Snared by Jennifer Estep – Dual Review & Giveaway

Snared by Jennifer Estep – Dual Review & Giveaway


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Elemental Assassin series – Book #16
by Jennifer Estep
Release Date: April 25, 2017

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If you don’t know Gin “the Spider” Blanco, you don’t know dangerous female heroines.

Irony 101—The Spider herself snared in someone else’s web…

Another week, another few clues trickling in about the Circle, the mysterious group that supposedly runs the city’s underworld. Gathering intel on my hidden enemies is a painstaking process, but a more immediate mystery has popped up on my radar: a missing girl.

My search for the girl begins on the mean streets of Ashland, but with all the killers and crooks in this city, I’m not holding out much hope that she’s still alive.

A series of clues leads me down an increasingly dark, dangerous path, and I realize that the missing girl is really just the first thread in this web of evil. As an assassin, I’m used to facing down the worst of the worst, but nothing prepares me for this new, terrifying enemy—one who strikes from the shadows and is determined to make me the next victim.

Barb’s Review

Snared by Jennifer Estep is the 16th book in her fantastic Urban Fantasy Elemental Assassin series.  I always look forward to reading the next book in this series, as Jennifer Estep never fails to give us another fantastic exciting action packed story, which has one of the best kick-ass heroines in Gin Blanco (Spider). 

In Snared, Gin continues to research about the secret powerful group called the Circle, who was part of killing her mother years before.  When on a mission to find more information on one of the Circle leaders, she overhears something about her mother and her evil enemy Tucker, which upsets Gin, and pushes her to find out more.  But when Jade, one of Ashland’s gangland leaders, asks for help, Gin will step forward.  It seems that Jade’s younger sister is missing, and when Gin pulls her team (what an awesome group; Bria, Finn, Owen, Silvio, Sophia, Jo Jo, Xavier, etc), together they discover that a serial killer has been killing young blond haired girls. 

What follows is an exciting, mind blowing, pulse pounding mystery that will bring Gin right into the lion’s den, where clues will point to the serial killer somewhere within the circle.  As always with Gin Blanco, she is right in the middle of this wild adventure.  No one messes with Gin, and yet so many times they all try to kill her, and somehow our heroine always manages to suffer horrific injuries, and yet escape death.  Will she find Jade’s sister in time?  Will she learn the truth about her mother and her enemy, Tucker?

Reading this series, and spending time with Gin is always fun and enjoyable.  I love how tough and loyal Gin is, and no matter how much she suffers in each book, she still rises up for more.  We are always on the edge of our seats through each and every book.  Jennifer Estep is a master at creating a seamless flow into each story, and watching Gin evolve into such a great heroine.  As I noted earlier, the secondary characters that make up Gin’s team are great, and always fun to be with.  Her romance with Owen is just perfect and sweet, which always manages to release the tension in the story at the moment.

Snared was a wonderful  action filled addition to this series, which also gives us answers to some questions, as well as surprises that will have us waiting impatiently for the next book;  I cannot wait for more adventures of Gin Blanco. If you have not read the Elemental Assassin series, it is time for you to start now.


Sandy’s Review

SNARED is the sixteenth full-length installment in Jennifer Estep’s contemporary, adult ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN paranormal, urban fantasy series focusing on Gin Blanco aka The Spider –the reigning Queen of the paranormal Underworld of Ashland. SNARED can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty although I recommend reading the series in order for cohesion and backstory.

Told from first person point of view (Gin Blanco) using present day and memories (flashbacks) from the past SNARED follows Gin as she searches for the mysterious, underground group known as the Circle-a secret organization connected to the death of her parents and her beloved sister. A serial killer is on the loose in Ashland, and Gin and her family of supernatural investigators find themselves on the hunt for the person responsible leading Gin back to the Circle and their connections to the past. New details continue to emerge about Gin’s younger years, and her mother’s possible association with the Circle assassins.

Once again, there is a large ensemble cast of characters including Gin’s lover Owen, her sister Bria, and foster brother Finn, as well as Gin’s assistant /vampire Silvio Sanchez, Jo Jo and her sister Sophia, and an assortment of giants, dwarves, more elementals and vampires. Vampire Hugh Tucker returns and sets into motion a series events that are both deadly and revealing.

SNARED has moments of intrigue, mystery, action and suspense as Gin and her family of elementals search for answers from the present and the past. The action is limited; the violence not as graphic as in previous story line but that is not to say that the violence is non-existent. Gin Blanco, is after all an assassin, and as Queen of the Underworld there is always someone waiting to take down the woman in charge. The premise is engaging, revealing and spirited; the characters are colorful and energetic. Jennifer Estep’s ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN series is a magical and impassioned look at the world of the supernatural, and all of the evil brought together in a battle for power and control.

Copy supplied by Netgalley


Jennifer is graciously offering a paper copy of SNARED (Elemental Assassin #16) to TWO  (2) lucky commenters at The Reading Cafe:

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8. Giveaway runs from April 25 to 29, 2017







Dark Alpha’s Lover (Reapers #4) by Donna Grant-Review and Book Tour

DARK ALPHA’S LOVER (Reaper #4) by Donna Grant-Review and Book Tour


Reapers #4
by Donna Grant
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Genre: adult, contemporary, paranormal/fantasy, romance

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date April 18, 2017

There is no escaping a Reaper. I am an elite assassin, part of a brotherhood that only answers to Death. And when Death says your time is up, I am coming for you…

I answer to no one but Death. I am impenetrable, impervious, immortal. I exist to do Death’s bidding and no one–not Reaper nor human nor Fae–can stand in my way. Except for the bewitching half-Fae, Catriona. She swears the magic in her family passed her by, but I know better. This woman is strong. This woman is powerful. And when her abilities surge forth, no one will be able to stop the Dark Fae from coming for her. Except for me. I want to keep her close. I want to keep her safe. I want lose myself to her, again and again…


REVIEW: DARK ALPHA’S LOVER is the fourth installment in Donna Grant’s contemporary, adult REAPER paranormal/fantasy romance series. The REAPERS is a spin off from Donna’s DARK KINGS series which is a spinoff from Donna’s DARK WARRIOR series which in turn is a spin off from Donna’s DARK SWORD series- all set in the Highlands of Scotland. You do not have to have read any of the previous series to understand the premise but many of the events overlap with the events of the Dark Kings. This is Reaper Fintan, and half-fae/half human Catriona Hayes’s story line.

SOME BACKGROUND: The Reapers (believed to be a folk lore amongst the Fae) are a group of Dark and Light Fae, selected by Death (aka Erith), on their own deathbed, to do her bidding-Death is the judge and jury; the Reapers are the executioners. The Reapers are not harbingers of death, but are tasked with destroying the Light and Dark Fae who have crossed a line from which there is no return. All Reapers must follow two rules: never to fall in love; and never to reveal their existence to anyone. If you have read Donna’s DARK KINGS series you will recognize the familiarity between the two series as both follow a similar plot and premise including betrayal by one of their own.

Told from several third person perspectives DARK ALPHA’S LOVER follows Reaper Fintan as he is tasked with protecting and gathering information about the half-fae Catriona Hayes. Cat believes she has not been blessed with the gift of magic but circumstances begin to unfold that reveal more about Cat’s abilities than anyone could ever have imagined. Cat is being stalked by Bran- a former Reaper with revenge on his mind, revenge aimed at the Reapers and the woman known as Death. What ensues is the building but forbidden relationship between Fintan and Cat, and the discovery about the who and what of Bran’s plans for the Reapers he once called friends.

The relationship between Cat and Fintan is forbidden by Reaper law-a law that once saw the destruction of Bran’s lover-a death he has chosen to avenge at all costs. Fintan knows that to fall in love could mean death to the woman that calls to his heart but Death knows that the world is changing, and along with, so too, are the Reapers who do her bidding. The $ex scenes are limited, seductive and compelling.

There is a large ensemble cast of secondary and supporting characters including all seven of the current line of Reapers, as well as several individuals from some of Donna’s other connected series and story lines including a number of the Dark Kings including King Constantine, and Balladyn-one time Captain of the Queen’s Guard, a famed warrior in the Light Army, and now a member of the Dark. Balladyn’s purpose throughout both of the series is increasing in relevance along with the Light Fae Rhi.

DARK ALPHA’S LOVER is a story of family and love; betrayal and revenge; magic and power. The cross over between the Dark Kings and the Reaper’s series is revealing, and the connection between the two enemies may be closer than we think as both are avenging the loss of someone they loved. The premise is imaginative, revealing and engaging; the characters are dynamic and courageous; the romance is passionate. DARK ALPHA’S LOVER takes the reader closer to a supernatural war where everyone will lose, in the end.

Reading Order and Previous Reviews
Dark Alpha’s Claim
Dark Alpha’s Embrace
Dark Alpha’s Demand
Dark Alpha’s Lover

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy



Galway, Ireland
Nothing was ever as it seemed.
There were more than humans walking this earth. The things seen out of the corner of your eye were real, even if your mind refused to recognize—or accept—them.
But Catriona Hayes knew of their existence, even if she wished she didn’t. They were Fae. Magical creatures that were so beautiful they seemed otherworldly—because they were.
The Fae had come to this world, seamlessly integrating themselves into the lives of mortals. But then again, when it came to beings with magic, they could do such things.
Cat blew out a breath and put the day’s earnings in the pouch before placing it inside the safe and shutting the door. She straightened and looked through the windows of the café and across the street to the pub alight with merriment.
There was a bit of wistfulness within her when she spotted three women walking into the bar with bright smiles. She’d never been that carefree.
From the first moment she could remember, her family had kept her apart from others. It wasn’t until she was older that she realized what made her so different—she was a Halfling.
Part human, part Fae.
Some might rejoice at the news, but she wasn’t most people.
The first time her grandfather had told her of her heritage, she’d laughed, thinking it was a jest. But as they’d walked down the streets of Galway, he began pointing out the Fae.
That was the day her life changed. At eight years old, she’d felt the weight of the world drop upon her shoulders. The burden had nearly brought her to her knees. And it had lingered, growing heavier with each passing year.
Yet she remained standing beneath it all. Only because of her grandfather. The man who smiled in the midst of the many storms life threw his way. He was what kept her composed and mindful of the dangers of living near Fae.
While she had been fearful of her grandfather’s revelation, her older siblings had embraced it as a gift.
Cat looked down at the counter and the top that covered it. Beneath the thick glass, next to the register, was a picture of her with her brother and sister twenty years ago.
Whatever gift having Fae blood had given her siblings had been taken away in a cruel twist of Fate several months ago when they were savagely killed.
Her brother had been murdered in a crowded pub, while her sister had had her life snuffed out on a train to London. No one had seen either attack. One moment, her siblings had been alive. The next, they were dead. It was how Cat knew the Fae were responsible.
Only beings with magic and the ability to veil themselves could have committed such crimes without a single person catching something on their mobile phones.
Ever since her family’s deaths, she’d been waiting for the Fae to come for her.
What was taking them so long? She and her grandfather—who she kept locked safely away in his cottage where no Fae could enter—were the only ones left.
A flash of lightning pulled her from her thoughts and reminded her that she needed to get home. She started toward the front, turning off the lights as she went. Flipping the sign in the café window to CLOSED, she walked out the door and locked it.
When she faced the street once more, she gripped the handle of her purse and looked around at the people. She knew the Fae could use glamour to disguise themselves, though most preferred to remain beautiful. That made it easier to pick them out, but it did nothing to lessen Cat’s dread.
She remained in the doorway as a couple walked past her. The man said something to make the woman laugh. Cat’s heart caught because she couldn’t remember the last time she’d giggled like that—never mind actually being on a date.
Cat squared her shoulders and turned to the left. Her cottage was toward the outskirts of Galway. She couldn’t wait to get home where she could relax.
“Relax,” she snorted.
There was no such thing for her. While others brushed their cares away with a pint of ale and loud music, she would eat alone at her house and sleep with one eye open.
Being half-Fae had done nothing but make her life miserable. She’d gotten nothing else from it. Her sister, Nora, had been able to move objects with her mind. Her brother, Domhnall, could grow plants.
For some strange reason, magic had passed her over altogether. No matter how hard she tried, there didn’t seem to be a smidgen of magic within her.
Countless times, she’d asked her grandfather what she’d done to not have magic. He’d never quite answered her. In his usual way, he would tell a story about all the Halflings who lived without magic.
But she always suspected that he was keeping something from her.
No amount of conniving or posing the question different ways ever gave her another answer, though. With every year that passed, she was more and more sure that her grandfather was hiding something.
Cat tensed when she walked past a Fae talking to a mortal female. His silver eyes, black hair, and sex appeal were the biggest clues to what he was—Light Fae. At least, it wasn’t a Dark.
The Dark scared her the most with their red eyes. She shuddered just thinking about them.
She turned the corner and quickened her pace. Thunder rumbled the same time lightning zigzagged across the sky. More rain was on the way, but if she were lucky, she’d make it back to her cottage before it came.
Suddenly, she stopped. She didn’t know what had caught her attention, but something told her to go no farther. Her gaze roamed down the street as people milled about.
There was something in the air that draped over everything like a wet blanket. It took her a moment to realize what it was—fear. She looked at the humans and saw that none of them appeared to be affected.
Then she heard the footsteps coming, quickly. She saw the man running toward her and looking back over his shoulder. He passed beneath a streetlamp, and she saw his eyes—red.
But it was the terror on his face that surprised her. She hadn’t thought there was anything a Dark feared, but whatever was after this particular Fae must be frightening.
Her head told her to run, but her body refused to move. She remained where she was, even as a man appeared out of thin air in front of the Dark.
The Fae slid to a halt, his eyes wide. The man before him had long, white hair that was pulled away from his face by three small braids on each side of his head.
She had little time to process that before she saw the light glint off a blade. The sword sliced through the air and cut down the Dark, turning him to dust in an instant.
Shock reverberated through her as she involuntarily took a step back. What kind of weapon did he have that could kill a Fae?
Because she wanted one.
He took two steps away before he suddenly halted, his body stiffening. Then he gradually turned his head to look right at her. She couldn’t make out his face because of the shadows, but she knew he’d seen her.
And then, he disappeared.
She took another step back and hastily looked around, but there was no other sign of the white-haired man. Yet she knew she wasn’t alone.
He was there. She was sure of it. Just as she was sure the Fae would come for her soon.
Somehow, she managed to stand her ground. If she were going to die, she would do it with courage. Even if she was shaking. She wasn’t going to run, no matter how much she wanted to.
She felt something behind her a moment before the sound of footsteps reached her. Cat whirled around, ready to face the unknown stranger. But it was a Dark Fae who walked toward her.
“Shite,” she murmured and turned back around.
“Hiya, darlin’,” the Dark called. “What’s your hurry?”
She walked faster and said over her shoulder, “Long day.”
“Let me buy you a drink.”
“No, thanks.”
She waited for him to say more, and when he didn’t, she gave a sigh of relief. It wasn’t until she was in her cottage that she slumped against the door.
Another day gone.

Copyright © 2017 by Donna Grant and reprinted by permission of Swerve.



About The Author

donna_grant_newDonna Grant is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the sizzling Dark King series featuring dragons, immortal Highlanders, and the Fae.

She was born and raised in Texas but loves to travel. Her adventures have taken her throughout the United States as well as to Jamaica, Mexico, and Scotland. Growing up on the Texas/Louisiana border, Donna’s Cajun side of the family taught her the “spicy” side of life while her Texas roots gave her two-steppin’ and bareback riding.

Despite deadlines and voracious reading, Donna still manages to keep up with her two children, four cats, and one long haired Chihuahua.

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Red Sister by Mark Lawrence – Review & Giveaway

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence – Review & Giveaway


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Red Sister
Ancestor series – Book #1
by Mark Lawrence
Release Date: April 4, 2017

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I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…



Red Sister by Mark Lawrence is the first book in his new Ancestor series. When I started this book, I wasn’t sure what to expect, since some of the new fantasy books that I have read recently have been ok.  I am happy to say, I loved Red Sister. Wow, what a fantastic story line, equally fantastic characters and wonderful world building. 

In Red Sister, Nona Reeve is our young heroine, but there are a number of young girls that play major parts in this story.  The story starts with 8 year old Nona facing execution in the gallows, only to have a nun save her.  The Abbess Glass, who runs the Sweet Mercy Convent, manages to whisk Nona away and brings her to her convent, which is filled with young girls, who are novices in training.  Nona, who is a peasant, is at first uncomfortable surrounded by those who come from families, who can afford the Convent fees.  Why is Nona brought there, as she has no family and is still being sought out for murder?

The Nuns in the convent all have strange and magical abilities, and in each class the girls are trained how to use those abilities, such as weapons (knives, throwing stars), shadows, paths, poisons, spirituality, etc.   These trainings were unique, strange and very difficult; much time is spent on watching the girls learn from these nuns.  But early on, Nona will find two friends to trust, and eventually others will accept her, and they will form a wonderful group of friends.  I loved Nona, Ara, Clera and Hessa.  But the cloud over Nona’s head remains, as those who are determined to get Nona back to pay for her crime,(which was truly done in self defense), will stop at nothing to get her.  The Abbess will once again save her, at a horrible cost, but Nona, will have to find a way to use her untrained ability to win the battle.  We know that though she is saved, those villains will continue to haunt her for the rest of this story.

What follows is an intense, harrowing and exciting tale of a young girl, her friends and their growth to be more than they were destined to be; in a place where they are trained to become self sufficient, and learn to be deadly killers, if need be.  Nona will become a kick-ass heroine, who will need to use her anger to utilize some of her special Hunska blood that will help magically enhance her abilities.  Nona not only is tough, but her loyalty to her friends makes her special.  Some of the other girls will also learn from their training from their at times dark atmosphere, strange and tough teachers to be equally powerful.

The last half of the book upped the ante that left you holding your breath as Nona, and the girls faced danger & death defying situations.  They will also learn more about Nona, and her abilities as they struggle to survive. What a fantastic climax to a wonderful story.  There was an epilogue that has us waiting with bated breath for the next book in this series.   If you enjoy fantasy, in this unigue intriguing world, with a fabulous heroine and other wonderful characters, you must read Red Sister

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher


About The Author

Mark Lawrence

Mark Lawrence was born in Champagne-Urbanan, Illinois, to British parents but moved to the UK at the age of one. He went back to the US after taking a PhD in mathematics at Imperial College to work on a variety of research projects including the ‘Star Wars’ missile defence programme. Returning to the UK, he has worked mainly on image processing and decision/reasoning theory. He says he never had any ambition to be a writer so was very surprised when a half-hearted attempt to find an agent turned into a global publishing deal overnight. His first trilogy, THE BROKEN EMPIRE, has been universally acclaimed as a ground-breaking work of fantasy. Following The Broken Empire comes the bestselling RED QUEEN’S WAR trilogy. The BOOK OF THE ANCESTOR trilogy, in an entirely new setting, commences with RED SISTER in 2017. Mark is married, with four children, and lives in Bristol.




Mark Lawrence’s publisher is graciously offering a Hardcover copy of RED SISTER to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe

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The Unyielding (Call of Crows 3) by Shelly Laurenston – Dual Review

The Unyielding (Call of Crows 3) by Shelly Laurenston – Dual Review 


The Unyielding
Call of Crows series – Book #3
by Shelly Laurenston
Release Date: March 28, 2017

The Unyielding / / B&N / KOBO / BAM /

About the Book: Release Date March 28, 2017

Stieg Engstrom, Angriest Viking Ever, has got big problems. The human Viking Clans of earth are in danger of being obliterated—along with the rest of the world—and the only one who may be able to save them is a super pain-in-the-ass Crow. Most people annoy Stieg, but this is the one woman he really can’t stand…

Erin Amsel loves being a Crow! Why wouldn’t she when the other Viking Clans are so hilariously arrogant and humorless? She’s not about to let all that come to an end! She just didn’t expect to be shoulder to shoulder in battle with Stieg. Then again, he’s so easy to torment—and also kind of cute.

With the future of the world riding on them, Stieg knows he’ll have to put aside his desperate need to kiss the smirk right off Erin’s face. Wait. What? He didn’t mean that—did he? No! They have one goal: To conquer the idiots. Because nothing bugs Stieg more than when idiots win. If only he can keep himself from suddenly acting like one….


Barb’s Review:

The Unyielding by Shelly Laurenston is the 3rd book in her Call of Crows series.  This is a different type of series then Laurenston’s other two series that I read, but this one is equally as fun and wild crazy.  I love Shelly Laurenston; she is one author I can’t get enough of, as her humor has you laughing so often, even if it’s totally crazy.  Well in this case, I guess its fun to be crazy.  LOL

The Call of the Crows series takes place in a modern day Nordic world with Gods, Goddesses, Vikings, Crows, Ravens, and Protectors. As I have said before, every character is wild, vicious, and crazy; but so much fun. This was an exciting action filled story about the world possibly coming to end with Ragnarok near.  Whereas, much  of this series is centered around the Crows, in this story, all the clans,and their gods play big parts.

The Unyielding belongs to Erin Amsel, one of the Crows we know so well.  Erin is not liked by many, but she loves it that way; she is tough, obnoxious at times, enjoys being bitchy, but she is a great hardnosed warrior.  Kera and Jace have been working long hours to find a way to kill the evil Goddess Gullveig, who is indestructible, before she causes the Ragnarok that will kill all humans and destroy the world.  When all the clans meet, the conclusion is that Erin is the only one who can possible go into other realms and try to steal Sutr’s sword,which can kill Gullveig.  The only problem, the chance of survival is slim, especially since she has to steal it from a mighty Dragon. 

Erin is determined to save the world, even if she knows the odds are against her.   Steig Engstrom is our hero, and a Raven, who also hates Crows, and Erin.   But in a short time, Steig has been told to keep an eye on Erin, and keep her safe until she can go on the mission.  Along the way, he slowly begins to respect and fall for her.  It will be Steig, who will go with her to the forbidden lands, and they will help each other try to survive. 

The first half of the book, is about Erin and Steig getting into all kinds of situations, but it also is about all the clans trying to come up with a plan.  The last half is when everything is falling apart, for both the clans and Erin & Steig.  The fighting on both sides were amazing well done, really violent, but hysterical at times, which relieves the tension.  I can’t really tell too much more, since this is a difficult review to do, as despite all the tense action, great characters, bantering, and deathly situations, Laurenston has us laughing in between.  Now how can I write about those crazy people?  LOL  You really have to read it to fully understand.

Laurenston has created a fantastic paranormal fantasy world, with her leading characters totally nasty or wacky, and we love it all.  I will say the last third of the book had us unable to put the book down, and I loved the romance between two unlikely people, such as Erin and Stieg.  They were great together.  But then again, I loved Kera and Jace too, in the previous books. If you like fantasy, in a Norse mythology setting, filled with action, dangerous and crazy warriors or gods, and Laurenston’s unbelievable humor , then you need to start this series.   Lastly, Thank God I found you, Shelly Laurenston (Thanks, Sandy).

Sandy’s Review

THE UNYIELDING is the third installment in Shelly Laurenston’s contemporary, adult CALL OF CROWS fantasy/paranormal romance series based in Norse mythology. The continuing story focuses on the upcoming battle of Ragnarok and the end of the world as we know it. This is Viking warrior Stieg Engstrom, and Crow Erin Amsel’s story line. THE UNYIELDING can be read as a stand alone but for cohesion, enjoyment and backstory I recommend reading the series in order.

For more information about Ragnarok follow this link:

Told from several third person points of view THE UNYIELDING continues to focus on Norse mythology-the birth, life, death and rebirth cycles-including the destruction of everyone and everything, known as Ragnarok. With the resurrection of the goddess Gullveig, the end was fast approaching and Erin Amsel-crazy, manic, and most hated of the Crows (the warrior clan of the goddess Skuld)-is tasked with retrieving a magical weapon to destroy the goddess before H*ll comes to Earth. Enter Stieg Engstrom, Viking warrior, and the man with whom Erin will fall in love but not before our leading couple must survive the Nine Worlds and all of the dangers wrought within.

Shelly Laurenston’s THE UNYIELDING is a story of action, suspense, adventure, humor and a mythological apocalypse with sass, snark, the Viking Clans, shifters, dragons, gods, goddesses, elves, dwarfs, giants, Maids, rotting corpses, a rabid squirrel, a dog blessed by the gods, and a goat-yep, a goat. Laurenston’s ability to weave humor, playfulness and comedy into a tale is amazing. The whimsy, wit and charm of the back and forth banter is fabulous, unique, insane and energetic. For fans of Laurenston’s Pride and Pack series, as well as her DragonKin series (written as G.A.Aiken) the humor is familiar, entertaining and seductive. You can never go wrong with a story by Shelly Laurenston !

Previous Reviews and Reading Order
The Unleashing
The Undoing
The Unyielding

Copies provided by Publisher



The Black Lily (Tales of the Black Lily # 1) by Juliette Cross-Dual Review and Book Tour

THE BLACK LILY (Tales of the Black Lily #1) by Juliette Cross-dual review and book tour

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Tales of the Black Lily #1
by Juliette Cross
Genre: adult, paranormal, romance
Release Date: March 27, 2017

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Cinderella like you’ve never seen before…

With the threat of the vampire monarchy becoming stronger every day, the Black Lily must take drastic measures. As the leader of the underground resistance, Arabelle concocts the perfect idea to gain the attention of the Glass Tower. Her plan? Attend the vampire prince’s blood ball and kill him. Fortunately for Prince Marius, her assassination goes awry, and Arabelle flees, leaving behind only her dagger.

Marius is desperate to find the woman whose kiss turned into attempted murder, hunting for the mysterious assassin he can’t push out of his mind. But what he uncovers could change the course of his life forever…


SANDY’s REVIEW: THE BLACK LILY is the first installment in Juliette Cross’s TALES OF THE BLACK LILY adult, paranormal/fantasy series. This is one hundred year old vampire Prince Marius, and peasant girl Arabelle’s story line.

Told from dual third person perspectives (Arabelle and Marius) THE BLACK LILY follows the struggles of the human population; the underground movement setting up a coup to take down the royal vampire family-vampires who now threaten the lives of everyone they love. Enter peasant girl Arabelle, a young woman, head of a group known as The Black Lily, and a woman determined to rid the world of bloodsuckers-one vampire at a time starting with the youngest royal heir-Prince Marius. The time has come to select a new concubine for the royal Prince, and Arabelle is determined to seduce the Prince to his death. What ensues is the building romance between Arabelle and Prince Marius, and the search for the vampires responsible for taking too many lives.

THE BLACK LILY is the retelling of Cinderella only Cinderella’s happily ever after comes with a caveat-the Prince is a vampire, and a man who is desperate to make Arabelle his own. While Arabelle struggles with her attraction to a man she believes is killing her people, Marius searches for the truth and doesn’t like what he is about to find.

We are introduced to a large number of secondary and supporting characters including Marius’s best friend and vampire Nikolai; Marius’s parents the King and Queen of the vampires; Arabelle’s friends Deek and Mary, as well as our heroine’s evil ’step mother’ and two wicked ‘step sisters’. On the run Arabelle befriends a woman known as Sienna, whose connection to the wolves is magical and mysterious.

The world building looks at the prejudice between human and vampire; the potential eradication of the species; and a romance between a human and a vampire that pushes all of the boundaries for our leading couple.

THE BLACK LILY is an engaging, lively and spirited retelling of Cinderella. The premise is creative and electrifying; the characters are animated, colorful and passionate; the romance is fated and uplifting. THE BLACK LILY is a wondrous start to a new series that will leave you breathless and wanting more.

Reviewed by Sandy


Barb’s Review:
The Black Lily by Juliette Cross is the first book in her new Tales of the Black Lily series.  I have been a big fan of Juliette Cross, since I started reading her Nightwing series; her stories are always captivating, exciting, adventurous, sexy and pure fun to read.  The Black Lily is no different and after I finished this book, Juliette Cross once again rises up on my list of books and authors I MUST read.  I loved loved The Black Lily; it was a fantastic ride from start to finish, with a couple that blew us away with so much chemistry.  Now for my review.  🙂

The Black Lily has a slight take on the Cinderella fairytale, but it is nothing like it.   Arabelle, our heroine, lives as a peasant, with a woman and two daughters, who treat her miserably.  But Arabelle is the leader of The Black Lily underground resistance that is trying to rebel against the vampire kingdom that rules the Glass Tower.  Humans are dying, having been found murdered and drained blood dry. Arabelle devises a plan to kill the Prince, at the upcoming ball, in order to make the King and Queen listen to their grievances. 

Prince Marius, our hero, dreads going to the ball, but he needs to pick a woman who will become his next blood concubine; especially in a matter of days he will be getting married to a princess he has never met.  At the ball, he becomes mesmerized by a beautiful young woman dressed in Gold, and after a dance, he whisks her away for a tour of the Glass Tower.  He finds her irresistible, and when he makes advances on her, which she encourages,  Marious is shocked when she plunges a knife to his chest. 

Arrabelle, thinking she killed her target, manages to escape, but leaving behind a gold pointed knife (no there is no slipper here).  Marius, after he drinks blood and is healed, goes with his best friend, Nikolai to search for the woman who has a tattoo on her shoulder. During the search, he will notice the fear in the folks in town, as well as those working at the Tower.  Marius will also discover that the missing servant in the house is the one he is looking for, but sees the condition of how she lives.  This will open his eyes as to the conditions that surround the lands his family runs, which was not as he was led to believe.  After a few times of catching up with Arrabelle, Marius knows she is a handful, but she is a handful he cannot resist.  Arrabelle, despite thinking Marius as the enemy is also unable to resist his charms.  Arrabelle will begin to trust Marius, and tell him about the murders, forcing him to investigate with Nicolai to find out what is happening behind the scenes. Marius knows he loves Arrabelle, and knows he must do everything in his power to protect her against his mother and father’s determination to have her killed. 

What follows is a fantastic exciting story that will have you either on the edge of your seat or swooning over their hot sexy romance.  Arrabelle was such a wonderful heroine, strong, beautiful, and determined to fight for her friends.  Marius was not only a great hero, but also very charming and sexy; and they were so good together.  The wildly exciting climax was so tense, suspenseful, with non-stop action, that we were left breathless.  I also want to point out that I loved two of the secondary characters; Sienna and her wolves; as well as Nicolai. The Black Lily was such an amazing book, as well as steamy, and  very well written by Cross.  Bravo to Juliette Cross for giving another sensational new series.  I cannot wait for the next book.

Reviewed by Barb


Copy supplied for review.

The Black Lily Teaser 2




Standing, he summoned her with a hand.
“Come. Get out of the pool.”
Her mouth dropped. “I’m not getting out of here with you standing there. I’m…I’m naked.”
“Of which I’m well aware.” His voice dropped low and deep. “Come out.”
“Then I’ll come in after you.”
He took one step. She splashed backward.
“All right!” She huffed. “Turn around.”
He shook his head, unable to keep a smile from his face. “Not on your life. I’m not letting you out of my sight.”
“You expect me to—”
“Yes. I do. Now, come out.”
She snapped her mouth shut. Flustered, her pale cheeks flushed pink. Marius was thankful for his vampire eyesight to see the pretty blush crawl up her neck. What he wouldn’t do to chase that path with his mouth.
Arabelle’s expression shifted, her brow smoothing, eyes narrowing, lips parting. She slowed her breathing and uncrossed her arms, standing with poise from the water, revealing the sensual gifts nature had given her. Marius swallowed hard, but his mouth had gone dry. Thirsty. He was so thirsty.
She moved unhurriedly through the water into the shallows, emerging like a goddess who knew her power. Marius actually stepped backward as she stood on the ledge in front of him—completely bare and utterly beautiful.
“I’m here now, Your Highness. What will you do with me?”


About The Author

Juliette Cross Juliette calls lush, moss-laden Louisiana home where the landscape curls into her imagination, creating mystical settings for her stories. She has a B.A. in creative writing from Louisiana State University, a M.Ed. in gifted education, and was privileged to study under the award-winning author Ernest J. Gaines in grad school. Her love of mythology, legends, and art serve as constant inspiration for her works. From the moment she read JANE EYRE as a teenager, she fell in love with the Gothic romance–brooding characters, mysterious settings, persevering heroines, and dark, sexy heroes. Even then, she not only longed to read more novels set in Gothic worlds, she wanted to create her own.

Juliette is a multi-published author, including her Nightwing series with Kensington Publishing and The Vessel Trilogy with Samhain Publishing.

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Gods of the Flame Sea by Jean Johnson – a Review

Gods of the Flame Sea by Jean Johnson – a Review


Gods of the Flame SeaAmazon / B&N / BAM

The Fae Rii and their descendants encounter another universe-hopping race, the Efrijt. But where the Fair Traders are after just that, fair trade with other worlds, the Efrijt are after whatever they can get, and the two sides must fight to establish a peace between their clashing interests, or the native humans may end up crushed between them.




Gods of the Flame Sea is the 3rd book in Jean Johnson’s Flame Sea fantasy series. Here is a brief refresher of this series: a group of Fae’s known as Fae Rii, arrived  many many years ago and helped create the lands for them and humans who joined them to be habitual.   Over the years the land now called Flame Sea has advanced into a wonderful community for all, including many Fae/Human inter species children.  In the last book we learned more about another species, Efrijt, who live in another land, mining for Mercury, which they need to survive.  Both Flame Sea and the Efrijts keep their distance, but have formed laws to keep a hostile peace.

 Ban, one of the original Fae Rii, spends time with the young mixed race (Fae/Human) children to train them to fight.  Udrin is one of the students, and even Ban has noticed some changes in him, especially his arrogance.  We spent a few chapters in the beginning watching Udrin, who is mixed race between Fae and Efrijt, eat Mercury and steal anima (magic) from others, as well as create little strange creatures.  In a short time, Udrin’s powers grow, as does his insanity. 

What follows is an interesting and exciting storyline, where the Fae and humans begin to see Udrin’s instability, and how dangerous he has become.  Once he hurts one of the female Fae’s, almost to the death, they know they have to do something to stop him. Jintaya , who is the leader,  and many of the Fae team, do everything they can to try to stop Udrin, who continues to become more powerful than even they are.  Rather than tell too much more, it would be spoilers, but the race is on to find a way to stop Udrin, including getting help from the Efrit’s. 

Jean Johnson has written a very nice story that continues the flow of this world building.  I will say that the first few chapters were very slow, when we watched the making of Udrin.  But a third of the way in everything became very exciting, and interesting to see what they will do to try and stop him.   I was under the impression this was a trilogy, but I felt this was sort of left open for a return to the Flame Sea. If you enjoy Sci-Fi fantasy, I am sure you will enjoy this series.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher


Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop – Review, Interview & Giveaway

Etched in Bone  by Anne Bishop – Review, Interview & Giveaway


Etched in Bone Banner 2

Etched in Bone
The Others series – Book #5
by Anne Bishop
Release Date: March 7, 2017

Etched in BoneAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

After a human uprising was brutally put down by the Elders—a primitive and lethal form of the Others—the few cities left under human control are far-flung. And the people within them now know to fear the no-man’s-land beyond their borders—and the darkness…

As some communities struggle to rebuild, Lakeside Courtyard has emerged relatively unscathed, though Simon Wolfgard, its wolf shifter leader, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn must work with the human pack to maintain the fragile peace. But all their efforts are threatened when Lieutenant Montgomery’s shady brother arrives, looking for a free ride and easy pickings.

With the humans on guard against one of their own, tensions rise, drawing the attention of the Elders, who are curious about the effect such an insignificant predator can have on a pack. But Meg knows the dangers, for she has seen in the cards how it will all end—with her standing beside a grave.



Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop is the 5th book in her wonderful The Others series.  Anne Bishop is one of the authors that are always on the top of my list.  She never ever fails in giving us another fantastic story in each of everyone of her series.   Etched in Bone ends the Meg/Simon story arc, and it was a fabulous and exciting ending.  I know Anne will continue The Others world in a different arc that will come next year, but I will miss the wonderful characters in Lakeside.

At the end of the last book (Marked in Flesh), the feared Elders (old time powerful  Others) and Elementals eliminated the humans who plotted and brutally killed many of the terra indigene (the Others) throughout the world.  A refresher:  The Others are non humans, such as wolves, crows, vampires, elementals, grizzlies, etc), who control most of the world. The series revolves around Meg Corbyn, a human, who is also a blood prophet. Since Meg has arrived in Lakeside Courtyard, the terra indigene have protected her and learned to change their ways to live with humans.

In Etched in Bone. Lakeside and other communities, who have survived the mass destruction work toward returning things to normal.  Bishop does a wonderful job allowing us to see how Meg has helped changed both human and others perspectives.  The police play a big part in this story, with Monty in the middle, since his brother has come to live in Lakeside.  Jimmy Montgomery is bad to the bone, and upon arrival has expected to live freely, taking whatever he wants; but soon, the Others begin to see that he is trouble.  When Simon and his group want to evict Jimmy immediately, they are stopped by two Elders, who want to learn more how humans and the others get along; they want to see how Jimmy is different than other humans.

Jimmy was one of those nasty people who will use his own family to benefit him.  A few of times during the story, he plots to take what doesn’t belong to him, and even with the dire result on the first attempt, he continues to plot again.  Monty and Twyla (their mother) have to separate themselves from him, so not to be in the middle of the eventual fallout; and throughout the story, we kept hoping for nasty Jimmy to be thrown out of Lakeside. 

The last third of the book was extremely exciting, with pulse pounding action that had us on the edge of our seat.  Meg’s life was in danger, and they all knew, if anything happens to our Meg, poor Simon would leave Lakeside heartbroken.  It will take the police, the Elders and the rest of the terra indigene to work together to try and save Meg. Will Meg survive? Will Simon and Meg finally find a way to be together?

What I loved the most about Etched in Bone was spending time, and probably our last with these wonderful fantastic characters Anne Bishop has given us….Meg, Simon, Vlad, Tess, Sam, Nathan, Henry, Merri Lee, Monty, Burke,Skippy, &  the Elementals, just to name a few. I for one will sorely miss them .  I also love that Anne has given us a satisfactory conclusion to Simon & Meg (and Sam).  Bravo Anne Bishop for another fantastic book, and series that no one should miss.  I wholly recommend you read The Others series by starting with the first book, Written in Red. 

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher



Anne Bishop photo


Hi, Anne.  We are excited to have you back with us again at The Reading Cafe, to discuss your new release “Etched in Bone”, as well as to give us an update as to what else you may be working on. 



TRC:  For those of our members who have not read this series, can you please give us a description of the premise of The Others

Anne: The Others novels take place on an alternate Earth where the earth natives, the supernatural beings known as the Others, have always been the dominant predators, evolving with the world. Humans, while inventive and clever, are nowhere near the top of the food chain and have to deal with the Others for all the natural resources they need. The appearance of Meg Corbyn, a blood prophet who has run away from her controller, adds to the ever-present tension between species in the city of Lakeside. Meg’s presence is the pebble that starts the avalanche of changes in Lakeside, and the question, more and more, becomes who is going to survive those changes.

TRC:  Etched in Bone is being released tomorrow.  Can you please give us a brief description of the book?

Anne:  It’s the post-war story. Communication between regions is broken, so no one really knows how many human cities and towns in Thaisia still exist. Thanks to Simon, Meg, and Monty, Lakeside is in pretty good shape, but there is a sense of isolation and uncertainty. And the thinning of the human herd isn’t done. Two Elders return to Lakeside to observe the humans and Others interacting. When Monty’s brother, Jimmy, arrives in Lakeside, the Elders have a chance to observe something else—how one human’s actions can break the trust and balance in a pack made of humans and Others.   

TRC: How did you come up with the idea of The Others?

Anne:  It wasn’t one idea but a lot of little ideas that clicked together in the right way. The “ah-ha” moment was when I wondered what the world would be like if the Others weren’t humans that became something else but were a different species altogether, supreme predators that had the ability to take another shape in order to mimic and study other predators. That meant that even when they took the shape of a human, they wouldn’t think like a human. That collision of world views intrigued me. Once I added the idea of the blood prophets, and Meg, who becomes the catalyst for those world views colliding, the story began to tell itself.  

TRC:  Etched in Bone is the final book in The Others series.  How hard was it writing the finale of Meg, Simon, Sam and the others in Lakeside?  I know I will miss them. 

Anne:  I don’t feel like I left them behind. They just stepped off the stage to let other characters have a chance to stand in the spotlight. They told the story of world-shattering changes, and their work is done. I picture them all heading to a beach on the shores of Lake Etu. Meg and the female pack will build sand castles. Simon and Sam will dig the moats and chase the seagulls. Everybody will have a good time.  

TRC:  We know you are continuing with a new series, Lake Silence, in the same world as The Others.  What can you tell us about the new series coming in 2018? 

Anne:  I don’t know yet if it’s a new series or a standalone book in the Others’ world.  I started the story as a “Crowgard cozy”—a kind of story that would be sold in Howling Good Reads. When I started it, I wasn’t sure if it would be a short story or a novella or a novel. I just wrote to see what would happen with these characters. Then, because my stories always change from simple to layered, “cozy” turned into “suspense” and grew into a novel.  

TRC: How many books are you planning for your new series?   

Anne: That will depend on whether or not Vicki and Aggie find more bodies.  

TRC:  When you are not writing, what other interests or hobbies do you have?

Anne: That depends on the season. In the winter, I read, watch movies, and spend time with friends. From spring through fall, I putter in the garden instead of watching movies.

TRC:  What is your writing process?  Do you like to outline your story before you start? Do you have a specific place you like to write?  Is there a special time of day that works best for you?

Anne:  I don’t outline. I think a lot—sometimes for years—before I begin writing the story. I make notes as characters begin to take shape and the place comes into sharper and sharper focus. I have a general idea of the storyline but the fun is discovering how the characters get from that first meeting and problem to be solved to the end of the story. I have a little space in my house that is the writing corner. That’s where I go to meet the Muse. I start after breakfast and work until I reach my word quota for the day. Then I take care of email and paperwork for a couple of hours. I do that five days a week. The other two days I spend on the mundane things that keep the household running.

TRC:   Would you like to add anything else? 

Anne: Etched in Bone is my twentieth novel. In 2018, I’ll celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the publication of my first novel, Daughter of the Blood. Some of you have been sharing these worlds and stories with me from the beginning. Some of you are just discovering the Others and the Blood and the other worlds I’ve created. Thank you. It’s a joy to share the people and their stories with you. 

TRC:  Thank you, Anne for giving us an update on Etched in Bone, as well as what we can look forward to with your new series.    It was a pleasure having you visit us again. 

To learn more about Anne, you can find her at the following links
          Website / Facebook /  Courtyard / Goodreads



Anne is graciously offering TWO (2) giveaways.
           – A Hardcover copy of ETCHED IN BONE to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe
         –   Paper copy of the first Four book in The Others series to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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8. Giveaway is open to USA only.

9. Giveaway runs from March 6 -10, 2017






Valen (Guardian of Hades #2) by Felicity Heaton-a review

VALEN (Guardians of Hades #2) by Felicity Heaton-a review


: / / B&N / KOBO /

About the book: RELEASE DATE February 25, 2017

Prince of the Underworld and Lord of Lightning, Valen was banished from his home by his father, Hades, two centuries ago and given a new duty and purpose—to keep our world and his from colliding in a calamity foreseen by the Moirai.

Together with his six brothers, he fights to defend the gates to the Underworld from daemons bent on breaching them and gaining entrance to that forbidden land, striving to protect his home from their dark influence. Cursed by Zeus to never know love again, Valen has brought up barriers around his heart to protect it, but with each new barrier he creates, the dark hold his power has over him grows, becoming all he needs.

Until the night he finally crosses paths with the assassin who has been watching him from the shadows, a bewitching mortal possessing the name of an angel and the skills of a devil—a woman who awakens his passionate heart and stirs dangerous desires.

Eva has built a fearsome reputation for herself in Italy’s underworld, but her latest job in her beloved city of Rome has left her feeling that she has stepped into a dangerous world and this mission might end in her death—either at the hands of her mysteriously seductive client or by the blade of the wickedly alluring warrior who is her target.

As the threat from the daemons escalates and more than just the Rome gate becomes their target, will Valen be strong enough to face the fears in his heart and the ghosts of his past to claim everything he desires or will they lure him deeper under their spell and into the darkness?


REVIEW: VALEN is the second installment in Felicity Heaton’s contemporary, adult GUARDIANS OF HADES paranormal / fantasy romance series very loosely based in Greek mythology, focusing on six brothers- the sons of Hades and Persephone -sent to Earth to guard the gates to the Underworld. This is Prince of the Underworld and Lord of Lightning Valen, and assassin for hire Eva’s story line. VALEN can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty but I recommend reading the series in order as the brothers struggle against an unknown enemy to keep the human world and the Underworld from colliding.

NOTE: The Guardians of Hades series is Felicity Heaton’s interpretation of, and does not follow, the actual Greek mythological family tree or events.

Told from several third person perspectives including Valen and Eva VALEN follows assassin for hire Eva as she is tasked with taking down a man she knows nothing about. For months our heroine has tracked Valen without success until a run in with her target, and a broken vial of what she believes is poison, finds our heroine in bed with the man who will change her life. Enter Valen, the Lord of Lightning, and a man who believes he is incapable of love. What ensues is the search for the truth, and the building relationship between a mortal and a god.

The relationship between Valen and Eva is one of forbidden love. Eva was hired by a powerful man to bring Valen to his knees; Eva is a woman who for most of her life has remained hidden in the shadows, trained to kill but a woman who will fall in love with a man not of this world. The $ex scenes are intimate and intense without the use of over the top sexually graphic language and text.

All of Valen’s brothers including Ares and his mate Megan (ARES #1), Daimon eldest brother Keras, Marek, Clalistos, Esher, their mother Persephone, and uncle Zeus play secondary and supporting roles. The requisite evil comes with many faces including Benares and his sister Jin-the pair who hired Eva.

Like many of Felicity Heaton’s story lines the tale is told through written narrative, introspection, reflection and internal dialogue but it is the narration that carries most of the story. The premise is entertaining; the characters are broken, colorful and energetic; the romance is passionate and breathtaking. VALEN is an imaginative take on Greek mythology; a spirited look at forbidden love.

Click HERE for Sandy’s review of ARES (book 1)

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy