The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

For the record, I should probably give you a heads up by letting you know that this will be a rambling review. If you’ve been here before, you already know that I tend to do that when I review a book by an author I adore. For the record, T.J. Klune is one of those authors and unsurprisingly, The House in the Cerulean Sea is most definitely one of those books. Consider yourself forewarned. 😉

I have to admit that Linus didn’t win me over in the beginning. The more I got to know him though, the more I realized that the real reason I couldn’t connect with him was because he couldn’t connect with himself. He was lost and didn’t even really realize it. He wasn’t really living, but simply surviving. It took me a while, but in true T.J. fashion, once I connected with this amazing story it wouldn’t let me go.

I was as leery as Linus when readers were first introduced to Arthur and his charges. It didn’t take long to figure out that these kids were much more than their “classification.” It also didn’t take me long to pick a favorite. (I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in my adoration of Lucy. ❤ ) Only T.J. Klune could make me fall in love with the Anti… well, that name or label just isn’t used in reference to one of Arthur’s charges.

Kids are a soft spot for me and The House in the Cerulean Sea pulled on all my heart strings. It did more than that though. there was more than one message. Without spoiling anything, but to give you just a taste of why this author is a must read for me…

“It’s not fair,” Linus said, staring off into nothing. “The way some people can be. But as long as you remember to be just and kind like I know you are, what those people think won’t matter in the long run. Hate is loud, but I think you’ll learn it’s because it’s only a few people shouting, desperate to be heard. You might not ever be able to change their minds, but so long as you remember you’re not alone, you will overcome.”

So yeah, Linus grew on me, just like he grew on Arthur and his charges. And then there was a theme that is front and center in a lot of T.J.’s books and one that I adore…

“A home isn’t always the house we live in. It’s also the people we choose to surround ourselves with.”

The House in the Cerulean Sea was much more than I expected. Sure, it was a little bit corny at times, but it made me smile. And yeah, the inevitable tears were there, even when I didn’t quite expect them. If you’ve never read a book by T.J. Klune, this is an amazing place to start.

“Don’t you wish you were here?”

Trust me, once you read The House in the Cerulean Sea, you’ll totally understand. 😉

 

 

 

Murder Any Witch Way (Brimstone Bay #1) by N.M. Howell

Being a witch is hard. It’s even harder when you live in a town that doesn’t believe in witches.
When young witch River Halloway moves to sleepy Brimstone Bay for her very first journalist job she doesn’t expect to cover anything ground-breaking, until a paranormal festival comes to town and a body is found on opening night. Now, with all evidence pointing towards a witch, River must find the true killer before she becomes the prime suspect, or worse, the next murder victim.

Murder Any Witch Way was a fun read, which is kind of a weird take on a book that dealt with murder. River had a personality that kept things light, even with the circumstances were anything but. She’s definitely a character that I want to get to know better.

Everyone in the paranormal community in Brimstone Bay was hopeful that having the the Paranormal Festival would be a good thing for them. It ended up backfiring though and putting an even more negative light on them, whether people believed in them or not.

The mystery was pretty intriguing and that, along with River’s wit, some great supporting characters and a curious cat kept the pages turning. I can honestly say that I didn’t guess the “who” in this “who-dun-it” until near the end.

Which Way to Hallows Bay is next in the Brimstone Bay series and it may take me a little while, but I’m definitely planning on continuing this series.

Healer’s Need (Ancient Ink #2) by Rhenna Morgan

When the hunter is your mate, being prey is anything but terrifying
Coyote shifter Tate Allen has been watching. Learning his mate every possible way before he moves in. Protecting her through the night, always from afar.
He’ll be the one to teach her about her gifts. He’ll be there when she changes for the first time.
With him, she’ll fulfill her destiny.
Elise Ralston loves Tate for the patience he’s shown. The faith he’s demonstrated—denying himself what he needs sexually, even as he teaches her about pleasure.
For Tate, Elise is willing to try. To revel in touch, to give him control…and to embrace her healer’s need.
But someone unknown is still stalking the clan, threatening more than Tate and Elise’s bond. And Elise is a prime target—precious for the magic she hasn’t even learned yet.

I really liked Guardian’s Bond and I’m also really glad that I made the decision to purchase that one before I read the ARC of Healer’s Need – for a lot of reasons… The first book in the Ancient Ink series not only introduced the characters in Healer’s Need, but a lot of world building ground work was laid. So… for once, you should probably do as I did 😉 (I don’t get to say that often, so pay attention – you can thank me later;) ) Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

Tate was one of my favorite characters in Guardian’s Bond. He and Jade had been a part of Priest’s life for a long time and the “sibling” banter between the two of them was natural (and entertaining), as well as the love and respect that they both had for Priest. Tate’s reaction to Elise at the end of Guardian’s Bond was priceless and I couldn’t wait to find out how things developed between the two of them. I wasn’t disappointed.

Like I said, I loved Tate in Guardian’s Bond, but he gained my respect in Healer’s Need. Given the mate bond, it was no surprise that he was amazing with Elise, but he still impressed me. Elise had been through a lot and Tate somehow sensed that and was patient. A lot was thrown at her at once, given the fact that she knew nothing of her heritage – at least nothing that she believed. I loved and respected her strength and determination to face her destiny.

I’m really loving this series and can’t wait for it to continue. Rhenna Morgan has quickly turned into one of my go-to authors. I can’t wait to see what she has in store for readers next.

Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox #1) by Julie Kagawa

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.
Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.
Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.
There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.
With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.

It’s been a while since I’ve picked up a series by Julie Kagawa. I practically devoured The Iron Fey series and I loved Blood of Eden. When I saw Shadow of the Fox, I didn’t hesitate. Once I started reading, it didn’t take me long to remember why I love this author’s world building so much.

My first love in the Fantasy genre is mythology, mainly because I loved it as a child. It’s familiar, but every author has the ability to put their own spin on it, so the stories are also fresh. Shadow of the Fox was centered around Japanese mythology, a first for me. I have to admit that it took me a little while to wrap my head around this unfamiliar world, but not too long.

There was a lot to take in, but I loved all the twists and turns. The POV switched between not only Tatsumi and Yumeko, but some unexpected characters were given a voice. I loved the magic and legends that were woven into the story. There was danger everywhere and both Tatsumi and Yumeko kept secrets from one another – which didn’t make things easier for either one of them.

I also loved the twists and turns and the unlikely alliances that were formed along their journey. Yumeko’s perspective on pretty much everything was the polar opposite of Tatsumi’s, which was both confusing and frustrating for the warrior.

There are a lot of reasons why I can’t wait until the next book in Shadow of the Fox is released. First and foremost is that, things take a major turn near the end and then… yeah, you’ll just have to read Shadow of the Fox to find out and then join me in waiting not so patiently for Soul of the Sword. *sigh*

Guardian’s Bond (Ancient Ink #1) by Rhenna Morgan

Priest Rahandras has lived with the darkness trapped inside himself for years. Betrayed by his own brother and forced to watch his clan’s brutal annihilation, the only thing Priest wants more than to escape the curse that haunts him—as both man and beast—is to rebuild.
Until the mate he’s longed for walks into his life with an elder from his past. She’s everything he’s wished for, and the key to the clan’s very survival.
Kateri Falsen is a woman of logic and facts. While Priest’s cat can sense her arousal, telling her they’re fated won’t be enough. He’ll have to show her his love: with his words, with his actions and with his body.
Protecting Kateri from the evil trapped inside him is paramount. But when lost clan members are systematically murdered, he’ll have to choose between exposing his mate to his black magic, or risking her as the next victim.

I’ve been a HUGE fan of Rhenna Morgan’s Men of Haven series since I read Rough & Tumble. Somehow I missed Guardian’s Bond when it was first offered as an ARC, but once I saw Healer’s Need, I new I had to start at the beginning, so here we are.

Guardian’s Bond was an amazing start to this series. There was a lot of world building, which is expected in the first book in a new series, but it didn’t bog down the story. The fact that Kateri and her brother knew nothing about their heritage was the perfect catalyst for the magic they knew nothing about to be explained to both them and readers.

There was a lot to love about Guardian’s Bond. I loved the connection between Kateri and Priest. I loved the connection between the clan members. I loved the magic, the world building, the suspense, the characters, even the danger. I can’t wait to continue the series. Healer’s Need is already ready and waiting for me to pick up and from the hint of what’s in store for characters at the end of Guardian’s Bond, Healer’s Need is going to be just as intense.

Bones and Bourbon (Deadly Drink #1) by Dorian Graves

Half-huldra Retz Gallows is having an awful day. First, he wakes up in the middle of driving to who-knows-where with an angry unicorn head in his passenger seat. This is almost normal, thanks to a lifetime of sharing a body with Nalem, a bone-controlling spirit with a penchant for wicked schemes and body-stealing joyrides. It’s probably a bad idea to ask what else could go wrong.
Jarrod Gallows left home with plans to rescue his little brother from possession. Instead, he got saddled with a dead-end job as a paranormal investigator, a Faerie curse, and a daredevil boyfriend who might be from another world. At least he’s got a new job—except why is his brother Retz here and why does this sudden reunion feel more like a bane than a blessing?
This day’s going to get worse for the Gallows brothers before it gets better. To survive, they’ll have to escape the forces controlling them, as well as the wrath of carnivorous unicorns, otherworldly realms, and even their own parents. Only time will tell if they’ll make it out alive…or sober.

First, I’m not a “book cover” reader, but honestly, the cover on this book definitely got my attention. Enough that I took a chance on a new author. (The synopsis was a pretty good draw for me too 😉 ) I’m happy to say that this is one time that a cover definitely lived up to the book.

I had no idea what to expect from Bones and Bourbon, but needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. From the very first chapter, the mystery and action didn’t stop. Not only that, the world building was as much a part of the story as the characters involved.

Part of the reason why I’m drawn to PNR is my love of mythology and it seems that the Deadly Drink series will be full of mythological creatures and legends. The twists that Dorian Graves has added to her take on some familiar creatures was more than interesting. Blood thirsty unicorns for example.

Family is a strong force in Bones and Bourbon as well and there were times that it was hard to tell if the brothers were working for or against each other. There were twists and turns that had my head spinning, danger, mystery and a little bit of romance thrown into the mix – all of it thrown together to keep the pages turning.

It wasn’t clear from the end of Bones and Bourbon, but I was more than a little excited that this book was just the beginning of series. A series that I can’t wait to continue. I can’t wait to see what the Gallows brothers – and company – get into next.

The Lightning-Struck Heart (Tales From Verania #1) by T.J. Klune

Once upon a time, in an alleyway in the slums of the City of Lockes, a young and somewhat lonely boy named Sam Haversford turns a group of teenage douchebags into stone completely by accident.
Of course, this catches the attention of a higher power, and Sam’s pulled from the only world he knows to become an apprentice to the King’s Wizard, Morgan of Shadows.
When Sam is fourteen, he enters the Dark Woods and returns with Gary, the hornless gay unicorn, and a half-giant named Tiggy, earning the moniker Sam of Wilds.
At fifteen, Sam learns what love truly is when a new knight arrives at the castle. Sir Ryan Foxheart, the dreamiest dream to have ever been dreamed.
Naturally, it all goes to hell through the years when Ryan dates the reprehensible Prince Justin, Sam can’t control his magic, a sexually aggressive dragon kidnaps the prince, and the King sends them on an epic quest to save Ryan’s boyfriend, all while Sam falls more in love with someone he can never have.
Or so he thinks.

Since this is a T.J. Klune book, I feel the need to begin this review with a disclaimer. The likely hood of rambling is quite high. I apologize in advance, but that’s just the affect that a few of my favorite authors have on my ability to write a coherent review. My intentions are always good, but I make no promises… consider yourselves warned.

I’m also a tad bit guilt ridden. Why, you may ask? I’ve been seeing for quite a while how much readers love this book. I’ve watched readers wax poetic about Gary, Sam, Justin, Kevin and Tiggy. Why did I wait so long to pick this book up? I have absolutely no idea. I already have Destiny of Dragons, the second book in the Tales from Verania waiting for me on my Kindle. Hopefully that will make up for my tardiness to the Sam of Wilds party. 😉

On the surface, the premise of this book may be a little silly. Okay, so a story centered around a wizard’s apprentice who has a knack for getting himself into crazy, sometimes life threatening situations and whose best friends are a half giant and a hornless unicorn can’t really be totally serious. But honestly, what fun would that be? And really, even in the most serious of T.J.Klune’s books, there’s always a touch of humor. Likewise, even the most comedic of his books can have you shedding tears of laughter as well as tears of heartbreak – sometimes in the same chapter. His #evilauthor status and my love/hate relationship with him is well earned.

There was so much to love about this book. The sense of family, love, magic, humor – there is just so much… I can’t wait to continue this series. I can’t wait until I get to spend more time with this merry band of craziness. I’d love to tell you more, but I don’t want to take a chance on giving away even any minor details. Trust me when I say that The Lightning-Struck Heart is something you have to experience on your own. Speaking of which, there’s something else that I need to experience – the audio version of The Lightning-Struck Heart. I haven’t had a lot of luck with audio books so far, but so many listeners have told me that Michael Lesley’s narration will turn my luck around in a big way, it is destined to be the next book I try. Stay tuned… there’s much more to come from Verania 😉

Spectacle (Menagerie #2) by Rachel Vincent

When their coup of Metzger’s Menagerie is discovered, Delilah and her fellow cryptids find their newly won freedom brutally stripped away as they are sold into The Savage Spectacle, a private collection of “exotic wildlife.” Specializing in ruthless cryptid cage matches, safari-style creature hunts and living party favors, the Spectacle’s owner, Willem Vandekamp, caters to the forbidden fetishes of the wealthy and powerful. At the Spectacle, any wish can be granted—for the right price.
But Vandekamp’s closely guarded client list isn’t the only secret being kept at the Spectacle. Beneath the beauty and brutality of life in the collection lie much darker truths, and no one is more determined than Delilah to strip the masks from the human monsters and drag all dark things into the light.

The second book in Rachel Vincent’s Menagerie series was just as intense and thought provoking as the first. In some ways, even more so. The members of Metzger’s Menagerie had a small respite from their captivity and that taste of freedom made what came next even harder to take.

The description only touches on the horrors that Delilah and her friends and other cryptids had to endure when purchased by the Savage Spectacle. Willem Vandekamp was the perfect villain and his sweet, spoiled wife was even worse. Just like Menagerie, there was a loud and clear message just below the surface. The creatures in Spectacle were much more humane than the humans that not only kept them captive, but used them in horrific ways. The captors also played on their weaknesses and it didn’t take long for Willem to figure out how to play the connection between Delilah and Gallagher to his advantage.

As hard as parts of Spectacle were to read, the intensity, imagery and action kept the pages turning. Delilah never stopped trying to find ways to escape. She refused to give up, even when her punishments came close to breaking her. Watching what her fellow captives were forced to endure was the only motivation she needed. That and her vow to destroy Willem and everything he stood for.

The ending of Spectacle didn’t seem as abrupt as the end of Menagerie, but it still left me wanting the next installment sooner rather than later. The fate of many characters were left hanging in the balance and then there’s the interesting twist…  Needless to say, the last book in the Menagerie trilogy is already on my TBR list 😉

Allied in Flight (Through the Veil #2) by Christi Snow

AlliedInFlightA rescue gone wrong.
It was supposed to be simple. Four members from the Western States planned to sneak into the Eastern States to free four condemned Others. But when they arrived at the experimental labs where the Others were being held, it was under attack from Rebel forces.
Griff Hughes had one job…
He had to find Shar, a wounded hawk shifter. But in the ensuing chaos, he became a captive instead of a rescuer. Three days later he awakens in his own cage, alone. But during the nights, he’s not alone. An alluring redhead with a siren’s call visits his dreams, and his resistance is breaking down.
Shar McIntire is just trying to survive.
After three years in captivity, Shar has one goal…keep her and her sister alive. To do so means cooperating with the evil doctors who want her to seduce and manipulate Griff. She likes and is drawn to the man with the strange chocolate wings, but she can’t let that attraction distract her. Her sister’s fate is in her hands.
In the last eighteen years, life hasn’t been easy for anyone.
The WS and the ES have been separate entities, but once the Veil was crossed, things began to evolve. It’s a new world, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to get any easier anytime soon.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1In hind sight, I probably should have re-read the first book in this series, Through the Veil, before I started Allied in Flight. Especially since it had been over a year since I read it. I still might go back and read the first book, but Christi Snow did a really good job of giving just enough hints, without totally retelling the previous story, that I caught up to speed in no time. 😉

From the very first chapter, there wasn’t a lot of down time in Allied in Flight. Griff was a loner. He had no idea signing onto this rescue mission would change his perspective on so many levels. Regardless, love wasn’t something he was looking for and definitely not something he wanted.  Shar had known nothing but captivity for the past 3 years, so trust didn’t come easy. Until she knew her sister was safe, nothing else mattered. Fate had very different plans for both Shar and Griff.

Obviously I loved Griff and Shar’s story, but I also loved the twists and turns that made up the story, which included quite a few supporting characters. Some were new and some were introduced previously. Some were pure evil and some I still haven’t figured out yet. But that’s okay, because it means that there is much more to come. I love this unique world that the author has created and can’t wait to see what happens next.

I have to say that things wrapped up a little too quickly at the end, but that’s probably just me wanting more. It’s a common occurrence in stories I love and it happens frequently when I read this author’s stories. I also have to admit that as much as I loved Griff and Shar’s story, I was more than a little excited to learn that a couple of my favorite characters will be getting their own story. Sorry, I can’t tell you which ones, but you’ll know by the end of Allied in Flight who I’m talking about 😉 I kinda had a soft spot for them from the moment they were introduced.

So… if you like unique fantasy world building with some heated romance and interesting characters, crazy twists, a world view that makes you think, and more than a few mysteries, Through the Veil should definitely be added to your TBR list 😉

DragonFlyRating4

Ignited (Donovan Circus #4) by Liz Long

Ignited“Maybe I had to accept that the Donovan Circus no longer felt like home.” Lucy might’ve beaten Alex the Chameleon, but the cost of his defeat was too much to bear. After losing a beloved member, Sheffield Donovan temporarily disbands the show. Abandoned by the ringmaster and her friends, Lucy is left to pick up the pieces of their ruined circus – and defend it against those waiting for the opportunity to strike. During one of these attempts, Lucy learns of Augustus Rivers, the leader of his so-called gifted mafia. When Lucy is offered a chance to infiltrate the Rivers’ household, she jumps at the opportunity to seek vengeance on the mastermind. Augustus instead surprises everyone by proposing that the powerful female Firestarter work for him. It’s everything the Donovan Circus isn’t, an offer Lucy finds more enticing than she ever expected. With the Donovan Circus in shambles and the gifted world on the cusp of war, can Lucy Sullivan figure out who she’s meant to be? Or will her fire destroy everything they’ve built?

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I’ll admit I picked up Ignited with a bit of trepidation. Liz Long proved in Hunted that loosing a beloved character was not outside the realm of possibility. The stakes get higher and the danger comes closer to the character with each book in the Donovan Circus series and no one is totally safe.

This book opens with Lucy questioning everything and finding no easy answers. Her friends are gone, except for a few who stayed behind. Sheffield is more or less hiding from everyone, including Lucy. The people she has grown to trust and think of as family will be back, but she’s not sure anything will ever be the same. Things don’t get much easier when everyone finally returns. Lucy makes some bold decisions in Ignited. She gains support from some unlikely sources and loses it from people she never expected.

There were familiar faces in Ignited and some new ones. There were also quite a few revelations – past and present. Twists and turns were also in full supply and there was more than one occasion that I literally yelled at the author. I shouldn’t have been surprised, I should have seen it coming, but really… REALLY?!? Yikes!

No cliff hanger really, but there’s definitely more to come and I can’t wait to see what happens next. I’ll be nice and give the author just a little bit of lead time before I start begging. As a side note, Donovan Circus isn’t a romance, but there is a romantic interest in Lucy’s life… more than one actually and as far as who she should end up with, I definitely have my preference. 😉

DragonFlyRating5