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Fantasy Anthology Review: Seasons of Sorcery by Jennifer Estep, Grace Draven, Amanda Bouchet and Jeffe Kennedy

Seasons of Sorcery: A Fantasy Anthology


ecopy thanks to the authors

Synopsis from Goodreads
WINTER'S WEB BY JENNIFER ESTEP
An assassin at a renaissance faire. What could possibly go wrong? Everything, if you’re Gin Blanco. This Spider is trapped in someone else’s icy web—and it seems like they don’t want her to leave the faire alive . . .

A CURSE FOR SPRING BY AMANDA BOUCHET

A malevolent spell strangles the kingdom of Leathen in catastrophic drought. Prince Daric must break the curse before his people starve. A once-mighty goddess trapped in a human body might be the key—but saving his kingdom could mean losing all that he loves.

THE DRAGONS OF SUMMER BY JEFFE KENNEDY

As unofficial consort to the High Queen, former mercenary Harlan Konyngrr faces a challenge worse than looming war and fearsome dragons. His long-held secrets threaten what he loves most—and he must make a choice between vows to two women.

A WILDERNESS OF GLASS BY GRACE DRAVEN

The stretch of sea known as The Gray rules the lives of those in the village of Ancilar, including widow Brida Gazi. In the aftermath of an autumn storm, Brida discovers one of the sea's secrets cast onto the shore—a discovery that will change her world, mend her soul, and put her in the greatest danger she's ever faced.


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

8.5/10

* * *
 WINTER'S WEB  is alright. A solid 7/10, and as I stopped following Gin's adventures a long time ago, it was difficult for me to get back to this world. Still, a cool look at what can go wrong at Renaissance Fair and an enjoyable description of ridiculous costumes for main heroes.

Holiday Anthology Release Day Review: The Stars Afire by Elizabeth Hunter

The Stars Afire by Elizabeth Hunter 


ecopy courtesy of the author

Synopsis from Goodreads
A new anthology of short fiction featuring your favorite characters from the Elemental Mysteries.



In Lost Letters and Christmas Lights, Christmas in Rome wasn’t quite what Giovanni and Beatrice had in mind, until a set of misplaced letters leads them back to their library in the heart of Italy. Serafina Rossi hadn’t expected vampires for Christmas, but the thought of meeting the cantankerous and intriguing ally of her employers was more than she could resist.


Giovanni Vecchio has a headache, and Richard Montegu is it. In Finding Richard, Giovanni and Beatrice head east to New York City in order to take care of a little problem who’s been spotted off-off-Broadway.


Giovanni and Beatrice return to Italy in Desires of the Heart. With their nephew growing older every year, Giovanni and Beatrice travel to Rome for the holidays, this time with a new vision for their future and the future of their family.


THE STARS AFIRE is a short story and novella anthology in the Elemental Mysteries series by Elizabeth Hunter.
 It includes previously published short fiction, as well as all new stories featuring Giovanni and Beatrice.



  Amazon US | Amazon kindle US

8.5/10

* * *
 This was a lovely re-read of previously published short stories, plus three new ones which I've really enjoyed! Elizabeth also threw in a sneak peak of Blood Apprentice in the end (a new Ben and Tenzin book which comes out soon), and oh boy, it wet my appetite! *grins*

Sci-Fi Series Review: Breakaway and Breakeven by Michelle Diener

Breakaway by Michelle Diener (Verdant String  #1)


review copy courtesy of the author

Synopsis from Goodreads
Sofie lives in the shadow of Felicitos--the tethered way station built to funnel Garmen's mineral wealth up to the top of the atmosphere, where it's loaded onto space ships. Because Garmen is a breakaway planet, not part of the Verdant String Coalition, the companies that control it are free to run things as they see fit, and Sofie is part of the resistance that wants to end their rule.

Her main goal, though, is to get away from Garmen altogether, and leave the drudgery and violence behind her. That goal is complicated by her involvement with Leo Gaudier, a shadowy crime lord whose ability to cheat the companies that own Garmen is something she admires. And when she stumbles on a terrible new direction the companies are taking, a secret alliance that will endanger everyone she cares about, she sees her chances of escape slipping away.

Leo is all too aware he doesn't know enough about Sofie, something his own security detail is not slow to point out, but he can't keep away. When Sofie reveals her links to the resistance, and shows him those in control of Garmen have begun swimming in dangerous waters, he realizes his plan to overthrown them in a careful operation of a thousand cuts is no longer workable.

The time has come for a single, lethal strike--and that will not be without consequences . . .

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

 Breakeven by Michelle Diener (Verdant String #2)


review copy courtesy of the author

Synopsis from Goodreads
Dee had been fighting one war, only to find herself caught up in another . . .

When circumstances leave Dee stranded on the Breakaway planet of Lassa, she has to choose--take the easy way out, or stand and fight an enemy much like the one she left behind on her home world of Garmen.

For Sebastian, leading the Lassian resistance has come at a heavy price. Forced to gamble the last of his resources on a risky ploy to get some leverage over the Core Companies that run Lassa, he stares defeat in the face when it fails. There's no backup plan left. Nothing more to work with. And all around him, people are starving, and it looks as if the Cores have entered a deal with a hostile alien force, to enrich themselves even more.

But Dee inspires him. Even though it's his fault she's on Lassa to begin with, her courage and steady calm are the assets he needs, and unbeknownst to both of them, she has with her the key to bringing the Cores to their knees.

Now they just have to turn the lock in time.

 Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK

8/10 or 4/5 

 A solid four star series for me, guys! Dynamic, tightly written and easy to read in one go. I sure hope that they will somehow tie to Class 5 series in the end, which were immensely entertaining on their own.

BREAKAWAY is a story of Sophie and Leo fighting evil corporations (Cores) running havoc on Garmen, a breakaway planet Cores pretty much own. Leo plays a self-made successful businessman, who in reality works to undermine Cores power and profits. Sophie is a proper action heroine and can be insanely brave and reckless which doesn't fit her sleek and stylish image of beautiful blonde working for higher ups of Garmen. In reality she is a Resistance agent who is binding her time to collect enough information to bring the Cores down.

Fantasy Romance Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven (Fallen Empire #1)


Egalley thanks to Ace Books

Synopsis fromGoodreads
A woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire's capital--her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village's tithe has been the same woman. Gilene's sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire's most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion--and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. And unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will risk everything to return to the Empire--and burn once more.



  Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The BookDepository

9/10

* * *
Guys, guys, this book is amazeballs! I totally cried at the end. First of all, this is Grace Draven we are talking about: an author I always trust to deliver.

Secondly, the story is ruthless and at the same time, kind, bittersweet and raw. I kept thinking of Spartacus, with a smidgen of C.L. Wilson and Elizabeth Vaughan in that sense, that the main hero is a conqueror himself. Or he goes from a slave to a conqueror. And the main heroine... Holy crap, peeps! I loved her spirit and the depth of her self-awareness.

Romantic Comedy Review: Level Up by Cathy Yardley

Level Up by Cathy Yardley (Fandom Hearts #1)


ecopy from the author

Synopsis from Goodreads
Geeky introvert Tessa Rodriguez will do whatever it takes to get promoted to video game engineer– including create a fandom-based video game in just three weeks. The only problem is, she can't do it alone. Now, she needs to strong-arm, cajole, and otherwise socialize with her video game coworkers, especially her roommate, Adam, who’s always been strictly business with her. The more they work together, though, the closer they get…

Adam London has always thought of his roomie Tessa as “one of the guys” until he agreed to help her with this crazy project. Now, he’s thinking of her all the time… and certainly as something more than just a roommate! But his last girlfriend broke up with him to follow her ambitions, and he knows that Tessa is obsessed with getting ahead in the video game world.

Going from friends to something more is one hell of a challenge. Can Tessa and Adam level up their relationship to love?



  Audible US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK

8/10


 Fun, easy, upbeat series with the right amount of geeky humour to suit the fans of The Big Bang Theory with a dash of  New Girl. I blitzed through three books I had and would have happily munched on more.

September New Book Releases I'm Dying To Read!

Guys, I know I suck! Sorry for the internet silence for the past month, but it's been the busiest on the farm and there are no breaks from long hot days. By the time I'm in bed I have 30 mins of reading max and I'm asleep...

Anyway, as soon as it cools down, I expect to pick up reviewing again. Phoenix Unbound is amazing, pre-order it! Especially if you enjoyed Elizabeth Vaughan's Warprize or C.L. Wilson's The Winter King. This has that kind of feel to it. I luuurved it! 
What are you dying to read this month? Dish it out! :)

August New Book Releases I'm Dying to Read

Some epic releases this month, yes? I am nervous about the last Kate Daniels, peeps... It will truly feel like the end of an era, which is why I'm avoiding any reviews or previews. What are you dying to read in August? Let me know.


Time Travel Mystery Review: An Urchin of Means by April White

An Urchin of Means by April White (Baker Street #1)


ecopy from the author

Synopsis from Goodreads
Ringo Devereux knows far too much for a man of his times. There’s no simple explanation for it that doesn’t involve improbable conversations about the future, and Ringo’s advanced understanding of three-phase generators and the secret histories of his city are not things he can discuss with the Victorian Londoners around him. Even his origins as an orphaned street thief are far too dangerous for a young gentleman of means to reveal.

An encounter with a ten-year-old pickpocket, and a luncheon with Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle draw Ringo back into the shadows of his criminal past. A stolen gemstone, a suspicious pawnbroker, and a damning bundle of letters are mysteries that require Ringo’s thief’s instincts, his obscure facts, and the help of a little girl with the skills of deduction like his.

But are these crimes as random as they first appear? What do a covert affair and a blue carbuncle have in common? Ringo knows too much, but someone knows more, and the identity of a mysterious red-haired woman is perhaps the most diabolically complicated plot of them all.



  Audible US/UK | Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The BookDepository


8.5/10

Ladies and gentlemen, if you loved following Ringo's adventures in The Immortal Descendants series, you will adore the man this series honed and distilled him into now!

Contemporary Romance Review: Ink by Elizabeth Hunter

Ink: A Love Story on 7th and Main by Elizabeth Hunter


ecopy from the author

Synopsis from Goodreads
It’s everything but business as usual.

Emmie Elliot hadn’t expected to come back to Metlin, California. She definitely didn’t expect to stay. She returned to her childhood home with a mission: Sell the building that housed her grandmother’s book store and move on with her life.

But life doesn’t always go according to plan.

To reopen her grandmother’s book shop, Emmie will need a hook. She’ll need a strategy. She’ll need an… Ox?

Miles Oxford doesn’t have much interest in quiet bookstore owners. He’s a tattoo artist without a space to work, and the last thing he wants is to get involved with anyone after his last disaster of a relationship. Work and pleasure don’t mix for Ox, but since he doesn’t have any interest in the cute girl with the bold business proposal, he should be safe from any awkward complications, right?

She sells ink. He tattoos it. Unusual? Yes. But a book shop/tattoo studio might be the ticket for both Emmie and Ox to find success on their own terms. As long as they keep their attention focused on business.

Just on business.



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


9/10

* * * 
"She couldn't say no when someone asked for a book recommendation. It was a compulsion."

I think to me this was a love story between a reader and their passion for books. Elizabeth just had to get inside a bookworm's head and show what's bubbling under the surface. And I luuurved it! From nerdy t-shirts to cosy sassiness of Emmie's mugs, including her care for her gran's bookstore and unstoppable desire to make it work again. Duh, never discount romance readers! We are a force to be reckoned with. *grins*

Fantasy Audiobook Review: The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman

The Lost Plot by Genevieve Cogman (The Invisible Library #4)


audiocopy courtesy of Audible Studios

Synopsis from Goodreads
After being commissioned to find a rare book, Librarian Irene and her assistant, Kai, head to Prohibition-era New York and are thrust into the middle of a political fight with dragons, mobsters, and Fae.

In a 1920s-esque New York, Prohibition is in force; fedoras, flapper dresses, and tommy guns are in fashion: and intrigue is afoot. Intrepid Librarians Irene and Kai find themselves caught in the middle of a dragon political contest. It seems a young Librarian has become tangled in this conflict, and if they can't extricate him, there could be serious repercussions for the mysterious Library. And, as the balance of power across mighty factions hangs in the balance, this could even trigger war.

Irene and Kai are locked in a race against time (and dragons) to procure a rare book. They'll face gangsters, blackmail, and the Library's own Internal Affairs department. And if it doesn't end well, it could have dire consequences on Irene's job. And, incidentally, on her life...



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

8/10

* * *
I always really enjoy listening to Genevieve Cogman's stories. The world-building of The Invisible Library is very original, and because it's a multitude of alternative worlds, I don't imagine we, as readers, would ever tire of it.

July New Book Releases I'm Dying to Read!

Wow, new Dorina Bassarab and new Naomi Novik books were a pleasant surprise! I've been out of the loop for a few months, peeps. Sorry about that! Am trying to get back on track.
What are you dying to read this month?
hugs x

Urban Fantasy Review: Chest of Stone by Vicki Stiefel

Chest of Stone by Vicki Stiefel (Afterworld Chronicles #2)

ecopy thanks to the author

Synopsis from Goodreads
A Daring Mage. A Damaged Monster. A Deathly Mission.

Mage Clea Reese hunts a deadly Creature that ritually slaughtered three shifter children. In order to unearth the beast, she needs the aid of her broken lover, James Larrimer.

Together, they aim to smoke out the killer while pursuing Clea’s quest for the magical Chest of Stone and preventing the Magical and the Mundane worlds from splintering. 

Their hunt for the beast drags them from the Mundane realm to the Magic one, where a lethal sorceress seeks to destroy Clea and procure the chest for herself.

The race for the killer and the Chest is on, but time's against Clea and Larrimer when the Creature kidnaps another child and seeks Clea for its own dark purposes.


Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The BookDepository

* * *

8/10

I really like the way Mrs Stiefel expresses herself. Her writing is very original, it just flows, always in the moment, always unconstrained by having to choose one or the other train of thought. Her heroine's mind flits from one thing to another and finds snarky humour in the most absurd of situations. It's fluid, it wanders just like our minds. And I don't see it expressed like that very often.

Friday Mini Audiobook Reviews #109: Sarah J. Maas, C.D. Reiss & Paul Cornell




A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)

bought on audio

Synopsis from Goodreads
Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin's manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords – and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

 
  Audible US/UK | Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository
8/10
I've been enjoying this series more than Celaena, peeps. It feels more together and a bit more mature (pun intended). I also love that they are such long books that it's worth buying them on audio for countless hours of entertainment. I think I did 6 days of olive harvest to this book. *grins* I totally dig Rhys and Feyre. Theirs is an awesome union of two souls who really took time to understand each other. The overall story arch is on epic scale, and it's a vivid, fast-paced fantasy. Absolutely recommended.
* * *
Честно, слушаю я эту серию с большим удовольствием, чем Селину Сардотьен. Все-таки, она эмоционально повзрослее, и, к тому же, каждая книга - это увесистый том, который выгодно покупать на аудио и слушать очень долго. Под эту книгу я по моему собирала урожай оливок чуть ли ни неделю. *смеясь* Мне очень нравятся Рис и Фейра как пара, так как их союз достался им нелегко, и они долго друг к другу присматривались и приценивались. Да и главная сюжетная линия здесь совершенно эпичного масштаба, яркая и динамичная. Скучать не придется, рекомендую. 

Marriage Games by C.D. Reiss (The Games Duet #1)

bought on audio

Synopsis from Goodreads
THIRTY DAYS
That’s all Adam Steinbeck demands of his wife.
Thirty days in a remote cottage, doing everything he demands. After that, he’ll sign her divorce papers and give her complete ownership of their company.

THIRTY DAYS
That’s how long he has to rediscover the man he once was. The Dominant Master he hid when he fell in love with her five years ago.

THIRTY DAYS
She wants the business they built badly enough to go to the cottage for a month. Cut off ties to the world and do his bidding. She can submit to him with her body, but her heart will never yield.

She thinks this is his pathetic attempt to repair their marriage.

She’s wrong.

  Audible US/UK | Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The BookDepository
7.5/10
Not my favourite read by this author, ladies and gents. Mostly, because it feels like a lost cause with a note of underlying bitterness. The relationship broke down, and no matter what, it can not be put back together the same way. It was an interesting experiment to follow, and I did enjoy the characters on their way to self-discovery, but they confused the heck out of me together. I'll listen to book two to see what happens, because right now I have no clue how it'll all ends.
* * *
Не очень мне понравилась эта книга от С.Д. Райсс, несмотря на свою оригинальность. Ну, не вижу я как отношения, которые закончились могут вернуться к прежнему статусу кво. Ведь сама пара и их восприятие друг друга сильно поменялись. Эта книга оставила у меня привкус горечи, но читать вторую часть все-равно буду, так как понятия не имею как этот дуэт закончится. 


London Falling by Paul Cornell (Shadow Police #1)

bought on audio

Synopsis from Goodreads
The dark is rising ...Detective Inspector James Quill is about to complete the drugs bust of his career. Then his prize suspect Rob Toshack is murdered in custody. Furious, Quill pursues the investigation, co-opting intelligence analyst Lisa Ross and undercover cops Costain and Sefton. But nothing about Toshack's murder is normal. Toshack had struck a bargain with a vindictive entity, whose occult powers kept Toshack one step ahead of the law -- until his luck ran out. Now, the team must find a 'suspect' who can bend space and time and alter memory itself. And they will kill again.

As the group starts to see London's sinister magic for themselves, they have two choices: panic or use their new abilities. Then they must hunt a terrifying supernatural force the only way they know how: using police methods, equipment and tactics. But they must all learn the rules of this new game - and quickly. More than their lives will depend on it.
 


  Audible US/UK | Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The BookDepository
7.5/10
It's like a toss between Joe Hill and Ben Aaronovitch. I liked the narrator a lot, and how tense and suspenseful the chase after the villain had been, but there were so many main characters with their own storylines, I kind of lost focus. The setting and the atmosphere were fascinating, and I'll be definitely picking up more by this author. I can easily imagine this series on TV.
* * *
Это какое-то смешение Джо Хилла и Бена Аароновича. Рассказчик мне очень понравился, все было напряженно и динамично, с большой дозой хоррора. Не понравилось то, что здесь слишком много главых героев с разными сюжетными линиями, и читатель теряет фокус. Атмосфера шикарная и сам мир очень интересный, так что буду продолжать серию. Мне ее легко представить на ТВ. 

Romantic Comedy Review: Marriage of Inconvenience by Penny Reid

Marriage of Inconvenience by Penny Reid (Knitting in The City #7)


ecopy thanks to the author

Synopsis from Goodreads
There are three things you need to know about Kat Tanner (aka Kathleen Tyson. . . and yes, she is *that* Kathleen Tyson): 1) She’s determined to make good decisions, 2) She must get married ASAP, and 3) She knows how to knit.
Being a billionaire heiress isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it sucks. Determined to live a quiet life, Kat Tanner changed her identity years ago and eschewed her family’s legacy. But now, Kat’s silver spoon past has finally caught up with her, and so have her youthful mistakes. To avoid imminent disaster, she must marry immediately; it is essential that the person she chooses have no romantic feelings for her whatsoever and be completely trustworthy.
Fortunately, she knows exactly who to ask. Dan O’Malley checks all the boxes: single, romantically indifferent to her, completely trustworthy. Sure, she might have a wee little crush on Dan the Security Man, but with clear rules, expectations, and a legally binding contract, Kat is certain she can make it through this debacle with her sanity—and heart—all in one piece.
Except, what happens when Dan O’Malley isn’t as indifferent—or as trustworthy—as she thought?


 
  Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The BookDepository

* * *

7/10


Guys, guys, I don't know what to say here! Penny's books usually get nothing but highest rating from me, but this read felt out of sync. It was more similar to books she writes with L.H. Cosway, of which I'm not a big fan.

Paranormal Fantasy Novel Review: Ironbound by Mel Sterling

Ironbound by Mel Sterling (Portland After Dark #2)


ecopy thanks to the author

Synopsis from Goodreads
The Master of the Wild Hunt

In a single cataclysm of magic shattering a centuries-old bond of servitude, the Unseelie Queen of Forest Park loses her fiercest huntsman. Now Hunter is free to abscond with half her court and the Wild Hunt is his to command. Yet between the Queen's deadly incursions and a mysterious sickness spreading through his followers, Hunter's rebellion is doomed unless he turns to an even deadlier poison—mortal iron, and hands capable of shaping it.

The Mistress of Cold Iron

Dove Paisley ekes out a living as a modern-day blacksmith and office cleaner. Accidentally swept up in the Wild Hunt, Dove finds herself prisoner in a plague-stricken fae mound and forced to confront Hunter, the harsh, forbidding King in the East. Dove must drive the hardest bargain of her life: her freedom in exchange for forging the weapons that can turn the tide in a supernatural war.

But fae bargains twist on those who make them. The Master of the Hunt may have met his match, and if he isn't careful he'll be bound to a human woman by more than her iron sorcery. Together, the fae hunter and the mortal blacksmith must break the Queen's malevolent enchantments before she binds them all forever in Death's cold hands.

Welcome back to Portland, After Dark.


Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK

* * *

8/10

Despite picking it up during my reading slump, I still managed to enjoy Ironbound which is a testament to Mel Sterling's skill.

Ironbound is a moody, twisted winter fairytale for lovers of dark chocolate and Guillermo del Toro. Don't wait for "and they lived happily ever after" either. It's rich, bitter and beautiful just like dark chocolate, and you either have a taste for it or you don't.

Fantasy Novel Audiobook Review: The Tiger's Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera

The Tiger's Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera (Their Bright Ascendency #1)


audio copy courtesy of Audible Studios

Synopsis from Goodreads
Even gods can be slain….

The Hokkaran empire has conquered every land within their bold reach―but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now, their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests.

Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.

This is the story of an infamous Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, a spoiled divine warrior empress, O-Shizuka, and a power that can reach through time and space to save a land from a truly insidious evil.



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


7/10

* * *
The best thing about this book is its narrator, Caroline McLaughlin. I found her voice very easy to listen to in an otherwise pretty boring book.

It always surprises me how someone can take a sound, exciting idea and flush it down the drain with the execution. The promise of this plot sounded amazing. Two lesbian warrior queens destined to fall in love and fight demons with their special magical powers in a vaguely Asian fantasy background.

March New Book Releases I'm Dying to Read!


Ooooh, so many shinies! I have INK and MARRIAGE OF INCONVENIENCE for review, and of course I can't wait to dig into BURN BRIGHT and LAKE SILENCE.
What are you waiting for?

My Reading/Reviewing Slump and K-Dramas

By now even the most infrequent visitor to this blog noticed that I've been in a reading and reviewing slump for over a year.

I can't help it, guys. There is just so much to do and enjoy here, that books, my first love, took a back seat on this journey. What I'm striving for now is healthy balance.

What I'm really grateful for is discovering K-Dramas. These puppies help me relax and veg out. They are refreshing and easy on the eye, and I feel I really fell down the rabbit hole with them in the last few months. When I was really tired and my head felt empty, sitting down and watching one of those with a cuppa and some knitting was a rejuvenating experience.

So, I just wanted to share what I watched and loved in hope that you either will catch the same bug or share your favorites with me.

STRONG WOMAN DO BONG SOON















This is my favorite show so far. It's adorable and very subversive. There is a role reversal, where the male character is a rich, spoiled boy who plays a damsel in distress down to a tee, and a female character is a true urban fantasy heroine with supernatural strength hired as his bodyguard. It's a delightful show with a good mix of comedy and dark moments. It has only 16 episodes, so I watched it in an easy binge.


BOYS OVER FLOWERS















This is an older show from 2009 and so over the top, you will recognize your favorite YA and NA tropes without any hesitation. Four obscenely rich boys take under their wing a baby faced and fiery scholarship student with much hilarity and tears involved. I rolled my eyes so very hard at this Cinderella story, and yet could not stop watching.

MY LOVE FROM THE STAR

















Okay, I'm still watching it but I've got only a few episodes left. The hero, I kid you not, is an alien who's been stuck on our planet for 400 years. He is allergic to human touch and completely antisocial, but just before he has to go back home, he meets our heroine, a spoiled, shallow actress who moves in next door and who is a double of his first love on Earth. Needless to say, falling for each other makes none of them happy but changes them nonetheless. Following the heroine antics is pretty hilarious.

THE LIAR AND HIS LOVER




















This is my second favorite so far and it's super cute. The hero is a songwriter and a producer of a very popular boy band, and the heroine he falls for is an up and coming young singer who is signed by the same company he works for. He hides his identity from the very beginning and misses out on helping the girl directly, and then they got entangled in a web of lies and misdirection. They are both adorable in their love for each other and pretty shy. I am still watching this show and enjoying every episode.

MOON LOVERS SCARLET HEART RYEO















This one is about a makeup artist and dermatologist falling down the lake and appearing 300 years in the past in one of the most turbulent times for Korea. She gets entangled with royal princes, and while it starts as a cute series with an antihero as a possible love interest it quickly gets darker. I haven't finished watching the first season and am looking forward to getting back into it.

So, this is it for me so far. What are your favorites and what would you recommend?

Fantasy Romance Anthology Review: Amid The Winter Snow by Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Elizabeth Hunter & Jeffe Kennedy

Amid The Winter Snow by Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Elizabeth Hunter & Jeffe Kennedy


copy thanks to Elizabeth Hunter & Grace Draven

Synopsis from Goodreads
As the snows fall and hearths burn, four stories of Midwinter beginnings prove that love can fight its way through the chillest night...

THE DARKEST MIDNIGHT, by Grace Draven
The mark Jahna Ulfrida was born with has made her a target of the cruel and idle all her life. During the long, crowded festivities of Deyalda, there’s nowhere to escape. Until a handsome stranger promises to teach her to save herself…

THE CHOSEN, by Thea Harrison
In her visions, Lily sees two men fighting for her tiny country’s allegiance: the wolf and the tiger, each deadly, each cunning. One will bring Ys chaos and death, one a gentler path—but she’s destined to love whichever she chooses. The midwinter Masque is upon them, and the wolf is at her door…

THE STORM, by Elizabeth Hunter
When her soul mate died in a massacre of the half-angelic Irin people, Renata thought she’d never feel happiness again. She’s retreated to the snowy Dolomites to remember her hurts—until determined, irrepressible Maxim arrives to insist on joy, too. And before she can throw him out, they discover a secret the Irin have to know…

THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN, by Jeffe Kennedy
As a blizzard threatens their mountain keep, the new Queen Amelia of the Twelve Kingdoms and her unofficial consort Ash face their own storm. Ash knows a scarred, jumpy ex-convict isn’t the companion his queen needs. But when a surprise attack confines them together in their isolated sanctuary, the feast of midwinter might tempt even Ash into childlike hope…


Amazon kindle US/UK

 9/10
* * *
THE DARKEST MIDNIGHT by Grace Draven was one of my favourites in the anthology, full of Christmas spirit and magical possibilities. The reader follows progress of Jahna, a young girl with a very low self-esteem and sees her blossoming into a confident, vibrant young woman thanks to her fencing teacher whom she secretly loves.

Beautifully written and very atmospheric, this short story like everything else in this format Mrs Draven writes, begged to be fleshed out into a longer novel. Alas, the only consolation prize is that it was written in the universe of Radiance and we had a brief crossover. An absolute joy to read!


Contemporary Romance Review: Hate To Want You by Alisha Rai

Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai (Forbidden Hearts #1)


bought

Synopsis from Goodreads
One night. No one will know.
That was the deal. Every year, Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler would share one perfect night of illicit pleasure. The forbidden hours let them forget the tragedy that haunted their pasts—and the last names that made them enemies.
Until the night she didn’t show up.
Now Nicholas has an empire to run. He doesn’t have time for distractions and Livvy’s sudden reappearance in town is a major distraction. She’s the one woman he shouldn’t want . . . so why can’t he forget how right she feels in his bed?
Livvy didn’t come home for Nicholas, but fate seems determined to remind her of his presence—and their past. Although the passion between them might have once run hot and deep, not even love can overcome the scandal that divided their families.
Being together might be against all the rules . . . but being apart is impossible. 

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


                                                                         8/10


                                                                         * * *
  Gorgeous, spicy, sincere and touching. That's all you need to know about this romance to pick it up.

This was my introduction to Alisha Rai, and after reading this book I went back to her first romance. Boy, what a difference! She went from a fairly formulaic erotic novel to something absolutely magical! Hate to Want You had all my heart, peeps.

Sc-Fi Romance Review: Calling The Change by Michelle Diener

Calling the Change by Michelle Diener (Sky Raiders #2)


ecopy thanks to the author

Synopsis from Goodreads
He rescued her despite impossible odds—Garek has rescued Taya and the rest of his village from the sky raiders, but their return home doesn't bring easier times. The sky raiders aren't simply going to go away—they still need the shadow ore they came for, and they want the ships Garek stole from them back. But they aren't the only threat . . .

First she was in danger from the aliens who abducted her, now she's in danger from her own people—Taya's been rescued, but she isn't home a week before she's taken again, this time by men who walked the walls with Garek. They've taken her as a consolation prize of sorts, having failed to get hold of Garek himself. They think Taya's value to the people they're working for is her relationship to Garek, but they are wrong . . .

Garek and Taya never gave up on each other before, even when the distance between them was impossibly far, and they aren't giving up on each other now. As Garek searches for her, and Taya engineers her escape, they discover the motivations behind the new attacks on them are darker than the endless reaches of space they've just escaped from.
 


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

7/10

* * *
 I admit the main reason I keep under rating this series is that the plot never has an opportunity to dig down. It's a big tease with a lot of interesting tidbits and very little backstory.
For what it's worth, it's light sci-fi/fantasy romantic fiction which would appeal to readers of both genres if you want something short and quick.

Contemporary Romance Early Review: Game of Hearts by Cathy Yardley

Game of Hearts by Cathy Yardley (Fandom Hearts #3)


ecopy thanks to the author

Synopsis from Goodreads
Kyla Summers has been offered the opportunity of a lifetime to get her cosplay business off the ground, and only one thing stands in her way. She needs someone to take over the auto shop, and there’s only one person she can think of to call…

Jericho Salomon hasn’t been back in his home town since he joined a biker gang and rode off nine years ago. When his best friend’s kid sister calls begging for help, he knows that he owes the family a debt and he intends to pay. This is easier said than done once he finds that the kid is all grown up…

She needs a pair of skillful hands. He needs to keep his hands off. When sparks begin to fly, can they keep things strictly business, or will their hearts get hopelessly tangled? No more games, it’s time to play for keeps.


Release date: Jan 30th 2018.

Audible US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK 

8/10

* * *
 
It's only my second book by this author, and first in this series, but not the last. She's been tons of fun! You know, Penny Reid and The Big Bang Theory type of fun? I certainly giggled at all the Game of Thrones references.

Contemporary Romance Review: King of Code by C.D. Reiss

King of Code by C.D. Reiss (King of Code #1)


bought

Synopsis from Goodreads
From New York Times Bestselling author, CD Reiss, comes a sexy tale of secrets, intrigue, betrayal, and a love worth crossing a continent for.
Taylor Harden is a man on the edge.
The edge of fame. The edge of untold wealth.
The edge of utter humiliation.
He built an unhackable system, and in front of everyone, it’s hacked.
His reputation goes from king to goat in a split second. Boom. Like that.
Some dude in Barrington, USA (AKA Nowhere) has locked down Taylor’s code, and if he doesn’t get it back, he’s going to be wearing a monkey suit for the rest of his life.
Except, this guy? This hacker from Nowhere? He’s not a guy.

Harper Watson’s all woman. And she has a plan for Taylor, his code, and his body.


King of Code is the first book in a new series of standalones.


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

8/10

* * *
As with everything C. D. Reiss writes, this book is an emotional mindf*ck. I liked it, but I also felt exhausted in the end. So many volatile emotions, so much drama...

Funny thing about two protagonists is that none of them are particularly likeable. Taylor is so arrogant and has it all figured out, that your hands are itching to take him down a notch. Harper carries her moral superiority around too much and has a big chip on her shoulder.

Historical Romance Review: I Kissed an Earl by Julie Anne Long

I Kissed and Earl by Julie Anne Long (Pennyroyal Green #4)


bought

Synopsis from Goodreads
Violet Redmond's family and fortune might be formidable and her beauty and wit matchless—but her infamous flair for mischief keeps all but the most lionhearted suitors at bay. Only Violet knows what will assuage her restlessness: a man who doesn't bore her to tears, and a clue to the fate of her missing brother. She never dreamed she'd find both with a man whose own pedigree is far from impeccable.

"Savage" is what the women of the ton whisper about the newly styled Earl of Ardmay—albeit with shivers of pleasure. Born an English bastard, raised on the high seas, he's on a mission to capture a notorious pirate for vengeance. But while Violet's belief in her brother's innocence maddens him, her courage awes him . . . and her sensuality finally undoes him. Now the man who once lost everything and the girl who has everything to lose are bound by a passion that could either end in betrayal . . . or become everything they ever dreamed.
 


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

8.5/10

* * *
 This was one of Miss Long's books that I couldn't help but freaking adore. Mostly, because both main characters were so sensible and unnervingly just, they ended up empowering and lifting each other above societal expectations of their era while trying to best one another at their own game.

Happy New Year and January Book Releases I'm Dying to Read!

Happy New Year, kids!!!
 Hope it gets to be even more awesome than 2017! May all your wishes come true!Last year has been full of major stepping blocks and great personal growth for me, I could not be happier.
Thank you for spending it with me. 
Much love, Karina xxx
P.S. That's two of our dogs, Snow and Lilac, and as it's a year of the dog I thought it would be appropriate to sneak them in here!





So many good books. I am most excited to see something from Marta Acosta as she hasn't published anything in ages.
What about you? What are you waiting for?


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KARINA IS READING

READING

The Night Circus
Legacy
Gabriel's Inferno
Touch

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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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