Saturday, November 18, 2017

Trace of Magic (Diamond City Magic, #1) by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Title: Trace of Magic
Series: Diamond City Magic
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format: Paperback; 252 pages
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books (August 29, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1611945143
ISBN-13: 978-1611945140
Author's Website:
Notes: I borrowed a copy from my library.

'Everybody leaves a magical trail of sorts, like an indelible ribbon unrolling behind them. It isn’t actually on this plane, but in a sort of other dimension that only tracers like me can see. It fades pretty quick for most tracers, disappearing in a matter of hours or maybe a week or two if they are really strong. It never fades for me. I can even see dead trace. It can be tricky to follow, and doing it can leave you vulnerable to the spirit world. I try not to follow dead trace if I can help it. Altogether, those talents make me a unicorn, the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, and the Loch Ness Monster all rolled into one. In a word, I am unique. A very special snowflake.'

'Here’s my one rule: I try very hard not to be stupid. I don’t take the same path home every night, I sleep with a gun under my pillow, I reinforce my nulls every day, I stay out of the spotlight, and I avoid the cops and the Tyet whenever humanly possible. '

'I wasn’t interested in becoming anybody’s puppet, and as long as I was a relative nobody on the Tyet food chain, I had free rein to find out who’d killed my mother and what had happened to my father. Not that I was making any headway. I had zero clues.'

'In the last decade or so, Diamond City had reverted to something of an Old West/mafia war zone. Way back when diamonds were first discovered here, there’d been a huge rush followed by massive territory wars. Eventually the Tyet had emerged—basically a united consortium of very bad people who ran the diamond trade and the town. Our most lauded town hero, Zachary Kensington, had brokered that pact somehow, bringing order from chaos. But then something happened about ten years ago and all hell broke loose. A lot of it had to do with a changing idea of what the Tyet could or should do and various factions wanting more money, more power, more, more, more. A drug trade had entered the scene as well—Sparkle Dust, or SD.'

This is Riley Hollis' story and her life is about to change irrevocably...
This was a fast paced thrill ride of a read with a lot going on. Riley Hollis is a smart, kind hearted, and loyal person. She also has a magical talent that if word got out about would be highly sought after and her life would no longer be her own. No one can do what she can do. With very few exceptions, she could potentially follow a person's trace from the day they died back to the day they were born and vice versa. The only person's trace she hasn't been able to follow is her father's who went missing several years back.

They say no good deed goes unpunished and Riley's latest case of finding a missing teen puts her on the radar of Clay Price, a cop with known ties to Gregg Touray who is one of the leading crime bosses of the Tyet. What first seems like a problem quickly turns into a blessing when she needs his help finding her sister's ex-fiance, Josh. Josh's apartment shows signs of a struggle and blood. Lots of it. When the FBI starts nosing around and implicating him in all sorts of crimes, Riley knows she's in over her head. She'll need someone with more influence and connections than she has to solve this one and get him out alive.

Riley doesn't know what to make of Clay. He actually seems like a fairly decent cop despite his involvement with Touray, but she doesn't trust him one little bit. To complicate matters, Riley finds herself seriously attracted to the man and the feeling is mutual. The more she's with him the more the attraction seems to grow.

I absolutely loved this one and couldn't help but give it 5 out of 5 roses. It's a wonderful story that grabbed my attention from the get-go and kept it straight through till the end. Riley's talent is reminiscent of that found in the Orson Scott Card's Pathfinder series. The world Ms. Francis created reminded me a little of Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassin series where crime bosses tend to have their hands in everything and magic is common place. The drama in this one runs high as does the action. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned 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. This was a well written and highly entertaining read. I HIGHLY recommend it.

Order of the Diamond City Magic series:

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Early Review of The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty

Title: The City of Brass: A Novel (The Daevabad Trilogy)
Classification: New Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Daevabad Trilogy
Format: Paperback; 544 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager (November 14, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062690957
ISBN-13: 978-0062690951
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes need to be checked against the final version as they are subject to change.

At first glance, Nahir appears to be an average girl. Take a second glance, and you will probably notice her eyes--they're unnaturally black. If you take the time to take a closer look, however, and really see her, you'll notice there is nothing average or ordinary about her.

Nahir has been living on the streets of Cairo since the age of five speaking a language no one else knew and she hasn't heard since. She doesn't remember much about her parents or where they hail from. Living on the streets, she's survived anyway she could. She can smell a con from a mile away because she's used most of them. But when she decides to hold a zar, a traditional ceremony meant to deal with djinn possession, and sings one of the traditional songs in her native tongue (because it sounds unusual and eerie) a disembodied voice answers asking, "WHO ARE YOU?" Her life will never be the same...

"You're playing with things you don't understand, Nahri. They're not your traditions. You're going to get your soul snapped up by a demon if you're not more careful." (...)

"You needn't worry. There's no magic, I swear." Seeing the doubt on his face, she decided to be more frank. "It's nonsense, all of it. There's no magic, no djinn, no spirits waiting to eat us up. I've been doing tricks long enough to learn none of it's real."(...)

"That's very arrogant of you, Nahri. Blasphemous, even," he added, looking taken aback. "Only a fool would speak in such a way."
A while ago I wished someone would write a genie tale that was not a remake of Aladdin, but something truly their own, original and new. Around that same time I also wished more authors would create their own original "fairy tale" type stories like Naomi Novik did with her story  'Uprooted'. Well, my wishes have been granted by at least one author--S. A. Chakraboty's 'The City of Brass' just knocked my socks off. Call me enchanted.

In the Daevabad trilogy, Ms. Chakraorty has created a wonderfully magical world where there are six different tribes of daeva (aka genies/djinn) with different skills. There are also those of mixed species who are the offspring of both daeva and humans called shafit. Shafits are scorned and often mistreated because humans are considered to be far beneath the notice of daeva. When Nahir accidentally unleashes an ancient Afshin warrior, she soon comes to realize she's not what she always thought she was. She's something more...

Nahir is smart, curious, and strong. She'll make the best of whatever situation she's in. She doesn't trust easily, but when she does she's quite loyal to her friends. What complicates her predicament is that right around the time she was born a change of power happened, and not all the residents of Daevabad are happy about it to this day. Nahir is about to walk right into that world and end up smack dab in the center of a power struggle which is never a good place to be.

Prince Alizayd 'Ali' al Qahtani is the second son of the current king of Daevabed. The chapters of the book toggle between Nahir's and his viewpoint. Ali is the result of a political marriage intended to forge an alliance between two of the daeva tribes. Ali doesn't agree with many of his father's practices and his treatment of the shafit is a big one. Ali sympathizes with these underdogs of the daeva world and has been secretly trying to help them. Something which could get him into deep trouble.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. The series holds great promise and I'm looking forward to finding out where the author takes Nahir, Ali, and us next. I loved Nahir and how she has to try to figure out what is truth and what is lie. She walks a fine perilous line where one wrong move could be her last. While there is a lot going on and much is revealed, there is so much we and Nahir still have to learn about Nahir's family, her power, and the daeva world she now finds herself a part of. Tensions run high and there seems to be twists and turns around every corner. I have a feeling Ali and Nahir together will stir things up in Daevabed which is nicknamed The City of Brass due to the brass walls that protect it. I, for one, can't wait. A wonderful debut that I HIGHLY recommend.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Missing by C.L. Taylor

Title: The Missing: A Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Format: Paperback; 496 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (November 7, 2017)
ISBN-10: 006267353X
ISBN-13: 978-0062673534
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Six months ago fifteen year old Billy Wilkinson went missing in the dead of night. For six months his parents and his community have searched for him, but to no avail. For six months Billy's mom has held herself together, but soon finds herself unraveling losing herself--quite literally--as she sinks into depression and desperation. Blocks of time go missing and she starts to fear what happened in those lost hours. She blames herself for Billy's disappearance playing through all the mind games a desperate parent does wondering if she missed something--if she could have done something different. As the story unfolds and secrets are revealed she starts to wonder if maybe the answer of what happened to her son lies somewhere closer to home...
This was a hard read for me not because it was a bad book or poorly written (which it was not) but because in the past couple of years, two teens in our area have gone missing. I hadn't realized how hard their disappearances had affected me until I read this book. What Claire Wilkinson went through is every parent's nightmare and something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Of the two kids who went missing (both right around Billy's age) in our area we knew one of the families. Their son played little league with my mine and it hit a little too close to home. Both teens were found, but neither  lived to tell their tale.

Claire does everything a mom can do to find her son. We are dropped into the middle of her nightmare just as she's starting to lose her grip on reality. She starts losing chunks of time and waking up in places with no idea of how she got there. She starts acting irrationally, muscling her way into places she has no right to be. Her world, which had already started to crumble, soon starts crashing down around her and her family. In some ways the time lapses reminded me of those experienced by Rachel in the book  'Girl on the Train' by Paula Hawkins only Claire's aren't alcohol induced but rather stress induced, at least according to her doctor.

At first I thought the starting point of this book was rather odd, but then I realized we come into the story at the beginning of the end. The author starts each chapter with a text conversation between Billy and some mysterious individual. Slowly we see what led up to Billy's disappearance just as we see the clues that start to slowly unravel the mystery of it all. Two beginnings which lead up to one end. I rather like the way the author did this.

 Overall, I gave this one 3 out of 5 roses. Again, I must stress I probably would have given this one a higher rating had I read it at a different time in my life. It's kind of strange how what's happening in our own lives can effect our feelings for a book. The book was well written, held a fairly good pace, and had a huge twist at the end that I didn't see coming and would never have guessed. Just be aware that this an emotional roller coaster of a read. I definitely will pick up another book by the author. I liked her writing style.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Release Day Review of Shades of Memory (Diamond City Magic, #4) by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Title: Shades of Memory (The Diamond City Magic Novels)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Diamond City Magic, #4
Format: Paperback; 272 pages
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books (November 3, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1611948371
ISBN-13: 978-1611948370
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Most of Riley Hollis' life has been spent in the shadows--staying out of trouble, avoiding both the cops and the Tyet (magical mob) whenever humanly possible, and keeping under the radar. There are five major kinds of magic in the world: tracer, maker, binder, dreamer, traveller. Riley is a tracer. Everybody leaves a magical trail of sorts, like an indelible ribbon unrolling behind them. It isn’t actually on this plane, but in a sort of other dimension that only tracers like Riley can see. It fades pretty quick for most tracers, disappearing in a matter of hours or maybe a week or two if they are really strong. For Riley it never fades. She can even track those who have died. This makes her a highly sought after commodity by the Tyet who would love to use and control her skills.

Riley uses her talent to find missing children. Just months ago while working a case she caught the attention of Clay Price. Price was a cop with connections to Gregg Touray. Touray is one of the top Tyet bosses in the city. What Riley didn't realize at the time was that Price is Gregg Touray's brother. To complicate matters even more, she found herself undeniably attracted to Price and the feeling was mutual. Their relationship took off, but eventually her secrets were revealed in front of the biggest Tyet kingpins in Diamond City. Price then struck a bargain with his brother to put Riley under Gregg's protection. 

A lot can and has happened in a short period of time. As Riley realizes a major power struggle is about to go down in Diamond City, she has to figure out a way to keep herself and her family safe. Aligning herself with Touray is looking less and less like the right choice. Her decision on how to handle things will change everything...
This is the fourth book in the Diamond City Magic series. If you haven't read any of the previous books in the series, I strongly encourage you to do so. The books build on one another and if you skip one, you'll miss out on some of the finer nuances of the relationships between the characters, the intricacies of the world, and the complexities of Riley's current situation. Just be aware this series is highly addictive and it's hard to stop with just one. So you may want to set aside some time for yourself to read these. I devoured the series pretty quickly and can't wait for the next book to come out.

One of the things I like about this series is the relationship between Riley and Price. Being a cop and Touray's brother made Riley want absolutely nothing to do with him in the beginning. The attraction between them, however, once they actually got to know one another was intense. All of Price's instincts scream for him to protect Riley and put her somewhere safe where nothing can harm her, but over time he's come to the realization he has to let her spread her wings and fly. If he doesn't, he'll lose her--and that is something he never wants to have happen. In the time the two have known one another, Price has helped Riley grow as an individual and come into her own. This time Riley gets to return the favor.

This book is a real game changer. Riley must make some hard decisions and will need a little help from both her family and friends. Things in Diamond City are about to change in a big way and Riley will be in the middle of it all. Relationships will be tested, lives will be put on the line, and a new threat will enter into the fray making for a highly intense, compelling, and gripping read.   

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I love this dynamic duo and the world Ms. Francis has created. The chemistry between Price and Riley is off the charts, and I love the way they banter back and forth. Price gives as good as he gets from Riley which keeps her on her toes. Be forewarned, however, that this one ends abruptly in a huge cliffhanger. Gah! (If you heard someone screaming loudly last night that was probably me shouting, "NOOOOOOoooooooo!" **smirk**) On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale this one earned a FAN rating--the temperature in the room seems to have suddenly gone up a couple of degrees and a fan would be nice. I highly recommend this series. This series is destined for my keeper shelf.

Order of the Diamond City Magic series:

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Rift Frequency (The Rift Uprising Trilogy #2) by Amy S. Foster

Title: The Rift Frequency (The Rift Uprising Trilogy)
Classification: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: The Rift Uprising Trilogy
Format: Hardcover; 368 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager (October 31, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062443186
ISBN-13: 978-0062443182
Author's Website:
Notes: I received and eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Ryn Whittaker was a loyal Citadel who had trained for her position since the age of fourteen. She was the head of her own unit--beta team--until she realized all she believed and had been taught from an early age was a lie. After securing her base and debriefing all who work there, she and her fellow Citadel Levi are on a mission which will take them through the multiverse to find Ezra who holds the key to finding out exactly who the Roones are and what they want with Ryn's version of Earth. With the Quantum Operating Interdimensional Navigating System, QOINS for short, synchronized to find Ezra's quantum signature they set off. They know not what dangers they will encounter or how many jumps it will take to find Ezra, but God willing, they should end up in the same place. Hopefully sooner rather than later for time is of the essence.
This is the second book of The Rift Uprising Trilogy. In the first book we learned that an experiment into dark matter caused several gateways called Rifts to open around the Earth. Creatures and people crossed over into our world creating the need for the Rifts to be patrolled and guarded. Ryn is a seventeen year old Citadel, one of  several groups of children who were medically enhanced to make them into the perfect super soldiers. The enhancements were made with the help of a species known as Roones who passed through one of the Rifts shortly after they opened.

Ryn and Levi are attempting to travel through The Rift to find Ezra, whom Levi pushed through the Rift, and get some answers. He holds in his possession a computer with information on it from the Roones which they hope he can decode. They spend the majority of the novel jumping from one version of Earth to another looking for Ezra and information as to who the Roones are. As one would expect along the way they make friends, enemies, and allies. They also start finding answers and learning things that the Roones never wanted them to know. Things they find deeply disturbing.

While Ryn begins this adventure disliking Levi, things start to change as she finds herself constantly in situations which require the two to have each other's back. Keeping their distance from one another becomes, at times, impossible as going though The Rift sometimes throws them literally together. This creates dangerous situations for Ryn because of Levi's programming which causes violent reactions when he comes in contact with a person he finds himself attracted to.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. I liked the book, but frankly wish the whole love triangle going on had been toned down a notch. At this point I'm not sure I like either of Ryn's love interests. Maybe one of them will redeem themselves in the next novel? We'll have to wait and see. As for the main story line, it still has me hooked and was highly entertaining. There were plenty of twists, turns, action, and drama.  I look forward to seeing what will happen in the next and final book of the trilogy. I'm betting it's going to be something good.

The order of The Rift Uprising Trilogy:

The Rift Uprising (The Rift Uprising Trilogy #1) by Amy S. Foster

Title: The Rift Uprising: Book One of The Rift Uprising Trilogy
Classification: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: The Rift Uprising Trilogy (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 416 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager; Reprint edition (July 4, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062443135
ISBN-13: 978-0062443137
Author's Website:
Notes: I read a copy from my local library.

In 2005 a laboratory in Livermore, California attempting to understand the properties of dark matter conducted an experiment that resulted in the opening of a doorway to the Multiverse. Scientists deemed this portal to other versions of our world "The Rift", and within hours 13 more Rifts opened up around the world. Fearing mass panic, the global leaders of the world united to form an alliance  called ARC--the Allied Rift Coalition. It was meant to keep the Rifts from public knowledge. Soon beings from other multiverses began coming through the portals and ARC dealt with them. Then a month after the experiment took place, a group of beings known as Roones, a highly evolved humanoid species, came through the Rift and promised to help ARC deal with the Rifts.

With technology far surpassing our own, they implanted soldiers with chips said to make them exponentially stronger, smarter, faster, and more agile, but each of the initial test subjects died. Their mature minds, it was believed, couldn't handle the change. Instead of scrapping the chips, ARC agreed to test the chips on younger subjects, and unbeknownst to their parents, a group of children were implanted. These implants met with success. These children, and others after them, grew up to become the guardians between our world and those of the Rifts. They police The Rifts perimeters and are called Citadels.

Ryn Whittaker is a Citadel who's been training since she was fourteen. Now seventeen, she's the head of her own unit--beta team. She's never really questioned what she's been told about the Rifts, the chips implanted in her and her fellow Citadels, or the rather violent way they deal with those who pass through the Rifts into her world--that is until she strikes an unlikely and forbidden friendship with a boy who crosses over from an Earth similar to ours. He makes her see things she never noticed or questioned before...

This is her story.
This is the first novel of a trilogy which deals with the multiverse. I absolutely gobbled up the story in one sitting. It kept a fairly fast pace, was action packed, and kept me highly entertained.

Ryn is a natural tactician who thinks quickly on her feet and doesn't make sentimental decisions. She, like all her fellow Citadels, is extremely smart, strong, and agile. She's also well liked and a natural born leader. When she encounters Ezra she begins to question many things and he helps her find the answers or as many as they can find.

Ezra comes from an alternate Earth, but one that is similar to ours. He's a genius and his insight opens Ryn's eyes to what is going on, and makes her questions things she otherwise wouldn't. While I feel I know Ryn, I'm not sure I know all there is to know about Ezra. So far we've only seen how he acts on Ryn's Earth and I'm curious if we'll see another side of him once he gets home to his own world.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. I absolutely loved it. I liked the inner turmoil Ryn went through as she tries to comprehend that she may have been lied to in a thousand different ways over the years. I enjoyed the story, the characters, and the world Ms. Foster created. I look forward to finding out what happens next and how Ryn will deal with it all. This one's definitely going on my keeper shelf. Now I need to buy a copy. 
The order of The Rift Uprising Trilogy:

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Early Review of Wilde in Love (The Wildes of Lindow Castle, #1) by Eloisa James

Title: Wilde in Love: The Wildes of Lindow Castle
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Wildes of Lindow Castle
Format: Paperback; 416 pages
Publisher: Avon (October 31, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062389475
ISBN-13: 978-0062389473
Author's Website: 
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I am also an Avon Addict which means I love the books that Avon publishes enough to volunteer to read as many ARCs and books as they can send my way. So you'll be seeing a lot of books reviewed by me from this publisher. Please note, however, that if I don't like a book, it will be truthfully reflected by a low rating.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Five years ago Lord Alaric Wilde set out to explore the world. Each time he encountered a new or exotic place he wrote about the experience. Unbeknownst to him, over the years, he amassed quite a following--mainly of the female persuasion. So when he finally decided to set sail for home he finds himself swarmed, followed, and propositioned by adoring woman of all ages and walks of life. Adored by all but one--Miss Willa Ffynche--the only one who seems to hold him spellbound.

Willa and her best friend, Lavinia, ruled the ton during this past Season by acting precisely as they had discerned young gentlemen wished them to. They portrayed themselves as young ladies with spirit but docility, spice yet innocence. They came out of the Season with several marriage proposals each, but  as of yet had accepted none. While not quite sure what she is looking for, Willa knows exactly what she's not, and a man who has beautiful woman falling all over him is certainly not the type of husband she wishes to strap herself to. Yet there is something about Lord Alaric which she finds she can't ignore. Dare she take a chance and go against her better judgment?
This is the first book in a new series by Eloisa James and after finishing it, I'm definitely looking forward to reading all the forthcoming stories. This is a lighthearted and charming read that sort of takes a page from the crazed fans of today. It certainly made me speculate as to what kind of individual would cause such a stir during the time period this story takes place, and I wonder how the fans of that era would act. Eloisa James chose for her main character a rakishly dashing young author whose adventures have been romanticized, embellished, and fabricated by some unknown individual in the form of a play entitled, 'Wilde in Love'. Something Lord Alaric Wilde claims never to have been.

Alaric is smart, charming, and has been deliberately staying away from home so as not to have to admit his eldest brother, Horatius, is gone. Horatius died several years ago, and staying away is Alaric's coping mechanism. He's finally decided he needs to face reality and return home. The problem is, his reality has changed drastically because of his fame. Hope of having a normal life may be gone forever.

Willa is a private individual who isn't impressed by Alaric's fame or books. In fact, she's one of the few who has never read one of his novels. She loves reading, but her tastes tend to sway towards nonfiction. While Alaric insists his books are not fiction, the bits and pieces Willa's heard make her believe otherwise. So from the start she hates the fact he stirs something in her that no other man has been able to.

Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. It was a very charming, funny, sexy, and lighthearted read with a touch of drama thrown in for good measure. I liked the silliness associated with the play (it reminded me a touch of that silly book often quoted in Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series), the slow seduction of Willa by Alaric, and the antics of all of those around them. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned 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.

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