This Chick Read: Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards #1) by Janella Angeles

Kallia, a showgirl in a mysterious nightclub, escapes to the city beyond the woods, where a magical contest will take place to find the headliner for the Circus of the Conquerors. Her ex boss Jack haunts her as she finds her place and becomes friends with the enigmatic Magician Daron Demarco. This is a debut novel that delivers fantasy in a haunting new world full of magic, mystery, and romance.

This was such an interesting novel! Set in a world full of magicians. Some of whom work in service using their powers to build, lift, and sew. Basic skills that become a little easier, or more special through the use of magic, yet that skill keeps them on their own social level. Everyone in this world strives to be the most magical, and the elite are performers who draw the spotlight away from the depths of despair the other members of society are doomed to live.

Kallia’s previous life at her nightclub in the woods was a place filled with grandeur, yet she felt imprisoned by the Master. She escapes that place but not him and their relationship changes from friend, to lover, to enemy, to hero (?). She was obviously confused about how she felt about Jack but mine were much simpler. I was fascinated by him. A magician who could plant memories in people? That could be used for good or evil and it seemed Jack rode a fine line. Kallia herself was a mixture of snark, shine, and insecurity. Character traits I’m not usually drawn to but she was actually a really interesting character and I grew to like her. Not to sound like a broken record but Demarco was also a bit…mysterious. His place on the judges panel and his reasons for being on it remained unclear for but his growing involvement with Kallia and his conflicted feelings about her made you want to see the story through to the end.

When Dreams Descend was dark but it was also pretty special. I thought the scenes where the magicians performed were well done and their magic was easy to follow. The author wrote them almost like a fight scene and my imagination didn’t have any trouble following her direction. The story also held my interest and I didn’t have any trouble immersing myself in this fantasy world. A solid book one for this debut author! I can’t wait to read the sequel when it comes out.

❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest.

Click this link to purchase!* Where Dreams Descend: A Novel (Kingdom of Cards (1))

Copyright 2020 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you should purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy #5) by Ilona Andrews

Six months have gone by since Alessandro left her and Catalina’s broken heart has mended (so she says). As a Prime and head of her family Catalina tries to cope and finally resolves to lose herself in her family’s investigative firm’s caseload. While rescuing an emotional-support pet monkey she and her team are attacked by some amphibious beasts who seem to be controlled by a plant/mechanical device. When she gets called to duty as the deputy to the Warden of Texas, Catalina dives into that investigation finding that the two are connected. When called in for a client meeting she comes face to face with, you guessed it, Alessandro Sagredo, their representative. Unsurprisingly he muscles in on her investigation and they are forced to work side by side. Catalina’s plan? To be professional and distant, but unfortunately she’s facing a new Alessandro. One who is determined to protect her and to win her heart.

Oh goodness, I love this series so much! Emerald Blaze does for Catalina what the three earlier books in the series did for her older sister Nevada. It makes you look past the superficial to see an honorable, tough young woman who’s easy to adore, in part because she doesn’t cave in to everyone’s demands. Finding her own path through grit and determination. The Hidden Legacy series, set in a Houston where magic is power shows how this smaller house (Baylor), and Catalina as its Prime, navigate the house politics while staying independent and increasing their own worth. That’s all fascinating to read, but then when you throw in a hero who is a dichotomy to his outward screen idol facade, and who is determined to protect that heroine? You are guaranteed fiery dialog and sizzling chemistry, and a fun plot that makes those pages flip by too quickly.

Ok, ok, what can I say about this plot. Well, this plot is too intricate to attempt to describe so I’ll just say that as their investigation moves forward the romance takes a back burner and the mystery becomes what I’m truly interested in seeing. Yes, their chemistry is great, but it’s this magical world that Ilona Andrews has created that holds my attention. It’s the supporting characters that give our main characters depth and emotion. Emerald Blaze is not a surface piece of fluff, despite what the cover looks like, there’s actually a lot of meat in the story, and the plot definitely holds my attention.

If you are a fan of this series and are wondering if Nevada and Conner have any part in this novel, the answer is yes. Nevada is actually around for a good portion and as with any favorite characters, it was so good to see her, but Catalina and Alessandro were the stars in Emerald Blaze and really I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Looking towards the future a third book is on the horizon. An underlying story arc was not completed in this book and I’m eager to see how they finish it out! Let’s hope they write quickly! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this ARC from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!

Click this link to purchase!* Emerald Blaze: A Hidden Legacy Novel

Copyright 2020 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

It’s Monday, what are you reading? (8/24/2020)

Another busy weekend! We held a social distanced yard sale this weekend with everyone wearing masks. It was kind of a trip! Normally masked people milling around your yard would give you pause, but these are strange times! I didn’t spend a lot of time reading this weekend, but I did finish up an audiobook that I’d been listening to and started an ARC that I need to review since the book comes out this week. Time to share those with you!

This post originated over on Book Date, so thanks for the idea and letting me continue on the discussion about what books I am reading.

JUST FINISHED

I love this fantasy series and lately I’ve really enjoyed re-visiting favorites by listening to their audiobook. This story is about a woman who does not have super powers, just a talent to find the right path, and of course she finds a lot of adventure and a little love while traversing that trail.

Click this link to purchase!* Mist’s Edge (The Broken Lands Book 2)

JUST STARTED

I’m about 25% into Where Dreams Descend, a fantasy novel about a world filled with magic and magicians. It’s very reminiscent of Caraval, which I loved. We’ll see….

Click this link to purchase!* Where Dreams Descend: A Novel (Kingdom of Cards (1))

I’m still on a fantasy bend, but have some light rom-com’s in my future! What book is helping get your week kick-started?

Happy Reading!

Deb

This Chick Read: Rules of Redemption and Age of Deception (The Firebird Chronicles books 1 and 2) by T.A. White

Ex war hero, Kira Forrest lives a solitary life with her robotic pal Jin as they scavenge the star system for parts to sell. While on planet, hoping to make that sale she saves the lives of two Tuann children which brings her in the path of their warrior leader Graydon. He immediately identifies her as one of their lost children and makes a political play with the human military to take her home to her Tuann family. Kira begrudgingly goes to Tuann with the intent to escape quickly and find her way back to her ship.

Ok, the above synopsis does not even begin to tell the nuances and emotions that fill this novel. Kira is an unlikely heroine. She see’s herself as a freak because of her skills during the war, and her military pals also have trouble seeing her as human which sets her apart from the rest of the human characters in this story. As she learns more about the Tuann people she realizes that her “traits” are inherited and not totally uncommon. This insight helps her self confidence, but she still fights against finding a home among those people. After all, she was raised as human.

Kira is one of those characters who is altruistic, always jumping in either with her mouth or with her body, and it’s hard to dislike sass and heroism. Graydon, see’s that same likability, and doesn’t have a human upbringing to compare her actions, like she does to herself. He just see’s her as bad@$$ and bides his time before making his move. He reminded me a bit of Curran in Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series, and I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed that humor/alpha combo.

Rules of Redemption sets the scene with such skill. The world building is detailed and yet extremely easy to follow, the characters are varied from friends, to possible enemies, to possible mentor like relationships. Underneath it all is a great plot where we get to follow Kira as she explores her new culture in a way that allows her to be aggressive, show her street smarts, and reveal her level of problem solving skills. A true action fantasy novel!

The second novel, Age of Deception, continues where Rules of Redemption left off. Kira leaves her first Tuann family and travels to Roake to meet her fathers side. Here she decides to take a warrior’s path by undertaking the Trial of the Broken. A warrior like boot camp that only a few survive. This novel follows the same action adventure style, yet we get to see Kira grow as a character. Two of her military (ex) teammates travel with her and through their interactions we understand why she has separated herself from her friends. That loyalty gives her character depth and makes her budding relationship with Graydon real. This is a girl who is unerringly loyal, but doesn’t lean towards trust. He has his work cut out for him!

If you’re a fan of romantic fantasy a la Ilona Andrews, you will eat these books up and will rip through the rest of T.A. White’s novels as well. Once you finish these, check out her Pathfinder series!

Rules of Redemption ❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️

Age of Deception ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click these links to purchase! * Rules of Redemption (The Firebird Chronicles Book 1) and Age of Deception (The Firebird Chronicles Book 2)

Copyright 2020 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you should purchase through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

It’s Monday, what are you reading? (7/13/2020)

The release of Mariana Zapata’s novel Hands Down last week had me picking up a couple other of her books as got me in the mood to read an older favorite. Which then led me into an old fantasy favorite, and I went down the rabbit hole. LOL. My reading choices hit just the right note! I hope you had as much luck with your choice!

This post originated over on Book Date, so thanks for the idea and letting me continue on the discussion about what books I am reading.

JUST FINISHED

After reading Hands Down, which featured Zac from The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, I re-read Winnipeg which had a side character in Vanessa’s best friend Diana Casillas. So, I read her story next. Yep, the rabbit hole. Wait for It is probably my third or fourth favorite Mariana Zapata novel so it wasn’t a hardship to pick it back up.

JUST STARTED

AFter binging on Mariana Zapata and feeling great about the books I’d chosen I again chose an older book that I’d read previously and really liked. I’d last read Oracle’s Moon in 2014 and I think it was my favorite of Thea Harrison’s Elder Races. Have you read those? They are fun romantic fantasy novels. I’m looking forward to finishing this one up this week.

What books did you read this last weekend, and what book are you starting out your week reading? An old favorite? Or a brand new release?

Happy Monday!

Deb

This Chick Read: Dragon Unleashed (Fallen Empire #2) by Grace Draven

In a land where magic is forbidden, earth witch Halani knows she has to be careful with her secret. When her free trader uncle purchases an artifact that’s said to be a bone from a long extinct draga, Halani feels the magic within and knows it will bring them trouble. Malachus has been searching for that same item and needs it to be able to transform from a man into a draga before his magic kills him. Their fate’s are tied together, both holding secrets, yet developing a love that will transform them and help them conquer evil.

Dragon Unleashed is the second novel in the Fallen Empire series, but for those of you who haven’t read Phoenix Unbound, this one can be read as a stand alone. I haven’t read the first novel in the series and except for meeting those characters, they weren’t involved in the plot for Dragon Unleashed so I didn’t feel at all lost. The world, however, is the same where magic is forbidden and just as in Phoenix Unbound Halani wields a magic that could make her an outlaw. It’s through her magic that the conflict for the story arises. Knowing the relic is actually the real deal means that Halani lies to Malachus right from the start. The reader being in on that lie is waiting for the hero to find out, which adds tension to what might have been a rather dull story.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a story with a dragon and I enjoyed his point of view even more than I did Halani’s. Having lived for a long time, Malachus has seen the dark side of humanity, and is pretty cynical about Halani and her people when they first meet. I liked how his view gradually changed, making Halani’s secret lie even more important to this novel. How Malachus overcomes his disdain allows his character to grow which adds impetus to the final conflict in the story. It was really well done. Halani’s POV is more predictable and because of that I found her character a little dull. Malachus definitely did all of the hard lifting in this novel.

I couldn’t end this post without saying something about the cover for this book. It’s absolutely gorgeous and really gives you a feel for the genre, although I pictured Halani a little less beautiful and more round. The author’s descriptions made me envision Malachus as sharply handsome, and Halani as softly pretty. I don’t begrudge the author this beautiful cover though, it will definitely help sell books!

❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of the book from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!

Click this link to purchase!* Dragon Unleashed (The Fallen Empire Book 2)

Copyright 2020 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: How to re-find my reading mojo during the Coronavirus.

It’s now been two months of working from home and although I don’t know for sure I think it will be another couple of months before my company is ready to start transitioning us back to the office. I don’t have children, and so working from home hasn’t been a big hardship. However, like most people being at home all the time is not the respite my home had always been previously. I move from my bed, to the couch, to my desk, to the back deck, and despite the niceties and convenience, I’m having trouble finding solace in my usual habits.

In the past, after a stressful day at work, coming home and spending the evening reading was a pleasure. For some reason, it’s been so much harder to escape in a book! I find myself turning towards the TV and streaming shows I’ve heard co-workers and friends talk about instead of flipping open my kindle. Why is this? I’m not a psychologist so unfortunately I don’t have an answer to that question, but recently I’ve done a few things that have given me that joy in reading that I used to feel.

ROMANCE NOVELS

Yeah, yeah, that’ s nothing new for me. I am a huge lover of romance novels. However, I do usually switch up my genre’s. I read a romance, then I switch to women’s fiction, or fantasy. You know, something different. Lately I’ve read romance after romance. I think it’s that happy ending, and the ease of finding a couple you want to root for and fall in love with. Romance novels have been my quick fix.

RE-READING A BOOK YOU KNOW YOU LIKE

I love the old Kristen Ashley novels. You know, when she actually wrote a plot into her novels? I had purchased Kaleidoscope to finish out this series on my Kindle, but hadn’t read it for a long while. This novel helped jump start my ability to read again. Funny enough, it wasn’t as good as I remembered it, but the solace of reading something I knew I’d once liked was enough to get me past that first 50 pages and solidly into the story. Your favorite genre might be Horror, Mystery, coffee table books, who knows! The point is it doesn’t really matter, just pick up a book you love and settle in.

BAKING

I know I haven’t been alone as everyone is baking right now. We’re stuck in our homes and with little to do we are finding our inner Wolfgang Puck. I’m not only baking, but I’m also cooking some pretty great meals. Am I trying to be healthy? NO. I am trying to fill my time and do something I’ve always loved and has made me feel good. I’m just doing it a little more often. One of the things I love the most about baking is that it’s so methodical. Sue me, I’m a Virgo and we love checking things off a list, measuring, scooping, and basically finding solace in organizing type tasks. Essentially baking is following a recipe and measuring. I can listen to an audiobook, get out my measuring cups, and go to town. It’s worked wonders on my psyche. Not so much on my waistline.

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

Listen to your friends, family, favorite bloggers, whoever you trust. For me, it’s my sister. If she brings up a book more than one time to me, I know she wants me to check it out. She thinks I’ll really like it, and even more importantly, she wants me to read it. I just finished this series by T.A. White in two days. I flew through them! They are NON romance novels! Although, they are romantic fantasy, but still! It got me out of a rut and I LOVED them. Try a recommendation. Interrupt your normal pattern of picking a novel and give someone else’s choice a chance.

ARC’S, ARC’S, AND MORE ARC’S!

I had gotten pretty good at not having too many so I could mix in books I want to read that may have come out in the past, with books that are coming out and I want to read and review for my blog. Admittedly, I’m reading more for pleasure right now. So, I’ve gotten in a bit of a bind. Is anyone else getting ARC requests accepted by all publishers? Is there a shortage of willing bloggers I don’t know about? I’m in some serious trouble! For crying out loud, I got sent a book on 5/13 for a book that came out on 5/12. I don’t work like that! I read in advance. It must be a shortage of people requesting an ARC. I can’t figure this one out. This is just a screenshot of what fit on my screen. It’s a couple of pages. Yikes!

Despite the stress from that last point, I feel like lately I may just have gotten my reading mojo back. I’ll admit to being REALLY picky. If something doesn’t appeal to me in the first 10 pages I put it down. I want to immerse myself in a novel, but I don’t want to have to work for it.

I’d love to know if anyone else has had the same problems and come up with any different solutions? Or have you just shut the book and picked up the remote. I have done a bit of that too.

Take care, and stay safe!

Deb

This Chick Read: Sweep With Me (Innkeeper Series #4.5) by Ilona Andrews

During Treaty Stay, Innkeeper’s are not allowed to turn away any guests. Although Dina has been an Innkeeper for a few years, her new boyfriend Sean is just beginning to wear in his Innkeeper’s robes and although in love, they are still feeling out their duties as co-Inkeeper’s. When a Drifan asks to stay during Treaty Stay, Dina must accept and hope that this super magical being is not looking for trouble during their stay. With the addition of a group of Koo-ko, who need a suite to continue their very heated debate, and a Medamoth, a tracker, this Treaty Stay may be a doozy!

Even though Sweep With Me is a novella, I got a real feeling of where Dina is at since the last novel featuring she, Sean, and Gertrude Hunt. Still struggling with the loss of the seedling Inn, Dina is trying to regain her strength and learn to co-partner with Sean in their new relationship. Ilona Andrews does a great job of giving us a full length story in a short form novella and I felt totally satisfied when I ended this novel.

I love it when new species drop in to Gertrude Hunt and this world expands and grows. Hopefully Ilona Andrews has many more stories to tell in this series because I’m not done watching these characters grow and evolve in their relationships. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“It was over way too quickly, and seemed very much just holding material, a way to pass time to get to something better. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun holding material, but the last book was so very good, I guess I really wanted more with a return to Dina’s story.” The North Wind and the Sea

“I know it’s going to be quite some time before we see another Innkeeper novel. Since we know what Ilona Andrews will be working on in the meantime, I’m totally okay with that. But I will admit that I love this series, and will miss it in the meantime. I think I’m going to have to go back and reread the entire series again, to help cope with that bit of loss. But it’ll be worth it!” Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks

Click this link to purchase!* Sweep with Me (Innkeeper Chronicles)

Copyright 2020 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: How to Love Your Elf (Embraced by Magic #1) by Kerrelyn Sparks

Synopsis: Sorcha knew the mission was dangerous. Leaving the safe grounds of her brother’s kingdom and parlaying with the elves across their border . . . well, treachery seemed at least as likely as true peace. But to support her sister, Sorcha would brave far more than the underhanded ways of the elves. Or so she thought, before she was taken hostage.
 
Of course, her captors didn’t count on her particular abilities—or on the help of the Woodsman, the mysterious thief who made his home in the forest. He saw the battle from the trees, saw the soldier attacking against incredible odds to save a comrade—and then saw the valiant fighter revealed as Princess Sorcha of Norveshka. He can’t tell if he wants to kidnap her or kiss her. But despite Sorcha’s stubbornness, his inconvenient honor, and a rebellion on the cusp of full war, something burns between them that neither can let go . . .

REVIEW: The series name Embraced by Magic #1 implies that this book is the first in the series, doesn’t it? Foolish me! As I was reading this novel I quickly realized this was not the first novel. There were clearly a few couples already covered in a previous series which normally would make me mad. I kept reading because I had to, as I was given an ARC of this novel to review. At this point you’re probably thinking that I got lost in the story and soon forgot that the publisher misled me….you’re wrong! I only got more mad because this novel was so poorly written! Even though I’ve never read a Kerrelyn Sparks novel before, I know this is an author who has written a whole bunch of novels and well, this novel felt like it was a first attempt by a high schooler. If it had been? Well, maybe I would be a little less harsh, but it wasn’t. So, how did I feel about this book? Disappointed would be putting it mildly.

I’m not a reviewer that normally writes scathing commentary. It’s not worth my time unless I feel like I need to take a stand on behalf on women for a horrible topic like romanticizing sexism or rape. This novel didn’t have any of those topics, it was a fantasy romance about a bunch of elves in a forest. It should’ve been fun, but was really just bad. That happens. I get it. That’s why I usually just choose to pass on the review. However, I feel like I need to make a point about how putting this novel, which was clearly the third or fourth in a different series and titling it as #1 in a new series clearly misleads the reader. Added to that is that it was just poorly written and juvenile and well, you’ve got one really unhappy reader and I got this book for free!

Setting the publisher’s intentions aside, why didn’t I like this book? This story was in 2-D. The character’s weren’t developed, the love story was contrived, and the sex scenes truly awful. The dialog was pretty comical. Our hero was a wood elf and our heroine Sorcha jokes about his wood-like erection. Yeah, it was really bad and I found myself rolling my eyes and skimming the pages hoping it would get better. It didn’t. So, despite our hero’s wood-like penis, I was left totally unsatisfied.

Maybe this style of writing is what Kerrelyn Sparks is famous for and I’m going to anger a bunch of fans of this author, but I hope it’s just one bad book in her catalog and I just chose the wrong one to test the waters.

I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and, well, it was honest!

Copyright 2020 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved.

This Chick Read: Protect the Prince (Crown of Shards #2) by Jennifer Estep

As the new queen of Bellona, Everleigh Blair wants to bring peace to her country despite the grumblings of her own noble families. When an assassin tries to kill her in her own throne room, Everleigh plans a trip to the neighboring country of Andvari to sign a treaty and stand up against the dark forces who would try to overthrow their kingdoms. With the help of her gladiator friends she faces the family of her love, bastard prince Lucas Sullivan. In Andvari she learns what it means to be a Winter Queen, in an emotional journey. What will she do? Choose what’s right for her country or the man she is coming to love.

Protect the Prince brought all of the action that I loved in Kill the Queen but added an emotional depth to our main character, Everleigh. She and Lucas have a connection that shouldn’t be acted upon as she is now queen and Lucas is the bastard son of the Andvari king. Knowing their love is futile, frustratingly, they spend a good majority of this novel apart. I hated that! I love a little romance in my action fantasy novels. However, when Everleigh finds a plot to bring down the Andvari house and goes undercover (so to speak) the plot thickens and became interesting enough for me to overlook the fact they were not together…yet.

I loved both Everleigh and Lucas’s strength of character in Kill the Queen, but felt like Lucas could’ve fought a little bit more for what he wanted, and Everleigh could’ve let him in on a few of her secret plots so he didn’t spend a good portion of the novel hurting. I hated the lack of communication! I know, it’s just a book, but I like it when my characters are on the same page. Aargh! LOL. Both Everleigh and Lucas’s characters get a little more back story which explains some of their character traits. Through flashbacks we learn about the death of Everleigh’s parents and the part the Bastard Brigade played. This explains Everleigh’s determination to bring an end to that group. We also learn about a past love of Lucas’s that ended poorly and explains why he continues to do what is right instead of what he wants. Both of these things slow the novels down only slightly but help me care more for their characters and the outcome of their relationship.

As with the first novel there was some great politically charged action scenes with our bad guys somehow always staying one step ahead of our heroes. The conclusion to those political machinations had a couple of surprise twists that left me feeling like I MUST read the next novel! I just wish it were coming out a little sooner than next year!

❤️❤️❤️❤️

Opinions from around the Blogosphere

“In addition to political shenanigans, there is plenty of action in Protect the Prince as well as subterfuge, betrayal, and some rather swoony moments. I loved reading this story and I am completely looking forward to what is next in this series!!” The Genre Minx Book Reviews

“The series so far is still littered with all kinds of fantasy tropes, but surprisingly, I don’t have a problem with it. The truth is, it gives these books a certain kind of charm, and I love being able to kick back with something light and fun. I also have a feeling Estep is working on the bigger picture, building towards something even better. I look forward to reading the next book.” The Bibliosanctum

Click this link to purchase!* Protect the Prince (A Crown of Shards Novel)

Copyright 2019 Deborah Kehoe The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate