Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Giveaway and Release Day Blast for The Legend of Lyon Redmond by Julie Long

Releasing September 29, 2015 by Avon:

The Legend of Lyon Redmond
Pennyroyal Green #11
by Julie Anne Long 

Bound by centuries of bad blood, England’s two most powerful families maintain a veneer of civility...until the heir to the staggering Redmond fortune disappears, reviving rumors of an ancient curse: a Redmond and an Eversea are destined to fall disastrously in love once per generation.

An enduring legend

Rumor has it she broke Lyon Redmond’s heart. But while many a man has since wooed the dazzling Olivia Eversea, none has ever won her—which is why jaws drop when she suddenly accepts a viscount’s proposal. Now London waits with bated breath for the wedding of a decade…and wagers on the return of an heir.

An eternal love

It was instant and irresistible, forbidden...and unforgettable. And Lyon—now a driven, dangerous, infinitely devastating man—decides it’s time for a reckoning. As the day of her wedding races toward them, Lyon and Olivia will decide whether their love is a curse destined to tear their families apart...or the stuff of which legends are made.

About the Author:

Julie Anne Long originally set out to be a rock star when she grew up, and she has the guitars and the questionable wardrobe stuffed in the back of her closet to prove it. When playing to indifferent crowds at midnight in dank clubs lost its, ahem, charm, she realized she could incorporate all of the best things about being in a band—namely, drama, passion and men with unruly hair—into novels, while at the same time indulging her love of history and research. So she made the move from guitar to keyboard (the computer variety) and embarked on a considerably more civilized, if not much more peaceful, career as a novelist.

Julie lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with a fat orange cat. (Little known fact: they issue you a cat the minute you become a romance novelist.)

Excerpt #3 of The Legend of Lyon Redmond:

He’d last seen Pennyroyal Green in the dead of night almost five years ago. His trajectory since then had been as swift and mindless as if he’d been shot from a cannon. And it wasn’t just because of what Olivia had said to him in the garden after midnight, in the pouring rain. Though after she’d said what she’d said, for a time he’d stopped caring what became of him.

No, that fuse had been lit for longer than anyone knew.

No one from Sussex had seen him since.

Though one had certainly tried. He half smiled at the thought of Violet.

And it was this that had broken the speed of his trajectory.

And he’d had his own methods for remaining, however tangentially, informed about the lives of those he’d left behind. He’d proved something over the past five years. He’d at first thought it was all for Olivia. But he was no longer certain. He’d tried to purge his life of her, relinquishing even her miniature.

Clearly it hadn’t worked.

But what no one knew, not even his crew, was that this was his final voyage. He’d risked this trip into London to track down the source of a little mystery that could devastate Olivia and her family.

He now had his answer.

He was, strangely, not surprised by it.

But he hadn’t been prepared to make a decision about what to do next so soon.

Oh, Liv, he thought.

Suddenly it hurt to breathe. Fragments of memories rushed at him, each distinct as stained glass.
Olivia walking along the road to the Duffys’ house, then breaking into a run when she saw him waiting beneath the elm tree, her face lighting like a star. As if even a second away from him was wasted.

That was the memory that always came to him in his darkest moments.

And now she was giving herself to another man.

His fingers curled on a surge of emotion. But he stopped just short of giving the message the crushing it deserved.

She. If Lavay had indeed written that word, he might have seen her, or even talked to her, or …

He couldn’t do it.

He couldn’t bloody do it.

And this is what decided him.

He tucked the message into his coat. “You can go, Ramsey,” he said. “Thank you.”

The footman spun and nearly bolted, silver braid glinting in the sun.

Lyon turned to face all the expectant faces of his crew.

“And we,” he told them, “are staying in England.”

It was time for a reckoning.


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Monday, September 28, 2015

Early Review of About a Vampire (Argeneau #22) by Lynsay Sands

Title: About a Vampire: An Argeneau Novel (Argeneau Vampire)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Argeneau Vampire
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (September 29, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0062316028
ISBN-13: 978-0062316028
Author's Website: http://www.lynsaysands.net/
Notes: I received and eARC loan from the publisher.

Justin Bricker has seen many of his fellow immortals find their life mates over the years and teased them mercilessly as they bungled up the task of explaining what they are and the unique bond between life mates. While by no means a saint, he's been looking forward to finding his mate and already has a game plan in place for when he meets the one. Just moments after finding her, however, he almost loses her to a fatal wound. He feels turning her is a no-brainer. After all, she's won the Bricker lottery, right? What could possibly go wrong? Little does he know there is one big complication which may cause his "no-brainer" to be the biggest mistake of his life.

Holly Bosley is married and vampire law dictates he can't interfere...

This is the 22nd book of the long running Argeneau series. If you haven't read any of the previous books, you can jump into this one without too much difficulty as Ms. Sands does a good job of explaining the background of how the vampires/immortals came to be. Your enjoyment, however, will be enhanced if you can read the prior books and get to know Bricker and some of the other characters better. In this book, Bricker will finally meet his match and she'll keep him on his toes while his friends get payback on him. I admit, I was a bit hesitant about this one when I learned Holly, his love interest, was married. Ms. Sands, however, seasoned this one with a lot of humor and roadblocks which made for a fun read.

From the very beginning we get the feeling that Holly's marriage may not be as blissful as she'd like, but she's determined to make it work. This creates problems for Justin because according to the rules, he's not allowed to go all out in dissuading her from staying married. She has to decide it on her own. For a man who thinks he's all that and them some, he has to eat a heaping helping of humble pie and that makes for some fun times for everyone but Bricker.

Overall, I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. The complication of Holly being married distracted from my enjoyment, but was smoothed over by the ending. The ending, however, had a bit too much going on and I can't help but wonder if the secondary romance was thrown in at the last minute to appease people like myself.  On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one scores a STEAM rating - too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Early Review of Menagerie (Menagerie #1) by Rachel Vincent

Title: Menagerie
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Menagerie Series
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: MIRA (September 29, 2015)
ISBN-10: 077831605X
ISBN-13: 978-0778316053
Author's Website: http://rachelvincent.com/
Notes: I received and eARC loan from the publisher for review purposes. Any quotes used are subject to change and will need to be checked against the final version.

Nearly thirty years ago, a horrific event took place across the U.S. that was later called the reaping...

"Shock and grief echo across the United States this morning with the news that more than one million children died overnight, most reportedly killed in their sleep. Government officials and residents alike watch, stunned, as the reports continue to pour in, raising the death toll by several thousand per hour..." 
--As reported by anchor Brian Richards on U.S. Morning News, August 24, 1986

The deaths were blamed on the cryptids, supernatural beings who lived among humans and caused widespread panic. Cryptids were rounded up, thrown in prison (or shot for resisting arrest), and denied citizenship and legal rights...

'Remember the reaping? wasn't just a question, It was something parents said in hushed voices. Something priests advised while they made the sign of the cross. Something politicians shouted from behind podiums. Remember the reaping was a warning not to let history repeat itself. A reminder for humanity not to let its guard down.'(...)

'Fear is a powerful, often irrational emotion, and mass fear on the scale of what followed the reaping has the power to shake any society to its core.'

Now, some thirty years later, that fear will take its toll on Delilah Marlow. While at Metzger's Menagerie, a famous traveling carnival which displays cryptids like zoos display animals, a split second decision to intervene will cost her everything, changing the course of her life forever...

"Leave her alone," I said, and when the entire hybrid tent went silent around me, I realized my voice sounded...different. Not lower in pitch, but larger somehow. More robust.(...) Sounds I hadn't realized I was hearing suddenly ceased" (...) "Get the hell away from her!" I shouted, and my hair rose on my scalp, as if the power sparking through me had charged it at the roots. It floated around my head, not in thin tendrils, but in heavy ropes of hair, twisting around my face in my peripheral vision."

For the past twenty-five years Delilah thought she was human, but was she?

This  book was very dark and yet I totally loved it. It draws a picture of humanity (at least in the world she created) at its least humane which may make some uncomfortable. Power when paired with fear is a dangerous concoction, and people will do things they otherwise would not, especially when given free range to do so with the promise of no consequences. It delves into the darkness of the human psyche and begs the question how would you act in a similar situation? Would you speak up against obvious cruelty, would you remain silent, or be willing participant in the abuse? The scenario brought to mind brought to mind the treatment of Jews by Hitler during his Nazi regime, of black individuals by the people who dared to declare themselves their owners, of Japanese immigrants and citizens of Japanese decent during World War II,  and the list goes on. While the reason for the hate or fear may vary, the treatment that results proves people can be very cruel and possess a dark side.

Delilah is a strong character who is seemingly thrown into a nightmarish position. Instead of laying down and taking it, she does what she can, albeit not much at first, to get out of her current predicament. She's the type of person who speaks up for the underdog and can't hold her tongue when she sees something that she knows just isn't right. While it lands her in a heap of trouble, I have no doubt she'd do it all over again in a heartbeat because that's just the way she is. Her relationship with Gallagher is complicated, and I wasn't sure from one instant to another whether she should trust him.

There are plenty of supernatural beings in this series many of which I'd heard of as well as one or two that I hadn't. The novel is set in what appears to be an alternate history version of our own world that I look forward to finding out more about. I'm curious how similar and different our worlds will actually be. While we gain bits and pieces about what the reaping is, I don't think we've gotten to the core of it. The way the information is given to us, mainly in the form of news articles, makes me feel Ms. Vincent has something up her sleeve that we'll find out about later in the series.

I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses, A wonderful new series with a lot of possibilities. It reminded me a bit of the stories in the anthology Carniepunk and of Anne Bishop's series Others. Like a good magician holds an audience under their spell, Ms.Vincent kept me captivated with this story from start to finish. It also opened up a long forgotten memory from when I was a small child and went to a traveling carnival that featured its own menagerie of strange, rare, and exotic creatures. Five legged animals, a bearded lady, and the like were on display.  It makes me wonder what people would say if that same carnival were to make an appearance today? As for this book, I found it suspenseful and entertaining. I look forward to reading more of this series and seeing where Ms. Vincent takes us with her next book. I definitely recommend this one.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Veil (Devil's Isle #1) by Chloe Neill

Title: The Veil: A Devil's Isle Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: A Devil's Isle Novel (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 352 pages
Publisher: NAL (August 4, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0451473345
ISBN-13: 978-0451473349
Author's Website: http://www.chloeneill.com/
Notes: I bought this one.

Seven years ago, 'the Veil--the barrier that separated humans from a world of magic we hadn't even known existed-- was shattered by the Paranormals who'd lived in what we now called the Beyond.

They wanted our world, and they didn't have a problem eradicating us in the process. They spilled through the fracture, bringing death and destruction-- and changing everything: Magic was now real and measurable and a scientific fact.' 
'When the war was done, Containment--the military unit that managed the war and the Paranormals--had tried to scrub New Orleans not only of magic but of voodoo, Marie Laveau, ghost tours, and even literary vampires. They convinced Congress to pass the so-called Magic Act, banning magic inside and outside the war zone, what we called the Zone.

The war had flattened half of Fabourg Marigny, a neighborhood next door to the French Quarter and Containment took advantage. They'd  shoved every remaining Para they could find into the neighborhood and built a wall to keep them there.

Officially called the District.

We called it the Devil's Isle..."

Welcome to world of Devil's Isle and the Veil where things that go bump in the night can and probably will kill you if given half a chance.

'"Your about to leave the United States government." (...) "The U.S. government makes no guarantees regarding your health, welfare, or safety while you are inside Devil's Isle. Magic is prohibited inside the walls. If you observe magic, report it immediately to the nearest Containment agent. Other than that, have a good night and be careful in there."'

I had mixed feelings about this one when I started reading. It reminded me of several other books, most notably a cross between two of Ilona Andrews' series (each of which I totally love). "The Veil" features a devastated city (New Orleans) with magic causing problems which reminded me of the Kate Daniel's series which hosts a devastated Atlanta, Georgia.  The Veil, the gateway between worlds, reminded me a bit of "The Edge" series where a whole other magical world resides in something similar to another dimension from our own that is accessible through an opening between the two known as The Edge, the edge between our world and the magical one. As I got deeper into the story, however, I was pleasantly pulled in and the similarities began to fade.

Claire Connolly is a New Orleans native. For generations her family has owned the Royal Mercantile, a former antique store presently masquerading as the finest purveyor of dehydrated meals in the New Orleans area. It's one of the few operational stores left in the Zone. For the past eight months things have gotten difficult for Claire. That was when she learned she was a Sensitive i.e. she had magic. Most people are immune to magic, but a small percentage of the population are sensitive to it and when magic came pouring in through the Veil, that sensitivity became a dangerous thing to possess. The human body is not equipped to handle mega doses of magic and as a body absorbs more and more it, magic takes a toll on a person. If a person can't learn how to deal with it, they turn into what has been termed a wraith--a pale seemingly mindless shadow of the individual's former self that is bent on seeking out more magic to fill some horrible seemingly ravenous need. As of yet there is no known cure for the condition which is why Containment started imprisoning anyone found performing magic. Claire is set on helping her home town become the thriving community it once was, but when she accidentally performs magic in a public place, she attempts to flee rather than end up a prisoner at Devil's Isle.

 Liam Quinn is a bounty hunter who tracks and finds wraiths and Sensitives. When he comes across Claire attempting to flee after seeing her use magic, rather than arresting her, as she fears, he reveals a secret not many outside of the government know. Slowly, she learns Containment has not been altogether truthful with people, and the world she thought she knew is much more complicated than she ever imagined. Together the two team up to find out what's behind the recent wraith attacks. It appears something about them is changing, and they need to find out why before things go from bad to worse.

I ended up giving this one 4 out of 5 roses. It was a little slow at the beginning due to world building, but rapidly picked up momentum. The characters are compelling and likable. The world building was such that you could vividly imagine it in your mind's eye that you'd walked into another world different, yet very like our own. After a bumpy start, I didn't want to put the book down and stayed up way too late reading. Curse you Ms. Neill (in a totally good and awesome way) for writing such an addictive read. *grin* I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pretty Girls: A Novel Novel by Karin Slaughter

Title: Pretty Girls: A Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Thriller/Mystery
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (September 29, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0062429051
ISBN-13: 978-0062429056
Author's website: http://www.karinslaughter.com/
Notes: I received an eARC from the publisher for review purposes. Extreme violence towards women.

On average in the USA at any given time, 90,000 people go missing. The longer the individual is not found, the more likely it is that they've fallen victim to foul play. When someone goes missing, even the closest knit of families can be ripped apart. Such was the case for the family of  Julia Carroll.

Nearly twenty years ago, Julia Carroll went missing. While her entire family was devastated, they dealt with the tragic event in different ways and at different paces. Julia's father never gave up hope that one day she'd be found, and desperately tried to find out what happened to her. While the rest of the family tried as best as they could to move forward with their own lives, his seemed to never get past that one tragic moment. Now, some twenty years later, Julia's family may finally find out what happened to her...

When Claire Scott is attacked and her husband is fatally wounded, she thinks she is living her worst nightmare. When she comes across a disturbing video on his computer the night of his funeral, however, she soon realizes her nightmare has only just begun...

They say the truth will set you free, but that is not always the case for once something is seen, it can never be unseen and once something is known, it is seldom forgotten.

This is a dark, heart wrenching, tearjerker of a tale that will leave you reaching for a tissue and giving your kids an extra hug at night. It has twists and turns that leave Claire Scott wondering just how well she truly knew her husband. It may also have you wondering if you truly know all there is to know about your own spouse or significant other. I must warn you that this one is not for the faint at heart. There are some gruesome and disturbing details revealed about what was done to the missing girls over the years. While it is mentioned several times that once you see something, it can't be unseen, likewise once you've read something it can't be unread.

I enjoyed seeing all the missing pieces of what happened to Julia finally fall into place as we learn more about Paul, Claire's husband, and what he was involved in. I equally enjoyed seeing Claire grow as an individual and gain a backbone as she uncovers more and more of the details. I loved seeing the Carroll family pull together to bring about an end to the chaos as things get intense. Parts of the story reminded me a little of what  has been said about some real life murders--that people can't believe the person responsible is the nice person who lived down the street. The chilling fact is that we know something like this could actually happen in real life because we've witnessed such things via the media over the years and that just makes my stomach turn. My heart goes out to anyone who has ever lost a loved one this way. I can't even begin to imagine what they've gone through.

I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. The extreme violence in this one is what knocked it down half a rose. The author didn't go overboard, but I stayed up reading this one late at night in a silent house which was probably unwise. The story was suspenseful, fast paced, and kept me glued to the pages wanting, yet fearing to know what happened to Julia. An intense and gripping read that I recommend to those who can handle a mystery that is interspersed with a splattering of horror. It gave me the willies, but I enjoyed the ride.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Early Review of The Scam ( Fox and O'Hare # 4) by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

Title: The Scam: A Fox and O'Hare Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Mystery/Romantic Suspense
Series: Fox and O'Hare (Book 4)
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Bantam (September 15, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0345543165
ISBN-13: 978-0345543165
Janet Evanovich's website: http://www.evanovich.com/
Lee Goldberg's website: http://www.leegoldberg.com/
Notes: Received an eARC loan from the publisher for review purposes.

Kate O'Hare is an FBI agent wrapped up in a rather enticing package. She's smart, beautiful, strong, and able to use all that to her advantage when going after her target. Growing up in a family of strong military men who wished to impart some of their knowledge to her, they had her throwing grenades and shooting guns at a very young age. She can take a punch and give one without breaking a nail. She's the only agent to bring down the notorious Nicolas Fox and she'd be every bad boys dream if only she wasn't  a straight-laced by-the-book FBI agent.

Nicolas Fox is the opposite of Kate in almost every respect. He's good-looking, charming, laid-back, and could lie his way into or out of anything with the proper incentive thrown at him. Lately, Kate has been the center of his attention. While he may never truly get the craving for the thrill of the con out of his system, he's now using his powers for good, and keeping his boredom at bay by targeting people on the wrong side of the law. Working with Kate as part of the plea bargain he made with the FBI, their latest assignment is to bring down Evan Trace.

Evan Trace owns several boutique casinos in Las Vegas and Macau that launder money for terrorists, mobsters, drug lords, etc. The FBI has no doubt that some of those funds have been used to finance acts of terrorism against the United States which is why he's being targeted. Evan is sharp as a whip and ruthless with no qualms about eliminating anyone who gets in his way or double crosses him. Kate and Nick will have to try to keep one step ahead of him in order to take him out and put an end to his illegal dealings.

This was another fun, fly by the seat of your pants wild ride, er, read and the fourth installment of the Fox and O'Hare series. In this book, Kate and Nick have to do some fast talking and fancy footwork to keep ahead of the game. What looks like a straight forward con soon becomes complicated when someone fingers them as not being who they say they are. Twists and turns ensue, and the scam they devised needs to quickly be revised to spread a much larger net then they previously intended. Guns go off, explosions are had, bad guys abound, and.....well, you'll have to read to find out more. *smirk*

With a fast pace, loads of humor, and a chemistry between Kate and Nick that is fun to watch, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. Be forewarned, however, that the book has a killer cliff hanger ending that made me want the next book yesterday. If you're looking for a lighthearted read that will leave you in a good mood, then I recommend you check this one out. Oh, and is it just me or does anyone else gets the urge to eat a Toblerone after reading this one? *smile*

Notes to Keep You in the Know:

Talk about timing... recently, a heist in Macau transpired where millions went missing. The scam perpetrated reportedly involved a casino junket. You can read more at: http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/30/asia/macau-junket-missing-millions/

"Lying 65km to the west of Hong Kong, Macau is a city of duality. Its fortresses, churches and the culinary traditions of its former Portuguese colonial masters speak to a uniquely Mediterranean style on the China coast. These are intermixed with the customs, alleys, temples and shrines of its Chinese heritage. On the other hand, the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of Macau is the ‘Vegas of the East’, the only place in China where gambling is legal.

Taipa was once two islands that were slowly joined together by silt from the Pearl River. A similar physical joining has happened to Taipa and Coloane because of land reclamation from the sea. The new strip of land joining the two islands is known as Cotai (from Co-loane and Tai-pa). Taipa has rapidly urbanised and it’s hard to imagine that just a few decades ago it was an island of duck farms and boat yards. The small island of Coloane was a haven for pirates until 1910. Today it retains Macau’s old way of life, though luxurious villas are finding their way onto the island."

To learn more about Macau and see pictures, visit http://www.lonelyplanet.com/china/macau (website where the above information was found.)

Order of the series:

Short stories associated with the series:

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Early Review of The Wrong Bride (Highland Weddings #1) by Gayle Callen

Title: The Wrong Bride: Highland Weddings
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Highland Weddings
Format: Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (October 27, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0062267981
ISBN-13: 978-0062267986
Author's Website: http://www.gaylecallen.com/
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher for review purposes.

Once upon a time two fathers came to an agreement and constructed a marriage contract. The Laird's eldest son would wed the Earl's oldest daughter. The alliance would serve two purposes-- first, the feud between two families would finally be over and each would receive something the other had--one a hefty dowry and the other use of the land and water that produced some of the finest whiskey Scotland had ever produced. When the time came for the groom to collect his bride, however, the Earl refused to uphold his end of the bargain by handing over his daughter. Hugh, the bridegroom, feeling obligated to force the Earl's hand, snatched up his promised bride and escaped in the night or so he thought...

Catriona 'Riona' Duff was awakened in the night by a madman insisting she was his betrothed. When she finally gains her wits after such a rude awakening, she realizes why her uncle had acted in such an odd manner that very day--spiriting her cousin away to the country and insisting she stay in her cousin's room. When attempts to explain her predicament fail, she wonders how can she convince this determined young man he's making a huge mistake? More importantly, how will she be able to resist the temptation that he presents in the form of a very sexy, determined, handsome, attentive male highlander bent on seducing her?
This was a fun, lighthearted read that made me grin from ear to ear. Hugh was everything you'd want a romance hero to be and then some. He's trying, after years of separation, to prove himself worthy of the title Laird and gain the trust of his clan. By kidnapping Riona, he's taking a huge risk which may or may not work in his favor.

Riona, despite her beauty, has never been the center of anyone's attention, and she finds she rather likes it. She was already betrothed to someone else, not of her choosing, but is afraid that things will end badly when Hugh finds she was telling the truth about her parentage. Plus, there's an undeniable attraction between the two that keeps growing stronger with time. She's between a rock and a hard place. Either choice has repercussions which makes for a delightfully fun read.

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. It was funny, charming, grin-worthy, and scandalously delicious, I definitely recommend this one. It put me in a good mood for the rest of my day. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM (too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.) bordering on a SHOWER (a cold shower is necessary (need I say more?). Some books should come with a warning - make sure your significant other is handy or your shower is in working order.)  rating.

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