The man yanked Harley up from her seat, still keeping the gun on her, and pulled her across the hall, kicking open the door where Caelum was being held.
He was being held still by two men, while the one woman held a silver blade to his throat. The third man had a gun pulled on him from the corner of the room. His wrists were bright red, as was the area of his neck where the blade touched. The silver was burning him. They had figured out he was a shapeshifter.
“What are you waiting for? Kill him!” the man holding her commanded.
Everything after seemed to happen in slow motion. The woman dug the tip of the blade into his throat and moved it downward, obviously to stab his heart and kill him. Caelum gasped and closed his eyes, absolutely helpless. He looked ready to swoon from the pain.
Harley’s body began to tingle from head to toe as her magic blossomed within her, hot and angry and ready to strike as though it was a living thing.
The man holding her let go abruptly, as her magic burnt him, eyes wide as he stared at her.
She paid him no mind, however. Her eyes, and her heart, were on Caelum.
“No!” she cried, and at her word, as though it was a command, her magic seemed to break free, uncontrolled and harsh. The cuffs holding her snapped apart and fell to the ground with multiple clinks while her green magic flew out, attacking every single human in the room. As if it were a wave, it dispersed, knocking all six humans into the walls. Now not held up by anyone, Caelum fell in a heap to the ground, blood slowly dripping from his wounds.
No longer shaking and filled with brimming magic, Harley rushed forward, not checking on a single human. She kicked the knife out of the way and felt for a pulse on Caelum. It was there, they hadn’t reached his heart yet when her magic had stopped them.
“Caelum,” she whispered, feeling her hand tremble as she held her palm over his wounds. “Plaga reparo,” she cast over and over, until he was no longer leaking blood. Without saying a word, her magic went out on its own once more and shattered the handcuffs so that he was no longer burning. Gingerly, she took his hands in hers and healed the round burn marks on his wrists.
People clattered behind her and she leapt up, ready to defend them both if need be. But to her surprise, she saw Director Mancini and three other agents from the PID. Judging by the Dark energy, two of those agents were vampires.
“What happened here?” Mancini asked, looking around.
“We found the hunters’ lair,” Harley replied. “I will fill you in later; Caelum needs help. He fainted as they were trying to stab him with a silver blade.”
Mancini went down by Caelum and said, “I believe he’s simply unconscious now, but we will take him back to the PID and get a Medic to look at him. Are you all right?”
“Yes, sir,” Harley said.
“How the Hell did you knock them all out?” one of the other agents asked, nudging one of the hunters with her boot.
“I–” She wasn’t sure what to say. To admit that she didn’t have full control of her magic to the paranormal police was a bad idea.
“Never mind. Are they all alive?” Mancini asked.
“Not this one.” The other vampire agent pointed to the woman who had held the knife to Caelum’s throat. “Her skull’s been shattered.”
Where has this year gone!! I read a lot of good books this year, partook in lots of book tours, both as a participant and helping run them with the #AusYABloggers. But I also had a lot of moments where I just wanted to give up on this review blog gig. My reading goals for next year, in an attempt to make my way out of this funk and save myself from burn out, is to read less review copies and focus on the books that I’ve purchased over the years because I wanted to read them and then never got the time to.
I accomplished some of the things I had intended to in 2019, but there were three major things I never got to. 1) Lose weight. I’m currently on prescribed pain meds, anti-inflammatory meds and anti-depressants, all as a way to try and help me live with my Arthritis. I would like to get down to as low of a weight as is healthy for my height-age ratio, to try and help ease the strain on my joints. But lets be real, I’ve been trying to lose weight my entire life. So don’t hold your breath for me. 2) Creating a back catalog of my reviews. Currently if you go into the review catalog of this blog I only have this years listed – argh so many old reviews to go through. 3) I never got around to re-editing and submitting a manuscript I had been working on in previous years. So those are my first priority (after my kids and the Camp Quality FunX4) for me in 2020. I will be helping to run (and take part in) two reading challenges, which I believe will help me accomplish my reading goals for next year.
Reading Challenge One: If you are after a easy, fun, social and super chill reading challenge for next year, then take a look at the #AusYABloggers 2020 Reading Challenge There are prizes up for grabs and you only have to read a book a month, that fits that months theme to qualify.
The themes are:
January – New Beginnings
February – Fun in the sun
March – Lost and Found
April – Spookalicious
May – After Dark
June – Coming Out
July – Indigenous Voices
August – Tropes-ahoy
September – Awesome Anthologies
October – Mental Health
November – Glorious Graphics
December – Happy Holidays
Find out more HERE
Reading Challenge Two: If you want to slash your TBR and are an Instagram user then #TBRtrim20 could be for you. This one also has prizes up for grabs and you can totally do both challenges at the same time, I will be! Even doing both you are only committing yourself to reading a minimum of three books a month – obviously you can read MORE if you are able/want to.
I’m really not sure how to wrap this post up – I hope you all have a fantastic festive season and happy new year. I’ve still got one or two more reviews to put up before the 31st. This isn’t suppose to be goodbye from me for the year (hehehe we’ll see). I’m just doing this post now, in case I get too busy with the silly season to do it later.
XOXO Sarah 🙂
Daughter of Rage and Beauty
Berserker Academy Book 1
by Amy Pennza
Genre: Adult, Urban Fantasy, Romance
The sagas claim you can’t fight fate. I’m determined to prove them wrong. They say your twenties are supposed to be the best years of your life.
Clearly, they don’t know what they’re talking about.
Because right now, my life is in shambles. As the daughter of one of the most powerful berserkers in the world, I should be taking my place among the noble guild of berserker assassins. By now, I should have mastered my emotions and conquered my rage—all the better to use it as a weapon when called upon to kill.
But I’m not just Harald Berregaard’s daughter. My mother was a nymph, which makes me a magical mutt. When I was born, my father thought I might possess the best traits from both races.
He was wrong.
Now he’s shipping me off to the Berserker Academy, where the unofficial motto is “graduate or die.”
With the stakes this high, I can’t afford to get distracted. Too bad the academy’s headmaster keeps showing up at the most inconvenient moments, reminding me how much I suck at magic. And fighting. And basic conversation.
It doesn’t matter that he does it with a smile. Or that his eyes fire silver when he’s amused . . . or aroused. Hauk Sigridsson has his own problems. He’s not going to be one of mine.
On the other hand, he’s offered me a way to accelerate my studies and make it out of the academy alive. I just have to help him steal a priceless rock and defeat one of the most powerful immortals to have ever lived.
No big deal.
I’m in way over my head, but I’m determined to survive. They say you can’t fight fate. I’m going to show fate exactly what I’m made of.
The story opens with Elin approaching BjØrneskalle Castle, home to the Berserker Academy (think of it as an assassin’s university), in a car with her father. The tension in the story builds as they get nearer and nearer – A fantastic hook in! It had me. I needed to find out what was going to happen and what this Berserker Academy was all about.
Elin is our POV character: She comes across as sweet, yet powerful and was easily likeable. Elin mother was a nymph, so she’s half Fae – She soon finds that this is disliked by some of the other students. For the first half of this book I felt Elin was younger than her 21 years. She had lived a life away from most of the berserkers, being home schooled up until the start of the book. Elin had spent her whole life being put down by her unsupportive hatful father, Harald, and being at the Academy was the first time she was able to live out from under his thumb. But early on I kept thinking she felt younger, and I’ve put this down to the Vampire Academy mixed with Norse mythology vibe that was going on – FYI I was loving that vibe, it just felt more high school than university.
Hauk our love interest: Hauk Sigridsson, the headmaster of BjØrneskalle. I never really got a gage on how old Hauk was. As the reader we surmise that he came into his high position at the Berserker Academy due to his superior fighting skills and his legendary Mother’s supreme warrior reputation, not his age. It is only remarked that age is hard to determine with Mythicals, and that the eyes are the only way to tell. It is said he had young eyes.
Hauk trains one on one with Elin, at first seemly to help her catch up and adjust to academy life. This storyline changes as Haul asks Elin to accompany him on a dangerous quest. A quest that involves traveling into dangerous lands, dealing with deadly Fae, fighting desire and recovering the prized immorality stone.
I must say that I did love that gender did not factor into how good of a warrior you were. The girls and the guys were equally kick ass.
There were events near the end of the book that I didn’t see coming. I actually said Oh Shit out loud at one point. A book hasn’t blindsided me like that in ages – cheers to you Amy Pennza.
The classification: This book is listed as Adult Urban Fantasy Romance. I assumed there would be graphic sex coming at some point and that’s why this was classed as an adult book, rather than New Adult. The sex doesn’t come to later in the book and it is primal, it’s hot and heavy and at one point I stopped and thought – Yes, I can see why she’s made Elin 21 or the whole thing Hauk wouldn’t have worked, and I don’t think I’d have been comfortable reading those scene knowing the character as any younger. I don’t think you necessarily need to be an adult to read this story. 17-year-old me would have loooooved this book. I mean come on, kids these days are watching worse stuff on the internet, at least Hauk and Elin care about each other and aren’t some pool boy and horny housewife combo – that’s all I’m saying.
All in all, I did enjoy this book. The writing flowed well and the fast, yet steady pacing made for a quick and entertaining read. I would happy read more works by Amy Pennza.
About the author: Amy Pennza has been a lawyer, a soldier, and a copywriter. She’s worn combat boots and high heels in the same 24-hour period–and she definitely prefers flip flops. Actually, she prefers going barefoot while writing steamy romances about strong women and alpha men with hearts of gold. After years in Tornado Alley, she now makes her home in the Great Lakes region with her husband, kids, and more baskets than any one person should own. (You can never have enough.)
A demon haunts Samantha Green’s dreams.
And she fears it’s coming for her…
When wildlife prodigy Sam and her crush—quirky handsome Jake—are attacked by a dragon assassin, Sam discovers her secret past. A past connected to a supernatural giant cat and a glowing faerie.
Sam is quickly pulled into a high stakes battle for the world. Everyone, including a creepy ancient villain, wants her supernatural staff, which she doesn’t know how to use. Sophisticated ninja dragons, a kong-sized gorilla, and mysterious beasts offer help—but are they friends or enemies? Sam has a big heart, but will her love for all creatures tear her life apart?
To survive the hardest choice she’s ever made, Sam will have to unlock the hidden power inside her.
Ready or not, Sam is about to find out if she has what it takes to be a guardian…
Guardian: The Choice is the new exciting start of a magic-filled fantasy four book series starring a powerful heroine, a tough brawny hero, and a slew of not-so-friendly magical beasts.
A fantasy thriller series loved by readers of all ages that will keep you turning the pages late into the night.
Sam and Jake are both suffering from strange dreams and day visions, when they are attacked out in the wilderness on Sam’s family’s wildlife Sanctuary, by what appears to be an extremely oversized Komodo Dragon that can talk. Then a special military branch, a tactical squad called VIPER, turns up and things only get worse.
Sam and Jake struggle to grasp what is a happening as it becomes apparent someone, or something has modified their memories. VIPER has footage of them fighting alongside and with extremely and abnormally large animals, but they have no recollection of the event.
From one battle to the next, this story has the main characters in constant turmoil. Oh, these poor darn kids were so confused with who to trust the entire time. This story is a high speed roller-coaster.
With family and friends lives in danger, not to mention the fate of two whole worlds, Sam and Jake have no choice but to figure out what’s going on, who they should trust and who they should be helping – and fast.
I enjoyed the world Saign has created and really liked the animals and their way of controlling energy. POV Sam was easily likable, but Jake got on my nerves at bit. I think that the characters worked well as a friendship, but I didn’t feel any real romantic tension between them, not that that was a problem really, as there was so much else going on in the book.
About the Author:
Award-winning author Geoffrey Saign has spent many years studying kung fu and sailed all over the South Pacific and Caribbean. He uses that experience and sense of adventure to write the Jack Steel and Alex Sight thriller action series.
Geoff’s love of wildlife led him to write the award-winning fantasy series, Magical Beasts. He is also the author of a stress reduction book, and Green Essentials which won national recognition. Geoff has a degree in biology and has assisted in field research on hummingbirds and humpback whales. For decades he has taught challenged adults and children everything from sailing to self-awareness and novel writing.
Geoff loves to sail big boats, hike, and cook—and he infuses all his writing with his passion for nature. As a swimmer, he considers himself blessed to live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota.
The Veiled Threat (The Veiled Duchess #1) by Sophia Menesini
Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQ+, New Adult, Romance
Publication: June 30th 2019
Source: Review copy from Xpresso Tours – Thank You
Add to Goodreads
Rating: ✵ ✵ ✵ ✵ ✵
Captain Shea Lara is the current leader of The Veiled Duchess. The most feared pirate ship in all of Neried. And now, after completing her former mentor’s final score, she’s retiring. Everything seems to be coming to an end… Until a mysterious stranger drags her back into the fold with an offer for a score she can’t refuse. All she has to do is kidnap the crowned princess of the northern Queendom, Princess Joana of Arethusa.
The prize is just within reach. But sparks fly as the two women collide. And an obscured threat that could upturn Shea’s entire world storms on the horizon. She’ll face it alone unless she can allow herself the support she needs from old and new allies alike. Something’s coming and Shea is at the center of it.
The Veiled Threat is the first book in the action-packed New Adult romantic fantasy series, The Veiled Duchess.
The story kicks off with The Veiled Duchess captain, Shea Lara, and her crew taking down an imperial navy ship. Straight into the pirate action, oh yeah! I was immediately captivated by captain Shae and her swashbuckling crew.
The POV swaps between two Characters – Captain Shae, a 23-yr-old red headed Elven beauty, a vixen and pirate supreme. – And Jo, Crown Princess Joana of Arethusa, a 25 yr-old blond bombshell who is much more than just a pretty face. We travel with Shea for the first six chapters, setting up plot lines and background. We then meet Joana (Jo) at chapter seven.
As the synopsis says Shae is offered a job with a pay day that she cannot refuse. A pay day that she could use to bring an end to the Elven slave trade.
The kidnapping goes off without a hitch, seeming too good to be true, but the kidnapping is only the begging of the adventures that Shae and Jo have. Double crosses, dirty dealings and insider Royal betrayal. Oh and there’s the pesky little problem of Shae and Jo starting to fall in love with each other. The Veiled Duchess’s captain and crew find not only trouble, but love and unlikely allies along the way.
This book is full of evil rulers, slavery, pirates, princesses, passion, power plays, mutiny, girl power and lady on lady love. And has an Epilogue so epic it that makes me not only want to read the next book, but NEEEEED to!
Book two, The Veiled Descendants, BRING IT ON Sophia Menesini!
Sophia Menesini lives in Martinez, CA with her husband, and their two small Chihuahuas, Ziggy and Zeppelin. The Veiled Threat is her first novel and the first book in The Veiled Duchess Series. Sophia is an avid tea connoisseur and lover of Scotland with an unconventional memory for obscure Disney and Broadway song lyrics.
Sealer’s Game (Sealer Saga #1) by Kathy Coleman
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publication: October 22nd 2019
Publisher: Kathy Coleman
Source: Review copy via Xpresso Tours
Add to Goodreads
Hell hath no fury like a goddess scorned…
As Champion, Carita of Bel Auryn thought she would spend her days fighting demons. Instead, she is drawn into the latest scheme of the Moon Goddess, Ruby: a contest to choose a man who will have the “honour” of fathering her child. When Ruby encourages Carita to choose a man for herself, she picks the man she is most drawn to–and immediately regrets it.
Lucian Veradayne is the Lord of Death. He knows he must win Ruby’s game at any cost. It doesn’t matter that he has avoided her for two thousand years. Nor that she tried to kill their first child. And it really doesn’t matter that he would much rather woo Carita. The Soul Well has given Lucian a prophecy: he and Ruby must have another child. A child who will save the world.
Dealing with their mutual attraction will be the least of Lucian and Carita’s problems. They are not the only ones who have been drawn into Ruby’s game. Someone else wants to win. Someone who wants Ruby dead. Will Carita and Lucian be able to protect her long enough for a victor to be named? And if they succeed, will they be able to walk away from each other to ensure the prophecy is fulfilled?
Sealer’s Game is a 55,000 word fantasy romance novella about the King of the Underworld, a kick-butt warrior priestess, and a ruthless goddess who will stop at nothing to get her own way. It contains language, descriptions of violence, and sexual themes that may not be appropriate for all readers. Recommended for ages 18+.
Where to start. I wouldn’t call this an 18+ read. More like a 15+. A mature audience warning, rather than being rated R. I’ve read darker battle scenes and stronger sexual themes in YA. It’s the baby murder in the prologue, that gives it the MA15+ warning from me.
I’m going to have to address it straight up. I found the Prologue destressing and would have stopped reading the book had it not been that I was part of this blog tour. I am glad I kept reading because overall, I did end up being entertained and found the Sealer’s Game to be a quick, easy and enjoyable read.
The realm most of this story takes place in in Zynedia. Kindred are to Zynedia, what humans are to Earth. Earth does exist but it is another realm. A Sealer is what the gods are, their species, like human, or kindred, or bear, or rabbit etc. There is a Greek style Underworld and the dead from Zynedia and Earth end up there. The Sky realm isn’t visited in this story, but I’m sure it will be explored as the story continues in later books. My explanation might seem confusing, but it’s quite easy to follow as the story progresses. Remember I called it a “a quick, easy and enjoyable read.”
The story cycles through three points of view; Ruby, Carita and Lucian.
The first character we meet is Ruby. We’ve just meet Ruby and she’s already murdering a baby she just gave birth to. Yep it took me a while to come back from that and I never really ended up warming to her character (big shock there).
I think in the Prologue you are supposed to feel Lucian is the bad guy? But being that he tried to save the baby and was willing to love it anyway, he felt more like a good guy, even though he was the ruler of the underworld. Lucian Veradayne, the Lord of Death. Hades, he is essentially Hades. There are Greek god vibes all through this book, and that I was into. Even when Ruby was explaining the different realms to Carita and her history with Lucian. I was still left feeling he was the good guy.
To Ruby, Men are nothing but playthings, which I was okay with – It’s the graphic baby killing bit where she lost me. The ice-cold goddess seemed to warm to her mortal servant, and they sort of became friends, kind of.
And that leads us to Carita. Carita is a kindred (think human). I liked Carita. She was traded to the moon temple by her royal parents as a child, for a potion to allow them to conceive a health son. She was a damn princess before becoming a priestess. Hello warrior princess, I see you. She’s spent her life training to be a strong warrior so one day she might be picked by Skye Goddess Ruby as her champion (Champion = protector/maid/squire/toy/go-kill-that-man. Murder slave!)
Conclusion. This book has a Hitmen, secret agreements, fierce women and a prophecy that demands the birth off a child who is of both the underworld and the sky realm – who of cause will be the key to saving all the realms. Harrah! By the end I did feel like all three of the POV characters were hard done by thanks to the damn Prophesy – but that’s prophecies for you. And yeah, I did have some issues with it, but overall! I did end up being entertained and found the Sealer’s Game to be a quick, easy and enjoyable read.
Did the baby get conceived? What becomes of Carita and Lucian’s feeling for each other? You’ll have to read Sealer’s Game to find out.