Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Promo & Giveaway: The Shattered Court by M.J. Scott

The Shattered Court
A Novel of the Four Arts #1
First in a new fantasy series from the author of the Novels of the Half-Light City.

Entangled in a court ruled by tradition and intrigue, a young witch must come to terms with newfound power and desire—and a choice between loyalty and survival.…

The royal witches of Anglion have bowed to tradition for centuries. If a woman of royal blood manifests powers, she is immediately bound by rites of marriage. She will serve her lord by practicing the tamer magics of the earth—ensuring good harvests and predicting the weather. Any magic more dangerous is forbidden.

Lady Sophia Kendall, thirty-second in line to the throne, is only days away from finding out if she will be blessed—or perhaps cursed—with magic. When a vicious attack by Anglion’s ancient enemies leaves the kingdom in chaos, Sophia is forced to flee the court. Her protector by happenstance is Lieutenant Cameron Mackenzie, a member of the royal guard, raised all his life to be fiercely loyal to the Crown.

Then Sophia’s powers manifest stronger than she ever imagined they would, and Cameron and she are inextricably linked in the process. As a witch unbound by marriage rites, Sophia is not only a threat to the established order of her country, but is also a weapon for those who seek to destroy it. Faced with old secrets and new truths, she must decide if she will fight for her country or succumb to the delicious temptation of power.…
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M.J. Scott is an unrepentant bookworm. Luckily, she grew up in a family that fed her a properly varied diet of books and these days is surrounded by people who are understanding of her story addiction. When not wrestling one of her own stories to the ground, she can generally be found reading someone else’s. Her other distractions include yarn, cat butlering, dark chocolate, and fabric


Find M.J. and her books
__________________________________
US Only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Releases: 3/29-4/4


Tue. March 31st

 Etherworld (Elusion #2) by Claudia Gabel, Cheryl Klam 
 Hard as a Rock (Gargoyles #3) by Christine Warren 
 Storm Warned (Grim #3) by Dani Harper 
 Twist (Loop #2) by Karen Akins

Happy Reading!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Promo: Being Emerald by Sylvia Ryan


*This is part of a bigger book tour, visit UFI on 3/18 and 3/27 to read about the other books and authors


Being Emerald
New Atlanta #3
Amazon.
 Brave, beautiful, and not easily controlled—even within a dictatorship—Laila Lewis has finally attained the prestige of an Emerald designation. Now only one thing is keeping her from her life’s goal of retrieving the Declaration of Independence and other priceless artifacts from the wild unknown of the Onyx Zone: the six weeks of training necessary to ensure her survival outside the city walls. But she won’t be going it alone.

After a year as a designated Emerald, rugged, sensual ex-cop Rock Rodgers is finally prepared to leave New Atlanta for good. Six weeks of training is the only thing standing between him and his next mission: to disappear into the freedom of the Onyx Zone where the long-armed rule of the Gov can’t reach him. But when the chemistry between him and Laila reaches a boiling point, with captivity just one false move away, will he have to escape on his own—or risk everything for a woman more tempting than freedom.

CONTENT WARNING: Contains explicit sexual language and content, and elements of BDSM that may be objectionable to some readers.
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Sylvia Ryan lives the life of an ordinary wife, mother and professional existing in Midwest Suburbia. She reads voraciously and loves to lose herself and fall head-over-heels for the alpha males in the novels she reads. When she gets the chance to shed the prim and proper persona of average wife and mother, her secret identity, Sylvia Ryan, emerges. This alter ego strives to write original ideas in extraordinary settings for her readers to remember long after the book has been read. Her dream is to transform her racy thoughts and naughty nature into tangible works of erotic fantasy for others’ secret identities to enjoy.

Ryan is the author of five novels, including Being Amber, Being Sapphire, and the soon-to-be-released Being Emerald of the New Atlanta series.

Find Sylvia and her books
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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

  ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

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

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.

__________________________________
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!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Interview: Reaper Madness by Nessie Strange


 
UFI welcomes Author Nessie Strange. 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? 

Hmm, what should I reveal? Haha...Well, my daughter and I watch a lot of anime together and go to the Anime Boston convention every year. She even got me to dress in cosplay last year. I also enjoy reading comics. So I guess a part of me has never ‘grown up’. :)

What do you enjoy doing on your down time? 

I’m not even sure what downtime is anymore. My day job is six days a week, and by the time I get home at night and take care of dinner, etc, there isn’t much day left. Of course I like to read, and I try to fit in writing whenever I can. I do enjoy the outdoors and taking walks. I like quiet activities where I can collect my thoughts,

What is your Favorite part of writing? 

It’s almost like solving a mystery or a puzzle--working out plots, bringing characters alive, crafting worlds, dialogue--all of it. It’s an exciting process.

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

Not really. I’m a pretty easygoing, adaptable person. I’ve gotten used to grabbing writing time when I can, so I can’t afford to be too particular about where/how I do it.

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

Neil Gaiman, Karen Moning, Stacia Kane, Richard Kadrey...just to name a few.

How would you pitch Reaper Madness to someone who has not heard of it before? 

Reaper Madness is the story of two lovers, separated at death, and their journeys through the afterlife to find each other. Jen, a new reaper who is telepathically linked to another reaper, Sam, is faced with learning her job while trying to find the man she loves. Jack, who has no memory of his prior life, is driven by the need to uncover his memories while while also working for a half-demon bar owner in Purgatory.

Where the first book, Living Dead Girl, shows how Jen and Jack meet on earth, Reaper Madness shows the bigger picture--how they’re connected, fate vs. chance, and the obstacles both will face. There’s romance, adventure, and comedy, and it’s a story with many twists and turns.

Can you tell us a little bit about the world that Reaper Madness is set in? 

Some of the book takes place on earth during present time, when Jen and Sam travel back as reapers to collect souls. The rest takes place in various parts of the afterlife and other magical connected worlds--Purgatory, Hell, etc. I’ve drawn from various mythologies, as well as mirrored aspects of real life to flesh out this world.

Do you have a favorite scene in Reaper Madness ? 

There’s an early scene where Jen is trying to get the hang of reaping. She’s given the task to find the next soul she and Sam are supposed to reap and then make her presence known to the soul. There’s a whole process she’s supposed to follow, and Sam, who isn’t a very patient teacher is both showing her how and mocking her choices at the same time. I like how Jen reacts, and the interaction between the two. There’s a great dynamic between these two that just seemed to work well in this scene...and hopefully became an entertaining, lighthearted way to explain how ‘reaping’ works in this series.

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

Sam has been fun, because he’s this sarcastic, asshole, but he also manages to be likeable. He doesn’t sugarcoat things, and he seems to delight in teasing and tormenting Jen. At the same time, he’s got a lot more going on inside him than what we see at face value.

Merry from Living Dead Girl was tough for me, because I really didn’t see any redeeming qualities with her. I try to make characters that are fairly complex--nobody is completely good or bad. Sometimes they make poor choices, or do or say things that aren’t nice, or maybe they’ll have a certain weakness. With Merry, there were some mental issues driving her, and her own flawed way of thinking hurt many people. I really didn’t like her.

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

There will be a novel from Jack, the male lead’s POV, called Confessions of a Punk Rocker out later this year. It’s sort of a prequel to Living Dead Girl that also overlaps the same time line and tells Jack’s side of the story when he meets Jen. I’m also working on the third book in the series (as of yet untitled) which will take place where Reaper Madness leaves off. And I have a non-paranormal contemporary romance in the works too.
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Nessie is a Massachusetts native and mother of two who has dabbled in everything from abstract painting to freelance sports reporting. She also loves a good story, whether it’s reading or writing one.

Living Dead Girl and Reaper Madness, the first two novels in her urban fantasy Living Dead World series, were published by Etopia press in 2014.

Find Nessie and her books
__________________________________

Reaper Madness
Living Dead World #2
Amazon BN
ARe Etopia Press Kobo iTunes
This isn’t the afterlife she expected...

Jen MacLellan can’t get the hang of being a reaper. She’s been separated from Jack, the man she loves, and is stuck with an annoying telepathic link to her ill-tempered mentor, Sam. Now Death is breathing down her neck, promising to remove that annoying link if she gives him what he wants. But when reapers begin to disappear back on earth, leaving behind walking, talking dead people, Jen and Sam are thrust into a dangerous mission to recapture the souls, and a passionate physical relationship that complicates everything.

Jack Norris has no memory prior to waking up on the half-demon Nulcifer’s couch six months earlier. As he begins to investigate his past, he discovers a string of past lives tied together by a beautiful, mysterious brunette. Who is she? And why does finding her seem like a life or death proposition?

When Sam falls victim to fate during a routine visit to earth, Jen’s devastated. Desperate to get him back, she runs smack into the man she never thought she’d see again—Jack. She tries to keep her distance, but there’s no time to be awkward if they want to save Sam. When sinister plots are revealed, and betrayals threaten everything, she’s forced to make some tough choices—and learns that life is just as difficult when you’re dead.
Excerpt: 

Sam wasn’t kidding when he said I had no idea what I was getting into. And now, as I stared Death in the face—literally—from an uncomfortable black leather executive chair, it occurred to me for the first time that I was in way over my head. Between the pinstriped suit and dark, slicked-back hair, he resembled a character from The Godfather more than a deity who ruled over the dead and dying. Death was one scary motherfucker. And he was smiling.

“Care for a drink, Jennifer?”

I shook my head, but he rose anyway, retrieved two glasses from the cabinet behind him, and filled both with amber-colored liquid. “Relax, I’m not going to bite.”

That wasn’t what I was worried about.

“Now, how long have you been with us? About six earth months?”

I cleared my throat. “Ah yes. About that long.”

“I find it intriguing,” he said. “You have been telepathically linked to one of my reapers this entire time, yet you really demonstrate no capability when it comes to this job. One would think that would give you an edge, hmm?”

Ouch.

“You’d think,” I laughed. OK, I sucked at it. It was only recently I’d been allowed to travel back to earth to help retrieve souls. Sam did most of the work, while I trailed behind, like one of those ankle-biting little purse dogs. What I wanted to know was why he’d insisted I do the job in the first place. I’d never asked to be a reaper. It wasn’t like I wanted this.

“The occupation listed from your most recent incarnation on earth was a mortician, was it not? So you should be accustomed to working with the deceased and the sensitivities that go along with it.”

“These two jobs are absolutely nothing alike.” Shit. I’d reacted again, lost my cool because of something he said. Now that my brain had caught up with my mouth, the fire snuffed out and with it went my nerve. I needed to learn to bite my tongue. Considering the habit crossed over with me from my last life, maybe that was wishful thinking. “Well, I mean, because when I was a mortician, those people didn’t talk back to me.”

Death studied me. “No, I don’t imagine they did.” He scrunched his lips up, his brow furrowed—the only hint of emotion I’d seen from him—but it quickly faded. “What exactly is it that’s holding you back or hanging you up? I’m just trying to understand here.”

“Well, I guess some of it is that I feel bad for them. I want to make things easier, but Sam’s all about scaring them and intimidating and manipulating them. It doesn’t seem right. I mean, we’re their first point of contact with the afterlife; why does it have to be frightening?” I was doing it again. OK, I needed to breathe. “I just… I see the fear in their faces, and it tears at me. It doesn’t feel right. It’s not me.”

“Fear makes them more pliable. Which in turn, makes your job easier when it’s time to collect.”

“But I don’t…”

He held up a hand. “I don’t like excuses, Jennifer. You may not agree with all of the methods you have been taught, but you still need to learn them and be able to utilize all of them. Years down the line, when you actually have some experience, perhaps then you can develop your own strategies. For now, as a rookie in the division without a single reaping under your belt, you are obligated to follow the instruction of your mentor. Do you understand?”

I nodded.

“I also hear that you’ve been visiting the civil records bureau every day, searching for the whereabouts of a human soul that you arrived with.”

I twisted the glass between my fingers. Jack and I had been separated soon after our arrival, and I hadn’t seen him since. We’d been a couple on earth, but since arriving in purgatory he’d all but vanished. “I had no idea that was against the rules.”

“I suppose it isn’t, technically. Though I do wonder if some might construe it as an abuse of power. Your position as a reaper gives you access to a wealth of information beyond what the general public can see, but it is meant for research and job purposes. Not personal business.”

“I understand.”

Did this guy even blink? He drummed his fingers on the glossy black surface of his desk as he watched me. I braced myself for the inevitable punishment.

“Jennifer, I have a proposition for you.”

I squirmed in my seat. Was I in trouble or what?

“Sammael is one of my oldest reapers, and he’s very dear to me, but I fear he may be up to something. Something illegal or nefarious in nature. I’ve overlooked a great deal with him in the past, but it’s getting to the point where I won’t be able to do that anymore. I’ve no idea what he’s up to. I want you to find out.”

“Excuse me?”

Death leaned forward so that his elbows rested on the desk. “Or have you already learned things? Come now, you must be close. A telepathic bond like this is quite intimate. Surely he’s shown you something.”

Intimate? More like a pain in the ass. Like having a voice in your head, intruding when you least welcomed it, and always listening. “Um…no. Not really.”

“Might I remind you, that he’s unable to hear you while you’re within the walls of this office?”

I paused. “Sam is very guarded with his thoughts. Most of the time I don’t hear anything, well, other than what he wants me to hear.”

“As I expected he would be.” He sipped his drink. “Do I sense some hesitation on your part? You once said you loathed being attached to him. That his thoughts invading your head were like the worst kind of infestation. What happened to that fiery little bitch who marched in my office and demanded to have this bond severed?” His smile returned. “One would think you’d do everything you could to get away from that. Unless you’ve changed your mind.”

I sank back into the chair, cringing at the memory. One of the many times Sam had pushed my buttons a little too far. I’d gone to Death’s office without even thinking about it—a knee-jerk type reaction.

“I tell you what. You find out what he’s up to, and I will personally make sure that link is removed. Then we can decide whether or not you will continue working for me, or perhaps whether schooling or a different apprenticeship would be more beneficial. At least until your contract with me is completed. How does that sound?”

“Well…” I frowned, considering it. Did I want Sam out of my head? Hell yeah. But I didn’t want to have to rat him out to do it. As far as I was concerned, whatever he did was his own business and the less I knew, the better. Besides, how would I pull something like this off? He plucked thoughts from my head when I least expected it, even when I thought I was being clever and concealing them. I couldn’t imagine trying to hide a secret of this magnitude. “I don’t know.”

“Could it be you have changed your mind about him?”

“No. Absolutely not. It’s just, I have no idea how I’d keep this from him. I mean, he’d know right away. Even if I manage to hide the thought, he’ll know I’m hiding something, and he won’t let up until he finds out what. It wouldn’t work.”

Death looked thoughtful. “Have you tried any of the masking techniques I taught you?”

“Well, yeah, but they only work if I concentrate.” And who the hell could concentrate all hours? I was already getting paranoid. I needed to tuck this little piece of knowledge somewhere deep inside and hope that Sam wouldn’t feel the need to pry. Yeah right. I might as well have had a live bomb lodged in my skull.

“I see.” Death swirled the liquid in his glass before taking a healthy gulp. “Be that as it may, you are now a reaper, even if by title only.”

At least he was honest.

“And with that job comes great responsibility. I had such high hopes for you when you first joined us—a bright, intelligent, level-headed woman, someone who could perhaps reel Sammael in before he strayed too far from my reach. But even on a base level, your grasp of the job is subpar at best. I’ve always handpicked the finest individuals. Because of your unique circumstances I believed I’d found a gem. Unfortunately, the honeymoon is over.”

This was new territory for me. I’d never been called incompetent before. During my last life on earth I’d been an honor student in school, then I’d gotten a job I loved and was good at.

“I need results, Jennifer. You must complete a reaping during your next assignment. I need something to prove that first instinct wasn’t wrong, because I”—he sipped his drink again, his gaze never leaving mine—“hate being wrong.”

Death placed his glass on the desk.

“Do I make myself clear?”

I offered a quick, jittery nod and gripped the armrests of the chair. Fuck, how was I going to keep this from Sam?

“Good.” Oh God, he was smiling again. He placed both tips of his forefingers together in an inverted V in front of his nose. “You may leave.”
__________________________________

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Week in Review: 3/15-3/21



Books Received for Review

- Recurve by Shannon Mayer - eARC- Publisher

- Total Surrender by Rebecca Zanetti -eARC- NetGalley

- Sealed in Sin by Juiette Cross - eARC- Author

Books I've Read

Claimed by a Demon King by Felicity Heaton
Recurve by Shannon Mayer
Omega by S.M. Reine
Winterborne by Augusta Blythe
Ravenstroke by Augusta Blythe
The Yawning Void by Augusta Blythe
The Orpan Queen by Jodi Meadows

Reviews Posted

Breaking Sky by Cori McCarthy
Purenet by H.J. Lawson

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

* Monday- Interview & Giveaway for Underworld Queen by Sharon Hamilton

* Wednesday- Promo for The Wicked City by Megan Morgan

* Thursday- Guest Blog & Giveaway for The Morrigan by Kennan Reid

* Friday- Promo & Giveaway for Taken by a Dragon by Felicity Heaton

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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.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Review: Purenet by H.J. Lawson

Purenet
Author: H.J. Lawson
Release Date: Decembre 30, 2015
Publisher: Self-Published
Sanction Book #1
ISBN:  1505665019
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Review Copy Source: NetGalley
Purenet is one of six wealthy Sanctions, formed by the Emperor and the Untouchables after a devastating world war.
Only those born in Purenet have the privilege of living under the dome, protecting their bodies from the sun’s deadly UVA rays.

Skylier is desperate to escape her underground confines and save her mother’s life.

On a school visit, she hears something she’s not supposed to, and now she realizes that not only is her whole life a lie, but she is in grave danger… She doesn’t know who to trust, and her enemies are everywhere… even closer than she realizes.

Now she is in a race against time to save not only her life, but her mother's and those she cares about. And if she fails, she'll suffer a fate worse than death...

PURENET is a pretty quick paced and easy to read story. I liked the world and the author did a good job of explaining the characters and their place in the story.

I didn't fully connect to the characters. I liked them fine and Skylier played a strong female role, I just wasn't fully invested. I was highly disturbed by her brother's obsession with her to host his and his wife's baby (which is wrong considering it would really be Skyler and his baby, if I read into that right). There is a bit of a love triangle in PURENET, but it doesn't really get into a romance.

A LOT happens but its really quick and to the point. The ending was decent and unpredictable which was nice. It does end on a bit of a cliffhanger though. Will I read more? Maybe, it was a short book so I think book 2 might be as well and the story does have potential.

I gave it 3/5 stars

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

Friday, March 20, 2015

Promo & Giveaway: Taken by a Dragon by Felicity Heaton

Taken by a Dragon Blog Barrage - Felicity Heaton
Taken by a Dragon, the seventh book in New York Times best-seller Felicity Heaton’s hot paranormal romance series, Eternal Mates, is now available in ebook and paperback. To celebrate the release, she’s holding a FANTASTIC GIVEAWAY at her website and sharing sneak peeks of the book. 

Find out how to enter the Taken by a Dragon international giveaway (ends March 22nd) and be in with a shot of winning a $75, $50 or $25 gift certificate at her website, where you can also download a 5 chapter sample of the novel: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/taken-by-a-dragon-paranormal-romance-novel.php

Here’s more about Taken by a Dragon, including an excerpt from this paranormal romance novel.
Taken by a Dragon by Felicity Heaton
Possessed by a need to save a beautiful Amazon warrior from the vision he witnessed, Loke snatched her from the midst of the battle between the Third and Fifth realm of the demons, and carried her to his home deep in the black mountains of Hell to protect her. But as the fierce little female awakens, he finds she’s anything but grateful, and his dragon instincts roar to life to warn she might be more to him than an enemy—she might be his fated female.
Anais remembers meeting a handsome warrior in the heat of battle, a man who was her enemy but who looked at her with eyes that held dark heat and wicked promises. When she wakes to find that same dragon shifter has taken her captive, desire is the last thing on her mind, but escaping him to return to Archangel, the hunter organisation she works for, sounds less than appealing when he reveals the reason he took her—to stop her from dying.
Can Loke protect Anais from the dangers of his realm and how far will he go to save her from the future he keeps witnessing? Can Anais resist the fierce attraction that burns between them as hot as fire and stay true to Archangel or will her heart be taken by the dragon?

Taken by a Dragon is available from Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBooks stores and other retailers. Also available in paperback. Find the links to your preferred retailer at: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/taken-by-a-dragon-paranormal-romance-novel.php

Excerpt

“Eww, what is that. Tell me you don’t eat that.”
He turned to find Anais pointing at a lump of white fat he had carved off an old Hell beast, one of the kind with horns and talons. It had been a difficult battle. He could have easily won if he had resorted to using his dragon form, but his kind preferred to hunt in their mortal appearance. They relished the challenge and the chance to test their skills against a larger foe.
Loke shook his head. “I do not eat that. I use it for fuel.”
“For the fire?” She looked back towards the exit. “And the torches I guess?”
He nodded this time. “It helps. I eat this.”
He picked up a skinned side of Hell beast, around a quarter of the original carcass, with the front left limb and ribs intact, and she looked as if she might vomit.
She swiftly covered her mouth and turned away from him.
Would he ever understand her?
She claimed to be strong, but when faced with a butchered creature, she paled and looked ready to flee. He was beginning to wonder whether she had ever taken a life during her battles. Surely a female who couldn’t look at a piece of meat was incapable of taking a life?
“I think I might be vegetarian,” she muttered into her palm.
Loke wasn’t sure what that meant but he didn’t like the sound of it. “I will make a stew from the leg.”
“What does it taste like?” She peeked over her shoulder at it. “Does it taste like beef or maybe lamb? I’m not big on lamb.”
Beef. Lamb. He presumed these were creatures of the mortal world.
He shrugged. “I am afraid I cannot compare it with something from your realm as I have never been there.”
She frowned and shifted to face him, her fear of the carcass evidently forgotten. “You haven’t left Hell?”
He shook his head. “No dragons leave Hell… so you see I cannot offer you a comparison to ease your mind… but it tastes good.”
“I think I’ll have to be the judge of that. If it does, I’ll tell the world… there’s a bachelor in Hell who can cook.” She paused and ran another glance over him, rekindling the fire in his veins. “You are a bachelor? I figured you were since this cave doesn’t look like the sort of place where a lady dragon would live. It lacks a female’s touch.”
Loke bit back a groan.
His cave wasn’t the only thing that lacked a female’s touch. He had been lacking that for a long time.
His gaze fell to her hands and he was wondering what her touch would feel like before he could stop himself. He tried to shake away the image of her running her palms over his bare chest, making him burn with a soft caress, but it was impossible. He had invited the images into his mind, had opened himself to them, and they flooded him, refusing to go away.
He was vaguely aware that he was standing in the larder, staring at her like a complete dolt and asking for another kick to the groin.
Anais snapped her fingers in front of his face and he jerked backwards, blinking at her.
“I don’t want to know what you were thinking, but your eyes were being weird.” She shuffled away from him, to such a distance that it was clear she had lied and knew what he had been thinking about and knew the reason his eyes had brightened, verging on glowing.
He was hungry, but not for food.
He wanted a taste of something far more dangerous and alluring.
The fascinating little Amazon diligently keeping her eyes off him.
As if that would stop him from desiring her.
Perhaps that desire was part of the reason he had taken her from the battlefield. He had been drawn to her then, powerless to resist her beauty as she had stood over him. She had enslaved him with nothing more than a look into his eyes, a moment where something had passed between them. A silent understanding.
A mutual attraction.
“I am a bachelor,” he said, his voice low at first but gaining strength as he locked his gaze on her and allowed it to drift down her back, taking in her curves and how her black top and trousers hugged them. “I have no female… and it has been that way for a very long time.”
She whirled to face him, a touch of rose on her cheeks. Her mouth flapped but no words came out. When he risked a step towards her, she bolted, slipping past him and rushing down the corridor. She grunted and he switched his senses to her, concerned that she had hurt herself by running into the darkness.
She had stopped a short distance into the tunnel.
He sighed when her voice rang along it.
“Bloody buggery son of a bitch.” Those words held venom that had disappeared when she next spoke, her voice far softer and weaker. “It’s a bit dark. Are you coming?”
Loke smiled and finished gathering what he needed for their meal.
He hacked the leg off the carcass with his knife and set it into the pot, and wiped the blood off the blade with a cloth that he tossed into the pot too. He grabbed the torch from the wall and strolled along the corridor, making Anais wait. The firelight danced ahead of him, reaching her first, slowly running up her legs to her torso and then illuminating her face.
She stared at her knees and muttered to herself as she dusted them down.
“Are you hurt?” He looked at her knees and then her hands, not seeing any scratches or smelling any blood on her.
She shook her head. “For the record, I’ve decided to add another rule. You have to swear not to look at me like that again.”
“Like what?” He stepped closer to her, staring down into her eyes, holding her gaze and challenging her to look away.
She truly was beautiful. The Amazons would have been proud to have her as one of their race.
“Like that.” She managed to hold his gaze but he could see she was teetering on the brink of losing her nerve and looking away.
“Like what?” he husked again, inching closer to her. “Tell me how I look at you.”
She did look away now. “Like you’re a beast and I’m your damned prey… like a barbarian who took someone captive and thinks they can do whatever they please with them.”
He dropped the pot and had her wrist in his hand before she could run away from him. She fought him as he pulled her around to face him, and he held the torch higher, afraid of hurting her with the fire. He released her wrist and had his arm around her waist a split-second later, pinning her against his front. She rained blows down on his bare chest and he let her vent her frustration, because he had more important matters to focus on than mere physical pain.
“Look at me, Little Amazon.” He waited for her to do as he had asked and when she didn’t, he dropped the torch behind him and captured her cheek. She instantly stilled and he cursed when she began to tremble, her fear an acrid note in her soft scent. He slowly skimmed his fingers down to her jaw and tilted her head up. She closed her eyes and he huffed. “Look at me, Anais.”
Using her name seemed to be the key to making her listen because she opened her eyes. Their rich sapphire depths drew him in, leaving him aware of only her.
“I am no beast or barbarian,” he murmured and wished she could believe him. “I have no intention of using you in that manner. I have sworn not to hurt you… have I not?”
She nodded.
“Then why persist with this nonsense?”
She tried to look away but he held her firm. “Because… just because. I don’t have to give you a reason.”
Because she feared the reason she had to give.
She didn’t want to voice it and tell him that he wasn’t the only one who felt desire, who was drawn to her and powerless against the ferocity of his need of such a delicate little female. She wanted him too, and for her it was infinitely more difficult to comprehend and cope with. She viewed herself as a captive and he her abductor. That alone was reason enough for her to fight her feelings.
But she had other reasons too, just as he did.
A mortal was no match for an immortal.
He brushed his fingers across her soft cheek and reluctantly released her, stepping back to give her room to gather herself. He picked up the torch and grabbed the handle of the cauldron.
“Come. I need water.” He waited for her to finish smoothing her clothes before moving.
She followed him, a silent shadow in the low light.
He searched for something to say to dispel the tension between them but nothing came to him. It had been a long time since he’d had female company, had desired one as he desired her, and he wasn’t sure how to go about things. He didn’t know how to charm females of her world, and wasn’t sure he should be charming her at all. He was trying to keep his distance, but the moment he let his guard down, he found himself close to her, seeking a way of touching her or winning a smile from her.
He banked left when they reached the end of the tunnel and led her along another one. The path sloped downwards and the air grew moist as he approached the area deep in the heart of the mountain where he had created a bathing pool and one for his store of water.
Anais busied herself with touring the large cave, her fingers drifting over the stalagmites that rose from the ground, forming jagged black spikes.
“Why live in the front of the cave when you have all these rooms?” She glanced across at him.
He dipped the small wooden pail he had made into the well near the entrance and pulled it out, setting it down on the rocky side. “The fire.”
She frowned. “What about it?”
He lifted the torch and wafted it around, making it smoke. That smoke rose up to the top of the cavern and stayed there.
Her eyes lit up with understanding. “I get it. Smoke accumulates back here.”
“It is safer at the mouth of the cave too. I can sense intruders and it is a bigger space. I can shift if I need to.” He held the pail out to her and she crossed the room to him and took it.
Perhaps she was finally settling in and becoming more comfortable with him. He wasn’t going to hold his breath though. Whenever he thought she was becoming accustomed to being around him, she revolted and turned on him again.
“What’s it like to shift?” she said to the pail.
Loke shrugged. “It is difficult to explain. It does not hurt, and it is over so quickly for me that I barely notice it. It is as natural to me as breathing or walking.”
She frowned at the water, her nose wrinkling with it. “I’ve met wolf and cat shifters. It always looks like it hurts when they shift.”
“I suspect that is because you are hunting those creatures.” He looked across at her and tried to imagine her fighting people from those species. Perhaps she was strong enough to battle cats and wolves, maybe even vampires with the right weaponry, but she was too weak to fight dragons or bears, and he definitely couldn’t imagine her surviving a fight against an elf or a demon. “They are forced to shift quickly. I have heard that it causes them great pain… but then I suppose the death you wish to deal will hurt them worse… giving them to others to butcher in the name of science.”
She raised her eyes to his, narrowing them at the same time. He had offended her again, but this time he didn’t care. Fighting with honour in a battle was one thing. Both parties knew what to expect—death if they failed. Hunting prey for handing them over to others to study was another. The losing side was expecting death, not an agonising torture at the hands of scientists.
He curled his lip again.
She huffed. “I don’t do that… so get it out of your damned head. Archangel doesn’t slice and dice. It studies, but using modern technology. Scans… machines… bloodwork. That sort of thing.”
It didn’t make him change his opinion of this Archangel she was always quick to defend.
“You do not deny that you hand over some of your prey to them though.” He began walking again, heading back towards the fire.
She didn’t respond.
He wasn’t surprised.
She worked for people who made a business of hunting and studying creatures, and he suspected that what she had been told about those studies differed greatly from what really happened.
He led her back to the cave mouth and she placed the pail on the ground near the fire and sat on the furs without him asking her to make herself comfortable.
Loke wasn’t going to read into that either.
He kneeled on the black ground by the fire in the middle of the cave and focused on making their meal. She was silent the whole time, studying him. He stopped several times, on the verge of asking her what she was thinking, before continuing with his work.
She spoke once, during her meal when she mentioned that the meat tasted like beef. He still wasn’t sure what kind of animal beef was. He had taken the empty bowl from her and served himself some stew, and by the time he had gathered the courage to ask and risk her mocking him, she had fallen asleep.
Loke set the bowl down, rose to his feet and crossed the short stretch of ground between them. He kneeled beside her and canted his head as he studied her. She lay on her left side, her back to the wall of the cave, the firelight playing over her soft features and making her fair hair shimmer like gold.
What was it about this little female that drew him to her? She had spoken about strength of heart to him, her belief shining in her words for him to hear. Was emotional strength really a match for physical strength? Did it really make a mortal capable of mating with a strong immortal?
He didn’t believe that.
He brushed a rogue strand of golden hair from her face and settled the tips of his middle and index fingers against her temple. His eyes slipped shut and he breathed deeply and evenly as he focused on her.
Dragons had limited magic born of their connection to the earth and nature. Every generation born in Hell had weaker powers than the last. He was born of the generation before the final one to bear magic.
His magic was weak and he could only use it sparingly. It would drain him and leave him vulnerable for the next few hours, but he had no choice. He couldn’t risk her waking and attempting to escape.
He funnelled a little magic into her, enough to bind her sleep to his.
If she woke, he would too.
When he woke, she would.
It was safer this way.
He hadn’t lied to her. Beyond the cave were other dragons, ones who would live up to her fears.
Barbarians.
They wouldn’t treat her with respect as he did. They wouldn’t seek to take care of her. They wouldn’t want to protect her for no other reason than her safety meant something to them. They would only protect her because she would be theirs and dragons defended what they owned.
She would be nothing but a possession to them.
Loke stroked his fingers down her cheek.
What was she to him?
He wasn’t sure, but the longer he was around her, the more he was coming to fear he knew the reason why the thought of a prince of elves and a demon king finding their mate in a mortal female concerned him.
He had a feeling that their meeting on the battlefield had been more than chance.
It had been fate.

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/taken-by-a-dragon-paranormal-romance-novel.php

Books in the Eternal Mates paranormal romance series:

Author Bio

Felicity Heaton
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 Eternal Mates series.

If you want to know more about Felicity, or want to get in touch, you can find her at the following places:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Tsu | Pinterest | GoodReads | Amazon

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