Sunday, July 5, 2015

Week in Review: 6/28-7/4



Books Received for Review

- Renegade by Kerry Wilkinson -eARC- NetGalley

- Summit of the Wolf by Tera Shanley -eARC- NetGalley

- Nightbloom by Juliette Cross -eARC- NetGalley

- Shadows Strike by Dianne Duvall -eARC- NetGalley

- Energized by Mary Behre- Publisher

Books I've Read

Wicked Embers by Keri Arthur
Renegade by Kerry Wilkinson
Illicit by Madeline Pryce

Reviews Posted

The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling
Wicked Embers by Keri Arthur
The Leveller by Julia Durango

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* New Releases for the week. Was there anything you were looking forward to reading?

* Monday-  Guest Blog + Giveaway: Idol of Blood by Jane Kindred

* Thursday- Giveaway for Wicked Embers by Keri Arthur

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* Did you know you can follow UFI on these other sites?

You can also add me (as in Stacy) to your friends on these sites if you're on them.
 

 * I love comments so if you see something you like (or not) please comment away and let me know.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Review: The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling

The Ugly Stepsister
Author: Aya Ling
Release Date: June 12, 2015
Publisher: Self-Published
ISBN13: 9781511956727
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Review Copy Source: NetGalley
When Kat accidentally rips apart an old picture book, she's magically transported into the world of Cinderella--as Katriona, one of the ugly stepsisters! Life turns upside down now that she’s a highborn lady and must learn how to survive the social season, including how to get through the door in a huge metal hoop skirt. To get back, she'll have to complete the story, right to the end of happily ever after. But the odds are huge: the other stepsister is drop-dead gorgeous, the fairy godmother is nowhere to be found, and the prince, despite being insanely hot, openly dislikes balls. Can she ever return to the modern world?

I honestly still think about THE UGLY STEPSISTER days after reading it. It was so fun to read a whole new take on Cinderella.

Kat LOVES to read and when her old picture book rips apart in her hands she is forced to play out a story and make sure she gets the characters to the end. She is cast in the role of one of the ugly stepsisters, but she is anything but ugly. She is a bit of a clutz, but she is very loyal and caring. She doesn't like how some of her new friends are treated and fights for them. She has an instant connection with the prince, but really wants to go home and she knows he is supposed to be with Cinderella.

I really enjoyed all the struggles that Kat found herself in. Because she is from a different time she has a whole new way of thinking and it really made her character stick out. The romance between her and Prince Edward was sweet, but not overly done. I enjoyed the supporting cast of characters and was rooting for them all to get their happily ever afters too.

I did have one issue with THE UGLY STEPSISTER, I didn't love the ending. I hated that there really wasn't a happily ever after in the larger sense. I don't want to go to much into it because that would spoil it, but I was hoping for more when the story part of the story ended. Would I read it again? Oh yea, I so want to see a movie about the ugly stepsister now.

I gave it 4.5/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Early Review & Giveaway: Wicked Embers by Keri Arthur

Wicked Embers
Author: Keri Arthur
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Signet Select
Souls of Fire Book #2
ISBN:   0451419588
ISBN13: 9780451419583
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Publisher

Crimson Death, the plague like virus spawned from a failed government experiment to isolate the enzymes that make vampires immortal, continues to spread. Emberly and her partner, Jackson Miller, are desperately seeking the stolen research for a cure before the virus becomes a pandemic.

But their mission is jeopardized by another threat uncovered in Emberly’s prophetic dreams. A creature of ash and shadow has been unleashed on a murdering spree. Now Emberly must summon all her gifts and investigative knowledge to put an end to this entity’s brutal rampage—even if it means placing herself in harm’s way....

I am so on the fence about how I feel about WICKED EMBERS. I really like the characters, but like other reviews have stated, they are a lot like Arthur's previous characters and it's really hard not to compare them or be a little bit bored by them and the situations they find themselves in.

The actual storyline of WICKED EMBERS was entertaining. The book starts off not long after the events of FIREBORN. There is a new serial killer case that Ember is working to solve with the help of her dreams and the redcloaks storyline continues on and the stakes get even higher. I really enjoyed learning more about the Phoenix's talents as well as their relationships with their life partners. We also get to meet some of Jackson's Fae friends which I hope to read more of in future books. 

I think you would be very lost if you jumped into the Souls of Fire Series with WICKED EMBERS, so make sure you read FIREBORN before picking it up. I really enjoy Keri Arthur's writing so I don't see myself giving up on the series just yet.

I gave it 3/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Review: The Leveller by Julia Durango

The Leveller
Author: Julie Durango
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
The Leveller Book #1
ISBN:  0062314009
ISBN13: 9780062314000
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Review Copy Source: Edelweiss
Nixy Bauer is a self-made Leveller. Her job? Dragging kids out of virtual reality and back to their parents in the real world. It’s normally easy cash, but Nixy’s latest mission is fraught with real danger, intrigue, and romance.

Nixy Bauer is used to her classmates being very, very unhappy to see her. After all, she’s a bounty hunter in a virtual reality gaming world. Kids in the MEEP, as they call it, play entirely with their minds, while their bodies languish in a sleeplike state on the couch. Irritated parents, looking to wrench their kids back to reality, hire Nixy to jump into the game and retrieve them.

But when the game’s billionaire developer loses track of his own son in the MEEP, Nixy is in for the biggest challenge of her bounty-hunting career. Wyn Salvador isn’t some lazy kid looking to escape his homework: Wyn does not want to be found. And he’s left behind a suicide note. Nixy takes the job but quickly discovers that Wyn’s not hiding—he’s being held inside the game against his will. But who is holding him captive, and why?

Nixy and Wyn attempt to fight their way out of a mind game unlike any they’ve encountered, and the battle brings them closer than either could have imagined. But when the whole world is virtual, how can Nixy possibly know if her feelings are real?

Gamers and action fans of all types will dive straight into the MEEP, thanks to Julia Durango’s cinematic storytelling. A touch of romance adds some heart to Nixy’s vivid, multidimensional journey through Wyn’s tricked-out virtual city, and constant twists keep readers flying through to the breathtaking end.

I found THE LEVELLER to be a unique read with interesting characters and an inventive plot.

Nixy is really good at her job and I found her job to be the most interesting part of THE LEVELLER. Wyn was also an interesting character. There is a bit of mystery around him when we first meet him, but we quickly start getting the information we need to understand him and the predicament that he has found himself in. The slow romance between Nixy and Wyn was expected, but I found it sweet and powerful by the end of the book.

I found the world building to be very strong. I loved all the descriptions of the MEEP, it was very imaginative and colorful. I am not a gamer of any kind, but even I would have to try out the MEEP if we happened to have it. The plot was filled with action, twists and turns, but I found some things to be a bit weird and I didn't always understand the characters slang.

THE LEVELLER isn't super long, so it was an easy and quick read for me. I think anyone with an interest in YA science fiction and gaming will find this interesting. I am not totally sold on continuing the series, the second book would have to have a really good blurb to draw me in.

I gave it 3/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Guest Blog & Giveaway: Idol of Blood by Jane Kindred

UFI welcomes Author Jane Kindred. Thanks for Joining us!!

Oh Mighty Isis 

You’re welcome, five people who got the reference in that title. One of the prizes for this giveaway is a Cult of Isis necklace. You may be wondering what Isis has to do with my new release, Idol of Blood, Book 2 in the Looking Glass Gods. Isis, herself, was not a goddess of blood or vengeance, as this title would imply. But as I was writing the original draft of the novel that became the Looking Glass Gods series, the first thing that came to me was the character’s name: Ra. This Ra was female, and not the Ra of Egyptian mythology, but the world that began to develop around her had a decidedly ancient-Egyptian feel.

The gods in Ra’s world are a race called the Meer, worshipped for their ability to conjure with a word. The cities they ruled from the temples they conjured are situated along a river named the Anamnesis—which means remembering—in a place much like the Nile valley.

As I wrote Ra’s story about remembering her forgotten past, I felt more and more connected to the goddess Isis. In Idol of Blood, one of the characters recovers memories of childhood abuse, and as I wrote those scenes, I remembered some things that had happened to me as a child that I’d pushed into the dark corners of my mind. They were nothing to what happened to my character, but they were enough that I had some issues with feeling safe.

Isis became my image of a protector goddess during that time, and I even got a tattoo of something called a “tyet” or Isis Knot as a permanent symbol of protection and to mark the completion of the book.



The two Sanskrit characters on the sides of the tattoo represent the Hindu goddess, Kali, whom my character MeerShiva—another case in which the character herself insisted on the name—came to represent for me. MeerShiva is the goddess of vengeance in Idol of Blood.

While it isn’t an Isis Knot, the Cult of Isis necklace I’m giving away is an image of the Isis headdress often seen in Egyptian art. It features a red solar disc cradled in the horns of a cow, with the throne representing Isis above it. When I saw the necklace, it reminded me so much of the design on the cover of my book (by awesome cover artist Kanaxa) that it seemed like fate. Fate and synchronicity have marked my experiences with writing Looking Glass Gods from the start. But that’s another post for another time.

For those of you wondering about the reference I made in the title (and as a special treat for those who got it), here you go:
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Jane Kindred is the author of epic fantasy series The House of Arkhangel’sk, Demons of Elysium, and Looking Glass Gods. She spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.


Find Jane and her books
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Idol of Blood
Looking Glass Gods #2
Amazon BN iTunes Kobo Samhain
 The price of revenge may be her sanity…and the lives of those she loves.

No longer haunted by memories of her life—and death—as the Meer of Rhyman, Ra looks forward to a quiet existence with her lover Jak in the Haethfalt highlands. Having made peace with Ahr, her consort from her former life, Ra can finally explore her new relationship, free of the ghosts of the past—until she unwittingly unearths Jak’s own.

Out of instinct, she uses her Meeric power to heal the pain of Jak’s childhood trauma. But all magic has a price, and Ra’s bill has come due.

Succumbing to the affliction inherent in her race, Ra flees to the mountain ruins where her mother’s temple once stood. As the madness takes hold, she resurrects the ancient city of AhlZel in a tremendous act of magic that seals her fate—and threatens to destroy those who would give up everything to save her from herself.

Warning: Contains dark themes, violence, gender-bending sex, and recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse.
Excerpt:
Since the light was beginning to lower, they set up camp, only a dozen leagues from the green riverbanks of Rhyman. Jak and Geffn lay on either side of Ra, a peculiar triad of necessity, and Geffn, fatigued, was asleep almost instantly.

Ra curled away from him toward Jak beneath her blanket, eyes seeming to glint like a cat’s, though nothing else was visible in the darkness. “We haven’t really had a moment alone since…” The soft murmur trailed off. Jak knew precisely what moment Ra meant. Before they’d left Rhyman; before Ra had disappeared in the night to rescue little Pearl—a Meerchild bred in captivity and kept in a cage by the prelate of In’La; before Ra had set fire to the temple there, and the prelate with it, Jak had thrown caution to the wind and climbed into bed with a goddess. The commitment to celibacy Jak had tried to maintain since before Ra’s arrival in Haethfalt had been tossed aside like a cheap shirt.

After returning to Rhyman with Pearl, Ra had made no further overtures toward Jak, and Jak hadn’t presumed to make any toward Ra.

“It’s all right. We don’t need to—” The weak protest died on Jak’s lips as Ra’s descended on them. Her kisses had a tendency to take one’s breath away, as if she gathered it all into herself, holding it, holding time, before giving it back.

When she finally let them both breathe, Ra slid beneath the blanket and rested her head on Jak’s breast. “I could deepen Geffn’s sleep.”

Jak considered it for a rash moment before squelching the thought. “No. That wouldn’t be fair to him.” That was an understatement. Screwing one’s new lover while asleep next to the jilted lover whose heart one had recently broken would be in bad form, to say the least. And it would add more to that invisible price Ra must be paying if she were to expend magical energy when she had so little physical energy to spare. “We’ll have time enough when we get home.”

“Home.” Ra snuggled closer. “That sounds very nice. I’ve never had a home before. Just a temple.” She said the word as if it meant “jail”. While she spoke, however, her hand moved down Jak’s arm with feathery strokes, dipped over Jak’s hip and across Jak’s belly, and played at the loose drawstring waistband, fingers just inside it.

Jak placed a hand over Ra’s, meaning to stop her, but Ra entwined their fingers and slid them lower. As if it were an act of self-pleasuring, Ra used Jak’s fingers to delve deeper and press against the supple flesh, tentative, leisurely motions encouraging Jak to show her how to proceed.

“When we return to Mound RemPetaJakGeffnMelKeirenRa—” She murmured the absurdly long name of their Haethfalt household as if they were only having a quiet conversation—“I’d like to make a quilt by hand.” She drew Jak’s fingers in a complex pattern, up and down, over and across, doubling back in infinity symbols that ended in sharp, insistent points, like the edges of rings bisecting each other. “Do you like this pattern?”

Jak shivered and breathed ascent as Ra pressed Jak’s fingers into the center point of the bisection. Her motions became smaller, tighter and more definitive.

“Some little rosettes where the squares join,” Ra whispered. “One. Two. Three. Four…” She demonstrated. “With a diamond in the center. Right…there.”

Jak had to grab the blanket and bite down on it to keep the sweet little crooning howl Ra had inspired from escaping audibly.

“And another, there.”

Jak struggled not to thrash, rationing sharp rhythmic breaths into the fabric of the blanket.

“And there.”

Oh gods.

“And then just there.”

In the grip of a wave of pleasure so intense it was almost unbearable, Jak clutched Ra’s hand so she could no longer effect her blissful torment, the other hand digging into the bedroll as pantomimed moans were buried in the crook of an elbow.

“Perhaps in peacock blue with threads of gold,” Ra continued as if she hadn’t just destroyed Jak utterly, her other hand casually stroking once more up Jak’s arm. “The colors of Ludtaht Ra. Though it may be time for new colors. I’ve always liked indigo.” She nestled against the hollow of Jak’s neck, putting a little kiss there before relaxing with a sigh to match Jak’s heaving breath. “Does that work for you?”

It took a moment to remember how to swallow and speak. “Work for me?” Jak let out a nervous, whispered laugh. “Just about killed me. I’m crazy about it.”
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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Week in Review: 6/21-6/27



Books Received for Review

- The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling- eCopy- NetGalley

- Old Dog, New Tricks by Hailey Edwards -eARC- NetGalley

Books I've Read

Angel Lover by Tricia Skinner
Breakwater by Shannon Mayer
The Ugly Stepsister by Aya Ling

Reviews Posted

Angel Lover by Tricia Skinner
Dying to Date by Victoria Davies
Shades of Loss by L.M. Pruitt
Shades of Vengeance by L.M. Pruitt

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* New Releases for the week. Was there anything you were looking forward to reading?

* Wednesday- Interview + Giveaway for Hunter of Her Heart by Kaylie Newell

* Saturday- Cover Reveal for Deep Kiss of Winter + Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole

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* Did you know you can follow UFI on these other sites?

You can also add me (as in Stacy) to your friends on these sites if you're on them.
 

 * I love comments so if you see something you like (or not) please comment away and let me know.