with her Aunt Helen, and gets to the see the land that will become hers.

I like these stories with characters that can manipulate the very elements themselves. It reminds me of the movie, The Last Airbender, which I really enjoyed.

I didn’t get a chance to read the first two books so right off I found there were lots of characters to keep track of. Interestingly, the author writes the chapters from the viewpoints of many of these characters and while at first I wasn’t sure how I felt about this, after a while I liked seeing what was happening from these different POVs. It also helped with the cracking pace of the story and I kept turning the pages. One thing I would like to see more of in differing POV novels is that the different characters have very distinct voices from each other, something which is difficult to do and that I rarely find. In Fall of Thrones and Thorns I felt all the chapters were written in the same tone despite being told by different characters, though fast-paced and overall well written.

It’s great to see how everyone in Bree’s crew are very supportive of each other and take care of the others, protecting everyone with their differing element control powers.

Along with the premise of the book being about element wielders, the scene where the earth shaker element Adept binds some of Bree’s crew into becoming a tree and latched onto that tree is fantastic. I could see CGI film makers having a field day with this. Some good back and forth on the battle scenes too so Bree and her crew really have to fight to get the ending they want.

I wanted Bree’s relationship with Prince Caden to develop more but the story is primarily about the power struggle between her, her crew, and King Langdon who has gone element-power mad in Egria. Still, the ending falls a little flat with nothing really developing between Bree and Caden beyond friendship despite their interest in each other. As Prince and Princess of two nations who have a past, you just want them to have something more going on.

Overall the story is fast-paced and cleanly and well written so for me this just squeaks through to 4.0 stars. If you’ve read the first two books, check this out to at least get good closure, and the series if you enjoy stories with characters who wield element control. My thanks to Xpresso Book Tours and Jennifer for the ARC!
********************************

Jennifer Ellision was born and raised in South Florida and lives in perpetual fear of temperatures below 60F. She spent a great deal of her childhood staying up past her bedtime with a book and a flashlight. When she couldn’t find the stories she wanted to read, she started writing them. She has an OTP, loves character analysis, and is a master of the fangirl flail, with a particular soft spot for fan fiction. She frequently bursts into song (and they are often of a Disney persuasion). Sailor Moon is one of her favorite things on this planet. Threats of Sky and Sea is her first novel series.

                                           At Amazon

                  Author Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Blood of the Prophet by Kat Ross

The Blood of the Prophet
The Fourth Element, #2
By:  Kat Ross
Publish Date:  September 12, 2016 by Acorn Publishing
Genre:  Young Adult, Historical Fantasy
Pages:  417 Kindle
Source:  Xpresso Book Tours

Visionary. Alchemist. Savior. Saint.

The Prophet Zarathustra has been called many things. Now he spends his time drawing pictures of weird-looking goats. That's what happens when you've been stuck in a prison cell for two hundred years. But the man who might be mad, and is definitely supposed to be dead, has suddenly become very valuable again…

It's only been a few weeks since Nazafareen escaped the King's dungeons with her daēva, Darius. She hoped never to set foot in the empire again, but the search for the Prophet has led them to the ancient city of Karnopolis. They have to find him before Alexander of Macydon burns Persepolae, and Darius's mother with it. But they're not the only ones looking.

The necromancer Balthazar has his own plans for the Prophet, and so does the sinister spymaster of the Numerators. As Nazafareen is drawn in to a dangerous game of cat and mouse, her newfound powers take a decidedly dark turn. Only the Prophet understands the secret of her gift, but the price of that knowledge may turn out to be more than Nazafareen is willing to pay…
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The story picks up in book 2 with Nazafareen sailing with her deava, Darius, to Karnopolis to search for the elusive Prophet. Naz is pretty tough as she’s already been through a lot but is putting in her all to find the missing Zarathustra with her small crew. So she’s a strong female MC going into the search which won’t be easy or safe.

This book is replete with magic of many kinds. From a straightforward “pond” gateway to the shadowlands, to magical metal cuffs and neck rings that bind the wearer in some kind of connection or servitude to the owner. Some of these are quite evil. Then there are the magical beings like daevas, wights, magi, Immortals, Nazafareen herself, and even Queen Neblis, who all wield various kinds of power over different elements.

There are in fact many different kinds of magic, so lots to keep track of. I really liked most of these and wanted to know more about how they actually work, especially the fire magic that Nazafareen discovers she has, though I think it would have helped the story to bring in fewer overall as at times it gets a little overwhelming and confusing.

My favourite quote is, “There is magic in everything. The trick is making it do what you want it to.” (3702/4971).

I was drawn to Blood of the Prophet also for the ancient Persian cultural references. Zarathustra, for one, is one of the names of Zoroaster, the real life founder of the ancient Persian religion. There is even Alexander getting ready to attack the city. All these give a great historical reference point for atmosphere and visualizing the scenes.

The author also gives lots of unique descriptive details, and observations about the characters, and even gives human feelings to animals. These really add to the story which is well written and easily paced. There isn't too much action through most of the book but we learn some of the background of the characters and a little about the magi, the Numerators, and evil necromancer, Balthazar.

I really like that Nazafareen and Darius have a special close connection that is beyond just their magical bond of the cuffs that makes them both reluctant to break that bond even when it becomes possible. It’s interesting too that Nazafareen is also bonded to another, which we will learn more about in the next installment. The only thing I found about her was that I didn’t especially feel that close to her though I found her to be a likeable and courageous character.

Loved the cliff hanger. You just know there are going to be amazing things happening in book 3.

A really good historical YA read that I would highly recommend to historical fantasy lovers. Stunning cover. 4.4 Stars!
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Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She lives in Westchester with her kid and a few sleepy cats. Kat is also the author of the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day (Skyscape, 2014), about a world where the sea levels have risen sixty meters. She loves magic, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Preferably with mutants.

You'll find her at these links:  Author Website | Goodreads | Twitter
And grab your copy here!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

EXTRACTED


Extracted
The Lost Imperials, #1
by Tyler H. Jolley and Sherry D. Ficklin
Published: November 12, 2013 by Spencer Hill Press
Pages: 310 Paperback
Genre: Steampunk, Sci-Fi, Time Travel, Fantasy

Welcome to the war.

The Tesla Institute is a premier academy that trains young time travelers called Rifters. Created by Nicola Tesla, the Institute seeks special individuals who can help preserve the time stream against those who try to alter it.

The Hollows is a rogue band of Rifters who tear through time with little care for the consequences. Armed with their own group of lost teens--their only desire to find Tesla and put an end to his corruption of the time stream.

Torn between them are Lex and Ember, two Rifters with no memories of their life before joining the time war.

When Lex’s girlfriend dies during a mission, the only way he can save her is to retrieve the Dox, a piece of tech which allows Rifters to re-enter their own timeline without collapsing the time stream. But the Dox is hidden deep within the Telsa Institute, which means Lex must go into the enemy camp. It’s there he meets Ember, and the past that was stolen from them both comes flooding back.

Now armed with the truth of who they are, Lex and Ember must work together to save the future before the battle for time destroys them both…again.
E X C E R P T
My breath comes in short, shallow bursts. I can feel the warmth of Ethan’s body radiating like a tuning fork against my back. In front of me, there is only darkness. I strain, listening, waiting for the next wave of attack. The leather straps holding up my suede harness dig into the skin of my shoulders, but the ache only sharpens my focus. The urge to turn around is strong, though I know better. Months of training have taught me exactly what happens when I turn my back to the darkness. So I listen, honing my senses until I catch the sound of Ethan taking a small step forward, away from me. My eyes are useless, so I close them. Knowing my attackers are well paid for their ability to move in silence, there is little hope that they will give themselves away. We need another strategy. As if reading my mind, Ethan picks up the conversation we were having earlier.
“All I’m saying is, maybe you need the extra practice,” Ethan says, his tone mocking. Even without being able to see him, I can sense him moving, beginning to circle counterclockwise. I know he’s trying to draw them out, to bring the fight to him. It seems like a sound strategy, so I jump on board.
“Oh, yes, because it isn’t like she turned around and kicked the crap out of you, too.” I’m mimicking his movements now. My voice is flat, free from emotion, and my words are empty. I can’t see him moving, but I can feel him, as if we’re connected by a million invisible threads.
“How am I supposed to just punch a girl?” Ethan asks. “And I was tired from taking the guy out like five seconds earlier.”
“She isn’t a girl. She’s more like a pissed-off kangaroo in a top hat. She has a nasty right hook, I’ll give you that.”
I hear the sharp whip of air as a bamboo pole cuts through the darkness, headed toward my face. Even with our phony argument going on, I’m able to hear it coming before it lands. I bring up my hands and block the blow with my forearms. The impact stings, bruising the bones there, but better my arms than my face. With a movement perfected after one too many blows to the head, I grab the pole and pull it aside, dragging my attacker with it. As he closes in, I drop the pole and lock arms with Ethan. I flip over his back and kick out, knocking my attacker to the mat. As he struggles back to his feet, Ethan spins into my place, delivering a secondary kick that sends the man flying into the wall with a dull thud. “Yeah, but she’s scrappy,” he says.
“Scrappy? Is that boy code for you couldn’t stop staring at her rack?”
Behind me, I feel Ethan duck a blow, and then land one of his own before pressing his back against mine. “I… that’s not… I didn’t even… I mean…” he sputters.
I smirk. Busted.
Footsteps approach, but we keep sparring. I bend over, using my attacker’s own momentum against him as I put my shoulder into his gut and stand, propelling him over my head and onto his back on the mat. I don’t need to see my victory to realize what the maneuver has cost me. A muscle in my lower back seizes, and it’s all I can do not to drop to my knees in agony. I clench my fists until I feel my fingernails cut bloody crescents in my palms. There is no way I’m going to be the weak link—no way I’m going to let Ethan fight alone. Back to back, that’s how Rifters are trained to fight. And Ethan always has my back.
“Don’t feel too bad. She was pretty scrappy after all.”
Ethan mumbles, “It’s a girl thing.”
“Hold up, what’s that supposed to mean?” I ask, stiffly regaining my footing as my back screams in protest.
As usual, Ethan turns to check on me. “Nothing personal, Ember.”
Not wanting him to get slammed for it again, I grab him by the shoulder and pull, revolving us to our starting positions just as the first attacker flips back onto his feet and lunges. He would have taken me in the stomach, but I bring up my knee just in time to block his advance before kicking him in the face. There is a loud crunch that sounds like breaking bone. I hear him hit the mat with a groan. The lights flick back on, and Mistress Catherine blows her whistle.
Normally we spar with off-duty guards, since most of them have military training of some kind. They know how to take a hit and how to deliver one without doing too much damage. We might be lowly recruits, but Rifters are rare, and our lives are precious.
But as the man whose nose I have just broken pulls off his black ski mask, my heart falls into my shoes. Flynn is staring up at me, and his face is covered in blood.
“Nice hit, Ember,” he says as blood drips from his nose and onto his white shirt. Mistress Catherine hands him his horn-rimmed glasses and shoots me an amused smirk. Behind me, Ethan snickers.
Great. And here I was thinking this day couldn’t get any worse.
Reaching down, I offer Flynn a hand up, which he accepts with a smile.
“I’m so sorry,” I mutter, but he waves it off.
“Catherine told me you were really coming along. I wanted to see for myself.”
The others are shuffling out, so I turn to grab a towel and follow them, but Mistress Catherine closes the door behind a worried-looking Ethan, presses her back against it, and narrows her eyes at me. I used to think it was hard to look menacing in a knee-length pencil skirt and beige brocade top, but she radiates power. It might be the stern pucker of her thin lips, or the way her graying hair is knotted tightly at the nape of her neck. She resembles a librarian except for the long, jagged scar that runs from her left temple to the cleft in her chin. Well, that and the spider-shaped, iron shoulder harness permanently affixed to her upper arm.
Not sure what’s going on, I freeze, yellow towel in hand. Before I can say anything, I feel something moving behind me. I manage to move to the side just as a wooden staff comes slamming down against the spot where I’d stood a heartbeat earlier. I turn and see Flynn grinning, blood still dripping off his chin. He spits before whirling the staff like a windmill in front of him. “What I don’t understand,” he says, circling to my left, “is how that Hollow got the best of you. According to Ethan’s report, Kara had no problem with her. And Catherine here tells me that you mat Kara at almost every practice now.”
I have no idea what to say. Does he think I let her beat up on me? Just then, my legs are swept out from under me. I fall to the mat, but, rolling swiftly backward, I bounce up onto my feet. Catherine has a staff, too, and comes toward me from the right. I hold up my hands and back up slowly. In the corner of the room, a vent erupts in a cloud of steam, and Tesla’s image appears but says nothing.
“Look, I didn’t let her get away,” I say. “If that’s what you’re implying. She was strong. And fast.”
Catherine shakes her head. “You are strong. And fast. And clever.”
“I’m sorry!” I blurt out when my back hits the corner and they are still coming at me.
I don’t think Flynn would ever hurt me, not really, but Catherine, well…
Without another word, they both attack. I manage to duck one blow but take another in the ribs before I decide to make a break for it. Jumping as high as possible, I’m able to get a hand on the chain attaching one of the punching bags to the ceiling and hoist myself up. I leap over Flynn and roll as I hit the ground behind him. They’re quick, though, and have me surrounded again in seconds.
It’s easy to forget that they are trained Rifters, too. Catherine doesn’t rift anymore, but Flynn is still active and in really good shape. They aren’t holding anything back either. Flynn lands a blow to my lower back, but when Catherine moves in, I’m able to grab her staff and force it from her bad arm. Suddenly, time is moving in a blur. I’m not thinking about my next move anymore. My body is reacting of its own accord. I’m not sure how it happens, but I blink and Catherine is on her knees. Flynn is standing in front of me, and I have the two staffs crossed at his neck. He’s holding up his hands and saying my name.
I drop the sticks and step back. The muscles in my arms and legs are twitching like I’ve just run ten miles.
“That’s what we mean,” Catherine says, climbing stiffly to her feet. “You could have taken the Hollow girl. So, why did you hesitate?”
I close my eyes, calling the fight to the front of my memory. There was something about the girl. She was beautiful, for sure, but that wasn’t it. There was something else, too. Something I can’t put into words. I look up to find they’re staring at me, waiting for some kind of answer. I can feel Tesla glaring holes into my back, watching me like one of his little science experiments. “I don’t know what you want me to say.”
Flynn sighs and holds his hands out to me. I take them without hesitation. “Ember, I know it’s hard. I know you don’t like hurting people. It’s against your very nature to harm someone or let someone suffer. But you are too important to risk losing. Understand? Sometimes, you have to put someone down, let someone get hurt or even die, to save yourself and your team. You can’t hold anything back.”
I take a deep breath. “And what if someone dies because of me? Because, for some reason, my life is worth more than theirs?”
Flynn lowers his head, looking me in the eye. “That is a burden you will have to learn to carry.”
Meet The Authors of Extracted!

Sherry D. Ficklin is a full-time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. A former military brat, she loves to travel and meet new people. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she's on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.


Tyler H. Jolley is a sci-fi/fantasy author and full-time orthodontist, periodontist (see: Overachiever).

He divides his spare time between writing, reading, mountain biking, and camping with his family.


Thursday, 28 July 2016

Acca by Christina Bauer = Cover Reveal

Acca
Christina Bauer
Published by: Ink Monster LLC
Publication Date: December 13th, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Source:  Xpresso Book Tours

In just one week, supernatural warrior Myla Lewis must discover enough evidence to send the evil House of Acca to prison… or she’ll end up in jail herself, along with her fiancé, Prince Lincoln. No pressure.

To gather proof, Myla and Lincoln go undercover at an all-girl’s high school on Earth. Lincoln acts as the new gym teacher; Myla becomes the school’s least popular transfer student ever. To stop them from getting the goods, Acca releases Hell on Earth. Literally. Good thing Myla and Lincoln aren’t afraid of a tough fight. This one promises to be the hardest yet. After all, who ever said high school wasn’t hell?


Author Bio:
Christina graduated from Syracuse University's Newhouse School with BA's in English as well as Television, Radio, and Film Production. Her day job is in marketing for companies like Microsoft, Cisco, and Zerto. Back in the go-go 90′s, she founded her own software start-up, Mindful Technologies. Christina believes that, upon close examination of Tolkien's text, it's entirely possible that the Balrog was wearing fuzzy bunny slippers.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Flame and the Arrow by Emigh Cannaday

The Flame and the Arrow
The Annika Brisby Series, #1
By:  Emigh Cannaday
Publish Date:  November 22, 2010
Genre:  YA/NA, Dark Fantasy Paranormal
Pages:  417 Kindle
Source:  PermaFree at Amazon

"Don't do it, Annika," he taunted. His eyes were no longer bright and charming but dark and intense, yet they still twinkled. He was tempting, but was he harmful?

Aspiring rock star Annika Brisby thinks she knows where her life is going until she steps through a broken portal that leaves her stranded in a realm of fairies, vampires, and other mythical beings. Unable to return until it's repaired, she's rescued by wood nymphs who believe her sudden arrival is no accident.


After being taken in by a prominent family of elves, Annika finds herself struggling to resist the seductive spell of their youngest son, Talvi. Equal parts arrogant and alluring, the notorious heartbreaker seems like the perfect distraction for her homesickness. Her new friends warn her that she'll probably regret ever laying eyes on him and what begins as a casual fling quickly burns too hot to handle. By the time Annika learns the consequences of their forbidden trysts, Talvi's already under her skin and dangerously close to her heart.

But on the journey home she discovers that there's a mountain of secrets that he's not telling her, and Annika can't help wondering who's really in danger.
*********************************
The Flame and the Arrow interested me because of the scenario where female MC falls through a portal into a magical kingdom. I will say right off that the story actually reads a lot younger than I expected. At the same time, it has adult content so this is a strange mix I haven’t run into before.

After falling through the magical portal while she is visiting family in Bulgaria, Annika is taken to the home of the samodivi she meets. They are a warm and welcoming family. Talvi, youngest son, is drawn to Annika and it doesn’t take too long for them to get involved despite being different types of beings. Then Annika unexpectedly discovers she is related to Talvi’s clan. The task at hand though is to figure out how to repair the fairy/elf world-to-earth portals.

Author, Emigh Cannaday, uses Bulgarian legends of the samodivi, wood nymphs, as the basis of her magical characters. Her incorporation of old European cultural and magical lore is charming. The novel is also interlaced with references to many other earth-world cultural elements. A wonderful example of lore is milkweed fluff woven with angora rabbit hair for clothing. Some of the scenes paint lovely fantasy images. On page 120, the ballroom is described as painted with fairies, bumblebees, butterflies, and dragonflies.

For the characters, I felt Talvi’s behaviour mostly immature until he finally comes around. Annika makes an effort to make this work but I still didn’t feel for them as a couple even though Talvi is very demonstrative and the fact that there is a prophecy. She’s a nice, sensible person though she also tended to go along with the situation around her rather than trying to take matters into her own hands. The supporting samodivi and fairy characters are nicely drawn.

I felt that some of the plot elements just added more fantasy creatures (i.e. the troll family) that ultimately don’t really enable the story. This is long at 417 pages and to me felt like the author was trying to include too many things. There was also a lot of routine kitchen and household duty stuff I found repetitive (well, I could use a few housework fairies around my place!).

Finally, for me the writing style and narrative felt more like middle grade fantasy adventures suitable for readers 12-16 though at the same time there is an open casual approach to sex that I didn’t think fit in with the overall feel of the book. If this is intended for an older reader, then the pace of writing and the urgency of sorting out the broken portals needs to step up with less time spent in the kitchen or at the pub or dancing at fairy balls. Love the cover!

3.8 stars for an overall nicely written and charming tale though I’m uncertain who to recommend to. You will find Emigh Cannaday at these links on the internet:

Monday, 18 July 2016

Fated for Sanchez

Excited to have a Q&A today at AllRomance AreCafe today on Fated for Sanchez so I hope you will join me!

In thinking about ARe's questions, it made me realize how many elements come together to make a novel happen. I combine a fascination for Spanish cultural and romance themes with observations from a past trip to Barcelona, Spain into a contemporary romance.

The overriding theme however is about fate and how fate, or an unseen force, seems to meddle in our lives, sometimes for the good, though often the not so good. In Fated for Sanchez, I look at how Sanchez Varellano, a Malaga businessman, decides to take a chance on managing circumstances that come his way. He seizes the chance to bring Lilli Eden back into his life for some very unfinished personal business.

Please visit my Q&A !  ARe Cafe with Kristin Ravelle



Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Heir Untamed by Danielle Bourdon

Heir Untamed
Latvala Royals #1
By:  Danielle Bourdon
Publish Date:  December 9, 2012 by Wildbloom Press
Genre:  Romance, Fantasy, Suspense
Pages:  318 Kindle
Source:  Author Free Day on Amazon

Desperate for work to avoid eviction from her Seattle apartment, photographer Chey Sinclair accepts a rare opportunity to travel abroad and photograph Latvala Royalty. Encountering the Royals for the first time, Chey experiences an instant attraction to Mattias, second in line to the throne. He's charming, confident—and taken.

During a horseback ride to clear her head, Chey finds herself in a scuffle with Sander Fisk, head of security. Rugged, determined and sharp tongued, Sander is infuriating as well as intriguing.

Faced with conflicting emotions and a mystery unfolding in the castle, Chey must decide between men: a Prince of Latvala, or an arrogant rogue.

She discovers the hard way that this particular fairy tale was more than she ever bargained for.
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I loved the zany fantasy premise of Heir Untamed when I came across Danielle Bourdon’s first book in the Latvala Royals series so I couldn’t pass on the free day at Amazon from a USA Today best-selling author.

So, right off, the premise of Chey being approached by a foreign royal family to take family photos for several months at their castle for an outrageous amount of money is… crazy – and fun! The fantasy solution to encroaching money problems as Chey has lost her job. Wouldn’t we all love that? She’s quick and jumps on the chance grabbing an early bird bonus of $5,000 (LOL).

The story moves quickly with Chey flying to Latvala and getting to work immediately snapping photos of the royal family. Just because they’re royal doesn’t mean they don’t have unpleasant secrets and Chey starts to see these early on. I found it interesting to see royals portrayed this way.

Prince Mattias is apparently drawn to Chey for her quite different take on things and considering the fish bowl he lives in, this seems a real possibility. I like that he isn’t afraid to expose her to what the royal family is actually like, making him very real and likeable.

Chey also meets Sander Fisk, sexy security, who protects her from the mysterious assailant that tries to shoot her. It is a bit far-fetched that anyone would want to do in an unimportant photographer but I’m going with the whole fantasy thing here.

However, I feel that some of Chey’s actions make her appear frankly silly. She’s a professional modern day photographer and should have more sense. Some of the tough spots she gets into could have been written in using other methods that don’t make her out to sometimes seem witless (don’t go alone to a haunted castle in a strange country in terrible weather). Strangely, at other times she seems quite perceptive.

I love the unexpected twist I didn’t see coming though I also felt tricked. The murderous subplot actually rounded out the story nicely.

This is a fast, fun read if you want romantic escapism without anything too heavy to think about. Squeeking in at 3.8 stars for being entertaining though this would be higher if Chey’s character was written in a more mature manner.

You'll find Danielle Bourdon at these links:

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Anomaly by Caitlin Lynagh - Book Review

Anomaly
The Soul Prophecies
By:  Caitlin Lynagh
Publish Date:  January 27, 2016
by Troubador
Genre:  Paranormal Fantasy, Romance, Mystical, Science Fiction
Pages:  264 PDF
Source:  Bostick Communications/Author Publicist

After Kyle loses his childhood sweetheart, Alice Lynam, he spends two years trying to bury his past and move on with his life.

On his twenty-first birthday, he receives Alice's notebook and discovers that two pages are missing. Kyle is forced to revisit his past and realises that perhaps his life isn’t as coincidental as it seems.
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I was drawn to Anomaly because of the everything-is-connected theme portrayed through Kyle’s attachment to his sweetheart, Alice, even after her death, and the hint that there is something bigger at play here. Out of the box ideas always get my mind churning.

Right away we meet Kyle, Alice, Sophia, Ahrl of the Thirteen, and Kyle’s sister, Hailey, the main characters, some of whom are from different dimensions but are interconnected so the reader needs to pay attention. Sophia acts as a sort of living connector between alien watcher, Ahrl of the Thirteen, the deceased Alice, and living Kyle. Much of the time we are with Kyle as he very slowly works his way through his deeply heartfelt loss of Alice.

The time/space themes presented are intriguing. One such is that even after death, we are all still connected in some way that the living don’t comprehend. I liked reading Alice’s POV as she hovered around Kyle from the afterlife. It seemed too bad that he wasn’t aware of her at the beginning. The novel also suggests that there are non-earth beings involved in these processes.

Another interesting concept (pg 163) is that something which is not possible to a person at this present moment (because of current conditions) may become possible at a future time. Also, the concept is presented that there are physical possibilities available right now (one could leave their house and go to the grocery store), but there are also imaginary possibilities (teleport to Paris). All these possibilities are interconnected and affected by decisions made by us every moment of every day. It made me wonder if we could somehow access all of these possibilities from the now.

While the novel presents many interesting ideas, I found elements of the story too slow to unfold. I was frustrated that Kyle took so long to get into Alice’s journal, and to start getting to know Sophia. As well, the story is very evenly paced with too much ‘telling’ and daily routine stuff that makes it somewhat banal reading. Bringing in more of both Arhl and Sophia would have helped perk things along, as well as more varied sentence length, etc.

Fav quote pg 25:
“Hailey shrugged. She wanted to be a writer and the best way she could learn to write was by reading other authors’ books and to practise. Tank smiled and massaged his right shin.”

4.0 stars for interesting space/time concepts and overall well put together story for a debut effort. I feel the writing just needs tweaking to keep the reader avidly engaged throughout.

My thanks to author, Caitlin, for a reading copy via Bostick Communications for the purpose of an unbiased review. You will find her at these internet links:

Sunday, 19 June 2016

In America by Nina Romano - Book Review

In America
Wayfarer Trilogy: Book Three
By:  Nina Romano
Publish Date:  July 19, 2016,
Turner Publishing
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Pages:  325 PDF
Source:  Turner Publishing

Beautiful, headstrong Marcella Scimenti has the affection of a handsome neighborhood boy, the love of her large Italian family, and serious dreams of singing in Hollywood. But the course of true love—nor the journey to finding one’s true self—never did run smooth.

In America follows the story of Marcella, the daughter of the characters at the center of Nina Romano’s continent-spanning Wayfarer Trilogy, as she comes of age in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, in the late 1920s. In the trilogy’s heartwarming conclusion, Marcella must learn to balance new friendships, promising suitors, and life as a modern working girl with the expectations of her tradition-bound family, all against the backdrop of a looming economic depression and a changing world.

Along the way, she unearths a devastating family secret that shakes her to her core and tests the boundaries of her love, loyalty, and faith.
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My thanks to Turner Publishing for an ARC the purposes of an unbiased review; In America publishing date is July 19, 2016.

Author Nina Romano’s third book in her Wayfarer Trilogy brings the reader to Brooklyn, New York of the late 1920s. Really, nothing could be more iconic than the Italian experience in New York and here the story of Giacomo (The Secret Language of Women) comes to completion with the story of Marcella, his daughter, coming of age.

Marcella is a wonderfully complex character who has a definite mind of her own and is somewhat pigheaded to boot.  I love that she’s rebellious against her so-Italian family’s designs for her, and she even cuts her long hair just at her 16th birthday to show what’s what. Like all young girls, she’s dreaming of and seeking the one. She also has competing big career dreams that she strives to make a reality.

The first half of the novel leads the reader mostly through everyday occurrences and Marcella’s forays into life though author Nina Romano has a gift for infusing her stories with abundant, rich detail that make this very pleasurable. The gustatory delights are parallel to book 1 of the series and I always came away wanting to plant my own herb garden for cooking and get real busy in the kitchen. I also find the author has so many details to share in fact that I found this occasionally gets to be a bit of a grocery list (sometimes, a little less is more).

Halfway, when things seem to be settling into the predictable, there’s a great and unfathomable twist that brings Giacomo’s earlier days in China to full circle to Marcella and his family in present day. This is a fantastic way to tie in Giacomo’s haunting memories of his earlier life.

The ending eventually wraps up a little too easily and quick. I would have liked to see Marcella make greater strides in her career hopes as her ambition and ability indicate this but these are seemingly halted abruptly with the culmination of her romantic aspirations. Considering the times though, love and romance mostly still trumped career as a priority. Perhaps it still does.

But I am getting some of what I call ‘Anna Karenina syndrome’ here and that is the theme that women in books/movies should not stray from their socially prescribed course or something terrible might happen to them. In the end, Marcella’s decision is probably right for her but I got the feeling that all that early rebelliousness was for naught.

Overall, this coming of age experience is something that speaks to all of us in one way or another and Nina Romano’s lush, detail-infused writing reminds us of the incredible richness of life if we but pay attention. Here’s a tip; the secret to amazing ravioli filling is to add a little nutmeg! I heartily recommend reading In America to everyone. 4.5 Stars!

You will find Nina Romano on the internet at these links: