Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review: Firestorm by Shannon Mayer

Release Date: September 29, 2015
Publisher: Hijinks Ink Publishing
Elemental Book #3
ISBN13:  9781987933079
Genre: Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Author
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.

In a world of lava and fire, I am about to face my hardest trial yet. Not one of strength, or power, but intrigue and manipulation. However, my tolerance level for anyone outside of my family is at an all-time low, and the queen who rules the Pit expects complete obedience.

As Ash's life is held in the balance, I have just three days to prove his innocence and mine. This place holds more than a scorching heat; new foes, traitors, and creatures from the depths of the lava are all trying to keep us from surviving.

The only question left. . . Can I get us all out without being burned alive?

Welcome to the Pit.

As with the other books in the Elemental series, FIRESTORM is packed with action, danger and our favorite Elemental Larkspur.

There is no time lost between the end of book 2 and the start of book 3. Lark and Ash is taken into custody and brought to the pit for judgement. Things are defiantly not easy going, but Lark kicks ass and saves the day as usual. I was pleasantly surprised by the twists and turns that Mayer threw at us and I really enjoyed the continuous danger. Although there was no downtime for Lark she still made new allies and stayed true to herself.  

I really enjoyed the secondary characters in FIRESTORM. We met Peta in BREAKWATER, but we get to know her even more in book 3. I LOVE her, she is awesome and I can't wait to see her again in the next book.  I don't want to reveal any of the other characters I enjoyed as I think it might spoil a few parts of the book if I do, but one person in particular and their family quickly grew.

I was really glad that FIRESTORM didn't end on a cliffhanger, but I still wanted to read more when it was over. WINDBURN can't come soon enough in my opinion and Shannon thankfully writes fast so maybe I won't have to wait too long.. 

I gave it 4/5 stars

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Interview + Giveaway: Updraft by Fran Wilde

UFI welcomes Author Fran Wilde. 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? 

I can’t abide okra. It’s my least favorite vegetable and I recoil at it like I recoil from slugs, which are also on my No-Way-No-How-What-Fresh-Hell-Is-This list. Unfortunately, I have okra fiends in the family, and live in what seems to be a slug-sanctuary. Que Sera.

What do you enjoy doing on your down time? 

Cooking with family and friends. Sailing – the kind that involves flip-flops, a cheap fiberglass dingy and a rocky beach, not the designer-whites and champagne. Traveling to new places, whether it’s down the street or across the globe.

What is your Favorite part of writing? 

When the story clicks. When the characters take over and start writing the story themselves. That’s the best part.

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

I try to write first thing in the morning, before I do anything else. With a family that’s hard, and requires getting up early (and I’m not by any means a morning person). Still, once I’ve done 500 words or so before anything else makes demands on my time? I find I can more easily get back into it after returning work/client emails, addressing school & family stuff, and the inevitable –stop what you’re doing and do this- emergency that happens mid-morning more often than not.

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

Great question! Leanna Renee Hieber, Seanan McGuire, Gail Carriger, Octavia Butler, Emma Bull, China MiƩville, and Carrie Vaughn are among my favorites.

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

In a world of wind and bone, songs and silence, secrets and betrayal, laws are broken and the consequences will change one city forever.

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

Updraft is set in a city of living bone, high above the clouds. The ground, and the past, are lost to legend. The city’s inhabitants fly on manmade wings, or cross perilous bridges to exchange necessities. But monsters hide in the wind, and the city must be appeased.

Do you have a favorite scene in UPDRAFT? 

I have a bunch of favorite scenes, but one of the earliest is when Kirit breaks the law called Fortify, and encounters one of the above mentioned monsters face-to-teeth.

I’m also pretty partial to the wingfighting scenes.

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

Kirit is a favorite. As is Nat – her best friend. I think Rumul was hardest to write about because I needed to show his depth and fears, and he’s cagey.
What Other Projects can we look forward to reading from you? 

I have short stories in a number of publications, including Asimov’s, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and A short story set in the same world as Updraft will be out in Beneath Ceaseless Skies in September. Cloudbound, the next book set in the Bone Universe, is due out in fall 2016, and “The Jewel and Her Lapidary” – a novella set in the Gem Universe – is due out from next spring/summer.

Fran Wilde is an author and technology consultant. Her first novel, Updraft, is forthcoming from Tor/Macmillan in 2015. Her short stories have appeared in publications including Asimov’s, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Nature, and (Bibliography.). Her interview series Cooking the Books–about the intersection between food and fiction–has appeared at Strange Horizons,, and on her blog,

Find Fran and her books

In a city of living bone rising high above the clouds, where danger hides in the wind and the ground is lost to legend, a young woman must expose a dangerous secret to save everyone she loves

Welcome to a world of wind and bone, songs and silence, betrayal and courage.

Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and begin flying as a trader by her mother's side, being in service to her beloved home tower and exploring the skies beyond. When Kirit inadvertently breaks Tower Law, the city's secretive governing body, the Singers, demand that she become one of them instead. In an attempt to save her family from greater censure, Kirit must give up her dreams to throw herself into the dangerous training at the Spire, the tallest, most forbidding tower, deep at the heart of the City.

As she grows in knowledge and power, she starts to uncover the depths of Spire secrets. Kirit begins to doubt her world and its unassailable Laws, setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to a haunting choice, and may well change the city forever—if it isn't destroyed outright.
“Extraordinary worldbuilding and cascading levels of intrigue make Wilde’s debut fantasy novel soar…. This well-written and fascinating exploration of a strange land is an extremely promising start for an exciting new writer.”
Publisher’s Weekly, « Starred Review «

“The world of the towers grown from bone, where residents strap on wings and soar the air currents, is captivating. As a coming-of-age story, Kirit’s journey to find her place is satisfying, but the real draw is a world that readers will be anxious to revisit in
future volumes of this exciting new series” Library Journal, « Starred Review « and Debut of the Month

“A lovingly, carefully crafted world—an engineering marvel—filled with captivating characters whose struggles and triumphs will thrill the reader and linger long in the imagination. I want to live in the world Wilde has created!”
— Ken Liu, author of The Grace of Kings.

US and Canada

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New Release: 9/27-10/3

Mon. Sept. 28th

 Harvest Moon (Moon #4) by Lisa Kessler
Pale Moon Walking by Paula Altenburg

Tue. Sept. 29th

 Brazen (Gilded #3) by Christina Farley
 Ghost for Sale by Sandra Cox 
 Menagerie (Menagerie #1) by Rachel Vincent

Happy Reading!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Guest Blog + Giveaway: Autumn Moon by Jan DeLima

UFI welcomes Author Jan DeLima. Thanks for Joining us!!


Do you read a series in order from book one, or do you begin with later books?  As a reader, I always start with the first book and read them in order.  I’m curious to know what kind of reader you are.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with my books, I write the Celtic Wolves series, which begins with Celtic Moon and is followed by Summer Moon.  Autumn Moon, book three, will be available at midnight.  The stories are inspired by Celtic folklore and are a mixture of paranormal romance and urban fantasy.  Set in modern day, it’s a world where warriors are also wolves and reality isn’t always what it seems.  Each installment features a new couple’s love story, while the fantasy elements span the series.  The books are written for adults and contain graphic love scenes and battle scenes—and a few shocking scenes as well.  It’s those graphic scenes that may have landed my books on the urban fantasy side of things instead of paranormal romance.

Now that I’ve released three novels, I can no longer claim to be a debut author.  But this is the first series I’ve written, and I did run into some challenges.  The main one, for me at least, was how much information from earlier books should be included in later installments.  It’s a precarious balance, because there needs to be enough information for new readers to grasp the world and couple’s backstory without being lost, and yet there shouldn’t be so much that it’s a retelling.

Another challenge is that early review copies are sent to reviewers who haven’t read previous books, and they need to be able to jump right in and understand what’s going on.  

For readers who are starting the series at this point, I’ve worked very hard to include brief reminders of past events and the history of the characters’ origin and world, and I’ve tried to do this in new ways using fresh perspectives.  But, again, it is a series.  Important events have happened in previous books that motivate later actions, and I am respectful of readers who have read this series from the beginning and don’t want earlier events retold at length in each installment.  

Adding to the challenge is the fact that Elen and Cormack have been secondary but significant characters throughout the series, and Autumn Moon is the story where these two finally get together.  Of all the emails I get from readers, this is the couple I’m asked most about.  Cormack and Elen are both outcasts for different reasons, and drawn together as friends because of it.  Elen is feared for her magical abilities, and Cormack has been trapped in wolf form for centuries.  They’ve lived together as friends for hundreds of years, bound by an emotional connection—but not a physical one because of their unique circumstances.  

Everything changes at the end of Celtic Moon, book one, when Elen frees Cormack from his curse.  Cormack is now a man.  He wants more than friendship, but first he must learn his new human form before he can claim the woman he loves.  Instead of adding more magic to the mix, I took a realistic approach with his character.  Cormack doesn’t instantly begin to walk on two feet or speak.  He has to learn, which is frustrating for him because he’s always had the intelligence of a man while trapped in wolf form.  But understanding a language and speaking it with an unfamiliar tongue is a difficult challenge for a proud man.  He doesn’t want Elen witnessing his learning process, and so he leaves with Luc, her brother and the hero of book two, until he can return to her as a worthy mate.  This process takes time.  In Summer Moon, readers get to watch Cormack’s progress as a secondary character—and Elen’s heartbreak as he avoids her.  His pride becomes the conflict here, and I had so much fun with this couple!

From Autumn Moon:
Cormack formed an intimidating figure as he marched beside her with graceful strides. His sword swung from his side, the belted scabbard hanging low off his hip, with his eyes sharp and searching for potential threats. 

He’d left her as a gentle friend but returned to her as a warrior. And why did that make her stomach flutter as if a thousand butterflies danced to his song? 

If you begin this series with Autumn Moon, you will meet Cormack the warrior and not the tortured wolf from earlier books. Cormack’s separation from Elen during his training created some wonderful conflicts to overcome; all the while they are learning each other for the first time with hearts that are already bound.  Their journey was truly magical to write.  

I will leave you with an excerpt from Autumn Moon when Elen confronts him about why he’s stayed away, but I am also interested in my earlier question.  What kind of series reader are you?  Will you start a series midway through?  Or do you start at the beginning?

As always, I hope you’re reading something just for fun!


An excerpt from Autumn Moon:
Elen’s gaze returned to meet his, filled with uncertainty. “Then why?” She lifted her hands in a helpless gesture. “Why haven’t you told me this sooner? Why have you stayed away? Why have you avoided me?” The questions flowed like rivers in spring. “I thought we were friends.”

Her last insult saved Cormack from babbling like an idiot. She wasn’t ready to hear what desires haunted his soul. Like boiling blood through his veins, he wanted her with a fierceness that would frighten her. “I needed to learn how to be human.”

“But I would have helped you.”

“I know.” He cringed at the thought. “But there are some things a man needs to learn on his own. Private things.”

“But we’re Celts.” She scoffed as if he’d made a tasteless joke. “Since when do you value privacy?”

Since I’ve been given a chance to have you. Needing to put an end to her questions, he provided a reason she couldn’t refute. “Yes, I am a Celt, which is why I deserve to have my will respected.”

And, more importantly, his pride.

That first week in an unfamiliar body was not a story for her ears, or the months that followed. Accounts of him dripping soup down his chin or fumbling with buttons and shoelaces. Forming his first words and bumbling the sounds. Or slicing his leg while learning how to swing a sword. Having his face crisscrossed with cuts like an adolescent teen after shaving.

Or enthusiastic body parts that arose every morning without fail. And, yes, their race was known to openly love without shame, and not to judge, as it should be, but Celts also respected each individual’s journey and preference.

And his was, and always would be, Elen. He’d waited centuries for her. Was it too much to ask that she wait a few months for him to be worthy of her?

Jan DeLima is the author of the Celtic Wolves novels, including Summer Moon and Celtic Moon. She lives in Maine with her husband and their two sons. Unlike many authors, Jan didn’t pen stories at an early age, but she has always been a dedicated reader.  It wasn’t until after her children entered school that she began writing. Raised in a military family, she lived in different countries such as Thailand and Germany, but home base has always been Maine.

Find Jan and her books

Autumn Moon 
Celtic Wolves #3
Amazon  BN
The heart of a warrior, the soul of a wolf, and the desires of a man…

For centuries, Cormack has lived between worlds—a man trapped in the body of a wolf, shunned by humans and shifters alike. Only one person has ever welcomed his company: Elen, a kindred outcast who is feared by others of her ancient Celtic race for her strange healing abilities.

Cormack has always valued Elen’s kindness and understanding, but after a desperate act of friendship causes Elen to free him from his curse, he realizes he wants more. He wants all of her—completely and forever.Except before Cormack can win Elen’s heart, Pendaran, the evil leader of the Guardians, captures her, determined to manipulate her incredible power to aid him in his twisted war against the shapeshifting tribes.

Now Cormack must use all of his skills as a warrior and a wolf to save the woman he loves—before Pendaran’s vile schemes destroy them all…
Too wired to sleep, Elen opened the wine and poured a glass, sipping quietly as she walked over to the bed.  Cormack slept above the coverlet and on his back, with one arm raised over his head, while the other rested by his side.  His hair was still damp from his shower, and he wore jeans but no shirt, as if he’d just rested his head and sleep claimed him first.

His chest rose and fell with even breaths.  She was not one to marvel over physical attributes, but this was Cormack, and his body was meant for pleasure, like a goddess had molded him for her personal divine gratification.  His frame was large, and toned, with wide shoulders and a firm chest that tapered down to his hips.  His hardened stomach would provide the perfect friction were she to ride him just like this.

And as that image flooded her mind, another, more wicked one, followed.  It was greedy, and selfish, but all her niceness had been used up for the day.  He looked peaceful, and innocent, but the man was practically immortal after all.  Their kind did not die from lack of sleep.  They might go mad, of course, but that took a few weeks.  And had he not said, do with me as you will?

She needed to touch him.  That was all.  Well, no, she wanted more, but for now that would do.  Taking a sip of her wine, she gently set the glass on an end table by the bed, and gave into temptation.  Starting by his heart, she brushed lightly across his chest, tracing down the indent between, and lingering on the valleys and curves of his muscles.  Flattening her hand over his stomach, she felt the soft hair that began just above the waistband of his jeans and disappeared below.  She had never seen him in this restful state, at least not in his human form, and took in her ravenous fill.

Her hand lingered over the button of his jeans.  She swallowed, wanting… Oh, how she wanted.  It burned like molten earth, fed by a need that had been denied for too long.  Even now she felt her body moisten and swell just from imagining what waited beyond that closure, and how it would feel inside her.

Or how it would taste.

She thumbed the button.  A quick flick was all it would take.

A sound made her jolt, an intake of breath perhaps, followed by a sudden rise under her hands.  She snapped her eyes to his face.

Cormack was awake.

And watching her.

A fire raged within his cerulean gaze.  “Kill me now if you stop, Elen, because then I’ll know I’m well and truly cursed and I cannot be tortured anymore.”

Prequel for Autumn Moon:
First chapter for Autumn Moon:

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Review: Pale Moon Walking by Paula Altenburg

Pale Moon Walking
Release Date: September 28, 2015
Publisher: Entangled: Select Otherworld
ISBN: 1633754383
ISBN13: 9781633754386
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Sci Fi
Review Copy Source: Publisher
Where the outlaws are out of this world...

US Marshall Sam Kyote has been sent to the dry old town of Coyote Bluff to recuperate from a top-secret government experiment that's left this law man a little...well, different. But Sam's about to find out that the town of Coyote Bluff has a whole lot of secrets. Most of which lead to Libby Mayden-the sexy, long-legged, and tight-lipped sheriff who saved his ass from an alien ambush.

The last thing Libby needs is a US Marshall poking around her town, especially one who's hotter than the Nevada desert sun. She can't let Sam find out most of her town are wanted outlaws. Between the aliens, the gunfighters, and a searing sexual attraction to Sam, she's in a whole heap of trouble. And Libby'll stride both sides of the law-and Sam-until she's forced to choose between self-preservation...and her heart.

The wild west meets aliens in PALE MOON WALKING. PALE MOON WALKING takes place in the wild west era and I wasn't really expecting that for some reason so it was a surprise. I didn't think I was going to be able to fully enjoy it because I usually enjoy a more present day read, but I did end up liking the story.

 Libby is the sheriff of Coyote Bluff and happens to be the daughter of the late leader of a gang of outlaws. She is extremely independent and knows how to handle a gun. There are a lot of former gang members that have made their home in Coyote Bluff so when a US Marshall comes to town she assumes he's up to no good. Sam is of course a US Marshal, but he is on a leave of sorts. He happens to make his new home in Coyote Bluff, but things quickly take a turn towards the dangerous side when he is attacked by aliens then is saved by the beautiful sheriff that dresses like a man, but he sees her as only a woman he wants to get to know.

The romance between Sam and Libby was fun. Libby is more of a spinster and Sam wants more. They both surprise each other throughout the book and are pretty hot together. Libby has a lot of soul searching to decide if she could live without Sam and I enjoyed being in her head as the story evolved.  

I had a few small issues with PALE MOON WALKING. There are a lot of characters introduced and for some reason I had a hard time keeping some of them straight. I thought that the author dropped the ball on explaining some things about the world which made things a little hard to understand and made me feel like I missed something. Also, I didn't feel like the end cleared everything up. I am not sure if this will be part of a series, if so, then it wouldn't be that big of an issue. If it isn't part of a series I am left with a lot of questions and a feeling of being incomplete.

I gave it 3/5 stars

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

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Week in Review: 9/20-9/26

Books Received for Review

Fall of Heroes by Jennifer Harlow
Spiral of Need by Suzanne Wright

Books I've Read

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine
Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie
Blood Magic by Jennifer Lyon

Reviews Posted

Shadows at Midnight by Amanda Bonilla
Dance with the Devil by Angela Dennis


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

* Monday- Guest Blog + Giveaway for Awakened by Sennah Tate

* Tuesday- Interview for Dance with the Devil by Angela Dennis

* Wednesday- Promo + Giveaway for A Fistful of Fire by Rebecca Chastain

* Thursday- Guest Blog + Giveaway for Alpha Unleashed by Aileen Erin

* Saturday- Promo for Menagerie by Rachel Vincent; Promo for Blade Dance by D.L. McDermott


* 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, September 26, 2015

Promo: Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

Menagerie #1 
By Rachel Vincent
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Mira Books
From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent comes a richly imagined, provocative new series set in the dark mythology of the Menagerie…

When Delilah Marlow visits a famous traveling carnival, Metzger's Menagerie, she is an ordinary woman in a not-quite-ordinary world. But under the macabre circus black-top, she discovers a fierce, sharp-clawed creature lurking just beneath her human veneer. Captured and put on exhibition, Delilah in her black swan burlesque costume is stripped of her worldly possessions, including her own name, as she's forced to "perform" in town after town.

But there is breathtaking beauty behind the seamy and grotesque reality of the carnival. Gallagher, her handler, is as kind as he is cryptic and strong. The other "attractions"—mermaids, minotaurs, gryphons and kelpies—are strange, yes, but they share a bond forged by the brutal realities of captivity. And as Delilah struggles for her freedom, and for her fellow menagerie, she'll discover a strength and a purpose she never knew existed.

Renowned author Rachel Vincent weaves an intoxicating blend of carnival magic and startling humanity in this intricately woven and powerful tale
Advanced Praise:

“Vincent creates a fantastic world that is destined to pique your curiosity … As Delilah Morrow slowly uncovers a side of herself that she never knew existed, you’ll sympathize with her … desperate to see her succeed.”
RT Book Reviews, Top Pick
“[Menagerie] is a dark tale of exploited and abused others, expertly told by Vincent.
Library Journal, Starred Review
“As depicted by Vincent, Delilah is magnificent in her defiance of injustice, and the well-wrought background for her world sets the stage for her future adventures in this captivating new fantasy series.”
Publishers Weekly

Rachel Vincent is a former English teacher and an eager champion of the Oxford comma. She shares her home in Oklahoma with two cats, two teenagers, and her husband, who’s been her # 1 fan from the start. Rachel is older than she looks and younger than she feels, and she remains convinced that writing about the things that scare her is the cheapest form of therapy—but social media is a close second.

Find Rachel and her books

Who's planning on Reading Menagerie?

Promo: Blade Dance by D.L. McDermott

Blade Dance
Cold Iron #4
by D.L. McDermott
For fans of Jeaniene Frost and Kresley Cole, Blade Dance is the fourth book in D.L. McDermott’s fast-paced and sexy paranormal romance series about the Boston Fae—a full-length novel available exclusively in ebook!

Boston schoolteacher Ann Phillips knows better than to trust the Fae, but when one of her second graders turns up to class with both arms covered in magical tattoos, she has no choice but to turn to Finn MacUmhaill, the dangerous and charismatic Fae crime lord who controls Charlestown, for help.

Finn MacUmhaill, leader of the Fianna, has had his eye on Ann Phillips for months, but a recent showdown with an old enemy has left his house broken. Between the crippling blow dealt to the Fianna and his son’s recent defection, he hasn’t had time to woo the pretty redhead. When she turns up on his doorstep asking for his help, he thinks he’s found the way to win her, but before he can act, the child goes missing, kidnapped by a rogue Druid who has discovered the key to destroying the wall between worlds.

Now, Finn and Ann must ally themselves with an old adversary—the treacherous Prince Consort—to save the boy, or risk the destruction of the wall that keeps the corrupt Fae Queen and her Court at bay…

BLADE DANCE is available at a sizzling $1.99 until October 2nd!

A native of Bergenfield, New Jersey, D L graduated from Yale with a degree in Classics and Art History. For many years she managed architecture and interpretation at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, and wrote and directed the Witch City’s most popular Halloween theater festival, Eerie Events. She later earned an MFA in film production from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. D L has been a sorority house mother, a Disney/ABC Television Writing Fellow, a WGA Writer’s Access Project Honoree, and a staff writer on the ABC primetime drama, Cupid. Her screenwriting credits include episodes of the animated series, Tron: Uprising. Her short fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Albedo One. The director of several award-winning short films, her most recent project, The Night Caller, aired on WNET Channel 13 and was featured on Ain’t It Cool News. She is married with one cat and divides her time between Los Angeles and Salem.

Find D.L. McDermott and her books

Friday, September 25, 2015

Review: Shadows at Midnight by Amanda Bonilla

Shadows at Midnight
Release Date: September 24, 2015
Publisher: NYLA
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Author
Has Darian’s past finally caught up with her?

The Rakshasa queen, Padma, has a score to settle—she wants those responsible for her son’s death to pay and to pay dearly. Darian, Tyler and Xander are all at risk—and Padma’s powers could force them to live the rest of their lives in the madness of the Realm of Illusions…

While Darian is taken and is the first to suffer, she’s soon rescued by Tyler, the one man to never disappoint. But what Darian doesn’t know is that her freedom comes at a steep price—Xander’s the King of Shaedes, imprisonment. Darian knows what horrors await in Padma’s dungeon. A rescue mission won’t be easy and she can’t do it alone.

Deep in the bowels of Goblin Valley, Darian, Tyler, and her small band of Shaede warriors fight their way through a dark labyrinth. In a realm where illusions rule, with danger at every turn, the odds are stacked against them. Time isn’t on their side, every second spent in Padma’s custody will be another step Xander takes toward madness. A kingdom can’t be ruled without its king and the wolves are at the door, waiting. If Darian can’t get to Xander before he succumbs to the illusions, an entire kingdom’s future is at stake…
I can't even begin to express the amount and variety of emotions that SHADOWS AT MIDNIGHT brought out in me. Have the tissues handy, make sure to keep sharp objects out of reach, and go to the bathroom before you start reading because with the amount of action going on you won't want to put SHADOWS AT MIDNIGHT down.

Book four, AGAINST THE DAWN, left Darian kidnapped and on her way to face the consequences of killing Azriel. The first few chapters of SHADOWS OF MIDNIGHT are really dark so be prepared. When Darian is released from the Rakshasa Queen, she jumps right back into danger to save Xander. I really loved that Asher was part of her team. He is one of my favorite secondary characters and I love the connection that they have and the way that they work together. I was a bit sad that my other fave secondary character, Rafe, was left out of the action this round.

If you're a Tyler fan, get ready for a book FILLED with him and information about him. I for one have had so many questions about him and the ring that he gave Darian. Not only do we get answers, we see a different side of him. I have not yet decided if I like that other side, but I sure enjoyed watching everything unfold. Now if you're a Xander fan, you might fall even more in love with him in SHADOWS AT MIDNIGHT. He makes a huge sacrifice to save Darian and I for one felt the love he has for her shining through every decision he made in book five. In past books I could never really tell if his feelings were real or if he was just chasing her because she didn't give into him like others would have. I have no doubts now that he is truly in love with her.

The ending of SHADOWS AT MIDNIGHT really throws out a curve ball and left me with a LOT of questions. Get ready for a cliff hanger that leaves you with a deep need to get your hands on the next book and maybe make you want to shake the author a little to find out what the heck is going on.

I gave it 4/5 stars

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

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Guest Blog + Giveaway: Alpha Unleashed by Aileen Erin

 UFI welcomes Author Aileen Erin. Thanks for Joining us!!

Top Ten Books as a Teen 

This one is hard. It feels like ages ago, but at the same time, not that long ago… But I did my best to clear out the cobwebs.

1. My favorite book in high school was actually a fantasy trilogy by Anne Bishop. The Black Jewels Trilogy to be specific. ;) 

The world building… OMG! And it’s a matriarchal society, which I totally dug. It’s a little racy at times, but I devoured these books over and over. 

2. Winter of Fire by Sherryl Jodan. 

I totally wore out the spine on this book! Read it over and over.

3. The Fionavar Tapestry Trilogy by Guy Gavriel Kay.

So good! It’s a portal quest fantasy—meaning people from our world travel to another (fantasy-based) word and go on a quest. Really fun read!

4. The Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind. It’s thirteen books long, so I won’t show all the covers, but it’s amazing. 

I’ve reread this series a few times through. It’s amazing tale of love, fantasy, and adventure. LOVE IT!

5. Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. 

This is another series that has a billion books, and I have to admit…I quit reading after book eleven. I think life as a teen just cut into my reading time, and I never picked it back up. But I remember really loving it. The covers of my versions are more like the one third cover here! Way rad.
(BTW: Are you sensing a theme, yet? I was totally a fantasy addict in my teen years!)

6. The Crown of Stars series by Kate Elliott.

I was totally obsessed with the romantic hero in this one. Totally swoon worthy. #dreamy 

7. Marion Zimmer Bradley is probably most famous for her fantasy novel Mists of Avalon. But I actually read her urban fantasy stuff. She was my intro to the world of contemporary witchcraft.

From then on, I was hooked. I started reading more and more urban fantasy, and less epic fantasy.

8. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause was my intro into the world of werewolves.

This book is fantastic. I read it so many times! But it always pained me that she only wrote the one book in this world. I wish she had written more…
9. From there I went into the world of paranormal romance. There wasn’t a ton of urban fantasy at the time. And not a lot to do with werewolves or vampires. But I found Christine Feehan’s Dark Prince (the first of now 28 novels in her Dark series) in my senior year of high school, and loved it!

It’s an interesting take on vampires, but no matter how much I liked the series, werewolves were still my first love. ;)

10. From there, I started on contemporary romance. I started reading everything by Nora Roberts I could get my hands on! It all started with the Donovan Legacy series—which is contemporary romance with a good dose of witchcraft.

Totally romantic (because it’s a romance…), which I loved, plus it’s got the urban fantasy edge, which I super loved. Two thumbs up!

Aileen Erin is half-Irish, half-Mexican and 100% nerd-from Star Wars (prequels don’t count) to Star Trek (TNG FTW), she reads Quenya and some Sindarin, and has a severe fascination with the supernatural. Aileen has a BS in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She lives with her husband in Los Angeles, and spends her days doing her favorite things: reading books, creating worlds, and kicking ass.

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Alpha Unleashed
Alpha Girl #5
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Tessa McCaide has had it up to here with supernaturals. Luciana may have failed to steal Tessa’s magic, but she’s just getting started on her crusade for magical domination. If her demonic summoning isn’t stopped, it could mean the end of everything.

Tessa’s allies, including her mate Dastien, are ready to fight, but they’re no match for Luciana’s power. A little help (and ancient Inca mojo) from Tessa’s cousin, Claudia, may give the side of good a chance if she can make it home in time, but stopping the war is no longer an option.

When witches and wolves fight, no one wins. Only time will tell who will still be standing after the last spell is cast.

I trailed off when I noticed Meredith staring hard at something behind me. I quickly glanced over my shoulder. “What?” 
“What’s Shannon doing with that group?” Her lips pressed into a tight, thin line. “And is that Imogene?” Meredith and I might be split on how we felt about Shannon, but we totally agreed on Imogene. 
I turned back to my now-cold omelet and took a bite. “I know,” I said after a second. “Looks like they’re BFFs now.” 
She scrunched up her nose as she thought. “Why is she with those guys? Shannon has nothing in common with them. She’s from the Irish pack. And Imogene? Really?” Meredith stared at them like she could glean answers off them. “Maybe if we all try reaching out to her, she’ll sit with us again.” 
I’d explained what happened between Shannon and I while Meredith was sick, but she didn’t understand. For better or worse, they’d been friends since forever. Their parents were friends and they’d grown up taking vacations together. Meredith was loyal, almost to a fault, and that meant she refused to give up on Shannon. “We tried that, remember? It didn’t work.” 
“I should go over. Try talking to her again.” 
I nearly rolled my eyes. Meredith had tried talking to Shannon, and in her defense—Shannon was still nice to her, but it was a losing battle. Shannon would obviously rather be with her new friends than us. 
Meredith started to stand up, but I grabbed her hand. “I wouldn’t—” 
“I have to try.” 
I let her go as I tried to think of a way to say what I needed to say without making it worse. “I don’t know. I still can’t feel anyone at that table through the pack bonds. Including Shannon.” 
Meredith crossed her arms as she stared down at me. “Whatever happened between you and her, she wouldn’t do anything to harm the pack. Shannon’s not capable of that.” 
I disagreed, but saying so would only hurt Meredith’s feelings. “What if she thought it would help the pack?” And what if they aren’t part of our pack anymore? I thought the words but didn’t say them aloud. 
For a second, Meredith’s lower lip trembled, and I thought I’d gotten through to her, but then she shook her head. “No. I don’t believe that. Not at all.” 
I kept my mouth firmly shut. If there was one person I didn’t want to piss off, it was Meredith. She’d been my friend—no questions asked—from the beginning. She’d helped me through when all I’d wanted to do was run away from St. Ailbe’s. And when I’d sucked at running and kept falling out of windows, she hadn’t made fun of me. Much. “I just don’t want you to get disappointed.” 
“I—” Meredith stopped in the middle of what she was saying, and turned to the door. 
It took me a second to figure out what was going on, but then Donovan came into the cafeteria, and started our way. Maybe he’d be able to reach Meredith, because I sure as hell wasn’t getting anywhere. 
She laughed at something he must’ve said through their bond. “Donovan is going to keep you company while I talk to Shannon. I’ll be back in a sec.” 
There wasn’t any point in trying to stop her. 
Donovan took Meredith’s spot at the table. He wore sweat pants and a T-shirt and his black hair was still messy from his run. His clothes gave of the scents of cedar and grass and dirt, and it almost made me jealous. 
Maybe a run would clear my mind. Help me figure out a way around these visions. 
“She’s checking on Shannon, eh?” Donovan asked, bringing me back to myself. 
“Yeah.” I’d already said my piece to his mate. I didn’t need to repeat myself. 
He jerked his chin toward the table in question. “There’s still something off about them.” 
My fork dropped to the plate with a clatter, and I glared into his glass-blue eyes. “Oh, come on. We’re not doing this.” 
Donovan raised his eyebrows. “Not doing what?” 
He had to be joking. “I just had this conversation with Meredith. I know how the whole mate thing works. There’s not a chance she didn’t tell you.” 
He gave me a wicked grin, and I knew trouble was coming. “Aye. But what you don’t know is that I agree with you.” 
“You do?” Mr. Dawson had been all—everything’s fine. Donovan hadn’t said a word. Why now? 
“Yes. I do.” 
“What do you know?” I leaned toward him, lowering my voice. Pesky Weres and their super-awesome hearing. “Why are their bonds missing? I thought they couldn’t leave the pack without putting in a formal bid to Mr. Dawson.” 
“That’s true enough. I don’t know what’s going on, but I think you’re going to find out. If this absence of pack bond is spreading, then we need to find the cause. Just… Don’t say anything to Meredith until we’re positive. All right?” 
Whoa. I didn’t keep much—if anything—from Dastien. “Do you think that’s wise?” 
“Keeping my opinions from my mate?” One side of his mouth quirked up. “Not usually. But she made her side clear enough with you, and I’d rather not start an argument that won’t get us anywhere.” 
Who knew? Even the great Donovan—one of the all-powerful Seven—was afraid of pissing off his mate. The idea was a little preposterous, but then again—I didn’t like upsetting Dastien either. I’d done it. But that didn’t mean I liked it. That left me with one last question. “Why can’t you keep an eye on them? You’re probably way better at this pack bonds stuff than I am.” 
He raised an eyebrow. “In case you’ve forgotten, I’m not of this pack. I’m an alpha, and can use that to overpower and override the pack bonds if necessary, but this needs more finesse. An insider’s look.” 
“But your mate’s in our pack.” When Dastien bit me, I’d become part of the St. Ailbe’s pack. I figured it would be the same for Donovan and Meredith and their mate bond, even if they hadn’t gone through with their bonding ceremony. 
“Doesn’t work that way. I’m already the alpha of another pack.” 
“So, what about Meredith? Is she still part of this pack?” 
“Until she and Michael decide to let her move to mine. She’ll keep it for as long as she’s here, and I think that’s best.” He leaned forward. “I’ve heard through Michael and Meredith, but I want to know what it is you’re feelin’ from them. I’ve not experienced this before, and that’s sayin’ something to me.” His Irish accent thickened, and I finally knew that someone else was as worried about this as I was. 
“I don’t know what to say except that I can’t feel them. It’s like they’re there, but they’re not.” I sighed. “It makes no sense. Which is why Mr. Dawson blew me off when I brought it up. Shouldn’t you be talking to him about this? He’s the alpha.” 
“What makes you think I haven’t already?” 
The tension on my shoulders relaxed. It seemed like a good sign that two alphas were really talking about the problem. “And?” 
“Nothing. If they’ve withdrawn from the pack, he’s not feeling it.” He leaned in closer, speaking so quietly that even I could barely hear. “But last night, he gave that group of boys from the Canada pack a direct command and they disobeyed. I backed the command and forced their obedience, but I shouldn’t have had to. He’s their alpha. It may be that Rupert Hoel’s influence went deeper than those we’ve caught. There’s still a major player out there, and I’ve a fine idea who it might be.” 
Holy shit. That was bad news. Only someone more alpha than Mr. Dawson could ignore his commands, and they weren’t more alpha. At all. 
“I think you might know. It’s one who got away.” 
It hit me then. They’d kicked one of the Seven out of the Council. The one who hated me. Ferdinand. “Do you really think it could be?” 
“But you didn’t say anything when I brought it up before.” 
“It took me longer to feel what you were getting at. I like to suss things out before actin’. Get fully aware of the situation. If you feel anything else out of the ordinary, let me know. Just be aware that if that lot wants to leave, that’s fine by me. They’re welcome to go their own way, but they need to make formal bids to Michael and they’ll have to tie to the Seven until they find their new packs. It must be done properly, or they’ll be considered lone wolves. And if they align with Ferdinand… I’d like those youngsters to avoid that if possible.” 
My stomach churned, and suddenly I didn’t feel much like finishing my omelet. If the pack was breaking up, then how were we ever going to defeat Luciana? We needed to be united if we wanted to stand the slightest chance of surviving.

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