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.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Early Review of Killing Season (Killing Season #1-3) by Faye Kellerman

Title: Killing Season: A Thriller
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Crime
Format: Hardcover; 704 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (October 17, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062465937
ISBN-13: 978-0062465931
Author's Website:
Notes: I received and eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Three years ago the Vicksburg family experienced a loss no one should ever have to go through. They lost their oldest child, Ellen, to a brutal murder. Ellen was a pretty and popular girl whom everyone liked. She didn't do drugs, she didn't have a secret boyfriend, she got good grades, and stayed out of trouble. Her murder puzzled everyone. The family, understandably, took it hard, but her younger brother, by a year, Ben, perhaps took it the hardest. He vowed to find Ellen's killer and bring about justice. This is his story...
This is a serial read which means it's basically one book that is sold in three separate increments. I'm not a fan of serial reads because I once read one where the first two installments were awesome, but the last one made me hate the whole thing. Luckily, this is not that book. Also, the final and complete version, where all three sections are included, goes on sale this Tuesday. Yay!

I really enjoyed this story and hope it is the first of many involving Ben "Vicks" Vicksburg. I'd love for this to be the event which spurred him on to a career in crime fighting. Ben is a math whiz on a genius level who was enrolled in college calculus at the age of fourteen, the year his sister went missing. He has a knack for finding patterns and uses that skill to attempt to find his sister's killer. He feels that local law enforcement doesn't have enough resources to sufficiently dedicate to the finding his sister's murderer and he decides to take matters into his own hands. He does so by routinely combing through newspapers and searching the Internet for cases similar to his sister's attempting to find a link. He believes at least one other murder was committed by the person who killed his sister. That girl's body, however, has never been found and without some hard evidence linking the two cases detective Shanks, the officer assigned to Ellen's case, is unconvinced the two are related.

Since his sister's death, Ben, a once popular student, has become a recluse. He keeps to himself and spends his free time searching for clues to his sister's murderer. When he strikes up a friendship with Ro and confides in her what he's been up to for the past three years the two work together to solve the murder. Ro lost her sister to cancer around the same time Ben lost his and in some ways helping to solve Ben's sister's death is therapeutic for her. It's also beneficial for Ben because she slowly drags him out of his self imposed isolation.

I ended up giving this story 4 out of 5 roses. I enjoyed watching Ben and Ro slowly unravel the mystery behind his sister's death. I loved the underlying layers that needed to be delicately peeled back before everything could fall into place. I liked the suspense, twists, turns, roadblocks, and moments of 'Eureka!' when certain things were finally figured out. The only thing I didn't like was how the relationship between Ben and Ro quickly and rather epically spiraled downward at one point. I don't want to get into specifics, but it took away a little of the magic of the book for me. I really liked Ben and his dedication to his sister, and would truly hate to see this character get left behind never to be seen again. I implore the author to consider making him a permanent character in a series either as the lead detective or as a secondary character considered to be an expert in some field of criminology. I can't recall ever seeing a series begin with what inspired someone to become who they are later in life. I think this would be a unique and fun way to do so. It definitely would endear me to the character and get me hooked.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Early Review of The Tiger’s Daughter (Their Bright Ascendency #1) by K. Arsenault Rivera

Title: The Tiger's Daughter
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Their Bright Ascendency (Book 1)
Format: Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Tor Books (October 3, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0765392534
ISBN-13: 978-0765392534
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan of the book in exchange for an honest review.

For years the Hokkaran empire has been encroached upon by invading demons. Qorin warrior, Barsalayaa Shefali, and empress, O-Shizuka may be the empire's only hope for survival. Born a month apart, they are rumored to be descended from the gods, and fated to be friends due to an Omen which presented itself in the form of two pine needles which rested upon each of the girls' forehead between their eyes shortly after their births. Their mothers were fierce warriors who bridged the gap between their cultures with their friendship. Shelfali and O-Shizuka's skills in warfare are believed to rival or surpass those of their mothers'.

This is their story as written in a love letter from one woman to the other.
The world that Ms. Rivera portrays is rich, beautiful, dangerous, and deadly. The tales told within were wonderful. The characters were interesting, diverse, and formidable. I probably would have loved the book if not for two very big things.

Firstly, I hated the letter format. This was a HUGE book with probably less than 1, at most, 2% of it written outside of this one huge letter. The first and last chapters and one, possibly two, other places jumped out of letter format to put us in the present time period that the book is set in. This, in my humble opinion, was a mistake because it keeps the reader from engaging with the story. It keeps us as outsiders looking in. There were several points where this drove me completely bonkers, and I had to disengage myself from the book. I just couldn't take it any more. We only get a one dimensional view and that just didn't work for me. There were letters written within the main letter which I'm guessing was the author's way of trying to get around the one dimensional viewpoint, but for me it was too much.

Secondly, I don't care what type of romance a book has, but if you are making the center of the book a love letter then you really need to kick infidelity to the curb. If you don't it isn't love because, in my humble opinion, unless you mistakenly think someone is dead, there was an official break-up, or the like, there's really no excuse. Especially when the transgressor isn't sorry and tries to justify it. Granted, there was an eight year separation, but for me you've automatically issued the kiss of death. So as a romance, at least for me, this one failed. Luckily, the main genre for this novel is fantasy. In fact, I didn't realize this one had a lesbian love story in it until about the forty percent mark. At that point there's really no mistaking it because a love scene is reminisced about. So while this one fails, in my humble opinion, as a love story, the fantasy portion is pretty enjoyable.

I really liked Shelfali, and how she had the ability to see the demons when no one else could. I felt her frustration at trying to convince others who did not believe in her ability that she had it, especially when it manifested at such an early age. The demons seemed like a more conscious version of zombies who could infect those around them if they came in contact with their blood. I particularly loved the tale of Shefali and O-Shizuka slaying a tiger at the tender age of eight and earning their names. Yet after all the tales and stories about these two friends, I didn't particularly care for O-Shizuka. Perhaps this is another result of the book's narrative for I really didn't feel I knew her.

Overall, I'm giving this one 2 1/2 out of 5 roses. I keep going back and forth between giving it 2 or 3 roses, but a 2 seems too low while a 3 seems too high. The author has a truly wonderful and creative imagination. I really liked the tales told within the letter, but this was a really long letter, and the second person narrative didn't draw me in. I don't mind stories with letters inside them, but making almost the whole book into a letter sadly didn't work for me.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Early Review of The Bloodprint (The Khorasan Archives #1) by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Title: The Bloodprint (The Khorasan Archives)
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Khorasan Archives (Book 1)
Format: Paperback; 448 pages
Publisher: Harper Voyager (October 3, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062459198
ISBN-13: 978-0062459190
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC loan of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes used will need to be checked against the final version as they are subject to change.

'There is no one but the One. And so the One commands...'

The land of Khorasan is slowly being overtaken piece by piece by a powerful and volatile group known as the Talisman. They are led by a man known as the One-Eyed Preacher.

'We live in the age of secrets and fear.
We live in the age of Ignorance.'

They began their campaign by taking control of the country's food supply by pillaging and razing villages, fields, libraries, etc. Then they started creating shortages. Finally, they determined who would live and who would die by controlling who would eat and who would starve.

'These were the days of the Talisman fist.
The fist that crushed everything to dust.'

Rumor has it that verses from the Bloodprint, the oldest written compilation of the Claim, is being sold letter by letter. The Claim is a magical text written in an ancient language whose verses, when spoken, have the power to make things happen. It's from the Claim that the Companions of Hira, a diverse group of talented and respected woman, gain their power. Arian, the First Oralist, knows more verses then anyone else as the verses of the ancient text have been passed down through the generations in her family. The actual text, however, hasn't been seen by human eyes for centuries leading some to believe it doesn't exist.

While the Talisman have left the Companions of Hira alone so far, it is only a matter of time before they will focus their attention on them. Women have been the victims of horrendous injustices at the hands of the Talisman. Any found to be unchaperoned are being sold into slavery.

Each of the Companions will be given a task/Audacy to preform. Arian has just been given hers...

"You will seek out the Bloodprint, where it may lead you. You alone have knowledge of its language, You alone can confirm its identity. And you will bring it to Hira."

This is the story of her Audacy.
I absolutely adored this story, but at the end, I was left with more questions than answers, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Ms. Khan has created a complex and intricate world that I have no doubt was fully conceived and formed in her mind, but is not so easy for us, the readers, to comprehend at first. I highly recommend reading the synopsis before starting in on this one. Coming into the story I felt a little lost and wondered if this could possibly be the second book of the series. Alas, it is not there is just a lot to take in and the author doesn't rely on info dumps to get us up to speed. We need to patiently wait for the bits and pieces of information to be dispensed as the story and world slowly unfolds before our very eyes.

From what I can gather, the Claim is a little like the Force in Star Wars, but also very different. It appears to interact with Arian which makes me want to equate her to a Jedi. Yet, I'm unsure if that's because she can read and speak its language or if there is another reason. As not everyone knows the language of the Bloodprint, it's unclear if only a select few can wield its power or if anyone who can speak its verses can invoke its power. At one point someone declares, "The Claim is powerful within her."  Whether this is because she knows so many of its verses or because she's sort of bonded with the Claim is unclear. Then there's the little matter of what happens towards the end. I don't want to give too much away, but it made me wonder if I needed to rethink all I thought I knew. Most likely I do.

What draws the reader into this book is the journey, or rather the Audacy (I assume the author made this word sound like oddessy on purpose), are all the trials and tribulations Arian and her fellow Companion, Sinnia, must face. Their mission is secret, and they must rely on their knowledge of ancient legends to get them to where they need to go and to carry out their mission. Hidden cities and pathways must be found, and puzzles and riddles must be solved before the Bloodprint can ultimately be found and retrieved.

There is a lot going on to capture one's interest and imagination in this one. At one point the High Companion announced, "A task will be assigned to each of you [Companions], and you will each fulfill your duty." It's unclear if the series will take up exactly where this one left off--with Arian as the main protagonist--or if in the next book a different Companion of Hira will take on another Audacy and be its focus. Either way, I'm hopefully we'll learn more of the inner workings of the Companions and the Claim.

To add a little intrigue into the mix, there is some question as to whether Ilea, the High Companion who heads the Council of Companions, can be trusted. She confides in no one and sends each of the Companions on secret missions for which they are sworn not to talk to any of the others about. Perhaps like the Jedi Masters who had good reasons to keep things from Anakin Skywalker, Ilea, herself, has a good reason to keep things from her fellow Companions. There is a chapter breaks from the rest and focuses primarily on Ilea. In it she states, "She [Arian] thinks she's been fighting a war, but she doesn't know the war has yet to begin," and "She knows nothing of the deeper forces at play." We'll have to wait and see whether Ilea is trustworthy or not, but she definitely has an agenda, the question what exactly is it?

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. It captured my attention and kept me on my toes all while maintaining a fast pace. With secrets and hidden danger lurking around every corner, this one was an action-packed magical thrill ride of a read full of twists and turns. While it does throw a lot at you before you fully know what's going on, this is one instance where patience totally pays off. I recommend you read the synopsis, make  note of the glossary (in case you need some help), and  hold on tight. You're in for a real treat. I look forward to reading the next book in the series and seeing where this story takes us. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a SMILE rating--a lady always tries to be polite so a smile should suffice (ie no heat whatsoever)  While there is definitely something brewing between Arian and the Silver Mage, Arian refuses to act upon it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Early Review of A Daring Arrangement (The Four Hundred, #1) by Joanna Shupe

Title: A Daring Arrangement: The Four Hundred Series
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Four Hundred
Format: Paperback; 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (October 31, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062678892
ISBN-13: 978-0062678898
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an ARC 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.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
She wants to find the most outrageous fiance so her father will ship her back to England.
He wants entrance into New York's polite society.
The plan is simple--they will pretend to be engaged until they each get what they desire.
Everything goes according to plan until a crazy little thing called love gets in the way...
This is the first book I've read by Ms. Shupe and I loved how refreshing it was. I don't think I've read a romance book that delved into the Gilded Age when America was first coming into its own. Lady Honora Parker is the only child of an Earl and he's shipped her to America in hopes she'll find a suitable husband after she botched up her chances in England. She, however, has plans to get back to the young painter who stole her heart. Her scheme is to make a deal with the most inappropriate suitor she can find in hopes her father will ship her back to England. Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, depending on how you look at it, the man she picks ends up being much more than she ever expected.

Julius Hatcher is one of the richest self made men in New York. He's also comes with quite a scandalous reputation for being the "scourge on everything decent and upstanding in the city." He brashly spends outrageous sums of money on parties that are over the top and other equally frivolous things. He's handsome as sin and the gossip pages have printed many a story about his sordid affairs over the years. At face value he seems the perfect man to fill Nora's plan, but there's more to Julius than meets the eye. Plus, he has his own secret agenda.

Lady Honora 'Nora' Parker was young and desperate for attention when a young man hired to paint her portrait took advantage of her. She thinks herself worldly, but she's rather naive when it come to the opposite sex. She fancies herself in love, but doesn't know the first thing about it. Julius is nothing like anyone she's ever met. He believes in working hard and playing hard. He's also smart as they come and in Nora, he'll meet his match. For while she may at times seem irresponsible and impulsive, there's hidden depths to her character that he'll slowly begin to discover and come to admire.

Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. I love the time period and location that this story is set in, and hope the rest of the series follows suit. It's a time when huge fortunes were amassed in a short period of time. A time when the American dream was more attainable then any other time, but corruption was rampant. It was a fun, sweet, and charming romance that made me shake my head, laugh, and grin while keeping me glued to its pages. I adored watching these two fall in love. 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.

Notes to keep you in the know:
The inspiration for one scene is this book came from the above picture of a party on horseback given by C. K. G. Billings in Sherry's ballroom, New York City, on March 28, 1903. The source of the photo is the Washington Post which published it on page 1 January 25, 1914. The Photo was take by Byron Company and is now part of the public domain.

Release Day Review of The Duke (Devil's Duke, #3) by Katharine Ashe

Title: The Duke: A Devil's Duke Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Devil's Duke (Book 3)
Format: Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Avon (September 26, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062641727
ISBN-13: 978-0062641724
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.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Once upon a time there was a young girl who dreamt up her perfect man, and when she grew up she found him only to discover he was a frog in disguise. Luckily, a man she thought to be a frog turned out to be a prince, er, duke, among men. This is their story.
This is the third book in the Devil's Duke series. It can be read as a standalone and you won't feel you missed anything. It is a rather unconventional romance because when Gabriel first meets Lady Amarantha Vale she's engaged to marry someone else. It will be another five years before they get their shot at a happily-ever-after.

I absolutely loved the relationship between Gabriel and Amarantha, but it took quite some time for these two to finally get together. Amarantha's first marriage was not a happy one and it left her not wishing to remarry. Gabriel still harbors bad feelings for Amarantha because she didn't wait for him. Then there was the little matter of Gabriel's cousin, Jonah, and what he did. If someone had done something like that to me I'd be furious with them. Yet Gabriel and Amarantha just sort of let bygones be bygones. I was rather surprised by this.

When we're first introduced to Amarantha she's young and optimistic about life. She wants to save the world and isn't afraid of hard work or about getting her hands dirty. Meeting Gabriel throws her for a loop. She, in turn, throws Gabriel for one too.

Gabriel has done things he isn't proud of. Amaratha makes him want to be a better man. I like how at the end we see just how profound an effect she's had on his life since their first meeting. After all she's gone through, Amarantha needs for Gabriel to prove himself to her. He does so with flying colors, but Amarantha's trust doesn't come easily. Too much has happened and she's a bit stubborn.

Overall, I gave this one 3 1/2 out of 5 roses. There was a whole lot of chemistry going on between Gabriel and Amarantha and I loved watching these two interact. While I felt there were was one too many hurdles in this couple's path, I enjoyed the story. The ending had a huge twist that kind of snuck up on me. There was so much going on that I hadn't foreseen, and I may need to go back and reread parts to find all the bread crumbs. 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.

Order of the Devil's Duke series:

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Early Review of Chasing Christmas Eve (Heartbreaker Bay, #4) by Jill Shalvis

Title: Chasing Christmas Eve: A Heartbreaker Bay Novel
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Heartbreaker Bay
Format: Hardcover; 272 pages
Publisher: Avon (September 26, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0062697218
ISBN-13: 978-0062697219
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.

Due to the fact that I read an ARC, any quotes will need to be checked against the final version as Advance Reader Copies are subject to change. 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Once upon a time a twenty-eight year old author lost her writing mojo so she decided to runaway from it all--her family, her publisher, her commitments--but nothing seemed to go the way she planned. She wanted to go to Aruba, Jamaica, or someplace exotic, but a late season hurricane kept that from happening. Then as she was going through security they took one look at her research material and lets just say homeland security was not too happy with her. Colbie had a lot of explaining to do. Finally, upon reaching her destination, she threw in the towel and told the cab driver to "surprise me" as that was what had been happening to her all day. She ended up in a place called Cow Hollow and immediately, or pretty close, got knocked into a fountain. Everything that possibly could go wrong did and then she met him and her luck seemed to change.

Sometimes in life you need to stop fighting the current and let it take you where it may.
This was a cute, sweet, funny, and sexy read, but what else would you expect from author Jill Shalvis? This was the fourth book in the Heartbreaker Bay series and this may be my favorite of the bunch. This one could be read as a standalone, but you'll enjoy the story more if you know the people surrounding the couple, so you may want to check out the previous books in the series first.

Colbie Albright is a smart young author whose first book is about to become a movie. She's a little leery of people and decides to keep her identity under wraps so when Spence assumes she hasn't yet published a book, she doesn't correct him. Ironically, she's not the only one who doesn't want her identity revealed.

Spencer Baldwin is young, rich, and smart as they come. He also has just been named one of San Francisco's most eligible bachelors. Since then he's been having women throw themselves at him, sending him gifts and naked pictures and making marriage proposals. His friends are very protective of him so they won't tell Colbie exactly who he is and Spence isn't about to volunteer the information. Since Colbie confesses she's just in town for a few weeks, he lets his guard down with her and, she in turn, lets hers down as well.

I gave this one 5 out of 5 roses. I loved how Colbie and Spencer were both private and passionate people who understood one another. They are both fiercely loyal and each has been a bit overly obsessive about their work in the past. I love how Colbie is able to distract Spencer from his work and how Spencer is able to make Colbie realize she sometimes needs to put herself first. The two seem to counterbalance one another and you could just picture them growing old and gray together. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, 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.

Order of the Hearbreaker Bay series:

Friday, September 22, 2017

Early Review of Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben

Title: Don't Let Go
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Format: Hardcover; 368 pages
Publisher: Dutton (September 26, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0525955119
ISBN-13: 978-0525955115
Author's Website:
Notes: I received an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Fifteen years ago Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas' twin brother Leo and Leo's girlfriend Diana, were tragically killed in a accident on the train tracks in Westbridge. No one knows exactly what happened--if they were in the middle of a game of chicken with the train that went terrible wrong, if they committed suicide, or if they were the victims of some seriously bad luck--all anyone truly knows is that they died way too young. Now, years later, the tragedy is being called into question as one of the couple's former classmate and friend is found murdered and another, who's been missing since shortly after the accident, becomes the prime suspect. As the killings of Leo's and Diana's former classmates/friends start to stack up, a connection between the tragedy and murders seems the most likely scenario leaving Nap to wonder what really happened on the night his life change irrevocably all those many years ago?
Harlan Coben is one of the few authors that can keep me guessing right up until the end as to who dunnit. His books are like a fusion of 3-D jigsaw puzzles with a series of connect the dots. You can't solve the puzzle until you've separated the information into groups, connected all the dots within each grouping, and have stacked all the relevant information in order before piecing together what ultimately happened. He also doesn't disclose one important piece of information until the very end which can ultimately make all the pieces fit together or, if excluded, make all the carefully collected clues and information come tumbling down like a Jenga tower. In a nutshell, his thrillers are nail biters that keep you guessing till the bitter end while throwing you for a last minute loop that leaves you thinking, "Oh, so that's what happened." I personally love that.

Nap is a very likable character whose life changed drastically when his brother died. Letting go of loved ones is never easy, but losing a sibling makes you view your own mortality much more clearly, and reevaluate what is important in your own life. It's part of the reason Nap became a cop. He's a good cop, but he isn't above bending the rules when the rules don't seem to work. This could one day get him into trouble, but he just doesn't see it. As the investigation into Rex Canton's death seems to have more and more links and ties to his brother's death, it's as if an old wound that never truly healed has been reopened. He's still haunted by his brother's death and still talks to him, even though it's five years since his passing, which, I believe, is part of Nap's coping mechanism.

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. It captured and held my attention from the very start. I enjoyed the twists and turns, and the journey that led to the answer of what happened all those years ago. I admit I was totally off and was sad to find out what really happened. I liked how something Nap did years before is what ultimately led to the connection between the murders. I'd like to see more of this character, and find out how everything affected him in the long run. For fans of Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar series, Myron makes a small appearance in this one, but if you haven't read any of the books in that series, you won't feel lost. I highly recommend this one. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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