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MelHay has commented on (129) products.

Shadows on Snow: A Flipped Fairy Tale

MelHay, December 30, 2014

4 1/2 stars
Rae has been doing her part in protecting the royalty in the kingdom of Bern. Watching to make sure they don't fall victim as others have, to a cruel, evil man. Then one day she meets the Prince Leo. There is magic there that Rae is not ready to face. But Rae will do what she must to protect Prince Leo when his mother falls ill and he is shunned from the city. On the run, Rae faces a past she had buried deep inside her and comes to realize some things are worth the risk.

Godmothers, witches, magic, princes, and love. All with a feel of a lesson learned in the end through the trials and tribulations to get there. The heartache is worth it in the end as it's how Rae learns her hearts desire.

Starla amazes me with her story telling and stories she writes. She has different voice in this story as in any of her other series. Feels old with a blend of fey to it. I like it.

It's AMAZING how Starla has taken an old tale and twisted it around to make something new and fresh with a magical underlining to the world. She takes the basic tale of Snow White and not only flips the genders but also crafts a world and story all of it's own here.

I was stunned at the turn-table of the Snow White tale, gender flipped. The Prince is a fine respected commander of his army but when someone of power wants to turn people against him, it is done. He's not a weak man at all. That's what I enjoyed about him in this tale. So easily he could have been down played, but he wasn't. Rae is an interesting character. There is a whole history we don't know and guess at in the beginning, but when it comes out...WOW. It all falls into place then. Even the evil man we learn to hate is crafted here to the point that I was nervous for Rae on several occasions.

This is a story for those of any age, parents or young adults (over 13). It captivates you and draws you into the world with ease.

Love the twists you made to the story. I love the way Starla turned this tale around and had a great story in it. Well done.

This is a series WELL worth reading.
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Stoned in Charm City

MelHay, December 30, 2014

3 1/2 stars
Assumpta is looking for work to pay rent and her father. She breaks a promise to her mother when a man sent by her ex-best friend instants to pay her to read his numbers for his fortune. Assumpta doesn't like what she sees in the results. Greg needs Assumpta to help him by using her specialty of finding things. The item he's lost, or more what was in it, is Pandora's urn he was taking care of from a dig he was on. Greg's touch brings Assumpta head long into his search for the presence that was in Pandora's urn.

Assumpta is in debt - college bills which she didn't get to complete, rent, and her greedy father who's charging her for everything since birth (including birth). Greg is cursed by an ancient jar that housed Pandora's sins. But contacting Assumpta for help, Greg has cursed the Religious strong woman.

This story has a religious tone to it. There isn't a witch craft here or something paranormal. The magic here is based on Religious belief. Assumpta's strong Catholic belief almost gives it a feel of magic of it's own. That belief and the church is what Assumpta uses to save herself and Greg. Now I'm not a big religious person, but with the way it reads in this book it's like any other magic I've read in Urban Fantasy or Fantasy reads. Assumpta has a strong belief and the "magic" works from that belief.

I liked Assumpta when I first met her. Then she started talking to Greg about needing to believe and baptism and such. Seeing Greg as one that's not a believer was a nice balance, and even in the end you see the scales tip in opposite directions. But this first talk with Greg and Assumpta is one that is very common, and hit home a bit with me. Once I got past my initial feelings I realized the Catholic belief Assumpta has is like any magical strong belief for witches or any other Urban Fantasy, that I wasn't being preached too. And on I went with the book, easy enough. Her belief was working to save her and Greg from the "demons" attached to them.

There were a few things that felt vague to me. The beginning was shaky for me - in connections and believably areas. Like I wasn't sure how a demon came to be attached to Assumpta, or why. It's said, yes, but I still felt as something was missing. There was also Assumpta's unknown helper. I didn't realize he was different from her "Rider" minion at first.

I like the ending of the book with Assumpta. This is the first book of the series, setting the stage for the world and the characters. I'm curious to see where the author goes as Assumpta seems different in the end, and one I'm curious to follow and watch grow. And curious about Jak, and see more of him.
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Red Blooded (Jessica McClain) by Amanda Carlson
Red Blooded (Jessica McClain)

MelHay, December 30, 2014

Jessica is preparing with Tally for her trip to the Underworld to save her brother, Tyler. While trying to learn to harness and eject demon magic from in the protective circle the witches have, Jessica inadvertently activates the doorway to the Underworld. Jessica finds herself in the hollows of the Underworld, all alone. The Demon essence becomes a part of her and she has to learn how to use it. And stay alive in the Underworld that's looking for her. Jessica finds a few unlikely allies while here. Jessica and her wolf are on their toes with where they are, but is it enough to keep her and her brother alive?

Holy Underworld! The plane Amanda has created here is outstanding! There is always something different and new to this land of the Underworld. It's what you expect and soooo much more! The creatures here, the setting and how they live. Wow. I am amazed at Amanda with creating something new in each book. The world is growing to a huge, endless circle here. There are creatures we've seen before and new ones we've not heard of. Boy, do we get a front view of the Underworld.

We meet new characters, and those we have known for some time. Those that we are friend with are here. I will say that half of the book is Jessica alone, then the last half is with our friends. But with Jessica being alone we meet new associates who could make a difference in the world.

If you've read the series thus far, you are probably asking about Selene. Yes, Selene is here. She did go to the Underworld in that book as we saw. And what you see here will baffle you. You will be shocked with what happens. I know I was, and my feelings even...dare I say...softened? You will understand as you read.

I love that Jessica and her wolf are so strong. That Jessica can be a character of her own and stand on her own. Her strength and ability to adapt and learn where ever she is, is amazing and what the story is all about. You learn more of her purpose in the world, the Lycan is here for a reason.

This story has romantic elements, but it's Jessica's story. She has been and continues to be determined and independent. She loves Rourke, but he doesn't define who she is. She will do anything for him and tries to compromise but she is strong willed as well. This is what I love with Jessica, she doesn't rate herself based on the man she's with. She stands on her own two feet (or four if needed). Though, she loves having him with her through everything and thinks of him when not.

Once again, Amanda leaves us at the end knowing there is another phase to Jessica's ongoing adventures. I can't wait to learn more! And at the ending, I wanted to flip more pages to learn about 'her'!

If you are a Jessica fan, you will love this book. On to the adventures Jessica will lead us barreling into.
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Book of the Black Earth #01: Blood and Iron by Jon Sprunk
Book of the Black Earth #01: Blood and Iron

MelHay, December 29, 2014

Horace wakes in a home of strangers speaking a language quite different from any he's ever heard after being washed off the deck of the ship he worked on. Horace is in his countries enemy land, and learns the magic that lays within him when a frightening chaos storm of green lightning rolls in while he's chained with other slaves heading to a temple. Horace meets Jirom, a champion fighter and mercenary captured into slavery months ago. A keen friendship is quickly made when both men see how strong the other is, and not simply muscle strength. While in the grace of the Queen Byleth, Horace meets Alyra. Alyra is a strong slave to the Queen and yet so much more in the world. Horace grows in this town of constant danger and political games.

Jon has produced a story with a strong epic fantasy feel. The story moves along with major event after another with great descriptions of the town, buildings, rooms, and people as we go. I can see some thinking this slows the pace of the story as it stretches the events longer in reading, but it's part of what draws the epic fantasy picture. The world building of the culture Horace comes into and the magic that is cherished here is powerful.

There are three main characters we follow, yet possibly five. First we meet Horace. He's a simple man. He seems to be of a passive personality, not wanting much from the world or life as he's lost what was dear to him before. Yet he survives through the tortures the world puts on him. Horace even ends in a stronger sense than when he started. And he learns of a magic awakened in him. Cool. And I have so many questions about how he's different too. I'm curious of the potential he shows and where it will go.

We then meet Jirom. I have my eye on this man. I seem to love a good mercenary in fantasy and a man with a firm direction.

Then we have Alyra. Alyra caught my attention right off and held it. Her purpose in life and her whereabouts are fully active. I'm curious of her surroundings, even how cruel it can be. I love her determination and will for what she is here to do. She is in the perfect position for what she has to do.

The other two characters we see more of are Queen Byleth and Lord Mulcibar. Mmm, the Queen. I love her. Maybe it's the evil in me, but I enjoyed reading her. She's cunning, powerful, and smart. She knows she's being cornered and will do anything to keep herself safe. And even her people. Lord Mulibar is a likeable character as well. Though there was a few moments I wasn't sure I should trust him. (Yes I'm a suspicious one.) He is the teacher to Horace for the new magic he has found within himself. Mulibar is the way we learn of the magic in this part of the world, and it's interesting to learn with Horace.

There is a question of who is the lesser of two evils present in this book. Which is the worst to rule the city and land? It's a political game to get on top, and keep it.

I'm looking forward to the next three books of the series to see where our characters go and what happens in this city. And there is one that is thought to be an ally that may be something else, but we will see how that plays out in the coming books.
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Shadow's Master by Jon Sprunk
Shadow's Master

MelHay, December 29, 2014

Caim is in the north, and moving further, drawn by a pull and nagging in his chest. Also, he's hoping to find answers to his past. The shadows are growing hungrier and stronger. Caim's control over them is becoming difficult, in calling and pushing them away. Josey has learned news she feels she must share with Caim, and heads on the road north to tell him but along the way she is diverted by her duties as Empress and ruler of the land. She must bring a feuding land together while defend against a new, magically strong enemy.

Jon doesn't hold back here in this third book. He starts with a fight scene 13 pages in and a death less than that. Awesome. We find ourselves on a journey with three different POV's; Caim, Josey, and Balaam. Caim and Josey are both familiar to use and we have followed them for a time now. Balaam is new and follows suit with a shadow character's POV we get. Last book was Sybelle, this time with Balaam. All three go looking for one thing, and seem to find what they need instead.

The book doesn't waste time rehashing what was told in previous books. Jon uses his word count wisely here and starts where Shadow's Lure ends. This series is one to read in order. This story started strong, then Caim's journey slowed a bit for me as he ventures the northern territory to find the city he's looking for. There is danger along the way with fights and action, but I was anxious to get to Erebus and learn all about the Shadow people and Caim's past. I didn't want to wait. And when we got to Erebus I got the answers I was looking for, and more.

Josey has been a pleasant surprise in these books, this book. She has grown into a wonderful Empress and worthy of her peoples love. She is strong and willing to stand on her own. I really enjoyed reading her sections in this story.

This is the last book of the trilogy. In the end, Caim gets his answers and more. Each of the characters finds an internal peace, of sorts. The ending is satisfactory for the way of each of the characters and the person they've grown into. However, I have a feel Jon left a few seeds here to return to the world, should he wish, in the future. With the seeds left, I kind of hope so.

I'm sorry to see this series end, but all great things do. I hope Jon ventures into the future with the seeds he's set here, but I will be following his future stories to come. Thank you Jon for this wonderful adventure.
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