Review: Polaris Rising
4 Stars , Reviews / January 21, 2019

Polaris Rising is a steamy fun adventure with two main characters who just happen to be the two biggest fugitives (for one reason or another). Ada is a younger daughter of the leading figure of one of the three High Houses in the universe. Needless to say, her father is incredibly powerful and her name carries quite a bit of weight. But when her father tries to press her in to a marriage she does not want, Ada flees her home and makes a life for herself outside of her house. Unfortunately for her, her father did not just forget about her but instead put a huge price on her head, the second highest bounty in the universe. Ada is the kind of kick ass heroine who will not give up and bow to daddy, but will rather use her determination, skill and cunning to plan a way to escape. One of my favorite things about Ada is her intelligence and her determination. And her ability to kick ass. I guess there are a lot of things I love about Ada, but the fact she relies on more than just fighting skills or her womanly wiles was certainly a huge…

Review: Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway
3.5 Stars , Reviews / January 14, 2019

Dark of the West is the story of revolution, war, and of course, of forbidden love. It’s told through alternating perspectives from Athan, who grew up in constant war and is the third son of a ruthless and powerful general who is leading a revolution. Aurelia grew up somewhat sheltered as a princess of smaller kingdom that has not experienced war firsthand at home. I really enjoyed both perspectives. Athan is a pilot who is getting ready to go through testing to determine his placement after his training ends. He is the clear favorite of his mother who hates the constant war and wants Athan to find a way out of it, a way to stay safe and not waste his life. This makes her the opposite of his father who lives and breathes war and strategy and expects the same of his sons. If Athan had his way, he would follow his mother’s preferred path for him. He is extremely intelligent and a very skilled pilot, his father’s ideal combination, so Athan’s strategy is to hide as much of that from his father as possible. But his father is determined to use Athan however he can, and will use…

Review: Shades of Wicked by Jeaniene Frost
Reviews / December 10, 2018

So, I rarely read paranormal romance, which this book falls squarely into, but you know, sometimes the mood just strikes to read a book were passions run high. I’ve not read any of Jeaniene Frost’s other novels, but evidently this one, while a first in series,  is set in the same world as other books and features a character, Ian, that has been a secondary character from her existing works. I had no problems at all entering with this series. If I was missing knowledge or connections for backstory or references I think it was trivial and definitely did not impact my enjoyment of the book. There’s a chance there could be references that other readers may pick up on that went over my head, but as a new reader this felt like the start of a brand new series and worked quite well. Anything I needed to know was provided as part of the story. I mention this because I have read some books where it was quite evident I was missing something important by not reading the previous series. So for anyone concerned, this absolutely felt like a great starting place. Evidently Ian has been a fan favorite…

Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven
4 Stars , Reviews / September 24, 2018

I really don’t read all that many books labeled Romance, but will admit, sometimes, it is just what I want. I was offered this book right as I was in one of those moods where I was craving a bit (or maybe even a lot) of romance. So, despite having a backlog of other books to review, I couldn’t resist and accepted. And of course, I dove in right away, The story, while quite different from The Hunger Games, does have a bit of the same feel since each town is expected to deliver one of their women each year to be be part of a mass sacrifice in the arena. This is the Empire’s way of trying to gain favor from the gods. Gilene has amazing talents, however, instead of giving her any sort of benefit, she is expected to use them only as a way for her town to circumvent the required sacrifice. For her it is more of a curse than a gift, something that puts her in a horrible position and exposes her to the pain and suffering that is a result of the Empire’s ways over and over. The other main character is Azarion, who has been…

Review: Torn by Rowenna Miller
4.5 Stars , Reviews / March 19, 2018

Torn by Rowenna Miller was just a joy to read. I loved the concept of integrating magic with sewing and quickly found myself swept away into the world and character of Sophie. She is innovative, independent and loyal, though her loyalties wind up rather divided, putting her in a hard position. This is set very much in a have/have-nots world with the elite upper class, and the lower working class. The rich have an extreme amount of control. To even attempt to start a business, one must apply for a permit and most applications are quickly denied. And if there is an existing business that you would be competition for? Don’t even think about it. It adds enormous barriers for residents to raise themselves to a better quality of life. Sophie is a minority in addition to being from the lower class part of town, but has worked hard and risen to a respectible position that serves the upper class. She even runs her own shop and even has a couple of employees, which can seem like an unattainable dream for someone with her background and position. Charms were not historically desirable in the culture she is now a part…

Backlist Burndown Review: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
4 Stars , Reviews / April 28, 2017

Shades of Milk and Honey is a wonderful regency romance with just enough magic (or glamour) to add an extra layer of enchantment for the reader. For anyone who enjoys Jane Austen, I highly recommend this one. While the story is enjoyable, I also feel like this is a style of book where you just enjoy how it is told, and immersing yourself in the world and time period. The main protagonist, Jane, is not a stunning beauty, but she does have an extraordinary ability to weave glamours (illusions).  While she is past the normal marrying age and resigned to be spinster (her word, not mine), you also know that she will not lead a boring life. She has a passion for what she does, and a personality that can thrive with independence. The book is full of potential romances. Jane’s sister, Melody, is as beautiful as Jane is not and several potential romances seem to be blooming. Melody may be beautiful, but her ability with glamour is not very strong. Being able to work glamours is a skill that is well regarded, and some may even consider essential, for ladies of the time. They use it to adorn their…

The Shadow Master by Craig Cormick
2.5 Stars , Reviews / May 19, 2014

The Shadow Master by Craig Cormick was a different read for me. It is a bit steam punk with some humor thrown in, and a central romance of star crossed lovers. The central premise of the story is interesting. The land has been ravaged by plague, with no one safe or immune from its devastating effects. No one that is, outside of the Walled City. Within these walls they hold the secret to keeping the plague at bay, so the fortunate people within live unmarred and healthy. But of course, that does not mean they live in harmony. Within this oasis from the plague, the people are divided between two households (the Medicis and the Lorraines) to the degree that a brief glimpse at a man’s facial hair will speak of his allegiance, which house he supports. Oh, and of course, this is a Romeo/Juliet love story, so our star-crossed lovers are from the different houses. (Brief confession here, I kept expecting to hear songs from West Side Story break out while reading). Lorenzo (our Romeo) is an apprentice to Galileo, the Medicis most powerful alchemist and inventor. Lorenzo has a brilliant mind and is eager to solve problems and create…

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
4 Stars , Reviews / May 4, 2014

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is like something you just take pleasure in looking at or watching, enjoying and appreciating just the simple beauty of it because it is there That is something that I haven’t run across much with books. I also love the flow of prose in this. It’s not face paced, it just takes you on a meandering stroll through a magical and mysterious world. The setting of the Night Circus is just … Magical. It appears in the night, and has never before seen, and quite unexplainable wonders. A true air of mystery surrounds the place. There can be magic in words that captures the imagination to a higher level than normal. Part of the beauty of this book is that experience. Morgenstern guides us very well, but it’s up to us to see the real magic in the circus. I just don’t see how this could be replicated in film, or images as it strips the reader (or viewer) of filling in the blanks, deciding for them self how to view these things. Pretty much, I feel the beauty of the book is caused by the prose and the response it invokes from the…

Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard
4 Stars , Reviews / February 14, 2014

  How appropriate to finish and review Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard on Valentine’s Day. I’m not one to make a fuss about the holiday, but even I have to admit, if I am going to post a review on Valentine’s Day, it is very fitting that it would be for Moth and Spark. This is very much a love story. It is about freeing dragons, saving the empire and winning love. And I won’t say that it is the boy’s story to do these things, because in this the romance is also a partnership. Together, what can be accomplished is much more than individually. The romance in Moth and Spark is an unlikely romance (and I mean unlikely in their world, obviously as readers, we are quite used to such things).  When the two meet, sparks fly. They are drawn to each other as a moth to flame. You get the idea. Like I said, this is very much a story of love and romance. Corin is, of course, the handsome prince that all the court is swooning over in hopes of landing a royal marriage. Well, maybe not all the court. Only those who have a high…