Top Ten Tuesday – Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and the theme today is Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early. Here is my list!

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  1. Dark Age, the fifth book in the Red Rising universe releases on September 11, 2018 according to Goodreads. I have read the previous books and love this series!

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2. Darkdawn is the final installment in the Nevernight Chronicle by Jay Kristoff. It is set for release September 4, 2018. I have adored this dark, twisted tale from the start and would definitely slay a lion to get my grabby hands on this baby!

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3. Magic Triumphs is the final book in the Kate Daniels series by the most-awesomest Ilona Andrews. It is going to hit the shelves (and e-readers) on August 28th. KD is one of the best urban fantasies that exists.

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4. I listened to this on audio with the wonderful Steve West narrating, and even with that horrible cliffhanger (grrr cliffhangers), I am looking forward to this one. Release date: October 2, 2018.

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5. The next book in the Curse of the Gods series is released maybe in July 2018. There is no set date yet according to Goodreads, but I adore this series and am going nuts waiting to see what happens next. It also has one of my favorite tropes – reverse harem!

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6. Vengeful (Villians #2) by V.E. Schwab. I lurved the first one, Vicious. Release date: September 25, 2018.

Books that don’t have a cover yet:

7. The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman. Release date: 2019 *sadface*

8. Two Kingdoms (The Dark Side #3) by Kristy Cunning. Release date: 2018

9. Iron & Magic (Kate Daniels #9.5) by Ilona Andrews. Hugh’s book! Release date: June 26, 2018

10. Nightchaser (Endeavor #1) by Amanda Bouchet. Release date: January 1, 2019.

Well, that wraps up my list. Are you looking forward to reading any of the the books I mentioned? What books would you slay a lion to get your hands on early?

 

 

 

 

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March New Releases!

March 6

High voltage

 

High Voltage (Fever #10) by Karen Marie Moning

Dani is off to save the world with Ryodan at her side. Unforeseen consequences from saving the world are putting it in danger. I’d be more excited about this if I could bring myself to ship Dani and Ryodan.

Burn bright

 

Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega #5) by Patricia Briggs

Charles and Anna are in charge and have to deal with some issues with one of the damaged werewolves. Someone gets attacked and they have to go after them.

tricks for free

 

Tricks for Free (Incryptid #7) by Seanan McGuire

Antimony is on the run from the covenant. She’s completely cut off from her family including the mice. She flees to an amusement park where trouble follows her.

to kill a kingdom

 

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Seems to be a Little Mermaid retelling, but I could be wrong about that. Princess Lira is punished and turned into a human. To become a siren again she must bring the heart of Prince Elian to the sea queen or remain human forever.

silence lake

 

Lake Silence (The Others #6) by Anne Bishop

This is the first book in the series that doesn’t focus on Simon and Meg. Vicki lives in a human town controlled by the others. Someone is murdered and detectives blaming her.

March 20

pestilence

 

Pestilence (The Four Horsemen #1) by Laura Thalassa

The four horsemen of the apocalypse have come to destroy Earth. Sara is determined to stop Pestilence. All she manages to do is anger him. In return, he kidnaps her. Can she save the world without breaking her heart?

March 27

born of darkness

 

Born of Darkness (Hunter Legacy #1) by Lara Adrian

This is a spin off of the Midnight Breed series. It’s about vampires. Need I say more?

 

 

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Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon (The Embraced #3) by Kerrelyn Sparks

Gwennore is an elf who stumbles into a dragon realm. She is a healer and discovered a curse in the realm. Dragons and elves were taught not to trust each, but problems arise when Gwennore and Silas develop feelings for each other. If this is anything like the first book in the series, it is PNR with a strong plot.

“The Hazel Wood” by Melissa Albert

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This book reminds me a bit of Christina Henry’s Alice. (That book was a 2015 Goodreads Choice Nominee for Horror just so that sort of sets the vibe for you). Although this is not set in an alternate reality. It takes place in our world, but has a fantasy element, which makes this a mashup of urban fantasy and magical realism.

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother Ella have been drifters, wanderers, her whole life. She is used to changing schools all the time, staying in motels, and being the visitors who outstay their welcome with her mother’s acquaintances. They seem to have bad luck that always finds them and makes them forever changing cities to try and escape.

Ella finally marries a wealthy man who pays for Alice to go to an expensive high school in New York. There, she meets Finch, who becomes her friend (and she might like him, but won’t allow herself to admit it). Alice is very angry and salty, which can make her an unlikable character, but by the end you will understand why, and it makes total sense.

Alice’s grandmother was a recluse and mysterious author who wrote an obscure book of fairytales that Ella has never let her read. The book is so rare, there are hardly any copies left even for collectors. Her grandmother, Althea, lived in a place called the Hazel Wood, which has fascinated Alice all her life. Her mother has never wanted anything to do with Althea or Hazel Wood and never given Alice any answers to her questions about either.

“A turn of events” (spoilers) forces Alice and Finch to seek out the woods, which turn out to be a place full of dark fairytales come to life.

The cover of the book might lead you to think this is a light Young Adult fantasy, but as I mentioned, it’s more contemporary in the beginning with fantasy elements. The fantasy aspects come into play as Alice discovers more about herself, her grandmother’s book, and the Hazel Wood.

I thought this was a great story! It’s definitely more of a dark Grimm’s fairytale than your typical YA fantasy about people with magical powers meeting boys to fall in love with. Alice is a heroine, but a curmudgeonly one. So get ready for an unconventional fairytale set in modern times and dive in!

The Hazel Wood is released on January 30, 2018. Pre-order at Amazon.

Thank you Netgalley and publisher for providing a digital copy to read and review!

The Vixen’s Lead (Kit Davenport #1) by Tate James – Four Stars!

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WARNING: Over the top, silly, fun, sexy brain candy ahead! The author’s debut, The Vixen’s Lead, is about Kit Davenport, an 18-year-old thief. She grew up in an abusive foster home before being adopted by a secretive “Daddy Warbucks” type (see, I told you it was over the top). She goes to a sort of posh high school with her best friend, Lucy (who grew up with her in the foster home). Lucy is a genius hacker type who assists Kit (known as “The Fox” when she is thieving).

Kit gets introduced to some smoking hot, tattooed, ripped guys who are investigating The Fox. Things get complicated and sexy. This is a true reverse harem for adults. It reads as urban fantasy/paranormal romance with a few smutty scenes. Fun!

I am a little on the fence about Kit. In a way, she does TSTL stuff, is your typical chick-lit female (there is a brief “fat-shaming” scene towards the beginning and Kit spends a lot of time thinking about guys and shoes). She has a complicated past (and there may be sexual triggers for some during a couple scenes since sexual violence is a part of her past and the plot), but she doesn’t seem to be affected much by it.

I think the character could be fleshed-out a bit more and given more depth, but since I had fun reading the book, I won’t judge too harshly. A couple times, Kit runs off stupidly by herself (which is a pet peeve), but it isn’t dragged out and she realizes quickly she was dumb to do it.

The guys are SUPER hot and sexy. My favorite is Cole, the huge, muscly, caveman MMA fighter guy with tats. Next, even those he’s such an asshole, I really like Austin. I am ready for some hate sex! River, the group’s leader, with a British accent who wears expensive suits and drives expensive cars is pretty sexy. Then, there is Caleb (Austin’s twin) and Wesley, the cute, geeky hacker.

Kit also has some “special” abilities: speed, strength, and healing, and part of the book deals with her trying to figure out what she is.

Not a perfect book, but fun escapism! I enjoyed it enough to jump right into book two!

Buddy read with my reverse-harem-loving MacHalos!

“Academy of Assassins” by Stacey Brutger – 4 stars

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Morgan has no memory of her life before 10 years of age. She was found and raised by a powerful man named The Macgregor, leader of a coven of witches. The witches tortured and bullied Morgan because she has no magic, only she really does. It’s leashed by a magical torque she wears around her neck and she has no idea how she got it or what it’s true purpose is.

The Macgregor taught her to hunt and she is spectacular at it. She calls herself a mutt, but she is faster, stronger, than humans, and can heal. So she is something more, but we don’t know for most of the book.

Morgan finds herself at an academy, where she will train with other hunters. Since she trained so hard for so many years, it’s not surprising she finds herself on an elite team. Ryder, the shifter. Kincade, the leader, who is something unusual and smells of stone. Draven, the siren. Atlas, the fae.

There is someone else named Ascher too, but I won’t go into him because spoilers.

This reads like an urban fantasy with romance. It’s described as a slow burn reverse harem and that is accurate. There is bonding and kissing, but no sex. I really like all Morgan’s guys.

The world is interesting. The witches view everyone else as “less” and beneath them. They are the ones who can open and close portals and must be protected by the hunters. They get to “claim” shifters, who are treated as second-class citizens.

In this one, there is a murder mystery. Someone is killing women and carving runes onto their bodies, trying to perform a ritual, but failing. Part of the reason Morgan goes to the academy is to find out who the killer is. She ends up finally finding a place where she belongs.

There is a lot going on in this book and it could use a better editing job. But I liked the story and characters enough that the errors didn’t bother me.

I thought even though Morgan did some dumb things, it was acceptable because of her background. She has to learn to rely on other people and work as a team and trust does not come easy to her for good reason. But there is a lot of growth and I liked her.

I liked the supporting characters and even though the villains ended up being a bit predictable, I still thought this was a very solid and enjoyable first book in a series. I can’t wait to read the next one and see what happens with Morgan and her guys!

Buddy read with my reverse-harem-loving MacHalo girls!

Author Q&A: Craig Schaefer (of the Daniel Faust series)

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We are super-honored to have an author Q&A with Craig Schaefer, who writes the Daniel Faust, Revanche Cycle, and Harmony Black series (links below in author bio section). Mr. Schaefer is one of our FAVORITE authors at the MacHalo group and blog, so we couldn’t be more delighted that he said YES to our request. We HIGHLY recommend all of his books.

The Daniel Faust series is gritty urban fantasy about the seedy paranormal underworld.

The Revanche Cycle is epic fantasy with tons of betrayal and intrigue, witches and corrupt politicians.

Harmony Black is secret government groups fighting paranormal crime with a heavy dash of conspiracy and magic thrown in.

So let’s get down to it.

Q: Which of your series would you recommend new readers start with?

A: I’d love for everyone to start with the Revanche Cycle, because that’s my personal favorite, but I’ve learned (the hard way) that a lot of urban fantasy readers have no interest in epic fantasy — which is the main reason the Faust/Harmony books are my bread and butter while the Revanche books…aren’t.

For UF readers, I’d suggest starting with the Faust series, specifically with The White Gold Score. While it’s technically book 1.5, beyond a couple of references it pretty much stands alone, and it was written much more recently. Every writer evolves (or should evolve) and I’d like to think I’m a much better writer today than I was when The Long Way Down came out, so it makes for a better introduction to my work.

Also, it’s a novella, so if you hate it, at least you didn’t waste much time on it.

Q: What is your favorite series and/or character you have written?

Favorite series? The Revanche Cycle, hands down. Favorite character? Ooh, that’s a lot tougher. That definitely changes with my mood. If I had to narrow it down to a core few, though? Renata Nicchi, the “ordinary barmaid” who shows the world what “ordinary” people are capable of, has to top the list. Jessie Temple, constantly at war with the forces of darkness both outside and within herself, and mostly winning. Nessa Fieri – gleefully and unrepentantly wicked, capable of immense cruelty and ferocious love – rounds out the top three.

Also, honorable mention for cannibal fashion designer Fredrika Vinter. Freddie’s scenes (along with her long-suffering BFF Halima) are always so much fun to write. (“Naturally, dahling.”)

Q: ✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans) wants to declare her undying love for Daniel Faust and is a huge fan. She wants to know if there will be a Jessie spinoff and if Harmony Black and Daniel Faust will ever have a crossover with both characters being featured in a book?

No current plans for a Jessie spinoff. Jessie is a really tricky character in some regards; I’ve never shared this before, but one of the earliest very-partial drafts for the first Harmony Black novel (it ran out of steam around five chapters in) had her as the POV character instead of Harmony. The problem can be summed up by the scene in HB where she and Harmony endure a psychic parasite’s nightmare vision and she says, “That’s what it’s like in my head all the time.”

She’s funny and fierce, but that’s partially a shield to keep her friends from seeing the stuff she has to fight to keep a lid on, every waking moment of the day. This is a woman who was raised by a serial killer and forced to participate in her father’s crimes, without any kind of a moral compass until she was rescued in her early teens. Throw in the occult contagion from the King of Wolves and, well, it’s a lot easier to write about her from a slightly removed perspective; going first-person could take things from “just dark enough” to “way too dark” in a hurry.

Yes, there will absolutely be a Harmony/Faust crossover at some point. There’s already sort of one coming up in next year’s Wisdom’s Grave trilogy, where both characters make important appearances, but in a supporting-cast role. I really want to do a crossover that’s all about the two of them, I just haven’t figured out the best way to write it yet. Considering some people only read one of the two series, and I try to keep them as stand-alone as possible for that reason, I have to really think about what I can do with it plot-wise and which story elements I can resolve in a crossover that some readers might not be interested in picking up.)

(I will say, whether Harmony and Daniel make peace at last or not, you know we’re gonna see their respective teams square off and go a few rounds. I’m not a big fan of superhero tropes in general, but sometimes you just have to see who would win in a fight…)

Q: Several of us have noticed you write amazing female characters. They are strong, independent, no “damsels in distress.” Is this a conscious effort on your part or do you just naturally have an affinity for bad-ass females? 😊

Thank you so much! Yes, it’s a very conscious effort. As a writer and a feminist, positive representation is really important to me. Note that “positive” doesn’t mean “only positive character traits.” I don’t set out to create flawless, all-powerful Mary Sues, because that’s just as bad as wilting damsels in distress; both reduce female characters down to playing pieces and plot coupons. God save us from “kick-ass heroines” whose entire personality is 1) spunky/snarky and 2) they know kung fu, which is often exactly what Hollywood foists off on us.

My aim (I don’t always get it right, but I try) is to write female characters with authentic voices, inner lives, strengths and flaws. Which is really the standard we should all expect of any character of any gender, in all of our media, so the simple fact that it’s notable proves why it’s so important. It shouldn’t be extraordinary, it should be the baseline.

Ultimately, I write about the women in my life. No, I don’t hang out with murderous witches or mob bosses (as far as I’m willing to admit in public), but the heroines and villainesses of my fantasy novels draw their roots from the real women around me – from their struggles, their triumphs, their hopes, fears and joys. They’re my inspiration.

Q: Do you have any plans for a new series or book you can share with us?

This coming January will bring the first book of the Wisdom’s Grave trilogy, a special event crossover between all of my existing series. Fresh from the pages of the Revanche Cycle, Nessa and Mari – reborn as college professor Vanessa Roth and police detective Marie Reinholt – find each other once again in modern-day New York. Just like hundreds of times before, they’re cursed to meet, fall in love, and die, reenacting an ancient and forgotten fairy tale. But things are a little different now: someone’s spoiled the plot.

Forewarned of their fate, Nessa and Marie have one chance to break free, find the source of their curse, and demand justice. This time, they’re writing their own ending.

My initial outline notes described the trilogy as “a rock and roll road trip to the edge of the multiverse, with black magic and bullets.” The first book is with my editor as we speak; it’s arguably the darkest thing I’ve ever written, and absolutely isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste, but the trilogy is a passion project of mine so it had to get written.

Q: How long do you see your current two series running?

The Faust series will probably run twenty books or so, but the series outline has a lot of wriggle room so it can grow or contract based on what the fans want and how its momentum feels. (Yes, I know how it all ends. The final scene of the final book is already written – I wanted to have a goal-post of sorts to keep me focused – though it’s doubtlessly going to get a full rewrite by the time we actually get there.)

The Harmony series is more open-ended. I’ve got three possible ways to wrap the series up, and I haven’t decided which one I like best yet. I’d say we’ll see at least five more books, and we’re nowhere near properly setting up any of the three endings. My readers know I’m a big fan of playing the long game…

Q: Are we going to get more from the Revanche world – and anytime soon? Any little spoilers you can share?

I don’t know if we’ll ever go back for a book set exclusively in the Revanche setting, but I can tell you (and you heard it here first) that book two or three of the Wisdom’s Grave trilogy will definitely see our antiheroines taking a jaunt back “home.”

Maybe I can share two tiny spoilers. One: Hedy will be back. The Mouse is her mother’s daughter, and when the Owl needs her most, she’ll be there. Two: two particular characters from the final chapter of Queen of the Night will not be in it. They earned their ending, and they really did live happily ever after, or at least as happy as a contented life with the person you love can be. They are the only two characters I consider officially out of my keyboard’s reach. They won.

Q: What are a couple of your favorite books and authors?

If I had to pick an all-time favorite author, I’d have to go with Elmore Leonard. An absolute master of his craft, in the vein of two of my other favorites, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Amazing dialogue, lean and stripped-down prose, all three wrote purring and sleek engines of fiction. I’m nowhere near that good, but if I keep working hard, someday I might get close.

I also have to give a shout-out to an author I’ve only recently discovered and I’m eagerly plowing my way through her back-catalog. Mo Hayder is a top-notch crime/suspense writer, and her book “The Devil of Nanking” is amazing. It gave me the same goosebumps I got from reading “Silence of the Lambs” for the first time. Dark, sinister, depraved…you know, all the stuff I like.

Cold Spectrum, book four in the Harmony Black series, is released on October 31, 2017.

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Craig Schaefer’s books have taken readers to the seamy edge of a criminal underworld drenched in shadow (the Daniel Faust series), to a world torn by war, poison and witchcraft (the Revanche Cycle), and across a modern America mired in occult mysteries and a conspiracy of lies (the Harmony Black series).

Despite this, people say he’s strangely normal. Suspiciously normal, in fact.

Schaefer lives in Illinois with a small retinue of cats, all of whom try to interrupt his writing schedule and/or kill him on a regular basis. He practices sleight of hand in his spare time, though he’s not very good at it. His home on the Web is www.craigschaeferbooks.com.

Craig Schaefer on Amazon.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Feature Characters Who Are Criminal Heroes

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s top ten is about books that feature characters who are criminal heroes. I have a penchant for bad boys in books. They tend to be more unpredictable and entertaining. Many of them live a life of crime. I’m okay with that. I love the dichotomy of the good and bad internal struggle. To be honest some of them don’t have much of a struggle; they’re just bad, but dark and dangerous is fun too. So here is my list of my top ten books with criminal heroes. To be clear the term hero is used extremely loosely.

The Long Way Down by Craig Schaefer

Genre: Urban Fantasy

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Daniel Faust is one of my favorite criminal heroes ever! He definitely does things that are bad but still retains a moral code which keeps him from going to the dark side. Just so you know these books get better as they go along.

The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne

Genre: Historical Romance

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I enjoyed the hell outta this one! Dorian Blackwell is a rich and cunning thief. He is not a nice man, but if you dig deep enough he has layers. This is historical romance with a darker twist.

The Sordid Promise by Courtney Lane

Genre: Dark Romance

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This is my favorite book on this list. It’s really dark and demented, so it’s not for everyone. Eric is an asshole with a capital A, but there’s something alluring about him. If you’re looking for something on the dark side that’s original, read this.

The Heartstone Thief by Pippa DaCosta

Genre: Fantasy

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Curtis Vance made his living as a thief. In typical Pippa DaCosta fashion, he had highly questionable morals. A unique plot and good world building made this an entertaining read.

Sex, Lies, and Nikolai by R.J. Lewis

Genre: Romance

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Nikolai’s life revolved around shady criminal dealings. Compared to many of the others on this list he’s a good guy. This book sucked me in from the start. I’ve never read any other books by R.J. Lewis, but I need to rectify that soon.

Fear Me by B.B. Reid

Genre: Dark Romance

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Once again this a not a book everyone will like. It is dark. The characters are in high school, but this is not young adult. Keiran Masters is an asshole with loose morals and a dark and shady past. His redeemability is questionable at best. I promise you Keiran is memorable!

Blood Bound by Rachel Vincent

Genre: Urban Fantasy

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This was an urban fantasy with a mafiaesque theme. All of the characters lead disreputable lives. Cam was a character that I learned to love over the course of the book. Cam leaned more towards the good than bad side.

Menace by J.M. Darhower

Genre: Dark Romance

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Lorenzo Gambini is not a good guy, but I couldn’t help but love him. This is one you won’t want to put down!

Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt

Genre: Historical Romance

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The Duke of Montgomery’s unscrupulous escapades began in other books in the series. By the time his book came around I was surprised to discovered how much I liked him despite the despicable things he’s done.

King by T.M. Frazier

Genre: Dark Romance

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People seem to either love or hate this book. I liked it although I’ve liked the subsequent books in this series less and less with each one. King was intriguing. He walked a fine line between good guy who does bad things and all around bad guy.

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