Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James

NOW AVAILABLE! Release day was yesterday! I highly recommend!

No spoilers. This is due for release February 14, 2017 and I received a digital copy from Netgalley and publisher to read and review. Thank you!

What the hay, I’m giving this all the stars! First of all, it has one of my favorite premises:

– Rich, elite group with special abilities (like healing, pyrokinesis, and telekinesis, etc.) that controls and suppresses the masses until some of them rise up and fight against the tyranny.

I LOVE this type of story! It’s an evil X-Men enslaves humanity thing.

They are called Equals, ironically, although they are only equal among themselves (and even then, not really, because this society thrives on politics and intrigue). I won’t go into the plot because spoilers, but just a little background and setup can’t hurt.

This is an alternate reality world. Great Britain still exists, which is where the story takes place. There is still a United States, but it is split into two. One that has abolished slavery and one that hasn’t. Slavery in this world has nothing to do with skin tone, but whether you are born with Skill.

All “commoners” must give ten years of their lives working in slavetowns. They can wait until they are 80 or 18. The story mainly focuses on two sisters, a brother, and their parents after they enter their slavedays and go to “serve” a powerful Equal family.

The story is told through several POVs. I found the pacing to be great and I was quite wrapped up in the story. It does end on a cliffhanger. But I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

I found the Equal characters to be more interesting than Abi or Luke, to be honest. All of the Equals except a few are just horrible. I hated them, but I was intrigued. There are some really good villains you just want to throttle.

I have a feeling this will be a popular book. I hope people enjoy it as much as I did. It has a bit of romance, but not much. The plot drama was enough to keep me on the edge of my seat without wanting to bash my head against a wall.

It is the author’s debut and I think she did a great job. I am definitely wanting more from this world!

“Growling For Mine (Grayslake: More Than Mated Kindle World)” by Alexa Riley

Wow, I think this may be my favorite Alexa Riley yet. Short and sweet and the smut is happening from the get-go.

Good Lord, did I LOVE Bleu. Sorry, but he’s MINE.

Caveman bear shifter, treats his woman like a precious jewel.

This is just like I like ’em… right to the point. Short and sweet.

“You will be mine. If I mate you, you cannot leave. I will hunt you down and bring you back to our home.”

GAH. I lurv him.

Review also found at Goodreads.

Original post:

HELL YES! More paranormal smut from Alexa Riley! I’m there.

“Cottonwood” by R. Lee Smith

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In this story, insectoid aliens crash-landed on Earth. They were settlers, with some doctors, military members, and engineers onboard, going to settle an unpopulated planet. They got to Earth by mistake and humans decide they must be put in camps where they are housed and fed and work in a recycling program.

Sarah is a young woman who gets what she thinks is going to be an awesome job as a caseworker for the aliens to help work toward integration… when the aliens can be moved slowly into society.

When she gets there however, she discovers she has been lied to and the aliens live in squalor, picking through trash, with no showers or toilets, they are fed mystery meat in unlabeled cans, and “disappear” all the time never to be seen again. They have no rights and are prisoners.

Sarah slowly builds a friendship with a father and his son and a couple other members of Cottonwood. There are two mega villains: one runs the camps around the world and the other is his henchman. And that is the premise of Cottonwood.

What an amazing book. This was so much more than a “romance.” The author did such a great job bringing all the characters to life and making you feel deep emotion for everyone! Sarah was fantastic as the protagonist. She was brave and selfless. She helped the “bugs” even though she knew she could get in serious trouble – because it was the right thing to do. She wasn’t “badass” as far as being able to kick butt, but she was definitely badass as an amazing human being.

I especially loved the little boy, T’aki. He was so cute and sweet and his interactions with his dad, Sanford, and Sarah were touching. Sanford wasn’t an “alpha,” but he was strong and a good man. The romance doesn’t even really come in until around 60 or 70%? But the descriptions of the sex were well done, realistic. This isn’t smut and there are no raunchy scenes. It’s not sexy, but it is kind of fascinating and I totally shipped Sarah and Sanford.

There was another supporting character named Samaritan, who is like the Crazy Uncle who don’t want anyone to meet, but when the shit hits the fan, he’s got your back. He was a total asshole, but also pretty freaking incredible when the moment called for it… and then he’d go back to being an asshole again.

The “bugs” in this have a “clicking” type language and they “share breath” as part of intimacy. Their feelers can “taste” the air and smells. The author (again) did a great job explaining the aliens and made them really come alive.

Even though these aliens aren’t preying mantis-looking, I think fans of Vel from Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series would like this. I would call it more sci-fi adventure/drama with romantic elements.

This book made me cry, had me on the edge of my seat at times, smiling, frowning, and I appreciated that all the drama felt organic and not contrived whatsoever.

This is my favorite R. Lee Smith book. I’ve read 3 of hers now and I am hooked.

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Review also found at: Goodreads

Original post:

ERMAGHERD. All the stars! I loved this so much.What a fantastic story. Sci-fi adventure with an amazing love story, awesome supporting characters, villains you want to die a horrible slow painful death, amazing heroine, sweet and kind hero who happens to be an insectoid alien. GAH. All the feels.

This is not really a romance, but it has a slow-build love story at its heart. I think sci-fi and fantasy fans would like this. The writing is easy to get into and it was just paced well and an instant favorite!!

YOU NEED TO READ THIS!

“Wrath and Bones” (Marnie Baranuik #4) by A.J. Aalto

Wrath and Bones (The Marnie Baranuik Files Book 4)Wrath and Bones by A.J. Aalto
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review also found at: https://theparanormalpaladin.wordpres…

This was my first completed book of 2016. Yay me! And it was a really good one!
I think Wrath and Bones is my favorite since Touched. To be honest, the love triangle and Marnie’s obnoxiousness kind of ruined Death Rejoices for me, but maybe I wasn’t in the mood. I liked Last Impressions better, but this really seemed like inspired story-telling.

From the first page, I was drawn in the story, and there seemed to be very little setup before you were thrust into the action. A LOT of things happen in this book. One reason I may have liked it more is just that I love me some vampires/revenants and the whole premise surrounded them. The Houses are summoned to replace the King, who has gone mad and can’t do his job anymore.

Asmodeus, who was a total jerk, had Marnie go off with Declan (the Irishman returns and I was glad to see him) and Batten on a quest to retrieve three objects. Marnie also has to prevent Trollpocalypse. She gets to meet other Daysitters, most of whom seem like shitty people.

The world-building here is top-notch, in my view. I was fascinated by the orcs, trolls, spriggans, werefox, and mellified mummy man? Awesome stuff. The scene towards the end where they battle the trolls with the help of a massive Baltic sea wyrm was fantastic!

Also, this one had some of the best “nonsense” words that Marnie makes up and uses as swear words. So funny. Snatchgoblin, “donked in the wabbles,” twatdribble… lots of funny in this one.

No sexy Harry times, but I guess I can forgive that. TEAM HARRY forever! LOL

All in all, I think this is the best story since book one. I thought the author was really on her game with this one. Fantastic.

Review also found at Goodreads.

Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom

Krampus: The Yule LordKrampus: The Yule Lord by Brom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


“Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas!”

We’ve all been taught that Santa and Mrs. Claus look a little something like this:

We’ve all been taught wrong. This is Santa:

And his wife:

Santa is really Baldr, an ancient Norse god and son of Odin. He was known for being all peace, love, and light, but was that the real story or was Baldr a great deceiver?

In this story, after Baldr dies in ancient times, he is reborn as Santa Claus. He takes over Yule and changes the holiday. Well, someone is not very happy about THAT.

Meet Krampus. Our villain, I mean hero, or is it anti-hero? Who knows, who cares. He’s awesome.

Krampus has been imprisoned by Santa/Baldr for 500 years and has just gotten his freedom back, only to discover no one celebrates Yule anymore. No candy in shoes? No tributes? And where’s his bag? Oh yeah, SANTA STOLE IT! The battle to bring back Yule is on. You’re toast, Santa!

Here’s Isabel and Jesse.

They are part of Krampus’s Belsnickels. If Krampus bites you, you become a little bit demon. Your skin gets black spots and you grow claws, have heightened senses, live a really long time, the cold doesn’t bother you, you don’t need to eat as much, etc. But you have to obey his commands. So you’re basically a slave, but hey, things could always be worse!

When we meet Jesse, he has lost his wife and daughter and is pretty much a loser. He can’t keep a job, his truck barely works, and everyone hates him. He gets stuck doing jobs for The General, who runs the meth in town. And the police chief named Dillard wants him dead (and is sleeping with his estranged wife). He meets Krampus and ends up turning his life around. This is even a tale about FRIENDSHIP, people!

It’s got a little bit of everything – horror and gore, comedy, mythology, fantasy… I love how the author wove ancient myths and paganism into the story. Flying yule goats instead of flying reindeer…Krampus is Loki’s grandson…Yule was celebrated before Christmas existed and was about celebrating the winter solstice and the rebirth of the sun and was also connected to Odin and The Wild Hunt. It was about drinking, dancing, sex and partying!

It’s really fascinating. The only reason I am not giving this 5 stars is because there was a little bit of issues with pacing at times. But overall, this was loads of fun and a perfect (for me) Christmas story.

The author, Brom, drew the pictures I posted above. He is amazing!!! So talented.

Original review:

Loved it! What a great Christmas, er, I mean, Yuletide book! I’ll post a review tomorrow, but I think I have found a new favorite author and I LOVED how he worked in ancient paganism and Viking/Norse gods and myths. It’s got crazy hill-billy meth gangs, a Santa who looks like Odin, and Loki’s grandson who looks like a demon with horns. Fun fun fun. Good for both horror and fantasy fans. Highly recommended!

Still $1.99 on Amazon Kindle: 17 DEC 2015.

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Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles, #1) by Anne Rice

Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles, #1)Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles made me love reading books. I mean, it didn’t exactly start there. I can go back further in my childhood to other books, but as a “young adult” in my late teens, this series nailed it for me. I was captivated. They stayed with me and I thought about them for DAYS, weeks even. In retrospect, it was probably my first experience of “book depression.” I wanted Lestat to turn me into a vampire. I think he was my first book boyfriend.

This is my first re-read since the 90s, I think, and it didn’t hold up as well as I’d hoped. Louis is a dreadful vampire. He has as much self-loathing as Bill Compton from the Sookie Stackhouse series. Sheesh. I found it dreadful to read from his POV. He hated being a vampire and was so melodramatic. I like to read about unapologetic vampires who thrive and are confident and kick-ass. This is NOT that kind of story.

It does read like a “new” classic with lots of literary phrases and descriptions. It’s well-written as a historical novel about an earlier Louisiana and France in the 1800s. It has a certain appeal. But I think that Louis is insufferable as a leading man. Claudia shines with what she is given. Lestat is sort of a villainous caricature here (readers know he is fleshed out in future books and becomes much more complex than any of the vampires in this series, for better or worse).

I am not sure I will read this one again because it’s just … kind of boring to me now. Maybe I’ve outgrown it? I think I like a little more bite in my vampire books now.

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