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Friday Mini Reviews #43: Grace Draven, Zen Cho & Michelle Diener

Radiance by Grace Draven (Wraith Kings #1)

Audio copy thanks to the author

Synopsis from Goodreads

Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.


Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

Amazon  US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | Smashwords | Audible US/UK


I've already reviewed this book fully here, but Grace offered me an audio copy of Radiance, and I couldn't resist a chance to listen to the characters come to life. Gabrielle Baker, the narrator, has done a lovely portrayal of Ildiko, Brishen, his cousin and her potential suitor in a wry, steady voice with a nice British accent. Reading an ebook first actually played against me, because knowing what was going to happen I concentrated more on the banter and intonations instead of action, but if you haven't read the book and just picked it up on audio you would enjoy it much more.
* * *
Я уже прорецензировала эту книгу здесь, однако когда Грэйс предложила мне прослушать её на аудио, я не смогла отказаться от шанса услышать как её герои будут воплощены в жизнь. И стоит сказать, что рассказчица Гэбриэль Бэйкер с этой задачей справилась прекрасно. Её насмешливый тон и красивый британский акцент очень подошли героям, и особенно Ильдико. Я бы сказала, что прочтение книги перед её прослушиванием играло против меня, так как я следила не за сюжетом, а за интонациями и диалогами. Однако если вы слушаете эту книгу впервые, пгрузиться в происходящее вы сможете полностью. Советую!

The Brush of Black Wings (Master of Crows #2)

Ecopy from the author / bought

Synopsis from Goodreads

~The novella-length sequel to Master of Crows~

During a foray into the woods of Neith, Martise stumbles upon a ruined temple and reawakens not only a power she thought lost, but also something far more malevolent. An ancient darkness, imprisoned in an eternal cage, sees a chance at freedom in a woman once held in bondage.

Desperate to save her, the Master of Crows will break the barriers of time and worlds to challenge an entity born of forgotten magic and the remnants of souls—a demon king who once led hordes of the damned across the face of the world.

The destroyer of gods will battle the destroyer of men to reclaim her and discover a truth the keepers of history once conspired to conceal.

A tale of revelation and redemption.

Smashwords | Amazon kindle US/UK


 It was lovely to get back into relationship between Silhara and Martise five years into their marriage. My only complaint is that as a novella this book is a bad tease of things to come as it crosses path with the world of Radiance in a very peculiar way. Silhara is as usual unapologetic, forceful and rude, and I loved this about him. The Brush of Black Wings is full of secrets and promises, and I demand some sort of continuation of the story now!
* * *
Очень мило было вернуться к любимым мной Сильяре и Мартиз пять лет спустя после их свадьбы. Во многом эта повесть плоха тем, что только разздразнивает аппетит читателя к тому, что произойдёт в будущем, так как она очень неожиланно скрещивает временные рамки между этой серией и миром Radiance. У читателя остаётся много вопросов, и уже очень хочется прочесть продолжение прямо сейчас. Динамично и ярко!

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho


Synopsis from Goodreads

For writer Jade Yeo, the Roaring Twenties are coming in with more of a purr — until she pillories London's best-known author in a scathing review. Sebastian Hardie is tall, dark and handsome, and more intrigued than annoyed. But if Jade succumbs to temptation, she risks losing her hard-won freedom — and her best chance for love.

 Amazon kindle US/UK | Smashwords


 This is my first time reading Zen Cho, and the reason I picked it was because one of the big blogs raved about this novella a few months back. I downloaded an excerpt, forgot about it, and only started reading it last week. Ladies and gents, few paragraphs in I knew it would be excellent, so I went back and bought it.
Fantastic, witty and blunt language, funny and super smart, - the voice of Jade is an absolute delight. If you're coming out of a very badly written book, this is your remedy to put you back on track. Highly recommended!
* * *
Читала я Зен Чо впервые, и всё потому, что несколько месяцев назад один из больших блогов взахлёб хвалил её творчество. Я загрузила бесплатный отрывок себе на киндл и о нём благополучно забыла, пока не взялась от скуки за её чтение на прошлой неделе. Уже с первых нескольких параграфов мне было ясно, что книга эта - блестящая, так что я купила её и прочитала за один присест. Прекрасный, острый юмор, шикарный словарный запас и превосходный персонаж практичной и безапелляционной Джейд Йео. Очень рекомендую!
 Breaking Out: Part II by Michelle Diener

Ecopy thanks to the author

Synopsis from Goodreads

Kelli, Nate and Giles know what it is to be imprisoned. They spent years locked away in a secret research lab. But now they're free, and they stole something important just before they escaped – a list of others like themselves, sent to other facilities for further experimentation.

Their plan? To break out every single one.

Nina Calvados has been in a new facility for four months. She's kept a low profile, been careful to be cooperative and helpful. And so far, she's been mostly left alone. So when two other inmates appeal to her for help, her heart may want to oblige but her head is screaming walk away.

Only, something bad is going down, and Nina realizes she's been fooling herself. No one's bought her low profile act. And if she's going to crash, she might as well crash hard. After all, it's not as if anyone's coming for her, is it?

Amazon kindle US/UK
 I've already reviewed Part I of this story, but I've got to say that the whole thing is damn intriguing! Great ideas, especially appealing to all the fans of X-Men and superhero stories. I just wish they were full length novels rather than novellas! There is just no space for the plot to develop and for the characters to open up. I was also dying for some background story. We get hints, hints of what's happening in the outside world, but it's all one big tease, which is why I had to lower my rating. The budding love which only had three weeks to develop since the last book is just too unconvincing with very few dialogues and the background of non-stop action, but overall, this will be a great addition to urban fantasy genre when it's turned into a decent size story. Let's pray it happens.
* * *
Я уже писала, что я думаю о первой части этой серии повестей в новом для Мишель Дьенэ жанре городского фэнтэзи. Идеи у неё великолепные и придутся по вкусу поклонникам супергероев и X-Men. Однако мне бы очень хотелось, чтобы она создала полноценную книгу, а не коротенькие истории, ибо ни сюжету ни характерам не удаётся нормально развиться, и в любовь после трёх недель вместе не особо верится на фоне скупых разговоров и нон-стоп экшн. Интересно, но недостаточно удовлетворительно.

August New Book Releases I'm Dying to Read!

So much awesomeness this month!!!
Of course I'm dying to read Magic Shifts, but also Kate Elliott and N.K. Jemisin.
I will be reviewing The Insanity of Murder and Lair of Dreams pretty soon as well.
What are you waiting for this month?

Urban Fantasy Review: Chosen by K.F. Breene

Chosen by K.F. Breene (The Warrior Chronicles #1)


Synopsis from Goodreads
It is said that when war threatens the world, one individual will be selected by prophecy to lead the Shadow Warriors out of the Land of Mist and reclaim the freedom which has been stolen.
Shanti has grown up under the constant threat of war. Since she helped her people defeat a raiding party by using a special power, she’s been a hunted woman. Carrying rare abilities and an uncanny fighting aptitude, Shanti is the only hope of salvation for her people. The problem is, she doesn’t believe in her own divinity, and when she flounders, she nearly fails in the duty hanging so heavy on her shoulders.

It seems like any other day when Sanders and his band of misfit boys find a foreign woman clinging to life in the wastelands. Oblivious to the weapon they now have in their possession, they are content to harbor the mysterious woman until she is well enough to continue her journey.

But when the war spreads its arms and lands on her borrowed doorstep, Shanti has no choice but to reveal her secrets, plunging her saviors into danger. If they band with her, they will face certain death. But to trade her to Xandre, the warlord desperate to add her to his war machine, would be to give up their entire way of life.

War is coming. The only choice becomes: Which side do you choose? 

 Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository


* * *
Chosen is strangely compelling, to the point that I know for sure, I'll continue with this series. So, why then I gave it such low rating?

This is like a mash up of genres and ideas, and world-building at best shaky, at worst... World-building, you are drunk! Go home!

Fantasy, urban fantasy and paranormal fantasy in one, this book has fight sentences in the best traditions of Kate Daniels and a totally kick ass female warrior. And the style is wry, which tickled me just in the right way. 

The Postman Knock #129

What an insanely busy week! We've started building our bathroom, new lambs popped out, and it's super super hot.

Chicks 5 weeks after birth.

And the lambs born on Tuesday!

I am so exhausted I didn't read much again. By the time I finish my chores and eat dinner, I can't keep my eyes open. As I said on Facebook the reviews will keep trickling in, but I won't be posting on schedule, guys. I think it will all get back to normal in autumn when it cools down. 


VISIONS IN DEATH was pretty cool, and so was SURVIVOR IN DEATH. I also absolutely loved CALL ON ME and DAMNATION. Both have been reviewed this past week.



This is it for me, and I hope you have a smashing weekend!


Don't forget that you can still participate in TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE challenge!
Join in, it's fun! :)


Military Sci-Fi Novel Review: Damnation by Jean Johnson

Damnation by Jean Johnson (Theirs Not to Reason Why #5)


Synopsis from Goodreads
It began with a terrible vision of the future. Compelled by her precognitive abilities, Ia must somehow save her home galaxy long after she’s gone. Now Jean Johnson presents the long-awaited epic conclusion to her national bestselling military science fiction series…

With their new ship claimed and new crewmembers being collected, Ia’s Damned are ready and willing to re-enter the fight against the vicious, hungry forces of their Salik foes. But shortly after they board the Damnation to return to battle, a new threat emerges. After several centuries of silence, the Greys are back, and the Alliance must now combat both a rapacious, sadistic enemy, and a terrifying, technologically superior foe.

Ia has asked nothing of her crew that she herself has not been willing to give. But with two wars to bring to an end—and time running out—Ia must make and execute the most terrible choice of all…

 Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository


* * *
Despite my lower rating, this is a much better book than the previous two structurally speaking. And what an ending, WOW! I was flabbergasted and couldn't believe it would end in such a way.

Erotic Romance Review: Call on Me by Roni Loren

Call on Me by Roni Loren (Loving on The Edge #7)


Synopsis from Goodreads

A Loving on the Edge novel perfect for fans of Fifty Shades of Grey.
Oakley Easton wants two things: to be a good mom to her daughter and to ditch her less than ideal night job. Hooking up with bad boy drummer Pike Ryland? Not on the agenda. She needs a promotion. Not sex, tattoos and rock ’n’ roll.
Pike isn’t about to let Ms. Prim and Proper shut him down so easily, especially when he stumbles upon Oakley’s sexy night job. She’s only playing a role on those late night calls with strangers, but when he gets her on the line, all bets are off. He won’t stop until that sultry voice is calling his name for real.
But as they move from anonymous fantasies in the dark to the flesh-on-hot-flesh reality of the bedroom, the risk of falling in love becomes all too high. And the safe, quiet world that Oakley’s worked so hard to create is about to be exposed to the one person who could ruin it all.

Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository


* * *
By now you know that I'm a fan of Miss Loren, and that I buy everything she writes pretty much as soon as it's released. Apart from the incredible chemistry between her characters, more often than not they are kind, level-headed people who are ready for their character growth and who manage it gracefully even if it's not always easy. Pike and Oakley are both such characters.

Sci-Fi Fantasy Review: Time Salvager by Wesley Chu

Time Salvager by Wesley Chu

Egalley thanks to Angry Robot

Synopsis from Goodreads
Publishers Weekly Starred Review
RT Book Reviews Top Pick

Convicted criminal James Griffin-Mars is no one’s hero. In his time, Earth is a toxic, abandoned world and humans have fled into the outer solar system to survive, eking out a fragile, doomed existence among the other planets and their moons. Those responsible for delaying humanity’s demise believe time travel holds the key, and they have identified James, troubled though he is, as one of a select and expendable few ideally suited for the most dangerous job in history.

James is a chronman, undertaking missions into Earth's past to recover resources and treasure without altering the timeline. The laws governing use of time travel are absolute; break any one of them and, one way or another, your life is over. Most chronmen never reach old age; the stress of each jump through time, compounded by the risk to themselves and to the future, means that many chronmen rapidly reach their breaking point, and James Griffin-Mars is nearing his.

On a final mission that is to secure his retirement, James meets Elise Kim, an intriguing scientist from a previous century, who is fated to die during the destruction of an oceanic rig. Against his training and his common sense, and in violation of the chronmen’s highest law, James brings Elise back to the future with him, saving her life, but turning them both into fugitives. Remaining free means losing themselves in the wild and poisonous wastes of Earth, somehow finding allies, and perhaps discovering what hope may yet remain for humanity's home world.

Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository


* * *
 Don't you just love when some of your most anticipated books of the year turn out to be worth the wait? I was very happy with Time Salvager, ladies and gents.

 You might have noticed that I've been on sci-fi binge for the last couple of weeks. I took a break from this genre a few months ago, and had a craving. Time Salvager fit the bill. 

The Postman Knock #128

Hey, everyone! How have you been this week?
It's a few degrees cooler here (yay!), and I managed to lime wash the kitchen a couple of days ago. Now I have blank canvas for my folk art again :) 
I swear books are like buses, they seem to come all at the same time. I managed to request quite a few this week...


 LOVE IS DARKNESS was a pretty decent paranormal romance/fantasy for kindle freebie. I kinda want to read next book, and oh. It's about vampires :) Very reminiscent of Buffy and Cat and Bones. I already reviewed FORTUNE'S RISING, and it was good. Surprisingly, I enjoyed CHOSEN. The world-building was very sloppy, but the heroine was a total kick ass and a hell of a warrior. At last, hoorah for another excellent J.D. Robb! This time there were spies involved.


So, so happy about these titles! Thanks to the publishers and Penny Reid!

This is it for me, ladies and gents. Happy Sunday!
hugs xxx

Sci-Fi Audiobook Review: Fortune's Rising by Sara King

Fortune's Rising by Sara King (Outer Bounds #1)

Audiocopy courtesy of Audible US

Synopsis from Goodreads

Under the supertech Coalition government, Fortune’s colonists are enslaved to harvest the highly valuable brain-enhancing drug Yolk, often losing their sanity and lives in the process. The population is dying off and the planet is becoming a police state whose only purpose is to harvest Yolk. But a revolution is in the air, fueled by an unlikely band of rebels:
Anna Landborn, a brilliant, sociopathic child, and her quiet, lethally gifted sister, Magali; Runaway Joel, a virtuous military pilot turned tormented smuggler; Milar Whitecliff, a tattooed, chess-playing fugitive full of hatred and heart; Doberman, a simple robot in the throes of a startling transformation; and Tatiana Eyre, a captured Coalition soldier torn between loyalty and love. As their paths and fates collide, the battle to spark a full-scale uprising is violently challenged by the Nephyrs, the government’s elite army of sadistic, near-indestructible cyborgs. But the prophecies of a mad soothsayer have foretold the coming of a hero destined to turn the tide—and the fight for freedom is just beginning.

Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository | Audible US/UK


* * *
You know, peeps, that I'm a fan of Sara King. Her sci-fi and urban fantasy are craaazy good! This book is no exception, even if she just a couple of degrees gentler with the reader than R.Lee Smith.

Take a Walk On The Wild Side Challenge Starts Today!

How It Works
This challenge starts on July 2nd, and ends on July 30th, so you have a month to get reading.

We’re all different and what we like to read is no exception. However, sometimes it’s fun to change things up a bit and try something new. We’re going to help with that, by giving the first 200 lucky readers to ask us an ebook for free. All we ask is that the book they request is in a genre they don’t read, or read a long time ago and drifted out of.
Each participating author will offer ten books for free (we’ll give you a list of what’s available). But if you don’t manage to get in fast enough and there aren’t any books left, don’t worry, you’re still eligible for the Take a Walk on the Wild Side contest. Find a book in a new-to-you genre, whether at the library, from a friend, or if you want to support the wonderful authors involved in this contest by buying one of their books, so much the better!
Read the book—the contest runs for four weeks, so you’ve got time—then write a paragraph on the contest’s Facebook group about what surprised and delighted you about the genre you just read. You can also include a short paragraph on the genre you usually read and why you love it. Help convince other readers to give a new genre a try!
We’re going to encourage people to like the paragraphs that inspired them to read a new genre, and the five entries with the most likes will go to a well-known book blogger (with names redacted) to choose the winner of the $200 gift card.

This is one place where being a chatterbox will get you sent to the top of the class, not to detention. We want people talking about the books they’re reading, swopping recommendations, and generally connecting over new genres, so we’ve got a $50 gift card prize to the person who interacts the most on the Facebook group.
Good luck, everyone, this is going to be a lot of fun!

And here are the amazing authors involved in sponsoring this contest:
Marilyn Brant
Robin Bielman
Kelsey Browning
Zoe Dawson
Michelle Diener
Cynthia Eden
Jennifer Estep
Misty Evans
Maggie Mae Gallagher
Lori Handeland
Mary Hughes
Shona Husk
Rachel Johns
Dale Mayer
Nancy Naigle
Christina Phillips
Edie Ramer​
Elle J Rossi
Barbara Samuel
Therese Walsh

We’ll be posting a profile on each author and the books they have made eligible for the giveaway on the Read a New Genre Facebook group on July 2nd. As stated above, the first 200 people to request the books on offer will get them for free, thereafter, participants will have to source their own books, either from the library, a friend, or if they’d like to support one of the authors sponsoring this contest, so much the better! Only one free book request per person, so as many readers as possible can benefit.

Paranormal Fantasy Early Review: The Scarlet Deep by Elizabeth Hunter

The Scarlet Deep by Elizabeth Hunter (Elemental World #3)

Ecopy thanks to the author

Synopsis from Goodreads
On the waves of the North Atlantic, a poison spreads, sapping the life from humans and striking madness into immortals.

Patrick Murphy, the immortal leader of Dublin, has been trying to stem the tide of Elixir washing into his territory, but nothing seems to stop the vampire drug. While others in the immortal world work to cure the creeping insanity that Elixir threatens, Murphy has been invited to London to join a summit of leaders hoping to discover who is shipping the drug. If Murphy and his allies can cut off the supply, they might be able to halt the spread long enough for a treatment to be found for the humans and vampires infected.

Anne O’Dea, Murphy’s former lover, retreated from public life over one hundred years ago to help immortals in need… and to heal her own broken heart. Though powerful connections keep her insulated from the violence of vampire politics, even Anne is starting to feel the effects of Elixir on her isolated world. The human blood supply has been tainted, and with Anne’s unique needs, even those closest to her might be in danger. Not just from infection, but Anne’s escalating bloodlust.

When Anne and Murphy are both called to London, they’re forced to confront a connection as immortal as they are. As they search for a traitor among allies, they must also come to terms with their past. Behind the safe facade of politics, old hungers still burn, even as an ancient power threatens the fate of the Elemental World.

Release date: July 7th 2015.
Amazon US | Amazon kindle US/UK


* * *
 There was something really lovely, poetic and comforting about this book, peeps. Almost like going into Cambio Springs series rather than Elemental World.

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The Night Circus
Gabriel's Inferno


In case of zombie apocalypse

Hey, guys! I feel like I should say this just in case :)
If you'd like to sponsor a fellow book addict who sometimes can't sleep at night worrying that she won't have enough books to read if internet goes down in the event of zombie apocalypse (I'm convinced it's one of the top five ways to go for human race) you can donate through Paypal to olivesandacorns at gmail dot com or buy a book through any of the links provided with my reviews which will send me a small percentage from the sale. All proceeds will go towards my enormous TBR. I will also shelter you on the remote farm in Portugal when zombie apocalypse starts provided you survive getting there. There will be books, yay?
Thank you! Love you all

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