Siren Suicides

Siren Suicides: Second Edition  by Ksenia Anske  description:

On a rainy September morning 16-year-old Ailen Bright flees her abusive father by jumping off the Seattle Aurora Bridge. Instead of a true death, in the water she finds several silver-skinned sirens who convert her to one of their own. As a newborn siren she is dead, supernaturally strong, and hungry for her new sustenance—human souls.
Ailen refuses to kill…at first. With time she must face the agony that comes with starvation, while being relentlessly pursued by a siren hunter. An enthralling and dark look into the mind and heart of a suicidal teenager, this urban fantasy follows Ailen’s struggle to figure out the meaning of life, her confusing feelings for her best friend Hunter, and her desperate battle for her father’s love.

Siren Suicides   3 STARS

The best thing about this book is how wonderful the writing style is. Anske does a beautiful job of drawing you into this world, and making it so vivid. She doesn’t just tell you what a room looks like, you discover it through the characters interactions, their insight and emotions, and it’s all done with ease. I loved her new take on sirens, how you become one, and the fact that she harkens back to the original Greek mythology with the names, and that she didn’t make the mistake of turning them into mermaids with a fishtail. The best part of this book though was the very beginning before Ailen turned into a siren. Seeing into her mind, and knowing why she loves sirens so much, and her still suffering from the loss of her mother, it was something that was tangible and understandable. I’m glad that Anske didn’t in any way romanticize suicide. She gives you the harsh reality of what it would be like hitting the water, what it does to your body, and how it feels to drown and the regret the victim goes through during it all. But once Ailen becomes a siren it’s like everything went into overdrive. It felt like everything was so on the nose with the whole siren bit. And as the story goes the way it circles around death can be extremely depressing and worrisome. I will say that right there at the end it finally began to really flow and Ailen goes through some real self-discovery and there is a lot of character growth that helped make this a book worth reading in the end.

 

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Redemption (Sea Assassins)

BOOK 1: Betrayal by Danielle Hardgrave

Redemption   description:

Sophia Davies is having the time of her life.

She lives with her two best friends in a city she loves and every day is a new adventure. Case in point, stumbling into her bedroom after a great night out and finding her ultimate childhood crush waiting for her.
But things have changed since the last time Sophia saw Nate. For starters, she now knows what he does for a living. And there’s the whole shark shifter thing…

Nathan Redman is burning.

He thought his mistakes would fade away with time, but the closer he comes to taking leadership of his clan, the more they sear into his skin. Revenge is the best cure for any wound, which is why Nathan’s heading out to see an old friend.

It’s nothing personal, really.
Getting close to Sophia is no problem. Killing her on the other hand…

BOOK 2: Redemption  4 STARS

This book was far more developed than the last, and perhaps it’s because Nate is to be next in line as clan leader, and so we get a closer look at what the lives of shark shifters tend to be like. Which is cold and cruel. It really helped you understand Nate, and what he was going through, and really how he felt about the humans he’d been around. It was interesting how he didn’t get why the others found silly things fun and amusing, and him trying to figure out why he ever hesitated to kill Sophia. And Sophia is awesome. She’s fun and really relatable in trying to figure out what’s up with their relationship. Liking Nate. even though her sister has given a veiled excuse to stay away, and wanting to see him in shark form really makes her a fun counterpoint to Nate’s very serious and brooding personality. I also really liked the addition of her friends and all that’s going on in their life and the quirky things they do. It made this story feel more alive, than the limited view we got with Betrayal when we basically only had the 3 main characters to get to know. Really though, the ending of this book, what the hell is that? I’m not even sure I want to know, but I do know I won’t rest until I find out.

Betrayal (Sea Assassins)

Betrayal by Danielle Hardgrave  description:

On a calm November evening, a ship disappears off the coast of Washington without a trace…

When Darcy Davies finds a handsome man washed up on the beach, he’s three things: injured, naked, and rude. And he’s got a few demands. Somewhere safe. No hospital.
Tell no one.

While Darcy takes him in, she’s no fool. She knows he was involved in whatever happened at sea that night. But is he a victim or a villain? One thing’s for certain—even if he’s not a danger to her person, this sexy stranger is a danger to her heart.

Gabriel Barnes can’t tell which is more of a pain in his side—the curvy brunette who plucked him off the beach, or the literal pain in his side.
Gabriel’s secret will be hard to keep in such close quarters, especially with injuries that are healing much too fast. But he’s got bigger problems.

It wasn’t an accident that brought him here.
It was a betrayal.

BOOK 1: Betrayal   3 STARS

The best part of this book is how it steps away from the pack. It’s not the same ol’ werewolf and vampire sort of books, though it is in the same world as those stories that Hardgrave has already told. I have definitely never read about shark shifters before, and I liked that they’re not even like other shifters out there. It makes sense as they point out that others are changing from one mammal to another, while they’re basically turning into a fish. This makes for an interesting new look into the world of myth and magic. The biggest step away is that this isn’t like some misunderstood vampire or giant fuzzy werewolf that has the loyalty of a dog. These sharks are cold blooded killers and are raised to be such from the beginning. They don’t even like each other, and have a hard time understanding the softer side of humanity. Gabriel is a killer, and Hardgrave does lessen the severity of such a life style by having him go after folks who are just as bad as him, but it’s still a whole other world and not exactly one anyone would want to get mixed up in. Which is probably why I did like Darcy so much, because she’s a no-nonsense sort of woman. She helps him, in what he sees as greed, because she knows money will help get things that need doing done. She isn’t some sweet damsel in distress wooed by the bad boy vibe, even if she finds him attractive. She’s got her own plans that she’s striving for, and it really does make for a good match. My main problem is that this story is short, and so you don’t get the development or view into this world that would really help make it more real and understandable. Worse though, was the typos and grammatical errors. No they’re not horrible but they do stick out like a sore thumb, and another read through would’ve really helped this story out a lot.

However, it was nice to learn that permie is short for permanent, as in a human that’s always a human.

What’s New Pussycat?

BOOK 1: An American Werewolf in Hoboken  by  Dakota Cassidy

What’s New Pussycat?  description:

Derrick Adams is not happy. His pack of wolves isn’t like all the others. He’s got a brother who found his lifemate in the pound, a cousin who’s a vegetarian and now he has a lifemate of his own and she isn’t barking.
Martine Brooks is in a pickle. Derrick Adams is in a jam.
Pickles and jam. Not exactly a hot combo. Unless the “pickle” is a sultry, sassy cat shifter and the “jam” is a gorgeous hunk of wolf.

Derrick is cursed to die if he doesn’t make the woot-woot with his life mate on the night of the next full moon. Martine’s been held captive by a power-hungry warlock for six long months, forced to do his bidding before finding herself stuffed in a cat carrier and ditched at a 7-Eleven.

After rescuing her from a dumpster, Derrick and Martine strike a mutually beneficial deal: Mate, save a life, walk away—both alive and kicking. Win! Yet, there are kinks in the plan. Like the fact that Martine’s one-time captor is on the hunt, planning to extinguish all of her nine lives at once. Or the fact the curse threatening Derrick’s life is about to throw him a monster curve ball.
But the biggest kink might prove to be Derrick and Martine themselves, two avowed commitment-phobes…who are beginning to wonder what forever looks like.

 

BOOK 2: What’s New Pussycat?   3 STARS

The humor wasn’t as prominent as it was in the last book, though it still managed a light, fun story. However, it’s such an overused and ridiculous trope to have the two main characters be completely against the idea of a forever sort of love, and to then be surprised and unsure why they suddenly think about the other so much and are so happy to be near them. Regardless, it was nice that from the very beginning Martine knew exactly what was going on with Derrick, and happily agreed to be there for him, which did allow for other plot twists to come up. As well as for the fact that they’re in Cedar Glen for the most part, and so we get to see all the characters that were brought up previously and really get to know the strange bunch of paranormals that make up this little safe haven. It really added to the story, and makes for the promise of more books set here a rather appealing one. I want to know what’s to come of all these characters, not just the main ones that are the star of the book. Derrick, of course, is a werewolf, and it was funny for him to be initially opposed to Martine being his potential mate because she’s a cat, and we all know cats and dogs don’t mix. Martine was really the more interesting part, because she’s not just a cat shifter, she’s a witch’s familiar. This is the big driving point of the story, and gives us a lot more magic to deal with than just another shape-shifter to read about. Altogether it was a good story with a surprise ending.

An American Werewolf in Hoboken

An American Werewolf in Hoboken by Dakota Cassidy  description:

Wooing a life mate can be hard enough for a wolf, wooing one while under the threat of a curse even more so.
Wooing a mate while pretending to be her dog? Nearly impossible.

After being drugged and captured by Animal Control, Max Adams is on Hoboken’s doggie death row when his life mate adopts him, takes him home, and promptly names him Fluffy. While JC, in all her new-pet-owner-ness, feeds “Fluffy” vile kibble, dresses him in mortifying dog couture, and schedules to have his manhood removed, Max’s human side gets to know JC. Especially in the biblical sense.

Hopefully well enough to make her fall madly in love, mate with him under the full moon, and move with him to Cedar Glen to live happily every after forever and ever amen. And fast.
Because the curse comes with a deadline…and the clock is ticking.

BOOK 1: An American Werewolf in Hoboken   5 STARS

This book earned every star for all the non-stop laughter it gave me. I was practically smothering myself trying to remain quiet in public, because it is that hilarious. Yet, while it had it’s silly quirks, it honestly brought up some interesting challenges and dangers that a shifter might would actually face in the world. Like being caught in wolf form by animal control, and drugged before you knew what hit you. And the things Max goes through trying to keep JC happy, and unaware that her new dog is actually a man, was so wrong it was… yes you guessed it, hilarious. There are no complaints about this story. From the way the paranormal world works, to why Max is cursed, and all about their little haven in Cedar Glen was just a fun adventure. JC is an awesome girl with a big heart who just wants to take care of her overgrown dog she just saved, and Max is just a man stuck in an impossible situation and trying to figure out which way is up. All the characters around them really filled in the tale, and are something to look forward to seeing again in future books. I’m definitely going to be diving into book 2 as soon as I can.

Sleeping With the Fishes

Sleeping with the Fishes by Mary Janice Davidson      description:

Fred is not your ordinary mermaid. She’s not blonde. She’s not buxom. And she’s definitely not perky. In fact, Fred can be downright cranky. And it doesn’t help matters that her hair is blue. While volunteering at the New England Aquarium, Fred learns that there are weird levels of toxins in the local seawater. A gorgeous marine biologist wants her help investigating. So does her merperson ruler, the High Prince of the Black Sea. You’d think it would be easy for a mermaid to get to the bottom of things. Think again.

fishesBOOK 1: Sleeping with the Fishes     4 STARS

Davidson has a knack for taking old ideas, like mermaids, and turning them on their head. Fred is about as un-Disney as you can get, but what makes her great is that she’s still somehow likeable. She wants everyone to leave her alone, and yet goes out of her way to solve the mystery of the toxins in the water. Mermaid aside, she’s definitely not your average heroine and that’s what makes this book so much fun to read. Plus, it’s not just about Fred, there’s her parents thinking of adopting, her friend, Jonas, who’s so secretly in love with Fred’s boss it’s adorable, and even her boss who just wants everyone to take her seriously. Even Thomas, the marine biologist, who is in love with Fred is a quirky fella that brings his own snark and humor to the equation. My one problem with the book is Artur, High Prince of the Black Sea. Mainly, I want to know how he even knew about Fred to suddenly find her, when she’d never made contact with any merpeople before. Also, he was just so over the top and out of touch with how humans work that it was rather ridiculous. I never understood how if they could mostly blend well, and do live on this earth, that they’re so ignorant of humans, and why he shames Fred for not letting everyone know she’s a mermaid, when clearly merpeople haven’t been going out letting everyone know they exist in the first place. It just didn’t add up for me. It wasn’t enough to ruin the book by any means, I still love this story and have read it several times, but honestly Artur just didn’t bring much to the table really.

Fire in His Embrace

BOOK 1: Fire in His Blood  by  Ruby Dixon

BOOK 2: Fire in His Kiss

Fire in His Embrace   description:

There’s only one way to tame a dragon.

Emma Arroyo knows this. She also knows that the big golden dragon captured by her brother’s biker gang is in trouble, and it’s all her fault. He followed her scent, and now his life is in danger.

She has to fix this, somehow. If she could talk to the dragon, they could form a plan to escape, both of them. But the dragon’s mind is wild and full of uncontrollable, killing rage. There’s no reasoning with him. There’s certainly no freeing him, not when he’s like this. But Emma can’t leave without him.

There’s only one way to solve this problem – a mating. When Emma approaches Zohr to claim him as hers, she realizes just what it means to be a dragon’s mate, and how much she’s in over her head…
And she learns how fiercely possessive a drakoni male can be.

BOOK 3: Fire in His Embrace  4 STARS

This overlaps with the last book, so we see more of how Emma ended up with that gang, and what all she was going through before and after Sasha was kidnapped. I think what I liked most about this story was that Zohr needed Emma’s help as much as she needed him. No getting kidnapped, and no helpless girl unsure what to do. Although, Claudia and Sasha weren’t exactly wussy, Emma just felt like she was a bit more gung-ho. She’s a real post-apocalyptic girl who’s prepared for everything, and fights back no matter what life throws her way. Through Zohr we do get more of an image and understanding of the world the dragons came from, and what sort of evil Azar is capable of. Because Azar is evil. Dixon definitely doesn’t pull any punches with this series, and I’m loving it. It has a great love story to it, but we also have this intense plot and villain to contend with that really keep you tearing through the book, and wanting the next one as quickly as possible. The only thing to complain about is that it really needed better editing. It had its share of typos, but also things like the mind-link conversations not being italicized when they should be to let you know they’re actually talking to each other. And it switching tenses at the wrong times. I know Dixon gets these books out quick, and I love not having to wait too long, but she might need to slow down and do a few more read throughs before publishing.

Dawn Dagger has been INTERVIEWED!!!

1.      What’s your name? Where can we find you? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?

My name is Dawn Dagger. You can find me on my blog here, or my Facebook page here

2.      Other than writing, what is your favorite hobby or thing you enjoy for fun?

I seriously enjoy photography. It’s so much fun getting in weird and different angles and making the people around you see the world differently than it was originally in the photo. It’s like writing, only through interpretation. 

3.       How long have you been writing? What genres have you written? They don’t have to be published.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I finished my first official book about Christmas when I was six, so a very long time. I’ve written in fantasy, young adult, mystery, horror, picture book, sci-fi, romance, and mythology based. So, pretty much all of the genres. 

4.      What has been the greatest influence to your writing? Other authors, life experiences, etc…

My greatest influence is actually abstract ideas. I once formed a whole story by seeing a t-shirt of what looked like a girl spray painting a wall, and it wasn’t even what was on the shirt. Heh. I sometimes drag from life experiences (not most of the time, though), and other authors do greatly influence my writing. Their writing style can be seen reflecting in mine if I read them too much. 

5.      Are you currently writing anything now? If so tell us about it? If not make something up…

‘Am I currently…’ *laughs* Yeah I am. Over 36 different novels and novellas. I am writing past love stories about the characters in My British Bear and how they fell in love. I’m writing a series about a Meta-human trying to survive in a world where society is raised to be wary of those with powers. I’m writing a fantasy about a girl who meets a half-elf and who’s aunt gets kidnapped by ogres from their farm in the mountains. I’m writing a story about Robin Hood’s daughter who is raised by Guy of Gisborne, a couple different series about dragons, a prophecy with the son of a Valkyrie, a try-hard wizard, and a barbarian girl who finds a griffin, a pirate fantasy story about a pirate captain whom is secretly the prince of a land taken over by evil and a maid girl, and so, so many more. 

6.      How do you typically begin your projects? Do you create outlines and character profiles or jump in head first with the initial idea? And do you focus on just one at a time?

I usually have one idea and jump headfirst into the paper. If I’m really responsible I’ll later go back and slightly map it. The only time character bios happen is when I’m bored on the bus on the way to school, or I forgot the eye color one too many times. I usually don’t just focus on one. I have so many ideas flowing through my head all of the time I work on many at once, and if I start reading books they just keep coming. Never one at a time.

7.      What aspect of your writing do you consider your strength? Your weakness?

I consider my ability to come up with ideas, characters, and dialogue on the snap a great strength. I have a good knack for being able to have different characters and am really descriptive, but I do lack in being able to finish books. I’ll start a book and get a good chunk in, then forget about it and never finish it. I also have a bad habit of straying far away from my original idea and not being able to come up with titles.

8.      After publishing, the next trouble facing writers is marketing. What do you typically do when marketing your novel? Do you have tips you’d like to share?

I’ve never marketed before, but I plan on doing something along these lines: first off, my librarian said that if I self publish he would order the book for the library, and I would be added to the wall in the library of published authors from our city. DJ (aforementioned librarian), will probably advertise it as well. I will tell my previous Power of the Pen coach and my school so they know about it and can do their own thing. I’ll continually post on my Facebook, Wattpad, Blog, and Website about the book, and most likely find other ways to get it out there.

9.      What advice would you give a writer who is starting out?

Never give up, and you are good enough. To write you have to read. Read books like you’re writing. If it’s a sharp, snappy character’s point of view make sure to read lots of books like it (in this case, Percy Jackson or Maximum Ride) and get the feel for it. Don’t be sad if you don’t finish, you will eventually. Whatever you put your mind to you can accomplish.

Sleuthing with the Enemy

BOOK 1: To Trust a Wolf  by  Danielle Hardgrave

Sleuthing with the Enemy  description:

Somebody just stole a valuable artifact from the Helsen archives, and Annemette Helsen—a very pissed off werewolf—is going to make sure they pay for it.
There’s just one problem: Anna’s only suspect is the arrogant vampire prince, Jonas Weiss. He’s cocky, frustrating, and a little bit sexy. Okay, a lot sexy.
He also claims to be innocent, so the fact that she just broke into his home and attacked him is problematic.
And his price for keeping silent about the whole debacle? Downright devious.

BOOK 2: Sleuthing with the Enemy   4 STARS

This was far more developed than the first book, and you really get a good look into the set up of the supernatural world. We get a lot more of their lore, and how their governing systems work within their hidden community. While Helen and Rune do show up a bit in here, it’s really all about Annemette and Jonas, and I like how this is moving forward from the last book, and showing the significance of the bracelet from the first. Anna and Jonas have some clear chemistry from the beginning, but Hardgrave does a great job of really developing the characters and not just having them jump in together. Anna, especially, goes through a lot of growth in this story, and it really helps you feel for them. That being said, this book has its wonderful moments of hilarity. I found myself giggling and blushing on behalf of Anna with all the awkward situations she gets herself into. Altogether a great balance of action and humor. You should definitely be as happy as I was for Benji to show up again, and that mystery that continues to follow him has me dying to know more. However, there’s 2 big questions I have to ask. First, how is it that there aren’t any cops coming after Rune after that whole thing of Helen reporting him for theft and assault? Second, what the heck is a permie? I mean I get that’s their slang for regular human, but where did that term come from, because it sounds like something you’d call someone with a bad perm job. Would love some explanations. Hopefully it’ll come in the next book, which I will be snatching up as soon as possible.

Why Can’t Boys Be Sweet?

I read a Twitter thread today talking about how a 4 year old boy wanted to have a butterfly painted on his face, but his parents flat out refused to allow such and instead forced him to get a skull and crossbones. You know, something manly. It just got me thinking how much easier it is to be a girl.

I’m not saying that women don’t deal with issues of inequality. There are still jobs it’s hard for women to get, pay disparities, and general sexist attitudes that still exist in the world. But sometimes it seems it’s easier for women to break into the man’s world and be hailed a revolutionary than it is for the reverse. While we’re so busy trying to show the world we can be just as strong, capable, and badass as men, we overlook the fact that men aren’t as easily allowed to be sweet, loving, and nurturing as women. For both men and women, acts of masculinity are much more easily accepted than those deemed more feminine. Even at times for a woman, we’re seen as weak for being girly, no wonder all the heroines today are more Black Widow than Cinderella. But that’s a discussion for another day.

Now I’ve served in the Air Force as a mechanic, and what do most people say to hearing that? “Thank you for serving.” I was a girl who did a manly job, no problem. After getting out and getting a degree, I had trouble finding a job, and when folks asked me what I did I just said stay-at-home. Some would ask if I had kids, and upon hearing that I didn’t seemed simply envious I got to be home while my husband brought home the bacon. But while men going into the military doesn’t even get a second thought, a guy staying at home instead of working would simply be seen as lazy, and a man who decides to stay at home to take care of the kids is seen as unmanly, and worse the number of people who are sure men can’t care for children as well as women. Of course, I’ve already talked about that in Can Only Mommies Mommy? In either situation no one seemed bothered by my life choice, but for men it’s a whole other ballgame, and I’ve seen it before plenty of times. And it’s not just men being tough on other men, it’s women with the same expectations of how men should act.

However, when it comes to kids sometimes it’s almost more obvious how we start at the beginning to force this confining issue on boys, and less so on girls. A little girl wants to play with GI Joe, well look at her not excepting those stereotypes placed on her by men. A little boy wants to play with Barbie, we need to stop that or he’s gonna turn out to be one of them gays.

I think back to myself growing up, I was the weird girl who’d wear pocket watches, ties, and suspenders. Not very stylishly I might add, I was dressing to be “cool” like my dad. I remember a guy commenting how nobody said anything about my clothes, but if he wore a kilt it’d be a scandal. People’s response, “well that’s RG, that’s just what she does.” Essentially I can be accepted for weird boyish behavior, but he couldn’t be accepted for anything remotely girly.

When I asked my dad about this he said, “You can’t stop someone from being who they are on the inside. You can only oppress them, and stop them from accepting who they are. You can stop them from being happy with themselves.” Essentially your kid is who they is, you’re either helping them love themselves or making them feel ashamed and resentful.

I think of my sweet little 3 year old nephew, who one minute is hugging an angel figurine claiming it’s a beautiful butterfly and it’s his favorite. The next he’s building a Lego tower claiming it’s a robot prison, which apparently also needed a hug. One act is a bit ‘girly’ and the other more acceptable of boys. And I’m so happy his parents are raising him to be sweet rather than tough, they want him to learn and discover all the wonders of the world, and not try to shut down this intelligent loving little boy. Kids are innocent beings who are just learning about life. Don’t stifle their love and joy with your fear that they’re not going to be “normal”, instead allow them to bloom knowing that you’re there for them no matter what.

Every little boy should be allowed to appreciate the beauty of the world as much as girls do. Boys should be allowed to try new things and learn new skills even if they’re not deemed manly. After all that definition changes one century to the next. There was a time when knitting was considered too complicated for women and was actually a man’s hobby. Just think about that.