Thursday, August 31, 2017

Book Review: Forged In Fire, by Juliette Cross

Forged In Fire
(The Vessel Trilogy, Book 1)
Juliette Cross
Kindle Edition, 345 pages
Entangled Select Otherworld
July 31, 2017
Source: Amazon
New Adult, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

Genevieve Drake has never been the helpless kind of girl, has never needed to be rescued. That is, not until her twentieth birthday when some dude nearly chokes her to death in an alley and a hot stranger splits the guy in half, rips a monster from inside, and incinerates it into ash.

The hot guy? Jude Delacroix—Dominus Daemonum, Master of Demons. Now her guardian, whether she likes it or not. But she’s seriously beginning to like it.

The dude choking her? One of many demons from the underworld trying to abduct or kill Genevieve. As the prime target of the demon prince, Danté, she has no problem accepting Jude’s protection.

Why Genevieve? She’s a Vessel, one born to serve the Light but can be corrupted and used as a weapon for darkness. She had no idea this world even existed. Now, she just wants to survive it.

This novel came to my attention thanks to a blog tour I recently participated in. I don't read ebooks all that often, but the cover of this one immediately captivated me! Then I read the summary, and ordered it from Amazon right away.

From the moment I began to read, I was fully immersed in this intense plot, with its non-stop action and vivid, totally likeable characters. The world-building, too, contributed to my enjoyment of the novel, as it was quite detailed and very interesting.

A Vessel, as described in this novel, is a woman who can unfortunately be an instrument of evil, as demons can use such Vessels to carry out their dark plans. Genevieve, the female MC, has begun to "awaken" at the age of 20, which is when such women first become aware of their special status.

Demons, who are very physical, as well as very human-looking, vie for possession of Vessels, and this was a pretty frightening thing to me. While reading this novel, it also seemed all too real. Once she had become awakened as a Vessel, Genevieve was immensely attractive to these evil denizens of Hell. There's a hierarchy in Hell, too, as some demons are Princes, while others are Dukes. They also have very frightening and remarkable powers.

The most appealing thing about this novel was the developing relationship between Genevieve and Jude, a Demon Hunter. I loved his concern for her, while at the same time admiring her for resisting his constant protection. The sparks certainly flew between these two! Their romance was electric, dynamic, and full of sexual tension. Their dialogues were exciting, snarky, and I kept "turning" pages on my cell phone's Kindle app to see where these wonderful, exciting interactions of theirs would lead.

Amidst all of the witty dialogues, there was a LOT of action. Demons were constantly coming after Genevieve, and unfortunately, she needed nearly constant protection from Jude.

Here's where I felt this novel didn't quite live up to my expectations. The whole thing was set up, or so I thought, to feature Genevieve as a kick-butt female hero. That wasn't quite how things worked out, though..... I thought she was rescued by Jude far too many times. Although she did show a lot of courage on several occasions (and her father is a  martial arts teacher), she just could not resolve certain situations by herself, and Jude kept showing up just in time to save her. I found this very disappointing, as well as a bit too contrived.

Another aspect of this novel that wasn't to my liking was the detail lavished on the scenes in which Genevieve was harassed and toyed with by a high demon named, ironically enough, Dante. It was not easy reading about just how powerful he was, how easily he could bend her to his will. 

I loved the secondary characters! One of them was Genevieve's mother, who was a talented painter, although she painted rather frightening, surrealistic things. I was fascinated, nevertheless, as I love art. So, a character who creates art will always interest me. I was actually sorry that this one didn't play a larger role in the story. 

Another great character was Mindy, Genevieve's roommate. Although she was a bit too much of an airhead, in my honest opinion, she did care about Genevieve, and was concerned about her burgeoning relationship with Jude.

Yet another great character was Kat, a female demon hunter who sparked Genevieve's jealousy, as she's almost as old as Jude, and far too beautiful and powerful for Genevieve's liking. She turns out to be a great friend to Genevieve, though, as well as a welcome ally and trainer in battling demons. 

And then there's Dante. I have to admit that he's a very well-developed villain. Very believable, very, very scary, too. He was creepy in the extreme, as well as totally ruthless, totally without compassion. (Well, of course, he was a demon!) The paradoxical thing was that he was so very beautiful! Well, the Bible does state that the devil loves to masquerade as an angel of light. Dante was incredibly alluring, at least, until his true colors shone through. Then he was totally terrifying! The scenes he appeared in were the parts of the novel that almost made me stop reading. They also made me wonder if this novel shouldn't be classified as a horror novel as well as an urban fantasy. 

Although I did enjoy this story, I do have some very mixed feelings about it. I found it a bit too scary for my comfort, as I've already mentioned. I guess that was to be expected, though, since it does deal with demons. And again, I was expecting Genevieve to be much more proactive when it came to dealing with all of these horrible demons. She did possess some remarkable powers herself, after all. She just didn't get to use them all that often.

Yet another aspect I didn't like was the unfortunate appearance of "the F bomb", although it wasn't that frequent. Still, I don't like seeing this obnoxious word pop up in novels AT ALL.

On the plus side, this novel was, paradoxically, very clean. Even though it had plenty of sexual tension, there were no sex scenes in it, graphic or otherwise.

In spite of my objections, I will be continuing this trilogy with the next two installments -- Sealed In Sin, and Bound In Black. In the third novel, Genevieve finally awakens into her full powers. I want to see her do some MAJOR butt-kicking and defeat those demons in the end! I also want to find out where her relationship with Jude heads next!

Juliette calls lush, moss-laden Louisiana home, where she lives with her husband, four children, and a black Lab named "Kona". She is a multi-published author of paranormal and fantasy romance. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Louisiana State University, an M.Ed. in Gifted Education, and was privileged to study under the award-winning author Ernest J. Gaines in grad school. From the moment she read Jane Eyre as a teenager, she fell in love with the Gothic romance--brooding characters, mysterious settings, persevering heroines, and dark, sexy heroes. Even then, she not only longed to read more novels set in Gothic worlds, she wanted to create her own. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Can't Wait Wednesday No. 31: All The Crooked Saints, by Maggie Stiefvater

Welcome to "Can't Wait Wednesday"!
This is a weekly event hosted by
Tressa @ Wishful Endings, and inspired by "Waiting On Wednesday", which used to be hosted by
 Jill @ Breaking the Spine.

For more information, please click HERE.

As in the previous meme, this one showcases future releases  we book  bloggers 
are eagerly anticipating!!
There's also a Linky widget, so participating blogs can link up!

Here's my choice for this week!

 All The Crooked Saints
Maggie Stiefvater
Hardcover,  320 pages
Scholastic Press
October 10, 2017    
Fantasy, Paranormal Fiction,
Young Adult Fiction

Here is a thing everyone wants:
A miracle.

Here is a thing everyone fears:
What it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

Maggie Stiefvater has been called “a master storyteller” by USA Today and “wildly imaginative” by Entertainment Weekly. Now, with All the Crooked Saints, she gives us the extraordinary story of an extraordinary family, a masterful tale of love, fear, darkness, and redemption.
In a world of etiquette and polite masks, no one is who they seem to be.

Why I can't wait for this one!

I have several Stiefvater books sitting on my shelves, and have not yet read them....but I just couldn't resist featuring this one! Although I'm not Mexican, or even Mexican-American, I do appreciate and love Mexican folklore. This book sure looks like it will be a FASCINATING read, and heck, it's by MAGGIE STIEFVATER, who has a GREAT reputation in YA Fiction.!! 'Nuff said!! And I'm getting to those books on my shelves, which this one will soon join!! (BTW, the name "Bicho Raro" means "Strange Bug" in Spanish. )

New York Times bestselling author of The Shiver Trilogy, The Raven Cycle, and The Scorpio Races. Artist. Driver of things with wheels. Avid reader.

All of Maggie Stiefvater's life decisions have been based around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you're a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which she's tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists. She's made her living as one or the other since she was 22. She now lives an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia, with her charmingly straight-laced husband, two kids, two neurotic dogs, and a 1973 Camaro named "Loki".

What do you think of my choice?
Leave your link below, so I can
come check out your pick(s)!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Shelf Candy Saturday No. 223: Captivate, by Vanessa Garden

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!

This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful covers!
It also provides information, 
if available, on their 
very talented creators!

This week, I'm comparing two 
different covers for the same book!

(The Submerged Sun Series, Book 1)
Vanessa Garden
Trade Paperback, 277 pages
Independently Published
January 25, 2016
(Second Edition)
   Fantasy, Mythology, Paranormal Romance, 
Young Adult Fiction

My Thoughts About This Cover

This exquisitely beautiful cover captures all the tender romanticism of young love. The way the young woman cups the young man's face is just so touching and poignant.... His eyes, as well as hers, are closed, and they are obviously caught up in a timeless moment. This actually feels like a bonding of heart and soul. And I think it's highly significant that the young woman is dressed like a bride. So this is a beautiful underwater wedding between two young people who are very much in love.... And there's all that lovely blue surrounding them.... Sigh....

The font used for the title is not entirely to my liking, but I can see that the artist was trying to capture the undulating movement of ocean waves, and I think they succeeded. Still I would have preferred something different. I still ADORE this cover, though! 

This STUNNING cover goes so perfectly with the title, too, as I was instantly captivated by the powerful image! I love the boldness and intimacy of the design!

(The Submerged Sun Series, Book 1)
Vanessa Garden
Trade Paperback, 294 pages
Harlequin TEEN Australia
January 1, 2014
(First Edition)
Fantasy, Mythology, Paranormal Romance,
Young Adult Fiction

This is the cover of the Australian edition of the book. While I do love all the tones of blue, it just doesn't have the beauty and mesmerizing quality of the first cover shown. Besides, this is a Young Adult novel, so the models for this second cover are not young enough for such a novel. They appear to be in their thirties, while the ones in the first cover are obviously still teens.

I don't like the composition of the second cover, either. The bench the woman is sitting on looks very out of place underwater, I think. Furthermore, I don't like that her boyfriend is off to one side. More attention is paid to the bench than to the couple. Even worse, it looks like the man's head is not attached to a body. How ridiculous is that? Lol. He is wearing something that looks like some sort of sweater, but it's not very well defined, so that's why it looks like his head is disembodied. 

In short, this second cover has none of the wonder and magic of young love that is so present in the first one. If I were living in Australia, I'd do everything possible to get a hold of the first cover, for SURE!!

Of course, there are many different tastes in book covers among readers, so some of you reading this post may actually prefer the second cover. I do think, though, that most will prefer the first cover. It's just so much superior in beauty and emotional impact, in my honest opinion!

Now, as for the BRILLIANT designer of the first cover shown above, all I have been able to find out is that a designer at a company known as The Cover Collection created this beautiful cover. I got this information through the author's Twitter account. I will be sending the company a message through Twitter, in order to find out which of their highly talented artists created this cover. Since that might take some time, and I want to publish this post right away, I promise I will return and update with new information. Meanwhile, I'm leaving the company's links below.

Online Links
The Cover Collection

What do you think of 
this week's covers?
Which one do you prefer,
or do you like them both?
Please leave a comment
and let me know!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Book Blogger Hop No. 105: Reading the Same Book in the Original and in Translation

Welcome to the Book Blogger Hop,
hosted by Billy @

For more information, and 
to find out the topic of next week's question, click HERE.

This Week's Question

Have you ever read a book written
in a foreign language you might
be fluent in, and then read the
same book in English?

(Submitted  by Maria @ 

My Answer

Since I'm fluent in Spanish as well as English, I can read books in either language. My native language is actually Spanish. Most of the time, I do read in English, but sometimes I'll pick up a book in Spanish. However, I always review in English, whether on this blog or on my other blog. I don't currently have a Spanish-language blog (and I don't have time for one, either).

If I know the original language a book was written in, I prefer to read it in that language, of course. However, if I LOVE a book in either of these two languages, I will read it in BOTH! 

I've only done this with two books so far, though. The first one was Twilight, which is the first book of The Twilight Saga, by Stephenie Meyer.  I have read it a total of FOUR times -- the first three, in English, and the fourth, in Spanish. That's how much I LOVE this novel! I also love the other three novels in the Saga, but the first one is definitely my favorite.

For those who are not that familiar with The Twilight Saga (and very few people aren't, but well, just in case....) it's about a young woman named Bella Swan who decides to go live with her divorced dad in the rainy town of Forks, in the state of Washington. She's really sacrificing herself for the sake of her mother and her new husband, though. She actually HATES Forks. However, ti's there that she meets the love of her life, the mysterious Edward Cullen, who turns out to be....a vampire. 

What I LOVE about this series is that Edward and his family members are strongly committed to not harming humans. Edward and Bella realize that their very unusual relationship has some challenges to overcome, but they just can't help loving each other.  

I was SO crazy about the first book in particular that I wanted to experience the story in Spanish, to see how it came across in that language. Besides, this was just another excuse  for me to get MORE of this story. Lol.

I did the same thing with a literary fiction novel I read some time ago, except in reverse. I read it in Spanish first, as this is the book's original language. The novel is titled, in Spanish, La Isla de los Amores Infinitos. The English title is The Island of Eternal Love. I LOVED this book, so, some time after reading the original, I also read it in English.  The author is Daina Chaviano, a Cuban writer renowned for her science fiction and fantasy works.

This novel is about three different families, from three different ethnic groups, and how they all become one family, in Havana, Cuba. The story begins in the late nineteenth century,in China, and then moves to Spain, Africa,  Cuba, and Miami, Florida, stretching across the years to the start of the Cuban Revolution, and moving on to the present time. One of the families is from China, the second, from Africa, and the third, from Spain. The author has stated that these three groups represent the basic ethnic mixture that makes up the Cuban people. 

This novel includes paranormal elements, as well, which is another reason I love it! There's a haunted house that moves from place to place, and other interesting events.  There's also romance, with some very special stories involving the various descendants of the three families. Besides, the whole story is seen through the eyes of its main character, Cecilia, a Cuban journalist living in Miami. I greatly enjoyed her story, as well, and it fits in seamlessly with the rest of the novel.

Chaviano's novel, which I consider to be a masterpiece, fascinated me so much that I have read it three times -- twice in Spanish, and once in English. I would love it if it were made into a movie!

I think it's very interesting to compare original works with their translated versions. Sometimes, if the reader is very familiar with both of the languages, s/he can pick up any errors made by the translators. 

The two novels I've mentioned have been superbly translated, so I have not come across any egregious errors, thankfully enough. A truly expert translator will ensure that everything in a novel is properly translated. Many times, that means that a LITERAL, word-for-word translation  will not give the true meaning of a phrase in the original language.

I might read the rest of the novels in The Twilight Saga in Spanish. As for Chaviano's other books, I'm not sure if any of them have been translated into English, but I will definitely check! I'm also thinking of reading the Harry Potter novels in Spanish. And, of course, there's La Sombra del Viento, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. The English title is The Shadow of the Wind. I own both the original, in Spanish, and the English translation. Since this novel deals with books, I KNOW I'll fall in love with it, and thus, will want to read it in both languages!  

What are your thoughts on
this topic?
If you're participating in this meme,
I'll go comment on your 
own BBH post.
If not, I will then comment on one 
of your blog posts!
Thanks for visiting!!!