Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: The Hexed

There is nothing better, in my opinion, than reading a Heather Graham book while sitting at the pool or the beach.  I particularly love the Krewe of Hunters series because of the paranormal element.  I know I can always count on a good mystery with a little bit of ghostly suspense and some romance. The Hexed was a lot of fun!
Devin Lyle has recently returned to the Salem area, but her timing couldn't be worse. Soon after she moved into the eighteenth-century cabin she inherited from her great-aunt Mina—her "crazy" great-aunt, who spoke to the dead—a woman was murdered nearby. 
Craig Rockwell—known as Rocky—is a new member of the Krewe of Hunters, the FBI's team of paranormal investigators. He never got over finding a friend dead in the woods. Now another body's been found in those same woods, not far from the home of Devin Lyle. And Devin's been led to a third body—by…a ghost? 
Her discovery draws them both deeper into the case and Salem's rich and disturbing history. Even as the danger mounts, Devin and Rocky begin to fall for each other, something the ghosts of Mina and past witches seem to approve of. But the two of them need every skill they possess to learn the truth—or Devin's might be the next body in the woods….

My Review:
Salem, Massachusetts and its history with witchcraft have always fascinated me and this was just a bonus when I picked up this newest installment of the Krewe of Hunters.  Our main male lead, Rocky, is of course tall and handsome. He is the newest member of the Krewe and this murder case has personal history for him.  Devin is our female lead.  She is also gorgeous and is just realizing that she can see the dead.  There are actually quite a few characters in this book.  All of Devin's friends who are almost all suspects in the murders, and plus a few other Krewe members who come to help.  The author however, easily introduced everyone and there was no confusion as to who was who.  The characters were all interesting to read about and I found myself creating theories about who the murderer was and then revising them because I was wrong.  I love that in a mystery and this one wasn't predictable at all.

There was a good deal of Salem history shared in the story in the way of major events, important places, and family histories.  I have a crazy urge to up and take a mini vacation this year to visit the town and learn more.  Of course there is always a slow burning romance in these books as well but it doesn't overshadow the story.  It is just a light read, fairly quick. A good, fun paranormal mystery romance. 

If you aren't familiar with Heather Graham's Krewe of Hunters stories, they usually come in threes.  You can read them in almost any order.  The only benefit to reading them in order is that, even though there is one main Krewe member, you often see familiar Krewe characters from past books.  If you want to start from the beginning and read the first three, start with Phantom Evil.  Enjoy!
You can find the full series in order here:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: The Book of Life

After waiting almost two years for this book, I was so excited to finally have it in my hands.  In the months preceding its arrival, I went back and reread most of the first two books.  I fell in love with Matthew and Diana all over again.

Synopsis from Amazon
After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

My Review:
I had at first worried that it would be hard to get back into the story after such a long wait but this wasn't the case at all.  I fell right back into the book and all of the original anticipation and excitement returned right away.  I read well into the night until I had no choice but to put it down and go to sleep.

Diana is a power to be reckoned with right from the beginning.  Her fierce love for her family, both old and new pushes her forward.  Her transformation as she learns more and more about her true power as a witch was fascinating to read and completely unique.  I loved the weaver threads and how they worked and was also thrilled to see Diana finally accept what she was and begin to put her fears aside.  When she fianlly sets her power free, I felt like I was in a movie theater and couldn't take my eyes off the page.

The plots were all equally engaging.  I prayed for our characters to find a cure for blood rage, that the babies to be born safe and healthy, and for Matthew to successfully create his family, and of course, for evil Benjamin to be destroyed. I have to say that Benjamin was the cruelest of villains and I had chills when reading the scenes where he was committing his crimes.  He was truly frightening.  I could feel the family's fear as if it were real and dreaded the moment when he would do more than just threaten to re-enter their lives. Creating such an effective villain is tough so hats off to Deborah Harkness for making such a dark creature.

The setting was just gorgeous no matter where our characters traveled.  Sept-Tours, London, the college campus, the library.  Every place was described perfectly, with just the right amount of detail.  It makes the reader want to travel to these destinations as well.  I wanted nothing more than to step right into Sept-Tours and experience the towers and the great rooms within, to see the ghosts, and tour the halls.

The characters and their bonds with one another are what make this story so engaging. Characters from all of the books are present and the main group are all loyal friends or family to Matthew and Diana.  I was thrilled to see a few characters from Shadow of Night who I thought were gone for good.  To see such a diverse group of family and friends go to such lengths to protect one another from harm, no matter if they were human or creature, was lovely.

This book was just as bewitching as the first two and if I had the time, I would have read it in one day. Although I am sad to see it be over, I know that I will be re-reading these books in the future and sharing them with my kids once they are old enough to read them.  The whole series gets 5+ stars from me.  Thank you to Deborah Harkness for such great stories. I can't wait to see what you write for us next.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (August 20)

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

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

Title: Mortal Heart (book 3 of His Fair Assassins)

Author: Robin LaFevers
Publication date: November 4, 2014


In the powerful conclusion to Robin LaFever's New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins trilogy, Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind, doesn’t mean she has.

What book are you waiting on this week?  

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: Opposition

I couldn't wait to get my hands on Opposition so when it came out, I grabbed it immediately and pushed it to the top of my TBR list, and that list has been getting pretty long lately with all of the great books being released this summer. I spent most of my day reading it on the beach yesterday (except for when the kids dragged me into the water) and I finished it last night after they went to bed.  It was a perfect ending to a truly thrilling ride.  I'm just sad it is over.

Synopsis from Amazon:
Katy knows the world changed the night the Luxen came. She can’t believe Daemon stood by as his kind threatened to obliterate every last human and hybrid on Earth. But the lines between good and bad have blurred.
Daemon will do anything to save those he loves, even if it means betrayal. But when it quickly becomes impossible to tell friend from foe, and the world is crumbling around them, they may lose everything to ensure the survival of their friends…and mankind.

My Review:
Talk about starting off with a bang!  We begin right where we left off. The Luxen have come. Daemon, Dawson, and Dee are with the enemy, and Archer and Katy are with Beth, trying to stay hidden and alive.  This story was a page turner from the very beginning. To be honest, although I had a feeling that everything would end well, there were a few really tragic moments for our characters that had me wondering how it would all pan out.  

Daemon is for the most part, his usual self.  He is sizzling hot, mouthy, and flies off the handle whenever Katy is threatened.  He is the ultimate book boyfriend for those of us who like a little bit of bad-ass with our swoon.  Katy learns just how brave and strong she is in this story.  She goes through what most people don't have to deal with in a lifetime and still comes out of it sane because she has Daemon at her side.  She still however, could be very vulnerable at times which I thought was important because it kept that original Katy with us throughout.  I was thrilled to see her inner book nerd revisited toward the end of the story.  If she had become too desensitized, the dynamic between she and Daemon wouldn't have been the same.  

Aside from our main dynamic duo, Archer was my favorite character.  He was the perfect amount of arrogant but would do just about anything to keep his friends safe, especially Katy.  I loved when she would have all the deep thoughts and he would suddenly comment on them sarcastically or when she would think of a question and he would just answer. Daemon hated it and that made it even funnier at times.  Archer's developing romance with Dee wasn't overpowering because it hadn't really been developed earlier on but I was glad to see that he fell for someone other than Katy and had his chance.  

The suspense and action in the book was almost non-stop and there were moments where it wasn't clear who would live and who would die.  I have to end this review by saying thank you to Jennifer Armentrout. There have been a lot of series endings over the past years that have really been, let's say... disappointing, at least for me.  With the Lux series, I was completely satisfied with the ending. Tragedy and Triumph were both present and although I closed the book smiling, I was also feeling bittersweet and full of hope for the fictional future.

This was a five star book and a five star series for me.  Engaging and enjoyable from beginning to end.  If you haven't grabbed this series yet or you are on the fence, it is worth the read.  :)


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review: Dangerous Reflections

Dangerous Reflections by Shay West was generously given to me in exchange for an honest review.  I accepted because I loved the cover as soon as I saw it, the title was intriguing, and from reading the teaser, the story had a lot of potential. I had a few books ahead of it on my TBR list but I was excited to get started.

The main character of Alex is your typical teen who has a lot on her plate. She is dealing with what a lot of kids have to deal with.  Her father has left and she and her mother have to move away.  I get it because my parents separated when I was young and we also had to move.  I could empathize with her and how angry she was at having to leave her life and her friends behind.  Alex is a fun character and the new friends she makes are also likable, especially Jennifer.  Readers will be happy with the set of characters they are introduced to.

The plot was actually great for a YA story.  I love the idea of looking into a mirror and seeing someone from the past looking back at you, being compelled to touch the mirror and then thrown into the past to save it from being changed.  Truly a great idea!  The book stays focused on Alex figuring out what is happening to her and trying to control her time travel.  Each time she went back to the past, I enjoyed figuring out which historical figure she had to save.  While their wasn't really any romance in this book, there was some of the usual teen angst so I'm sure something will develop in the future.

I have two wishes for the story.  One, I think it could have been longer and had more historical detail each time she went back in time.  Part of what I love about historical books is the learning about history.  Plus, I loved the mystery of the "man" who she kept seeing and feeling connected to.  Maybe this will be her future romance? Second, the story ended quite abruptly with no teaser of another book on the way even though I am pretty sure there is going to be a second story.  I would have liked this first installment to wrap up a bit more.  I have so many questions! :)

All in all however, this book was fun and original for this age group.  I hope to read the second one when it come out and see where Alex travels to next and find out more about her role as a time protector!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Stacking the Shelves (August 10th)

Stacking The Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and 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!

Well, mine are all ebooks but I have added several over the last week so here they are:

Books I Bought:

ARC books for review:

 What did you stack your shelves with this week?


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Blog Tour: Haunting

Title: Haunting (The Willow Creek Vampire Series)
Author: Stephanie Summers
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publication Date: July 29, 2014

After reading Stephanie Summer's first book in this series, Craving, I was happy to be offered to join the tour and write a review for the second book, Haunting

Sabine Crowley is adjusting well to her new life at Willow Creek Manor with Remy by her side. That is, until she finds out some devastating news from Bastian. Has Remy been lying all along about his feelings for her? Had she been a fool to believe he really could love her? 

Remy has been accused of trying to leave Sabine and his responsibilities to Bastian behind. He’s been locked up and drained of his lifeblood to the point that he has no memory of what has happened since just after Sabine officially became “his”. 

In a house full of vampires, not being paired has put Sabine into quite the predicament. Luckily for her, she’s managed to make a couple of powerful allies who are more than willing to help her out in any way they can. It’s up to Sabine to figure out the truth about Remy and how the secret of Willow Creek can help or hinder her quest to be free. 

My Review:
Great story!  It began at exactly the point where Craving left off but I knew that trouble had to be brewing because our main couple, Remy and Sabine, just couldn't stay in marital bliss without something trying to tear them apart.  We needed an obstacle in their way and we got it.  Although the super couple remain our main squeeze in the book, we also meet some new characters.  Brendan is a new vamp living at the manor and he isn't exactly the boy next door.  To be honest, I hated him and was hoping that Remy would kill him. We also meet the witch, Mary, and Sam, the shifter.  Both of these characters befriend Sabine and are extremely helpful in her quest to save Remy.  I really liked the addition of witchcraft to the story.  I have a feeling that Sabine may learn a few more spells in the future. We are also introduced to a ghost, some secret rooms, and an age old legend that clears up a lot about why Bastian is so powerful and why the town is so attracted to the supernatural creatures of the world. I really began to dislike Bastian in this story.

I really liked the way the story was put together made perfect sense and was really interesting to read.  There was a nice balance of romance, drama, and action so I really didn't put the book down much at all.  Really only when I absolutely had to.  It was nice to see Sabine happy but to also see the part of her that was feeling heartbroken and neglected by family and old friends. She really grew up in this story.  

My only complaint is that this story seemed to go too fast. I wanted it to last longer!  The way it ended was both awesome and agonizing because I have to wait to find out what happens next.  There are a lot of questions that still need to be answered. Hopefully, I won't have to wait too long.  :)

Pick this book up if you love vampire stories.  Both the buy links and some author links are listed below.  Happy reading!

Author Website: 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Feature and Follow Friday (August 8th)

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. 

Gain new followers and make new friends! If this is your first time, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers -- but you have to know -- the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.  Click on either of the links above or the button to join the fun!

Today's Topic:

Social Share! What is your favorite social network and leave us a link so we can join you!

I am connected to several social networks.  I definitely check my Twitter (@lagnella) and my Facebook (Laura Colby Agnella) every day but I don't use Facebook for my blog at all.  I am really getting to love the Twitter and I share my blog posts through Twitter, Google Plus (laura agnella), and Bloglovin.  I also have Pinterest (lagnella) and use a couple of boards for book related posts.  

Thanks in advance for following! 


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Blog Tour: Murder at Cold Creek College

Murder at Cold Creek College
(Cold Creek #1)
Cozy Mystery
File Size: 632 KB
Print Length: 340 pages

Sheridan Hendley is a professor and psychologist, not a sleuth. When her colleague at Cold Creek College, Adam Millberg, is murdered, she is charged with helping the Detective assigned to the case. Immediately, her good friend becomes the prime suspect and Sheridan is motivated to help solve the case and prove Kim isn’t guilty. It also becomes apparent that Sheridan is attracted to the handsome Detective. As Sheridan tries to implement the crisis plan on campus and connect all the people in Adam’s life, she finds that many women have a motive for Adam’s murder. Slashed tires are the first indication that Sheridan’s involvement is obviously making someone nervous.

My Review:

This cozy was a good one. In fact, it was great!  Sometimes I find that the cozies I read are lacking in one area or another.  I enjoy them, but they are also easy to put down and pick up later.  Not this one. The biggest draw for me was that it was totally engaging from beginning to end.  Truly interesting to read, I found myself creating theories about characters right from the start. Each character was unique in personality and several could have committed the crime.  I was happy to find that I couldn't predict who the real murderer was until I got to the last few chapters of the book.  

I really liked the main character, Sheridan.  She was easy to relate to and I could easily see someone like her in the real world.  The fact that she was in her forties, divorced, and worked full-time makes her someone readers can connect with.  Her romance with McMann was slow to emerge in the story and didn't overtake the drama as it unfolded.  It was well portrayed. 

I also enjoyed learning about life at a small four year college and seeing the personal and professional turmoil that ensued when something big like this happened in such a small town.  There was a decent amount of action once the story began coming to a head. It kept me turning the pages and there was no way I was putting the book down once the suspense began!  I found that I was satisfied with the ending and was thrilled to find out that there was another book coming in the series.  I will definitely be picking it up very soon.  If you like cozies, this is one not to miss!

About This Author
Christa Nardi is and always has been an avid reader. Her favorite authors have shifted from Carolyn Keene and Earl Stanley Gardner to more contemporary mystery/crime authors over time, but mystery/crime along with romance are her preferred choices for leisure reading. Christa also has been a long time writer from poetry and short stories growing up to technical, research, and nonfiction in her professional life. With Murder at Cold Creek College, Christa is joining many other reader/writers in writing one genre she enjoys reading – the cozy mystery. Christa Nardi is a pen name for a real life professor/psychologist from the Northeast.


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