The Hellearth Saga Book #1

The Last Archangel
The Hellearth Saga #1
Trevor Gates (GoodReads Author)
Self-pub, May 24, 2017, also in paperback
Kindle ed, 736 pages
Genre(s) dystopian adult fantasy, horror
Source Author

Other books in this series: The Infernal Descent (not yet available)

Synopsis
The seas run rotten, polluted by the flesh of millions... The skies grow black and the land barren with grief... The dunes of sand stained with the blood of the damned...in the midst of the Apocalyptic War, Hell and its forces have consumed the Earth in an unprecedented chain of events, perpetuated by Mankind's own evil endeavors. Out of the chaos descended Earth's final hope for salvation: The Archangels. Among them is the young knight Adrian Evangelista, destined for glory but fearful of what will come of him in Humanity's most dire time of need. With the legions of Hell swarming the globe, Adrian must decide what sacrifices he will have to make to ensure his survival as he treads through the wastelands of betrayal, pestilence, greed, lust, war, and death. This version includes new cover artwork by Trevor Gates, as well as additional & extended chapters, and a special sneak preview of the second book in the series, THE INFERNAL DESCENT. This is the brutal, definite, uncensored cut of THE LAST ARCHANGEL: BOOK I OF THE HELLEARTH SAGA, the adult Apocalyptic Fantasy series almost too metal for mere mortals.

About the Author:  
From the mind and soul of TREVOR GATES (AKA The infamous Mr. Gates): A roguish cynic, hopeless romantic, passive idealist, grunge monkey, space hippie, classy occultist, greaser casanova, barbaric weaver of words, He-who-rocks-the-kasbah, heavy metal slave, goth in the closet, and lover of the surreal.

My Disclaimer:  I was provided a free copy of this book by the author. I am providing an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
This book is definitely for those over 18. Actually, I don't think an age limit is the only warning it should have. It should also have a warning for Gratuitous Graphic Sex Gore. At 93% in the book, there is a scene that really isn't necessary. We already understand the guy is sick. This just went too far. So, for those of you who are squeamish, take a pass on this one.

The storyline is good. The whole idea of one last Archangel helping to fight the demons of Hell is awesome. And no trip in the park, either. I understand that. The characters were not as developed as I would have liked. Adrian, of course, is the one who is the most developed. The rest of them were rather two-dimensional for the most part. But there were so many characters, and they passed in and out of Adrian's life, that they didn't really have time to be more than what they were. Like I said, some were a bit more developed than others.

Why do authors write a whole book using big words when small, simple words will get their point across just as well? Then, they can use the big words when it really counts, when they want to emphasize something and really make a point. I've seen this a couple of times lately and again in The Last Archangel. The author uses exaggerated forms of words throughout the book, so, that when he would really like to make a point and the big words would be useful, the reader is tired of seeing the exaggerated forms and doesn't feel the raised tension in the situation. It becomes commonplace and boring. It's when I feel like an author is writing with a thesaurus or writing list.

I cannot stress to independent authors enough that their money is not wasted when they put it into editorial services. Such services could save many a book from reviews such as this. I simply cannot recommend this book.

It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.

A Bucket Full of Awesome
Zainab T. Khan
Publisher & 2015
Kindle ed, 184 pages, also nook and paperback
Genre(s)
Source Author

Synopsis:
"Reasonable things will never bring you joy as much as unreasonable ones do."

Summer Wallace is a wild, crazy girl who simply couldn't care less about her appearance. She strongly believes in the saying, "You Only Live Once", in teenage subculture also known as YOLO. She plays basketball like her life depends on it. Well, it sort of does, she loses one game and there's a dent in her ego, not a small one either.

Meet Blake Walker, her best friend, and her partner-in-crime. Saner of the two, however, together they can turn a rather normal, boring day to a momentously crazy one. But one day changes the course of their lives which leads Summer to make a 'bucket list' and complete it before her whole life takes an 180 degree. Whereas, Blake is determined to keep her as long as he can. And he is perfect for the job. After all, he does know her more than anyone else. And they have no room for regrets. As Summer Wallace says, "There shouldn’t be any space for regrets in our beautiful lives.”


About the Author:
"I promise if you keep searching for everything beautiful in this world you will eventually become it." - Tyler Kent White

Hello, you beautiful person.
The only thing you need to know about is my favorite book boyfriends (Yes, boyfriend(s), deal with it. We all have them.) Jesse de Silva, Maxon Schreave, and Flynn Rider (he's a fictional character too) and of course Adrian Ivashkov. Oh, how I wish I could resist them. But, David 'Tag' Taggert has my heart. Sorry, you four gorgeous guys.

"Negativity isn't the way to go, smile more, eat some chocolate."
- Ed Sheeran.

(And I also love him, maybe more than the above-mentioned guys.) 


My Disclaimer:  I was provided a free copy of this book by the author. I am providing an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review
The reviews for this book are all over the place, literally all up and down from 1 to 5 stars. From people who couldn't even finish reading the book to those who couldn't say enough about it and wanted more of it. So I really wasn't sure what to expect from it. Plus, it's a YA book written by a young woman whose first language is not English. Hmmm.

Well, I gave it 4 stars. Yes, it does need an editor and it probably is due to the fact that the author's first language is not English. Other than that, I really found nothing much wrong with this book.

One person said she couldn't like this book because she couldn't like Summer. She was rude and not even nice to those close to her. Summer is a young woman who has just been told she has lung cancer. So, what did you do on your summer vacation? Well, I fought lung cancer. Yeah. She's a bit rough around the edges and speaks sort of tough. She's given up swearing for the duration of her cancer. And yes, she does come off as rude. But she's unsure and defensive and it's all a front because she's so scared.

I loved Blake, Summer's best friend and getting better. He really is a knight in shiny armor. He's so supportive of her throughout the whole ordeal. And I loved the idea of the bucket list as the supporting structure for all the fun and hijinks. It leads to some really wonderful surprises and friendships.

I can't recommend this highly enough to anyone who needs a good cry. Yes, you will cry.




Legends of Dimmingwood Book One

Magic of Thieves
Legends of Dimmingwood, Book 1
C. Greenwood
Self-pub, Nov 27, 2012
Kindle ed, 191 pages, also available in paperback and audible
Genre(s) Dystopian Fantasy, YA
Source Author's newsletter

Other books in this series: Betrayal of Thieves, Circle of Thieves, Redemption of Thieves, Journey of Thieves, and Rule of Thieves

Synopsis:  
In a province where magic is forbidden and its possessors are murdered by the cruel Praetor, young Ilan, born with the powerful gift of her ancestors, has only one hope for survival. Concealment. In the shadow of Dimmingwood, she finds temporary protection with a band of forest brigands led by the infamous outlaw Rideon the Red Hand.

But as Ilan matures, learns the skills of survival, and struggles to master the inherent magic of her dying race, danger is always close behind. When old enemies reappear and new friendships lead to betrayal, will her discovery of an enchanted bow prove to be Ilan’s final salvation or her ultimate downfall?


About the Author:  
USA Today bestselling author C. Greenwood started writing stories shortly after learning her ABCs and hasn't put down her pen since. After falling in love with the fantasy genre more than a decade ago, she began writing sword and sorcery novels. The result was the birth of her best-known works, the Legends of Dimmingwood series. In addition to her writing, Ms. Greenwood is a wife and mom and a graphic designer.

My Disclaimer:  I was provided a free copy of this book by the author's newsletter. I am providing an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
C. Greenwood is one smart lady! She has hooked up with a fantastic artist for her cover art and kept the cover art consistent through all of the Dimmingwood books. Too many self-published authors don't have great cover art and don't stay consistent with the art or look of their books throughout a series or related series. The eye-catching art created by Michal Gauss has served her well in the marketplace and been worth whatever it cost. It has given her instant identification early on.

Writing in first-person makes book one a bit of a diary type piece, but the drama of the story carries it through. I mean, Dad goes back to stall the Praetor's Fist so that you and Mom can escape. Then Mom goes back to stall them so you can escape. Then you're attacked and taken away. Raised in the woods. You literally stumble across a magic bow in a barn. All this time you are wandering around with a little flame of magic in you that you don't quite know how to use. And you're the only female in a male environment.

There's good pacing throughout the story letting you take in the details you need to absorb. There's not a lot of scenery, but there's plenty of action and dialogue. The ending isn't exactly a cliffhanger, but it does lead you towards book two rather firmly. And there were enough loose ends in the book to make you want to find out what happened to this or that. Personally, I'd like to locate Hadrian. And I think Ilan would, too. I'd like to know more about the magical bow. And I'd like to know about Ilan's magic and see her learn to use it. It's frustrating to her as it is. And, of course, the words on her mother's brooch. Those need to be explained, too.

The fact that the titles of this series all have the word "thieves" in them tells me that Ilan doesn't really ever cut her ties with the band in the woods. Is it still Rideon the Red Hand in charge through all this? And is Terran still with the thieves? Or does he ever get his chance to train as a priest?

I was confused by the number of two-star reviews for this book. I'm not sure what these people were looking for when they read it. But it has an interesting storyline and plenty of action. It definitely sets itself up well to continue into the series the author has obligingly written for us. I feel it is well-deserving of the 4 stars I gave it. And I am looking forward to reading more of the series. The cover art is so appealing, I would get it to see more of that! I wish more authors paid such attention to this important detail.

I wholeheartedly recommend this young-adult fantasy book to you and feel sure that you and I will both be reading the whole series in time.



Asking Bestio for advice? Maybe not.

Bittersweet Sanctuary
The Bittersweet Series Book #1
TaM D'Lyte
Self-pub, Feb 28, 2017, Kindle ed, 317 pages
Genre(s) Contemporary Romance, Debut Novel
Source Author

Other books in this series: coming soon 

Synopsis:  
Putting her black ops past in the rear view mirror, Terese hit the road like a modern-day gypsy, pounding along the asphalt highway, staying nowhere long enough to be found. She’d saved a few lives . . . and took a few that needed taking. The death, the blood, the dirty deeds, stored in a corner of her mind she never visited. But there was one life she couldn't save that would never go into that dark corner. That one was constantly there, day and night, that small face looking up at her.

And then Alex. The man who wanted her, loved her, struggled to understand her, but above all, offered something to her she’d never had . . . a normal life. How could she allow someone like Alex into the mortal peril that pursued her? He’d be eaten alive.

She’d only failed the one mission. But it had been the most important one. Can she forgive herself for the evil of others? Only second chances will tell . . .


NOTE: Intended for 18+ due to child endangerment; swearing; explicit sexual content; not a cozy story . . . at all!

About the Author:  
When I was seven, I was bored. That happened a lot when I was a kid since I’m an only child! :) I whined to my dad, “I’m bored!” His response, with a magnanimous wave of a hand, “There’s a bookcase. Go get a book.” So, I grabbed the biggest, brightest book there (a college biology book) and began from the beginning. It took a long time, a looong time to finish that book. Never one to do anything by halves, I wanted to be an actress, a vet and an astronaut--simultaneously, of course--but decided to be a horse trainer instead. (Really? A horse trainer? Yes, what of it?) No, I’m not a horse whisperer. A horse doesn’t care what you whisper at it. A horse wants apples, carrots, and cookies. Especially cookies. Just like people. ;) I’m also not a cowgirl (cows scare me!) and I don’t race my horses. Sigh . . . I’ve heard it all a million times! LOL Anyways, my mom was a reader, books tucked everywhere around my childhood home, and my dad was a writer, little half-finished stories under the coffee table and between the cushions. I’ve acquired both habits on a grander scale (remember, nothing by halves? LOL) and have boxes of books above your head filling up a whole room and my computer hard drive filled up with bits and bytes of half-finished stories. It’s a disease, I kid you not! 

My Disclaimer:  I was provided a free copy of this book by the author. I am providing an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
This is such a great book! The characters are fairly well developed and you get a bit more insight into things as you go along. There is obviously a lot in Terese's background that's dark and scary and that she really doesn't want to talk about, but it may not stay in her past.

I absolutely love Bestio. He's the perfect touch. A really great sidekick for Terese. He's beautiful, well cared-for, and well-school. It was such a touching scene and revealed so much about her feelings for children when she gave rides to all those children. And Alex watches the whole scene. Later on, he asks Bestio for advice! Not that it does him any good.

The relationship between Alex and Nick was great, too. The solidity of it gave Alex the security to take chances. I love Nick's loyalty.

The way the author wrote scenes was awesome. So very descriptive that you could see it all. You weren't just being told what was going on, you could see it as it happened. That window scene was so dramatic. I felt like I watched it in slow motion.

And now there's Malice. What part did he play in her past and what does he plan to do now? I have to read the second book, obviously. I suggest you get started on book one and I'll go find out when the second one is due out.




Typically a Female Written Genre...

Eccentric Intimacy:
Love Like a Fairy Tale
Adam Lynch
Self-Pub, May 1, 2017
Kindle ed, 252 pages, also available in paperback
Genre(s) Contemporary Romance, Christian
Source Author

Synopsis
He’s no normal person—but that’s what intrigues her the most. And he likes the fact that he can’t deduce everything about her at first glance. She does things that aren’t recognizable—simply because these things are original. There’s something about these two that makes the other curious—and that curiosity is what unconsciously keeps them together longer than they’ve ever been with anyone else before. 

They share dreams of old-fashioned romances, but as irresistible as they find each other, can they wait that long? What about trust when their relationship gets more intimate? Can she accept vulnerability in exchange for the love that he wants to give her? And can he be patient with her when she starts doing insensible things that he doesn’t understand? Are they really meant to be like the universe keeps suggesting, or is all this a wishful fairy tale in their own minds?

About the Author:  
No information is available.

My Disclaimer:  I was provided a free copy of this book by the author. I am providing an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
Writing a romance novel is not an easy thing. Ask any of the many women who write them. Very rarely do you see a man take on the task. It's typically a female written genre. I think that perhaps it should stay that way.

The story line of this book was easy enough to follow, but the way the story was told, was absolutely crazy. The characters were not well developed. At least not well enough to survive what they went through. The story was choppy and the flow was broken up by all the preaching. The Christian aspect of it was totally overwhelming. I have never read a Christian novel with anywhere near so much preachiness in it. It came off as pompous and boastful. 

That suits the main female character quite well. She claims to be a Christian and an artist. She's rich and throws her money around to have her own way. She drinks more than she can handle on several occasions. She's often rude. She's very attractive and uses her looks to get her way. And she's a tease with men.

The description of the trip to Kenya, which should have been amazingly graphic, sounded like it had been written by a teenage girl in her diary and was being read back to us after the fact. It had no feeling in it. This was a place they were supposed to relate to passionately.

An editor is needed to handle the misuse of words and to tone down the aggrandizement of a lot of the words that were used. Simple straightforward words will serve better in many cases.

I'm sorry that I couldn't give this book a better rating. I had been looking forward to reading it for awhile. But the amount of sermonizing and the way the author handled the story simply didn't justify it in my mind. I've read romances of all types, Christian included. That's not to say that there isn't room for new things. But if I wanted a sermon, I'd go to church. When I want a romance to read, I open a book. Opening this one was definitely disappointing. I simply cannot recommend it.







  

The Final Book in the Grimoire Saga

Illusion
Grimoire Saga #4
S.M. Boyce (GoodReads Author)
Kindle ed, 269 pages, Nov 2014
Also available in paperback and audiobook
Genre(s) Fantasy, Dystopian
Source Kindle

Other books in this series: Lichgates #1, Treason #2, Heritage #3

Synopsis:  
The final chapter in the war for Ourea ends with blood.

Kara Magari is an icon. A hero. The people love her. The royalty tolerates her. She has everything—an army, allies, and a close circle of chosen family. They believe she will end the war, and they shouldn’t. She’s as scared as they are. She just can’t show it.

The war she accidentally started ends with a final battle that will either save or enslave her people. She will do anything to win—until she learns the cost of victory.

Braeden Drakonin is afraid of what he’ll become when he takes over his father’s kingdom—that much authority can change a man. But his father has already tried to kill him more than once, and it’s time to end his reign. Braeden’s armies are ready. His strategy is foolproof. His generals are waiting for the order to attack. It’s only in the final seconds before the battle begins that he realizes he missed one crucial detail—the traitor. 


About the Author:  
S. M. Boyce is a lifelong writer with a knack for finding adventure and magic.

My Disclaimer:  I purchased this book for full price at Kindle Books. I am providing an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. I don't know who said that, but they were right. And in this series you see it happen over and over again. Ms. Boyce has done a wonderful job of showing it time and time again. In so many of the characters, the power has done terrible things to them. Destroyed them. Even the best of them have had to battle against the pull of the power. Look at what Braedon has gone through to overcome the pull of his power just while he is a prince. Imagine what being a Blood will be like for him. And for Kara with her grandfather's legacy awoken, she has to wear the wrist guard just to keep it in check. Even then she is incredibly powerful. If she weren't also incredibly good, she could be as awful as some of the monsters in Ourea.

We've come down to the last book. The days before the big battle. Braedon and Kara are desperate for some time alone. They want to cement their relationship before events can possibly tear them apart. Things never go quite the same when you mix a human into yakona rites. But Kara has something that's uniquely their own that will make up for it.

The allies know they have a traitor, but they've been so busy they have sort of forgotten about that as they draw near to battle time. Now, as they march off to meet the enemy it occurs to Braedon, who is it and how will they interfere? Well, of course, they find out in a big way.

Each Blood has been assigned one of Kara's people for communications. All the armies are in place. Timing has been worked out for each to move. One by one the armies make their moves until the traitor makes a move that brings chaos to coordination. Can Kara, Braedon, and their forces counter the traitor's move? Will Braedon face his father and fight? And what comes after the war? Will there be peace? Who will be in charge?

Read this book, Illusion, Grimoire Saga #4, to find out the final answers.
-----------------------------------------
This completes my requirement for the COYER Can You Read A Series In A Month Challenge June 2017   
  

Who's the mistake and who's the murderer?

The Westing Game
Ellen Raskin
Speak (Penguin Books) 2004
Kindle ed, 204 pages, also available in hardcover, paperback, and audiobook
Genre(s) middle grade, puzzle-mystery
Source Kindle Books

Synopsis:  
A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger—and a possible murderer—to inherit his vast fortune, one thing for sure: Sam Westing may be dead…but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!

About the Author:  
Ellen Raskin was a writer, illustrator, and designer. She was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and grew up during the Great Depression. She primarily wrote for children. She received the 1979 Newbery Medal for her 1978 book, The Westing Game.

Ms. Raskin was also an accomplished graphic artist. She designed dozens of dust jackets for books, including the first edition of Madeleine L'Engle's classic A Wrinkle in Time.

She married Dennis Flanagan, editor of Scientific American, in 1965. Raskin died at the age of 56 on August 8, 1984, in New York City due to complications from connective tissue disease.


My Disclaimer:  I purchased this book at full price at Kindle Books on Amazon. I am providing an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own unless otherwise stated.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
My husband came home the other night and tossed a book on the loveseat next to me and said that his class was reading it and he thought I might like it. Mr. Easley teaches 6th grade. I thumbed through it and told him I'd take a look at it. As usual, he was right. I have to give him credit, he really is good at picking out books that might interest me.

This is a puzzle-mystery written by Ellen Raskin in 1978, She won a Newbery Award for it in 1979. Who am I to argue with the Newbery Award committee? I'm just the reviewer. I gave it an enthusiastic 5 stars.

If I had to choose a favorite character out of the sixteen, I'm not sure who it would be. One of them is a mistake. One of them is a murderer. A judge and a doctor. A track star. A secretary. A dressmaker and a Chinese cook. 

I'm sure Turtle is the usual choice. She's certainly the most outstanding character. But more than any one character, I loved the pairings. At first glance, the pairings didn't seem to work at all. How were these people to get along well enough to actually solve the riddles presented to them? 

What could possibly come of the pairing of Mrs. Hoo and Dr. Wexler? Mrs. Hoo didn't even speak English and all she thought about was returning to China and cooking the food ordered in the restaurant. Dr. Wexler was a podiatrist and married to social-climbing Grace. He's the father to Angela and Turtle. But Grace sees her husband as useless socially and so pays him little attention. Mr. Hoo pays Mrs. Hoo little attention also. She's his second wife and not content. As long as she cooks, he's not too worried about her. She has no friends and doesn't speak the language. Dr. Wexler is a caring man who likes to take care of people. So, each day Dr. Wexler has lunch at the restaurant and starts teaching Mrs. Hoo words in English. They become friends and both of them are happier. Simpatico! A very beneficial pairing. All the other pairings are the same way. Each member of the pairings finds something in their partner to benefit themselves.

Mr. Easley said that he liked the scene when the pairings were reshuffled the best. That's just like him. It's something he'd do with his students.

I preferred the ending scene when Turtle is saying her goodbyes and giving an update on what's what with everyone. It brought me to tears. I'm a sap for a sad scene.

Let's see what the students said about the book...

As far as favorite character goes it was Turtle with 14 out of 20 students choosing her. The fact that she is 14 and they are 11 and 12-year-olds may have something to do with their identification with her as well as her being such an active character. Mr. Easley says, "that makes her human in their eyes".

GA, a 6th-grade girl said, "I really liked the book. I couldn't put it down. I finished it the first day. I was very surprised that I had to work so hard to answer Mr. E's questions. I am now interested in reading more mysteries."

MP, a 6th-grade boy said, "I really enjoyed The Westing Game. It was fun and exciting. I was really mixed up with all the twists and turns. I really like Turtle the best. She was tough and smart."

Thank you for sharing this with me, Mr. Easley and Class! I think this is a book I can recommend for just about anyone of any age!

Dark Solar Book One

Oleander
Dark Solar #1
D.N. Leo (GoodReads Author)
Narrative Land Publishing, Jan 16, 2017
Kindle ed, 330 pages, also available in paperback and audiobook
Genre(s) urban fantasy, sci-fi, time travel romance
Source Author

Other books in this series: Wolfsbane #2, Maikoa #3 and other associated series.

Synopsis:  
When a fairy tale ends up in a bloodbath, virtue rises.

Dinah isn’t just a private investigator, she solves unthinkable mysteries in the multiverse, and has never lost a case until her best friend becomes a victim in a series of mass murders. Someone is toying with the human race and sending threats across the cosmos.

Arik, an Oxford professor in mythology, holds the key to several secrets in the multiverse. When Dinah travels to Earth to seek help from him, they discover one of the secrets he knows could make him the next victim.
As the danger increases, so does their mutual attraction. But fate might have something else in store for them in a twist of a fairy tale.

Dark Solar is an urban fantasy trilogy, full of action, magic, surprises, science and romance. 


About the Author:  
D.N. Leo is an Australian author. She writes science fiction, suspense, mystery, crime and romance, often with a psychic and paranormal twist. Her recent book catalog can be found at www.narrativeland.com/dnleo

My Disclaimer:  I was provided a free copy of this book by the author. I am providing an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
This was a totally new experience for me. This book is such a mix of genres, that I really had to put some thought into how to classify it to shelve it. It's urban fantasy, romance, and sci-fi all rolled into one. It's like a TV show, too. Most books that I've read lately seem to be either first person where you get all the thoughts of that one person and get to know them rather intimately. Or, the author chooses third person omniscient and moves around letting you hear each character's thoughts in turn so that you really get close to the characters. This author chose third person and there were thoughts. However, the thoughts really give us no insight in that way. They function in a more narrative way. We do get the thoughts that Madeline pulls from some people. That's her super power.

This was also my first experience with the multiverse in this way, a more contemporary take on it than what I have experienced before. Previously, it was more an invasive sort of thing. In this book, they're just on a visit to Earth for some information. Just like I might pop down to Boston for a show. They just popped down to Earth to visit Arik because that's where he happens to be at the time. This is just one of the ways that the author seems to bring a sense of lightheartedness to the book. Very upbeat. Even when the world, or universe if falling apart.

There is no sex in the book, but there is some romance. First there is Ciaran and his wife, Madeline. He absolutely adores her and would go the ends of the universe to make her happy and ensure she was safe. He gets a little bit off when she's in danger. They're cute if you like the constantly adoring type. 

And then there is Arik and Diana. They sort of find each other on the fly. Arik is an Oxford professor who seems to have discovered some of the secrets of the universe. Diana is a private investigator of unusually intriguing events, a chemist and a hacker. Arik and Ciaran have some history that is resolved in this book. Since this series is connected to the other series that the author has written by common characters, this will be good news to those of you who have read her other work.

I think I'm going to finish this series, at least to see just how this all works out. Not that this isn't a standalone. But I think it'll be even more fun in the perspective of its series. And it was fun. Then I may try some of the other series Ms. Leo has on offer. I recommend this book and its series to all those of you who enjoy the urban-sci-fi-romance genre. Ones with lots of action, a fast pace, and a smirk.

The other two books in this series are Wolfsbane #2 and Maikoa #3, and are already available from booksellers. 
  

Family Trees Hide Secrets, too!

Heritage
Grimoire Saga, Book 3
S.M. Boyce (GoodReads Author) 
Kindle ed, Oct. 2013, also in paperback and audiobook
Genre(s) Fantasy, Dystopian
Source Kindle Books

Other books in this series: Lichgates #1, Treason #2, Illusion #4

Synopsis:  
Kara Magari isn't normal, even by Ourea's standards--and in a world of shape-shifters and soul stealers, that's saying something. To the royalty, she's a loose cannon. To the masses, she's a failure. But Kara doesn't have a home to go back to anymore. This war-torn world is all she has left, and she'll save it even if she dies trying.

An ancient isen named Stone takes an interest in Kara's training, and it turns out he has more answers than he originally led her to believe. In an effort to unearth a secret that might end the bloodshed, Kara instead discovers an ugly truth about her family--and how much she has in common with one of the evilest men in Ourean history.

Braeden Drakonin has slowly rebuilt his life after the betrayal that tore it apart. His father wants him dead, and frankly, his so-called allies wouldn't mind that either. Private alliances are formed. Secrets are sold. Tension is driving the armies apart. A single battle will end this war, and it's coming. Braeden may be a prince, but it will take more than royal blood to survive. He must take the fight to his father's door--and win.


About the Author:  
Fantasy & horror author. Specializes in adventure and magic with a dash of mischief.

My Disclaimer:  I purchased this ebook for full price at Kindle Books because I loved book #1 so much! I am providing an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
I hope you're keeping up with me on this reading streak I have going here with the Grimoire Saga. This is the perfect series for the COYER Can You Read a Series in a Month Challenge! The books flow together so well. The story line and all its actions keep you going along quickly. The characters are so interesting and you continually find out interesting things about each of them. Secrets galore! No one can keep one forever. A very long time, yes. Forever? No. And now seems to be the time for a lot of old secrets to be exposed in Ourea. 

It's certainly time for Kara's secrets to get outed. First, she has a house tour to do so that she understands her family heritage and just what it means. At least she thinks she understands, but she really won't until later when she has to face the reality of her grandfather's legacy and its consequences to her and to those around her.

Braedon works to forgive Princess Aurora while helping her overcome her handicap. But their secret is discovered and the cost is high. Hopefully, the Vagabond can smooth over this mistake. While she's being diplomatic, Braedon tangles with a Sartori sword. Gavin has to make a choice before Braedon can start his recovery. But Braedon's recovery isn't normal. Something else seems to hamper his normally quick healing process. What could be big enough to hamper a royal prince's recovery?

It's time for all of Deidre's secret scheming to come to fruition. She's been moving people around like pieces on a chess board for a while with her isen ability to change form. She's ready to make some of her big reveals, but will they all go her way? Will she reach her goal? Who else will die in her desire for revenge? And is she aimed at the right target? Niccoli says no. 

There's a lot going on in Ourea these days. The whole place is on the brink of war. And it seems like there might be a traitor in their midsts. There are still more secrets to uncover. Keep reading this really richly-written series for maximum enjoyment. I'm already well into Book 4, Illusion, the last book of the series.

  

Grimoire Saga Book Two

Treason
Grimoire Saga, #2
S.M. Boyce (GoodReads Author)
Kindle ed, Oct. 2012, also in paperback and audible ed.
Genre(s) Fantasy, Dystopian
Source Kindle Books

Other books in this series: Lichgates #1, Heritage #3, Illusion #4

Synopsis
Kara Magari ignited a war when she stumbled into Ourea and found the Grimoire: a powerful artifact filled with secrets. To protect the one person she has left, she strikes a deal that compromises everything she believes in... and things don't go as planned.

Braeden Drakonin can no longer run from who--and what--he is. He has to face the facts. He's a prince. He's a murderer. He's a wanted man. And after a betrayal that leaves him heartbroken, he's out for blood.

To survive, both Kara and Braeden must become the evil each has grown to hate.


About the Author:  
Fantasy & horror author. Specializes in adventure and magic with a dash of mischief.

My Disclaimer:  I purchased this at full price from Kindle Books after reading Lichgates (reviewed May 23rd). I am providing an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
The flow from the first book into this second book is totally seamless. I wish I had been able to start it sooner. It really is like still reading the first book and since I'm reading on my tablet, I don't even have to physically grab the second book. I love technology. I love good authors even more, and Ms. Boyce is wonderful!

When I completed Lichgates, I went to Kindle Books on Amazon and bought the three books that complete the series. No hesitation, I knew I was going to love the whole thing. Halfway through and I'm still loving it! I chose it for the COYER Can You Read A Series In A Month Challenge because I knew I'd enjoy it and fly right through it!

Kara and Braedon have had a rough time of it in Ourea. Neither of them is making a lot of friends it seems. The Bloods are all in favor of getting some use out of them and getting rid of them.

The Bloods are having a rough time, too, though. Well, at least Aislynn is. Things just aren't going her way anymore. She thought she had control, but like all such things in Ourea, things aren't what they seem. No one is who they seem to be. Especially those who can take on another's form. And too many beings in Ourea have revenge in mind.

Braedon and his father have a "chat" and there's just too much communication going on there. But Braedon gets one important bit to take away that changes things completely. Whereas the first Vagabond isn't communicating with Kara enough. If she knew more, maybe she wouldn't be making quite so many social and political faux pas. 

Gavin isn't getting along with anyone. He's definitely on a power trip and Richard and Twin are keeping low profiles. A trip to the Vagabond's Village seems like a good idea to them.

Kara learns something about herself in this book that changes everything for her and the way others will deal with her in the future. She has a hard time accepting it. So do some others. Braedon's decision turns on a blade, literally.



I hope you're keeping up with your reading. I'm already halfway through book #3, Heritage. 



Caught in the Crossfire!

Dirty Blood
Dirty Blood #1
Heather Hildenbrand (GoodReads Author)
Self-pub, Sep 2014
Kindle ed, 294 pages
Genre(s) paranormal, YA
Source Author's newsletter

Other books in this series:  Cold Blood #2, Blood Bond #3, Blood Rule #4

Synopsis
I killed a girl last night. I did it with my bare hands and an old piece of pipe I found lying next to the dumpster. But that’s not the part that got me. The part that scared me, the part I can’t seem to wrap my head around and still has me reeling, was that when she charged me, her body shifted – and then she was a wolf. All snapping teeth and extended claws. But by the time I stood over her lifeless body, she was a girl again. That’s about the time I went into shock… And that was the moment he showed up.

Now, all I can do is accept the truths that are staring me in the face. One, Werewolves do exist. And Two, I was born to kill them.


About the Author
Heather Hildenbrand was born and raised in a small town in northern Virginia where she was homeschooled through high school. (She’s only slightly socially awkward as a result.)
She writes Young Adult & New Adult romance including the bestselling Dirty Blood & Imitation series’. She splits her time between coastal Virginia and sunny Florida and loves having a mobile career and laptop lifestyle of living in two places. Her most frequent hobbies are riding motorcycles and avoiding killer slugs.

Heather is also a publishing and success coach dedicated to teaching fellow writers how to create their own Laptop Lifestyle. For more information visit www.fictionauthorcoach.com.

You can find out more about Heather and her books at www.heatherhildenbrand.com.


My Disclaimer:  I was provided a free copy of this book by the author's representative. I am providing an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
What an exciting story line! I've read books that bring the weres and the hunters together before, but this one does it so well. Here's this young woman just trying to get home after a trying evening, and she's attacked because of how she smells by another young woman. I think I'd hit her with a steel pipe, too!

Well, that's a bit of a simplification, but in essence, that's what happens in the first part. That's how the weres and hunters come together. But that sets off explosions in Tara's world, or what is to become her world. Because with that one action, hitting Liliana with the pipe and killing her, she has put herself into the spotlight. And it has nothing to do with police or being arrested. Nope. This is more like entering the Twilight Zone. Let me give you a hint: no one writes a series about a normal young woman.

It's all very exciting and scary at the same time. She meets the cutest guy and he really just wants to take care of her and protect her. And he introduces her to his friends, who know all sorts of things, including things about her. And her family, living and dead. But life seems to be getting more dangerous. More attacks! 

Half the time Tara was cool, but then there were the times I thought she was acting like a spoiled child. She takes the news about what she is fairly well. But then she wasn't taking any responsibility for her actions. She blamed Wes for things that he had no control over. And poor Wes was just a werewolf following the orders of his Alpha. Plus he had duties and couldn't be at her beck and call all the time. There were a couple of times I just wanted to slap her. Sure, she was in a tough situation and finding out all this stuff about her family. But she was dilly-dallying making decisions that needed making now about things that really didn't need to be thought about. You want to be safe, you do this. You want to be dead, you do this. Playtime is over little girl.

Everything was going along like gangbusters with the fast pace through the whole book, then it just sort of fizzled out and ended. I wasn't real happy with that. 
I am happy about the fact that book two, Cold Blood, is already out and I can read that when I have some time. And for some reason I expect it to be even better than the first book! Maybe because of some of Tara's relatives that were introduced. Watch out for that older generation. They can surprise you! I'm hoping Tara is a surprise, too.

Blink, Texas

Seducing Abby Rhodes
J.D. Mason
St. Martin's Griffin, expected release Jul 18, 2017
Kindle ed, 352 pages
Genre(s) contemporary romance, ghosts
Source NetGalley & pub

Synopsis:
When Abigail Rhodes bought that old house she fell in love with in Blink, Texas, she got more than she bargained for. After being told by the local psychic that it is filled with a passionate energy from the previous owners, who died years ago, Abby decides to fix up her beloved house and reluctantly moves in. But ever since then, strange things have been happening in her newly renovated home, and Abby has been plagued with dreams that wake her up and leave her breathless.
After a tumultuous life these last few years, Jordan Gatewood is following what amounts to a trail of breadcrumbs in an effort to find a renewed sense of purpose. Searching for the truth about the man his adoptive father really was, Jordan makes his way to the old house where his father was murdered, in Blink--and right to the petite, understated beauty that answers the door. It's not long before Jordan realizes, quite unexpectedly, that Abby is the perfect woman for him. Jordan doesn't believe in ghosts or fate, but he does know that the powerful connection he feels for this woman started the day he met her in that house and he is determined to make her his.

Robin is a successful Corporate Attorney and was proud to be the lover of the most sought after bachelor in the state of Texas--until he abruptly breaks off their relationship, leaving her confused, heartbroken and bitter. When she discovers that he's left her for another woman, a woman she considers beneath her, Robin is determined to teach him a brutal lesson.

A man like Jordan has too many secrets, secrets that, if found out, could not only destroy his relationship with this other woman, but that could also cost him the biggest business deal of his life, and possibly, his freedom. Robin is the last person he wants to go up against, and she will stop at nothing to get him back or to make him pay for his betrayal, even if that means unleashing those secrets. The question is, will Jordan let her? Or will his all-consuming obsession with Abby win out, in Seducing Abby Rhodes by J.D. Mason?


About the Author:  
I started with a goal in mind, and I prayed. “Lord, just let me be able to write books for 10 years. If I can write for 10 years, I can finish 10 books. And then I’ll retire.” I feel like I’m just getting warmed up, so I definitely think I need another 10 years.

J.D. Mason has been writing professionally for more than a decade, beginning with her first novel “And On The Eighth Day She Rested” which she self-published, not once, but twice. Since then, Mason has gone on to sign with a New York City publisher and has penned a popular series based off of her second book, “One Day I Saw A Black King”. J.D.’s work has been featured in Today’s Black Woman, Essence, Denver’s Urban Spectrum, and Jewel Magazine. Her books have consistently been selected as main selections for the Black Expressions Bookclub and have been and have appeared on bestseller lists in the Denver Post, Dallas Morning News, Black Expressions Book Club, and Amazon.com. J.D. currently lives in Denver, Colorado, and is hard at work on her next novel.


***Note from another reviewer when answering a question about the fact that this is said to be "the second book" and "what is the first one?" : "The Real Mrs. Price comes before this, but you need to read Beautiful, Dirty, Rich; Drop Dead, Gorgeous and Crazy, Sexy Revenge at least before reading this one. The Real Mrs. Price, I think, isn't crucial to the storyline but at least you'll know who Marlowe and Plato are."

My Disclaimer:  I was provided a free copy of this book by the author's representative. I am providing an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
This is an excellent love story! Abby and Jordan are so sweet together. They are also sexy and in love! But mostly they are meant to be together, and anything else is just fighting nature.

Ms. Mason uses repetition to strengthen her story in this book. The larger one is the father and son situation. Back in the 70s, it was Julian who fell in love with a good woman who lived in that little house. Now, it's his son Jordan who is in love. The parallel is obvious and is what helps validate the ghost story. 

The more subtle one is later on when Robin is ready to do almost anything to have Jordan in her life, paralleling the situation Jordan had with his late wife Claire.

Another repetition is the existence of the "good woman" in the life of a man considered to be an uber rich, fast playing man. I always like this theme in a book.

A well-paced story with some really well-written scenes. The characters are very well written, too. What isn't presented up-front, you get as the story goes along. 

Blink, Texas is supposed to be just a quiet little town, but it has several books to its credit already and I expect at least one more is possible. It's not difficult to imagine running into several of these characters in the next book by this author. I think I might need some town history. Maybe it's a good idea to add a couple of Ms. Mason's Blink Texas books to my TBR shelf while she's at work writing the next one. Why don't you read this one and see if you think you might need to do the same thing.


Other books by this author include:  Beautiful, Dirty, Rich; Drop Dead, Gorgeous; Crazy, Sexy, Revenge; The Real Mrs. Price; Hart Breaker; Stormy Knight; and Stone Cole

Marti always means well...

Best Intentions
Erika Raskin
St. Martin's Press, expected release Aug 15, 2017
Kindle ed, 288 pages, also in hardcover
Genre(s) women's lit, murder, mystery, contemporary romance
Source NetGalley

Synopsis 
Marti Trailor—social worker on hold, mother of three, wife of a successful obstetrician, daughter of a Congressman—is ready to go back to work. She’s thrilled when the perfect opportunity falls in her lap. The catch? The job is at her husband's hospital and he seems not to share her enthusiasm. Undeterred, she takes the position counseling vulnerable young women as they prepare to give birth.
Marti quickly begins to feel like she is making a difference in the lives of her clients. Soon, though, she finds herself caught up in the dark side of the medical center—with its long hours, overworked doctors and entrenched practices. When she witnesses something she can't unsee, Marti, who has always done her best to keep a low-profile, finds herself thrust under a dangerous spotlight with all of Richmond, Virginia watching.

In her captivating domestic suspense novel Best Intentions, Erika Raskin weaves together high stakes hospital politics, the pressures of family life, and the consequences of trying to do the right thing.


About the Author:  
Erika Raskin grew up to the sound of typewriter music. Her mother, the bestselling novelist Barbara Raskin, was a rollicking storyteller who could turn mundane trips to the grocery store into readable high drama. Marcus Raskin, Erika's dad, was an author of non-fiction but still delighted in getting his daughter to make up back-stories of unsuspecting passers-by. She learned at an early age to collect details, catalog interesting behaviors, and then put them on paper.

(In short, she joined the family business.)

Erika has written essays for print and radio, articles and short stories. Her fiction has been recognized by the Reynolds Price competition, Glimmertrain, and the Virginia Commission on the Arts. She was a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Erika's first novel, CLOSE, was published by Harvard Square Editions in October of 2014. CLOSE was a finalist in the USA Best Book Awards.

Erika and her husband Keith have three (grown-up) offspring and a peculiar dog with a fondness for lingerie. They live in the mountains outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. 


My Disclaimer:  I was provided a free copy of this book by NetGalley and St. Martin's Press. I am providing an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

My Review:  
What a fantastic story! Here's this woman who just wants to give and help others and she's stymied at almost every turn by her husband, then the hospital she works for, and eventually the legal system.

Marti has done everything that was expected of her. She's done the work of raising three great kids. Daddy is a Congressman. Hubby is a Doctor. Now she wants some of her own. She's a trained social worker. The perfect job pops up and she goes for it. Hubby isn't happy because she's going to be underfoot at the hospital. What's he got to hide? What isn't she supposed to see at the hospital?

She takes the job, but she keeps trying to help a gal who doesn't want her help and that gets her into trouble, too. Then there's another young woman who needs and wants her help, but she's getting other advice as well and things go horribly wrong. Two young lives are horribly damaged before they even have a chance and Marti knows the truth behind what happened, but is she going to get the opportunity to tell her story?

Once the story all comes out, who will pay the price? And who will go to jail? This fantastic book is due out August 15, 2017 from St. Martin's Press. Get yourself a copy of it and plan on spending a weekend with it. It's fabulous! For those who cheer for the underdogs! With a touch of sweet romance!