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Currently Browsing: sci-fi/fantasy
Aug
16

Review: Oria’s Gambit by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: Oria’s Gambit by Jeffe Kennedy Oria’s Gambit Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: After the cliffhanger in the previous book, Lonen’s War, Gikany and Una were eager to start Oria’s Gambit.  We enjoyed it though it was a completely different feel from the previous novel. We go from a fast-paced novel filled with battles, negotiations, and confrontations to one that is a battlefront of politics and maneuverings filled with anxious waiting and debating.  Though it was still very gripping, it was a change from the pace of the previous novel.  In Oria’s Gambit, Oria and Lonen race to obtain the throne in Baran in order to protect Lonen’s (and Oria’s) people from Oria’s youngest brother, Yar. At first we thought Yar to be a typical youngest child, indulged and spoiled.  It was fitting he seemed entitled since he came into his power early.  However, through the course of this novel, his cruel nature comes to light (at least in Una’s point of view).  He is more than just selfish.  It is interesting to note that maybe because of Oria’s magical “flaw,” she is more compassionate and humble.  It seemed her brother Nat – who came into his power late, showed a similar humility that Oria’s other two brothers seem to lack. We continue to enjoy Lonen and Oria’s journey.  They both genuinely care for one another.  The banter between them (and including Chuffta – still our favorite character) is endearing as is the palpable tension between Lonen and Oria.  Lonen’s sensual teasing is passionate as it is sweetly compelling.  Their relationship flows just as seamlessly as the plot.  Though it does not end up where we predicted, due to another cliffhanger ending, and we are eager to see what is next. Gikany and Una continue to enjoy this world, and with Oria’s Gambit, we are further immersed in the Baran culture.  We look forward to the next novel, not only to see what happens next, but we hope to see more of Chuffta (as well as Lonen and Oria). We also hope that we will experience more of the Destrye culture.  If you enjoy fantasy with some slow-burn romance, you may have to give this series a try! Our Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: A Play For Power Princess Oria has one chance to keep her word and stop her brother’s reign of terror: She must become queen. All she has to do...
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Aug
9

Review: Hell or High Water by Hailey Edwards

Review: Hell or High Water by Hailey Edwards Hell or High Water Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: Vampbard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: What? You haven’t started reading Hailey Edwards’ Black Dog series? You guys…get on that. I know, every time Ms. Edwards releases a title in the series or a spin-off series, I say the same thing. I MEAN IT. In the latest release in the Gemini series, Hell or High Water, there’s all the feels, and I honestly wish I could’ve holed up somewhere and devoured the story in one sitting. If you HAVE been reading this series, there’s a lot of awww and booyah! moments. There’s more than one oh, HECK no! happening as well. And…a whole lot of crazy, awesome, and wonderful things that gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling by the end. Don’t get me wrong, we still get Cam & Cord in some kick-ass stuff, and some help from Theirry (Black Dog titles). It seems like Cam’s plot arc has resolved, however (take THAT, Charybdis!). We have the promise of Lorimar Pack books (go, Dell!!!) and what’s this I see on Ms. Edwards’ website? Is Harlow getting a book?!? *grabby hands* I really liked watching the evolution of the pack—the Lorimar pack. Cam & Cord’s relationship development was spectacular. What I like about this couple is that they don’t immediately jump into bed because they’re attracted to one another. They’re definitely a slow burn relationship, and it makes their ultimate connection that much sweeter. And the way she portrays Cord as an Alpha male is refreshing. He’s still all growly and leaning toward the bossy side, but he lets Cam pull up her big girl panties and she’s ‘allowed’ to have an opinion without him getting all super-alpha-grumpy. Readers of the series know Cam has lived with her aunt since she was eight—when her twin died. Oh, you guys. We find out why! Totally zipping my lip—spoiler-free—but desperately want to discuss! Definitely didn’t see this coming. Not. At. All. I think what really left an impression on me with the Gemini titles—especially Hell or High Water—is the concept of family and belonging. It’s seriously powerful. Thoughtfully written. We’re all born into a family, which usually contains a specific set of conditions or complications. Especially if you’re fae, living in the human world. We also have a connection to other groups of people, illustrated by the warg pack here. These are the family we choose for ourselves, our tribe. These are the people...
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Aug
8

Review: Lonen’s War by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: Lonen’s War by Jeffe Kennedy Lonen’s War Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewers: Gikany & Una Rating: A- What We’re Talking About: Lonen’s War is the debut novel in the new Sorcerous Moons series.  We enjoyed this new fantasy world and with the cliffhanger ending, we are eager for more. First and foremost we love this world.  The rich fantasy mythology that Ms. Kennedy created is mesmerizing. The sorcerous Baran is at odds with the non-magical barbarian Destrye.  The novel begins with the Destrye invasion of Baran.  We follow Lonen, the third son of King Archimago, leading one faction of the Destrye while Oria, the only daughter of King Tav sits fretting in her tower.  The story is told from these two opposing viewpoints.  This allows us to understand each different kingdom; its beliefs, values, and political structure.  We absolutely loved this aspect of the novel. Though we like Lonen and Oria, the character that stood out most to us is Chuffta, Oria’s familiar.  This dragon-like creature was absolutely fascinating and endearing.  Chuffta is more companion and advisor than pet.  Though wise, he is still considered young for his kind and a good match to the young princess.  This relationship is critical to the novel, especially knowing that Chuffta accepted this role that was offered by the Queen.  Unfortunately we cannot comment too much about the other characters as it would give away much of the plot.  The contrast of Lonen’s relationship with his family compared to Oria’s is a distinctive and interesting dichotomy. This is a wonderful first novel in an exciting, thrilling and rich fantasy world.  We eagerly look forward to the next novel to find out what happens next.  Luckily, we don’t have to wait long, as Oria’s Gambit is to be released shortly. Our Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: An Unquiet Heart Alone in her tower, Princess Oria has spent too long studying her people’s barbarian enemies, the Destrye—and neglected the search for calm that will control her magic and release her to society. Her restlessness makes meditation hopeless and her fragility renders human companionship unbearable. Oria is near giving up. Then the Destrye attack, and her people’s lives depend on her handling of their prince… A Fight Without Hope When the cornered Destrye decided to strike back, Lonen never thought he’d live through the battle, let alone demand justice as a conqueror. And yet he must keep up his guard against the sorceress who speaks for the city. Oria’s people...
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Aug
2

Review: Forever Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

Review: Forever Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Please help TWITA welcome guest reviewer, Kymbo. An avid reader, Kymbo is also the teenaged daughter of our own Ang. Forever Doon Author: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Reviewer: Kymbo Rating: C What I’m Talking About: I’ve read the Doon series from beginning to end. Not being one for fairytales with the whole princess and prince thing, I was surprised at how much I thoroughly enjoyed the first two titles in the series. After the first two though, I started having some fairly major issues with the novels. I felt as though the target age for the series changed to a younger audience, as if series was being dragged on, like the authors lost their focus and were unclear where it was going, and like the classification of the novels changed. Forever Doon, like the three before, was a multiple point of view book. Although there is nothing wrong with that, there is a point when it isn’t needed. Forever Doon was told from four different points of view. It was clear why it was told from three of the four, but the fourth viewpoint seemed excessive, to the say the least, and completely unnecessary. Two of the characters were with each other throughout the entire novel, and having both points of view was just each story being retold, most of the time word for word. The fourth viewpoint did not add any extra insight or necessary details through the whole novel all it did was up the word count, and I firmly believe if it doesn’t add to the story it should be left out. Maturity was another topic I often found myself thinking about as I read this book. The main characters are all said to be high school graduates and well above 14, yet I often felt as though they were acting like they were middle-schoolers. Not only was the language used, such as “skellies,” immature and childish, the way character on character conflict was solved was immature. Many times the characters would simply yell at each other instead of actually figuring out the problem, and then it would magically disappear like it never happened. It was almost as though a few of the characters were developing, but not in a way that fit the story. I expected them to mature as they faced various conflicts and it felt like the opposite was happening. I was hoping that because the series was originally planned for four...
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Jul
27

Review: Shades of Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

Review: Shades of Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Please help TWITA welcome guest reviewer, Kymbo. An avid reader, Kymbo is also the teenaged daughter of our own Ang. Shades of Doon Author: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Reviewer: Kymbo Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: After reading the first two books in this series, I was beyond excited to receive Shades of Doon as an ARC in the mail. However, I am sad to say I was disappointed as I started reading the book and even had to put it down for a while before picking it up again. Shades of Doon picks up beautifully from where the second one, Destined For Doon, leaves off; however, as the book goes on it feels as though the authors weren’t sure where they were going with it. I often found myself thinking that I was simply re-reading the second book. I also found myself annoyed with the turn the book took in its age range. I felt like it went from a Teen/ YA book to something intended for pre-teens. Maybe the authors did that intentionally to expand the group of readers for the series, but I found it annoying and even frustrating. The book is marked as young adult, and at times I would agree, but at others I felt more like I was reading a book meant for preteens. The character’s voices changed so much, the language used became immature in places and topics it would dive into and then quickly avoid was annoying, and left a variety of issues unresolved. This felt out of character based on the previous two novels. Regardless of why this happened, I’m sad to say by the end of this novel, I was not excited for the fourth and final in the series. My Rating:  B- Liked It, but I had a few small issues ~Kymbo~ About the Book: After cheating death, Veronica Welling is determined to savor every moment in her idyllic kingdom with both her true love and best friend by her side at last. At the same time, Mackenna Reid is enthusiastically building her new life and a theater with her prince. But just as their dreams of happiness are within reach, the world Vee and Kenna have chosen is ripped away, leaving them to face their most horrific challenge yet—their old lives. Thrust out of Doon, the best friends are confronted with tormentors from their past and no way to return to their adopted land. When the MacCrae brothers...
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Jul
27

Review: Destined for Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

Review: Destined for Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Please help TWITA welcome guest reviewer, Kymbo. An avid reader, Kymbo is also the teenaged daughter of our own Ang. Destined for Doon Author: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Guest Reviewer: Kymbo Rating: B What I’m Talking About: The first in this series, Doon, changed my perspective on fairytale/princess books altogether. I loved every minute of it. I am happy to say I was not disappointed at all with this sequel. Destined for Doon is anything but your basic fairytale. There is no damsel in distress who needs rescuing , no prince who comes to save her, nor a song after every major scene. Instead, this book is full of humor, musical references, heartbreaking teen romance, unbreakable friendship, and an evil witch that must be stopped. Although Destined for Doon was a strong sequel, I would not say it was without its imperfections. Between the two authors and the switching back and forth of perspectives after every chapter, I would say there were times where I felt as though the writing style simply didn’t work. There were moments where it would have flowed better to stick with once voice over another. Despite a few flaws, Destined for Doon was good considering it was a sequel, and although it wasn’t perfect I would still recommend it to fellow readers, especially considering it has stuck with me nearly two years after reading it. So go visit the world of Doon; you won’t be disappointed. My Rating:  B, Liked It ~Kymba~ About the Book: The second book in the popular new Doon YA series that takes on a classic story, Brigadoon, and spins it in a new way to give readers a fresh, modern experience. In this sequel to Doon, Kenna Reid realizes she made a horrible mistake-choosing to follow her dreams of Broadway instead of staying in the enchanted land of Doon. Worse, she’s received proof she and Duncan are meant to be, along with torturous visions of the prince she left behind. So when Duncan shows up and informs Kenna that Doon needs her, she doesn’t need to think twice. But even if Kenna can save the enchanted kingdom, her happily ever after may still be in peril. The Doon novels are a part of Blink, HarperCollins Christian Publishing’s new YA imprint that delivers empowering and heartening literature while maintaining a tradition of imaginative and impactful storytelling. Release Date: September 2, 2014 Publisher: Blink Series: Doon #2 Genre: Young Adult...
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Jul
18

Review: The Best Seller by Dina Rae

Review: The Best Seller by Dina Rae The Best Seller Author: Dina Rae Reviewer: Nima Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: The Best Seller is a solid foundation to an as yet unnamed new science fiction series by Dina Rae.  With the flood of paranormal romance in the last decade, it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book about plain, old fashioned aliens.  We’re talking little green men with big eyes, flying saucers, and government conspiracy. It’s retro in a good way. There’s even a nod to the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens.  (Come on, you know you watch it and rant about the amount of product Giorgio Tsoukalos puts in his hair. I bet you even know how to correctly pronounce “Tsoukalos.”)  It’s the guilty pleasure that makes you feel less stupid than watching the Kardashians. The story begins in 1947 with the infamous Roswell incident and as that blossoms into a fully funded military operation, it flips back and forth with the present day.  In the modern portion of the story, Maya Smock writes a best seller, but unknown to her, a code is embedded in the text with ties back to the Roswell aliens. I love that Rae has included the concept of a deliberate construction within Maya’s book.  It was the construction I loved most about Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn and The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. As Maya skyrockets into literary stardom with the likes of Arthur C. Clark, Issac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury, she comes under the wing of another best-selling author, Jay McCallister who claims to have the same code embedded in his books. The only character I didn’t like was Claude.  It’s easy to say that’s because he’s the “bad guy,” but that’s all he is.  He comes across as one-dimensional, a little too obvious and a little too easy to hate.  Jay McCallister was my favorite character and we barely got to know him.  I’m hoping as Maya moves into new and unexpected territory that we’ll get to know him in new ways through her and her new friends. 1947 is post World War ll and some of Germany’s genetic scientists have ended up not as war criminals, but working for the military out in Roswell Nevada.  If anyone remembers the swastika which flashed briefly as part of Professor Langdon‘s lecture on symbols at the beginning of the Da Vinci Code movie, you’ll remember it was one that the Nazi party appropriated, but...
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Jul
6

Review: It Happened One Doomsday by Laurence MacNaughton

Review: It Happened One Doomsday by Laurence MacNaughton It Happened One Doomsday Author: Laurence MacNaughton Reviewer: Nima Rating: B What I’m Talking About: It Happened One Doomsday is a quirky little read. It has sort of a campy feel to it.  Clearly this is the first in a new series and I will likely read at least the next installment when it comes out.  It’s not an outstanding first book, the writing flips between excellent description and repetitive metaphors, but it did get me to suspend my disbelief—which is no small task in contemporary fantasy.  I laughed when the main character Dru acknowledged that fact saying, “I can’t expect Nate to understand magic.  Hardly anyone believes in it, outside of actual sorcerers.”  The author has to make me believe his story is plausible and having been born in Berkeley, California, a store that sells crystals for healing and magical powers is entirely realistic.  A simple internet search will yield thousands of hits.  I allowed MacNaughton to build in my mind from that set-up. There isn’t a great deal of character development because it’s so action forward, but MacNaughton did succeed in creating sincere characters, especially Dru.  She was entirely genuine and charmingly unaware of her own talents.  Dru is also innately charitable, unable to help herself from helping others.  It’s a pleasant change in a main character.  She shares an unexpected bond with a mechanic, Greyson, who is turning into a demon because of his cursed car.  I hope we still like him when the next book comes out. The most badass character, even surrounded by demons, is a woman, Dru’s best friend Rane.  She was unwaveringly loyal, but so far one dimensional. Toss it in your pool bag, it’s a good single afternoon read for the summer. My Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: Magic is real. Only a handful of natural-born sorcerers can wield its arcane power against demons, foul creatures, and the forces of darkness. These protectors of the powerless are descendants of an elite order. The best magic-users in the world.  Unfortunately, Dru isn’t one of them. Sure, she’s got a smidge of magical potential. She can use crystals to see enchantments or brew up an occasional potion. And she can research practically anything in the library of dusty leather-bound tomes she keeps stacked in the back of her little store. There, sandwiched between a pawn shop and a 24-hour liquor mart, she sells enough crystals, incense, and magic charms to scrape...
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Jun
28

Review: Addicted by Elle Kennedy

Review: Addicted by Elle Kennedy Addicted Author: Elle Kennedy Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: If you love dystopian stories, but want the romance element a little more *ahem* adult—and smokin’ hot—, Elle Kennedy’s Outlaws series should be on your reader radar. In Addicted, we get a phenomenal friends-to-lovers story that runs us through a multitude of emotions and is a gripping story I couldn’t put down. Okay. I had to pace myself, because I actually had stuff to accomplish. While it isn’t totally necessary to read the first title in the series, Claimed, I’d recommend it. It’s a good story, and after reading for a few minutes, all the great characterization and world building came back to me—along with all the feels. I also remembered what I really liked about this universe: the ‘free love’ feel. I was a child in the ‘70s, and a teen in the ‘80s. I was probably born in the wrong decade. I was drawn to the Outlaws’ way of life from the first time I cracked open the first book of the series. Addicted continues my fascination. They’re highly sexual characters, and—for me—there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re not into multiple pairings (m/f/m, f/f/m, etc… Oh! And there’s a little m/m stuff, too), this might not be a title for you. The secondary plot line in Addicted was…complex. The over-arching storyline for the series hit a few bumps in this title. It made me think, and by the time we reached the reveal, I hadn’t figured out what the big deal was, and why it had to be a secret. As for the secondary characters, we saw a lot of Rylan and Reese. And Beckett. Yeah. I am intrigued by Beckett. Xander, too. I have this intense need to know more about them. Sloane, Reese’s ‘shadow’? What’s up with him? I think most of these characters built the intrigue surrounding the safety—and sanctity—of Foxworth, Reese’s little settlement. There’s also a couple deaths that take place in Addicted that ripped my heart out. There’s not just sex in Addicted, though. We get to see relationships building between different groups of people, different types of people. These Outlaws seem to have a code of their own, and they follow it. There’s action/adventure-y stuff going on, too. Fighting. Killing. Really, this title is actually several sub genres, and was difficult for me to categorize. On Amazon, it’s in post-apocalyptic, romantic suspense, and contemporary(?!). Oh, and did I...
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May
25

Review: The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy The Pages of the Mind Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: The Pages of the Mind is the debut novel of the Twelve Kingdom spin-off series, The Uncharted Realms.  Overall we enjoyed the first book in the beginning of a new series. Gikany and Una love the world that this series takes place in.  It is not imperative to read the Twelve Kingdoms series first; however, you will have a stronger understanding and appreciation if you do read the previous series (and you should because it is good).  You will also have a much stronger connection to Dafne.  For fans that have followed the previous series, it is exciting to learn more about the world and surrounding kingdoms. Dafne was introduced at the beginning of the Twelve Kingdoms series.  She was a quiet librarian who had access to knowledge that each princess needed.  She was a rock of support and strength and a steadfast advisor to each of them.  Dafne isn’t afraid to show her backbone and speak her mind.  We liked her immensely and have eagerly looked forward to her romantic journey.  We couldn’t have imagined the direction her life would take.  We loved seeing the journey Dafne takes and watching her struggle between her heart and her sense of duty.  Her ability to wield the pen far more mightily than the sword was breathtaking. Overall, we liked the journey between Dafne and Nakoa, even though we thought there were some off-notes in it.  Although they did not detract from our enjoyment, they were noticeable.  We were surprised that Nakoa could be so devoted to Dafne and then abruptly write her off, not trusting her.  His belief that she should automatically know who he is and fall into the role as queen coupled with the odd ultimatum to choose him (who she’d only known three days) over Ursula (who she’d known her whole life) was a bit of a stretch.  We were surprised that although he understands (and we assume) speaks Dasnarian, he never tried to communicate with her in it, but instead insisted that she learn to communicate in his language. Overall, we really liked The Pages of the Mind, abrupt moments and all.  The passion and connection between Nakoa and Dafne smoothed over those rough patches.  Gikany and Una are biting our nails in anticipation of the next novel, which will center on Jepp and Kral.  If you enjoy...
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