Sunday, March 29, 2015

Week in Review: 3/22-3/28



Books Received for Review

- Pirate's Alley by Suzanne Johnson- eARC- Bewitching Book Tours

Books I've Read

Alter of Reality by Mara Valderran
Total Surrender by Rebecca Zanetti
The Shattered Court by M.J. Scott
Witches be Burned by Stacey Kennedy
Pirate's Alley by Suzanne Johnson

Reviews Posted

Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle
Locked in Stone by Tory Micheals
Recurve by Shannon Mayer

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

* Monday- Interview for Reaper Madness by Nessie Strange

* Tuesday- Guest Blog & Giveaway for Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle

* Friday- Promo for Thane's Redemption by Nina Crespo

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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.
 
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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Review: Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle

Dark Alchemy
Author: Laura Bickle
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: Harper Voyager Impulse
ISBN:   0062389866
ISBN13: 9780062389862
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Edelweiss

Some secrets are better left buried …

Geologist Petra Dee arrives in Wyoming looking for clues to her father's disappearance years before. What she finds instead is Temperance, a dying Western town with a gold rush past and a meth-infested present. But under the town's dust and quiet, an old power is shifting. When bodies start turning up - desiccated and twisted skeletons that Petra can't scientifically explain - her investigations land her in the middle of a covert war between the town's most powerful interests. Petra's father wasn't the only one searching for the alchemical secrets of Temperance, and those still looking are now ready to kill. Armed with nothing but shaky alliances, a pair of antique guns, and a relic she doesn't understand, the only thing Petra knows for sure is that she and her coyote sidekick are going to have to move fast, or die next.

Although I did end up enjoying DARK ALCHEMY for the most part, it wasn't exactly what I was expecting it to be. I found some things in the story just plain odd and I had a hard time connecting to the main secondary character, Gabriel, who's story had a lot to do with the book as a whole.

Petra was easier to connect to and understand. Her reasons for being in Temperance and her past struggles were well explained. She knows what she needs and she fights to get it. The surprising addition of Sig, her familiar was fun. He was a crafty little coyote and I found myself looking forward to hearing what he was doing. I do wish we would have gotten more scenes with Petra doing her geology thing. There was plenty of action and danger involved which helped the story move along.

DARK ALCHEMY had a very unique storyline with a nice pace with a slightly hard to understand world if you're not paying total attention to the story. If you're looking for a bit of a different Urban Fantasy, it might be for you.

I gave it 3/5 stars

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

Friday, March 27, 2015

Promo: Thane's Redemption by Nina Crespo


*This is part of a bigger book tour, visit UFI on 3/18 and 3/30 to read about the other books and authors.


Thane's Redemption
The Song #1
Amazon

 The one night she'll want to remember, she'll be forced to forget.

It's been almost a year since Celine's fiancĂ©'s death and she's still struggling to move on. But when she meets Thane, the super hot lead singer of Thane’s Redemption, she finds her desire reawakening, and her heart opening. Soon one kiss leads them straight into a night of heated passion…

Thane’s unexpected connection with Celine only leaves him wanting more of her—but his life makes it impossible. For Thane's Redemption is just a cover for a deeper secret: A former Army Ranger presumed dead, Thane is really a time-traveling, covert operative charged with saving the world from disaster. Each jump through time forces those around him to forget he ever existed—and Celine would be no exception. But can time work in their favor to give them a second chance at love? Or will a choice Thane makes in the future put Celine in mortal danger?
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Nina Crespo lives in Florida where she indulges in her favorite passions — the beach, a good glass of wine, date night with her own real-life hero and dancing.

Her lifelong addiction to romance began in her teens while on a “borrowing spree” in her older sister’s bedroom where she discovered her first romance novel.

Curiosity about people and places, including what’s beyond the stars, fuels her writer’s imagination. Let Nina’s sensual contemporary stories and steamy paranormal tales feed your own addiction for love, romance, and happily ever after.

Find Nina and her books
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Review: Locked in Stone by Tory Micheals

Locked in Stone
Release Date: February 23, 2015
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
ISBN:   1508573131
ISBN13: 9781508573135
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Review Copy Source: NetGalley
Her enemy is her only hope...

Rose Johnson's adoptive mother was murdered, and Rose is next. She may be the last gargoyle in the world—the last being who stands between this world and the evils of Otherworld. In order to keep her existence a continued secret, Rose needs to find the stone that holds her adoptive mother's soul. Which means enlisting the help of her enemies the Sentinels...

Sentinel Cal Levesque never forgave himself for failing Rose's family years ago. Seeing Rose alive is shock enough, until the stunningly beautiful gargoyle attacks him upon sight. As they strike an uneasy peace—and unexpected and escalating attraction—Cal knows he'll have to tell Rose who really betrayed her family. And with Rose's life in greater danger than ever, Cal has a chance to make up for the past...as long he doesn't fall in love.

LOCKED IN STONE brought along interesting characters, a fast paced story and action along the way.

Considering that LOCKED IN STONE is a paranormal romance, I wasn't totally sold on the relationship between Rose and Cal. Of course they were a hot together when they finally got together, but I didn't feel the connection I was hoping to between them. I did like both characters though. Rose doesn't let down her guard easily which is understandable considering what she has lost and how she was raised. Cal doesn't feel he is good enough for Rose, so holds himself back a lot. He is very protective of her though and that shines through in every chapter.

I liked the Gargoyle aspects of LOCKED IN STONE. Rose thought she was the last one left on earth before she went to the Sentinel's for help and her reaction and the reunion between her and her family members was great. I also enjoyed learning about her role in the gargoyle community.

I enjoyed the story as a whole, it really did need more romance though. I also would have appreciated more in regards to the world building and back story. As a first book it was decent and I will think about reading more.

I gave it 3/5 stars

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

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Early Review: Recurve by Shannon Mayer

Recurve
Author: Shannon Mayer
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: HiJinks Ink Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN13:  9780993910579
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Publisher

“My name is Larkspur, and I am an Elemental.”

My people use the power of the earth to sustain life and defy our enemies. I should be at my father's side as a royal princess. But as a half-breed, bastard child, that isn't going to happen.


I've been accused of attacking the queen, my wicked stepmother, and my life is suddenly on the line. I have only two options left to me: banishment, or training to become one of the King's Elite Guards, an Ender.

Option one will kill me.
Option two is meant to break me, but is the only way to survive.

Did I mention I have no power like the rest of the elementals, and my connection to the earth is worth next to nothing?

Could things get any worse? Of course they can. Welcome to being an Elemental.

I was introduced to Shannon Mayer's writing when I started reading her Rylee Adamson series and I was immediately hooked to her writing style, characters and the great world she built. When it was announced that she would be starting a new Urban Fantasy series I knew I wanted it to be on my wishlist and when RECURVE arrived on my kindle I jumped right into the world of The Elemental Series. 

It took me a bit to get into the story, but once I did, I didn't want to pull myself away. Larkspur is a half-breed treated like dirt because she doesn't have any magic, but what no one knows, including her, is that she is more powerful than anyone could ever imagine. We learn who and what Larkspur is right away as RECURVE jumps into the very important events of Larkspur's past. It really helps set up the world and storyline. It's easy to understand Lark's feelings as events happen and she makes it easy to want to root for her. I really liked how Larkspur jumped into training as an Ender. She didn't have much of a choice, but she takes it all in stride and goes full force into being the best she can be to prove she can do it. 
  
There are a lot of big scenes in RECURVE and we are still just learning about Lark and the depths of what she is capable of. There are some great supporting characters introduced that I feel will play a big role in books to come. I felt like RECURVE was a really good start to Shannon's new series.

I gave it 4/5 stars

* I was provided this ARC copy by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Guest Blog & Giveaway: Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle


UFI welcomes Author Laura Bickle. Thanks for Joining us!!

The Raven King
By Laura Bickle

“The Hanged Men are a product of a flawed and incomplete process. We cannot be transformed or restored to perfect, eternal life. Or even an imperfect mortal one. We are suspended in the mortification stage, what the old masters called the Black Raven or the Raven King—the black, decaying stage of alchemy. All things that give rise to life must first decompose.” 

Ravens play a pretty large part in alchemy. Classical alchemy sought to conjure gold from base metals and to create the elixir of eternal life. There are seven processes the alchemist must accomplish in order to achieve a perfect transformation: calcination, dissolution, coagulation, sublimation, mortification, separation, and conjunction. Ravens are the symbol of the mortification stage, the stage of alchemical death.

While creating the magical world of DARK ALCHEMY, I was pretty fascinated with the history of ravens in alchemy. In DARK ALCHEMY, ravens became familiars for a group of undead ranch hands called the Hanged Men. The Hanged Men have haunted the small western town of Temperance since the Gold Rush days. The town was founded by an alchemist, Lascaris, and they were one of his incomplete experiments on the road to figuring out the secret of eternal life.

The Hanged Men were made at the feet of the Lunaria, a magical tree standing in an empty field. The Lunaria symbolizes the “as above, so below” alchemical principle, as its roots dig into the earth and the branches reach toward the sky in perfect symmetry. The Hanged Men were executed at this tree, and the tree grants them immortality…of a sort.

This group of men is bound to the tree, which grows on land owned by a ruthless cattle baron. The Hanged Men must return to the tree each night to decompose and regenerate, and they can’t wander very far from it. And that decomposition and regeneration? Not a pretty process. The scarred tree stands above a warren of tunnels that creep miles underground – so deep that the cattle baron doesn’t know their full extent.

As far as being undead goes, these guys got a raw deal with the immortality experiment. Some of the early Hanged Men have retained most of their memory and self-awareness, when it isn’t being partitioned off into the bodies of birds to spy on their enemies. But later generations received less consciousness as the power of the tree waned. Some can’t talk, and a few aren’t even passably human.

Gabriel was one of the first ones. He came to Temperance more than a hundred years ago, as a Pinkerton agent sent by Lascaris’s investors to figure out where all the gold was coming from. His specialty was the arcane and supernatural – the nineteenth century’s answer to the X-Files. Alas, things did not go so well for him. He was hanged by Lascaris from the branches of the Lunaria, and has remained in Temperance ever since, pretending to be a ranch hand for successive generations of cattle barons. It’s like a coating of dust on a rattlesnake – camouflage that works right up until someone steps on the snake.

Pretending to be human is a difficult business in the present-day weird west. When Petra Dee, a scientist, comes to town searching for her lost father, she unearths some odd secrets about this strange land…and stumbles into a string of murders. The bodies are warped like driftwood and oddly calcinated – something she can’t rationally explain.

It seems like the Hanged Men know something about the deaths. Always in the company of ravens, they are forever at the wrong place at the right time. Are the Hanged Men covering up more history that has come to light? Are the bodies casualties of a war with the local drug lord? Is there even more unknown magic at work?

Petra will have to suspend her disbelief to get to the bottom of the murders – if Gabe and the Hanged Men let her get that close.

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Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology – Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams.

Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016. THE HALLOWED ONES and THE OUTSIDE are her latest young adult novels.

Find Laura and her books
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Dark Alchemy
Amazon BN Google Books
HarperCollins

Some secrets are better left buried…

Geologist Petra Dee arrives in Wyoming looking for clues to her father’s disappearance years before. What she finds instead is Temperance, a dying Western town with a gold rush past and a meth-infested present.

But under the town’s dust and quiet, an old power is shifting. When bodies start turning up - desiccated and twisted skeletons that Petra can’t scientifically explain - her investigations land her in the middle of a covert war between the town’s most powerful interests. Petra’s father wasn’t the only one searching for the alchemical secrets of Temperance, and those still looking are now ready to kill.
Armed with nothing but shaky alliances, a pair of antique guns, and a relic she doesn’t understand, the only thing Petra knows for sure is that she and her coyote sidekick are going to have to move fast, or die next.

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Tour Wide

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Releases: 3/22-3/28


Tue. March 24th

 Ares' Temptation by Aubrie Dionne
 Catalyst (Control #2) by Lydia Kang
 Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle
 Guardians (Wasteland #3) by Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan
 The Moon Tells Secrets by Savanna Welles 
 The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Happy Reading!