Sunday, 14 June 2015

Cold Burn of Magic

Title: Cold Burn of Magic
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Black Blade #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Swords, Romance
Source: Kindle
Pages: 368 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Available at:

Blurb: (via Goodreads)
There Be Monsters Here. . .

It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.

I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . 

My Review:
This book had been nagging me to read it for a while now. My Kindle knows that I love Jennifer Estep, so it just kept on recommending it to me. So, even though my TBR list is ridiculously long and has several books ahead of it, I finally caved and read Cold Burn of Magic.

Have y’all read Estep’s Elemental Assassin series? Because if you have, reading Cold Burn of Magic might feel like a bit of a déjà vu. You have the badass female lead with a secret heart of gold that has rare and powerful magical abilities combined with her natural bad ass fighting skills. After her mothers murder, she is driven to destroy her murder while being cared for by a surrogate father figure. The antagonist for the overall series is basically the equally powerful badass mob boss who killed her mother. Sounds familiar right? All that has REALLY changed is the age of our heroine and the magical word she was thrust in… and the lack of a smart assed best friend/ partner in crime (which we MIGHT have here, but we will have to wait until book two to figure it out).

Now, saying that, you don’t fix what ain’t broke. There is a reason this has worked for Estep for so long, because it is awesome and it works! So, I can’t give points for originality here, but what we can’t give there is made up in so many other areas. Such as our characters! Character wise we hit everywhere on the spectrum. We have our resident badass, a no nonsense mother, a bleeding heart love interest, a motor mouth, a cocky SOB, a crooked father figure, star-crossed lovers…. You get where I am going with this, right? With some authors, this could be a bad thing. Characters could get blended together, or some may be left under developed because of page length constraints. I am so happy to say that is definitely not the case with Cold Burn of Magic. Despite there being numerous main, and secondary characters, everyone comes out clearly defined, unique, and properly developed given how much they appear in this first novel of the series.

Looking at the plot, you can’t go wrong here. Information was given at a even, subtle pace and I never felt as though information was being thrown at me. You can tell that Estep plans out her plot lines thoroughly because minor details in the beginning of the book that appear to be unimportant, become back later on to further the plot along. And not only is she plotting out this book, but she is setting up the plot lines for future books. I have absolutely nothing to complain about here. Of course, Estep never had a problem with her writing. While this novel is targeted at a slightly younger audience, Estep maintains her mature writing skills throughout the novel.

Overall, this really was a great start to a series. It didn’t feel as though too much time was spent on developing the world, the characters were developed nicely, and I was very pleased at the younger target audience. This books only real fault is that it is basically just a recycled version of Elemental Assassin.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Depravity by M.J. Haag

Title: Depravity: A Beauty and the Beast Novel
Author: M. J. Haag
Series: The Beastly Tales #1
Genre: New Adult/ Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Romance, Magic
Source: ARC
Pages: 148
Rating: 5 stars

Available at:

Blurb: (via Goodreads)
A classic fairy tale with a new twist, the Beauty and the Beast saga begins with Depravity... 

Sixteen year old Benella is concerned with two things–avoiding the two village boys who torment her and scrounging for food to help feed her family. Unfortunately, the best wild fruit and vegetables are near the walls of the estate, a dark misty place inhabited by an unforgiving beast.

When her tormentors lock her behind the massive gates, Benella knows her fate is sealed. Yet, the fate isn’t one she expects. Her encounter with the beast starts a bizarre cycle of bargaining for her freedom, a freedom the beast seems determined to see her lose.

Note: Intended for mature readers due to sexual situations, violence (attempted rape), and moderate language

My Review:
Let me start by saying that I received this book in exchange for an honest review. This was Melissa’s first go around at publishing a more mature novel, which is just a polite way of saying that this book contains some more explicit nature and sexual content. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel going from the more teenage writing you see in Touch or her Judgment of Six Series, to a book that describes some pretty sexual acts, but Melissa has done a fantastic job retelling the classic and iconic story of Beauty and the Beast. This short book was just part 1 of a 3 part series, with each book being released within a month of each other.

Now let’s get to the good stuff, the characters. Here, Melissa really did her research. Depravity was the perfect blend of the classic French tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont and the iconic retelling by Disney. One of my favourite characters was the Baker, who reminded me a lot of Gaston and yet was a very minor character in the scheme of things. (spoiler) He was a bit of a creep, but a harmless creep. All bark and no bite. While he wants Benella, he never does anything to physically obtain her despite having the opportunity to. (end spoiler). I also loved how Melissa brought back Benella’s (who you might know as Belle, or the Beauty) two extremely selfish and vain sisters. Unlike Cinderella, these sisters are her blood, which makes they way they treat her so much worse. Benella herself was the Belle we all know and love. A sweet girl who loves two things unconditionally: books, and her father. Her loyalty to her family, even the sisters that mistreat her, was beautiful. We didn’t get to see too much of the Beast in part 1 of the series, but what we do see of him is fantastic. He is the grumpy, short-tempered beast we all know and love, but you get to see glimpses of his softer side… even if they are interrupted by his growling temper. All of the characters, no matter how minor or major, are excellently well written. You really grow to love some while hating others. Part 1 was mostly spent rounded out each character and really setting up what is to come in part 2.

As for the writing… well, Melissa never did a problem with her writing. She can articulate a vast variety of emotions and feeling to her readers within a short paragraph. This fact has not changed when she switched over to a different target audience. Within a very short span (only 150 pages!) she really sets up the plot for the next 2 instalments without the reader ever getting bored. Every sentence was interesting, every character was fascinating, and every little tidbit Melissa added to the widely known tale was captivating. I was completely absorbed inside this novel the entire time reading it, and when it was finished, I was left desperate for more.

I think you are picking up what I am laying down here. This book was fantastic. I would recommend it to anyone I felt was mature enough to handle the sexual content described. Let me tell you, if you love Beauty and the Beast, you will LOVE Depravity. An extremely easy 5 stars to give! This book comes out on June 16, 2015, and the second part, Deceit, is already out on amazon for preorder and will be released on July 21, 2015.

If you want to know more about Melissa Haag’s more Young Adult writing you can look at my reviews for Touch, or the books in her Judgment of Six series/ Companion Novels: Hope(less)/ Clay’s Hope, (Mis)fortune, (Un)wise, (Un)bidden)