Review: Unmasked by EM Kaplan

UnmaskedTitle: Unmasked
Author: EM Kaplan
Series: standalone
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Fantasy/ Paranormal
Links:

Blurb:
Mel can sense the blood beating through her companions’ veins. She can count the moments between heartbeats to tell who is sincere and who is lying. She can make herself stronger for short periods of time, heal small wounds on her body, and manipulate light to change her appearance subtly. These abilities are useful skills for a Mask—a preternaturally sensitive, cloaked and imposing, impartial arbitrator, both revered and feared by everyone.

Mattieus Ottick, or just Ott to his friends, comes from the frozen north to hunt the strange ogre-like creatures, or trogs, that threaten the northern mines. Magical beasties? Nightmares come to life? The world as Ott knows it is about to change. Blessed by easy charm and good looks, Ott is used to the attention of females, but, gods above, he is knocked flat by the kiss of the ethereal woman he rescues. How could she possibly be a Mask?

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Rated approximately PG-13 for fantasy violence and some smooching.

My Review:
Unmasked is the story of Mel, a young girl with special paranormal abilities, who is in training to be a Mask. The community of Masks are skilled mediators, called upon to negotiate disputes, and they are as revered as they are feared.Trained to be neutral, objective and emotionless, they lead a rather solitary life. Mel is sent to Cillary Keep to study human nature, and to see where she fits in society. A chance encounter with a hunter named Ott changes her destiny forever.
It took me a little while to get into the story, but once I got to Chapter 5 I was drawn into the world and quickly became engrossed.
This book is beautifully written and EM Kaplan has a magical way with words.
I’d highly recommend this book to fans of fantasy/paranormal romance.

Review: Sentinel (Covenant #5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

SentinelTitle: Sentinel
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Covenant #5
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance/ Mythology
Links:

Blurb:
It’s a beautiful day for a war.

As the mortal world slowly slips into chaos of the godly kind, Alexandria Andros must overcome a stunning defeat that has left her shaken and in doubt of their ability to end this war once and for all.

And with all the obstacles between Alex and her happily-ever-after with the swoonworthy Aiden St. Delphi, they must now trust a deadly foe as they travel deep into the Underworld to release one of the most dangerous gods of all time.

In the stunning, action-packed climax to the bestselling Covenant series, Alex must face a terrible choice: the destruction of everything and everyone she holds dear… or the end of herself.

My Review:
I was so hoping that the last book in the Covenent Series would deliver, and I wasn’t disappointed. Another roller-coaster of a read. Alex has really come into her own in Sentinel and she maturely handles the cards she has been dealt. Her selfish tendencies have diminished and her concern for Aiden, Seth, Marcus and her friends tends to override personal concerns for her own welfare.
I’m so glad that Seth redeemed himself in this book, as I’ve always felt he was decent underneath it all. I understand that he needed to do what he did, to try and atone for his sins, but I’m sad at the prospect of the life he has chosen. I’d love another Novella to prove that he made the right choice (pretty please Jennifer.
Aiden – oh my gods, what can I say? He’s awesome, the most amazing boyfriend ever and I love him to bits. Swoon. Not without his flaws mind you, but his unwavering loyalty and love of Alex is mind-blowing. Their romance/sex scenes are incredible, though I felt there were a few too many, and it could have been toned down a little.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I blubbed like a baby towards the end, and I actually skipped a few pages to make sure I got the ending that I NEEDED. Thank the gods, Jennifer delivered, the ending is perfect.
I feel quite grief-stricken at this point, because there is no more. I’m not ready to say goodbye to Alex, Aiden and Seth and I really hope Jennifer. L. Armentrout gives us another Novella.
This is a truly amazing series, and I’ve read some incredible ones recently, but this is up there at the very top of my list. A must-read.

Blog Tour: Just a Kiss by Kate Kisset

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Today is my stop during the blog tour for Just a Kiss. I’ll share my review with you and there’s a tour wide givaway.

JustaKisseBook-1Title:Just a Kiss
Author: Kate Kisset
Series: A Wine Country Romance Series #1
Rating: 3 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
One Wine Country Villa
Six Santino Brothers
And lots of wine…

Reeling from the loss of her mother, Sarah Dupont catches her fiancé doing the nasty on top of her pastry table at their San Francisco Bakery.

Devastated, she calls her best friend, lifestyle reporter, Danica Vargas. Danica convinces Sarah to start fresh, and rent a room with her at an historic mansion in Sonoma Valley.

With two roommates who act like the sisters she never had and a feisty landlord to stand in as the grandmother she always wanted, Sarah’s opens a café on the Sonoma Plaza. Her life changes the moment the little bell on the door rings and the notoriously sexy actor Jamie Santino, swaggers in.

Jamie, one of the six Santino Brothers, of Napa Valley Winery fame, needs baking lessons for his new movie and Sarah is just the woman to teach him.
Wine flows, their love affair heats up and a tempestuous femme fatale enters the scene.

How can Sarah trust that Jamie isn’t acting when everything he says seems too good to be true?

My Review:
Sarah’s whole life has been falling apart at the seams thanks to a heartless ex-fiance who betrayed her in every way possible. Broke and alone, she moves to be with her friend Danica and sets about rebuilding her life.

Jamie Santino’s film career has been in the doldrums thanks to a disastrous ex who manipulated his feelings to further her own career. He now has the chance to turn things around, but he needs Sarah’s help. Sarah reluctantly agrees to allow him conduct some ‘research’ in her cafe and thus our story begins.

While I liked this book, I didn’t love it.

The writing is decent and the style consistent with other books of this genre. Certainly, Kate Kisset shows enormous promise as a writer. The pacing is good and the story flows without any need to skim. There is a decent amount of descriptive text without it being overbearing. I loved the addition of the girls wine club, the Santino winery, and all the wine-related references (not that I’m a lush or anything, you understand.)

However, this book is too short, and both plot and character development suffered as a result. It was hard to feel an emotional attachment to either Sarah or Jamie, and I didn’t feel a connection to them as a couple. At times, the dialogue was really witty, and at other times it was stiff, unnatural, or downright cringy.

This book has the potential to be better with stronger developmental editing. I’ve recently read a couple of other books with the same issues and it’s quite frustrating, especially when the author clearly has talent.

If you are looking for a light, quick, summer read then you’ll most likely enjoy this book.

Thanks to Inkslinger PR and the author for providing me with a review copy of this book in exhange for my honest review.

Excerpt:
Help me get a grip, I’m melting into her eyes… He took a beat to compose himself.
“What would you like me to do Sarah?” he asked.
She moved closer and parted her lips.
I’m going, going…
“I think I’d like you to kiss me now.”
Gone…
On tiptoe and cradling the back of his head, she guided him to her.
No one could surprise him in the love department except Sarah Dupont. He skimmed his hands over the outline of her soft curves and pulled her in tighter. She tasted like cabernet and cake, and he closed his eyes so he could savor her lips.
A low moan escaped her, and hit him in the gut. He didn’t know where to start with his hands and moved them over the sexy arch of her back and pressed her closer to him.
“The tree,” he said quickly, not wanting to be away from her mouth. “Does the tree hurt your back?”
“Don’t stop kissing me,” she said. The need in Sarah’s voice surprised him, making him strain against his jeans. He fought to slow down, to wait, to catch a breath before he lost it.
He swept his lips across her cheek. “Sarah.” When he reached her earlobe, he nipped. She felt luscious and pliable in his arms. He almost couldn’t handle listening to her quick breaths and the feeling of her heart pumping so fast against him.
“Sarah.” He nuzzled behind her ear, kissing and sucking her neck. “Don’t make me stop.”
She groaned between breaths.
He felt drunk, but he’d had only had a few glasses of wine. Touching, kissing and listening to her whimpers made him feel like he could tip over any minute and bury himself into her.

HeadshotKateKissetLGFile.About the Author:
Former San Francisco Radio Disc Jockey Kate Kisset has a passion for telling great stories. After playing thousands of Hot AC, Country, Rock and Oldies tunes, for her primarily female fan base, she changed her tune and became an author.

Just a Kiss is the first book in her wine country romance series, The Single Girls Wine Club.

She lives in Northern California and Santa Barbara with her family and rescue pup “editor” Luciana Parmigiana, where she hikes, reads, listens to music, and drinks wine.

Links:

There is a tour wide giveaway, which you can enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Review: Apollyon (Covenant #4) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

ApollyonTitle: Apollyon
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Covenant #4
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance/ Mythology
Links:

Blurb:
Fate isn’t something to mess with… and now, neither is Alex.

Alex has always feared two things: losing herself in the Awakening and being placed on the Elixir. But love has always been stronger than Fate, and Aiden St. Delphi is willing to make war on the gods—and Alex herself—to bring her back.

The gods have killed thousands and could destroy entire cities in their quest to stop Seth from taking Alex’s power and becoming the all-powerful God Killer. But breaking Alex’s connection to Seth isn’t the only problem. There are a few pesky little loopholes in the whole “an Apollyon can’t be killed” theory, and the only person who might know how to stop the destruction has been dead for centuries.

Finding their way past the barriers that guard the Underworld, searching for one soul among countless millions, and then somehow returning will be hard enough. Alex might be able to keep Seth from becoming the God Killer… or she might become the God Killer herself.

My Review:
Another fast-paced, addictive, page turner from Jennifer L. Armentrout. Seriously, these books are so hard to put down and I’m feeling a little annoyed that I’ve read them so fast, because now I only have Sentinel left and I’m already missing this series.
Apollyon is epic and the plot twists and turns just keep on coming. I really loved how Alex and Aiden’s relationship blossomed in this book and they are a real partnership now. I just couldn’t get enough of those romance scenes, swoon-worthy in the extreme. I suspect I know what’s around the corner for them, and I’m excited to see how the next chapter enfolds.
I missed Seth dreadfully in this book, yes – he’s there, at the end of the cord, but it’s not the same. Poor Seth, he’s just so lost and all he wants is to be truly loved. I really hope Alex can get through to him because I’d hate it if she actually did have to kill him.
I suspected Romvi from the start, and in Deity, I pretty much figured it out. All the same, he turned into an even nastier piece of work than I’d expected.
Alex has matured in this book and it was a natural progression for her, though I loved her when she was being consistently snarky and irrational.
I think my favorite scene of the novel was when Alex and Aiden were in the Underworld. To combine romance, action, and suspense so expertly is the sign of a really talented author.
This is an incredible series; awesome writing, engaging characters, action packed plot and compelling dialogue. A must read for all fans of YA fiction.

Review: Elixir (Covenant #3.5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

ElixirTitle: Elixir
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Covenant #3.5
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance/ Mythology
Links:

Blurb:
Aiden St. Delphi will do anything to save Alex.
Even if it means doing the one thing he will never forgive himself for.
Even if it means making war against the gods.

My Review:
Loved reading from Aiden’s point of view and his devotion to Alex is beyond doubt. It’s certainly getting creepy with Seth and I’m so afraid for Alex, I hope she is strong enough to overcome and break the connection. Difficult to read of her change under the elixir. Strong writing, another great read from Jennifer L. Armentrout.

Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

the coldest girl in coldtownTitle: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Author: Holly Black
Series: standalone
Rating: 3.5 stars
Genres: Paranormal
Links:

Blurb:
Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

My Review:
3.5 Stars. The writing is excellent and Holly Black is obviously very talented but I had issues with the plot, it felt a bit non-existent the first half of the book and only just made up for it in the second half. The pacing was very slow at the start and with every page I turned I was hoping it would pick up – it did eventually. I liked the characters, they were very easy to love/hate. I actually liked Aidan; yes, he’s a total ass but a harmless one really, and I thought he had a certain charm. The biggest disappointment for me was the Tana and Gavriel romance, I really would have liked more. However,that scene towards the end – wow, very dark and decadent indeed. More of that would have heightened my enjoyment of this book. I would still recommend it, it’s a good read, it just didn’t live up to my expectation – I expected more from an author of this caliber.

Review: Deity (Covenant #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Fire flowerTitle: Deity
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Covenant #3
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance/ mythology
Links:

Blurb:
“History is on repeat, and things didn’t go so well the last time. ”

Alexandria isn’t sure she’s going to make it to her eighteenth birthday–to her Awakening. A long-forgotten, fanatical order is out to kill her, and if the Council ever discovers what she did in the Catskills, she’s a goner… and so is Aiden.

If that’s not freaky enough, whenever Alex and Seth spend time “training”–which really is just Seth’s code word for some up-close and personal one-on-one time–she ends up with another mark of the Apollyon, which brings her one step closer to Awakening ahead of schedule. Awesome.

But as her birthday draws near, her entire world shatters with a startling revelation and she’s caught between love and Fate. One will do anything to protect her. One has been lying to her since the beginning. Once the gods have revealed themselves, unleashing their wrath, lives will be irrevocably changed… and destroyed.

Those left standing will discover if love is truly greater than Fate…

My Review:
Absolutely brilliant read, just like the first two books in this series, a perfect blend of adventure, action and romance. Boy does Jennifer L. Armentrout know how to write really compelling dialogue. Totally engrossing and hard to put down. I was so disappointed with Seth in this book, though I suspected something like this from him. I didn’t believe I could love Aiden any more, but he really comes through for Alex in Deity. If they don’t end up together I think I may cry. And that ending – oh my gods, incredible. Can’t wait to read Apollyon.

Review: Half-Blood (Covenant #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Half BloodTitle: Half-Blood
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Covenant #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance/ Mythology
Links:

Blurb:
The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi pure bloods have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals–well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures. Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden. Unfortunately, she’s crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn’t her biggest problem–staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.

My Review:
I can’t believe it has taken me this long to discover Jennifer L. Armentrout but I’m just so glad that I’ve found her now. What a writing power house – she has written so many books and I cannot wait to get stuck in.
So onto Half-Blood and Daimon which were both included in the paperback version I read. I really enjoyed Jennifer’s style of writing and this book just flows so easily and was a very smooth read. Incredible, totally sucked me in from the get-go. I found it very very difficult to put this book down. Loved the world, loved the characters, amazing plot lines, compelling dialogue. I really don’t think I can fault it in any way and I’m totally hooked on the Covenent series now.

Review: Pure (Covenant #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Title: Pure
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Covenant #2
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance/ Mythology
Links:

Blurb:
There is need. And then there is Fate. Being destined to become some kind of supernatural electrical outlet isn’t exactly awesome–especially when Alexandria’s other half is everywhere she goes. Seth’s in her training room, outside her classes, and keeps showing up in her bedroom–so not cool. Their connection does have some benefits, like staving off her nightmares of the tragic showdown with her mother, but it has no effect on what Alex feels for the forbidden, pure-blooded Aiden. Or what he will do–and sacrifice–for her. When daimons infiltrate the Covenants and attack students, the gods send furies–lesser gods determined to eradicate any threat to the Covenants and to the gods, and that includes the Apollyon–and Alex. And if that and hordes of aether-sucking monsters didn’t blow bad enough, a mysterious threat seems willing to do anything to neutralize Seth, even if that means forcing Alex into servitude–or killing her. When the gods are involved, some decisions can never, ever be undone.

My Review:
Another superb read. I couldn’t put it down and stayed up until the wee hours finishing it. Read it fully in one sitting – God how I love when a book does that to me (though my kids don’t, I was cranky as hell the next day through lack of sleep, he he!)
Jennifer writes such incredible dialogue and I especially loved the dialogue between Alex and Seth, and Alex and Aiden. There were parts where I laughed out loud and others where I inwardly cringed, but I felt so invested in the characters and really feel as if I know them. I liked Seth in this book though I don’t trust him at all and I sense he is going to betray Alex. Lucian is a weasel and I know he’s up to no good, Alex beware. I love Aiden, love, love, love him. He is now top of my list of fictional boyfriends, just don’t tell my husband, or Edward Cullen.
This is an incredible series and I have already recommended it to a few of my friends. If you haven’t checked it out yet then you need to. I’d give it five trillion stars if I could.

Review: Raging Star (Dust Lands Trilogy #3) by Moira Young

Raging starTitle: Raging Star
Author: Moira Young
Series: Dust Lands Trilogy #3
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Dystopia
Links:

Blurb:
Her passion kept them alive. Now it may destroy them all.

Saba is ready to seize her destiny and defeat DeMalo…until she meets him and finds herself drawn to the man and his vision of a healed earth, a New Eden. DeMalo wants Saba to join him, in life and work, to build a stable, sustainable world…for the chosen few. The young and the healthy. Under his control.

Jack’s choice is clear: to fight DeMalo and try to stop New Eden. Presumed dead, he’s gone undercover, feeding Saba crucial information in secret meetings. Saba hides her connection with DeMalo and commits herself to the fight. Joined by her brother, Lugh, and her sister, Emmi, Saba leads a small guerilla band against the settlers and the Tonton militia. But the odds are overwhelming. Saba knows how to fight—she’s not called the Angel of Death for nothing. But what can she do when the fight cannot be won? Then DeMalo offers Saba a chance—a seductive chance she may not be able to refuse. How much will she sacrifice to save the people she loves?

The road has never been more dangerous, and betrayal lurks in the most unexpected places in the breathtaking conclusion to the Dust Lands Trilogy.

My Review:
I feel slightly bereft after finishing the final book in the series; I wasn’t ready yet to say goodbye to Saba. While the ending was fitting, I still felt somewhat saddened. The pacing, tone and plot of books 2 and 3 were definitely different to the first book but I still enjoyed them. Moira Young’s world building is breath-taking and it was very easy to visualize the world that Saba inhabited. I missed Saba’s fiesty lust for life in this one but it fit that her character had become jaded and weary of all the killing/death. I still despised Lugh in this book and the way that Saba pandered to him most of the time annoyed me a little (though it has to be said it’s totally believable.)I loved how Saba and Emmi grew closer though and Emmi was very endearing as a character. The plot around the betrayer – was it Lugh? was it Tommo? was very good and suspenseful. I found myself changing my mind several times as to the betrayers identity but nailed it in the end. I also guessed the twist with DeMalo but that was a good plot twist and unexpected. One thing I wish had been resolved was how the heart-stone burned for both Jack and DeMalo – what exactly was that and did DeMalo drug Saba’s wine in Book 2? But I guess we just have to figure that our for ourselves. Overall I felt this series was excellent and a must-read.