Girl Crush Mondays: Phryne Fisher aka Essie Davis

I planned to take it easy this month in anticipation of the busy holiday season plus I do need one because I’ve been burning the candle on both ends it seems. Reading is one thing, blogging is a completely different animal that can swallow one whole if things go unchecked. 
So to alleviate the pressure a bit, I’ve been spending a LOT of time in Netflix. My current drug of choice is Australia’s Miss Fisher’s Muder Mysteries, based off on Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher detective novels, and it’s been such a delightful treat so far! It’s set in Melbourne during the roaring twenties and leading the pack is Lady Phryne Fisher, a promiscuous, tenacious, clever, rich, stylish seductress played by Essie Davis. It didn’t take long for Phryne to win me over and though she’s not my “type”, I can’t help but crushing on her just the same. Oh and I’d sure love to raid or play dress up in her closet.
Phryne wasn’t always rich and part of the “it” crowd. Albeit having aristocratic blood, Phryne was born into a poor family and it was only after WW1 wiped out the previous heirs did she come to inherit her title. Phyrne is far from a typical “Lady”, she’s very modern and a forward thinker for her time. Aside from doing investigative work accompanied by minor infractions, she flies a plane, races cars, an excellent shot, and can definitely roll with her male counterparts. And she does all of these things and more with much elan. 
The episodes are formulaic, the show predominantly a dramedy, and the slow burning budding romance she has with Detective Inspector Jack Robinson that had me squealing like a fangirl! Also the side characters are such colorful additions to the story from the minor and super couple, Dot and Hugh, the charming Mr. Butler, and sidekicks, Cec and Bert, Miss Fisher’s Muder Mysteries is such an addicting series fans of historical detective stories the likes of Rhys Bowen and Tasha Alexander can surely enjoy.

Steampunk Sundays: Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine

Series: Of Metal and Wishes 1

Format: eBook
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Simon Pulse It
Recommended by: My Guilty Obsession Blog
Genre: YA Steampunk

There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.

Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.

As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it.

Missing out on OF METAL AND WISHES by Sarah Fine has been one of my regrets this year. Thank Goodness for Simon Teen’s Pulse It I had the chance to finally read this Phantom of the Opera inspired YA Asian Steampunk. In case you missed it, this was a free read last Friday as part of their 31 days of reading event and I was so excited to be given another chance to read it. The fates has spoken! I was up at 6am reading the darn thing for fear of not finishing it in 24 hours. Yup, cool but crazy motivator right? Well it worked and I’m very glad that this was worth my Friday. 
OF METAL AND WISHES has more of a setting than a “world” as the story happened inside the slaughterhouse and it didn’t really go outside of the building to give us a firm feel of the city Wen Guiren lives in. The Steampunk is barely there so it might appeal to non readers of this genre. From conversations between the characters and situations that happened, it reflects tension from several points stemming from office tyranny and politics, prejudice and discrimination between the classes, with the Noors being the lowest caste, male chauvinism, and bullying. The story is clearly centripetal to the working conditions in the slaughterhouse with Wen acting as a catalyst.

OF METAL AND WISHES is a very character driven story that is reminiscent of Phantom of the Opera though not as obsessive but just as deadly. And instead of a love triangle we have a deep friendship that developed between Wen and the Ghost and an emotionally intense relationship with the Noor, Melik. I’m hard to win over when it comes to YA relations and romance but I loved how SFine presented these relationships without sacrificing Wen’s integrity. Meaning she didn’t come off as an insipid character just because two males found her desirable. Wen is a very likable character and she NEVER annoyed me at any point, Melik was okay but it’s Ghost that really fascinated me.
The ending of OF METAL AND WISHES is probably one of the better endings I’ve read in a long time. I wouldn’t call it a cliffhanger because there’s some sort of resolution to the first act but it spurns the question What now?. Let’s just say the slate has been wiped clean and things can go either way at this point and if I think about it too much I’m sure I can work myself up to the point of nervous excitement because I want to know what’s going to happen next?!

Bought, Borrowed & Bagged #129 + Far From Madding Crowd

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. 

Borrowed 


Bagged
from publishers & authors
Big & Small

FAR FROM MADDING CROWD is the kind of movie I like to cozy up with, it’s smart, based on a novel (Thomas Hardy, 1874), and set in an era long gone. The dialogue, costumes, restrained emotions, and tension filled romance is such a treat! FAR FROM MADDING CROWD hits theaters 5.1.15.
Last Week’s Reviews
Upcoming Reviews

Royal Blood by Amity Crosswin a $10 Amazon GCends 12.15
No Grits No Glory by Elaine Callowaywin the eboookends 12.16
Wickedly Wonderful by Deborah Blakewin print copiesends 12.27
Full Throttle by Julie Ann Walkerwin a $50 GC + Black Knights Inc. seriesends 12.29
Christmas Wonder Hopwin Amazon GC’s or Robid D. Owens’ series in printends 1.1.15

Check out these other fabulous blogs that participate in 
Bought, Borrowed & Bagged:

NOTE: There’s a new linky created for this year and please note that you have to use your LABEL links (i.e. book haul) on the form below NOT the post link.

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#FBF: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides


The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
YA | April 1, 1993 | Farrar, Straus and Giroux
THE VIRGIN SUICIDES by Jeffrey Eugenides has been out for quite sometime and this is one of those book gem whose movie version I discovered first before learning of its literary counter part. I skipped the movie because although I love Sophia Coppola, I can’t stand Kirsten Dunst so I can’t say if the movie is as awesome as the book was. 
It was six years ago when I found a used copy of JEugenides’ iconic work and I immediately devoured the book right away. For those of you who are unfamiliar or belong to the younger set, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES is similar to John Green’s Looking for Alaska and Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why. It’s a dark coming of age story set in the suburbs of Grosse Point, Michigan back in the 70’s featuring the Lisbon sisters who all committed suicide for unknown reasons. The story is told from the POV of one of the sister’s admirers or neighbors who remained anonymous but was close enough to the Lisbons to witness the tragedy first hand.
THE VIRGIN SUICIDES is one of those stories that stayed with me for days and left me shaken, stirred, and on the rocks for a while. Like the boys the Lisbons left behind, I too searched the text and rummaged through their recollections as they reminisce their time with the sisters, trying to figure out WHY they killed themselves. Alas the answers remained elusive and like them all I ended up with are speculations but nothing too definitive. Were the parents too strict? Did the girls have extreme depression? Were they being abused behind closed doors? 

JEginides wrote a thought provoking and emotionally stirring story that can be considered a classic. The writing style is affecting and the voice of the storyteller haunting in its emphatic simplicity. In hindsight, there’s nothing truly special about the Lisbon girls aside from their beauty and the air of forbiddenness they have about them. The allure of the story lie on the guesswork to explain the successive suicides that happened and the big unknown that remains. THE VIRGIN SUICIDES might have been published over 20 years ago but I believe the story is far from outdated and I strongly recommend fans of John Green and Jay Asher to read this, I think you’ll find it worth your time.

Loved It: Wickedly Wonderful by Deborah Blake + Baba Yaga & Giveaway

Series: Baba Yaga 2

Format: ARC
Release Date: December 2, 2014 
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

Though she looks like a typical California surfer girl, Beka Yancy is in fact a powerful yet inexperienced witch who’s struggling with her duties as a Baba Yaga. Luckily she has her faithful dragon-turned-dog for moral support, especially when faced with her biggest job yet…

A mysterious toxin is driving the Selkie and Mer from their homes deep in the trenches of Monterey Bay. To investigate, Beka buys her way onto the boat of Marcus Dermott, a battle-scarred former U.S. Marine, and his ailing fisherman father.

While diving for clues, Beka drives Marcus crazy with her flaky New Age ideas and dazzling blue eyes. She thinks he’s rigid and cranky (and way too attractive). Meanwhile, a charming Selkie prince has plans that include Beka. Only by trusting her powers can Beka save the underwater races, pick the right man, and choose the path she’ll follow for the rest of her life

Poseidon and his aquatic empire isn’t my first choice when it comes to fantasy. In fact I tend to stay away from books whose premise involve mermaids, selkies, sirens, pirates, and everything naval because I simply cannot connect with them. It’s weird because I have no problem indulging on these sort of stories onscreen (i.e. Pirates of the Caribbean,  Odyssey, The Little Mermaid), so it’s with great trepidation when I started Baba Yaga 2, WICKEDLY WONDERFUL by Deborah Blake. I loved the first one  though so despite my hesitations I gave it a go. 
I’ll be honest and say I didn’t warm up to WICKEDLY WONDERFUL right away. The fish are scarce, merpeople and selkies are getting sick and The Queen of the Otherworld employed Baba Yaga, Beka Yancy, to investigate and figure out WTBH is going on with the sea people. The mystery didn’t take long to solve because the villain and his motives were revealed soon enough so there’s not much guesswork there, the hook lied on how long can he deceive Beka and play her insecurities against her and what kind of Hell she’s going to give him once she figures it all out. 
So the plot isn’t really my thing and that’s a subjective assessment because of the above mentioned dysfunction. Instead it’s the human element part that intrigued me and kept me reading. I thought WICKEDLY WONDERFUL will be a redo of Wickedly Dangerous, badass heroine and impossible human and naive hero with an environmental issue to tackle. Well it’s still sort of that with a little tweak on Beka’s character. I was pleasantly surprised of the twist DBlake used here, instead of a seasoned Baba Yaga, Beka, is new to the position and very insecure about herself and ability to perform her duties well. The moral conflict revolved around that uncertainty on her part and it helped make Beka’s character development better than Barbara’s. The hero, Marcus, was more or less similar to the previous one, he’s okay but I didn’t swoon over the guy. A little rundown: Marcus is an ex-Marine who’s not really suave with the ladies, he has a big heart but comes across as grumpy and prejudiced against Beka whom he thought was a “tree-hugging hippie”. I did like his hate/love relationship with Beka though and I found his blunders amusing. Yeah, lots of foot-in-mouth moments here. 
My only critic lies on how underutilized DBLake’s dragons are. Baba Yaga’s dogs, or Chudo-Yudo, are actual dragons but they don’t play a big role in the story despite sharing the covers with the heroines. Aside from the main dragon there are the Riders, also dragons, but they take on human form and are the Baba’s reconnaissance group. I said these before and I’ll say it again until I get my wish, these Riders need a spin-off series because they are hot chunks of sexiness and I want to know more about them
WICKEDLY WONDERFUL is a PNR-HEA novel and compared to Wickedly Dangerous, the ending is waaay better, it wasn’t rushed and tied with a neat and cute little bow like the first book. Another thing that works here is I believe you can get away with reading this as stand-alone as there’s no series arc and Beka’s story is very independent from the first one. So there’s no reason for you not to check this out!

Someone recently asked me to write a short story about how Beka Yancy, the Baba Yaga from my book Wickedly Wonderful, would go Christmas shopping. There was only one problem: Beka is a witch, from a long line of Russian witches, and therefore Pagans. In short, neither she nor the other Baba Yagas (like Barbara Yager from Wickedly Dangerous) would celebrate Christmas—they would celebrate the Winter Solstice.

It turned out okay, since I had a fun time writing a short short about Beka doing her Solstice shopping for her sister Babas, but in the process, it came to my attention that lots of people don’t know much about non-Christian holiday celebrations at this time of year, other than to agree that no one knows how to spell Hannukah. Er, Chanukah. I mean, Channukah. Nevermind. I grew up Jewish, and I still don’t know how to spell it.


Not mine

But I can spell Yule, which is one of the better-known Pagan celebrations of the Winter Solstice, from which many of our current Christmas celebrations stem. Remember all those carols about “make the Yuletide merry” or maybe mentions of a Yule log? Those all come from the Old English word, and celebrations that took place in Germanic and Norse countries around that time of year, and then spread across Northern Europe. Modern Pagans often refer to the Solstice as Yule. (And yes, that’s what I celebrate, usually with a fancy sit-down Yule dinner party for friends both Pagan and otherwise.)

A little trickier to spell is Kolyada, the Russian Winter Solstice (and don’t even ask me to pronounce it—I may have Russian Jews as ancestors, but they’re not around to translate, and I refuse to hold a séance just to find out how to say Winter Solstice). Beka and her fellow Babas might well observe the holiday of Koliada (I told you it was tricky), which traditionally took place on the night of the Solstice. Bonfires and candles were lit on this, the longest night of the year, to encourage the return of the light. People went from house to house, singing traditional songs and collecting sweets along the way, a slight variation from the English traditions, where folks were usually given something alcoholic to drink at each neighbor’s house, which led to rather a rowdy holiday, as you might imagine.


Kolyada, not mine

These processions often involved masks and costumes, used to represent the spirits of the ancestors who had passed into the world beyond (remember, the nights were very dark), and it was also considered a good time for divination. In some traditions, people would act out the battle between Bielobog (the god of light) and Chernobog (the god of darkness). Thankfully, Bielobog always won, leading us into the time of year when each day brings a little bit more light until the springtime finally comes around again. (Here in Upstate NY where I live, that’s usually around, oh, June.)

Like the Pagans on the British Isles, the Russians had a version of an old man bringing gifts (in this case, he was called Polaznik, although in other lands he was sometimes known as Father Frost, or some other name). I’m not sure what kind of gifts Polaznik would bring to Beka and Barbara—maybe a new surfboard for Beka, and a nice pointy sword for Barbara. And, no doubt, a VERY large and meaty bone for each of their dragons-disguised as dogs, the Baba’s companion Chudo-Yudos.

Of course, Beka and her sister Babas are modern women (even if they were raised by powerful witches out of ancient Russian fairy tales), so they would probably mix a bit of the new with the old. My guess is that they would gather around a bonfire, decorate a living pine tree with magical lights and trinkets from their far-flung travels, and probably feast on roasted chestnuts (and a few s’mores for Beka’s dragon-dog Chewie, who is particularly partial to such things).

And then they would raise a glass of mulled wine to the returning of the light and to being in the company of those that they love—because no matter what your origins, that’s really what the holiday is all about.

Author of seven non-fiction books from Llewellyn. Circle, Coven & Grove: A Year of Magickal Practice (2007), Everyday Witch A to Z (2008), The Goddess is in the Details (2009), Everyday Witch A to Z Spellbook (2010) Witchcraft on a Shoestring (2010), Everyday Witch Book of Rituals, and The Witch’s Broom. I am also the author of the Baba Yaga series from Berkley Romance, including Wickedly Magical (novella), Wickedly Dangerous, and Wickedly Wonderful.

I live in a 120 year old farmhouse in upstate NY with five cats, and run an artists’ cooperative shop when I’m not writing.

Stalk Deborah
Website | Facebook | @deborahblake | Goodreads

Two copies are up for grabs! 
One is a finished copy via the publisher and one is my ARC.
Good luck!

Liked It: Minstrel’s Serenade by Aubrie Dionne + Giveaway

Series: Chronicles of Ebonvale 1

Format: Mobi
Release Date: July 21, 2014 
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Source: via Tour Organizer
Recommended By: Candace’s Book Blog
Genre: Paranormal

He’s sworn to protect her, but can he save her from himself?

Danika Rubystone has hated the minstrels ever since her mother ran away with one. As Princess, she’s duty bound to marry Valorian, a minstrel from the House of Song. But problems in the kingdom are mounting. With her father dead she’s the sole heir to an imperiled throne, and wyverns attack Ebonvale’s southern shores. But after Danika finds a lone survivor of a wyvern’s attack who holds the key to protecting the kingdom and she finally meets the enchantingly sly Valorian, everything changes.

As Ebonvale’s Royal Guard sails with the minstrels to smite the uprising of wyverns, Danika dances a line between sticking by duty like her father, or following her wild heart like her mother.

It’s been a looong time since I’ve read epic fantasy so when the virtual book tour for MINSTREL’S SERENADE by Aubrie Dionne landed on my email I just have to sign up. Part of me was excited while another part of me was wary because of the length. I mean an epic fantasy that’s under 300 pages? It’s gotta be a prequel right? 
Well MINSTREL’S SERENADE isn’t a prequel but the first novel of Chronicles of Ebonvale. I wasn’t blown away by the story, it has great bones with princesses, knights, and a war against an army of fire breathing wyverns. Kingdoms and peoples from all over the land are rallying against the onslaught and the fate of humankind lies on Princess Danika. The novel has that medieval and conquest feel to it, the world building isn’t as complicated as other epic fantasies but still managed to hold its own despite its simplicity. The cast of characters isn’t too long either so it was fairly easy to remember who’s who and what and acclimate to the world ADionne created and get into the story. The word index isn’t that complicated too, no unusual nouns and words plus the story was more character driven than plot making it a quick and easy read. 
Given all those good points I still didn’t find MINSTREL’S SERENADE as epic as I hoped it would be. Inasmuch as it has a sound foundation for epicness, it didn’t give me that 360 degree view we often find in epic fantasies. I didn’t get a good feel of the land and the turmoil its in and aside from Dannika, I’m barely acquainted with the rest of the key players in this story. Speaking of which, a POV from the Queen of wyverns would’ve been good since they’re part of the cast. I sure would like to know if there are other motives behind their impending attack besides the usual siege and conquer. Lastly as this is called MINSTREL’S SERENADE I was expecting a big myth behind the minstrels and why they’re so special. Let’s just say they’re more Pied Piper than demi godlike to me at this point.
I liked where MINSTREL’S SERENADE ended though and I sure would like to know how the battle is going to go down. There’s also a bit of a romance, it’s a clean one btw, and it’s the kind that’s “frowned” upon because the Princess is in love with a man below her class. But war make heroes out of ordinary folk so who knows, maybe on the second book said lad would be more than worthy to take Dannika’s hand.

Aubrie Dionne is an author and flutist in New England. Her books have received the highest ratings from Romance Times Magazine, as well as Night Owl Reviews and Two Lips Reviews. She has guest blogged on the USA Today Happily Ever After Blog and the Dear Teen Me blog and signed books at the Boston Book Festival, Barnes and Noble, and the Romance Writers of America conference. Her writings have appeared in Mindflights, Niteblade, Silver Blade, Emerald Tales, Hazard Cat, Moon Drenched Fables, A Fly in Amber, and Aurora Wolf. Her books are published by Astraea Press, Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Publishing, Inkspell Publishing, Lyrical Press, and Gypsy Shadow Publishing. When she’s not writing, Aubrie teaches flute and plays in orchestras.

Stalk Aubrie
Website | Blog | @AuthorAubrie

Loved It: City of Eternal Night by Kristen Painter

Series: Crescent City 2

Format: eGalley
Release Date: December 2, 2014
Publisher: Orbit
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Magic and mystery collide in this second installment of the new urban fantasy series by House of Comarre author Kristen Painter.

Still coming to terms with their unexpected partnership, Augustine and Harlow have a tentative truce. With Harlow slowly working to accept being fae, Augustine still learning how to be Guardian, and feelings growing on both sides though, they do not have an easy road ahead.

But when a young girl is stolen from the Mardi Gras Exemplar Ball — the biggest far event of the year — Harlow and Augustine must put all their issues aside to bring her home alive. Harlow’s father, Braziano, is of course their number one suspect, but evil lurks in every corner of the city and time is running out. Their only choices: Either find a way to rescue the girl, or Augustine must die.

Let’s all take a moment of silence to relish that super purrty cover art… 
Amen. 
CITY OF ETERNAL NIGHT came as a surprise for me, it wasn’t so long ago that I read House of the Rising Sun and truthfully I was underwhelmed with Crescent City’s first installment so I wasn’t as excited over this. I was more curious than anything plus my friends’ GR reviews were encouraging so that decided things for me. 
I struggled with the first third of CITY OF ETERNAL NIGHT because I didn’t retain most of the details from the first one so I have to reread my review of House of the Rising Sun and look up other reviews to jog my memory. I guess I was more underwhelmed by it than I initially thought huh. 
Going back, I had several issues with the first book and thankfully said issues have been resolved and my questions have been answered. I finally warmed up to Harlow, although I’m still not taken by Augustine, and the series plot and conflict are shaping up really good. Conspiracies, betrayals, family drama, so many twists and turns and I’m sure it’ll be one complicated addicting mess come book 3! And the world building, IMHO, is better now. See Crescent City is a spin-off of House of Comarré and as I haven’t read the parent series I lack the inherent understanding of the world according to KPainter, that long standing fans already have.
CITY OF ETERNAL NIGHT is packed with the good stuff and so far the plot of the series revolved around Harlow Goodwin and her family and it’s just getting better. I saw the twist from a mile away but I still wasn’t prepared for it. I was bracing myself for the impact and when it finally happened I still wasn’t ready for it!
Not mine

Now I’m eagerly anticipating Garden of Dreams and Desires because I have to know how the heck Harlow is going to get herself out of this mess and it also looks like the witches are going to strike soon. I look forward to reading MAYHEM and fingers crossed I get my wish!
Click me to learn 5 facts about Crescent City

Suped Feature: No Grits No Glory by Elaine Calloway + Giveaway

No Grits No Glory
Southern Ghosts 1
Elaine Calloway
The Writer’s Canvas
Paranormal
October 1, 2014
Brianna fled to Savannah to escape the voices of the dead. Just when she thought she’d left all paranormal things behind, she discovers her house is haunted. Not just haunted, but haunted by Southern ghosts. These persistent beings not only hide her white shoes after Labor Day, but they leave grits-caked dishes in the sink, and swear to wreak havoc on her life – – unless she helps them.
Steven put Savannah in his rearview mirror years ago to follow his passion for music. When his band splits up and he can’t reach his little sister for weeks, he races home—only to learn his whole family died in a mysterious house fire. The house Brianna now lives in.
Together, Brianna and Steven learn who murdered Steven’s family and become caught in a web of intrigue that will risk their careers, their homes–but especially their lives.
5 Facts You Need to Know About Elaine Calloway’s No Grits No Glory

1. No Gits No Glory is…

Ever have one of those days? The kind where you wake up and try to find your white shoes for work, but the Southern ghosts in your house have hidden them because people aren’t supposed to wear white after Labor Day?

Yeah, that was only the start to my adventure in the South.

Admittedly, the ghosts are nice. Nice as they can be to a Yankee from Boston, I suppose. But they insist I bring their murderer to justice, which gets complicated in oh so many ways. I might lose my job, my home, even my life if I don’t play things just right.

Enter the distraction: the ghosts’ oldest son, a rebellious musician, who is still alive and wondering what I’m doing living in his family’s home. What am I supposed to do? It’s not like I can tell him I see and talk to dead people. Based on experience, that’s not the best way to get dates.

If I can only help these ghosts and not lose everything in the process, I might have a chance at the life I want…

2. My name is…

Hi, I’m Brianna. You met me in Question #1. To say I had a strange childhood would be an understatement. My parents ran a mortuary, so my days were surrounded by dead bodies while most children were surrounded by dolls and video games. I tried to move past my strange upbringing when I moved to Savannah. Never thought I’d run right into the ghosts and voices I’d been trying to avoid.

Being a longer, I work as a cosmetologist in a funeral home. Strange, I know. But you should’ve seen the woman who worked on my big brother. The caring, the empathy she had—not only for him, but for our family—well, let’s just say she was my ideal.

Most of the time, I keep my “gift” of being able to see and talk to the dead tucked away. People can’t seem to handle it. But I might need to tell Steven, since his dead family are the ghosts in my house, and I could help him move past his grief.

If he doesn’t turn me away for being crazy…

Hey everyone. I’m Steven. I bolted out of the South as soon as I could, joined up with a rock band in California and for years I lived the life of a king. Parties, clubs, you name it…but all good things come to an end. So when I did meander back home to check on my family, imagine my surprise to find a stranger—quite a beautiful one, actually—living in my family’s home.

I’m not going to let my family’s death be in vain. I will find out who killed them and why, and bring the person responsible to justice—even if it’s the last thing I do.


3. You know I’m bad

My name’s Sam Begley, and I own this town. Oh, it may not be official yet, but trust me, my name’s going to appear on every document come Hell or high water. Even if I have to inflict both on people who get in my way.

It’s just good business, and I won’t let a great city like Savannah be without the best leadership and ownership that it deserves.


4. Conflict

Brianna and Steven are forced to come together and work towards a common goal: bringing the villain to justice and finding peace for Steven’s family. In the process, they go up against a web of intrigue that could cost them their jobs, their homes, and their lives.


5. See yah!

No Grits No Glory has some humor, suspense and intrigue, with some seasonings of romance. The ghosts in this tale are benign, not fierce, though one would argue that some of the annoyances the ghosts create could rival any horror movie.

Expect to enjoy the setting of Savannah, be caught up in the intrigue with Steven and Brianna, and cheer them on through the dark times.

Don’t expect this to be a story where a human and a ghost have a love relationship. Some books are based on that; this is not one of them. The ghosts in this book are related to and have interest in the main two characters, which adds a unique twist to the story.


Elaine Calloway is the Amazon.com bestselling author of paranormal and fantasy novels with elements of romance and desire. Her “tales of the living, the dead and the eerie in between” include the Elemental Clans Series, the Southern Ghosts Series and several short stories. A New Orleans native, Elaine grew up with a love of all things supernatural and enjoys visiting the “Crescent City.” She currently lives in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

Follow Elaine
Website | @writerscanvas | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest 

Sarez Loved It: Royal Blood by Amity Cross Release Day Blitz and Giveaway

Series: Royal Blood
Format: Arc
Release Date: 8th December 2014
Publisher: Author
Genre: Dark Erotic Romance

A hit gone wrong, an impossible contract, revenge and the ultimate kicker… falling in love.

Mercy Reid is a runner.

She found the perfect place to hide, until it wasn’t.

Xavier “X” Blood always gets what he wants.

He had the perfect arrangement, until it wasn’t.

X is the mysterious tough guy from Royal Blood MC who gets shit done. Cross the Club and you get a visit from X. Only one person walks away at the end of it…and it isn’t you.

Mercy is hiding something. Something big. Looking to get lost, she runs from one hopeless situation right into the clutches of a monster.

When X and Mercy meet, something more electrifying than sparks fly. Something dangerous, passionate and forbidden.

When you deal in death, there’s only one way things can end…

Or is there?

If you like sparkly unicorns and hearts, Royal Blood IS NOT for you. If you like dark twisty anti-heroes and heart stopping roller coasters, Royal Blood IS for you. If you like teddy bears and kittens with whiskers, Royal Blood IS NOT for you. If you like unapologetic alpha males that drip sex and talk dirty, Royal Blood IS for you. You have been warned.

As a fan of Dark and gritty romances I have to admit I loved this book. It was not what I was expecting going in and that was fine but please heed the warning. If you don’t like dark romances this book is not for you. This book is raw, there is no other way to describe it. Amity has gone darker than she has before and the result of that is Mercy and X, two of the rawest characters you may ever meet.

It’s a biker book, but is not predominately a biker book. Mercy is looking to get lost and X is a man that you don’t mess around with, at all, ever, for any reason. He’s cold and calculating and just plain scary. Mercy doesn’t seem to mind, although with what has happened to her in life perhaps she just has no fear anymore.
This was a book that I couldn’t put down. It was a gripping and quite frankly scary read at some points, but so worth it. Although now I am waiting for two books from this author so I hope she gets them done soon. 
Amity seems to be going from strength to strength with her stories, delivering new characters and fresh ideas in genres that I wasn’t sure could deliver me much more. Even if you are not a fan of the dark romance but love a sexy read Amity is an author that I can wholeheartedly recommend, and if your like me and don’t mind taking a walk on the dark side then this is a book for you. Pepper Winters fans will love this book.


X

Sliding out of the booth, I sauntered across the pub and ducked behind the counter. Nobody gave me a second glance. They didn’t know who I was, nobody did, but they knew I wasn’t anybody good. Peering through the window on the door, Mercy had her back turned, wiping at her damp T-shirt. I could step into her from behind and show her how hard I was…but that wasn’t the way this game was going to be played.

Pressing the door open with the flat of my palm, she looked up at me with blue eyes that gave away two things. Her hair wasn’t naturally black and by the way her pupils dilated, she was amped up. I was interested in only one of these observations and by the way my cock began to stir, there was no guessing which one was the money shot.

Mercy glared up at me, trying to cover her surprise at my appearance.

“What the fuck do you want?” she spat, dabbing at her tiny T-shirt with a rag. “You’re not allowed back here. Employees only.”

I stepped closer, not put off by her tone at all. I’d had worse.

“I don’t give a shit,” I said.

She eyed me, her gaze raking from head to cock and back up again.

I quirked an eyebrow, my lip curling in amusement.

“If you want something, just fucking say it,” she said with an exasperated sigh. “I don’t even know who the fuck you are.”

“X.”

“X, what?” she said, putting her hands on her hips. Bitch didn’t miss a trick.

“It’s my name.”

“X as in the letter x?” She rolled her eyes.

“Got a problem?” I asked, inching closer.

“Yeah.” She nodded at me. “You’re in a staff only area. You might be all buddy buddy with Weiss, but I don’t know you from shit.”

“The mouth on you,” I breathed, totally turned on. I knew she had bite in her, but fucking Jesus H Christ. The more she bit, the harder I got. My gaze rested on her tits. Yeah, I was a tits man through and through and hers…

“You think I’m going to let you fuck me?” she scoffed, her bluntness doing nothing but turning me on even more.

My gaze snapped back to hers. “Who said I was going to fuck you?”

She pressed her hips forward, her groin rubbing into mine. “Your cock.”
My hand shot up and grasped the hair at the nape of her neck. With a sharp tug, her head fell to the side, leaving her neck exposed. If I was an asshole, I’d just take her now, but I wasn’t…fuck that. I was an asshole. Asshole was too safe a word to describe the kind of man I was.
“No,” I said, running my gaze down her pale neck and over her tits. “No, I’m not going to fuck you, Mercy.” She gave me a look that screamed ‘offended’ and it only made me grin wider. “Not here. When I fuck you, I’m not going to share your screams with anyone.”
Her entire body shivered and I knew I had her. Next time, she would come to me.
Letting her go, I let her hair run between my fingers and it took her a beat too long to step back and separate our bodies.
Giving her one last appreciative look, I turned on my heel and exited the ‘employee only’ room. I could wait. My cock strained against my jeans in protest, but this was one desire I was playing out and savoring.
I strode across the bar and pushed out the door, rearranging myself.
I could wait.

 

Amity Cross isn’t my real name. That’s no secret.

I didn’t want my Mum and my workplace to find out I wrote about doodles and tongue-in-cheek sexual innuendo.


I live in a leafy suburb of Melbourne writing about screwed up relationships and kick ass female leads that don’t take s**t lying down.


Insert more pretentious c**p here.

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Steampunk Sundays: Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

Series: Stand-alone (?)

Format: eGalley
Release Date: December 1, 2014
Publisher: Skyscape
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: YA Steampunk

A girl with a clockwork heart must make every second count.

When Penny Farthing nearly dies, brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick manages to implant a brass “Ticker” in her chest, transforming her into the first of the Augmented. But soon it’s discovered that Warwick killed dozens of people as he strove to perfect another improved Ticker for Penny, and he’s put on trial for mass murder.

On the last day of Warwick’s trial, the Farthings’ factory is bombed, Penny’s parents disappear, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom note demanding all of their Augmentation research if they want to see their parents again. Is someone trying to destroy the Farthings…or is the motive more sinister?

Desperate to reunite their family and rescue their research, Penny and her brother recruit fiery baker Violet Nesselrode, gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling, and Marcus Kingsley, a young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romance stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.

The cover, the blurb, and the fact that it’s Steampunk are the reasons why TICKER by Lisa Mantchev was an insta-click for me. A clockwork heart and mad scientists?! I must read it even if it’s YA. TICKER is a quick and fast-paced read, the chase non-stop and the conflict is more of a moral one than a deep rooted or consequential altercation. I love gray area skirmishes, Warwick is Penelope Farthing’s surgeon if you must, a family friend and her older sister’s, Dimitria, fiance who promised he’ll do anything to save Penny before she died. I mean how can you possibly condemn a man completely when he’s the reason why you’re breathing? Does the end justify the means? Even if Warwick did some despicable things, I found myself sympathizing with his mad and desperate behavior. 
But for all those great points I didn’t love TICKER for two reasons: (1) the pace was too fast and (2) its lack of character development. 
Let me address the first one, the pace. LMantchev, you might be scratching your head upon reading this wondering WTH is wrong and how readers are so hard to please! Allow me to share my humble opinion on this matter.
From the get-go there’s so much going on, an explosion and Penny discovering her parents have been abducted and Warwick escaped not to mention the reactive events stemming from this. Then it was a mad dash to rescue her parents and apprehend Warwick. I want my fantasy reads to be fast but not too quick where it’s all a blur. There wasn’t much time to really breathe and acclimate to the world because the world and it’s overflowing gadgets and backstory were interspersed with the mission. It’s almost like texting while driving, it’s hard to give your full attention to the road when your phone is chirping like a maniac. 
Which brings me to point #2. Because of the super fast turn of events the character development was static. Penny and the rest of the characters were thrown into the situation, there was no calm before the storm, no point to compare and see what these events did to Penny and her friends. Has she always been this daring and curious or has she been frail and vulnerable before this catastrophe happened? And what about her relationship with her circle, is Violet her BFF or an acquaintance? Has there been underlying tension between her and her twin brother, Nic before this? And what was her relationship with her parents like growing up? These were brushed up on and not solidly established so we can only take the situation for granted with zero investment on the characters.
Now I’m not sure if TICKER is part of a series, it does look feel like it from the story, Goodreads don’t indicate it and LManchev’s book tab on her website doesn’t say anything either. I sure hope that this won’t be the last, the world is fantastic and LManchev’s imagination is very creative and I wouldn’t mind reading more of it. Not just that, TICKER is getting lukewarm reviews so far so a next book would be a good move to “redeem” some of it’s shortcomings and a chance to hopefully win readers over.