Monday, January 22, 2018

Early Review: Emerald Lily by Juliette Cross

The Emerald Lily
Release Date: January 29, 2018
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Vampire Blood Book #4
ISBN: 1640634681
ISBN13: 9781640634688
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Review Copy Source: Publisher

When Princess Vilhelmina Dragomir is awakened from her hellish sleep with a blood kiss from a handsome stranger, she learns that much has changed while she’s been away. The armies of the Black Lily and the vampire Crown have amassed and are on the brink of war.

No romantic entanglements, no family. Mikhail Romanov, Captain of the Bloodguard, took a vow when he joined the Bloodguard. But he never planned for the gut-punching attraction he would feel for the untouchable princess. He must keep his focus, though. In order to avenge his family, it’s essential he help Mina claim her crown and keep his damn hands off of her.

But Mina sets her heart on the elusive captain, and keeping his focus on the great battle ahead becomes harder and harder. While they're making plans, the evil King Dominik has been making some of his own. This time, he will show no mercy to the Princess…

THE EMERALD LILY was the last book? How did I not realize that going in? We have read Juliette's take on Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White, but are you ready for Sleeping Beauty?

We were introduced to Vilhelmina in The Black Lily and knew that she became a prisoner of Queen Morgrid after the fact. THE EMERALD LILY is the story of her release, love story and her part in the Black Lily.

Mina and Mikhail's sexual attraction was instant. Mikhail awoke Mina with a kiss, how could it not be? W find out a lot about both characters throughout the book and it really did read like they were meant to be together. I can't say I was surprised by Mina's forwardness towards Mikhail, but with all she has been through it made sense that she would go for what she wanted instead of sitting by and letting things pass her by.

It was great to see all the characters together in the final book. The final revelations and battle kinda took me by surprise. The ending circumstances were a nice twist.

Although I totally missed the fact that THE EMERALD LILY was the last of the Vampire Blood series, I was very happy with the way it wrapped everything up. Book one, THE BLACK LILY, was by far my favorite of the series, but THE EMERALD LILY came in second and made me happy that I stuck with the story and saw the series to the end.

I gave it 4/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Week in Review: 1/14-1/20



Books Received for Review

Everlife by Gena Showalter
Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

Books I've Read

Witch's Reign by Shannon Mayer
The Myth Manifestation by Lisa Shearin
Judgment Road by Christine Feehan

Reviews Posted

How to Save an Undead Life by Hailey Edwards
Devil Take Me by Karilyn Bentley

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* New Releases for the week. Was there anything you were looking forward to reading?

* Monday- Promo for Legend by K.N. Lee

* Thursday- Guest Blog for The Dark Proposal by Megan Cashman

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* Did you know you can follow UFI on these other sites?

You can also add me (as in Stacy) to your friends on these sites if you're on them.
 

 * I love comments so if you see something you like (or not) please comment away and let me know.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Early Review: Devil Take Me by Karilyn Bentley

Devil Take Me
Release Date: January 22, 2018
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
ASIN:  B078JZXJX1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Author

A demon attack…

Reeling from a personal tragedy and abandoned by all she loves, the world's newest demon huntress, Gin Crawford, sinks into a deep despair.
She’s forced back to reality by news of a large number of people committing suicide, all on the same night. Suspecting demon involvement, Gin must work with her sexy but estranged mentor Aidan Smythe to track who, or what, is behind the deaths.

Leads to a new discovery…

As they come closer to finding the culprit, they realize their employer, the Agency, is hiding its own secret, one which threatens Gin's very existence. New discoveries reveal that even those dedicated to eradicating evil can be bought. Can Gin and Smythe forgive each other and work together or will they fall under the demon's thrall?

There is a lot I want to say about DEVIL TAKE ME, but I'm afraid I might spoil something for you so I will try to keep this short and to the point. 

Book three, DEMON CURSED left me pretty upset at some people, but still excited to see what would happen next. Gin is in a really bad place at the start of DEVIL TAKE ME and I was glad to see that her brother T, was there pretty quickly to start picking her up.

I enjoyed both T and Eloise in DEVIL TAKE ME. They are taking a bigger role in the overall storyline and I like all that was revealed about them. I also like the idea of a relationship between them and look forward to seeing how things might progress with them and where they end up.

Zagan continues to be a huge mystery to me. We do learn a little more about him in DEVIL TAKE ME, but I think at this point I might need a little more info to chew on to keep me interested in this part of the storyline. I'm all for little tid bits, but the tid bits are a little too little for me at this point.

I didn't feel like Aidan really made his temper tantrum from the last book up to Gin and I'm having a hard time liking him again. I mean, he left her when she needed him and put her in danger. He is supposed to be her protector, and he let her down. I just need more groveling I think. I understand he has issues, but he didn't seem as sorry as I wanted him to be. In fact, I got the vibe that he didn't really think he did anything wrong. He's still on my shit list.

DEVIL TAKE ME wasn't my favorite installment of the series, but it was still a good addition. 

I gave it 3.5/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Guest Blog: The Dark Proposal by Megan Cashman

UFI welcomes Author Megan Cashman. Thanks for Joining us!!

No two vampires are the same. What I mean by that is, it seems like vampires in each book, movie or TV show have their own appearances, powers, and blood drinking requirements. Sometimes these characteristics are based on folklore (the Eastern European of the vampire has had a big influence on how we see vampires these days) or at times, the author creates their own version (I never heard of vampires sparkling before "Twilight").

So I say it is safe to say writers of vampire stories got their ideas from various sources - as did I. In this post, I will discuss where the characteristics of my vampires in my book, "The Dark Proposal", came from.

Firstly, let me lay out what those characteristics are:

  • very pale skin that turns into a healthier tone after feeding,
  • the ability to read minds and erase thoughts,
  • move at a very quick speed (think True Blood),
  • turn into mist,
  • no need to sleep in coffins,
  • being able to walk around in daylight or even overcasts after many centuries,
  • superhuman physical strength,
  • heightened hearing and seeing,
Some of my vampires also have difficulty stopping themselves from consuming blood from a person, which leads to suspicious deaths among humans.

So how did I come up with these traits? Allow me to explain:

Very pale skin that turns into healthier tone after feeding: Almost white skin I think is one of the hallmarks of a vampire. Having one without pale skin is like not giving a vampire fangs. It also comes from Slavic folklore that a vampire was spotted by its pale skin that turned ruddy after feeding. Plus, for my trilogy, there needs to be something suspicious about their appearance. Without the skin issue, there's no hint that something is off someone.

The ability to read minds and erase thoughts: Many vampires have done this and I think it can come from the heightened senses these undead creatures have. If they can hear and see things humans cannot see, why not human thoughts? And since I have my vampires inherit supernatural abilities, why not also erase human thoughts if necessary? If you are wondering why my vampires do not hypnotize people, like Dracula did or the vampires on True Blood, well, I did think about that. But it wouldn't have worked for my book. If Daniel was able to make Claire say and do things through hypnosis, then my story had no point, would be boring, be done in 50 pages, with the whole idea down the drain. Plus, I didn't want my vampires to be too much like their True Blood counterparts.

Speaking of True Blood...

Move at a very quick speed: Honestly, I gave my vampires this skill because I think it is so cool to see them zip around a room in a blink of an eye. Also, when I wrote the scene where Daniel proved to Claire that he's a vampire, I just had to have him to do that. It worked so perfectly.

Turn into mist: Comes in handy, basically. I loved the 1992 flick, "Bram Stoker's Dracula" by Francis Ford Coppola, and the way it showed Dracula turning into green mist. While the mist in stories aren't green, it is still a fascinating ability to have. It adds to the mystery and fear of the vampire.

No need to sleep in coffins: I really didn't like the idea of a vampire sleeping in a coffin, even if it is basically a dead creature. It was just too archaic for me. I was also inspired by one of my favorite vampire books as a young teen, Christopher Pike's "The Last Vampire" series. His vampire heroine, Sita, didn't use a coffin and slept in a bed like anyone else.

Which leads to the next trait inspired by Mr. Pike's books...

Being able to walk around in daylight or even overcasts after many centuries: This was something Sita was able to do, although not every single day since the sun would exhaust her after a while. I also had always wondered if a vampire could walk around during a cloudy, rainy day. After all, there is no sun to fry him, right? But I do think being able to deal with some sunlight is best for more mature vampires because age does make them stronger. At least for mine.

Superhuman physical strength: Because my vampires got their traits from ancient tribal gods, why wouldn't they have the power and strength of those deities? Same goes for heightened hearing and seeing. Vampires are supposed to be, to me at least, creatures that we fear. We fear them not simply because they can kill or torment us, but because they have the supernatural ability to hunt us down easily, get us to do things other humans aren't able to, and go mostly unnoticeable in everyday life. It's hard to fear something or someone who isn't two notches stronger or skilled than you.
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Born and raised on Staten Island, NY, Megan Cashman currently lives in Brooklyn, where she can be seen checking out the borough’s numerous coffee shops to work on her writing projects. She has a Masters’ degree in journalism, and has worked for cable news, both local and national, as well as a major New York newspaper. She is currently a freelance journalist and an adjunct professor at the City University of New York (CUNY). When she’s not writing or teaching, Megan can be seen taking nature photos with her iPhone, crocheting, doing yoga and Pilates, and trying out new dinner recipes.

Find Megan and her books
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The Dark Proposal
The End of Eternity #1 
Amazon Smashwords
A young woman copes with being forced to become a vampire as the man she loves reveals he is more evil than she can comprehend.

Claire McCormick has graduated from college and is eager for her new life to begin. She thought it would happen when she began dating Daniel Bertrand, who was everything she wanted in a boyfriend. But just as her dreams are about to come true, Claire’s life is turned upside down when Daniel reveals to be a bloodthirsty vampire, with the intent on making her his eternal companion. Frightened, Claire desperately tries to rid herself of him, but Daniel is too evil to defeat. She has to come to terms with reality, as she faces a vampire world fighting to survive in modern times, with many of them unaware of how devious Daniel can be.

The Dark Proposal is the first book in a trilogy that follows what becomes of Claire and the vampires.

WARNING: contains thematic elements, explicit content and some strong language
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/zw7ih2c9GN4

 Excerpt:

There was a pregnant pause with both waiting for the other to speak or make the first move. For a second, she wondered if this was going to be the moment he would make her like him or kill her instead.
“No, Claire,” he spoke suddenly. She jumped, startled. “It’s up to you to say yes. And remember I did tell you I can read your thoughts.”
“Then please stop, because you’re freaking me out,” she said.
He arched one eyebrow, and for a moment, she feared he would attack her. But instead, he crossed one arm across his chest and put the opposite hand under his chin, as though contemplating something.
“I see you’ve accepted somewhat of what I revealed to you,” he finally said.
“A little.” She felt like she was preparing for war.
“What?” He sounded curious. “Is there something else you can’t comprehend?”
“Yeah,” she said in a shaky voice. Her eyes were downcast, and when she was ready, she lifted them to look right at him. “I did some research while in New Jersey. There’s a lot of websites about real vampires.”
“Yes?” Daniel raised his eyebrows.
Taking a deep breath, she said, “I think you killed Colin Willis.”
His face expressionless, he lowered his arms and closed his eyes, shaking his head. He ran one hand over his face as Claire continued.
“I read a blog about his murder. There are rumors going around that he had two holes on the side of his neck. There was no blood in his body.” She swallowed and asked, almost pleading, “Did you really do it? Honestly, Dan?”
Removing his hand, he looked right at her and said, “I think you know the answer to that question.”
She did, and whatever hope she had that he did not murder Willis quickly dissolved. She began to pant in horror at first, but then in anger. “I mean, you knew as everyone else that there was no evidence of foul play,” he was saying, nonchalantly watching her. “Plus, there were no suspects -”
Claire suddenly pounced on Daniel, arms flailing as she hit him in the face and chest. She was screaming about him being a murderer and how evil he was.
It didn’t last long because he soon caught her flying fists and held a tight grip on her wrists, holding them away from him. His grip was beyond solid, like a steel machine, and his eyes were hollow with rage. For a moment, she thought he was going to attack her again. No, he was going to kill her. She dared to hit him, dared to defy him and now she would pay the price.
He held her in his harsh eyes for a moment, and then shoved her hands away, practically pushing her away from him. “Honestly, who else would’ve done it?”


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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Review: How to Save an Undead Life by Hailey Edwards

How to Save an Undead Life
Release Date: August 19, 2017
Publisher: Self-Published
ASIN:   B074YDTNBS
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Review Copy Source: Purchased

Grier Woolworth spends her nights weaving spooky tales of lost souls and tragedies for tourists on the streets of downtown Savannah. Hoop skirt and parasol aside, it's not a bad gig. The pay is crap, but the tips keep the lights on in her personal haunted mansion and her pantry stocked with ramen.

Life is about as normal as it gets for an ex-necromancer hiding among humans. Until the society that excommunicated Grier offers her a second chance at being more than ordinary. Too bad no one warned her the trouble with being extraordinary is it can get you killed.

Warning: This book contains one ex-con/ex-heiress with a pet zombie parakeet who lives next door to her ex-army/ex-crush. Brace yourselves, we're talking more exes than a pirate treasure map here.
I picked up HOW TO SAVE AN UNDEAD LIFE because I was in a rut of not wanting to read anything I had and not sure what I wanted to read next and I am beyond glad that I did. I LOVED it. It was nothing like I expected and everything I didn't know I wanted.

Grier has not had it easy and it looks like easy is not a word that is in her future. I don't know how she kept it together and at times she has a hard time doing it, but she was SO strong when most would have given up and it endeared me to her from the start.

The necromancer part of the book is different and surprisingly enjoyable. Instead of dealing with zombies, necromancers turn those with enough money into vampires. It was a nice surprise. The world was also really enjoyable. There is different hierarchies of both necromancers and vampires and although we don't get as much information about this as I would have liked, we do get enough information so that we understand what the differences between the different groups are.

I really can't explain how much I enjoyed this book enough. The characters were fantastic, the mystery was mysterious, there's a bit of romance, I loved the twists and turns and didn't expect a lot of them. I enjoyed learning about Grier's past and I'm rooting for her future. I seriously just loved everything about HOW TO SAVE AN UNDEAD LIFE and I'm beyond excited to read more. 

I gave it 5/5 stars

* This book was provided free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.