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Books Make Me Happy

Words & Music make me happy. Book reader/reviewer/seller, fanfiction reader/writer(HRHLadyEsme), Nerdfighter, music lover [Echelon], BooksMakeMeHappyReviews.com CoastalMagicConvention.wordpress.com
When The Sea and The Sky Turn To Blood - Amy Lane Fable: a fictitious narrative or statement: as a: a legendary story of supernatural happenings b: a narration intended to enforce a useful truth. Amy Lane has written a fable. One that starts with creatures so powerful, and potentially descructive, that they could have ended their story before it really began. The change and growth in the characters is an amazing thing to witness. There was wonder in the discovery of new things, and joy in the sharing of those things. Fire and Ice, both with determination and true desire, became the kind of people we should all strive to be. Content in our chosen life. Happy in the choice of our companion. Giving and taking from the world in equal measure. I loved this story. See what I said there. “Loved.” When I was reading this, I forgot a very important fact. Amy wrote a fable. As much as I loved 95% of this, and I truely did. The ending, however, is another matter, entirely. I could see it coming. One scene… once scene and it all turned around. I could hear the dreaded music start playing in my head and I could FEEL my heart drop into the pit of my stomach. I knew it was coming and I couldn’t do a thing to stop it. It was brilliantly written, it flowed perfectly into the storyline, and it broke my heart into tiny pieces. This is a cautionary tale, my friends. One that shows both the amazing ability of a human to adapt, accept and love, and the horrible reality that hate brings. It’s beautiful, and ugly, and it made me smile, and it made me cry. Damnit, Amy. You owe me Kleenex!
Across the Veil - Lisa Kessler review coming soon
All Wounds (Stranger Things, #1) - Dina James Vampires, and man-wolves, and hellhounds, oh MY! Rebecca MacDonnell’s plate is full. On one hand, she leads a typical high school life, complete with snotty “it” girls, a bad boy hottie, and the day to day stresses of just trying to get by. On the other, she’s a caregiver for her “Nana”, who’s memory loss has progressed from simply misplacing keys, to leaving the stove on, or getting lost on walks. The last thing Rebecca expects is to find a classmate, bleeding and dying, being dragged through her door in the middle of the night by a master vampire, after being attacked by hellhounds, to seek the help of her Nana, their healer! One of the things I really enjoyed with this book was the twist Dina created. Just when I “thought” I knew what I was getting into, I was wrong. Rebecca doesn’t discover a world of paranormal creatures who expect her to pick sides and fight their battles with them. She discovers her gifts, as the next in a line of ethereal healers. Her strength isn’t in fighting, but in staying impartial and offering aid to those who ARE fighting. Had the hellhound who bit **** tonight been in need himself, we would not have denied him assistance. He would have been treated and sheltered just the same, right at the side of the one he harmed, with no further hostility between them. So… could YOU do that?? Shelter and heal the good AND the not-so-good? That’s a decision Rebecca is forced to make. Her power will mature on her 17th birthday, if she can make it that long. It seems that having the benefit of their very own, captive, healer is the goal of quite a few unsavory ethereals. The days leading up to that occasion are filled with demons attacking from bathroom stalls and the introduction of one of my favorite side characters in recent memory, Billy. For those of you who are Southern Vampire Mystery fans, think Bubba, with more hair and the appetite of a small military battalion. We’re getting our family bonding and learning from Nana, our fast-paced action and a lot of comic relief with Billy, so that leaves Syd, the master vampire. Yeah… he’s the dreamy one who warns Rebecca not to fall for him, and of course she does. He’s the master of his clan, but gets guilted and coerced into offering apprenticeship to Rebecca for her healer training. Syd is quick-witted and snarky, but genuinely wants the best for Rebecca. Being able to hear her thoughts is the catalyst for quite a bit of their fun banter. The original, short story version of this (what was roughly the first three chapters) is in The Eternal Kiss: 13 Tales of Blood and Desire. I was so excited when I realized it was being reworked and extended into a full novel. I really loved the characters, the storyline is different and fun to read, and the action/comedy/romance balance is just about perfect. I say just about, because I could always read more Syd, lol. Luckily, we’ll be getting more Syd, and the rest of the gang, in book 2 of the Stranger Things series, Time Heals. I have theories about this next book. When you all read All Wounds (and that should be soon, or… now, even) let me know, cause I NEED to share!!originally posted on my website: http://wp.me/pOeF4-gf

Night Veil (Indigo Court Series #2)

Night Veil - Yasmine Galenorn Review Coming Soon

The Peach Keeper: A Novel

The Peach Keeper - Sarah Addison Allen From Chapter Five of The Peach Keeper…“… dreaming of warmer months, of kingfisher-blue skies and leaves so green they looked like they’d just been painted, as if the color would smear if you touched it.”That’s how you know you’re reading a book by Sarah Addison Allen. While you’re reading, the words create a story so real you feel like you could reach out and hug the characters. Their pain makes your eyes tear and your heart ache, and their joy makes you giddy. Sarah doesn’t just write stories about a journey that’s being traveled, she hands you a suitcase and coat and welcomes you along for the ride. And the ride is ALWAYS worth taking.The Peach Keeper is a book about friendships. About nurturing old ones, about creating new ones, about losing them and finding them, and how being true to yourself is the only way to be a real friend to someone else.In 1936, Georgie Jackson and Agatha Osgood were girlhood friends in Walls of Water, North Carolina. 75 Years later, their granddaughters, Willa Jackson and Paxton Osgood find themselves in the awkward position of trying to uncover what tragedy changed that friendship, and their town, all those years ago. Awkward because they are NOT friends.Sparked by a gruesome discovery during the renovation of a town landmark, the Walls of Water High School Joker and the president of the Women’s Society Club find that not everything, or everyone, is as it seems. Willa has spent her entire adult life trying to live down the reputation she worked diligently in high school to earn. Paxton is the reluctant face of Walls of Water high society. They’ve both fallen into the daily routine of being what they think people want from them, instead of being true to themselves. It takes a skeleton, some quality time with a spunky old lady, and a little push from a “wiser than they realize” cast of side characters to put the women on the right track.I love that Sarah brought front and center the importance of embracing and preserving family history. This story is built on the foundation that Georgie and Agatha created with the strength of their friendship. I also love that Sarah’s characters are so much like people we all know in our own lives. The support that Willa and Paxton get comes from a well-rounded, engaging group of friends and family. We all know someone like Rachel, the nature lover and health nut… or Sophie, the mother who’s trying desperately to hold on to the glamour of her youth by living vicariously through her daughter.And let’s not forget the men in their lives. Colin Osgood, who’s been successfully running a business, and running from his family, returns to finish up the renovation of the historic Blue Ridge Madam. He’s also been harboring admiration for the girl Willa was when they were in school, and is surprised and confused by who she’s become. Paxton’s best friend, Sebastian Rogers, delivers a bit of confusion and surprise of his own. And not in the ways you might think. Both Colin and Sebastian have choices to make for themselves, in addition to figuring out if they can be what Willa and Paxton need. The blend of attraction, tension, sweetness, and wowza! is enough to make any romance fan swoon.So far, this all sounds very serious. There ARE very serious threads making up the fabric of this story. The town’s mysterious secrets, and the growth the characters go through are told in a very real, very thoughtful way. But one of my favorite aspects of Sarah’s writing is how she brings humor, whimsy, and of course magic, into her stories. For every harrowing moment outside the Gas Me Up, there is a Women’s Society Club meeting that reads like a scene from the movie Liar, Liar. For every unearthed murder weapon, there’s a barista who can guess your personality by your drink order. And for every uncomfortable situation the main characters find themselves in romantically… there is a happily ever after. The balance of heavy to light, heart-breaking to heart-warming, and serious to silly makes the story so much stronger.The Peach Keeper did surprise me in one interesting way. In previous books, the magical element has been a dedicated trait of one or more characters. It was also something that, to me, was lovely and sing-song-y and pure. This time, the magic in the story started as a part of the town’s past, attributed to a shady character who chose to use his charms against those who trusted him. Later, it seemed to evolve into something that encompassed the town. The birds, the trees, the clouds, the mail, even the air itself was magical. In it’s new form, the magic became the embodiment of goodness I’m used to.Speaking of goodness, we get a cameo by Claire Waverley in The Peach Keeper! I love love LOVE that she made an appearance. I really hope this is the beginning of a new trend for Sarah’s books. I know I’m not the only one who’s anxious to know what’s happening with the friends we made in Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen, and The Girl Who Chased The Moon.This all boils down to the fact that I got exactly what I hoped for from a Sarah Addison Allen tale. Amazing, real characters who lived out a story that was both gripping and fanciful. I know you’ll be as enchanted by the goings on in Walls of Water, North Carolina as I was. But watch out… the air is turning white… and you just might find you have paint on your fingers.

Kiss of Fire (Dragonfire Series #1)

Kiss of Fire - Deborah Cooke Review coming soon
Rage - Jackie Morse Kessler Rage (rj)n.1.a. Violent, explosive anger.b. A fit of anger.2. Furious intensity, as of a storm or disease.3. A burning desire; a passion.intr.v. raged, rag·ing, rag·es1. To speak or act in violent anger2. To move with great violence or intensity3. To spread or prevail forcefully Missy has a burning desire to relieve an overwhelming pain. This is a book about channeling pain into purpose. Missy moves against herself with violence and intensity. This is a book about finding balance, and gaining control. This is a book about rage, and a book about hope. Melissa Miller is a high schooler with a few good friends, a love of soccer, an ex boyfriend she’s still got mixed feelings about, and a family that loves her, but doesn’t quite understand her. Sounds pretty typical, right? But Missy also has a secret. When things in her life start going very wrong, she can’t control the crushing feelings and pain she has. She creates an outlet for the pressure with a tool she keeps inside a lock box in her closet. Missy cuts herself. She has a driving need to release the toxic pain she feels by shredding her skin and bleeding out the hurt. What Missy doesn’t realize is that one mistake following a particularly horrible evening will change her life forever. One mistake will bring Death to her door. And Death will bring War. I have to admit, this book was icredibly hard for me to read. I have never considered making the choices Missy made. I have never thought that doing myself harm would somehow make any situation better, or make me feel like I was in control of something that was spinning out of control. I can say, however, that I am so very grateful to Jackie for writing this book, and for the insight it provides for someone like me. Missy appears to be, for all intents and purposes, a normal girl. A “goth girl” with some attitude, maybe, but a normal girl all the same. What makes her so compelling is her struggle to fight through some pretty overwhelming circumstances. The choices she makes, and the results of those choices, are very real for an alarmingly high number of people. What most people will never experience, however, is discovering a Cobain-ified Death, from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, in their room, offering them the mantle of War! This story builds itself around Missy’s compulsion to harm herself, and her crash course in War’s desire to cause harm in others. Can she learn the control she needs to start healing herself? Can she become the embodiment of an ancient evil, and do good? Jackie continues the amazing storytelling from the first book in this series, Hunger, and creates in depth characters that pull you into the story. We meet the new Famine and are introduced to Pestilence. Both adding some perspective on Missy’s battle with War. This is not a happy book. Oh, to be sure, there are some fantastic one liners and clever banter that break up and brighten some of the darker points in the story. Death is always good for equal parts snarky wit and enlightenment. It IS a book, however, that will make you care. Your heart will break when Missy’s humiliated (trust me, I’ve never wanted to punch a fictional character so much IN MY LIFE) and it will swell with pride as she learns how to create a better life for herself.As much as Hunger brought to light some unpleasant truths about eating disorders, Rage exposes us to the seemingly incomprehensible choices of those dealing with the kind of pain that literally tears them apart. It’s an important book. I am proud to have shared the journey with Jackie, and with Missy.

A Brush of Darkness

A Brush of Darkness (Abby Sinclair, Book 1) - Allison Pang review coming soon :-)

Secrets of the Demon (Kara Gillian Series #3)

Secrets of the Demon - Diana Rowland Secrets! SECRETS? Three books in… we were right there… RIGHT THERE… and wham!… the book ended.Secrets of the Demon continues to follow police detective and demon summoner Kara Gillian as she tries to balance her natural and supernatural abilities to solve crimes in Beaulac, LA. Kara’s been through a lot the last two books. She’s hunted killers, accidentally summoned a sexy, dangerous demonic lord, learned unsettling things about the aunt who raised her, got sent to, and returned from the demonic realm, developed a teeny-weeny-not-so-professional crush on her talented and hunky FBI partner, became tied to the previously mentioned sexy demonic lord as his personal summoner to save the previously mentioned hunky FBI partner, and earned herself a spot on a discreet government task force that investigates crimes with “unusual” characteristics. All this and she still had time to catch the bad guy and swap fantastically snarky barbs with her fellow detectives. In this book, she adds a crash course in the music industry, more creepy killers, and more questions than answers.This newest part of Kara’s story starts out with her and Ryan, her FBI partner who is also gifted with a degree of “othersight”, staking out a concert to follow up on threats to the group’s lead singer. Within the first few pages we go from jammin’ to the the music, to flying demons and fishing people out of the river! Diana tends to start her stories out with a bang, and this was no different. The case evolves from one new band trying to make it big, into a web of sneaky deals and lots of dangerously misplaced trust.The trust issue comes up in more ways than one for Kara. Not only are there relationships to investigate related to murders involving the band, but she is forced to look closer at her own personal relationships. Her connection with her aunt has been strained since she was revived from her “coma”. And her professional, and hopefully-more-than-professional, relationship with Ryan hasn’t been the same since she pledged herself for three years to Rhyzkahl. Kara struggles with how to mend those strained ties at the same time she needs to rely on them to help solve her current case. I love the newest addition to her slowly growing circle of friends. Jill makes the perfect comic counterpart when things start to get too tense, or when Kara needs a jolt of girl time to figure out what to do with the men in her life.Speaking of the men in her life. What do you do about a demonic lord that you think might actually have feelings for you? Can you trust that he’s not just playing you to have sexy earth times? And what about your best friend who you’ve fallen for, but who can’t see past your decision? Can there be an acceptable balance? Yeah… I don’t know either. Welcome to Kara’s world.I love that the people closest to her know about the supernatural elements in their world, and know at least a little about what Kara’s abilities are. It can be frustrating when the main characters in a story are hiding the arcane from everyone else. I think that having that group of people who know, understand, and respect her for her gifts makes the story stronger. I also think the person who knows, but kinda wishes he didn’t, makes the story hilarious and adds a little jolt of reality.The thing that really got me with this particular part of the series, is the sneaky way Diana has started giving us information. There are a few questions we readers have had for a while, and I have a feeling we’re getting right to the heart of everything. Diana’s website FAQ page says she’d like this to be an 8 or 9 book series, putting the next book right in the middle of that story arc. I can tell we’re getting there because the backstories of the characters are really starting to fill themselves in. It’s both brilliant and completely frustrating. The actual reveal of information is so well written, and flows right in with the rest of the current case’s storyline. HOWEVER, it’s absolutely maddening that we’ve got the hint of what’s going on, but not enough information to make it all make sense! And I’m oh, so certain that what I THINK is happening, is only the tip of the iceberg.Overall, Secrets of the Demon was exactly what I thought it would be, what I hoped for. Fast paced, exciting, funny, sometimes sweet, sometimes sexy, sometimes creepy, and all the time fantastic. I’m such a sucker for this series. If you haven’t started it yet… go… now… buy… read.
Blood of the Wicked - Karina Cooper One earthquake. One disaster changed the world, and created a divide not only in Seattle, but in society itself. The gritty, decaying underground city plays as big a role as the people who dare to venture through it’s dark streets. The danger and desperation found in layer after layer of the forsaken remnants of the sunken Seattle make it an incredible, tangible background for this story. “Normal” citizens blamed the witch population for the near-apocalyptic natural disaster that swallowed up the city of Seattle. New buildings and a new way of life were built on it’s remains, and the labyrinth below became both santuary and battleground for those who didn’t fit into the “new order”. Jessica and Caleb Leigh were born into culture of hate and persecution. Brother and sister witches, forced to hide their gifts and raise themselves in the scarred remains of “old Seattle”. Jessie tried to use the shadows and empty spaces of the city to keep herself and her younger brother safe after their mother’s murder. After years surviving together, Caleb’s ability to see bits of the future convinced him to leave Jessie to protect her from the fate he envisioned. Jessie’s been living from paycheck to paycheck, temp job to temp job, trying to stay under the radar in the bright, shiny rebuilt city. This all comes crashing to a hault when she’s tracked and found by a member of the “Holy Order of St. Dominic”, a group sworn to find and eliminate witches from society. Silas Smith is called back into the Order after some self imposed time away. He’s given the task of finding Jessie, believing her to simply be the sister of a powerful witch, not realizing she is a witch as well, and using her to find her brother. The story is filled with half truths and deception from the very beginning. Both Jessie and Silas are sharing only parts of their true intentions with the other, and understandably so. Forced by their life experiences to be enemies, you could say they have some “trust issues”. Both believe they’re doing what’s best, and both needing the other to accomplish their mission. One thing they can’t help but share, however, is their attraction for each other. The intensity of the situations they find themselves in, both of their own making, and against outside forces, is a catalyst for very raw emotion. The relationship between these two isn’t the lovey dovey sweet thing of fairytales, it’s just as gritty and hard as their surroundings. They’re the opposite of what they should want, but exactly what they can’t stop themselves from wanting. The harshness that embodies the bulk of the story makes the times that they almost accidentally have sweet moments that much better. Throughout the story, we come to find that Silas and Jessie aren’t the only ones with secrets. It seems like everyone in this world is wearing a mask of some sort. Caleb isn’t the little brother Jessie remembers, the “team” Silas works for has their own agenda, and everywhere the pair turns, SOMEONE is out to get them. It’s a non-stop-explosion-filled-car-crashing-tied-and-bound ride that just never lets up. Except, wait… there’s that one time in the “Sexy Times Sanctuary” (Karina’s words, not mine, lol) that was slow and sweet, but it took a near death experience to get them there. I really enjoyed this book. There were many times where it was a bit darker than what I normally read. And there was a particular scene towards the end when I really, REALLY wanted to stop reading because I was crying like a baby and hated EVERYONE. But there’s a reason for those things to happen, and if you’re not a marshmallow like me, I’m sure you’ll survive it just fine. (Karina still owes me for a half a box of tissues!) The imagery and worldbuilding in this story is really interesting and the characters just feed off of each other. Luckily, the publisher is fast-tracking the release of the second book in the series, Lure of the Wicked, which will be available on June 28th. I really can’t wait to see what happens in THAT book. It features a character I didn’t care for in this story. Normally that would be a put-off, but I have a feeling, Karina’s going to make it worth my while. And while Karina brings closure to most plot points in this part of the story, I’m looking forward to finding out how the unfinished storylines develop. Right now, I’m going to read the novella that goes back 50 years to the occurance of the earthquake, Before The Witches. Karina Cooper has given us a fascinating debut. If you’re looking for something a little different, that will keep you on your toes, and give you a couple to root for, this is the story for you.
Stork - Wendy Delsol review coming soon

Hunger (Riders of the Apocalypse Series)

Hunger - Jackie Kessler review coming soon

Hard Magic (Paranormal Scene Investigations Series #1)

Hard Magic - Laura Anne Gilman review coming soon
Amethyst Bound (Amethyst, #1) - L. Shannon Exotic treasure thief tangles with nerdy-but-hot archeologist. It kinda sounds like a story you've heard before. However when Toni, the thief, meets Ben, the archeologist, things don't quite end up the way you imagine. Stealing an ancient box, housing precious gemstone pendants is Toni's goal. However a moment of curiousity plunges both Toni and Ben into a unexpected battle involving dragons, vampires, werewolves, and demons.Amethyst Bound is a very unique take on dragon mythology. The binding of the human to the dragon was very imaginative. And the inner dialogue was both touching and, at times, hysterical. There is still so much to learn about how the relationship works, and what can and can't be done, but it's a very interesting concept. It appears that this will be a series and possibly have as many as six more books (count based purely on my interpretation of what's going on in the story, we'll see if I'm right, lol) so I'm sure we'll get some clarification along the way.The characters, Toni, Ben, and Amethyst are all very different from each other. It was nice to see some of their individual quirks showing highlighted in the story. Shannon did a good job creating characters I cared about in such a short amount of time.Speaking of a short amount of time. One of the things that bothered me about the book was the pacing. I'm not used to reading short stories. Most all of what I've read in the past have been 200-300+ pages, so I'm sure that has everything to do with my feeling that things were rushed in this story. Toni's acceptance of the situation, although it's forced on her, seemed a little too easy. Yes, she freaked a little, and yes, she knows there's nothing she can do to change it, but she just seemed to go against her "me against the world" persona entirely too easily. And the romantic relationship between Toni and Ben progressed too quickly for my taste. It was hot, and fun to read, to be sure, but considering the whole story lasted only a couple of days, it happened way too fast for me. I think I would have been completely fine with all the elements of the story if it had just been a bit longer. There is so much that could have been explored to lengthen the story and allow for some much needed adjustment for Toni and Amethyst, and some relationship building for Toni and Ben. All in all, I really enjoyed the book. It was a quick read, and it wasn't like anything else I'd ever read. I'm looking forward to the next part of the story.***on a side note... LOVE LOVE LOVE the cover :-) **
Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater review coming soon

Night Myst (Indigo Court Series #1)

Night Myst - Yasmine Galenorn New Forest, Washington is home to humans, magic-born, shifters, vampires and fae. Each race fills a specific, well balanced role in the makeup of the town. Night Myst begins with the balance shifting dangerously by a new, dark entity, and a desperate call to the prodigal daughter to return home.Cicely Waters is magic-born. Raised by a mother who ran from her own ability, Cicely had very little proper training, relying on street smarts and a strong survival instinct to hone her skills. She’s also been gifted with a Wind Elemental, Ulean, who is bonded to her. Together, they’ve stayed one step ahead of most threats, until now.Cicely arrives home to find family members and friends missing, a dark fog suffocating the pure forest magics, and even the “top of the food chain” in town on edge. Aeons ago, an attempt by a member of the Crimson Court (vampire royalty) to enslave the dark fae backfired, creating a new, powerful enemy. Myst is the queen of the Indigo Court, the first turned, and the most deadly of the vampiric fae. She’s brought her army back to New Forest for revenge. A prophecy places Cicely in the precarious position of being both a catalyst and a weapon in the war between the Indigo Court, the Crimson Court, and the displaced fae queen.One of the things I loved about this book is the incredible world building. The histories, the characters, and the conflicts are all brought to life using the most fantastic imagery. Yasmine has a way of writing that makes it so easy to picture the scene in your head. I have to admit, as much as I enjoyed the attention to detail, it sometimes seemed a little overdone, but I think that’s a common problem for a “first in series” when trying to create the basis for an entire story.The relationships in this story are incredible. There are clear cut, obvious relationships like Rhiannon and Leo, Cicely and Grieve (oh, Grieve *sigh*). But there are so many bonds running just under the surface of the story. Romantic and familial ties are both created and uncovered during the course of the story. I love how the characters interact, and the push and pull of what they feel versus what they’re “supposed” to feel. The main relationship, Cicely and Grieve, is filled with real emotion, and real conflict. Forced onto opposing sides, they share a history that makes them fight everything to be together. The power of what they feel for each other is evident in both the smallest touch, and their complete surrender to passion.There is also an amazing amount of growth for each of the characters, again, a sign of an effective “first in series” book. They learn to test the strengths and limits of their powers, their allegiances, and their consciences. All making choices and dealing with the consequences. Cicely learns things about herself that make her stronger, but at the same time, make her question her foundations. The “bad guys” are ugly, and beautiful, and utterly terrifying. They’re also not always who you think they are.I love that the secondary characters become increasingly more important throughout the story. They don’t stay on the sidelines, they emerse themselves in the fight and earn places among the hero and heroine. They all have their own endearing qualities and quirks that add both substance and entertainment to the story. (Although Kaylin seems to be overly concerned with his age, considering he mentions it what seems like once in every conversation. We get it, yummy Kaylin, you’re older than you seem, but not as old as others of your race, *noted*.)The end of this book is most definitely a launching point for a dynamic shift in the power struggle. And the established relationships are on equally, unsteady footing. There is so much information, and so many things left open for the next installment. I can easily see 4 or 5 different storylines that will be carried through the series. I really can’t wait to find out how things unfold. I’m certain of two things, though. First, it WON’T happen the way I think it will, and second, I’ll love it anyway!