Friday, August 16, 2013

"Taken by the Passion" by Maxine Mansfield (REVIEW)

Title: Taken by the Passion
Author: Maxine Mansfield
Genre: Fantasy Romance

Lizbeth wasn't given a choice whom to marry. She'd been betrothed to the stubborn, arrogant, egotistical, Adan Hammerstrike, barbarian prince, heir to the throne of Alaria, and...and...murderer, since the day she'd been born. But, did that mean she wasn't entitled to follow her own dreams? Especially if those dreams could keep those she cared for safe? And so what if Adan had grown from the troll of a little boy he'd been into a ridiculously handsome, sexy man. Her heart could resist him, couldn't it?

The last thing on Albrath Adan ever wanted was to be saddled for all of eternity to the screeching, boring, lackluster, Lizbeth Soulenticer. Though her beauty's beyond compare, there are only so many turns of the hourglass in a night to enjoy it. The rest of the unbearable time, he'll be forced to contend with her silly hero worship, and her stupid pet choices. But, Adan is a man bound by duty and honor, and he will do what he must, even though he longs for a mate who will challenge him in bed and out. Not that he'll give her his heart, mind you, at least not until they both find themselves Taken by the Passion.

He held out a hand toward her. "Spend this one night with me, Lizbeth, and  if you still feel the same in  the morning, we'll talk about you possibly going to the Academy and taking a few classes now and  then. After all, how would it look to my family and friends if my brand new wife took off before the sun rises on her wedding night? I have appearances to uphold, we both do." 

Lizbeth sizzled with anger. "I don't like you, remember? I couldn't care less how this looks to anybody, and...and...and, I won't spend this night or any other with you, until I have to, even on a bet." 

Lizbeth shook her head and turned to leave, yet Adan's next words not only stopped her forward motion but had her turning and facing him once more. 

"I never took you for a coward, Lizbeth, guess I was wrong. You say you know me better than I know myself. I say prove it, Lizard. If you can manage to answer make that five questions about me correctly, you win." 

His grin grew even bigger. "And if you win, not only will I escort you to the front gate and wave you through the portal on your way to the Academy, I'll be happy to inform my family and friends that you're leaving me. That you find a dusty, old institution more sexually appealing than you do your own husband, and rightly so." 

The grin disappeared from his face. "But, if you don't answer all of the questions correctly, you'll spend this one night, this entire night, willingly in my bed, in my arms, as my wife, in every sense of the word. Deal?" 

He held out his hand again, and Lizbeth stared at it. Her fingers itched with the temptation to take him up on his offer. A life without interference or being under Adan's thumb, even for a short while, was more than a little tempting. Could she trust him, though? Lizbeth hesitated, weighing her options. Other than being a bunny killer, Adan Hammerstrike was 
known far and wide for his word. Once he gave it, he never took it back. She'd spent the majority of every day, for as long as she could remember, learning everything there was to know about the arrogant barbarian prince. She couldn't lose, and this was an opportunity she couldn't afford to pass up. 

Lizbeth smiled as she shook his hand. "Deal."

Author Biography: 
Hi, my name is Maxine Mansfield and I write romantic fantasy. I live in the far northern state of Alaska
where the summer days are long and the winter nights even longer.  I have one very special man, our three equally special children, and six delightful grandchildren in my life. Not to mention a very bossy African Grey parrot named Gabriel. Oh, and Gnomes! Many, many gnomes.


My Review
5 Stars
This has to be one of the best romance novels I've ever laid eyes on. The love scenes were passionate, gripping, and hot. The world the story takes place in is complete, a full fantasy world, unlike most books in the genre that gloss over setting while focusing heavily on the relationship aspect. One of my favorite things from this book, which is totally unique in my opinion, was the rambling and vulgar rants of the gnomes. They provided comic relief on a scale I'm totally not used to. I found myself laughing out loud more than once while reading this.

My only real gripe with the book was that Lizbeth started out as a bit of whiner. As the book progressed, she found her fierce and let her Barbarian genetics show, and that made me happy. I discovered that this is actually the third in Maxine Mansfield's 'Academy' series, and seeing who the characters are in those books (who were secondary characters in this one) I'm seriously considering picking them up, as well.

I'm definitely going to recommend this to a few friends!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"Doublesight" by Terry Persun (REVIEW)

Terry Persun

In a world where shape shifters are feared by humans, and murder appears to be the way to eliminate them, finding and destroying the source of the fear is all the doublesight can do.

After the Doublesight Wars, dangerous and mean-spirited shape shifters were killed off, causing other doublesight to hide their gifts, congregate into their own villages or clans, and avoid most humans.

Zimp and Zora are the twin granddaughters of the crow clan’s sage. The reticent Zimp is relieved that she has not been chosen to take her grandmother’s position, but after Zora is murdered during an attack on the clan, Zimp is forced into her obligations. 

Rumors, stemming from Castle Weilk, suggest that dangerous throwbacks have been born—gryphons, harpys, dragons—and, once again the humans decide to hunt down all doublesight. Fear leads to mistrust, and mistrust to murder.

The doublesight council assembles to assess the situation and sends five doublesight to investigate the rumors, placing Zimp in charge of four men. Struggling with her own intuitive abilities, and trying to hold a stable position as leader, Zimp finds herself in the center of a changing world and must decide on her real place within it. 

Intro to excerpt: 
King Belford (who is human only) arguing with his son, Draklan (who is a doublesight) about the dangers of being a doublesight. The sisters mentioned in this piece are harpies. 

The excerpt: 
“Just as the doublesight are a reminder of our sins, The Great Land also reminds us by going through its own changes. War changes the face of all of us. It makes us evil, builds hatred where hatreds never blossomed before. We fear, my son. That is what humans cannot escape from. We fear whatever we cannot do, whatever we cannot see, and whatever lives differently.” King Belford pulled his son closer. “I am tired of fear, yet I feel it rise inside me every day. What am I doing by allowing the sisters to live the way they must live? How long can I be partial to their feedings without losing my own sanity? I grow tired of allowing the killing to go on. I can only imagine what my brother must go through.”

“I only wish for it all to stop,” Draklan said. He straightened and shrugged to loosen his father’s grip. “As long as the doublesight are alive there will be the potential for horrible beasts like the sisters. The gargoyles of the past are returning. The demons of history will destroy everything unless we stop it. I know that I am a doublesight, but I also know that what I say is true. We do not deserve to live if we are the downfall of The Great Land.”
“Only some doublesight are dangerous.”

Draklan leaped from the bench and walked to the center of the chamber before he turned toward King Belford. “I killed my own mother,” he said pounding his fist into his chest. “That is dangerous enough.”
“You were a child.”

“Had I killed you in that same moment, your generals would have slain me on the spot. Had they seen me, even now…”

“Three generals have seen you. My brother, one of them.” His father stood, planting his feet firmly and lifting his chin with bold abandon. 

Draklan glared. “Yes, the father of the sisters. What would he say? That you and he are ruining your lives for the sake of throwbacks?” He spit the words as though they were vile creatures. “The other two are afraid of what I or the sisters might do if they said one word. Talk about fear.” Draklan motioned toward the window behind him. “If your subjects had any idea what I was, what mother was, would they stay outside these walls?”

“They might.”

“Out of fear, as you say. Out of fear and nothing more,” Draklan said.

“Every human longs for what it feels like to shift.”

Draklan shook his head. “They wouldn’t want to know the pain. The doublesight spend their time battling their own longings, their own hunger. They are tormented, constantly at war with themselves.”

Terry Persun is an award winning author and a #1 Amazon bestseller. He is also a Pushcart nominee. His mainstream novel, “Wolf’s Rite”, was a Star of Washington award winner, a POW! Award winner, and a ForeWord magazine Book of the Year finalist. His science fiction novel, “Cathedral of Dreams”, was also a ForeWord magazine Book of the Year finalists. And his historical novel, “Sweet Song”, won a Silver IPPY Award for best regional fiction. His latest novel, “Doublesight”, is Book One of his new epic fantasy series. His latest poetry collection is “And Now This”. Terry writes in many genres, including historical fiction,
mainstream, literary, and science fiction/fantasy.


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4 stars
Absolutely loved this one! A great fantasy novel with an interesting take on shapeshifters. I like that the main character is a crow shifter, rather than the overdone werewolf/feline type. Filled with the ever-present clash between humans and doublesight(shifters), this is a must-read for any lovers of the fantasy genre.

Monday, August 12, 2013

"Water Dark" - F.T. McKinstry (REVIEW)

 Water Dark
F.T. McKinstry

In the western-most crumbling halls of a mountain citadel lives a lonely wizard named Urien, a master of his art and a fledgling priest of a primordial goddess of transformation. Though his training is extensive, no training could prepare him for a broken heart. For years he has lived on the fringe after having loved and lost a powerful male wizard on the verge of ascension. But such wounds do not hide well. When he delves into the darker powers at the bidding of a shady priestess, Urien's heart reveals itself as a grim warning from the goddess herself, in the shape of a wolf.

In the wake of this unsettling experience, Urien discovers that his most gifted apprentice, a beautiful, wild-tempered woman—and the partner of his erstwhile lover—is in grave danger. A series of swift-moving mishaps including a second warning and a badly backfired protection spell lands Urien into a love triangle that exposes not only his deepest desires but also the black machinations of the priestess who deceived him. When she wields her full power against him, he must reconcile his heart in order to save his lovers and himself from isolation and death.

Urien stood in his chamber in the West Quadrant, staring out the window as early evening cloaked the mountains. The setting sun cast long shadows and painted the fallen leaves and barren trees in shades of mauve and apricot. Heavy, gray clouds with golden edges moved slowly across the sky. It would be very cold tonight beneath a waning moon.

He gripped Wilima's poppet tightly in his hand. Over a week had passed since the priestess had breathed life into it. Unsurprisingly, the spell had not worked; she had not been able to penetrate Rosamond's space without interference. Whether this happened because of his unblessed water—as he had hoped—or because Rosamond lived under the protection of a mothos, Urien could not be sure.

But Wilima would not let it be. Not her! Two days ago, under a Wolf Moon, she had put into the poppet a wiry, white lock of her hair, a drop of her own blood and a bit of broken fingernail stained by wine. The coarse doll itched his palm, his fingers. He opened his hand and glowered at it in disgust; his nostrils flared as he studied the underside where the priestess had ripped out the seams to shove in the new ingredients. This will allow me through, she had said, blinking as she snatched the needle back and forth with her little bony fingers. Now all you have to do is throw it into a well.

A well? This did complicate things.

Water, Eaglin had said. She will drown.

F.T. McKinstry grew up studying music and classical literature, and at a young age acquired a deep love for fantasy and the esoteric, of which she was an avid reader. J.R.R. Tolkien was her most powerful influence. With a background in computer electronics and software development, she wrote and illustrated technical documentation for many years, during which time she created the fantasy world of Ealiron. A lifelong study of plant and animal lore, shamanism, psychology, mysticism and Northern European mythology and folklore provides inspiration and scope for her work. Her published work includes The Chronicles of Ealiron, Wizards, Woods and Gods: Tales of Integration, and Water Dark. Many of her short stories appear in Aoife's Kiss and Tales of the Talisman.


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My Review
5 stars

This is my introduction to the literature of FT McKinstry, and I'm positively in love with their writing style! The work flowed at a perfect pace, we were introduced to several conflicts, and their resolutions.The characters had depth and personality, and the descriptions were vivid and pulled me right in. I also love how magic is treated like a science.

My only complaint was that a lot about their magickal systems and ranking structures hit you all at once, like you should've already known what it meant from a related, or prior,book. Even with that, I'd definitely read more from this author.