Steampunk Sundays: The Shadow Revolution by Clay & Susan Griffith + Series Intro

Series: Crown & Key 1
Format: eGalley
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Del Rey
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Steampunk

They are the realm’s last, best defense against supernatural evil. But they’re going to need a lot more silver.

As fog descends, obscuring the gas lamps of Victorian London, werewolves prowl the shadows of back alleys. But they have infiltrated the inner circles of upper-crust society as well. Only a handful of specially gifted practitioners are equipped to battle the beasts. Among them are the roguish Simon Archer, who conceals his powers as a spell-casting scribe behind the smooth veneer of a dashing playboy; his layabout mentor, Nick Barker, who prefers a good pub to thrilling heroics; and the self-possessed alchemist Kate Anstruther, who is equally at home in a ballroom as she is on a battlefield.

After a lycanthrope targets Kate’s vulnerable younger sister, the three join forces with fierce Scottish monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane—but quickly discover they’re dealing with a threat far greater than anything they ever imagined.

Let me forewarn you that in the next few days or weeks, you’ll see Clay and Susan Grffith’s THE SHADOW REVOLUTION popping up in the blogosphere. If they sound vaguely familiar to you, the writing duo penned Vampire Empire, which I know some of you are familiar with, have read, and probably loved. I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting their vampires, but I’m happy to report that Crown & Key is off to a fantastic start. Let’s whip out the bullets!
  • I know a few of you don’t read Steampunk. Understandable. Now even if Crown & Key is filed under this genre, THE SHADOW REVOLUTION is not riddled with Steampunk components, such as steamships, archaic/futuristic gadgets, and cleverly coined nouns. It’s more historical paranormal similar to Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London series minus the romance. 
  • Speaking of paranormal, the lead, Simon Archer, is by all intents and purposes, a (sexy) druid, and he’s up against a pack of rabid werewolves. I love the supernatural element in this one, the magic is aether-based and the wolves are very scary. There’s not much lore or myth incorporated just yet, just enough mentions to give us a good grasp of what Simon is and what he’s capable of. 
  • Simon has a serious crush on Kate Anstruther and it’s obvious that the feeling is mutual. However it seems that it’s going to be a slow-buring one. I guess our heroes are more intent of ridding London its werewolf problem than scoring a few gropes and kisses. 
  • THE SHADOW REVOLUTION is packed with fast paced action, very character driven, engaging dialogue, and likable characters. The climax in particular came in waves and each one is better than the last. I had total bookgasm especially in the last quarter of the novel. 
  • I love Simon and Kate, they’re flawed yet very ideal heroes. Both are very smart, discerning, witty, and they perfectly complement each other. Simon is the braun while Kate is the brains. Also Simon has this bad boy thing going on for him, infamous and known to be a trouble maker; while Kate is learned, an aristocrat, a bit haughty, but just as brave and daring as Simon.

    The secondary characters are just as great. Nick, Simon’s partner/mentor, is like an elder Sherlock Holmes/Nicolas Flammel. Malcolm MacFarlane, aside from being a Scot (instant sexy points!) is super hunky and every bit of an Alpha. Charlotte, the young werewolf is perhaps my favorite of the cast. She’s simply amazing! If you’ve read or have plans of reading THE SHADOW REVOLUTION, pay attention to the epic battle that ensued in the last quarter of the book. Charlotte kicked some serious ass during the battle! Woot!

Going back to my post intro. Even if you’re not a reader of Steampunk but love a good action fantasy novel, please do yourself a favor and pick up THE SHADOW REVOLUTION. You won’t be bogged down by engineered marvels and endless talk about machinery. You’ll instead have a grand adventure in Victorian London, fighting off evil werewolves vicariously through Simon & Co. It also helps that the books are released in close succession so you don’t have to wait too long to get your next fill. 
Instant gratification + extraordinary adventure = fantastic Summer read. Win-win!
Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

The Birth of a Series

The background concept of CROWN & KEY came to us originally from our publisher, Del Rey. They had developed an outline about a hidden history of the world where magic was real but secret. We were thrilled that they asked us to take this sprawling outline and craft a trilogy of novels introducing the world to readers. After much debate, we decided to focus on a few of the main characters (our favorites) and develop their histories. In the early 19th century, the ancient guild of magicians that has always controlled the shadowy world of sorcery as well as the horrific population of monsters shatters because of simmering rivalries and betrayal. The once orderly world of magic flies apart into revolution and bloody chaos. There are those who are trying to bury the old order and those who are desperate to revive it before the world is forever corrupted. Our story places our heroes into this treacherous world and reveals their hidden pasts as well as the mystical legacies of their fathers and mothers. All the while, the reader discovers the amazing magic around the world.

CROWN & KEY is designed to be a thrill ride of a series, but the best kind of thrill ride. While it is certainly fast-paced and action-oriented, it is populated with terrifying villains and memorable heroes who will stick with you. Our main heroes include Simon Archer, the handsome and jovial rake who hides the fact that he is the last surviving scribe, once one of the most powerful styles of magic on Earth. His primary partner is Kate Anstruther, brilliant scholar and alchemist, the headstrong daughter of a famous explorer, who is desperate to keep her family together and make a mark on the world with her mystical science. Malcolm MacFarlane is a grim Scottish monster hunter, tormented by his past and forced to confront his own intolerant view of his enemies. Penny Carter secretly worked her way up through a man’s world as an engineer, crafting weapons and tools of power based on steam and arcane energy sources.

The three books in the CROWN & KEY trilogy will be published in quick succession (The Shadow Revolution on June 2, The Undying Legion on June 30, The Conquering Dark on July 28) which means fans won’t have to wait long to get their hands on the entire series. This publishing scheme allowed us to view the entire trilogy a bit more omnisciently and fine tune the details over the course of writing three books. We could insure that important themes resonated through the entire series. We tightened the plot and linked the characters through subtle twists and turns that we might not have been able to accomplish if the early books were already published as we were writing the third. We are very pleased with the results and we hope readers will love and cheer the members of CROWN & KEY as much as we do.

Clay & Susan Griffith are a married couple who have written and published together for more than a decade. Their credits not only include two novels for Bantam Doubleday Dell in the mid-1990s and another novel for Pinnacle Entertainment Group in 2002 but also numerous short stories published in many anthologies, some featuring noted genre characters like Kolchak the Night Stalker and The Phantom. They’ve also written scripts for television and published graphic novels.

Follow Clay & Susan
Website | Facebook | @clayandsusan | Goodreads

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Bought, Borrowed & Bagged [153]: Burying The Ex

BB&B (Bought, Borrowed and Bagged) is a weekly meme, inspired my The Story Siren and Pop Culture Junkie, where we share with you the books that we have bought, borrowed or bagged (won or gifted) plus a recap of the previous week’s reviews, upcoming reviews, on going events and book movie or television news. 

BB&B is an homage Barron’s Books & Baubles from Karen Marie Moning’s smash hit series, Fever. 


from publishers & authors

It’s a new year and there’s a new linky for my humble weekly recap meme. Whether you’re a return participant or a new hopper, THANK YOU for joining, your participation is much appreciated. 
Also as this is a laid-back meme, please use your LABEL OR TAG LINKS and not your post links that way you don’t have to update your linky every week. 

Quick Hits: Wolf Bride by Elizabeth Moss + The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson


Wolf Bride | Lust in the Tudor Court 1 | Elizabeth Moss
Erotic Historical Romance | Sourcebooks Casablanca | May 5, 2015

Bloggy Friends’ Review: Nocturnal Book Reviews | Book Swoon

I was so excited to read WOLF BRIDE because I love the Tudor Court and anything that has to do with Henry VIII. It was also an added incentive that Lust in the Tudor Court was erotic historical romance and I sure could use a big dose of sexy in my life. 

Sadly, WOLF BRIDE wasn’t what I hoped for. I wasn’t regaled with descriptions of court life, the wardrobe, the silly protocols as the heroine, Eloise Tyrell, was so close to King Henry and Queen Anne. Instead I had pages and pages of sex, angst, more sex, zero courtship, and convoluted conflicts! I almost DNF’d this one but I was on the 88% mark and thought I might as well finish it since I made it that far. But boy was it a laborious 12%. Lord Wolf was a jackass and emotionally handicappped, and he was not sexy (to me at least) at all. In fact, I never understood his motivations and decision making process which further annoyed me. As for Eloise, the girl needs some personality (or a brain) and sass. She obeyed Wolf well but it’s hard to appreciate that when she’s been obedience throughout the novel. Nope, WOLF BRIDE isn’t for me.

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest | Medieval Fairy Tale Romance 1 | Emily Dickerson
Fairy Tale Retelling | Thomas Nelson | May 12, 2015 
at 47%
THE HUNTRESS OF THORNBECK FOREST by Emily Dickerson is a mash-up of Swan Lake and Robin Hood. I love the premise of this YA novel, after all, Robin of Locksley and the accursed Odette are two of my favorite fictional characters.
I can’t help but feel insecure about not finishing THE HUNTRESS OF THORNBECK FOREST because a lot of people loved it! Almost half way through the novel I felt it was sorely missing something. For example, at this point, I feel we should’ve seen Odette in full Huntress mode. Instead all I got were her arrows left in the forest as clue for Jorgen, the forester and Odette’s love interest. It’s so bland and though we know that Odette and Jorgen are at odds, there’s barely any tension between the two. 
But please don’t take my word for it. A lot of people in Goodreads LOVED THE HUNTRESS OF THORNBECK FOREST so it might be one of those it’s not you, it’e me kind of thing, you know? Give it a go, you might end up liking this title more than I did.

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Shelley Liked It: Endgame by C.J. Daugherty

Series: Night School 5
Format: E-Book | 315 pages
Release Date: June 4, 2015
Publisher: Bookouture
Source: NetGalley
Genre: YA, Fantasy

Broken. Scattered. But not defeated.

The spy is gone but the cost has been high – the rebels at Cimmeria Academy have lost their leader and Carter West is missing. Nathaniel can taste victory. But Allie and the other survivors aren’t done yet. First they have to get Carter back. Then they plan to make Nathaniel pay.

One way or another – the game must end.

Endgame is the thrilling fifth and final book in the internationally bestselling Night School series.

ENDGAME is the fifth and final book in the Night School series. The story picks up right where Resistance left off. The opening chapter, in fact, is one big chase scene with non- stop action, and hold your breath suspense. The rest of the book is tension filled with Nathaniel once again hanging over every single thing that the Cimmeria students and teachers do, while Allie is trying to find a way to get Carter West back, and defeat Nathaniel once and for-all.
Allie has grown up rather quickly from the first novel forward. She went from being a trouble maker and angry girl who was thrown out of her parents house after getting into major trouble, to being sent to Cimmeria where she entered a entirely different world of beautiful and rich students. She’s made friends with a core group who have been fighting by her side from almost the beginning. Carter, Sylvain, Rachel, Nicole, Zoe, Isabelle, Raj, Dom, Eloise, and Katie.  
Allie has watched friends die unnecessarily, and faced a megalomaniac in Nathaniel who twisted Allie’s brother Christopher to joining him, while desiring Allie for himself to expand his powers and influence. She’s become someone who knows how to fight after joining the secretive society known as Night School. She’s a rebel leader against the normal and usual, and not shocking at all, pretty powerful in her own right thanks to her grandmother. 
However, always a however, she missed something pretty important that was right in front of her face. How can you truly call yourself a friend and miss THAT happening? Especially since EVERYONE else knew about it except you! Perhaps with everything that’s been thrust onto Allie’s lap since she arrived at Cimmeria, it took a toll on her. Perhaps it was because she was Nathaniel’s target almost from the very beginning, and perhaps, because her friends were too busy to fill Allie in on OTHER things happening around her.
Didn’t figure Sylvain into my thoughts of what was going to happen in ENDGAME, which is my mistake. Glad he was at there for the important moments in the story, and not missing in action. Perhaps I am a bit rough when it comes to him, and Allie’s choices. I did start out hating him for many reasons, one being he was extremely possessive and grabby hands. But, one thing you can’t fault him for is that he is someone you can count on when danger lurks around every corner. 
I was kind of surprised by the ending. Not at all what I was expecting and hoping for which is always nice. I do believe there was an alternative ending possible, but let’s walk away knowing that the right couples are together, and that makes me happy. Let’s walk away knowing that Allie did whatever she could do to survive until the very last page of the very last book along with most of her closest friends, teachers, and advisers by her side. Let’s walk away knowing that Allie truly believes in what she’s done, and let’s hope that Allie finds a way to forgive her parents for what they’ve done to her and her brother.
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Boob Tube Binges: When Calls The Heart, Grace + Frankie, Bonus Blogger Angst

Hey there, Supies!

Sorry I’ve been MIA for a while now. Aside from the holiday weekend, I also experienced colossal technical difficulties! If you remember, my wireless adapter died a few months back and I haven’t had the chance to resolve that issue. Then around Sunday, my laptop’s battery started acting up as well. Grr!
And as if that wasn’t enough, my Kindle Fire DIED! It won’t turn on at all! And it was with a heavy heart that I sent it to gadget heaven. 
I was devastated and extremely angry over these turn of events not to mention the couple of books I’ve read in the previous days were dead as well. I’ll get to that tomorrow. 
So what’s a bored girl to do? Why watch Netflix of course! So here are the two shows I binged on during my mourning.
Netflix Original Series | Comedy | 13 Episodes | 25 mins. 
Tomlin and Fonda are geriatric magic! Am I allowed to say that? Let me preface it by saying that these two are certified GILF’s! I can only hope I look half as good as these screen legends when I’m in my 70’s. 
So the premise of Grace (Jane Fonda) & Frankie (Lily Tomlin) is this: these two are rivals and complete opposites in terms of their personalities. Their husbands (Martin Sheen & Sam Waterston) have been law partners for 20 years or so and after two decades, they came out of the closet and told their respective wives that they’re in love and planned on getting married now that they can. 
So how do these two ladies deal with the devastation of being divorced in their 70’s as their husbands openly flaunt their relationship? With much gumption, sense of humor, and pizazz! I found myself laughing so hard over the 13-25 min. episodes because Tomlin and Fonda are pure comedy gold together! The roles are made for these two, with Fonda as the uptight elitist snob, while Tomlin is the hippy, YOLO granny. There’s also a lot of heartfelt, super touching moments to balance off the funnies. I promise you’ll be hooked after watching the first episode. 
Hallmark Channel | Drama | Season 1 | 43 mins.
Westerns are really growing on me! I love the frontier setting, the costumes, the small-town scope of the plots, the colorful characters, everything! 
When Calls the Heart, based on Janette Oke’s Canadian West book series, is a story of Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow), a young school teacher from a wealthy family back east, who moved to the west in a small coal mining town called Coal Valley. Soon enough, Elizabeth finds herself getting very invested in her student’s education, very involved in the town’s events, and crushing hard on a dreamy Mountie, Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing). 
When Calls the Heart was very likable and swoony! For a small town, Coal Valley is abundant with stories that are usually family related. On top of the domestic issues, there’s also a series arc pertaining 47 dead miners who perished in a “freak accident”. After investigation, it seems the company is responsible for it and by season finale, the town is split and the leads at the helm of the issue. 
My favorite part is the courtship between Elizabeth and Jack. It’s very old school in that the men and women are proper, flirtatious without crossing the lines of sexy, and rife with romantic tension. The romantic development between Elizabeth and Jack took almost the entire season that when they finally shared their first kiss, I was screaming like a crazy 15yo into a blanket! OMG! The feels! Squee!!! 
Season 2 priemered last monh and I am anxious to look it up on On Demand so I’m caught up with the episodes. 

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Quick Hits: Disobedience by Alvania Scarborough + Edge S2P1 by Jamie Magee

Series: Harker’s Hell 1
Format: Mobi
Release Date: June 16, 2014
Publisher: Silver Harbor Press
Source: Author
Recommended By: Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Genre: Western Historical | Fantasy

Harker’s Hell. Early settlers thought they’d found a western re-creationist’s heaven. Instead, the new world is a hellish version of the Old West. Now the seeds of long-ago conflict are stirring to life.

Dissonance Walker believed she’d seen the worst life had to offer, only to find she’s dead wrong. Sold to a secret organization by her parents for the price of a new stove, her ability to disobey is ripped away by a brutal experiment. Determined to find the key to restore her freedom, she manages to escape her captors, only to end up in the worst place for a woman that can’t say no—on a saloon stage, ready to be sold to the highest bidder.

Bram Spencer is sure the heat has baked his brains. With his friend murdered and his ranch under attack, he needs to attend a little unfinished business. Buying some fool woman because she pokes at scabs he thought long healed, isn’t on the list. It’s bad enough he has to go through the fuss of rescuing her, now he discovers the only way to grant her freedom is to marry her. This is why he never plays the hero—no good deed goes unpunished.

Secrets have a long life. Sometimes decades. Now the sins of the past have returned, ready to collect their dues. Only trust can save Dissonance and Bram from a shocking evil… but trust is a hard commodity to come by on the frontier.

A western sci-fi romantic fantasy. This criss-cross of genre is what lured me to read Alvania Scarborough’s DISOBEDIENCE. Bounty hunters, outlaws, and gun slingers ruling this frontier, it’s sure to be one wild ride. I love the old Western feel of the novel, after watching Hell on Wheels, I could clearly imagine Harker’s Hell, tumbleweeds, horse manure, and all. I also liked the hidden treasure theory and the whole search for it as well as the crazy scientists who are after Dissonance. Exciting madcap of events towards the end there.
Dissonance Walker and Bram Spencer. These two were on fire! Kimberly, I didn’t know you read super sexy reads like this!! You little sneak! Anyway, I’m surprised these two didn’t start a fire with all the friction they’ve created in the bedroom. Whew! 
DISOBEDIENCE, though tagged Sci-Fi/Western Fantasy felt more like Western Historical romance for me. Not that it’s bad, I was just expecting something like Cowboys and Aliens, with maybe some small nuances that would notate that this isn’t exactly the Wild West. Also, Dissonance supposedly has a chip that compels her to obey a command. Fascinating premise but it’s either the chip is flawed or Dissonance’s will is stronger because the lady didn’t have much problem disobeying IMO. Girl’s sassy, not that it’s bad, it just didn’t match the premise. 
I recommend DISOBEDIENCE if you love Western Historical romances though. Just don’t expect too much on the fantasy aspect.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Series: Edge Season 2 Part 1
Format: Mobi
Release Date: May 18, 2015
Publisher: Self
Source: Author
Genre: New Adult | Fantasy
Immortals never resolve conflict with lovers or enemies. They either entomb the turmoil, literally, or shroud it in their past, never expecting to face the fight once more. Knowing if they ever did, for better or worse, life would never be the same again.

Five years ago life was good at the Boneyard. The Sons, led by Reveca Beauregard, were unstoppable. Judge was in love. For the first time in his existence, he’d found acceptance, balance, and a rush in a lover. He found it within the soul of Adair Vallet, a mortal. In one beat, the unthinkable befell the Sons. One of their own turned on them, forcing a divide. A Son had to die. A lover had to be let go. And for Judge, life stopped.
Today, Adair Vallet is oblivious of the man’s heart she still holds, yet she mourns the emptiness she feels within. Her life explodes into action when the dead rise and she’s forced into the clutches of the Pentacle Sons. Quickly she finds herself twisted into a malevolent past thick with betrayal, mysticism, and passion. Edge is a novella series in a Paranormal Biker Romance, set in the great city of New Orleans. Rich with action, mystery, romance, and mysticism.
DISCLAIMER: Edge is a serial and each “episode” has 4 chapters. The season 1 omnibus is already out. Season 2 just started, this is the first part. 
EDGE season 2, episode 1 was a little heartbreaking for me. We got a little peak into the Pentacle Sons’ past and it wasn’t a pretty backstory. Betrayals, deaths, sacrifices, love lost, gah! It’s so hard when one of your own does the betraying. Also, I didn’t really pay much attention to Adair in the previous episoded, that’s all changed now for sure! I’m just not certain where this puts her in the whole scheme of things. Unless I got it wrong, I get the feeling that she’s not necessarily Team Reveca right now…
Speaking of. Queen Bee, Reveca Beauregard, is sick and tired of all the bullshit that’s going on around her. So what does she do? She frickin’ moves an entire house, more like a mansion, using magic. Damn, can she do that for me too?! Anyway,  obviously, Reveca can’t handle the pressure of her love life currently. King’s pull is just too much and Talon is like the Tasmanial Devil, spinning little angry twisters and Reveca just needs a break from all of it! Good call, girl! Give the boys time out.

Speaking of Judge. Oh my, I think I got a crush on him. He went all Alpha here but Adair is so dense! With all that power and magic, why can’t she figure out the obvious?! 

Complete Season 1

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Bought, Borrowed & Bagged [152]: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

BB&B (Bought, Borrowed and Bagged) is a weekly meme, inspired my The Story Siren and Pop Culture Junkie, where we share with you the books that we have bought, borrowed or bagged (won or gifted) plus a recap of the previous week’s reviews, upcoming reviews, on going events and book movie or television news. 

BB&B is an homage Barron’s Books & Baubles from Karen Marie Moning’s smash hit series, Fever. 


from publishers & authors

Big & Small

Based on the book with the same title, I am looking forward to catching the pilot of JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL. I haven’t read the book but looking at the trailer, this series is right up my alley.

JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL premiers on BBC America on 6.13.15. Check your local listings for the schedule.


It’s a new year and there’s a new linky for my humble weekly recap meme. Whether you’re a return participant or a new hopper, THANK YOU for joining, your participation is much appreciated. 
Also as this is a laid-back meme, please use your LABEL OR TAG LINKS and not your post links that way you don’t have to update your linky every week. 

Shelley Loved It: Lion Heart by A. C. Gaughen

Series: Scarlet 3
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Released: May 19, 2015
Source: NetGalley
Format: E-book | 348 pages
Genre: YA | Historical Retelling

Only the greatest loves can survive great danger. .

Imprisoned by Prince John for months, Scarlet finds herself a long way from Nottinghamshire. After a daring escape, she learns that King Richard’s life is in jeopardy, and Eleanor of Aquitaine needs Scarlet’s help to free him. For a lifelong thief, this newfound allegiance to the crown-her family-is a strange feeling.

Scarlet knows that helping Eleanor will put her and those she loves back in Prince John’s sights. Desperate not to risk anyone’s life but her own, Scarlet formulates a plan to help save the king on her own.

But fate-and her heart-won’t allow her to stay away from Nottinghamshire for long. Even if Scarlet and Rob can together stop Prince John from going through with his dark plans for England, will their love be enough to save them once and for all?

“If you embrace who you are, you might find a great many tools at your disposal.”

LION HEART is the final installment in the Scarlet trilogy by A.C. Gaughen. Scarlet has been held captive by the vile Prince John since the end of Lady Thief. John would love nothing more than to see her dead and forgotten about. He moves her around a lot, hoping to keep anyone with prying eyes from finding his prized possession while not letting his mother know the horrific things he’s done to Scarlet, or his attempted coup while his brother Richard was captured on his way back from fighting the Crusades.
After escaping John’s clutches with assistance from her new Knight David, and a reunion with Allan a Dale, Scarlet is forced to choose the path she thinks is correct for her and Robin’s future. By returning home to Rob, she paints the perfect target on his head and those she’s come to think of as family. She’s lost so much to John already, that it’s almost easy to run away. If she does run away and hide, Robin becomes less of a threat with everyone thinking that she’s dead. But, now that she’s been pardoned, and given Nottinghamshire by King Richard, can she really turn her back on Rob and John’s machinations? Scarlet eventually finds her way back to Nottinghamshire where things aren’t exactly calm, and nearly everyone lost hope that she was actually alive. 
If you’ve read the Scarlet Trilogy from the start, you know that Scarlet has gone through the most of any character in the series. She’s been put into highly emotional situations where she’s been challenged both mentally and physically. She’s gone from being Wil Scarlet, thief, to Lady Marion of Nottinghamshire, the thorn in Prince John’s side, the love of Robin’s life, and the protector of the innocent. Scarlet has more than proven herself over and over again, and she is just as capable as Robin in leading the Merry Men into keeping Prince John in check. 
The most curious storyline in LION HEART happens between Scarlet, and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Eleanor is the real life historical figure who was Queen of France, and participated in the Second Crusade. Later, when Richard was captured, she personally negotiated his ransom by going to Germany. Scarlet and Eleanor form a pretty interesting relationship, one that puts them both on the other side of John’s determination to take over Richards’s crown. Eleanor really becomes a strong ally to Scarlet, and even stands up for Scarlet and Robin as they plan to marry in Richard’s absence.
Scarlet Trilogy yet another series where the author, A.C. Gaughen, takes a historical figure and asks What if questions. What if Scarlet, aka Maid Marian, aka Marian Fitzwalter really was the figure behind the legendary Robin Hood aka Robin of Locksley? What if Marian really was such an inspirational figure that men adored her, and feared her, including Prince John Lackland? I’d like to believe that Marian was an actual person. I’d like to believe that people will look at this series not just as a love affair between Robin and Marian, but in the way that Marian rises to the top after everything she’s been put through. She is the true LION HEART of this story. 
**I received this book for free from (Bloomsbury USA Children’s) via (NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
Follow Me: Gizmo’s Reviews Blog | Facebook | @GizmosReviews | Goodreads

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Loved It: The Canterbury Sistersby Kim Wright

Series: Standalone
Format: eGalley
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Gallery Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Literary Fiction | Women’s Lit

Che Milan’s life is falling apart. Not only has her longtime lover abruptly dumped her, but her eccentric, demanding mother has recently died. When an urn of ashes arrives, along with a note reminding Che of a half-forgotten promise to take her mother to Canterbury, Che finds herself reluctantly undertaking a pilgrimage.

Within days she joins a group of women who are walking the sixty miles from London to the shrine of Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, reputed to be the site of miracles. In the best Chaucer tradition, the women swap stories as they walk, each vying to see who can best describe true love. Che, who is a perfectionist and workaholic, loses her cell phone at the first stop and is forced to slow down and really notice the world around her, perhaps for the first time in years.

Through her adventures along the trail, Che finds herself opening up to new possibilities in life and discovers that the miracles of Canterbury can take surprising forms.

I have so much trouble with peace. It scares me. It feels too much like death.

Life will always be a mystery. Whatever you think you own can be taken from you in an instant and-even more confounding-all the things you once thought were lost can come rushing back.

Sigh! Is it me or does anybody else get feel-good vibes after reading a solid women’s lit novel? THE CANTERBURY SISTERS by Kim Wright sure left me feeling satisfied the same way one might feel after consuming their favorite treat (mine would be flaky, sugary, carby, pastries). I connected with the novel, and the women in the story, in different ways and varying degrees. The best way I can describe THE CANTERBURY SISTERS is every woman’s story, and I’m sure that should you decide to read this, that you will find yourselves, or pieces of yourselves, embedded in the women in this novel.
The story starts with Che Millan, a woman in her late 40’s, successful, independent, stable. The anti-thesis of her recently departed mother, Diana, who found God again towards the end of her life. It’s this almost fanatic reconciliation with her religion that had Diana pressing her daughter to bring her ashes to Canterbury Cathedral and be laid to rest in a purportedly, miraculous church. Che was hesitant at first, then she got a Dear Jane letter from her boyfriend of several years, stating that he met someone new. This was what unraveled Che and thus started her pilgrimage to Canterbury. When Che got there, she found herself in the company of women who are looking for some sort of miracle to happen in their lives as they go in this once in a lifetime trip to Chaucer’s Canterbury.
Following the tradition of the original pilgrims, the women were asked to tell a story, preferably theirs, as they walk the 60 mile trek going to the Cathedral. I loved all the women’s stories; they were fun, honest, revealing, and a lesson in itself. Jeanne is a widow whose husband died of a drug deal gone wrong in South America. Her daughter, Becca, is a senior in high school, naïve and innocent to the joys and sorrows of love but very much excited to know its ebbs and tides. Angelique is a reality housewife who’s live unraveled in front of national television because of her husband’s shenanigans.
Then there’s Claire, very polished, super MILF, very confident, and very insecure of her second husband’s ex-wife who apparently was a dynamite in bed. This led her marriage to crumble and overcompensating in some ways. Steffi, who told her story in third person, and though her story might feel “common” and perceived as shallow (eating disorder), it’s one of the cruelest and most disturbing of the tales for me.
A few shared fairy tales with the intent of being metaphorical. My favorite was Silvia’s. She met her perfect mate early on, lived the ideal life, built the white-picket-fenced dream. Then it was shattered when her husband fell for another woman and Silvia was left to pick up the pieces of their broken life. Years later, Silvia found a new man, having a second shot at love. Then Sivlia’s ex-husband’s current wife contracted Alzheimer’s then Silvia’s current husband was diagnosed with it too. Later on, Silvia’s current husband got it too and they ended up living together in a pseudo-hospice/home.
What held me back in giving THE CANTERBURY SISTERS 5 cauldrons is Che skipping telling her tale. Sure, we know her story because she’s narrating the novel. I guess I was looking for some sort of confession, or a declaration of sorts, share with the group the real reason why she went on this pilgrimage and the kind of miracle or absolution she was after.
I had a great time with THE CANTERBURY SISTERS. Kwright wrote a story that’s for women, by a woman, if that makes sense. All the tales shared were far from The Dream, it’s nothing like HEA, but its powerful and packed quite the punch. I found myself relishing the tales, imbibing the words, and internalizing these women’s reflections because it really resonated with me. I don’t know why I stopped reading women’s fiction, after THE CANTERBURY SISTERS, I’m sure I’ll be reading more of the genre moving forward.
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Liked It: Witches be Burned by Stacey Kennedy + Giveaway

Series: Magic & Mayhem 2
Format: eGalley
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Loveswept
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Nexi Jones has lost her family, she’s been stripped of her guardian duties, and she’s still learning the ins and outs of white magic. At least she has Kyden, the smoldering hot elite guardian who’s been there for her every step of the way. But just as Nexi completes her training, tragedy strikes the Otherworld when a fellow guardian is murdered by a group of rogue vampires. Ready or not, she and Kyden trek into the Earthworld to hunt down a killer—and Nexi alone will be put to the ultimate test.

Although Kyden knows that Nexi must fight her own battles, his guardian instincts are raging as he struggles to keep her close. The ruthlessness of these vampires is like nothing he’s ever seen. And at their helm is the Black Witch Astoria, a demon with one burning desire: to shed Nexi’s blood in the name of vengeance. What troubles Kyden even more, though, is the warlock who covets Nexi’s heart. Let the devil do his worst . . . all Kyden can do is love and protect Nexi until his last breath.

It’s been a long 2 year wait for the next Magic & Mayhem novel for us fans, and this reader has almost forgotten some of the details from the previous book, Werewolves Be Damned. I’m thankful Stacey Kennedy added a Reader’s Guide in the beginning to refresh my memory not just of the world, but the characters as well. WITCHES BE BURNED continues the story of Nexi Jones, a halfling witch-guardian, as she grows into her powers and gets more acquainted with the other world; and her romantic relationship with another guardian named, Kyden.
Vampires, witches, werewolves, demons, fae, Magic & Mayhem is a crunchy supernatural salad with a dressing of sexy. WITCHES BE BURNED in essence is a revenge story with Nexi & Co. once again on the defensive side. It took a few mortalities and various disturbances for Nexi to figure out who’s behind the killings. Once the identity of the avenger was revealed, it was Mayhem from there on out!
I didn’t realize how much I missed SKennedy’s paranormal stories! I’ve been knee-deep in her erotic novels that I almost forgot she writes great PNRs too! Stacey, if you’r reading this, I hope you’re not going to make us wait for another 2 years before you release book 3. Not after Nexi’s powers growing once again and this dude Magnus made a grand introduction. Hello love triangle!
WITCHES BE BURNED is a short novel, running at 250+ pages, and packed with action and big chunks of sexy time. Perhaps the novel’s strongest suit is the romance, Kyden’s declaration of love for Nexi had me swooning and hoping he’s my beau:

Case in point, this is why he loved her. The sass, the quick wit, the fire-it all captivated him. She was mentally, emotionally, and stubbornly as strong as him, and he found that thrilling.

Gotta love a strong man who loves a strong woman. Also, SKennedy is expanding the series’ world, enriching the myth, and adding interesting characters, like Magnus the Lord of the Underworld, who clearly has the hots for Nexi. I generally don’t like love triangles but Magnus had me looking forward to this one. Hey Kyden and Nexi! Watch out for the monkey wrench! And yes, you can thank your creator for that one.

STACEY KENNEDY is the USA Today bestselling author of the CLUB SIN series. Growing up, Stacey’s mind wandered the path less traveled and that path most often led to love. She has always broken rules and she continues to feed off emotion – staying true to her heart. Those traits are now the bones of her stories. She lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, who puts any of the heroes in her books to shame, and their two young children. If she’s not on mom duty or plugging away at a new story, you’ll find Stacey camping in the summer, hibernating in the winter and obsessing over Penny Dreadful, Game of Thrones and Outlander.

Follow Stacey
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