Thursday, December 14, 2017



Playing Dead
Bronson Palmer
Publication date: November 7th 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

In the halls of Andrew Jackson High School, Jenaiya is a nobody. Less than a nobody. She’s practically invisible. An awkward, shy freshman, she very rarely gets any attention at all, unless she’s being harassed by the school’s multitude of bullies. In short, she’s not anyone’s idea of a hero.
But in ‘Age of Z,’ a post-apocalyptic multiplayer zombie game, she’s a gun-wielding, fast-talking GOD. She’s one of the top ten players in the online dystopia, and she doesn’t suffer fools lightly. It’s just the way she plays, and she likes it that way. She can become the person she wishes herself to be in the real world.
However, when the game gets overrun by trolls and n00bs who threaten to destroy the game by turning it into yet another online shooter, Jenaiya cannot sit still and let that happen. The very existence of the game is on the line, as people leave in droves, and she gathers a rag-tag group of players to fight back against this new kind of ‘brainless’ horde. They have wildly different personalities but one goal: rid the game of the real monsters.
Jenaiya will have to outsmart her enemies, outplay the bullies, and return ‘Age of Z’ to its former glory. Otherwise, it’s game over, and she’ll have to confront the real world that awaits her on the other side of the computer screen.
Meet Jenaiya. She’s a survivor.
By Bronson Palmer
Meet Jenaiya. She’s the tough, flawed, sometimes misguided protagonist of ‘Playing Dead.’ A meek freshman at a particularly rough high school, Jenaiya spends most of the book trying to negotiate all the different areas of her life, from her online identity to her relationship with her family and her sexual identity. She’s not a simple character, and this is not an easy story to tell. It would be easy to make her an empty vessel for the events inside ‘Age of Z,’ but it was my goal to provide the audience with a believable, real character to identify with so each victory and defeat felt that much more credible.
When the novel begins, Jenaiya leads a fairly ordinary but unenviable life in Nashville. She hates school, because the school she attends is a haven for miscreants of all types. It seems as though everyone around her is a villain of some kind, and she is a constant target of their attacks. Her only refuge happens to be her favorite video game, ‘Age of Z,’ where she’s able to unleash her adolescent rage on an unsuspecting public. It provides insight into how Jenaiya feels the world really should run. She values fairness and fair play, loyalty, and integrity.
However, in the real world, beyond the confines of a digital asylum, rather than doing the right thing because it’s the right thing, she also gets caught up in the idea that “the ends justify the means,” which lands her in a whole heap of trouble. When it comes to bullies, especially teenage ones, it’s oh so tempting to fight fire with fire, but that usually ends up making things worse, as it does in ‘Playing Dead.’ Jenaiya wants to level the playing field for everyone, from the jocks to the dreamers and the jokers to the drama queens, but that’s not entirely how the world works, so the fuse she lights early in the novel eventually explodes right in her face.
Her digital world is rocked when her favorite game — really, the only game she plays — is trounced by new players who treat ‘Age of Z’ like your everyday, run-of-the-mill, cookie cutter first-person shooter. To Jenaiya, ‘AoZ’ is so much more than that. It’s a post-apocalyptic game, sure, but the world is built around relationships. See, in ‘Age of Z,’ players wander a vast wasteland in search of supplies. They can be found in buildings, abandoned cars, but the best place, by far, to hit the item jackpot is another player.
Only, players are tough to kill, and it’s much easier to work cooperatively with that person or negotiate peacefully to trade supplies. Think ‘FallOut’ without all the headshots. The game is loosely based on the experiential ‘sandbox’ games which have become popular over the past few years. Games like ‘Minecraft,’ ‘H1Z1,’ and ‘DayZ’ inform the gameplay, so if you’ve played those titles, you understand that the strategy lies not in quick-twitch mouse-and-keyboard murder sessions but in how you interact with the world and the other players.
What Jenaiya understands inherently, the new players do not, and it frustrates her. Being an African-American loner, Jenaiya feels yet another thing she loves get co-opted by society at-large, and rather than allow it to happen, she decides to fight back. She’s willing to befriend all of the different warring factions within ‘Age of Z’ to make that happen, if she has to. But she refuses — absolutely refuses — to give up on this game until she’s dead and gone.
That’s where the portmanteau character MICHONNEN_KNIFE comes in. I make a few sly references to ‘Fight Club’ throughout the book, and though the tone of ‘Playing Dead’ is nowhere near a Palahniuk novel, MICHONNEN_KNIFE is the Tyler Durden to Jenaiya’s normal Jack character. Where Jenaiya is meek and accommodating, MICHONNEN_KNIFE is uncompromising, and Jenaiya basks in every opportunity to live in that digital construction’s skin.
As a bonus, I decided to get a faux-D&D player card designed to show the audience just what MICHONNEN_KNIFE (+1 if you can guess both references embedded in the name) has to offer Jenaiya. Hope you enjoy perusing it, and if you’ve dug this blog post, you can get lots more obscure references throughout the whole of ‘Playing Dead.’

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by ShootingStars Reviews 3:00 AM No comments


Blaze 
Sierra Cross
(Spelldrift: Coven of Fire, #4)
Publication date: December 13th 2017
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy

The demon is still out there.
Tenebris—the monster who killed my parents, violated my mind, and destroyed my coven sister Callie—has gone into deep hiding. I won’t rest until I find him and personally take him down.
Luckily the vampires have a bead on him, and they want me along for the demon-hunting ride. But with his brand new skinsuit and the magic amulet he stole from a witch, Tenebris is more powerful than ever. I’m not dumb enough to go up against my mortal enemy without the Coven of Fire at my side. The vampires, however, flat-out refuse to let my “non-traditional” coven in on the job. It seems that no one in the magicborn community respects us, no matter how many lives we save or how many sacrifices we make.
Callie was one sacrifice too many.
So screw the vampires. Forget working within a system that won’t accept us. Matt, Asher, Liv, and I may be misfits, but we’re a coven. And our coven is not complete without Callie. Somehow, we’ve got to track her down and find a way to save her. Then, we’re going to avenge our loved ones and take down Tenebris once and for all…but we’ll do it as a coven. As a family. One witch for all and all for one, no magicborn left behind.
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:
Every day of the blitz, Enigmatic Books is giving away FIVE free e-copies of the Spelldrift Coven of Fire Books 1-3 bundle on their Facebook page. Enter HERE!
For a limited time you can grab RISE, the first book in the Coven of Fire series, for just 99 cents!
EXCERPT:
“I’m sorry, Director,” I said. “Something’s come up. I’m afraid I can’t get on that plane.”
Bonaventura spun and sucked in a breath in that almost soundless way only a vampire could. He’d already thought I was a flaky amateur, now he probably thought I was a nutcase. Even Matt and Asher were looking at me like I’d lost my mind. I could really see how it might look that way.
Didn’t matter. Callie was my coven sister, and she needed us to save her. Family first.
“So am I to understand,” Bonaventura’s voice dripped with condescension, “that after begging me to help with the amulet, insisting you be present when Tenebris is killed, you’re now refusing to accompany me?”
“Believe me, if it weren’t absolutely necessary, I wouldn’t do this.” My magic was begging to come to my fingertips. But starting a brawl with a vampire seemed like one of those “poor life choices” they’d warned me about in middle school.
Bonaventura composed himself with a smooth exhalation, then turned to Liv. “I suppose you’ll have to do.” Another finger-snap. “Let’s go.”
“It’s a coven matter that has come up,” Liv said. “None of us can go.”
“We’ll send you the deactivation spell,” I said, not caring in the least that I was giving up the only leverage we had with the Director.
If Bonaventura could’ve killed me with a look, I’d be bleeding out right now. I’d seen what he’d done to Wes, his own son. I got the feeling he was picturing doing worse to me. “Not an option, Ms. Hill.” The terminal dropped ten degrees in an instant. “One of you two witches will board the plane. Or I will release you from your pitiful existence.”
Strange what a difference a little blood could make. More than scaring me, those words hurt. I’d disappointed him. I took a deep breath and shrugged off his compulsion. Vampire mind tricks aside, I owed no loyalty to Bonaventura. And as badly as I wanted to take Tenebris down, I needed to do this more. “If you want to try,” I said, “have at it.”
Matt, Liv, and Asher had already flanked me, ready to fight at my side even if they didn’t fully understand. Bonaventura’s crew did the same for him. The Director narrowed his eyes, looking at each of us in turn. I couldn’t decipher the calculations he was making behind those ice blue eyes. “Know this, witch—and this goes for your whole coven—when our paths cross again it will not be a friendly encounter.”
My heart was racing. Did I really want to make the director of the Council Suprema my enemy? But what choice did I have? We had to follow up on that phone call. We had to find my coven sister. “If that’s how you want to play it.” I hoped there’d be a way to make things right with Bonaventura later.
The Director turned on his heel and all the other vampires followed suit. I watched as they disappeared through the gate door.
“Alix, luv.” Asher turned to me, his voice sweet as saccharine. “Be so kind as to tell me why I just voluntarily incurred the wrath of the one of most powerful vampires in the northern hemisphere?”


Author Bio:
Spells and skyscrapers. Warriors and warlocks. Coven secrets and forbidden romances. Sierra Cross lives for urban fantasy, for modern magic and the bold supernatural beings who stalk our contemporary world. Her Spelldrift universe stars kickass witches and their heroic guardians, as well as vampires, shifters, mages, Fidei, and the dark demonic forces that threaten them all.

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by ShootingStars Reviews 2:30 AM No comments

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Kyla Summers has been offered the opportunity of a lifetime to get her cosplay business off the ground, and only one thing stands in her way. She needs someone to take over the auto shop, and there’s only one person she can think of to call…

Jericho Salomon hasn’t been back in his home town since he joined a biker gang and rode off nine years ago. When his best friend’s kid sister calls begging for help, he knows that he owes the family a debt and he intends to pay. This is easier said than done once he finds that the kid is all grown up…

She needs a pair of skillful hands. He needs to keep his hands off. When sparks begin to fly, can they keep things strictly business, or will their hearts get hopelessly tangled? No more games, it’s time to play for keeps.


Goodreads page:

Cathy Yardley  needs to get out more. When not writing, she's usually lurking on social media, playing Elder Scrolls Online, or watching D-list movies and adding to her unnatural mental store of character-actor trivia. She's a fangirl of Supernatural, Doctor Who, SherlockLOTR, and too many others to name. She lives with her family in Seattle. They are considering performing an intervention for her addiction to pop culture.

Social Media:
Twitter handle:  @cathyyardley

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by ShootingStars Reviews 10:09 AM No comments

Title: I Burned Down His House
Series: Love at First Crime #3
Author: Jessica Frances
Rating: 

She burned his house down, so he lit a fire between them that she could never extinguish.

So, I burned his house down.
It was an accident.
I mean, technically, the dog did it.
Well, the dog helped me to do it.
Did I mention it was an accident?
When circumstances mean I suddenly have a new housemate,
A man who is my ultimate fantasy,
And my entire world is turned upside down by new friends,
And a dog who likes to get me into trouble,
I have to wonder how my life got so crazy.
Add in my neighbor, who is under investigation;
Some unfinished business from the past, which just won’t go away;
Interfering family, who don’t know when to stop;
And mixed signals, making me wonder if fantasies really can come true,
And you have my new, hectic, crazy life.
But, when things take a dangerous turn,
And lives are on the line,
Will we all make it through in one piece?
Or is everything destined to crumble down around us?
Who would have thought that burning down a house would change everything so much?
Then again, as some people say: there is nothing quite like love at first… crime.
 

    

Teagan has been helping out her hot neighbor for six months. And when she goes over one night to take care of the dog she ends up burning down his house. Now, she offers him a place to live with her. And her huge crush is getting out of control. 

This book was funny, and I liked how Teagan got along with everyone. But I felt like this story had more emotion with Teagan and her friends than it did with Teagan and Joey. I really didn't "feel" anything from their relationship, and I don't even understand how they liked each other. 

Other than that I liked this one and I thought it was interesting, funny, and sweet at times, but that was really all there was to it. 
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by ShootingStars Reviews 9:57 AM No comments

Title: Everlasting Covenant
Series: Dying Covenant #3
Author: Amanda M. Lee
Rating: 

Deep down inside, Zoe Lake-Winters knew that she hadn’t yet bid goodbye to Covenant College. The realization that the final fight will be fought at the place she thought she would never see again isn’t lost on her. 
Still … she has no choice. Her family comes first and she’s out of options. 
Another attack on Sami Winters forces Zoe and Aric to embrace the inevitable. They pack up their kid and courage and join together with friends to return to a forgotten campus located smack dab in the middle of Michigan … and a dark forest full of secrets and trouble. 
Evil has always dwelled at Covenant College, and Zoe is determined to make sure she eradicates it … one way or the other. Her former roommates Kelsey and Paris are along from the ride, and a few familiar faces pop up to lend a hand, too. 
It seems that someone is putting The Academy back together, and all of the hunters can only agree on one target: Sami Winters. She’s the key to a really big puzzle and everyone wants her power – even if she hasn’t fully manifested it yet. 
Aric and Zoe have to join forces one last time with everyone they know and trust to fight the evil that pervades Covenant College if they expect to live happily ever after. The fight will be dark, dirty, and dangerous. No one is safe. 
So, strap in for adventure, because this battle will mark the end of it all … one way or another.

    

Zoe and Aric are going back to Covenant College and they are going to burn it to the ground once and for all. The whole gang is going back including their daughter Sami. Sami will have to learn some hard truths about her parents lives before her, and how she is going to have to deal with her powers as well. 

Zoe and Aric will do whatever they have to to finally end the threat from Covenant College. 
This book was really good. I was hoping there would be a little bit more to the end, but this one was really good. And I adored how the story sort of went full circle. I couldn't believe that Paris still stood up for Brittany though. That was annoying, and other than that I really enjoyed this one a lot. 
This is the end of this series and the spin off series as well. 
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by ShootingStars Reviews 9:50 AM No comments

Title: Desperate Covenant
Series: Dying Covenant #2
Author: Amanda M. Lee
Rating: 

Zoe Lake-Winters knows about paranormal entities. She’s fought so many she’s lost count. When zombies rise and come for her daughter, though, Zoe realizes that she’s about to encounter a terrifying new world that she can’t control or understand.
Word has gotten out that Zoe and her husband Aric’s twelve-year-old daughter is about to come into her own. As Sami’s mixed heritage – half mage, half wolf – comes to a head, outside factions have decided they want the child to use for their own devices.
Zoe and Aric know they’re facing a tough battle, so they agree to go to the annual wolf pack meeting in Northern Michigan. Zoe isn’t keen on the idea – Aric has wisely kept her separated from the wolves, after all – but they’re desperate for help.
Zoe knows right away that she’s not going to play nice with a bunch of overbearing wolves with ancient ideas about gender roles – many of whom blame her for Aric’s estrangement from the pack – but she’s willing to put up with it for Sami’s sake. All of that changes when a new wave of attacks hits … and this time Zoe realizes she might be trapped amongst the enemy.
Zoe won’t conform, and when it comes time to ask for help, Aric refuses to bow to the pack wishes. Of course, sometimes those who believe they have power are fooling themselves. Zoe knows she has power, and in the end, she’ll be the one with the upper hand. Unfortunately for her, Aric and Sami might not be so lucky.
A big fight is brewing, and while Zoe might have the strength to fight the war, she can’t do it alone. Disagreeing factions are going to have to come to a meeting of the minds, because otherwise no one will be left standing.
 

    

In this book, Aric and Zoe are facing an enemy they don't know much about, so they turn to the werewolf pack that Aric's father is a part of for help. However, they don't want to help them with out getting something in return and what they want is to control Zoe and her powers, as well as their daughter's powers too. Zoe is not going to stand for that, and Aric won't let anything happen to them even if he does enjoy being around old friends. 

This book was really intense. The reader finally gets to learn more about Aric's life before Zoe, but what I learned I didn't really like much. I didn't like the wolf pack, and I really started to hate Aric's father. I couldn't believe he started acted like that, it was utterly ridiculous. I was glad that Zoe stood up for everyone and made things right. 

I can't wait for more in this series! 
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by ShootingStars Reviews 9:44 AM No comments

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