Monday, October 15, 2018

Early Review: City of Everdark by Debbie Cassidy (@amoscassidy)

City of Everdark
Release Date: October 16, 2018
Publisher: Self Published
ASIN:   B07FR7B815
Genre: Urban Fantasy/ 
Reverse Harem
Review Copy Source: Author

Fate can't hold all the cards, not if she doesn't have any fingers.

Mission objective, to kick the dragon leige’s ass and take back what she’s stolen. Or maybe take back what she’s stolen, and then kick her ass? Either way, they’ll be some ass kicking.

Getting answers means recon and lies, coercion and revelations. It means jumping through several hoops, like infiltrating a maximum-security government quarantine facility to break out the inmates.

Wila will do whatever it takes to get her Kindred and her draconi prince back, even if it means venturing into a place of nightmares, a place of everdark and monsters with not a pot of tea in sight.

The darkness awaits, and Wila better hope it doesn’t swallow her whole.

A kick-ass Urban Fantasy with a slow burn Reverse Harem Romance.

After finishing book two, all I wanted was answers about Wila and the guy in the basement and by the end of CITY OF EVERDARK we get them.

It can get a tad bit frustrating when things drag on, but CITY OF EVERDARK ends our suffering on a few fronts. Let's start with the guy behind the door in the basement. WOW what a doozy. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I have to say I'm not totally sure how I feel about the sexual tension between the two, it's a little weird considering who he is to Wila. I will explain more with my review of book four when it comes out. A lot is revealed about Wila's mysterious past. It was kinda weird to get so much info in just a few chapters after so much mystery, but a lot makes sense now and I'm happy to be out of the dark.

I'm still highly frustrated—and I'm sure Wila is too *wink—with the fact that the harem doesn't seem to be settled and complete. There is so much sexual tension and not enough release going on. Who is part of the harem? Will there be another one added in the next chapter? COME ON, I need some answers! This series is much more UF than RH, but I still want some romance!

How can I not want to read the final book after the revelations in CITY OF EVERDARK? Hopefully book four ends this series with a bang.

I gave it 3.5/5 stars

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

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Week in Review: 10/7-10/13



Books Received for Review

Unbreakable Bond by Jess Bryant

Books I've Read

Imposter by Tate James
Trial of Three by Alex Lidell
City of Broken Magic by Mirah Bolender
The Queen's Wing by Jessica Thorne
Unbreakable Bond by Jess Bryant

Reviews Posted

Heart of Ice by Lisa Edmonds (@Edmonds411, @CityOwlPress)
Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep (@ Jennifer_Estep, @HarperVoyagerUS)

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

* Monday- Promo + Giveaway: Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep (@Jennifer_Estep, @HarperVoyagerUS)

* Thursday- Haunted Halloween Spooktacular: Warlock Holmes Books 1-3 by G.S. Denning (@GS_Denning, @TitanBooks, @RoxanneRhoads)

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

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

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

Friday, October 12, 2018

Review: Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep (@ Jennifer_Estep, @HarperVoyagerUS)

Kill the Queen
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Harper Voyager
ISBN:  006279762X
ISBN13: 9780062797629
Genre: Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Edelweiss

Gladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance.

In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.

But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.

Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.

But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.

Jennifer Estep dives into a brand new fantasy world with KILL THE QUEEN. 

Both the main character and the secondary characters in KILL THE QUEEN held my interest. Everleigh is often overlooked an underestimated which serves her well and helps her stay alive. I liked her survival spirit and it was easy to stay connected to her throughout the story. The gladiator troupe was full of interesting people. Some I liked more than others, but I enjoyed learning about all of the different parts and players that made up the troupe.

There is a bit of a romance blooming with book one, but lots of obstacles that need to be navigated. I WANT them to navigate.

The action is fierce in KILL THE QUEEN. Estep packed it in wherever she could and totally pulled it off.  With the action came danger and it definitely kept me on the edge of my seat as the characters got themselves out of sticky situations. I did have a favorite part in the book, but I can't reveal it without giving away spoilers. I will say that I loved that something that seemed so trivial and felt like a waste of time became something that saved a lot of lives.

KILL THE QUEEN was a fabulous start to the Crown of Shards series. I look forward to reading more of Evie's journey in PROTECT THE PRINCE.

I gave it 4/5 stars

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

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Haunted Halloween Spooktacular: Warlock Holmes Books 1-3 by G.S. Denning (@GS_Denning, @TitanBooks, @RoxanneRhoads)

UFI welcomes Author G.S. Denning . Thanks for Joining us!!


 What do you think of when someone mentions Sherlock Holmes? The epitome of fictional detectives? A series of stories so timely and so visionary that they revolutionized police-work, the world over? A deerstalker? A pipe? Benedict Cumberbatch’s perfect cheek-bones?

You wouldn’t be wrong.

But in this season of fun-filled frights, let’s take a moment to reflect on one oft-overlooked aspect of the world’s favorite detective:

He’s really creepy.

No. Seriously. Just pleasantly-but-sometimes-right-to-the-edge-of-discomfortingly creepy.

Do you know where the modern tradition of Halloween takes its roots? Dartmoor. Arthur Conan Doyle repeatedly set his adventures out upon the moor in abandoned hallows filled with lethal peat-bogs, fog, reeds and wisp-light. Want to see Holmes and Watson chasing a seemingly-demonic hound across moonlit moor? Well then, it’s no wonder Hound of the Baskervilles is amongst the most popular of Doyle’s original 60 stories.

Now, if you want to see them chasing an actually-demonic hound across a moonlit moor, you’ll have to check out my second book: Hell-hound of the Baskervilles. And for those of you who just rolled their eyes at how easy it must have been for me to come up with that angle: yeah, that’s sort of my point. You don’t have to work hard to make Sherlock Holmes macabre. It’s there already.

One of the less-known stories is called The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire; it features a mother who’s been caught sucking blood out of the neck of her own infant. Even in 1898, not great parenting.

Or how about The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb? It features not just the aforementioned disembodied thumb, but also its owner, trapped in a room-sized hydraulic press, debating if he should stand up, or sit down or lie face up or… Well, just what exactly is the least-painful way to be slowly crushed to death? It’s ironic that the modern detective story is attributed to Edgar Alan Poe, because in moments such as these, Doyle absolutely equals Poe’s famous brand of dark introspection.

Or maybe you’d just like to see Sherlock murder a dog. Would that be nice? Dog murder, anyone?

Because that’s how he unravels his very first case, A Study in Scarlet. Yep. No lie. To figure out if the pills he’s recovered are poisonous, he steals his neighbor-girl’s dog and feeds it half of each pill.

Guess what? (1887 spoilers follow…) Totally poison. There is something uniquely Halloween-ish about a character who thinks that is acceptable behavior. Oh yeah, and half the people he meets seem to think the only way he could possibly know the things he knows is dark magic. They’re wrong.

He’s not magical. But he is probably sociopathic. And he’s definitely not on the ASPA’s top 10 list of great guys.

So if Halloween makes you think about goblins, vampires, demonic possession and soul-binding magic… Well, pick up a copy of my first book, A Study in Brimstone. It’s all in there.
But if you’ve got a little time to kill before All-Hallow’s Eve, and if you’ve got a mind for the classics, here’s what you do:

You pull your favorite chair up to next to a window on a rainy night. You get some fleece pants and a comfy blanket. You brew up a nice cup of tea. Light a couple candles. Then snuggle down and spend a little cozy murder time with the undisputed-number-one-original-king-of-creepy-daddy-detectives, Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
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G.S. Denning furiously studied reading and math until he could play Dungeons and Dragons. His love of DandD expanded to a passion for all things in the sci-fi and fantasy realm, particularly when spliced with comedy - Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Monty Python, Red Dwarf, Black Adder, Whose Line is it Anyway, Dr. Who, and the holiest of holies: The Princess Bride.

He learned his story-telling skills on the improv stage as a member of Orlando Theatersports, Seattle Theatersports, Jet City Improv, and as a Disney Performer at Epcot. G.S. also worked for Nintendo and Wizards of the Coast.

Finally, after realizing that humanity had not used the pun Warlock Holmes yet, he sat down to begin his first novel series: a dark-comic retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic Sherlock Holmes stories. G.S. Lives in Las Vegas with The Best Wife and The Best Children.

Find G.S. Denning  and his books
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A Study in Brimstone
Warlock Holmes #1
Amazon
Sherlock Holmes is an unparalleled genius. Warlock Holmes is an idiot. A font of arcane power, certainly. But he’s brilliantly dim.

Frankly, he couldn’t deduce his way out of a paper bag. The only thing he has really got going for him are the might of a thousand demons and his stalwart companion.

Thankfully, Dr. Watson is always there to aid him through the treacherous shoals of Victorian propriety… and save him from a gruesome death every now and again.



The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles
Warlock Holmes #2
Amazon

The game’s afoot once more as Holmes and Watson face off against Moriarty’s gang, the Pinkertons, flesh-eating horses, a parliament of imps, boredom, Surrey, a disappointing butler demon, a succubus, a wicked lord, an overly-Canadian lord, a tricycle-fight to the death and the dreaded Pumpcrow. Oh, and a hell hound, one assumes.






My Grave Ritual
Warlock Holmes #3
Amazon
Sherlock Holmes is a genius … Warlock Holmes is something else …
As they blunder towards doom, Warlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson find themselves inconvenienced by a variety of eldritch beings. Christmas brings a goose that doesn't let being cooked slow it down; they meet an electricity demon, discover why being a redhead is even tricker than one might imagine, and Holmes attempts an Irish accent. And, naturally, Moriarty is hanging around... in some form or other.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Review: Heart of Ice by Lisa Edmonds (@Edmonds411, @CityOwlPress)

Heart of Ice
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Publisher: City Owl Press
Alice Worth Book #2
ASIN:  B07H9RPFKC
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Author

Even the coldest hearts can burn...

After closing a big case for the Vampire Court, mage private investigator Alice Worth is relieved to be back solving magical mysteries with her ghost sidekick Malcolm and spending quality time with sexy alpha werewolf Sean. Her latest case puts her on the trail of a burglary ring targeting wealthy collectors of magical objects. Meanwhile, Alice’s grandfather, crime lord Moses Murphy, fights a local boss for control of the city. Soon a new danger emerges: Moses’s new lieutenant is someone Alice knows and this is one family reunion she wants to avoid at all costs.

When Sean is injured as a result of her investigation, Alice faces the wrath of his pack and finds herself in a carefully laid trap. To save the city from Moses and his lieutenant, she risks capture by her grandfather and unimaginable torture at his hands. To save Sean, she risks losing everything she's fought so hard to gain. But Alice has never backed down from anything in her life and she’s not about to start now...

The Alice Worth series has quickly become one of my must read series.

The characters really shine in this series. Alice gets more and more likable with each book. She is still a little closed off, but she has really grown from the loner of book one. I really enjoy learning about her past and watching her slide into a future with friends and allies at her side. Malcolm has really grown into an essential character. I have a feeling there is a lot more to his involvement with Alice, but he has grown on my heart, so I hope it doesn't turn out to be bad. 

There is a nice amount of romance for an urban fantasy series. I sometimes think there might be a love triangle, but Sean continuously proves he's the one for Alice. He has his moments where I might want to smack him, but him and Alice work really well together. Charles really wants something to happen with Alice and I do get the vibes between them, but something major would have to happen to make me feel like they would be good together.

I continue to love this series and it's characters. With each book comes more answers, but there is still so much for us to learn about the world and its characters. I really enjoy Lisa's writing style and the progression of the overall story line. I'm looking forward to book four.

I gave it 4/5 stars

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

Monday, October 8, 2018

Promo + Giveaway: Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep (@Jennifer_Estep, @HarperVoyagerUS)


Kill the Queen
Crown of Shards #1
Amazon  Kobo  BN  iBooks
Gladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance.

In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.

But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.

Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.

But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.
Excerpt:

I hadn’t cried myself to sleep since my parents had been murdered and Vasilia had betrayed me as a child, but that’s what happened. I thought I might dream about the massacre, but I fell down into the blackness, and I didn’t see or hear anything for the rest of the night.
The sharp point of a sword kissing my throat woke me the next morning.
At first, I thought some spider was crawling on me and tickling my skin with its tiny legs. I tried to flick it away, but it kept coming back. Slowly, I realized that a spider wasn’t that hard and sharp, and that someone else was in here. Someone who smelled cold, crisp, and clean, just like the magic that had coated the front door, along with a strong undercurrent of hot, peppery anger.
I opened my eyes and looked up to find the magier of the house looming over me.
He wore a tailored black shirt that stretched across his firm, muscled chest, along with black leggings and boots. A long dark gray coat with silver buttons hung off his broad shoulders. It reminded me of the uniform that Lord Hans had worn to the luncheon.
The magier looked to be in his early thirties, with sharp cheekbones, a straight nose, and a strong jaw. His short dark brown hair gleamed under the fluorestones, and his eyes were a light, bright, piercing blue—the same blue as the magic that had shocked me last night. He was quite handsome, with a powerful, authoritative air that made him even more attractive. A natural-born leader, and not just because of his magier power. I drew in another breath, tasting his scent again. He even smelled good, like crushed ice mixed with vanilla and a hint of spice.
“And a good morning to you too,” I drawled. “Do you greet all your guests this way?”
“You are not a guest,” he growled. “In case you missed it, this is the part where you start begging for your life.”
I laughed.
After everything that had happened yesterday, the threat of this man running me through with his sword didn’t bother me at all.
“Well, go ahead then,” I said. “Although it would be a shame to ruin this jacket with my blood. Is this Andvarian silkfleece? It’s exquisite. Not to mention the pillow. Floresian down, right?”
I wasn’t sure why I said that. Maybe yesterday’s horrors had addled my brain. Or maybe I was simply tired of biting my tongue. Of always having to do and say the polite thing, the nice thing, instead of what I really thought and felt. And what had all that politeness and nicety gotten me? Nothing—absolutely nothing but memories of death in my mind, screams echoing in my ears, and the stench of blood in my nose.
So, no, I wasn’t going to cower, and I certainly wasn’t going to beg for anything, not even my own miserable life. No, from now on, I was going to do and say exactly what I wanted, when I wanted, and damn the consequences. It was the first step in keeping that promise I had made to myself to never be weak and helpless again.
“Who are you?” he growled again. “How did you get in here?”
“The door was open.”
It wasn’t a total lie. The door had been open . . . after I had snuffed out all his lightning.
The magier’s eyes narrowed, and he dug the point of his sword a little deeper into my throat. Not enough to break the skin, but almost. I resisted the urge to retreat and sink deeper into the pillow propped up behind my head.
“That door is never, ever open,” he said in a soft, deadly voice. “So how did you get in here? What do you want?”
“Well, I, for one, would like to have a civilized conversation instead of all these vague threats that you keep spewing.”
He turned the sword point the tiniest bit, like it was a nail he was about to hammer into my throat. “My threats are anything but vague.”
“Perhaps vague was the wrong word. How about nonexistent?”
He blinked in surprise. “Nonexistent?”
I shrugged. Well, as much as I could with his sword still at my throat. “If you really wanted to kill me, you would have done it while I was sleeping. Not woken me up in such dramatic fashion.”
He didn’t say anything. He couldn’t argue with my logic.
“So, why don’t you let me up, and we can have a normal conversation like two adults.”
My gaze locked with his, and I carefully reached out and touched my finger to his sword. He tensed, but he let me slowly push the blade away from my throat. After a moment, he stepped back, although he kept his weapon raised, ready to stab me if I did anything he didn’t like.


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Jennifer Estep is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea. 

Jennifer writes the Crown of Shards epic fantasy series. Kill the Queen, book #1, was released on Oct. 2.

The Crown of Shards series focuses on Everleigh Blair, a member of the royal family who is distantly in line for the throne of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. But when the unthinkable happens, Evie finds herself fighting for her life—both inside and outside the gladiator arena.  

Jennifer is also the author of the Elemental Assassin, Mythos Academy, Bigtime, and Black Blade fantasy series.  

Find Jennifer and her books
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