Saturday, October 25, 2014

Quick Thought Reviews

Sometimes I read a book where I just don't have a lot to say about it. Hence the name quick thought reviews. These will be short and sweet.
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The Aftermath
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Aftermath Book #1
ISBN:   0373211325
ISBN13: 9780373211326
Genre: Dystopian
Review Copy Source: NetGalley
Sometimes, I dream that I'm someone else.

A girl with dark hair who doesn't worry about hunger

or thirst or running from flesh-eaters.

In her world, those sorts of things don't exist.

Since the spring of 2036, when the world changed forever, Claudia and a small clan of survivors have roamed the streets of a very altered Nashville: polluted and desolate, except for the ever-present threat of cannibal Hoarders. Together they must undergo punishing tests of endurance and psychological challenge sometimes with devastating consequences all just to live another day.

With food and water in dwindling supply, and with danger lurking around every corner, no one can be trusted. And as her world starts to make less and less sense, Claudia begins to realize something terrifying: she is just a pawn in some sort of game, and all of her actions are being controlled from afar by a mysterious gamer. So when she meets a maddening and fascinating outsider named Declan, who claims to be a game moderator, she must decide whether to join him in exchange for protection and access to the border.

If they play the game right, they are each other's best hope for survival and a life beyond the only world Claudia's ever known: the terrifying live-action game known as The Aftermath.

The world in THE AFTERMATH is pretty insane. The characters are real and have NO clue that they have someone in their mind playing them like puppets while they starve, run for their lives and kill the bad guys. Even worse is that these players are doing it for fun. Claudia remembers nothing of her life before but starts to have flashbacks and starts having lucid moments while she is being 'played'. The more she learns of The Aftermath, the more she wants to escape it and bring her team members with her.

I found this book to be very fast paced. The characters were interesting and the world building was well done. I enjoyed the slow information reveal, but wanted more from the romance that was introduced. The ending kinda blew my mind and left me with way more questions than I have answers to, so I will be continuing the series with book 2.

I gave it 3.5/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Saving the Hero
Release Date: August 8, 2014
Publisher: Sanguine Publishing
Saving the Hero Book #1
ISBN:    1500569690
ISBN13 9781500569693
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Author
Two and a half weeks. That’s all the time he has left.

When loner vampire hunter Kassy is interrupted by nosy veteran, Mike, he ends up bitten, and infected with the vampire parasite. The warrior becomes her prey as she fights to find him before powerful vamps. A couple kidnappings later, she’s hiding in a cabin with him chained to the floor, and an eight-year-old girl in her care.

Death? Inevitable. When the parasite takes control, he’ll do or say anything to get non-infected blood—including seducing her. But, as they spend time together, she finds her resolve weakening. A kiss won’t fix him, but it might mend a deep hole in her heart.

Kassy is too practical to believe in miracles, but if he survives eighteen days without ingesting human blood, there is a chance he could be the hero she's been looking for.

Odds are, he’s a dead man.

I didn't LOVE SAVING THE HERO, but I didn't hate it either. The book started off at a nice pace, but then slowed down. A lot of the book takes place with just 3 characters holed up in a cabin waiting for 2 of the characters to turn into vampires, which in this series is a REALLY bad thing. There is a lot of secrets surrounding Kassy and she isn't used to being around people so things are a bit awkward at times. Mike, the 'hero', doesn't believe anything that Kassy says about vampires or him turning into one so he is a bit hard to handle (of course I would be too if I found myself kidnapped and chained).

There are a few nice action scenes thrown into SAVING THE HERO and the reveals that happen are pretty shocking. However, I didn't really find myself invested in the characters enough to want to continue the series.

I gave it 3/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review. 
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Firebug
Author: Lish McBride
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Firebug Book #1
ASIN:   B00HTJ76VG
Genre: YA
Review Copy Source: Publisher
Ava can start fires with her mind . . . but is it a blessing or a curse?

Ava is a firebug—she can start fires with her mind. Which would all be well and good if she weren't caught in a deadly contract with the Coterie, a magical mafia. She's one of their main hit men . . . and she doesn't like it one bit. Not least because her mother's death was ordered by Venus—who is now her boss.

When Venus asks Ava to kill a family friend, Ava rebels. She knows very well that you can't say no to the Coterie and expect to get away with it, though, so she and her friends hit the road, trying desperately to think of a way out of the mess they find themselves in. Preferably keeping the murder to a minimum.

FIREBUG was one of those books that I wasn't really excited about reading but really enjoyed once I finally started. Ava was a character after my own heart. Snarky, down to earth, and extremely loyal to the people she loves. The secondary characters were just as great as Ava, but  I was a little disappointed in the missed romance part of FIREBUG.

This was the first book I've read from Lish McBride, but I have seen mention that it's part of the same world her Necromancer series is set in? Either way I had no problem getting into FIREBUG and I'm really excited to continue Ava's story with book 2.

I gave it 4/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. 
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Gray Bishop
Author: Kelly Meade
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: InterMix
ASIN:  B00I8RB1WS
Cornerstone Run Book #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Some people need something to fight for…

With the attacks on their homes escalating and human half-breeds seeking sanctuary among them, the loup garou are reaching their breaking point. Two, in particular.

After failing to stop his little brother’s kidnapping years ago, Bishop McQueen angrily broods on his shame, though no one else blames him.

Jillian Reynolds is still dealing with a tragic accident that took everything she ever wanted from life. And her attraction to Bishop is only making things more difficult.

When word reaches them that Jillian's hometown is under attack, the Alpha takes Bishop, Jillian, and a group of enforcers to assist in the battle. And it is in this chaos that both Bishop and Jillian will have to face their pasts—and the true feelings they have for each other—if they are going to survive…
I always enjoy when series with revolving main characters keep the past main characters as a decent part of the book. GRAY BISHOP follows Bishop and Jillian as they fall in love, but Brynn and Rook are very much still a big part of the story. I really enjoy the family dynamic that comes with the McQueen family and was really heartbroken towards the end of book 2. The run and the McQueen's have been through so much, but GRAY BISHOP definitely feels like the biggest blow was thrown into the mix.

Jillian and Bishop's love story wasn't as easy as Brynn and Rooks, but felt just as real and I enjoyed following it. With all the other events happening I don't feel that their story got the attention it deserved. This series is a trilogy so WHITE KNIGHT should bring us full circle and hopefully give the run and the McQueen's some piece and happiness, but I know it won't be smooth sailing.

I gave it 4/5 stars 

* This book was provided free of charge from the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 
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Dying for a Living
Author: Kory M. Shrum
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Timberlane Press
ISBN:   099121580X
ISBN13: 9780991215805
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Author
 

On the morning before her 67th death, it is business as usual for Jesse Sullivan: meet with the mortician, counsel soon-to-be-dead clients, and have coffee while reading the latest regeneration theory. Jesse dies for a living, literally. As a Necronite, she is one of the population’s rare 2% who can serve as a death replacement agent, dying so others don’t have to. Although each death is different, the result is the same: a life is saved, and Jesse resurrects days later with sore muscles, new scars, and another hole in her memory.

But when Jesse is murdered and becomes the sole suspect in a federal investigation, more than her freedom and sanity are at stake. She must catch the killer herself—or die trying.

I can't even begin to imagine what it would really be like to live in a world where you can hire people to die for you. Jesse makes a living by dying in other people's place because she's a Necronite and comes back to life. The whole Necronite condition was both interesting and creepy. The author did a great job of explaining it and making it real for the reader.

I had a hard time connecting to a few of the characters in DYING FOR A LIVING. I didn't care for Lane in the least and the love triangle just annoyed me, but thankfully I did really like Jesse so it was easy to look past that. There is a lot going on in the book and lots of strings left at the end so I'm interested in reading more.

I gave it 3.5/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review. 
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Friday, October 24, 2014

Promo & Giveaway: Her Avenging Angel by Felicity Heaton


Her Avenging Angel, the seventh book in New York Times best-seller Felicity Heaton’s hot paranormal romance series, Her Angel, is now available in ebook and paperback. To celebrate the release, she’s holding a FANTASTIC GIVEAWAY at her website.

Find out how to enter the Her Avenging Angel international giveaway (ends October 26th) and be in with a shot of winning a $75, $50 or $25 gift certificate at her website, where you can also download a 6 chapter sample of the novel: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/her-avenging-angel-romance-book.php
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Felicity Heaton is a New York Times and USA Today international best-selling author writing passionate paranormal romance books. In her books, she creates detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons! If you're a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will enjoy her books too.

If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, the best-selling Her Angel series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires then try the Vampires Realm series or any of her stand-alone vampire romance books. If you’re looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate and erotic then try the best-selling Vampire Erotic Theatre series. Or if you prefer huge detailed worlds filled with hot-blooded alpha males in every species, from elves to demons to dragons to shifters and angels, then take a look at the new Her Angel series.

Find Felicity and her books
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Her Avenging Angel 
Her Angel Romance #7
 Once a proud angel of Heaven, Nevar is now a servant of Hell, bound to a new master—the King of Demons. Consumed by darkness and driven to seek revenge, he set in motion a series of events that awakened the Great Destroyer, a force that will bring about the apocalypse. Now, he is the creature’s master and the fate of our world rests in the hands of an angel with only darkness in his heart.

Lost in the mortal realm without any recollection of how she came to be there, Lysia is only aware that she has survived a great battle. When she stumbles into a demon bar, she finds more than a chance to discover what happened to her—she finds a dark and deadly angel warrior who stirs fire in her veins and awakens soul-searing passion she cannot deny.

With the mounting threat of the Great Destroyer, the forces of Heaven and Hell against him, and a band of dangerous angels intent on capturing Lysia on his heels, can Nevar protect the beautiful woman who is light to his darkness and find the strength to save the world?

Excerpt:

Lysia stared up at the huge white building that stretched wide in front of her, dotted with rectangles, some of which shone yellow while others were dark. The third row of them on the section of building before her were all yellow, as if a fire burned within.

Nevar tugged on her wrist, pulling her along the path towards the building and a broad dark door up some steps beneath a columned porch. The King of Demons followed behind her and she could feel his shrewd gaze on her. It hadn’t left her since they had departed the place that Nevar had informed her was called Cloud Nine. The wily king did not trust her, although she didn’t know why.

Perhaps because she felt attached to his servant?

It hadn’t taken her more than a few seconds to realise that Nevar was just that—the sole servant of the King of Demons, bound to him by contract. Asmodeus had been the one who had turned Nevar demonic, and it seemed her warrior desired to make him pay for that. Because he believed it would bring back the good in him?

She felt sorry for him, because she knew deep inside her that on some level, unconscious to him, he truly believed that, and it wouldn’t work.

Even if he slayed the King of Demons, it wouldn’t free him from the darker side of his soul.

She looked down at his hand on her wrist, at the black fingers tipped with claws. He despised what had happened to him and yet half of his arms and up to his knees was darkness, a sign that he was merging with another form. One locked within him? She had heard tales that the King of Demons could wear another form, one closer to the dark beast the Devil held hidden beneath his charming façade. Nevar had such a form too, but he had given it free reign, allowing both forms to become blurred and altered.

Why had he done such a thing when he wanted the evil gone from his soul?

By allowing it, he had made it impossible for him to purge that evil.

She lifted her other hand and stroked the line of his fingers, from his knuckles to the points of his black claws. He looked down at her, his jade eyes fixed on his hand too, watching her. His black skin was smooth beneath the pads of her fingers and warm too, not as rough or cold as she had expected. He held such heat and strength, and countered it with softness that she could only surmise came from his angelic side.

He flitted between violent and aggressive, and gentle and tender with her.

Asmodeus moved past him, his enormous glossy black wings furled against his bare back, and knocked on the dark door.

In the club, the black-haired male had declared her an admirer of Nevar’s and had spoken it with a mocking edge to his voice, one that had made her feel he believed no one could admire his servant.

She did.

He was strong, whether he felt it or not. She could see his strength in his eyes and it came not from his body but his heart. It was born of the gentle side of him, the one that battled the darkness and craved the light.

The door swung open and Lysia looked there.

A tawny-haired large male stood in the opening.

An angel.

She shrank behind Nevar, pressing her free hand to the back plate of his armour, between the two vertical slots where his wings should be. He had hidden them back at the club, forcing them away with a trace of disgust colouring his eyes. He despised them too.

He hated much, and she could sympathise. She hated many things too.

At the top of that list were angels.

She bared her fangs at the male in warning. If he dared to attack, she would kill him. She wouldn’t allow him near her or Nevar.

“Einar will not hurt you.” Nevar gave an expectant look to the angel. “Will you, Einar?”

The big male shrugged thickly hewn shoulders beneath his tight black t-shirt. “Not unless she gives me a reason to hurt her.”

She growled at that.

His full lips quirked at the corners and an amused glimmer shone in his rich brown eyes. “It was a joke.”

“Not a very funny one,” Nevar said and walked forwards.

She stayed put, refusing to move, even when Nevar stopped and tugged on her wrist. She unleashed a fraction of her power, enough to keep her bare feet rooted to the spot.

“He means me harm,” she whispered when Nevar looked over his wide shoulders at her.

He sighed and smiled, melting her insides. He was gorgeous when he smiled and it reached his jade eyes, brightening them and chasing away the shadows. “He won’t hurt you. If he does, I will kill him. Okay?”

She considered that and then nodded. “Okay.”

Einar turned to Asmodeus. “Did your boy just threaten to kill me?”

Asmodeus grinned wickedly. “It has become apparent that he has a possessive streak.”

The tawny-haired male shifted his dark eyes back to her. “Who is she anyway?”

When she stepped out from behind Nevar, his eyes widened just as Asmodeus’s had on first seeing her wings. She wasn’t sure why they all looked at them that way, as if they had never seen such a thing. She felt certain there were other females in Hell who had wings.

She knew of one female who definitely did.

“Why do you all stare so? The original angel had wings and none stared at her.”

All three men turned stunned gazes on her.

It was the angel who spoke. “What the hell did she just say?”

Neither Asmodeus nor Nevar acknowledged him.

Nevar turned back to face her and dipped his head, bringing his eyes down to level with hers. “You know Amelia?”

Amelia?

She shook her head. “I know no such female.”

“Amelia is the original angel,” Nevar said and she shook her head again.

“She is not called Amelia.” Lysia searched her memories for the name of the original angel, the one who had provided much amusement for the Devil over the millennia. “I do not recall her name but it was not Amelia. I recall that she died. Was another born?”

He nodded. “She survived this time, with the help of the Hell’s angel and the angel of Heaven.”

“Interesting. What else has happened?” She wanted to know. The world had changed from how she remembered it and the balance of power had changed with it.

“Maybe you should all come inside and tell me why you both can understand her and I can’t,” Einar said and she glared at him. He shot one back at her and shifted into the shadows inside the building.

Asmodeus followed him inside and she trailed along behind Nevar.

“What is the last thing you can remember before the battle?” he said in a low voice that she felt was meant for her ears only.

She racked her brain, working forwards from the furthest point she could recall until she reached the memories that hurt her head.

A beautiful scene played out in her mind, golden sand stretching as far as the eye could see, broken only by the wide dark swath of the Nile and the palms that dotted its banks. Beyond it stood the most incredible thing she had seen.

“Thebes.”

Nevar stopped dead and she bumped into his back. He looked over his shoulder, his jade eyes filled with incredulity.

“You remember Thebes?”

She nodded.

“Not Thebes like a ruin… like it is today… but like a city?”

She nodded again. “I recall the people coming and going, and how they would speak of their lives. I spent the whole day basking in the sun and watching them, learning about them.”

“You understood their language?” He turned back to face her. “As you understand mine?”

“I understand all languages… but I cannot speak them.”

He stared at her as if he hadn’t understood her and she was on the verge of repeating herself, afraid that he might have lost the talent to hear her words in a language he knew, when he moved closer, coming to tower over her, his expression holding a cold edge that she didn’t like, one that unsettled her.

“Thebes has not been a city in over two thousand years.”

Her eyes widened. Two thousand years.

“But I recall it as if it was only yesterday and it was the last memory that is clear to me. How is that possible?” Her heart pounded hard against her chest, a shiver going through her as she stared up into his eyes, searching them for the answer even when she knew he didn’t have it for her.

He hesitated and then lifted his right hand and settled it against her cheek, his palm resting softly on her skin and his fingertips touching the line of her jaw. “We will find out, but first we must see if Taylor knows of your kind.”

She looked beyond him to the dark entrance of the building. A half-demon. Nevar had explained that Taylor often worked with people he knew, helping them with their problems. She hoped the female warrior could help her.

Nevar took her hand in his and the world and her worries melted away as she looked down at them, at his long black fingers pressing into the back of her hand. She liked the feel of it and the heat that rushed through her whenever they touched.

She liked his heat.

It was there in his eyes whenever he looked at her, a palpable hunger that echoed within her and called to her, luring her into stepping nearer to him and closing the gap between them.

Her Avenging Angel is available from Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBooks stores and other retailers. Also available in paperback. 

Find all the links, a fantastic 6 chapter downloadable sample of the book, and also how to enter the giveaway and be in with a shot of winning a $75, $50 or $25 gift certificate at her website: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/her-avenging-angel-romance-book.php
 
Books in the Her Angel paranormal romance series:
Book 1: Her Dark Angel – FREE in ebook at selected retailers
Book 2: Her Fallen Angel
Book 3: Her Warrior Angel
Book 4: Her Guardian Angel
Book 5: Her Demonic Angel
Book 6: Her Wicked Angel
Book 7: Her Avenging Angel

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Enough by Matthew J. Metzger

UFI welcomes Matthew J. Metzger Author of Enough. Thanks for Joining us!!

This or That Interview 
Character: Ezra Pryce of Enough. Ezra is a full-time teacher, most-of-the-time boyfriend, and not-any-more Catholic. It can be a toss up which is more challenging - dealing with his boyfriend's demons, or his students' ferocity.

Angels or Demons 

Demons. Angels are a false ideal - and in any case, my partner isn't one and I wouldn't trade him in for one regardless of that. So angels can't be all that good, can they? Whereas demons are more variable - and can be overcome, if you try hard enough.

Vampires or Shifters

Oh, neither! A shifter would scare the cats, and my boyfriend would probably get jealous if I showed an interest in anything too tall, dark and mysterious. But if forced, I would vote shifter. Purely because no shifter story as yet has made the girls in my classes bring in glitter to throw at the boys. Makes a right mess of the lab.

Left or Right 

Left. The Latin is sinistra, and there's something a little appealing about living up to being as sinister as your sister thinks you are for being gay, isn't there?

Up or Down 

Depends entirely on what we're doing up or down, doesn't it?

Pizza or Pasta 

Pasta. Pizza is only every once in a while, and pasta's better for you. You don't stay athletic and flexible by having a loyalty bonus at the local Domino's Pizza restaurant!

Coffee or Tea 

Coffee in the morning and at work, tea in the evening. And mugs of tea to keep Jesse sweet. Man's addicted, I swear.

Coke or Pepsi 

Either, neither. I'm not bothered, as long as it's diet. And as long as Jesse hasn't gotten his hands on it and spiked it with vodka. He gets ideas when I get drunk, you see.

YA or Adult 

Oh, definitely adult. I'm a secondary school teacher - I see quite enough of teenagers at work without reading about them at home.

Knives or Guns 

For a time, the school I work at had a metal detector to prevent the little darlings bringing knives to school. Do I vote knives because they can kill less people with a knife, or guns because they're less likely to have one? In truth, I wouldn't pick either of these. The kids already think they're hard, they don't need to be handed weapons and start challenging each other to prove it!

Reading or Writing 

I'm a chemistry teacher, so my reading material would probably bore most people to death, but it is reading. I've never been a writer of any kind. Setting fire to grass and causing explosions was more my thing growing up, and I pursued a career which encourages it. It's probably just as well that I'm dating a firefighter.

Facebook or Twitter 

Twitter - it takes up less of the students' time, and I have to deal with less tears and tantrums over Twitter bullying than Facebook bullying.

Follow Jesse and Ezra's story in Enough, now out in print format.
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Matthew J. Metzger is the front for a twenty-three-year-old British author writing on the side of a demanding day job, and not wishing to be fully out of the closet just yet. Matthew is as much a creation as the characters in his books, and was invented in time for the release of his debut young adult novel, Our Last Summer.

Since then, Matthew has contracted four more novels in the gay romance and young adult genres, with his work focusing on the grittier contemporary issues such as disability, illness, mental health, domestic violence and conflict in relationships. His trilogy on music and depression, beginning with Vivaldi in the Dark in December 2013, has been billed as both heartbreaking and intense. His fifth novel, published here at Breathless Press, is by far the most light-hearted so far.

When he's not writing, Matthew is sleeping or working. Most of his time is spent thinking about writing or actually doing it. He can be stalked on Twitter and Facebook, as well as his Wordpress blog, and welcomes contact from readers and fellow authors alike.
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Enough
Buy Link
 Jesse can do the math: Ezra's perfect, he isn't, and this relationship is doomed. Until the accident forces Jesse to recalculate.

Jesse has never had a real boyfriend before. He's a firefighter, and that's all that anyone's seen before—a quick and thrilling screw, and a story for the future. So when he lands Ezra Pryce, the most beautiful man in the whole of Brighton, Jesse can't quite understand why Ezra is still here eight months down the line.

Not that he's going to complain. Ezra's sexy, sarcastic, and doesn't treat Jesse like he's stupid, but Jesse can do the math. Ezra is nothing short of perfection; and Jesse falls a very way short of it. Jesse isn't going to be enough for someone like Ezra in the long run, and he is living—and loving—on borrowed time. When a disastrous weekend in Norwich introduces Jesse to the staunch disapproval of Ezra's family and the six-pack of his ex-boyfriend in one fell swoop, Jesse's fate is sealed. He cannot hope to live up to an ex who has every intention of getting Ezra back, and all the looks and charm to do it too. Jesse is not enough for Ezra and he's never going to be.
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Excerpt:

Jackie's was a loud cross between a bar and a club, with a sticky dance floor populated by both straight and gay couples, and a tiny LGBTQ flag above the bar with a sign declaring it to be a "safe space." Jesse had no idea what that meant, but he grasped that it was okay to be gay in here, and slid an arm around Ezra's waist at the bar. 

"You're clingy," Ezra said lightly, but tucked his head briefly against Jesse's neck in a kind of half-hug pose. "You okay?" 

"Yeah," Jesse said, and slapped Ezra's hand down. "I'll get this round. I want you to get tipsy, and you'll never do that if you stick to your bloody lager." 
 
"Mr. Dawkins, are you trying to get me drunk?" 

"Yes," Jesse said, handing over a twenty to the bored bartender. In the pause as the guy wrestled with the till, he twisted to kiss Ezra soundly, transmitting his exact intentions with his tongue and his hand possessively low on Ezra's hip. 

"Mm," Ezra hummed as he pulled back, and his eyes were just a little darker. "Maybe I'll get a little bit drunk." 

"You do that," Jesse said, and pressed the glass into his hand. 

Jackie's livened up a little as the bar slowly filled and the money kept changing hands. Jesse kept Ezra on the vodka, relishing the chance to be able to get him drunk. Ezra didn't like to get drunk if Jesse couldn't, and Jesse often couldn't drink because of the risk of being called to an emergency at work, so it was nice to get to let go a little, to drink a bit more than the two-pint maximum, to feel the first fuzzy edges of poor coordination and disjointed thinking take over his brain. The music was kind of shitty – late nineties stuff he hadn't heard in years – and the bartender was stingy with the doubles, but it was fairly cheap and it was nasty enough to work, and when that wide, beautiful smile bloomed across Ezra's face when a tiny little lesbian and her girlfriend dragged him to dance with them, insisting they knew him as insistently as he said that they didn't, Jesse felt happy. Despite Mrs. Pryce, despite Audrey Hepburn being a lesbian, despite the crucifix on the gatepost, he felt happy. 

He drained his glass and went to the bathroom, relieving himself clumsily in a definitely nasty bathroom with the telltale streaks of sticky white powder on the counter that said that at least one part of the sex, drugs and rock and roll was going down in here on your average evening. Rinsing his hands off, he wondered if another round was called for, or another bar. Obviously they'd keep going a bit longer. He could still think, for one. And thinking was counterproductive for later, when he'd get Ezra's long legs wrapped around his waist and try and suck all the alcohol back out through his mouth. Or his neck. Or other places. 

Then he left the bathroom, and saw him. 

Ezra had escaped the tiny lesbians, and was leaning very precariously against the bar, a fresh drink in hand, and smiling—beaming—at a man who was just offensively good-looking. He looked like one of those underwear models or something. Tall in a too-tight-T-shirt, with spiky dark hair in a style that could have been achieved with an electric razor but he'd probably paid fifty quid for at a salon aimed at women. A waxed chest, judging by the naked v of skin that was visible below his neck. He was flashing a chiseled, perfect, cologne-ad smile at Ezra. People could model cologne and underwear, right? Because this guy definitely did. 

Jesse hesitated at the bathroom door, and felt a shaky warmth bubbling up in his stomach as the underwear model reached into his back pocket and passed Ezra a thin bit of card. His number, maybe? Why the hell was some underwear-cologne model giving Ezra his number? 

Why the hell was Ezra putting it in his pocket? 

Ezra turned from the bar, eyes scanning the room, and that placid, drink-smudged smile widened when he locked eyes with Jesse. He leaned back against the sticky wood, weight on his elbows, and beckoned with one long finger, and it was like an invisible rope reeling Jesse in. The underwear model glanced Jesse's way and melted back into the crowd on the dance floor and Jesse's anger went with him. He planted his hands on either side of Ezra's waist, bracing himself against the bar, and crowded Ezra against it to kiss him and taste the drunken want on his tongue. 

"You ran away," Ezra accused, tugging on Jesse's hair lightly. 

"You started talking to other guys," Jesse murmured, and yet with Ezra's hand playing with his ear and the wide, blissfully peaceful expression he wore when he was drunk, it somehow didn't matter. 

"Only because you ran away," Ezra teased, and bumped his nose against Jesse's clumsily. 

"Can we go?" Jesse whispered, dropping a hand to slide it around Ezra's hip and down to the top of his leg, rubbing against the denim of his jeans lightly. "Back to the hotel? I have designs." 

"On what?" 

"On you and the bed and being bendy." 

Ezra grinned, and downed the rest of his glass in one expert motion, his back and neck flexing like liquid in suspension. "I knew you got me drunk," he accused, and Jesse laughed, putting a hand into Ezra's back pocket to hook him in and guide him out. The night air was cold after the heat of the bar, and the underwear model had vanished like an ugly, sexy mirage. 

"You shouldn't talk to underwear models," he blurted out, and Ezra laughed too loudly in the street.
"I only talk to your underwear," he retorted, and then all the sense of it was slipping away, and Jesse simply forgot in favor of other things. 

For the moment.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Guest Blog & Giveaway: The Asylum Tales by Jocelynn Drake

UFI welcomes Author Jocelynn Drake. Thanks for Joining us!!

Is this your first time in Low Town – the setting of the Asylum Tales series?  I asked Gage Powell, local tattoo artist, to give you a quick tour of the city so you know all the great spots you need to visit.

Low Town Tour Guide
By Gage Powell & Jocelynn Drake 

I talked to that author I work with, Jocelynn Drake, recently and she mentioned that people were interested in visiting Low Town.  My first reaction was naturally, “You’re kidding, right?” but she was dead serious.    She suggested that I supply a quick guide to out-of-towners wanting a little adventure.

First, Low Town is in the Midwest, which means we get more snow than Florida and less snow than Montana each winter (unless the Winter Court decides to come to town and then you’re just better off vacationing at the South Pole because there’ll be less snow there).  In the summer, it’s hot.  Fry an egg on the sidewalk hot.  And no, it’s not a dry heat.

If you happen to be a shape-shifter, you’ll need to check in with the local packs to get approval to come into their territory.  Jackson Wagnalls is the alpha for the Low Town werewolf pack.  He’s an okay guy, but I wouldn’t mention my name since he’s not a fan of mine.  (I still think he’s blowing that whole Chihuahua thing out of proportion.)    Of course, if you’re a vampire, you’ll also need to swing by one of the local nests for approval as well.  We have two nests in town.  There are also several troll-friendly hotels in the area if you’re the type that’s extremely allergic to sunlight.

Low Town is like any medium-sized city.  We’ve got skyscrapers (the tallest being Lindner Tower).  We’ve got a zoo, theaters, and sports arenas, but you want the off-the-beaten path, 50-cent tour, right?

First, if you’re looking for something sweet, on the south side of town, there’s a little pastry and sweets shop called Brownie Delights.  I’ve been told that the things they do with chocolate are worth killing for (though they haven’t reported any deaths in over three years).  I don’t stop at the shop because I don’t trust the fey when it comes to food.

On the more adult end, there is a great tapas bar called Warm & Toasted.  The place has an excellent selection of wines, coffees, and empanadas.  Also, the place has become quite popular with vampires since they recently set up an agreement with local blood bank to keep in stock a few types of blood each night.  Just be sure to have your BBC (Blood Bank Card) on hand if you wish to order.  (Keep in mind this is the more slacks and collared shirt crowd.)

If you’re looking for more of the vintage rock T-shirt and jeans crowd, head over to Cock’s Crow.  The bar is wall-to-wall awesome with rock music blasted over the speakers when there isn’t a live band in the back.  The owner Dolan caters to all types.  He’s even set up some smaller tables on ledges near the ceiling for the pixies and faeries, but I wouldn’t advise sitting under them as they tend to spill their drinks as the night wears on.  The other nice thing is that since Dolan is a minotaur, the fights are kept to a minimum (except on Wednesday night – half-price shots and domestic beers for ogres and trolls).    

If you’re a fan of good beer and German food, head over to Strauss Haus Restaurant and Bier Garten.  They have the best imported beer selection on tap in the city and Tuesday night is half-priced sauerkraut balls.  (But watch out for Fridays, there’s a wandering polka band.  Also, don’t mention my name to the seating hostess.  She’s a siren and doesn’t like me much at the moment either.)

For a real adventure, or maybe just a wild bachelor/bachelorette party, I suggest Miss Holly’s Hot House.  Hidden in a quiet neighborhood, the succubus-run brothel employs only succubi and incubi, and caters to nearly every fantasy.  (Don’t worry, they are regulated by the health department.)

And what visit to Low Town would be complete without a new tattoo to show your friends when you get home?  Asylum Tattoo Parlor is just down the street from Strauss Haus.  Get Trixie, Bronx, or me to give you some fresh ink.  Want to forget about this vacation completely?  I’ve got the right potion that can help with that too.

You’re going to have a great time in Low Town.  If not, I can help you forget!

Gage Powell, tattoo artist and owner of Asylum Tattoo Parlor

[Dear Gage, Are you trying to scare people away? Also, this is a family-friendly site. I don’t think you need to include a BROTHEL in your highlights. Thanks, Jocelynn] 

[Dear Jocelynn, I think most people need a trip to a brothel while on vacation.  I’m keeping it in. Thanks, Gage] 

Low Town is a wild and strange place filled with the dangerous and unexpected.  Follow tattoo artist Gage Powell on his adventures through Low Town in the Asylum Tales with his friends Bronx and Trixie. 
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By day, Jocelynn Drake is a clean-cut financial editor, picking apart stories about Wall Street and the global markets. But in her free time, she writes about a dark underworld where vampires and warlocks rule.

The author of Dark Days and Asylum Tales series, she lives in Florida with her husband, dog, and cat. When she's not working on her next book, she's usually hiding from the sun by playing video games.

Find Jocelynn and her books
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Demon's Fury
The Asylum Tales #3.1
 Amazon
 Jocelynn Drake continues her successful urban fantasy series, Asylum Tales, with Demon’s Fury, set in a world where elves, faeries, trolls, werewolves, and vampires walk free among humanity.

Powerful warlock and tattoo artist Gage has managed to escape the magical Ivory Towers who terrorize the rest of humans and monsters – but at a price. Now he must join forces with his nemesis Gideon to stop an unknown entity who is using old magic to commit gruesome murders. And if that’s not keeping him busy enough, an investigator recruits Gage to help her track a killer … who might be targeting tattoo artists.

Demon's Vow
The Asylum Tales #3.2
 Amazon
 Bestselling author Jocelynn Drake continues her urban fantasy series with the second installment of the Final Asylum Tales, Demon’s Vow.

Tattoo artist and warlock Gage is having a rough week. He’s trying to track down a mysterious murderer in Low Town while also chasing a powerful entity using forbidden Death Magic across the nation. When Gage discovers the two forces may be trying to unite, the stakes get even higher. With Gideon’s help, Gage is determined to stop the murderers before anyone else gets hurt – including his girlfriend, Trixie.

Inner Demon
The Asylum Tales #3.3 
Amazon

Gage is a powerful warlock in Low Town, where elves, faeries, trolls, goblins, and vampires walk free among humanity. But there are two dangerous entities murdering families and children, and Gage needs to stop them before anybody else gets hurt.

When Gage discovers a demon locked away it offers him access to dark magic in exchange for its freedom – a dangerous opportunity, but one that could save his loved ones. Gage must choose between what is right and what is easy … except he’s running out of time.


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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review: Seventh Grave and No Body by Darynda Jones

Seventh Grave and No Body
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: St. Martins Press
ISBN:   1250045649
ISBN13: 9781250045645
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Publisher
Twelve. Twelve of the deadliest beasts ever forged in the fires of hell have escaped onto our plane, and they want nothing more than to rip out the jugular of Charley Davidson and serve her lifeless, mangled body to Satan for dinner. So there’s that. But Charley has more on her plate than a mob of testy hellhounds. For one thing, her father has disappeared, and the more she retraces his last steps, the more she learns he was conducting an investigation of his own, one that has Charley questioning everything she’s ever known about him. Add to that an ex-BFF who is haunting her night and day, a rash of suicides that has authorities baffled, and a drop-dead sexy fiancé who has attracted the attentions of a local celebrity, and Charley is not having the best week of her life.

A tad north of hell, a hop, skip, and a jump past the realm of eternity, is a little place called Earth, and Charley Davidson, grim reaper extraordinaire, is determined to do everything in her power to protect it.

We’re doomed.

I'm always really impatient and excited to get my greedy little hands on the next Charley Davidson book, so when my request for a review copy was granted I did a little happy dance and stalked my mailbox until my pretty new book arrived in the mail.

We were hit with some major news at the end of SIXTH GRAVE ON THE EDGE. Thankfully we don't have to wait long to learn more about that news in SEVENTH GRAVE AND NO BODY. It was interesting to witness all the feelings that the news brought out from not only Charley, but also Reyes and their friends/allies. I was a little curious how everyone would protect her now and if she would LET them and was glad to see this was addressed quite a few times throughout the book and especially at the end.

As with all the other books in this series some heavy stuff happens in SEVENTH GRAVE. I'm an emotional reader and it always seems to surprise me how easily I can go from laughing to crying with books in this series. Each book has brought out both in me and SEVENTH GRAVE is no exception. The book ends on a pretty heavy moment that left me with a box of kleenox, a "NO, it can't end like that" coming out of my mouth and lots of open strings to bring us into book 8.

Let's talk about the humor. LMAO is what I do for a good portion of each book. Charley is super snarky and finds a way to make a smart ass comment at every turn. She also happens to name EVERYTHING no matter how inappropriate it is, which happens to be hilarious.  Each chapter starts off with a t-shirt quote, or funny saying. Not sure where Darynda finds all of these, but I would definitely buy and wear most of them. So, if our looking for some humor with your action, hot romance and emotional roller coaster this series is for you!

I find it really hard to write reviews for books in long series because I usually have already said everything about the characters or the writing and world in previous reviews so I will leave my review at that. SEVENTH GRAVE AND NO BODY was another fantastic addition with another ending that left me salivating for more. Darynda Jones will continue to have a prominent spot on my bookshelf.

I gave it 5/5 stars

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

New Releases: 10/19-10/25


Mon. Oct. 20th

 Soulfire (Nightwing #1) by Juliette Cross

Tue. Oct. 21st

 Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker
 Loop (Loop #1) by Karen Akins
 This Is Your Afterlife by Vanessa Barneveld
 The Vines by Christopher Rice

Happy Reading!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Interview & Giveaway: Tainted Blood by Karen Greco

UFI welcomes Karen Greco Author of Tainted Blood. Thanks for Joining us!!



What can you tell my readers about yourself that they might not know from looking on your bio or reading in another interview? 

I am desperately afraid of heights, so the scene in Chapter 1 of Tainted Blood was a tough one for me to get through. Also, I am a Libra!

What do you enjoy doing on your down time? 

Is it bad to say that I love watching TV? We are really in a new Golden Age of television and there are some really wonderful shows out there.

What is your Favorite part of writing?

I love living with my characters -- sometimes when I am thinking about them and the story line, I will actually say something out loud to them. I also love the research phase. I am working on a new novel now that sent me to Trulio.com looking for an old Victorian house as a setting. Real estate porn is so much fun.

Do you have any certain routines you must follow as you write? 

Because my schedule is pretty crazy, I don't follow any routine, or else I would never write. I write, or outline, or jot down ideas on buses, subways, while waiting on line. There never seem to be enough hours in the day, so I cram it in wherever and whenever.

What are some of your Favorite books or Authors in the Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal Genres? 

There are loads! I love Richard Kadrey. Michael Carey, Kim Harrison. Of course, Ann Rice and Laurell K. Hamilton, who I think of as mentors to all who write urban fantasy/paranormal. Chris Ward is an indie writer that I absolutely adore. His Tube Riders series is terrific.

How would you pitch Tainted Blood to someone who has not heard of it before?

Someone called the Hell's Belle series "Buffy for grown-ups," which is not entirely inaccurate! It's about a half vampire/half witch who is coping with a very real supernatural threat that, more and more, looks like only she is the key to extinguishing. She is dealing with loads of family issues, too, wrapped up with issues of trust. What makes a family? Does family have to be blood related? Can you trust your family? What does it mean if that trust is destroyed?

Can you tell us a little bit about the world that Tainted Blood is set in? 

Tainted Blood, and Hell's Belle, are set in the not-too-far future. The idea is that supernatural creatures walk amongst us, and the government agency that Nina and her crew works with—Blood Ops—is around to make sure it's kept that way. They are kind of like a secret police force.

Do you have a favorite scene in Tainted Blood

Wow. This is a tough one. I love the opening scene. I love action, I love writing action, and Hell's Belle (the first book in the series) had a ton of it. There is a bit less action in this one, so I find I gravitate to the scenes where Nina's kicking someone's ass.

Which one character out of all your books was your favorite to write about? What about the hardest to write about? 

I love Nina, and I adore writing for Frankie. Those are my favorite characters to write. And they are really great together. I can't say what the hardest one was to write in this book, because it's a major spoiler. But there is one chapter that I still choke up when reading.

What Other Projects can we look forward to reading from you? 

I am jugging three (OMG!) book projects right now, including the third book in the Hell's Belle series. I am also working on a stand alone paranormal romance, and I have another stand alone urban fantasy in the outline phase. There are a lot of stories I am aching to tell!
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Karen Greco has spent close to twenty years in New York City, working in publicity and marketing for the entertainment industry. Originally from Rhode Island (she loves hot wieners from New York System, but can't stand coffee milk), she studied playwriting in college (and won an award or two).

After not writing plays for a long time, a life-long obsession with exorcists and Dracula drew her to urban fantasy, where she can decapitate characters with impunity.

Her first novel, Hell's Belle, was released in 2013. Tainted Blood is the second book in the best-selling Hell's Belle urban fantasy series.

Find Karen and her books
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Tainted Blood 
Hell's Belle #2
After surviving a vampire assassin (not to mention an awkward affair with a hot FBI agent that ended worse than she could have imagined), witch/vampire hybrid Nina Martinez is reunited with the full Blood Ops team in Providence, Rhode Island. Her Aunt Babe is tutoring her in all things witchcraft, and her vampire partner Frankie is enjoying the benefits of daywalking, courtesy of a demon spell.

When a segment of the Rhode Island vampire population is marked for death by a tainted blood supply, Nina and her team race to find Patient Zero before the local vampire population is wiped out. But when a demon infestation threatens to take control of the city, Nina must join forces with newly elected mayor—and closet demon— Ami Bertrand before the city falls into ruin.

Filled with fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat action, Nina and her group of supernatural misfits battle a surprising new enemy that threatens their very existence.

No wonder she still can’t get a date.
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