This post was originally suppose to be published on 5/22/13. My apologies to H.B. Bolton and CBB for the delay. Please check out my review of the first book in the series, THE SERPENT’S RING, which I reviewed last year. Thanks for the amazing guest post from one of my favorite characters from the series, Dunkle the Imp.
Meeting Evan for the first time—from the POV of Dunkle the imp
by H.B. Bolton
Why did Evan return to this place? He should have known better than to visit a closed exhibit, but there he is, sneaking around the professor’s home and peeking under the back porch. The nerve of that impetuous boy; he acts as if he owns the place.
Is the door locked? I am certain it is locked. Better still if I check.
“Oh, my, my, my …” I whisper to myself, scurrying along the roof’s eaves. I climb down a column and rush through a secret door known only to me. Carefully, I inch my way toward the porch door. Until suddenly, I freeze. Evan is peeking through the window! What am I to do?
I race to the professor’s secret lab, entering through the backside of a mahogany cabinet. I wait and wait, but there is no sign of Evan Jones. Thank goodness he did not discover the hidden whereabouts of the Serpent’s Ring. I have kept it well hidden for almost 100 years, and the last thing I need now is for him to find it and cause me trouble.
Dust clouds swirl around the room, and I am trying not to cough. That could mean only one thing. But wait! No, it cannot be. Evan has managed to locate the secret entrance. I knew this day would eventually come. I have prepared for his arrival since before he was born, but this is not a good day for it. Not in the least.
He is studying the drawings on the chalkboard. Surely, that will keep him busy enough. At least until I can figure out a way to remove the Serpent’s Ring and find a new location to hide it. Oh, no, no, no! He has noticed the illustration of the Midgard Serpent. Why is that boy climbing on that desk and messing around with things that do not belong to him? This is outrageous!
Oh my goodness — the table is about to break. What will the professor say? Just then, Evan and many of the professor’s illustrious possessions tumble to the floor. And worse yet, Evan has found the Serpent’s Ring. The Relic has already begun to glow, and soon … well, Evan will never be the same.
“What are you doing in here?” shrills a female voice from the doorway, and I nearly jump out of my skin. “You are going to be in sooo much trouble when Mom and Dad find out. You aren’t supposed to be in here. Didn’t you read the sign that said ‘Restricted Area’?”
Claire? What is she doing here? Lovely — now I have to deal with both of them.
“Claire, the jewels on this ring are starting to glow. Way cool!” Evan places the Serpent’s Ring around his forearm.
“Come on, let’s get out of here,” Claire says, rushing to Evan, but as soon as she reaches him, the entire room fills with blinding light. Claire is cast against a bookshelf, and she is bombarded by tumbling objects. Thank goodness Evan has enough sense to help her.
There is nothing more I can do here. I suppose it is time for me to inform the other protectors. The first sign of the prophecy has come to light, and now the Relics are in terrible danger.
The Trickster’s Totem (Book #2 The Relics of Mysticus)
Released April 15th, 2013.
Life has returned to normal for fourteen-year-old Evan and his older sister, Claire. That is until Dunkle, a clever but stinky little imp, pays an unexpected visit to their school. He has come to take the siblings back to Sagaas, the mythical realm of the gods. Once again, a Relic from the ancient Mysticus Orb has fallen into the wrong hands. Only Evan and Claire, with their unique mystical abilities, can help find it.
Through the power of the Trickster’s Totem, a coyote trickster has escaped. His laughter echoes throughout the realm, as he spreads mischief and mayhem. He burns an entire crop of popcorn, carves his grinning image into sacred artifacts, and things really get interesting when he shape-shifts into Evan’s friends.
Claire and Evan must capture the Trickster, retrieve the Totem, and be careful not to become sidetracked by robotic Steampunk animals, “sweet” pixie-like Pains, and a problematic mermaid … all while dodging Mothman-like aces. Most surprising, Evan discovers the true reason dragons exist in the Native American Spirit World.
The Serpent’s Ring (Book #1 The Relics of Mysticus series)
Released July 29th, 2012.
Evan and Claire Jones are typical teenagers, forced to go with their parents to yet another boring museum … that is, until something extraordinary happens to make their day a little more than interesting. After following a strange little creature into a closed exhibit, Evan and his older sister, Claire, discover the Serpent’s Ring, one of the magical relics formed from the shattered Mysticus Orb. Purely by accident, they have awakened its powers and opened a portal to Sagaas, land of ancient gods.
Before the siblings can comprehend what has happened, the Serpent’s Ring is wrenched from Evan’s hand by an enormous fish and flown back to Aegir, the Norse god of the sea. Evan and Claire, accompanied by a band of unlikely heroes, must retrieve the Serpent’s Ring before Aegir uses its immense powers to flood all the lands on Earth.
H.B. Bolton scores full marks for her sequel, THE TRICKSTER’S TOTEM, in the Relics of Mysticus series. Claire and Evan are adjusting to life in the normal world (although they still have their powers acquired from their first adventure) when Dunkle the Imp interrupts their school day with grave news: another relic has been stolen. Unlike many MG fantasies, this is not about good verses evil. This concept of gray characters and cause and consequence doesn’t typically exist in books written for this age level, but the underlying morals are cleverly hidden beneath a fast-pace and entertaining quest. It’s refreshing that adults/elders are respected and good role models. Claire and Evan come from a good family and have no problem with authority – unlike Harry Potter or Percy Jackson. It’s a clean read that is appropriate for all age levels.
The interactions between Claire and Evan make them come to life. Evan has self-centered tendencies, where he focuses only on what he wants to achieve and not how his actions will influence the lives of others. Claire is quick to point out her brother’s mistakes and make him seem more of a jerk than he actually is. She wins brownie points from their comrades for being the more mature and better behaved of the two, although she isn’t perfect herself.
I felt that THE TRICKSTER’S TOTEM was far more polished than its predecessor, although I think that THE SERPENT’S RING is a must read for you to understand how the siblings are tied to the magical world. I read the book in full the moment I received it. The book ends with just enough closure to tie up the reason for their return trip and then a teaser for the next adventure for the siblings. If you enjoy MG fantasy or prefer “clean fantasy”, then I recommend that you check out book one and two in the Relics of Mysticus series by H.B. Bolton.
(I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review.)
A magical part of H.B. Bolton’s childhood was being swept into worlds of enchanting characters, fantastical creatures and extraordinary powers—simply by picking up a book. As a mother and a teacher, she was compelled to create imaginary worlds of her own in order to share them, not just with her children, but with all children. H.B. Bolton lives in Florida with her supportive husband and two highly spirited children. Shh, can you keep a secret? Not only does she write books for the young-at-heart, adventurous sort who yearn to dive into a good young-adult fantasy story, she also writes spellbinding, heart pounding women’s fiction. These particular books are written under the name Barbara Brooke, but that’s another story, altogether.
Books by H.B. Bolton:
The Serpent’s Ring (Relics of Mysticus, Book One)
Breaking Down (a short story)
Hungry (a short story)
Coming May 1, 2013
The Trickster’s Totem (Relics of Mysticus, Book Two)
You can check out the full tour schedule from CBB book promotions
Today, I’m happy to present the sequel to one of my favorite books of 2012. You can read my review of Reckoning by Molly M Hall. It’s one of those books that were so good that I purchased a second copy after reviewing just to share with friends. If you like paranormal romances with creepy scenes, then you’ll love this series. Check out the cover to book two! Beautiful!
Relentless (Dark Prophecy #2) by Molly H Hall
“Out of the darkness and into the fire.
The truth changes everything.”
The discovery of who and what she is changed Kat Matheson’s life forever, revealing a world she never knew existed. A world filled with ominous spirits, mystical beings and dark magic. And a powerful ruler who will stop at nothing to achieve his ultimate goal: her death. Now, in her fight to stay alive, and to protect those she loves, Kat begins the battle to take back what’s hers.
Teaming with the enigmatic Lovell, Kat searches for the clues that hold the secret to her destiny. Clues that take her to places she never imagined, exposing her life—and her heart—to dangers she never saw coming…
Coming soon…Relentless, Book 2 in the Dark Prophecy series.
Reckoning (Dark Prophecy #1) by Molly M. Hall
”They say the truth can set you free. I found out it can kill you.”
Seventeen-year-old Kat Matheson has never revealed the dark secret that sets her apart from everyone else: She can see and hear the dead. Until now, she has been able to ignore the strange apparitions and whispering voices. But it may not be that simple anymore. Haunted by eerie visions and increasingly frightening nightmares, Kat begins to fear she may be the target of a dark and ominous force from beyond the grave. Complicating matters is the arrival of her new neighbor, a young man she instinctively distrusts but is inexplicably drawn to. Gorgeous and mysterious, he seems to hold a disturbing knowledge of her long-held secrets.As she desperately tries to maintain control, events take an unexpected and violent turn. Discovering that nothing is what it seems and that her psychic abilities may involve far more than just communing with the dead, Kat may be forced to confront her worst fears and the powerful curse that controls her destiny.
I’ve spent most of my life in Colorado and currently live just outside of Denver. I write my books on a laptop perched atop a rather creaky desk, surrounded by two crazy and loving cats. I love to travel and have visited 27 of the 50 states, as well as Canada, Ireland and England. And there are still a lot of places I want to go.
I spent entirely too many years in the gray dullness of the corporate world, imagining something more exciting as I punched numbers on a keyboard. During that time, I worked on a degree in English Literature, but never quite managed to complete it. Mostly because I was too busy reading and creating fantasy worlds in my head. It’s actually my love of reading and imagining that led me to take up writing full time. I thought I should finally give all the characters in my head a voice.
Music is a huge part of my life and plays a big role in the creation of my books. Although I listen to everything from Johann Sebastian Bach and Dvorak, to Glen Miller and Bobby Darin, to Rihanna and Nox Arcana, as well as movie and video game soundtracks, there are two bands whose music is practically my lifeblood: Daughtry and Linkin Park. I will listen to or see them live anytime, anywhere.
I’m a fan of British television, Doctor Who (favorite doctor? David Tennant. Let the debate begin!), The Vampire Diaries, Japanese animé, Ghost Hunters, MI-5 and Eureka. And anything featuring James McAvoy. And I probably would never be able to unwind without That 70′s Show.
When I’m not reading and writing, you’ll probably find me listening to music, practicing yoga, working on my very inadequate French, playing piano, enjoying a lovely glass of red wine or champagne, or looking for inspiring landscapes to photograph.
I’m doing this review a little differently, since I was given review copies of both the first and second installment. Each one is less than a hundred pages but no less compelling to read than a full length novel. If you’re able to handle the content, then this is a great short length series to read. I would put up a warning label, but there’s too many warnings to list. If you get offended by anything, chances are you will probably get offended by something in this series.
I received copies of both from the publisher/Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
The Flesh Cartel Series by Rachel Haimowitz
Genre: Erotic horror
The Flesh Cartel #1: Capture
Released October 1st, 2012
In this first installment of the exciting new psychosexual thriller, The Flesh Cartel, orphaned brothers Mat and Dougie Carmichael are stolen in the night from their own home. Taken to a horrifying processing facility, they are assessed, microchipped, and subjected to unspeakable brutality—all in preparation for sale to the highest bidder.
In a world where every person has a price, the beautiful and subduable PhD student Dougie is highly prized. His brother, a rough-edged MMA fighter, is less desirable—and potentially too dangerous—but he still has his own appeal.
Abused and locked up under round the clock surveillance, with no idea where they are or even why they’ve been taken, escape seems impossible, which leaves staying together their only hope. And after being separated once by the foster system, they’ll do anything to keep it from happening again. Anything at all.
(Publisher’s note: This title contains material some may find objectionable or trigger-inducing, including explicit violence, non-consent, and forced incest.)
Please note that Amazon has removed this title from their site for “content violation.” It is still available at a number of other retailers and the publisher’s website.
available on Amazon as of 2/25/13
There have been very few books that are too hardcore for me to read. The Flesh Cartel is right on that border. There were sections of this book that I seriously considered to putting the book down because of how far it pushed my comfort zone. This isn’t your typical BSDM novel of master and servant. This is a story about two brothers abducted and forced into sexual slavery. There are no limits to how gritty this novel gets. The torture scenes are more degrading than my imagination thought possible. If graphic scenes bother you, don’t read. If m/m bothers you, don’t read. If rape scenes bother you, don’t read. If you can’t stomach incest, don’t read. If none of that stuff bothers you, then prepare for a mental roller coaster as you read this book. It’s the novel equivalent of the movie Cannibal Holocaust. Apparently, Amazon removed it from their site for a while because of content issues and I can completely understand why.
This is part of a series and one I will most definitely be continuing. A+
The Flesh Cartel #2: Auction
Released November 5, 2012
In episode two of The Flesh Cartel, the dark purpose behind Mat and Dougie Carmichael’s abduction is revealed. Though Dougie is protected from the worst of the guards’ brutality, he’s disgusted to find himself halfway to broken—despairing of escape and terrified of pain. Mat holds onto hope despite repeated rapes and beatings, but threats toward his brother teach him well to lay aside his pride and pick his battles carefully.
Worn down by days of unrelenting fear and abuse, Mat and Dougie are packaged and marketed with the same ruthless efficiency as any consumer product: Dougie the prettyboy twink, Mat the rabid pit bull. They are led to the auction block as the showpiece of the house’s collection.
Mat would rather be beaten to death than play the role of obedient slave for sale, but Dougie, desperate not to be separated from his brother, strikes a deal with the pitiless Madame who runs the auction house and controls both their fates. It might just be enough to keep them together—slaves, but together—assuming Mat even wants to be after Dougie fulfills his end of his deal with the devil.
(Publisher’s note: This title contains material some may find objectionable or trigger-inducing, including explicit violence, non-consent, and forced incest.)
The second part of the series is basically about how far will you go to save the life of someone you love. For Dougie and Mat, that limit is probably further than most of us. I can’t imagine ever suffering through this with one of my siblings. I think if my life ever got to this point, death might be a better option. But, not these two.
The scenes are so vivid and heart-wrenching that it feels like I’m reading someone’s memoir and not a work of fiction. (A)
(Information borrowed from Goodreads. No picture available.)
M/M erotic romance author, freelance writer and editor, sadist with a pesky conscience, shamelessly silly, proudly pervish. I’m a twitter addict (@rachelhaimowitz), and I blog every M/W/F at Fantasy Unbound. To learn all about my current and upcoming projects, please stop by my website. I love to hear from folks, so feel free to drop me a line anytime at metarachel (at) gmail (dot) com.Read More
Prophecy of the Most Beautiful by Diantha Jones
Book One of the Oracle of Delphie Series
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release March 1st, 2012
She has a destiny so great that even the gods fear her.
Constant hallucinations and the frequent conversations with the voices in her head, have earned eighteen-year-old Chloe Clever the not-so-coveted title of “Whack Job” in her home town of Adel, Georgia. With the onslaught of prescription medications and therapists threatening to push her over the edge, she wishes for a life far away from the one she has, a life where she is destined to be more than the butt of everyone’s jokes and mockery.
Be careful what you wish for has never rung more true.
After living through an attack from her worst nightmare, she awakens to find herself far from home, surrounded by glorious riches and servants…and a few demigods who enjoy killing things. Upon learning that her favorite rockstar is an Olympian god, she is thrust into her new life as the Oracle of Delphi, the prophesier of the future, and the great Pythia that the gods have been anxiously awaiting to arrive for centuries. Setting out to fulfill the prophecy she has been given and to keep her family safe from a demigod Princess that wants her dead, Chloe learns of how great she is to become, all the while fighting mythical monsters, evading divine assassins and trying to outwit the ever-cunning Greek gods who harbor secrets of their own. In the hopes of discovering the Most Beautiful and the truth of her destiny, she strives to uncover the mysteries of the demigod Prince who has sworn to protect her with his life…and threatens to win her heart in the process.
There are two things that I didn’t like about the book. The romance was way over the top. I was pelted with both sides of the love sick coin with both Chloe and her love interest proclaiming in the narrative upon first sight how much they really wanted the other. If it was written only from Chloe’s POV, then I probably wouldn’t have minded as much. The mythology is borrowed directly from Greek legends, which I love, but I can’t help but compare it to Percy Jackson. The Gods and demigods just weren’t as creatively portrayed as they were in Percy Jackson.
I did like how the fates were introduced, although I wish that their limits and powers were more clearly defined. They surprised me later in the story when certain things happened that I didn’t think were possible.
The plot had some good twists, but the action scenes were very unbelievable When Hades’ offspring invaded Apollo’s home, it made no sense how only a handful of people could completely decimate like they did and without injury. Both are half gods and yet it was a very one-sided fight. The prophecy itself was very well done and I like how it did tie into one of the most-well known myths and yet I didn’t have a clue what it was until Chloe said it. If you’re better at clues and solving mysteries, then you’d probably guess what the prophecy involves.
I think that if you love romance and you love mythology, then this would be a great book for you to read. It reminds me very much of Aimee Carter’s Goddess series, only Prophecy of the Most Beautiful has less whiny characters. It’s a little too lighthearted and “safe” for me to love, but a decent book overall. I’m not sure if I’ll read the next book in the series. It all depends on how many mushy romantic POVs I have to suffer through. This is a book that I think that is a solid four stars in the right reader’s hands…it’s just not for me. (C)
(I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.)
(Information borrowed from Goodreads.)
Diantha Jones was born the day thousands of turkeys sacrificed their lives to fill millions of American bellies on November 22 which also happened to be Thanksgiving Day (Her mother says she owes her a turkey). She is a Journalism graduate who wants to be a career novelist (of books, not Facebook posts). When not writing or working, she is reading on her Nook or playing the most ridiculous app games on her iPhone.
I write adult fantasy/paranormal romance under the name A. Star. Friend/Fan me at www.goodreads.com/A_Star.
Breathe by Sarah Crossan
Genre: Sci-fi, Dystopian
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Released October 2nd, 2012
Inhale. Exhale. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe . . .The world is dead. The survivors live under the protection of Breathe, the corporation that found a way to manufacture oxygen-rich air.
Alinahas been stealing for a long time. She’s a little jittery, but not terrified. All she knows is that she’s never been caught before. If she’s careful, it’ll be easy. If she’s careful.
Quinnshould be worried about Alina and a bit afraid for himself, too, but even though this is dangerous, it’s also the most interesting thing to happen to him in ages. It isn’t every day that the girl of your dreams asks you to rescue her.
Beawants to tell him that none of this is fair; they’d planned a trip together, the two of them, and she’d hoped he’d discover her out here, not another girl.
And as they walk into the Outlands with two days’ worth of oxygen in their tanks, everything they believe will be shattered. Will they be able to make it back? Will they want to?
Despite the obvious theme of the book SAVE THE TREES, Breathe never feels like it’s preaching about green living and the damage that people do on the environment every day. Instead, it tells the story about a world where people didn’t take care of its trees and thus the atmosphere no longer has enough oxygen to sustain human life. These people are forced to carry around oxygen masks and live inside pods to survive. It’s very clear early on into the book that the people in charge don’t have the best intentions at heart. I’m completely ignorant in how accurate this sort of situation was portrayed, but it made sense to me.
The book switches between three first-person narratives: Bea, Quinn, and Alina. Quinn and Bea’s narratives are so similar that sometimes it took me a page or two to figure out who was talking. I admittedly have a bad habit of ignoring chapter titles (which did explain who was the chapter’s POV) while reading. Bea is a tree-hugger who wants to excel at her schooling so that she can get accepted into the Premiums and is no longer a second class citizen. Quinn is her best friend. Despite being part of the elite class, he feels smothered by his father’s overbearing nature and high demands. Alina, meanwhile, is part of the Resistance who means to expose the dark side of those in power. By chance, the three of them meet up and despite the love triangle introduction, it is clear who will end up with who long before the book ends.
I really enjoyed the storyline and how gritty the book became at times. It was intriguing to see the lengths people will go to fight for what they believe in. I also liked how there are purely evil or good characters. Each one is unique and makes both good and bad decisions. I think my favorite character is Alina and I especially liked how her personality and outlook evolved over the course of the book. At the very beginning, she sees the world in black and white, but by the end she knows that even people with the best intention do some very bad things.
The main reason that this book wasn’t a 5 star book was because there isn’t any resolution at the end. Breathe felt like part one of a book. It has no standalone qualities. I can’t help but be annoyed that I won’t find out what happens to any of the characters for at least another year. If I knew that it was a series before reading, this might not have bothered me as much. The only thing I did like at the end was the twist involving one of the minor characters.
If you’re on the hunt for a decent YA sci-fi or dystopian novel, then you should check out Breathe.
(I borrowed a copy of this book from my local library.)
(Image and description borrowed from Goodreads.)
Sarah Crossan is Irish. She graduated with a degree in Philosophy and Literature before training as an English and Drama teacher at Cambridge University and worked to promote creative writing in schools before leaving teaching to write full time.
She completed her Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Warwick in 2003 and in 2010 received an Edward Albee Fellowship for writing.
She currently lives in NYC.Read More