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. 

Bagged

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.

Recap

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. 

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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

BLURB:
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.

QUOTABLE QUOTES:
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.
Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Kobo


It’s that time of the week again where we feed our Hungry Hearts & Thirsty Thursday (hosted by Unconventional Book Views)!

Here’s my entry. Cheers!


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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
Website | Facebook | @Stacey_Kennedy | Goodreads

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Gush + Gripe: Blog Add Ons (Mobile Active Pt. 2) @Shareaholic @Tsu @Goodreads @Blogger

Add Ons That Can Boost Your Numbers
This post is the continutation of last week’s Blogger Mobile Settings edition. Below are a few extra gravy that may help your blog’s health and a few apps that I love/dislike.

SHAREAHOLIC
You might have noticed these little babies on other blogs as well. They’re Shareaholic buttons and they’re my favorite add-ons! It comes in different styles, I just want to be obnoxious with mine, but if you’re the sleek and modern type, you can definitely pick that setting. If you don’t have it, I suggest you create one and add it ASAP. I did a lot of boo-boos when I was setting it up for the first time. Thank God I have a few helpful bloggy friends who didn’t get too annoyed with me. So if you need help with setting up yours, just holler and I’ll be there. Paying it forward :)… Shareaholic  is a great tool because generous bloggers can share your posts on their social media accounts withouth a hitch.

I’ve noticed that when I’m viewing some blogs on mobile view that their Shareaholic buttons are absent but are working just fine via desktop view. Again it’s worth checking because you don’t want to lose a good post share from your followers in any way.

As for my own settings, below is what I did with mine. I pasted the codes to my blog’s template and I think that’s what made the difference.


1. Go to your dashboard. 
2. Click “Get Set-up Code. 
3. Go to your Blog template and click “Edit HTML”. 
4. Add the code before the part.

Also I suggest you personalize your Twitter share button by changing the tag from @Shareaholic to @talksupeblogfor example. NOTE: Just like commenting, the thirst is real for sharing posts. If we share your posts, we’re hoping you’ll share ours too.

Also you can link up your own social media sites after they share your post. Under Sharing >> Post Sharing Dialogue >> Follow Buttons, look for the little gear. Scroll down that small window and you can personalize the settings.

BLOGLOVIN’
I am also loving the Bloglovin’ phone app! Have you checked if your Bloglovin’ feed is updated? I follow a ton of people but I only get updates from a few blogs.  I personally had issues myself just recently and though it took some time to resolve it, my feed is working fine now. 
Kimberly, The Caffeinated Reviewer, had a post previously about Bloglovin‘. My take away from that article is for you to search your own blog as sometimes you might have duplicate or even multiple accounts. The help support can consolidate all the accounts and you following so that’s something you might want to add on your to-do list as well.
iPHONE BLOGGER APP

Lastly, I downloaded the Blogger app for iPhone. It’s basically useless for creating posts, it’s only useful for editing existing ones. I have a template and it won’t load on the app when make a New Post. There’s no html setting, I can only bold, italicize, and underline words. I can’t do other fancy stuff like font style, colors, alignment, etc. It’s convenient when I’m pressed for time and was unable to write up my post the night before. As long as said post is on the drafts, I can easily add content. I just have to tweak the format when I get home.

OTHERS

Goodreads: The app almost has all the features the desktop version has.
Kindle for iPhone: I have a Kindle Fire (1st Gen) and I prefer the app version over the built-in one in the device. If not for the small screen, I think I’ll read on my phone all the time. Anyway, what I like best about the app is the Reading Speed feature. I get impatient with my books sometimes and it helps how many minutes/hours I have left to spend on the book. It also helps me plan my reading week, organize my books via the projected amount of time I’ll be spending with said novel.
Tsu: I’m not very social to begin with but I still downloaded the app for convenience sake. I love that you can earn pennies (or more) for specific posts, and connect your account with both FB & Twitter so you hit 3 birds with one stone. Also, tsu is a lot like the old Facebook where the system doesn’t filter the posts for you. What I don’t like about the tsu app is it constantly asks permission from Facebook when I already linked my accounts accordingly. So tedious!
Pic-Collage: Very handy when taking screenshots, book mail, etc. The photo editing options are great!
Viggle: For those of you who are unfamiliar with this app, you use it when you watch TV or listen to music and you get points for the shows and songs which you can exchange for stuff. Well did you know that you can exchange your points for ebooks now too? YES! It depends on what book you like, it can run up to 35k points for the newer, more popular ones. It’s a new update from them and I’m debating if I should use mine for Sarah J. Maas or V.E. Schwab. 
In closing, please check your blog from all angles using different devices. Our personal blogging habits are not reflective of our followers’. We might be desktop divas, but as it’s the digital age, more and more people are relying on their mobile devices and tablets to surf and follow the internet including blog hopping. 
If you have other tips or great practices, I hope you’ll share it with us via the comments section.

Steampunk Sundays: Illusionarium by Heather Dixon

Series: Standalone (?)
Format: eGalley
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: YA | Steampunk

What if the world holds more dangers—and more wonders—than we have ever known? And what if there is more than one world? From Heather Dixon, author of the acclaimed Entwined, comes a brilliantly conceived adventure that sweeps us from the inner workings of our souls to the far reaches of our imaginations.

Jonathan is perfectly ordinary. But then—as every good adventure begins—the king swoops into port, and Jonathan and his father are enlisted to find the cure to a deadly plague. Jonathan discovers that he’s a prodigy at working with a new chemical called fantillium, which creates shared hallucinations—or illusions. And just like that, Jonathan is knocked off his path. Through richly developed parallel worlds, vivid action, a healthy dose of humor, and gorgeous writing, Heather Dixon spins a story that calls to mind The Night Circus and Pixar movies, but is wholly its own.

Venen, a rabid disease that only affects women, is ravaging Arthursian (basically London). The death toll is high and rising by the minute. Desperate to find a cure, the King came to Dr. Gouden, Jonathan’s father, to find a cure. But the King did not just bring with him a request for help, he also brough Venen to Jonathan’s family and now his sister, Hannah, and his mother has contracted the disease. Desperate to save them, Jonathan came to the last perso he should be seeking aid from. Lady Florel is an enemy of the empire and the only one who holds the anti-toxin to Venen. The price might be too high for Jonathan but he will do anything in his power to save his family and the realm.
Oi vey! Reviewing ILLUSIONARIUM by Heather Dixon’s, I feel, is causing me to splice. Let me start with ILLUSIONARIUM is a very imaginative and scientific novel. It deals with parallel universes, the power of thought, and how our dreams are possible if only one is determined enough to fulfill it.
Unfortunately, how HDixon imagined the novel didn’t exactly turn out that way. Let me start with ILLUSIONARIUM books at least. The world and magic involved is so complex, building it alone should’ve taken up most of ILLUSIONARIUM. The story was so lean that the universe she created and its limitations weren’t defined. Remember, the premise is, an illusionist is able to create and build a world, or multiple worlds, given the right conditions. That said, she didn’t provide sufficient mythology to explain what an illusionist is and the extent of their powers. Is it an inherent capability? Can someone train to become one? I have my theories based on the narrative but I can’t tell you for sure because HDixon didn’t quite definte it.
In addition, ILLUSIONARIUM felt more like sci-fi/fantasy than Steampunk fantasy as some of the early critic reviews imply. The novel is fast paced and an easy read, but due to the lack of crucial details, the events went from 0-100 in a blink. Jonathan is an illusionist and became the best one there is in a hot minute. I’m good with “gifts” and prophesies and all that, but I expect the hero to work for his title somehow. I mean, Hercules has his 9 labors, what were Jonathan’s feats before he became great?
On the surface, I enjoyed ILLUSIONARIUM. I got into the chase, the fight scenes, the confrontations, even the scientific notations fascinated me when those things bores me in general. However, ILLUSIONARIUM had me wanting to read the deleted scenes because the novel lacked depth, the characters felt one dimensional, and the resolution felt so simple compared to the complicated plot and conflict. There were moments where I seriously though “so this must be what doing acid feels like,” because of the absence of fine details.
That said, if ILLUSIONARIUM were MG-YA, then I think I could give it a pass and ignore its flaws and take it at face value. MG fantasy in general are more action-centric than character development. And as this seems to be a standalone, the lack of character growth might be understandable so it can give way to the development of the plot. But as that’s not the case with ILLUSIONARIUM promising a lot of things: YA-Steampunk, intricate premise, spectacular plot devices, etc.; the novel just scratched the surface IMHO. I’m not completely disappointed by this, ILLUSIONARIUM has some good things going for it and I am NOT discouraging you from reading it either. Just don’t overthink things and I think you’ll find yourself enjoying the novel much more than I did.
Bloggy Friend’s Review: The Social Potato

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Bought, Borrowed & Bagged [151]: Ricki and the Flash

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. 

Bagged

from publishers & authors

Big & Small

I love Meryll Streep, this lady can do no wrong in my book regardless if she’s playing a historical character, a witch, or a single mom who could be a guest in Maury. I look forward to seeing another music-inspired movie by her. RICKI AND THE FLASH hits theaters August 7, 2015

Last Week’s Events

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 Liked It: The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

Series: The Orphan Queen 1
Format: Hardcover | 400 pages
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Borrowed Library
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.



THE ORPHAN QUEEN begins a brand new two book series by the author of the Newsoul trilogy. THE ORPHAN QUEEN is the story about 17-year old Princess Wilhelmina Korte, and her struggles to retake her kingdom. Ten years ago, Wilhelmina’s kingdom of Aecor, was torn apart in what the survivors and winners are calling the One Night War. Wilhelmina and other highborn children were rounded up and taken to an orphanage in Skyvale, where they escaped and became a group known as the Ospreys. 
Wilhelmina, her best friend Melanie, and Patrick Lien form the core of the group. They’re scrappy. They can fight. They steal in order to survive, and they have planned out the ultimate revenge against King Terrell of the Indigo Kingdom who was responsible for killing all of the lords and ladies of Aecor, including Wil’s mother and father. This revenge starts with Wilhelmina and Melanie taking the identities of Liadian high born ladies, and infiltrating the Indigo King’s castle looking for key information.
THE ORPHAN QUEEN is set against the backdrop of a world where magic isn’t allowed, and a no magic alliance is in place. The use of magic can get you killed. It is not a new vibe that Meadows offers, but it is interesting when you realize that they weren’t messing around, and that YES there was a reason for abandoning magic since it created something called the wraith. The wraith created strange monsters, and creatures called the Glowmen who have overrun entire countries.
I saw the betrayal coming a mile wide. It was apparent from the moment the character was introduced that they were up to no good. Then, when Meadows does a flashback to the One Night War and who was really responsible, you get a better grasp of what is really happening, and why. It’s hard to trust characters intentions when you know they don’t have the same reasoning as the heroine of the story. It’s what makes this a good story, and one that isn’t groundbreaking. Didn’t make Wilhelmina’s supposed best friend look good either, but then again, the story isn’t about her, is it?
Wilhelmina’s adversary and romantic entanglement is Tobiah, the crown prince of the Indigo Kingdom, and the person who carries a dangerous secret. Being the masked vigilante called The Black Knife who appears whenever Wil or her Osprey’s are around, Tobiah carefully leads a double life, while fighting against crime, those who wield magic, and those affected by the wraith. He also is the reason Wilhelmina finds herself without a country to rule. On one hand, Tobiah is the sheltered prince who wasn’t allowed to attend normal schools. On the other hand, his freedom as the Black Knife brings him face to face with the girl who saved his life the night of the One Night War.
I’ve been hearing all about the cliffhanger ending to THE ORPHAN QUEEN since before the book was released. Thankfully for me and anyone else who actually liked this story, Meadows says that this is part one of a two part duology. So, no, I won’t bitch or complain about the ending. For now. Still, it’s a long wait until the sequel, The Mirror King, comes out in 2016. In the meantime, Meadows announced that she will also be releasing FOUR separate novellas; The Hidden Prince (June 2, 2015), The Glowing KnightThe Burning Hand, and The Black Knife
Hopefully, Meadows will answer questions about Wilhelmina’s powers, and how she did what she did at the end of this book. I do hope the rest of the Osprey’s, who made choices of their own between following Wilhelmina, or Patrick, find a way to survive. I do believe that James would be the perfect partner for Wil. I really liked him. He was a bit more straight forward than Tobiah, who really left Wilhelmina in a tough spot with THAT ending! I know I’ve said that I resent 3-way love triangles. I think I’ve overstated that stance over the past year. However, if Wil and James were to find a connection, it would be better than yet another twisted triangle.
Follow Me: Gizmo’s Reviews Blog | Facebook | @GizmosReviews | Goodreads

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Naughty Nooners: Starry Eyed by Alexia Russel & Enticed by J. A. Belfield

I got shorties for you today. Some quick reads to make your legs cross or give you sweet dreams 🙂


Starry Eyed | The Becca Kingsley Diaries 1 | Alexia Russel
Serial | Contemporary Romance | March 4, 2015 | Self-Published
Goodreads | Amazon

I imagine this is how those famous actors hook up with a lesser known actress while they’re filming an indie movie. Such is the case with Becca Kinsgley and Mason Riley. I think this is a serial as the story is only 31 pages. I finished it on my lunch break. But don’t be deterred by its shortness. Sure these two hooked up fast BUT Alexia Russel wrote a good precedent indicating that there’s some chemistry going on between the two prior to STARRY EYED. You can say this is where things came to a head where Mason finally saw Becca and now she’s pseudo moving in with him back in LA.

I like how the short is written, it’s very personal, intimate and very sexy. Becca Kingsley is a great narrator. I’m usually unsatisfied with stories this short, that’s not the case here though. I’m curious to see if this is going to be a short-lived romance or if there’s more to Mason than his playboy reputation and if he is indeed very smitten by Becca or if she’s just another notch on his bedpost.


This week’s Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts, hosted by Unconventional Book Views


Enticed | Halloway Pack 4.7 | J.A. Belfield
Novella | Paranormal Romance | April 16, 2015
Goodreads | FREEBIE: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

I haven’t read nor am I familiar with J.A. Belfield’s Halloway Pack series, but when she wrote to me about this novella Ms. Belfield assured me that it can be read as standalone. I was skeptical about the standalone thing because I’ve read books where the authors assured me I can skip the first books only to feel totally lost. Despite my skepticism, I agreed just the same because I’m always on the look out for new authors to try and fresh series to read. It also helps that Keri Lake is endorsing this series and was even blurbed on the cover. I do love Keri and if she’s giving ENTICED her stamp of approval, then I’m game.

ENTICED is simply a shortie about birthday sex. Ethan is one lucky dude because Shelley really prepped for his birthday gift. Cake, sexy lingerie, mind blowing sex, ready and waiting for him. 50 pages of coital bliss! Just so you know, you won’t get anything about the Halloway Pack from this novella. No world building, no pack politics, just good ‘ol sexin! Nobody even shifted or did anything non-human… unless sexual prowess and stamina is considered paranormal?

Talk Supe

Loved It: With Visions of Red by Trisha Wolfe

Series: Broken Bonds 1
Format: Mobi
Release Date: May 7, 2015
Publisher: Self
Source: Author
Recommended By: Naomi’s Paranormal Palace
Genre: Erotic Thriller | BDSM

Criminal profiler Sadie Bonds knows blood. Her affair with the gruesome, dark world of killers began long before she started applying her analytical skills to investigate gory crime scenes. She gets inside the killers’ heads, breaks them down, relates to them on an arcane level. She prefers it this way—because it’s safer to ally herself with the villain than the victim. At least, that’s how she’s coped ever since she was abducted and tortured as a teen.

She will never be a victim again.

Now, she’s honed her skills in order to bring justice to these ritualistic offenders. Working alongside her colleagues, armed with sharp wit and a SIG, Sadie always catches her sadist. Until one ruthless serial killer gets inside Sadie’s head, turning the tables. He knows her secrets. Her obsessions. The darkest, most deviant part of her soul.

When she meets Colton Reed, dangerous stakes are raised as he threatens to unravel her control and reveal her darkest fantasies. The sexy-as-sin bondage rigger at an exclusive BDSM club pushes her boundaries, forcing her to acknowledge that side of herself she fears. Plunged into a realm of torture and suffering, pain and pleasure, Sadie balances on the razor-sharp edge of two intersecting worlds threatening to swallow her.

Passion and lust ignite. Dark and light battle. This explosive first installment of the Broken Bonds series sets the exhilarating pace for a cat and mouse game where no one knows who’s really pulling the strings.

Yet another dark and twisted novel here at Talk Supe. I hope I’m not starting to scare you off with my choices. 
Anyways…
It was love at first sight for me and WITH VISIONS OF RED by Trisha Wolfe. That cover with the bound girl, the blood splatters, and that evocative blurb just called out to me like a lover. Again, please don’t be creeped out. I’m just so desensitized by the usual sappy stuff that I find myself responding more to the extremes: romantic thrillers or the clean bubble gum romances. The ones in between hasn’t been working for me much lately. 
WITH VISIONS OF RED didn’t disappoint. Sadie Bonds is a kidnap-rape survivor, however she didn’t walk away from that harrowing experienced unscathed. Her unforgettable ordeal screwed up her sexual appetite which explains her taste for bondage. Now a criminal profiler, Sadie’s working on a serial killer case whose style is very reminiscent of Countess Bathory. The 16th century serial killer dubbed as a vampire? Yeah, that crazy bitch has a fan in our century.
So this case. The murders are bringing up some of Sadie’s past traumas to the surface, setting her on edge. But it seems nobody knows Sadie’s past so she bottles it up until it runneth over. As luck would have it, Sadie’s case led her to Colton Reed. Magnetic and handsome, Colton is a Shibari (Japanese rope play) enthusiast/practicioner/master, just what Sadie needed. And as these two were kindred spirits, it didn’t take long before they did the whole Shibari rodeo with Colton tying up Sadie like some prized livestock much to the latter’s delight. 
WITH VISIONS OF RED worked for me not just because of Sadie’s side of the story. Let’s face it, survivor tales are fascinating. Witnessing someone try to live a normal life while the nightmare follows you in every waking moment, or is summoned by the most trivial of things, can be intimidating. Learning how someone navigates that and overcomes it is an instant draw for most people, myself included. I want to know how Sadie progressed from a victim to now a criminal profiler and how she’s managing to merge these two points in her life.
The biggest hook for me here is TWolfe provides us with the killer’s POV. So there’s this cops-and-robbers dance going on here. The perp and Sadie doing this delicate dance filled with tension and foreboding. Then it breaks, and Sadie starts second guessing herself, her objectivity flies out of the window with the perspective of the story shifting with it. So is Sadie sleeping with the enemy? But it couldn’t be Colton right? Because despite WITH VISIONS OF RED being an erotic thriller, it’s still a romance and romance novels guarantees HEA. Right???
Well that’s still up in the air right now. Personally I hope TWolfe swings the gauntlet sideways, not that I want Sadie to endure more than what she already had, I just want to up the ante and be kept guessing. The only thing that had me holding that 5th cauldron to my chest is the lack of forensics here. All the evidence fingering Colton as a suspect are all circumstantial. Sadie’s in a bad place now and she want to be safe so paint Colton as the bad guy so she can walk away without any problem whatsoever. 
But I don’t want it to be that way *whines*!
Seriously, I hope the next installment has more damning evidence to make the situation less convenient and truly a super bad situation. You can do erotic thriller half-ass, you got to go all the way in. Take no prisoners. Spare nobody. 
So TWolfe, if you’re reading this, raise some hell. Make us angry. Go crazy. Be a fucking sadist, whip our asses until we bleed then give us a good bookgasm in the end. We deserve it.

Talk Supe