Saturday, March 29, 2014

Stacking the Shelves: March 29,2014

Stacking The Shelves, hosted by Tynga's Reviews, is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
This week, I stacked my shelves with:

Books I purchased:

Book I am reading for our April review at

That's all for me... I get overwhelmed if I get too many at once.  What did you stack your shelves with this week?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Review: Previously Loved Treasures

What a nice story.  Previously Loved Treasures was a delightful look into the life of a character who desperately needed a family and found exactly what she was looking for, in a sort of round about way.

In Previously Loved Treasures recently widowed Ida Sweetwater and her granddaughter come together in a heartwarming mystery rich with imagination and magic. 

Struggling to make ends meet, Ida turns her home into a boarding house and goes in search of used furniture. This quest leads to the Previously Loved Treasures shop and Peter Pennington, a delightfully strange proprietor who anticipates people’s needs. In addition to bargains, Peter hands out sage advice. When a pocket watch belonging to one of the residents goes missing for a second time he warns of danger—but will Ida’s granddaughter listen and will she heed his advice?

My Review:
This was just one of those books that leaves you feeling really good.  Not to say that it didn't have its share of heartache and drama but when I closed the book, I felt satisfied that all of the characters were going to be ok.  At least, all the characters I cared about.

Ida is delightful, a grandmother and friend that anyone would be honored to have.  She was looking for her son and instead found a granddaughter.  This granddaughter, Caroline, was also looking for something, and Ida came at just the right time in her life when she needed her the most.  In fact, I think what I loved most about this book is that almost all of the characters accepted each other and grew to love each other, filling in the empty spaces in their hearts.  

The character of Peter was fascinating.  Was he real or was he a guardian angel?  I tend to lean toward guardian angel.  He was definitely sent to give these women what they needed but also to guide them toward the right path and the right choices.  I like to think we all have that little something or someone helping us make the right decisions, but to really have that guidance be a tangible person with a store full of just what you need added that perfect little bit of magic to the story.  It was enough to give a bit of fun when wondering what each item's purpose would be.

Are there some "not so nice" people in this book trying to ruin things for our main characters? Absolutely, and they are mean and nasty and I felt angry when they acted so terribly. There were times when I wanted certain characters to meet an untimely end.  I won't say more because I don't want to spoil the story.  I think it is important for everyone to pick up this book and meet Peter, Ida, Caroline, and all of the other characters for themselves. I can only hope to have kind people like this in my life when I need them.  

I can almost guarantee that you will finish this story and have the same feeling of satisfaction that I did.  I just love a happy ending.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

As soon as I finished Delia's Shadow (which was yesterday), I went looking to see if there was a second book that would continue the story of these characters I came to know and love.  I was ecstatic to find out that there was indeed a sequel but also a bit sad that it wouldn't be out until June.  So... I wait.  :)

In Jaime Lee Moyer's Barricade in Hell, Delia Martin has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with the ability to peer across to the other side. Since childhood, her constant companions have been ghosts. She used her powers and the help of those ghosts to defeat a twisted serial killer terrorizing her beloved San Francisco. Now it's 1917—the threshold of a modern age—and Delia lives a peaceful life with Police Captain Gabe Ryan.
That peace shatters when a strange young girl starts haunting their lives and threatens Gabe. Delia tries to discover what this ghost wants as she becomes entangled in the mystery surrounding a charismatic evangelist who preaches pacifism and an end to war.  But as young people begin to disappear, and audiences display a loyalty and fervor not attributable to simple persuasion, that message of peace reveals a hidden dark side.
What's your "waiting on" pick this week? Click on the Waiting on Wednesday button above and add your link to join!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review: Delia's Shadow

I just finished Delia's Shadow by Jaime Lee Moyer and couldn't wait to get my review posted because I loved this book!  I am so sorry that I left it in my TBR pile for as long as I did. If I had only known, I would have devoured it right away.

Synopsis from Amazon: 
It is the dawn of a new century in San Francisco and Delia Martin is a wealthy young woman whose life appears ideal. But a dark secret colors her life, for Delia’s most loyal companions are ghosts, as she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with an ability to peer across to the other side.
Since the great quake rocked her city in 1906, Delia has been haunted by an avalanche of the dead clamoring for her help. Delia flees to the other side of the continent, hoping to gain some peace. After several years in New York, Delia believes she is free…until one determined specter appears and she realizes that she must return to the City by the Bay in order to put this tortured soul to rest.
It will not be easy, as the ghost is only one of the many victims of a serial killer who was never caught. A killer who after thirty years is killing again. And who is now aware of Delia’s existence.

My Review:
Delia's shadow had my full attention right from the beginning.  Aside from the absolutely gorgeous cover, the story takes place nine years after the great San Francisco earthquake so the historical setting was extremely interesting.  Our main characters, Gabe and Delia had both lost loved ones in the quake or in the fires that followed and that broken part of their personalities added depth of character in the form of strength and heartache.  Delia had the double whammy because she is able to see the ghosts of those who stayed behind, especially Shadow, who follows her, pleading silently for Delia's help.  To have that kind of burden seems overwhelming to me but Delia handles it as a true heroine would, with grace and the determination to do what was right though the whole story.

The story blends several genre but mostly historical fiction, paranormal, and murder mystery.  It is not however, for the weak of heart.  The murder victims are described in detail when they are found and there is quite a bit a heartache to go around as our characters desperately try to solve the case and bring the serial killer to justice before he kills someone close to them.  I loved the edginess of this side of the story.  The reader could easily understand how much harder it was to catch a killer during this time. The rules were much different and the resources were few.  There was a constant frustration as the killer continually added more and more victims to his tally.

The dual narration also added to the uniqueness of the story.  I really liked how chapters alternated between Gabe and Delia's point of view.  You don't always get to read the male perspective and this increased the level of engagement for me.  The slow but evident romance between these two characters was always present but never overdone.  They were brought together in a way that would have been perfectly proper in the early 1900's. The investigation was also double sided. We saw it from the law enforcement perspective and we also read how the supernatural element was involved through Delia and Isadora, the medium who helps Delia understand her ghost and how it connects to the case. 

This book had everything I wanted; mystery, action, romance, and the paranormal.  There were an abundance of ghosts and I wanted to know all of their stories. I think it would make a great movie and hope that someone is intelligent enough to snatch it up.

I know there is a sequel and this time, I don't plan on putting it on the bottom of my TBR list.  It will be moving right to the top!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Review and Giveaway: Destruction

So, I am still fairly new at reading and reviewing ARC books and I have to admit that I am probably a bit more picky than I should be. I try to accept books that interest me because I don't want to be stuck reading something I don't like, who does?  Well, this book caught my eye as soon as I got the e-mail.  The cover was absolutely gorgeous to start and that made me want to look deeper.  I accepted the book and I am so glad I decided to read it.  It is a fantasy but has such a great family story to accompany the magic.  I found it to be engaging right from the start.  Read on for more and to enter for a fabulous giveaway!!

David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn't a choice. Eleven years ago, David's secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without. 
Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David's wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children. Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn't understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.

My review:
As I said above, this book is engaging right from the start.  I began the story disliking David but loving the realistic nature of his two "new" children coming to live with and get to know his present wife and half siblings.  There was a lot of animosity between the kids and I could truly feel their anger, sorrow, and fear.  I could empathize with each and every family member as they tried to cope with their situation.  And on top of that, they are dealing with issues of abuse, and for some, the discovery that they are wizards and capable of magic.  I couldn't stop reading for the sheer reason that I was so interested in their lives and problems and how things were going to turn out.  I didn't need any action or suspense but the addition of a major event toward the end of the story was an added benefit and I was turning the pages anxiously to see what the ending had in store for the characters.

The Fantasy element of the story revolves around the family being dark wizards and the ultimate question becomes, "Does being a dark wizard mean that you can't do good magic?" This question seems to haunt some of the characters as they learn to use their magic.  I loved this part of the book, the way the kids learn to use their abilities and how it helped them to finally begin working together.  It made me wish that I could find some secret power of my own (I would totally choose shape shifting!). 

A few of the characters make some major mistakes so there is definitely a dark element to the story but just when you think the family is about to be completely torn apart, they instead band together to save one of their own, proving in my opinion, that dark wizards can be capable of doing good magic.    

Clearly, family is a meaningful theme in the story.  Even through the darkest of times, families sometimes need to let go of anger and hatred and come together to defeat the evil in the world.  A great message.  The magic in the story was fun and I loved discovering what the characters could do along with them. It was fascinating and there were also some minor characters that I hope will turn up again. I am pretty sure that this is the first book in a series so I am really looking forward to the next one so I can see the next step for this blended magical family.

If you enjoy fantasy stories about witches and wizards that parallel with real life issues, you'll love this book and you can enter to win a copy in the giveaway below.  Also, check out the Sharon Bayliss website at  Happy reading and good luck in the giveaway!

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Teaser Tuesday - March 18th

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
My Teaser this week:
It took David a moment to grasp the meaning of this sentence, but when he did, a swell of fury went from his stomach to his heart.  Deep disappointment quickly replaced his fury.  He had pegged them immediately. Summer wizards.  Good wizards.  Despite the fact they were his natural enemies, he had felt hopeful.  He supposed that was what he got for being a grown man who believed in Santa Claus.
Destruction by Sharon Bayliss

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Showcase Sunday

Showcase Sunday is hosted by Vickie at Books Biscuits and Tea. The aim of this event is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week. For more information about how this feature works and how to join in, click here.

This is my first time participating in this meme.  Hi all!  :)

Well, it seems that some readers have a huge TBR list of ARC books, books borrowed, or books purchased.  I am one of those people who, if my pile gets too big, I feel overwhelmed and I actually don't enjoy my reading as much.  Therefore, I keep less than ten books in my TBR and then I put the rest on a wishlist.  When I get caught up, I decide on the next few books I am going to read.  So, right now I am reading and reviewing one ARC for review that comes out in April, and next on my list are two ebooks I purchased and have been quite excited to read.  I am also adding Fangirl to my wishlist because this is probably about the hundredth place I have seen it listed or commented on. 

Here are my books for the week.  Happy reading everyone!

Friday, March 14, 2014

FF March 14th

Increase Blog Followers
Hosted by two blogs, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Click on the button above or either blog name to check it out and join!

This week's question:
Spring is in the air! Show off your favorite outdoors reading spot. If you don’t go outside…well where else do you read that isn’t inside your house? We want pics!

My favorite place to read as soon as it is warm enough is here... on a lounge chair with my toes in the sand right by the water while my kids are playing.  Luckily, we live close enough that we can drive here in just over an hour.  I can't wait!!!


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare.  I am so excited for this one!

From Amazon:
Shadowhunters and demons square off for the final showdown in the spellbinding, seductive conclusion to the #1 New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

Darkness has descended on the Shadowhunter world. Chaos and destruction overwhelm the Nephilim as Clary, Jace, Simon, and their friends band together to fight the greatest evil they have ever faced: Clary’s own brother. Nothing in this world can defeat Sebastian—but if they journey to the realm of demons, they just might have a chance…

Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world will change. Who will survive the explosive sixth and final installment of the Mortal Instruments series?

What is your Waiting on Wednesday?


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday 3-11-14

To learn more about Top Ten Tuesday or see a list of future topics click here!
This week's top ten is to list your 10 favorite books in any genre.  I was torn with which genre to choose but I finally decided to go with paranormal/supernatural type fantasy.  All of these books have some paranormal/supernatural element to them. I have a combination of YA and adult books in this genre.

1.  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.  I adore this book and its sequel, Hollow City. The vintage pictures and plot suck you right into the story.

2.  Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.  The whole series really, including the spin off Heroes of Olympus series.  I just love mythology and my son and I read these together.  

3.  Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  Wow!  This was a feast of magic and color about two young magicians who get involved in a duel to the death but fall in love along the way.  I devoured it in two sittings.

4.  A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.  Another series of which I am anxiously waiting for the final book to see what happens to our main witch and vampire couple and their family.

5.  Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame Smith.  This book had a perfect mix of history, story, and some good old head rolling.  Violent but fun.

6. Soulless by Gail Carriger:  A great series revolving around Alexia Tarabotti, a woman who has no soul, helps investigate supernatural crimes, and gets involved with the local werewolf.  Fun series.

7.  The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe.  This is one of my favorites.  Another that focuses on both present and past and deals with witchcraft. More good history in this one.

8.  The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley.  I adore all of her books (except the most recent) but this one was just wonderful.  Historical, romantic, with just a touch of the supernatural element.  

9.  Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  They are making a T.V. series for these books.  The first one will always be my favorite.  I just adore the idea of traveling through time and meeting your true love.

10. First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones.  So much fun!  A private investigator who is really the grim reaper who gets involved with the son of Satan (who is extremely hot). I recommend it to anyone looking for a humorous fantasy with adventure, some mild violence, romance (a fair amount of sex), and a lot of sarcasm.  I laughed out loud during every book in the series.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Review: The Terrorist's Daughters

The Terrorist's Daughters by Brian Arthur Levine takes the reader into the lives of two sisters, daughters of one of the top terrorists, who risk everything to get away to save themselves from the brutality they have had to endure.

Synopsis from
Born in Chicago, Illinois, three sisters are uprooted and brought to Pakistan, after the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001. After becoming oppressed and abused by their radicalized father and drug-sedated mother, two of the girls decide to run away from home and soon they discover their inner selves. One is a twelve-year-old blessed with a gift she does not know she has, the other, a seventeen-year-old proficient in the methods of psychological warfare. Along the way they encounter a handsome young man, and his family who are also looking to start a new life away from their terrorist state. Their travels takes them to Afghanistan, Dubai, Mexico and the United States, leaving a chaotic but interesting trail behind. 

Developing a family among a group of outcasts, including a young Asian girl who is prolific in computer hacking, their adventures continue with the girls making daring escapes from authorities, and fighting Al Qaeda extremists working for their father. The Terrorist's Daughter all leads to a dramatic conclusion revolving around love, faith, family, and the potential destruction of an entire city.

Zahra and Aalia are two extremely strong girls. Zahra is only twelve in this novel but she is one of the most mature twelve year old girls I have ever read about.  Unfortunately, this maturity comes from the horrors she has witnessed that, in my opinion, no child should be subjected to. These girls take the oppressive and abusive life they have and run from it.  They demonstrate bravery in the face of fear, but such desperation to escape almost seemed to push them over the edge at times. It was sad to see the crimes they were capable of committing due to what they had experienced. They almost seemed desensitized at times.  I wanted them to be free but I couldn't help but worry about how their actions would affect them in the future.

With regard to the plot, I was immediately sucked into the story and it was a wild and crazy ride. The story was fast-paced and I was biting my nails as I read, waiting to see what happened next.  These girls were never safe and never able to feel comfortable for more than a moment or two.  As a reader, I found myself hoping beyond hope that they would finally be able to break free.  I read this book in one day because I couldn't bear to put it down for more than a few minutes at a time.

As to the end... well, I had to read the last page three times before I realized that there was going to be another book and that there really was no end.  It just kind of drops off.  That was the hardest part of the story.  I wanted resolution but I am forced to wait.

The Terrorist's Daughters gives the reader a glimpse into what it might be like to live as the children of a terrorist, living in fear, seeing and hearing the unthinkable and in this case, hating it and wishing there were something they could do to stop it.  This is a fiction story and it is meant to be an adventure with some all too realistic undertones.  There were some over the top moments but they went with they story well.  I will definitely read the next one to see where these brave girls end up and hope that their devil of a father will eventually get what is coming to him.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Review: Shiver

Shiver by Maggie Steifvater is the first in the Wolves of Mercy Falls series and it will most likely also be my last, but not necessarily for the reasons you may think...

Synopsis from Barnes and Noble:
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.
Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.
The main character, Grace, was attacked by wolves and bitten as a young girl and yet for some reason, never changed like all others bitten.  She does however, form a strong bond with the wolf who saved her and when he becomes human, they fall in love and try to keep him human as long as possible.  I empathized with Grace.  She is quiet, almost to the point of being withdrawn.  I got the impression that if her friends didn't call, she wouldn't make a point to have a social life at all.  Her parents clearly love her but are self absorbed in the story and the reader is given the impression that they have always been this way.  She plays it cool as if she doesn't care about being left alone all the time but inside, it hurts.  When Sam arrives, he gives her the love that she desperately needs and their relationship is one of true caring.  It did remind me a bit of the relationship between Bella and Edward in Twilight. In fact, the whole book has a "Twilight" feel to it but that doesn't make it disappointing or unsatisfying.  In fact, I was thrilled to read about another couple who form such a deep bond.  A couple who will do anything to be together, willing to separate only to save the other.

I thought the wolves themselves were a strong presence in the story.  Each had their own story and I would have liked to hear more about a few of them. It was interesting how the author made the outside temperature the cause of the change from human to wolf and back again and you could feel Sam's weariness grow as it became more and more difficult to stay human as winter approached.  As a reader, I almost wanted him to just let it happen so he could get some relief from his struggle.  Grace wished on several occasions that she could change also just to stay with Sam, a sacrifice that would change her life forever.  

No spoilers here but I was extremely satisfied with how this book ended, and this is why I have decided not to continue the series.  Some people have already told me that I should but, after reading the blurbs on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, I feel like I might be disappointed or frustrated if I continue.  I want to remember this book as it is, a beautiful love story on its own that completely satisfied me as a reader.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Review: The Chase

The Chase is the second book in the Fox and O'Hare series by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg and it did not disappoint.  It is a fun, action packed ride and something refreshingly different from Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series.

Synopsis from Barnes and Noble:
Internationally renowned thief and con artist Nicolas Fox is famous for running elaborate and daring scams. His greatest con of all: convincing the FBI to team him up with the only person who has ever caught him, and the only woman to ever capture his attention, Special Agent Kate O’Hare. Together they’ll go undercover to swindle and catch the world’s most wanted—and untouchable—criminals.
Their newest target is Carter Grove, a former White House chief of staff and the ruthless leader of a private security agency. Grove has stolen a rare Chinese artifact from the Smithsonian, a crime that will torpedo U.S. relations with China if it ever becomes public. Nick and Kate must work under the radar—and against the clock—to devise a plan to steal the piece back. Confronting Grove’s elite assassins, Nick and Kate rely on the skills of their ragtag crew, including a flamboyant actor, a Geek Squad techie, and a band of AARP-card-carrying mercenaries led by none other than Kate’s dad. 
A daring heist and a deadly chase lead Nick and Kate from Washington, D.C., to Shanghai, from the highlands of Scotland to the underbelly of Montreal. But it’ll take more than death threats, trained henchmen, sleepless nights, and the fate of a dynasty’s priceless heirloom to outsmart Fox and O’Hare.

My Review: 
This book is just plain fun.  It begins when the first book, The Heist, leaves off and immediately puts Fox and O'Hare together again.  I love these characters.  They are a perfect team and yet total opposites.  Kate is determined to follow the law if at all possible and Nick has more "creative" ideas about how to accomplish their missions.  The romantic undertones are evident between these two characters but the author hasn't brought them together yet.  I found this to also be refreshing because it gives the reader something to look forward to rather than just throwing the male and female leads together right from the start.

The plot is paced perfectly and the action scenes are plentiful.  Kate and Nick hatch some pretty elaborate plans and get into more than a few sticky situations both together and on their own.  Kate's dad, Willie, Joe, and Boyd all add their special talents to the pot as they portray the quirky sidekicks in the story. I also thought that there was just the right amount of humor in the story.  I found myself smiling on many occasions, usually due to the drama or antics of all of the sidekicks, or just at Kate and Nick's consistent use of flirtatious sarcasm.

This book isn't deep in any way and it isn't meant to be.  It would be a great beach read or book to travel with.  The reader doesn't need to over think and can just enjoy the book for what it is; a well-written, action packed story with lively characters and an thoroughly enjoyable plot.  Don't forget to start at the beginning with The Heist.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Blog Hunt: Fire of Stars and Dragons

As the 10th stop in the Name That Dragon Blog Hunt, this post contains the answer to the last post. It is your job, as the reader, to find it. Please remember your answer to this puzzle, as well as any past and future ones within this tour. You will need to know ALL the answers to enter for the chance to win the Grand Prize of a sterling silver Celtic triquetra on a 16in chain and a pre-order code.”  Also, be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for an awesome giveaway!

My theme is literary heroines and there have been a plethora of them. One of the main things that attract me to a book is a strong lead character, especially if that main character is a female because us girls have to stick together. It's all about girl power! In years past, we've admired heroines from memorable stories such as The Scarlet Letter, Gone with the Wind, and Much Ado About Nothing. In more recent years we have had some ladies that truly kick some ass such as Hermoine Granger from the Harry Potter series and Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games.  All of these women have demonstrated strength and determination even when it seemed as though there was no hope and all was lost. Whether they are fighting a war against evil or just standing up for their man, literary heroines have kept us turning the pages and will continue to do so for years to come.

Cait, our current leading lady from Fire of Stars and Dragons, is a force to be reckoned with. This strong, independent female stands on her own even when outnumbered by many supernatural men. She still has an innocence about her but strongly believes that she should be treated as an equal and demands respect. Her snarky attitude adds to her appeal.  The Dracopraesi often turn to their Lord Regent, Agtos, when they need advice.” She is used to having choices and doesn't want them to be taken away from her but when she is told she must choose a husband in seven days... not really the type of choices she was hoping for.  

Check out this exclusive excerpt from the story!

(Chapter 2, Cait’s POV)

“No. She. Is. Mine.”
Those words ring in my ears. I want them and fear them. He’s a dragon. What that means in this situation, I’m not even sure. Do dragons marry? I can’t say with certainty his claim implied marriage. He did promise to protect me. It occurs to me my hand is still on his, contact I initiated just before his declaration. I move it to my lap, and his retreats to the back of my chair, but there’s a definitive sense of disconnection, touching him appealing to my body with as much natural ease as breathing.
For the first time, Dante speaks, voice smooth, a softened Scottish lilt dripping off his every word. “Perhaps this would be an excellent time to offer a relatively neutral solution to our conundrum over Caitriona’s situation.” He said nothing during court, sitting, absorbing everything, a picturesque view on the dais, flawless fair complexion, dark as night hair, and striking blue eyes.
Dante is every bit his goddess mother’s son, the epitome of beauty.
Cedric leans forward in his chair, hands folded together on the table. “What did you have in mind?” If I had to guess, I would say he sounds relieved Dante offers another option. I suppose a dragon eating his son isn’t a pleasant idea.
The demigod stands and paces in a small circle, brows knit together in contemplative focus, coming to an abrupt halt, turning and meeting my eyes. He says nothing, staring, and the entire room buzzes, strange electricity in the air.
His gaze rises, beyond me. “I will marry her, Theo.” And I’m certain my heart stops. “You trust me, do you not?”
“Are you all insane?” I scream, slamming my hands on the table, jumping out of my seat. So much for remaining quiet. “I refuse to sit here feeling like I’m being auctioned off to the highest bidder.” I sure as Hades do not want to deal with Neglected Dependent Services, but this is ridiculous. Why the king involves himself on a personal level in my situation is beyond comprehension.
King Corrin glares daggers at me, or past me to Theo, but I’m damned sure he’s not happy about a woman rebuking anything he says. However, Dante smirks as he watches my outburst. Behind me, the dragon clears his throat.
“I do believe Miss Hayden makes a valid point to be considered.” He places his hand on my shoulder, encouraging me to sit again, and I do so, grudgingly. Across the table, the king’s brother buries his face in his hands, but he’s not laughing. “While it is understandable the monarchy cannot abide by the breaking of sovereign laws, Miss Hayden is indeed a woman of means. At our ages, it is quite conceivable to liken her wealth and social stature to noble ladies of eras past, one whose suitors would vie for her affections, for the right to win her hand in marriage.”
While I’m somehow seeing this whole situation going in reverse, dragging me into the damned dark ages worse than society already, there might be a light at the end of the tunnel this dragon walks through. Choices. Women of means had choices back then. I for one would like them back.
“A duel?” The monarch’s eyes brighten, displaying his fangs in a Cheshire grin.
Sir Oliver grimaces. “I doubt a duel is quite the answer, Sire. Regardless of your expertise as a swordsman, even my skill is negligible over Theo’s.”
The room quiets until Evan sits back in his chair, its squeaking breaking the silence. “I suggest vying for her affections in the most literal sense. I’ve said before I disagree with arranged marriages, but if she must choose amongst you then at the very least, allow she find the most happiness.” He plays with the wedding band on his finger. “Is it asking too much she have the opportunity to perhaps marry out of some measure of love?”
Whether his concerns fall to his brother trapped in a loveless marriage or my best interests, I don’t venture guesses, but I appreciate his disapproval.
“Would it most please Miss Hayden, I am agreeable to such a compromise,” states Theo, though his tone declares him anything other than agreeable.
Dante nods, remaining in his apparent standard state of existence, thoughtful and contemplative. “As am I.”
With an irritated huff, King Corrin drops back into his chair. “Fine. It is agreed.” His icy stare stays on me as he speaks. “But she must be moved to a secure location where she remains of equal accessibility. Aside from her safety quite lacking, from this point forward, regardless of who ultimately gains victory, I declare her status as betrothed and under the protection of the clan. Should Miss Hayden be incapable of making this decision for herself within seven days, sovereign law prevails, and I shall either choose her husband or relinquish her to NDS.”
“Seven days! What? And you expect me to leave my home? No! Not in Hades’ name will I do any such thing.” Refraining from calling the king insane, out of his mind, or gone mad, I’m adamant in this, but Theo rests one hand on my shoulder calming me, his touch desirable in its soothing effect. My request to live as an independent woman was a long shot, to say the least. … And NDS is a worst-case scenario for someone in my position. This … I release a quiet exhale and nod in compliance. This is better than the alternatives. None of these men need the wealth or power of Hayden Holdings. I’m not a wrung in their social ladder. Choosing between the king, Dante, and Theo Pendragon … I should be thankful, not insolent. Most women would kill to be in my designer shoes.

Melissa A. Petreshock is a full-time writer and member of the Romance Writers of America with past experience in the medical and educational fields, though she has primarily devoted her adult life to raising a family. Born and raised in Kentucky, Melissa spent a number of years in Massachusetts, living outside Boston and in Springfield before returning to her home state where she now resides on a small farm. She enjoys quiet married life and the silliness of her three children, indulging hobbies of music, Zumba, and a minor television addiction in what little free time she finds. Melissa’s interests include causes demanding social change such as mental health awareness and teen suicide prevention. FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS is her debut NA Fantasy Romance novel.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Review: The Hallowed Ones

I found The Hallowed Ones on someone else's blog.  I enjoy YA novels and I liked the premise of the story so I added it to my TBR list.  I'm glad I did, but aside from the fact that the main character in the story is a teenager, I wouldn't exactly call this a YA novel.  However, it was unique and had me reading into the night to finish it.

Synopsis from Barnes and Noble:
Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers can get a taste of the real world. But the real world comes to her in this dystopian tale with a philosophical bent. Rumors of massive unrest on the “Outside” abound. Something murderous is out there. Amish elders make a rule: No one goes outside, and no outsiders come in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man, she can’t leave him to die. She smuggles him into her family’s barn—at what cost to her community? The suspense of this vividly told, truly horrific thriller will keep the pages turning.

This really is more of a horror/thriller in my opinion but I did enjoy it, I was just surprised. Something happens in the "outside" world.  People in the local towns, included some members of Katie's community, have disappeared and when it is investigated, stores have left lights on, windows are broken, and shops are ransacked.  What else Katie finds is death, and a lot of it. There is quite a bit of violence in this book.  It actually reminded me a bit of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (which I loved).  Heads were definitely rolling on a several occasions in the story.  

Katie herself, in my opinion, is a typical confused teenager.  She loves her community but also wants the experience of the outside world.  The author does a nice job using Katie's thoughts and feelings to share the inner conflict she is experiencing. She has what seems to be just the right amount of disobedience to allow the reader to recognize that maybe the Amish life isn't meant for her. The expectation is that she will return, be baptized, marry, and take her place in the community.  Only part of her isn't quite sure what she wants and, as the book continues, she begins to realize that her community isn't the trusting, safe place she thought it was. Katie is an extremely strong character even though the reader can also sense her vulnerability. You can see and feel her terror in each violent scene but she continues to move forward and do what has to be done.

The relationships in the story are interesting.  Elijah is portrayed as her best friend and future husband and she is content with that at the beginning, even almost looks forward to it.  I liked Elijah until about the middle of the story when he began to change and in my opinion, show some of his true colors.  Alex, on the other hand, represents the exact opposite of contentment. He represents disobedience and passion.  He treats her as an equal rather than someone who needs to be obedient. When the terror on the outside finds its way into the community, she makes some major life decisions that not only affect her but the safety of all the community.  I agreed with all of them and was actually happy with the final events in the book even though it left me wanting more. 

The book deals with a few heavy themes.  Trust, faith, life decisions, love, self worth.  All handled very well.  There is a sequel to this book called, The Outside.  I definitely plan on picking it up.