Blood Promise by Danielle Rose

Title: Blood Promise
Author: Danielle Rose
Age Level: New Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Part of a Series?: Yes (the Blood Books series, Book Three)

*I was provided an electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:
In this final installment of the Blood Books series, Avah Taylor is faced with having to fight for the life she never wanted in the first place. As she works to defend her new reality, she will travel around the world and, eventually come full circle to once again face the question of what makes a family a family and whether destiny is indeed an immovable force.

Overall Impressions:
As has become the pattern for Ms. Rose, this was a fast-paced, quick read that I didn’t want to put down once I started. More than that, it is one of the most satisfying end caps to a trilogy I have ever read: closure and potential for more were both present and well-balanced. Something I have rarely seen in a series.

The Nitty Gritty:
This will probably be one of my shortest, least specific reviews. As the conclusion of a series, there isn’t much I could quote for you as a potential reader that wouldn’t give some aspect of the plot of this book away. And while there were many, many sentences and scenes I would love to quote, discuss, and entice you with, I am not willing to take away the joy of surprise and discovery that comes with reading this book “blindly”.

That said, I will point out several positive aspects of the book: character development and growth (both as individual characters and in regards to relationships between characters) continued depending and growing. Plot moved forward with questions answered and new mysteries revealed. The reality of the world Ms. Rose has created expanded to encompass locations such as Russia and England, showing that she has truly created an entire world for this series, not just a small section of the world. The very few new characters introduced were multi-dimensional, catchy, and added to the novel on more than one level. And there was some truly beautiful, heart-touching, soul-touching lines and imagery in this book.

Special Parenting Concerns:
Sex Scenes: This book has more sex and intimacy in it than either of the previous two books, but considering the fact that the characters are facing life and death situations this entire book, it makes sense that they would be holding onto every moment they can have together.

Violence: This book’s plot centers around the culmination of a war between witches and vampires. Fighting, blood, and death occur more than once in this book. The difference in this book, however, is that they tend to be more isolated to single moments in time for the characters (rather than long stretches of fights), while being more long-lasting in impact (more life-changing, in other words).

Language: No (or very, very little) swearing.

Book Club Chatter:
For this book, I would probably focus on how it works as an end to the trilogy, looking at things like over-all character arcs, what the characters may have learned about family, racism, destiny, etc. The end of the book also raises the questions of duty and expectations  against the desire to live and enjoy life. Should a person do what is expected of them, even at the expense of time with family and friends, should you focus on family and friends, or is there a way to balance the two (and what does that look like)?

You Will Like This If…:

  • You liked Blood Rose and Blood Magic (at this point, if you have read the first two, reading Blood Promise is quite close to a necessity of life! 😉 )
  • You like Twilight, Chosen, or Blue Bloods
  • Authors such as Marjorie Liu and Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Books that blend more than one genre: this is a paranormal action romance, blending vampires AND witches, action AND romance.
  • As a New Adult novel, this book could appeal to those who love Young Adult, New Adult, and traditional Paranormal Romances

Goodreads’s Rating: 4.94 Stars (18 Ratings)
Amazon’s Rating: 4.9 Stars (11 Reviews)
My Rating: 5 Stars

Exciting, fast-moving, and emotional. I could have used a bit more tension and breath-holding in the climax (the pace kept it from being as uncertain as I would have liked, personally), but the racing heart was certainly well-done and still satisfying. There was a beautiful ending to the story. Very satisfying. I’d be happy to see more, but I feel enough closure I am not mad there won’t be. Until/unless Ms. Rose changes her mind, at which point I will happily snatch up any other books in this series or even “just” this universe.

*this book review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

My other reviews of Ms. Rose’s work:
Blood Rose (Blood Books book 1)
Blood Magic (Blood Books book 2)
Daemon Academy (Short Story)

Blood Magic by Danielle Rose

Title: Blood Magic
Author: Danielle Rose
Age Level: New Adult
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Part of a Series?: Yes (the Blood Books series, Book Two)

*I was provided an advanced reading copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:
Avah Taylor thought she had already faced the worst: as her coven’s chosen one, destined to receive a power that could kill her, she was forced to make the ultimate sacrifice when she gave up her mortal life to become a vampire, the witches’ greatest enemy. But just when she begins to adjust to her new life, even as she falls in love with her sire, the high priestess of her new coven is seized by Rogue vampires.

Guided by Avah’s visions of the past, present, and future, Avah and the other vampires set out to rescue their priestess, but their journey leads Avah to the discovery that the conspiracy behind her power runs deeper than she ever imagined, a secret that forces her to reconsider, once again, who she can trust.

With her abilities as both witch and vampire, Avah may be the only one who can locate her coven’s high priestess. But as her visions grow increasingly terrifying, and her life is threatened by both enemies and those she once loved most, Avah begins to wonder if she may not have a future at all.

Overall Impressions:
As with the previous book, Blood Rose (which I reviewed here), once I cracked open Blood Magic, I didn’t want to stop until I had reached the end. It was exciting, fast paced, and did a great job of moving the story forward.

The Nitty Gritty:
Blood Magic is the second book in Danielle Rose’s Blood Books series. One of my special concerns when reading a series is how it ties in with the previous book or books. Blood Magic does an excellent job dealing with both the previous readers and the possibility of new readers starting with Blood Magic instead of Blood Rose: the world is reestablished in one of two precisely written paragraphs, and then the action moves forward in a quick and fulfilling manner. As a returning reader I was neither bored by the recap nor made to wait long for new material. Ms. Rose struck an excellent balance.

And how was that new material? The short version is that it was entertaining and emotional. While there was a good variety of up and down beats, it was primarily a heart-pounding adventure akin to a super hero movie. The action started on page two and never really stopped. Even the pauses were page-turning pacing. My eyes widened, my pulse raced, I laughed out loud, there were events that surprised me, and I cried both happy and sad tears.

As for the new material, I was pleased to find that it added tension to the existing storyline, developed character, and added more depth to the world Ms. Rose has created for this series. It was skillfully done; everything in this book did double-duty.

Special Parenting Concerns:
Sex Scenes: Avah is a bit older (in life experiences, anyway) in this book, and her relationship has moved into a phase of deeper connection. This has (very naturally) led to more exploration of the sexual side of her relationship. Consequently, there are two sex scenes (rather than the one in Blood Rose) and they are more detailed than they were in the first book as well.

Violence: This book’s plot centers around a war between witches and vampires. There are vampires of varying degrees of violence. Fighting, blood, and death occur more than once in this book. However, there is never violence just for violence’s sake, nor is there a great deal of detail put in to the gore. The coven Avah belongs to does not hunt for their blood. Instead, they get their blood from willing donors via blood bag. However, there are special circumstances in this book that result in facing the need to get blood from other sources.

Language: No (or very, very little) swearing.

Book Club Chatter:
This book can open the door for a variety of discussions between parents and their high school and older children (or your book club!):

  1. This book does a good job of really highlighting how things such as racism, sexism, sexuality, etc (differences between people, in other words), can separate us–and how needless that separation is. What differences are in your life (or your child’s life) that have caused anger, distrust, or other negative emotions to reign? Why did this happen? How can we get around these differences, working with them and working to understand them rather than allowing them to separate us?
  2. What is courage? Is it the absence of fear or facing it? What are good ways to deal with fears?
  3. With two books (of three) read, it is possible to begin looking for foreshadowing and making hypotheses about what will happen in the third book.
  4. Now that you know them better, which characters are you favorite? Who do you identify with? Why do you like him/her/them?
  5. Pick a favorite scene or two and discuss: a) how you would have handled it if you where a character, b) what writing elements cause this scene to really sing for you, c) what you wish had been differently–and how you think that would impact the remainder of the story.

You Will Like This If…:

  • You liked Blood Rose (although that may be a little obvious 😉 )
  • You like Twilight, Chosen, or Blue Bloods
  • Authors such as Marjorie Liu and Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Books that blend more than one genre: this is a paranormal action romance, blending vampires AND witches, action AND romance.
  • As a New Adult novel, this book could appeal to those who love Young Adult, New Adult, and traditional Paranormal Romances

Goodreads’s Rating: 4.56 Stars (34 Ratings)
Amazon’s Rating: 4.6 Stars (24 Ratings)
My Rating: 5 Stars

It is an exciting book and I am glad to have a copy of it; I am confident I will read it again in the future. I do wish that there had been more development in the character relationships–I feel a bit too much of it was done off-stage, in the short amount of time that occurred between books–but this is minor. To have spent more time in this arena would, I think, have drastically slowed down the pace of the book. And that is not something I am sure would have improved the story or experience overall.  The bottom line: I can’t wait to read the next one and am very grateful that it released on June 28th!

*this book review is also posted on Goodreads and Amazon

My other reviews of Ms. Rose’s work:
Blood Rose (Blood Books book 1)
Daemon Academy (Short Story)

Author Interview: Danielle Rose

Danielle Rose headshot

Danielle Rose first became a resident of my book hoard when I reviewed Blood Rose, the first in her Blood Books series, and interviewed her about the experience of writing it. Today, I had the opportunity to ask her questions relating to her short horror story Daemon Academy, which was released on October 27, 2015. Here’s what she had to say:

1)  What inspired you to branch into the horror side of supernatural for Daemon Academy rather than the romance side of things that you chose for the Blood Book series?

I’ve always been fascinated by emotions, and this fascination led to the creation of DAEMON ACADEMY. I think it’s incredibly difficult to truly bring out an emotion in a reader—whether it’s arousal, fear, love, compassion, etc. For me, it’s easier to write a plot that brings out happier emotions, so I wanted to challenge myself by writing something more disturbing and horrific than what I’m used to.

2)  How does writing a short story change your process from when you are writing a novel?

Writing a short story is completely different. For me, it’s much more difficult. In a novel, you have 300+ pages to explore the world, the setting, your characters, themes, and more. You have many chances to draw the reader in. In a short story, you have only a few thousand words to accomplish the same things you try to accomplish in a novel. You don’t have as much time to explore.

3)  Can we look forward to any more stories with this character or world? What about the horror genre; do you have any more forays into the world of the scary planned at this time?

When I wrote this story, I had no intention of returning to this world. However, I’ve gotten overwhelmingly positive feedback from readers, and now, I find myself rethinking my initial decision. I’m not sure if I would write an anthology of short stories set in this world (perhaps following different characters) or a standalone novel that continues the plot line, but this is something I’m now considering.

I most definitely plan to write horror again. I am planning to write a teen paranormal thriller, tentatively titled FORGET ME NOT, which will dance with the horror genre. For me, it’s much more difficult to write horror, so it takes much longer to craft.

4)  If you could peek into one author’s literary hoard, who would you choose and why?

My first instinct would be to choose Richelle Mead. She has had the most influence on me as a writer. I am completely in love with her captivating writing style and the worlds she creates. However, I also wouldn’t mind peeking into Nicholas Sparks’ literary hoard. He too writes captivatingly. What’s so fascinating about Sparks is that he writes one specific genre: contemporary romance. Yet, he is able to pen completely unique novels. I never tire of sinking into the worlds he creates.

Purchase link for Daemon Academy:
Amazon: Buy Here

My other reviews of Ms. Rose’s work:
Blood Rose

Author Bio:
Danielle Rose is writer of fiction and travel, as well as the owner of Narrative Ink Editing LLC. Danielle currently resides in the Midwest, where she spends her days at a local coffee shop planning her next vacation or plotting her next novel.

Danielle holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program. In addition to her Master of Fine Arts, she also holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and certification in professional writing from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

When not writing, traveling, or writing about traveling, Danielle enjoys being outdoors, cheering for her favorite football team (Go Packers!), and spending time with her husband and their furbabies: two dogs and a cat.

Places to find Danielle Rose:
Website: www.danielle-rose.com
Blog: www.danielles-destinations.com
Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/daniellerose
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/DanielleNRose13
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DanielleNRose13
Twitter: www.twitter.com/DanielleNRose13
Instagram: www.instagram.com/daniellenrose13
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/daniellenrose13
Google+: www.plus.google.com/u/0/+DanielleRose13
Narrative Ink: www.narrativeinkediting.com

Short Story: Daemon Academy by Danielle Rose

daemon academy

Title: Daemon Academy
Author: Danielle Rose
Genre: Horror
Age: Young Adult (although this will depend on the maturity of the reader to some degree)
Is This Part of a Series?: No

Summary: (*taken from the Daemon Academy page on Goodreads)
Kemper Academy is over a hundred years old, but it has only recently reopened after a series of murders and stories of hauntings shut it down. Avlynn, a new student, refuses to let the rumors scare her, chalking them up to a bit of friendly freshman hazing. But when night falls and screams draw her from her room, she finds the truth is much more horrifying than any ghost story.

Overall Impression:
This was a quick read with just the right amount of scariness to make me tense, but not induce bad dreams.

The Nitty Gritty:
I enjoyed this story from the very first sentence. Ms. Rose clearly put thought into finding heavy duty words. Almost all of the sentences in Daemon Academy do more than just one job: character building, world building, atmosphere building, etc. Which is a very good thing, in this short story. (In any short story, really).

My favorite part of this story was the way it fits within the horror genre. There was plenty of tension and atmosphere, a spooky setting and a great legend to go with it, and even a set of well-developed characters. Despite all of these elements that were appropriate to the horror genre, however, the gore level (and by this I mean level of description of blood, ghosts, hauntings, etc that make horror so horrifying) was at the perfect level for me. It was scary and other-worldly, but not graphic.

The worst part of this story is that it ends. While nothing is as thoroughly developed as in a novel, the perception is that the depth exists for them. And then ending to the story certainly leaves me wanting to know what happens next (although this is a complete story).

Special Considerations:
As this is a horror story, I believe it is important for parents to read this before letting their younger teenagers read it. It is a quick read, so won’t take up too much of your time, and a read-through will allow you to gauge whether or not your child will enjoy this or be disturbed by this. You know your child best, after all.

Goodreads Rating: 4.86 Stars (7 Ratings)
Amazon Rating: 5 Stars (3 Reviews)
My Rating: 5 Stars

My other reviews of Ms. Rose’s work:
Blood Rose

Ember Skies by Nicky Crawford

ember skies

Title: Ember Skies
Author: Nicky Crawford
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age: Adult
Is This Part of a Series?: No

*I received an e-Copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review

Summary:
Ember works hard to maintain the image of a perfect military wife, trying to keep her abusive husband happy and her daughter safe. Then she meets Dalton and realizes that she is worth more than just a life of survival. Finding someone who can make her happy, though, is just the beginning. There are still years of hurts, current physical threats, fears to face, and a daughter to protect in order for Ember to reach the life she deserves. Will she find the courage to leave Austin? Will she find the strength to risk her heart again with Dalton?

Overall Impression:
There were parts that were slow and parts that were heart-pounding, but when it all balanced out, it was a good, heart-warming story that was easy and pleasurable to read.

The Nitty Gritty:
My absolute favorite part of this book was the cast of characters. Ember was someone you wanted to get to know, encourage, and–most importantly–watch live and grow. Her daughter, Harlee, was cute and relatively believable with her three-year-old speech (although there were a couple of times where it was distracting). Dalton was honorable, dashing, and funny. And by the time the book was over, there were several other characters–all distinct from one another–that were also worth knowing and watching. Honestly, by the end of the book I was wishing I knew them in real life.

The plot of the book (revolving around an alcoholic, abusive husband) is a bit predictable in its basic path, although it does take a few alternate routes to arrive at the typical destination. (Of course, the characters are refreshing enough that the fact that they have an expected trajectory is acceptable.) The book also has large sections of summary, which was distracting at times. (Admittedly, I’m not exactly sure how the story could have covered the large span of time that it covers without chunks of summary. On the other hand, I’m not sure that simply compressing the amount of time covered in the book would work either; certain elements of the story require a longer stretch of time passing.)

Perhaps the biggest negative in the book was a feeling of inconsistency with the point of view and tenses. What it felt like to me was a switch in approach from one draft to the next. The majority of the book was consistent, but there were a few words that were in the wrong tense, and a few passages where it switched mid chapter from first person to third person or from Ember to Dalton and then back again. It is also possible that this was intentional to provide a “better” point of view for that particular moment in the book. Whatever the case, I found it to be distracting.

That said, everything I said in the overall impression above is true: this book is heart-warming and pleasurable to read. If you want a good pick-me-up, this will do it (although there will be both ups and downs along the way).

Book Club Chatter:
This book covers a lot of difficult topics: alcoholism, abuse (verbal and physical), military deployment and injuries, divorce, blended families, and possibly even some I didn’t see or am not remembering after one read through. While I don’t have any specific questions in mind for these topics or this book, I do believe that this book could provide an excellent jumping off point for a discussion on what we can do for any or all of these situations.

  • How can we help prevent alcoholism or abuse, or help those who have lived with it?
  • What can we do to help support the men and women who are currently deployed? How can we help the families left behind? Those who have been injured in the line or duty? Or veterans?

Special Note:
I think that it is important for this book to make it very clear that there are scenes of physical abuse depicted in this novel. The level of violence in these scenes does rise the further into the book you get. There are also several instances of rape, where the drunk husband forces Ember to have sex when she doesn’t want to. This is not, in anyway, an easy book to read. But there are certainly emotional upsides for those who stick through the darkness with Ember.

Goodreads Rating: 4.35 Stars (48 Ratings)
Amazon Rating: 4.5 Stars (35 Reviews)
My Rating: 3 Stars
This is, however, a strong three stars. I enjoyed the book and would read another book by this author. However, the writing–while solid–was not quite polished enough for my tastes. I was just a little too aware that I was reading a book, rather than disappearing into another world.

Time Untamed by Lily Morgan

Cover photo provided by the author
Cover photo provided by the author

Title: Time Untamed
Author: Lily Morgan
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Age: Adult
Is This Part of a Series?: Yes (Book 2 of the Time Series)

*I received an e-Copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.

Summary:
The second book in the Time Series follows Butch, a member of the TSCAA, and Savannah, a member of an ancient order of assassins. Although they are married, circumstances have lead to Butch believing Savannah (and their son) are dead and Savannah spending her life trying to keep her son’s existence a secret from Butch and her family. Now there is a plot against Jack Evans (the lead passenger staging the counter attack inside US Flight 93 on September 11, 2003) and their paths have crossed again. Will they be able to get past the lies and secrets of their past and save Jack Evans, their son, and history as we know it? Or will the mysterious Mr. X, the powerful man behind the plot, get his wish to unbalance the world and the powers of good and evil that fight for it?

Overall Impressions:
Much like the first book in the series, Time Untamed was an enjoyable read with a fun premise. I really enjoy the world that Ms. Morgan has created for the Time Series.

The Nitty Gritty:
I would like to start by saying that one of my issues with the first book (typos) was much less pronounced in this book. There were a few, but not enough to be distracting from the story. There was also an improvement in the amount of “over-sharing” that the characters did. So this book has some definite improvements over the first one (not that the first one was bad; I did give it three stars after all! It was enjoyable!). However, there were also a couple of things I didn’t like that were new to this book (most likely because of the needs of a new set of characters).

Most notable were the flashbacks. They provided some good information, but I sometimes had trouble transitioning with them. They also had a repetitive quality to them–there were several times where the reader got the same flashback from both Butch and Savannah’s point of view, with almost no new information provided. While there were certainly some well-written flashbacks that provided information I was glad to have as a reader (information that provided a greater emotional connection to the character(s), character development, and/or plot advancement), the majority of them were superfluous to at least some degree.

Another issue I had was connecting to Butch. There was a certain amount of residual connection from the first book, however, I found him to be a bit off-putting, especially with his insistence to refer to the women around him as “hellcats”. Once or twice would have been telling about both Butch and the women, but using that descriptor just about every time that he mentioned these women made him seem more chauvinistic than anything. I got that he did actually admire them, but the fact that he had to label them anything other than valuable members of his team made me feel as if he didn’t expect women to be valuable in his world.

Once Butch and Savannah’s son came into play, however, my connection with all of the characters snapped into place. Not only could I relate to the parenting side of Butch and Savannah, but their son also opened up the soft, gooey center at the heart of them, highlighting strengths, weaknesses, and quirks. Once that happened, I very much liked both characters, the journey they were on, and the relationship between them.

Perhaps one of the best parts of this book, though, was the foreshadowing of the larger picture: more is revealed about Mr. X, and there are several other characters which Ms. Morgan hinted at being more important than they first appeared. More importantly, these revelations came in a surprising manner at a point in the book when I was not expecting them. It was very well done and has me excited to see how it unfolds.

Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars (1 Rating)
Amazon Rating: 5 Stars (2 Ratings)
My Rating: 4 Stars
Once again, I found myself not quite sure where to rate this book. It was not as skillfully and seamlessly written as I would like for a four or five star rating, generally, but it was also more than just a book that I “liked”. When it came down to it, I decided that the improvements from the first book to the second, as well as the skillfully enticing foreshadowing that helped close out the book, rated the bump up to a four star. However, I would have to say that a third book in this series would most likely require a continued improvement in writing technique–namely restraint–in order to “maintain” a four star rating. (I like the books a lot, world, character, and plot-wise, but my four star ratings are “reserved” for books that I like -and- have good writing. For me, improved writing qualifies as good writing. Continually improving writing is some of the best writing there is, really.)

Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand

wylding hall

Title: Wylding Hall
Author: Elizabeth Hand
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Age: Adult
Is This Part of a Series?: No

*I purchased an e-copy of this book

Summary:
This book is told in the style of a documentary film, with interviews of an acid rock band and the people close to them. The topic of discussion is their summer spent at Wylding Hall and the mysterious happenings that took place there–including the disappearance of the lead singer, Julian.

Overall Impression:
This book has gorgeous imagery, a well-developed setting, and a delicious–but tolerable–level of tension and creepiness. This is one of my favorite books of this year.

The Nitty Gritty:
This book has quite a few characters in it–including, in my opinion Wylding Hall itself. They are all well-developed and unique from each other, but I will also say that they are a little tough to get a grasp on–to picture distinctly in one’s head–in the beginning. It is a bit like having a polaroid develop, while the characters are narrating the scene. I could hear their differences and their unique personalities, but it was tough to keep them in focus–at first–while switching back and forth among them. There was a conversational tone which sweep me up and away into the world of Wylding Hall and made me feel like I was sitting in the same room with the characters.

Ms. Hand’s language was lyrical and poetic and descriptive and breath-taking. In short, it was everything I strive to create when I sit down to write my own stories. Honestly, it reminds me of the language of my favorite book (and series) Kushiel’s Dart, but with a more approachable quality to it. One of my favorite lines in the whole book: “It’s the spark that keeps us alive in the cold and the night, the fire we gather in front of so we know we’re not alone in the dark.” It’s beautiful and hopeful and inspiring, because while there is the implication of things that go bump in the night, it clearly speaks to the idea that we are part of a greater whole and, as it says, not alone. And that is a wonderful feeling.

This is listed as a dark fantasy and it is very dark. There are things that make me nervous to recall as I sit here and think about what I read in order to write this review. But as with The Shining, the scary parts of this book are balanced by the quality of writing and language twice and, more importantly, but the fact that the creepiness is best viewed out of the corner of your mind’s eye. If you look directly at it, it looses just enough of it’s brightness and edge to keep a person from loosing sleep. Or this person, at any rate. That is not to say that it didn’t raise my pulse and make my breathing shallow, because it did. It was creepy and amazing and at points almost terrifying, but it–quite wonderfully–did not give me nightmares either. It will stick with me for years, but I won’t loose sleep (other than the sleep I lost staying up to read it, and the sleep I will loose when I reread it in the future). And that is the perfect sort of dark fantasy or horror for this overactive imagination I live with!

Goodreads Rating: 4.11 Stars (164 Ratings)
Amazon Rating: 4.5 Stars (38 Reviews)
My Rating: 5 Stars