June 29, 2015

The Devil's Wife by Reuben Carbone

T I T L E: The Devil’s Wife
S E R I E S: Dragon Angel Series (Nº 1)
A U T H O R: Reuben Carbone
P U B L I S H E R: First Edition Design Publishing
P U B L I S H--D A T E: June 19, 2015
I S B N: 9781622879465
Literary Fiction (Adult), Horror, Mystery
The Devil's Wife is a paranormal romantic epic, a gothic cocktail of horror, fantasy and myth. It is the first book in the Dragon Angel series. Adam Crocker does not know it but he is the darkest of all the dark angels. He came into his human form on earth to wreak havoc but instead has unexpectedly fallen in love with the beautiful Maria...madly in love...and has married her. So what will become?





     The description reads: "The Devil's Wife is a paranormal romantic epic, a gothic cocktail of horror, fantasy and myth." So not what I was expecting in regards to paranormal romantic epic. It certainly wasn't romantic, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. Oh, sure, Lilith was always trying to seduce Adam and he truly loved his wife Maria. I guess you can call that romantic. But, if you are expecting a mainstream romance, then this book is probably not for you.
     However, what I did get was horror, which was awesome. So, many books that claim to be horror really are not so much. If creepy is what you are looking for then I think you will enjoy this book. I most certainly did. It's filled with lots of weird twists and turns and held my attention all the way through.
     As far as the characters go, I loved Maria and even Adam. Naturally, I hated Lilith. She was pure evil and written very well. In fact, all of the characters were written very well. I don't think you could be on the fence about any of them, even the nuns.
     This story was an excellent piece of work, very dark and very creative. I will definitely need to read the next book in this series because I just have to know what happens to little Olivia.
     For those of you who love creepy, spine-tingling thrillers, lots of blood, murder and mayhem then you really should pick this one up. However, you may never look at snakes in the same way again, just a word of warning. I know I won’t. I’m shuddering even as I write this. If you are squeamish in any way, you may want to steer clear. I’m giving this one four stars. 

4 STAR


A M A Z O N          B A R N E S & N O B L E          G O O D R E A D S

June 26, 2015

Blood Countess by Andrie Codrescu

T I T L E: Blood Countess
A U T H O R: Andrei Codrescu
P U B L I S H E R: Open Road Integrated Media
P U B L I S H--D A T E: July 21, 2015
I S B N: 9781504015264
Literature/Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction
A Hungarian-American journalist confronts the beauty and terror of his aristocratic heritage in this suspenseful chronicle of murder and eroticism
Turmoil reigns in post-Soviet Hungary when journalist Drake Bathory-Kereshtur returns from America to grapple with his family history. He's haunted by the legacy of his ancestor, the notorious sixteenth-century Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who is said to have murdered more than 650 young virgins and bathed in their blood to preserve her youth. Interweaving past and present, The Blood Countess tells the stories of Elizabeth's debauched and murderous reign and Drake's fascination with the eternal clashes of faith and power, violence and beauty. Codrescu traces the captivating origins of the countess's obsessions in tandem with the emerging political fervor of the reporter, building the narratives into an unforgettable, bloody crescendo.



     My reason for requesting this book was because there hasn’t been a lot written about Elizabeth Bathory. I find her a fascinating historical figure, so when I see a book written about her I read it. While this novel was not all that I had hoped for, it wasn’t awful. I did like it, and I did finish it. It was like one of those incidents when something really bad happens and you know you should look away but can't.
      Since the story switched back and forth between the Countess’ time and modern day, I found I had to force myself not to skim through Drake’s parts. His story just didn’t excite me and was somewhat boring. I just couldn’t get into the modern day character, he was not interesting at all. I think this book would have been much better by omitting present time and just keeping with the past.
     Codrescu is not a bad writer. I just didn't care for the way this was executed. However, since I did like some of the parts written about Elizabeth Bathory, I am giving it three stars.

3 STAR


A M A Z O N          B A R N E S & N O B L E          G O O D R E A D S

June 17, 2015

Shadow of the Raven by Millie Thom

T I T L E: Shadow of the Raven
S E R I E S: Sons of Kings (Nº 1)
A U T H O R: Millie Thom
P U B L I S H E R: Millie Thom
P U B L I S H--D A T E: May 27, 2015
I S B N: 9780520153051
Historical Fiction
A tale of Viking raids, hapless thralls, noble kings and their sons and friendship and love. Above all else, a tale of unforgivable betrayal and the ever-present desire for revenge… The life of Eadwulf, ten-year old son of the Mercian king, is changed forever when his family is betrayed to the Danes by his treacherous uncle. In a Danish raid, his father is killed and his mother is raped. And along with his tutor and childhood friend, Eadwulf is captured and taken to the Danish lands to be sold as a slave. As a thrall in Jarl Ragnar’s village, Eadwulf’s life is hard, his days unbearably long. But on the return of Bjorn, the jarl’s jovial firstborn, from his summer raids, Eadwulf’s life greatly improves. Under the protective wing of Bjorn and his crew, he spends the next few years sailing to places he’d never even dreamed of, trading and raiding. And though he’s still a thrall, he becomes a well-respected member of Bjorn’s closely knit crew. But through it all, the smouldering desire for revenge on those who destroyed his family refuses to abate. Eadwulf’s tale plays out against the backdrop of events unfolding in Wessex in the face of escalating Danish raids. Alfred, the fifth son of the Wessex king, faces family tragedies from an early age, losing first his mother, then his beloved sister when she is married to the new Mercian king. At his father’s court and the successive courts of his three elder brothers, he learns the weighty art of kingship. And, like Eadwulf, he learns the harshest lesson of all . . . that a trusted kinsman can so easily turn traitor.


     While there are other stories out there written about the time period of the Vikings and their raids across England and Europe there is not an overabundance of them. I never tire of reading historical fiction related to the Medieval or Elizabethan eras, but reading this one from the Dark Ages was quite refreshing.
     This book is very well written. It is also evident that the author did her research. She does a fantastic job of blending fact with fiction to make an informative but very entertaining read.
     The fictional characters are so believable that is easy to forget that they did not exist as their story unfolds right along with that of the true historical figures. Reality and imagination fit together seamlessly. As their story progresses you feel as though you are right there with them experiencing both joy and hardship.
     I am looking forward to reading what is in store for Eadwulf as he finally returns to Mercia and I can not wait to see his uncle's reaction when he confronts him face to face. The second book in this series is one that I will definitely be on the look out for.
     If you are a fan of historical fiction and love reading about either the Saxons or the Vikings, then this is a must read.

4 STAR


A M A Z O N          G O O D R E A D S



June 14, 2015

My Lady Viper by E. Knight

T I T L E: My Lady Viper
S E R I E S: Tales from the Tudor Court (Nº 1)
A U T H O R: E. Knight
P U B L I S H E R: Lake Union Publishing
P U B L I S H--D A T E: June 30, 2015
I S B N: 9781477830901
Historical Fiction
When Anne Boleyn falls to the executioner’s ax on a cold spring morning in 1536, Anne Seymour knows her family faces peril. As alliances shift and conspiracies multiply, the Seymours plot to establish their place in the treacherous court of King Henry VIII, where a courtier’s fate is decided by the whims of a hot-tempered and fickle monarch. Lady Anne’s own sister-in-law, Jane Seymour, soon takes Anne Boleyn’s place as queen. But if Jane cannot give King Henry a son, history portends that she, too, will be executed or set aside—and her family with her. In desperation, Lady Anne throws herself into the intoxicating intrigue of the Tudor court, determined to ensure the success of the new queen’s marriage and the elevation of the Seymour family to a more powerful position. Soon her machinations earn her a reputation as a viper in a den of rabbits. In a game of betrayal and favor, will her family’s rise be worth the loss of her soul?



     As a Tudor and Elizabethan history enthusiast, I was immediately drawn to this book. I have read tons of books, both fiction, and non-fiction, on Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. In fact, I read anything I can get my hands on when it comes to these two monarchs and their courts. However, I've not read anything on Anne Seymour which is why I chose this book. I was not disappointed.
     Reading the goings on of the court from her perspective was interesting and made her seem more human. Not that she wasn't, but I've always pictured her as someone that was power hungry, manipulative and very selfish not caring who she hurt to get what she wanted. And she was quite cunning and ruthless but I think the author gave her a little more humanity, making you see the reasoning behind some of the things she did. It was hard not to feel some empathy for her while reading this story.
     It is well known that being a member of Henry's court was like walking on a two-edged sword, never knowing whether or not you might lose your head. It was a very dangerous game, often times brutal and only those that knew how to play the game well survived. Court politics even pitted family members against each other as they jockeyed for position and favor from the reigning monarch. It says something about Anne's personality that she was able to survive court life.
     Court intrigue has always fascinated me and this book held my attention throughout. It was well written and thoroughly enjoyable. I easily give it four stars.

4 STAR


A M A Z O N          B A R N E S & N O B L E          G O O D R E A D S

June 7, 2015

The Darkling Child by Terry Brooks

__________R E V I E W__________

★★★★

     Angie informed me after I was approved to review this book that The Darkling Child is a book in a long series of Shannara books written by Brooks. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to follow along, or even have a sense of what was really going on. In addition, there wasn’t a number of order for this book on NetGalley. (They love to torture us that way.)
     To my surprise, I never once felt lost or uninformed about the story I as I read. There were definitely parts that I would have been better informed had I read the first book, yes, but overall, this book was incredibly easy to read and understand. Actually, that is one of many things I enjoyed about this fantastic book. Even the names of places and characters are easy to sound out; a terrific, and appreciated quality in my opinion.
      From a speck of dirt, to the fluff of the clouds, you see it, as I’m certain the author did; there is no lack of description in this book - this made an awful lot of things in the novel awesome to be apart of.
     And the characters. . .
     All of them were so terrific. I mean, wow! They are written perfectly. I developed just enough attachment, and have a so opinion of them according to their role and purpose to the story. Again, I felt like my relationship with them was similar, if not exact, to the author.
     It’s hard to find stores that are written with such careful consideration, and I’m sure it has something to do with how long the stories of Shannara have been going on. I am definitely going to seek out other books by Terry Brooks with every intention of reading more of Shannara.



__________B O O K__D E T A I L S__________

T I T L E: The Darkling Child
S E R I E S: The Defenders of Shannara (Nº 2)
A U T H O R: Terry Brooks
P U B L I S H E R: Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra
P U B L I S H--D A T E: June 6, 2015
I S B N: 9780345540799
Sci-Fi, Fantasy
After taking up his enchanted sword against the dark sorcerer Arcannen, Paxon Leah has become the sworn protector of the Druid order. Now a critical hour is at hand, as a beloved High Druid nears the end of her reign and prepares to pass from the mortal world to the one beyond. There is little time for Paxon to mourn his friend and benefactor before duty summons him. For in a distant corner of the Four Lands, the magic of the wishsong has been detected. Paxon must accompany a Druid emissary to find its source—and ensure the formidable power is not wielded by the wrong hands. But danger is already afoot in the village of Portlow. Gentle traveling minstrel Reyn Frosch possesses the uncanny gift, and curse, of the wishsong. And now his coveted abilities have captured the malevolent interest of none other than Arcannen—whose quest for power is exceeded only by his thirst for vengeance. The lone survivor of a brutal assault on a notorious pirate city, the sorcerer is determined to retaliate against the Federation's elite military guard—and use the devastating power of the wishsong as his ultimate weapon.

AMAZON * BARNES & NOBLE * GOODREADS * GOOGLE PLAY


*I received an advanced copy of this via NetGalley in exchange for a fair review*

June 5, 2015

Fool's Quest by Robin Hobb


T I T L E: Fool’s Quest
S E R I E S: Fitz and Fool Trilogy(Nº 2)
A U T H O R: Robin Hobb
P U B L I S H E R: Random House Publishing Group/Del Rey/Spectra
P U B L I S H--D A T E: August 11, 2015
I S B N: 9780553392920
Fantasy
The harrowing adventures of FitzChivalry Farseer and his enigmatic friend the Fool continue in Robin Hobb's triumphant follow-up to Fool's Assassin. But Fool's Quest is more than just a sequel. With the artistry and imagination her fans have come to expect, Hobb builds masterfully on all that has gone before, revealing devastating secrets and shocking conspiracies that cast a dark shadow over the history of Fitz and his world—a shadow that now stretches to darken all future hope. Long ago, Fitz and the Fool changed the world, bringing back the magic of dragons and securing both the Farseer succession and the stability of the kingdom. Or so they thought. But now the Fool is near death, maimed by mysterious pale-skinned figures whose plans for world domination hinge upon the powers the Fool may share with Fitz's own daughter. Distracted by the Fool's perilous health, and swept up against his will in the intrigues of the royal court, Fitz lets down his guard . . . and in a horrible instant, his world is undone and his beloved daughter stolen away by those who would use her as they had once sought to use the Fool—as a weapon. But FitzChivalry Farseer is not without weapons of his own. An ancient magic still lives in his veins. And though he may have let his skills as royal assassin diminish over the years, such things, once learned, are not so easily forgotten. Now enemies and friends alike are about to learn that nothing is more dangerous than a man who has nothing left to lose.



     This book is fantastic, which was really no surprise. Fans of Robin Hobb will not be disappointed. I know I wasn't.
     As expected this book is filled with lots of page-turning edge of your seat moments. Some scenes brought tears to my eyes, some made me smile. By the time I finished reading the last page I was so completely ensnared that I shouted "No!" when I realized there was no more to read until the next book comes out. I will be impatiently waiting for book number 3. I really MUST know what happens.
I really love Fitz, always have actually and not just because he is the main character. He has so much depth and Robin Hobb does such a fantastic job writing him that you can't help but feel every emotion as though you were right there with him.
     I loved Fleeter also, so I was a bit disappointed with that outcome. I hope to see more of Motley in the next book and hope that she fares well. I would be devastated if anything happened to her. In fact, I really love most of the characters.
     I do have to admit, however, that I am not a fan of Fool. I have never really liked him. He is well written, complex and has a lot of depth. But, even though he is all of those things, I still don't like him. I feel he is too selfish and self-centered for my taste in spite of his complex personality. He may profess to love Fitz, but he never really seems to take into account how Fitz feels unless it benefits him in some way. I may be reading him wrong, but that is how I perceive him. For instance, it didn't seem to affect him that Fitz had lost a child until he felt that the child was his in some way as well. Only then did he seem to understand his friend's feelings, although I don't think he really understood completely.
     In my humble opinion, making one feel something for the characters in the story even if it's great dislike is the mark of a great author. Not all authors can pull that off. In some stories by written by other writers, I don't like the characters because they are either poorly written, too immature, spoiled, whiney, selfish or just plain one dimensional. That is not the case here or with any of Robin Hobb's novels. She does a wonderful job making you feel something one way or another.
     This book is very well written and spectacularly executed even though it took me longer to read than I originally anticipated. I must mention that is in no way because it didn't flow, it did. Very well in fact. It seemed a bit long, but it was worth it. As mentioned above I will be keeping my eye out for the next installment in this series.

4 STAR


A M A Z O N          B A R N E S & N O B L E          G O O D R E A D S

June 4, 2015

Marbeck and the Gunpowder Plot by John Pilkington

T I T L E: Marbeck and the Gunpowder Plot
A U T H O R: John Pilkington
P U B L I S H E R: Severn House Publishers
P U B L I S H--D A T E: September 1, 2015
I S B N: 9780727885142
Historical Fiction, Mystery
1605: With the new King James on the throne, England is still fiercely divided between Catholic and Protestant. Ordered to keep watch on well-known Papist Thomas Percy, cousin of the Earl of Northumberland, Marbeck’s assignment takes on a greater urgency when rumours reach him of a terrible danger aimed at the King. But with no idea where this threat comes from, and his spymaster’s refusal to take it seriously, Marbeck is at a loss. And his efforts to concentrate on affairs of state are complicated by affairs of the heart in the elegant and shapely form of Charlotte de Baume. By the time he uncovers the terrifying truth, Marbeck has only days to expose the conspirators. The safety of the realm is at stake … but so is Marbeck’s own, and he must draw on every scrap of his courage, his sharp wits and his plain stubbornness to prevent a catastrophe



     Set in England, two years after James I ascended the throne. It involves the famous gunpowder plot that was intended to blow up the King as well as Parliment on November 5, 1605.
     Though Marbeck is a fictional character, the mention of real-life historical figures made this story very believable. The focus is on the plot itself and the more prominent players. Guy Fawkes is only mentioned briefly and under his alias. I found this story very intriguing and a fascinating take on this infamous true-life event.
     Even though the outcome is obviously well known, I was still held in suspense on what would come next with every turn of the page. I was drawn in from the beginning and couldn't put it down.
     Marbeck is an outstanding and complicated character which makes him very likable. The ending is quite the cliff hanger and I hope there are more Marbeck novels so that I can read what happens next.
     Very well written and fantastically executed this is one riveting mystery and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Four stars.

4 STAR


A M A Z O N          B A R N E S & N O B L E

June 2, 2015

Gemini Gambit by D. Scott Johnson

T I T L E: Gemini Gambit
A U T H O R: D. Scott Johnson
P U B L I S H E R: Silver Spider Publishing
P U B L I S H--D A T E: April 30, 2015
I S B N: 9780986396205
Sci-Fi, Thriller
Kimberly Trayne is in hiding. Accidentally-but-sort-of-on-purpose flash-freezing the son of a drug kingpin tends to require it. Unfortunately the transition from international computer-hacking badass to night manager at Taco Bell has left her life… wanting. The virtual combat realm of Warhawk lets her take out her frustrations with a sniper rifle, and with gun, she travels.
Then the impossible happens. A complete stranger knocks on her virtual door, accidentally thrusting her into the spotlight where private security firms, the FBI, the Bolivian mafia, and her mom can find her.
Stuff always happens, they say.
It usually happens to her.



      This book could be rather confusing at times. I found myself going back and re-reading parts from time to time so that I could figure out what was happening. For that reason, it took me awhile to get through this one.
     I wasn't too keen on the characters either. I found them a bit annoying, especially Kim.
     What I did like?  The references to Black Adder for one thing. I happen to be a Black Adder fan and they made me chuckle. The story line was also a good one, although, I think it could have been executed a bit better.
     There were some scenes that were real page turners, just not enough for my taste. I really wanted to love this book and thought I would after reading the description. Unfortunately, it wasn't what I was expecting and, therefore, a bit disappointing. Perhaps it is because I'm not an IT person by profession. I'm not sure this book would be for everyone, but I will recommend it to my IT friends, they may like it a bit more than I did.

3 STAR


A M A Z O N          B A R N E S & N O B L E          G O O D R E A D S

June 1, 2015

Manhattan Mayhem: New Crime Stories from Mystery Writers of America

__________R E V I E W__________

★★★★

     There is no reason for anyone not read Manhattan Mayhem.
     This novel is the first I’ve read of its kind. I’ve read many anthologies, but none structured as delightfully as this. I just loved how each story took place during a different time, in a different part of one of the greatest cities in the world. All 18 of the short stories were quick awesome reads, all entertaining, and all of them leaving me wishing there was more to read. I feel like it’s impossible to review each one because I enjoyed them all so much. There were three that definitely grabbed me more than the others: Evermore by Justin Scott (this my favorite), Copycats by N.J. Ayres, and last but not least, The Baker of Bleecker Street by Jeffery Deaver. 
     For readers who have not read a lot of mystery and crime, there is a little something in this book for everyone. I highly recommend it for readers who want a taste of great crime stories by great authors, but are unclear where to start and who to start reading first. I was only familiar with Mary Higgins Clark, but now, after reading this, I intend to read more by each of these authors.


__________B O O K__D E T A I L S__________


T I T L E: Manhattan Mayhem
A U T H O R: Anthology - Mary Higgins Clark, Julie Hyzy, Lee Child, Nancy Pickard, Thomas H. Cook, Brendan DuBois, Jon L. Breen, Ben H. Winters, Angela Zeman, N. J. Ayres, Margaret Maron, Judith Kelman, Persia Walker, T. Jefferson Parker, Justin Scott, S.J. Rozan, Jeffery Deaver.
P U B L I S H E R: Quirk Books
P U B L I S H--D A T E: June 2, 2015
I S B N: 9781594747618
Crime
Best-selling suspense novelist Mary Higgins Clark invites you on a tour of Manhattan's most iconic neighborhoods in this anthology of all-new stories from the Mystery Writers of America. From the Flatiron District (Lee Child) and Greenwich Village (Jeffery Deaver) to Little Italy (T. Jefferson Parker) and Chinatown (S.J. Rozan), you'll encounter crimes, mysteries, and riddles large and small. Illustrated with iconic photography of New York City and packaged in a handsome hardcover, Manhattan Mayhem is a delightful read for armchair detectives and armchair travelers alike!

*I received an advanced copy of this via NetGalley in exchange for a fair review*