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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Review: Constantinopolis by James D. Shipman

Title: Constantinopolis
Author: James D. Shipman
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Source: Review copy from publisher
Format: E-book
Constantinople is the impregnable jewel of the East. The greatest city of the Christian world, Constantinople has stood for a thousand years against invading hordes.Mehmet II, the youthful and rash Sultan of the Ottoman Turks is bent on taking the city. He is distrusted by his people and hated by his Grand Vizier. Mehmet risks all to prove he deserves the throne and to accomplish the impossible: the capture of Constantinople.Opposing him is Constantine XI, the wise and accomplished Emperor of the Greeks. Constantine is emperor in name only, for the Greek empire has dwindled to little more than the city itself. Short of resources, soldiers and hope, Constantine must fight against all odds to protect his people and his city from the most powerful army in the medieval world.
Since my first visit to Istanbul in 2004 I’ve been fascinated by its history, especially by its fall to Mehmet II in May 29th, 1453. For that reason I have read several books about the fall of Constantinople and about Mehmet II, a character that has always fascinated me.
Even though I know how the siege happened and how it ends I find intriguing the different takes by the different authors. I always find something new and interesting in the different stories. When I saw Constantinopolis by James D. Shipman available for review I couldn’t say no.

Mr. Shipman is a good storyteller; sadly I had problems with his portraits of Mehmet II and Constantine XI. Why? I think when you are telling a story about two different sides/individuals you should be as objective as possible and no take sides, but from page one it was clear that was not the case with Mr. Shipman.
Mr. Shipman’s portrait of Constantine is that of an understanding, loving, caring man that will sacrifice everything for his people. Even the love of the woman he loves. By the way, that woman was completely fiction. It was only one of many elements Shipman utilized to make Constantine XI seem more human and appealing in the eyes of the readers.
On the other side he portraits Mehmet II as an irrational, cruel, petulant and immature young man who made rash decisions, some of them with a lucky outcome. While the reality is Mehmet II was a very smart man. He spoke seven languages fluently and was educated by famous scholars. He was not the unprepared, uneducated man Shipman portrayed him to be. Mehmet II is also famous for his preference for well planned and well prepared campaigns, one of which was the siege of Constantinople.
Building a fleet of over 100 ships its not an easy feat, it takes time and planning. Towing his ships across Galata was nothing by genius. Those are not the actions of an unprepared, lucky child.

I found something else disconcerting. Shipman says Grand Vizier Halil was executed in Edirne in August or September while the widely known truth is that he was executed on June 1st, just 3 days after the city had been taken on 29 May 1453. That makes me wonder which other dates and information are not accurate in Constantinopolis.

As I said before Shipman is a good storyteller, he knows how to keep his readers interested in the story. I just wish he had been more objective and accurate.

Although Constantinopolis is not a bad book I can’t honestly recommend it. If you want to read the story about the Fall of Constantinople there are better and more accurate books than Constantinopolis.

My Verdict: 3 Paws

Other reviews Goodreads

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Off Tuesday: Legal Action by Kimball Lee

Today is Tuesday! You know what that means? Yes, today is that special day in the week when we can treat our eyes to some delicious eye candy. It’s Top Off Tuesday! Top Off Tuesday is a feature hosted by Felicia from The Geeky Book Blogger's Book Blog, Amanda from On a Book Bender, and Christi from Smitten with Reading.

Today I have for you a very smexy cover, the cover of Legal Action. Legal Action is the first book in the Surrendering Charlotte Chronicles by Kimball Lee. This book is currently FREE on Amazon. To “buy” it click HERE.

Bright, beautiful Attorney, Charlotte Christiansen has never lost a court case. She’s built a reputation as a cool, on the rise lawyer while trying to escape the ‘naughty cheerleader’ pictorial in American Jock magazine that she posed for to pay her way through law school.

She shares the top floor of a historic San Diego building with her best friends from college who happen to be two very male, very sexy Special Forces operatives. Her ex is a celebrity NFL quarterback who could pass for a Viking God. She’s surrounded by hot men but her life revolves around work and she doesn’t have time for love or sex.

Until Alexander Bly, the stop-the-clock gorgeous, billionaire publishing magnate becomes her newest client at the law firm. He’s the man responsible for the magazine cover that turned Charlotte into everyman’s sex fantasy. Bly has had women and the world at his beck and call, but no woman has ever rocked his world. Charlotte is about to. When they come together the desire and sex are white-hot and all-consuming, but falling in love takes them completely by surprise.

As Charlotte handles Bly’s lawsuit against Huang Worldwide Corporation, scary, smooth and sexy Jamey Huang kidnaps her. But, Huang doesn’t want Bly’s billions, he wants Charlotte’s secret, former lover. Legal Action is a sexy romance filled with burn-up-the-pages sex, tender love and witty, sharp-tongued characters with a little espionage thrown in for even more spicy fun.
If you also want to participate on Top Off Tuesday head over to Felicia’s blog to share your link or just to see which other blogs are participating.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Review & Giveaway: A Secret to Die For by Sierra Dean

Title: A Secret to Die For
Author: Sierra Dean
Series: Secret McQueen, book 8
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Samhain (December 16th)
Source: Review copy from publisher
Format: E-book
No one is safe.

Secret McQueen thought she’d seen it all, but that was before she, Desmond and Holden came home to find New York City burning and the streets overwhelmed with the walking dead. Now, in a race against time, she must find out who is responsible for unleashing hell on Earth.

For that, she’s going to need a whole new team of vampire wardens to help round up the perpetrators, who turn out to be a gang that makes Sons of Anarchy look like toddlers on tricycles.

Her quest across the city brings old friends and enemies out of the woodwork and reminds Secret once and for all why mercy and forgiveness are not always prudent. Lives will be lost, sacrifices will be made, and when the dust settles, nothing will ever be the same again.

With no time to mourn her losses, the only question remaining is if Secret can survive long enough to stop the apocalypse…or if this is the one challenge that will finally drown her in rivers of undead blood.

Warning: The final book in the Secret McQueen series has it all: hot kisses, unexpected guests, and enough tear-jerking moments to require a whole box of tissues. You’ve been warned.
A Secret to Die For is the eighth and final book in the Secret McQueen series by Sierra Dean.

A Secret to Die For starts right after the end of A Cold Hard Secret (book seventh). Secret is coming back to New York just to find the city in completely chaos, there are fires everywhere and there are zombies running galore on the streets, but wait a secondly, zombies don’t exist. First thing Secret has to do is learn what is going on and second, stop whatever is happening in her city. For that she will need everybody’s help and when I say everybody I mean every single person that has had something to do with her life, humans, werewolves and vampires alike.
I don’t want to say much about what happens in this book not to give spoilers away. A Secret to Die For is a book you need to read and discover every single tidbit by yourself. I will only say Sierra was not afraid to kill, maim, and do her worst to character we love. The blurb says you will require a box of tissues to read this book and it couldn’t be truer. You will also require wine or strong liquor.

Secret McQueen has come a long way since Something Secret This Way Come (first book); book-by-book she has grown and come into her own. We have seen her cry, laugh, suffer, love and much more. Finally, after all her hardships she is getting to the point where she wanted to be and with the person she wanted to be with. It hasn’t been an easy road and this last installment could be the hardest for her yet, but at the end it was also the most rewarding.

In this installment Secret makes her final decision in regards to her love life. I won’t say whom she picked or how I felt about her choice because that will be a spoiler. I can only say it was the right decision for her and I’ll leave it at that.

In this final book Sierra brings, in a very organic way, all the characters that were somehow part of Secret’s life for a last farewell. It was very nice to have the opportunity of seeing them one last time. Some of them redeem themselves, others got what they deserve and others… let’s just say Sierra was mean… she’s an evil, evil author! *grabs tissues and bottle of whiskey*

In the best Sierra Dean’s style the action was non-stop from beginning to end. The villain in this book is insane, maybe one of the toughest villain Secret has encounter ever, not only because she was very powerful, but also because she has many dangerous minions working for her. Apart from that, the villain is exceptional... one of a kind... the best villain ever! You will know why at the end of my review.

I could continue gushing about this book, but I’ll risk giving spoilers away. The only thing left for me to say is Sierra Dean ends the Secret McQueen series with a bang. She masterfully ties all lose ends and gives us a perfect final book. I’m not exaggerating; A Secret to Die For is one of the best final books I have ever read. *pets book*

I can’t recommend enough this book and this series. The Secret McQueen series is a series ALL urban fantasy fans needs to read. I recommend reading these books in order to get the full effect of the amazing world Sierra Dean has given us.
The Secret McQueen series will always have an important place in my shelves and in my heart. I see myself re-reading these books many times in the years to come. Yes, they are that good!
What!? You haven’t read this series? What are you waiting for? The Secret McQueen series is one of the best urban fantasy series and one you need to read.

I think this is the hardest review I have ever written. Why? First, I have many mixed feelings about seeing this series come to an end. On one side, I’m glad Secret finally got her very well deserved HEA and I'm happy because Sierra ended the series in a perfect place and with a perfect ending, but on the other side, I’m sad to see one of my all time favorite series come to an end. The only thing that gives me hope is that Sierra is working on a spin off series, the Genie McQueen series.
Secondly, This is the MOST special book for me, Ever! Why? Because the villain in this book was named after me. Yes! You read right, I’m the villain in this book! How did that happened? Last year for Christmas, Sierra held an auction to raise money for one of her local charities, the Graffiti Gallery (donate if you can, they do an amazing job). One of the things she auctioned was to get your name in this book and I won it! To tell you the truth I was expecting to be Tree 1 or Zombie 3 or any small character, I really wasn’t expecting to be an important one and honestly I was ok with it, just being part of this book was enough for me. Sierra never told me which part “I will play”, she kept it a secret, but when I starting reading this book and read this in the dedication
For Marcela, aka Bookaholic Cat, who has been a champion for the series from day one and who donated to a very worthy charity group in my hometown just to have her name in this book. I couldn’t resist making her the bad guy, since she’s anything but.
To say I jumped and screamed like a banshee is the understatement of the year. DH thought I lost my mind (again) and my cats ran for cover because they thought the world was coming to an end. When I was able to talk and explain to DH why I was so happy he was also happy for me, he knows how much I love this series and what this means to me. I only wish Sierra could have seen my face when I read the dedication, she made my day, my month, my year! Thank you Sierra, you are simply THE BEST!

My Verdict: 5 Paws

Other books in the series
The Secret Guide to Dating Monsters (Novella)
Something Secret This Way Comes
A Bloody Good Secret
Secret Santa (Novella)
Deep Dark Secret
A Secret to Die For (December 16th)

Other reviews Goodreads

As I said before, I LOVE this series (yes, with capitals) and what better way to share my love for this series than with a giveaway. I love these books so much I want you to read them and love them too. I swear, you just need to read one book to get hooked in this amazing series. For that reason I’m giving away ONE e-book (Kindle or Nook) of this series to TWO lucky winners. Which book? That is your choice, but if you haven’t read this series you should start with Something Secret This Way Comes. If you already read these books you can participate and if you win you can gift it to a friend, it’s the Holiday season after all.
To participate you just need to fill up the Rafflecopter form below.

Good luck to you all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Movie Trailer: Inside Out

From an adventurous balloon ride above the clouds to a monster-filled metropolis, Academy Award®-winning director Pete Docter (“Monsters, Inc.,” “Up”) has taken audiences to unique and imaginative places. In Disney•Pixar’s original movie “ Inside Out,” he will take us to the most extraordinary location of all—inside the mind.

Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it's no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley's main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Early Review: Storm Fall by Tracy Banghart

Title: Storm Fall
Author: Tracy Banghart
Series: Rebel Wing, book 2
Genre: YA/NA Sci-fi
Publisher: Alloy Entertainment (December 16th)
Source: Review copy from publisher
Format: E-book
In the action-packed sequel to Rebel Wing, Aris battles for life and love . . . and not everyone will survive. 

Aris Haan gave up everything to join the Atalantan Military: her family, her boyfriend, even her identity. In the end, though, it didn’t matter that she was a war hero. When the all-male Military discovered that she was actually a woman, she was sent home and erased from history. 

Now she has a chance to go back to the battlefield—as herself. But as hard as it was to be a soldier in disguise, it’s even more difficult now. The men in her unit undermine her at every turn. The Safaran army has spies everywhere, perhaps even on Aris’s stationpoint. And she’s falling for her mysterious superior officer, Milek. But their relationship is forbidden, just stolen moments between training sessions and missions. There’s no room for love in war. 

Then Aris discovers that Safara’s leaders have set their sights on her, Atalanta’s hero. And she must find them before they find her . . .
Storm Fall is the second book in the Rebel Wing series by Tracy Banghart.

Storm Fall starts two months after the events in Rebel Wing (Shattered Veil). Aris Haan hasn’t been able to forget her months in the military, although it was a short time she left with scars that left her marred inside and out. She is dealing with PTSD and she also trying to find a place along her friends and her family; she’s not the girl she was before and she doesn’t fit with them as she once did.
She is surprised by the visit of Major Vadim who asks her to go back to service, this time as Aris and not Aristos. The service of women in the military is now in the open and they want her to be the public image of women in the military. He also informs her that for her service during the rescue of Ward Vadim she has been promoted to lieutenant.
After some days of consideration Aris returns to the military, but things are harder than what she was expecting. The majority of the men don’t want women serving with them and they want even less a woman commanding them. She not only suffers harassment but also her authority is undermined at every turn. To add to that, she’s dealing with her forbidden feelings for her commander officer, Milek.

After reading Rebel Wing (Shattered Veil) saying I was eagerly awaiting for the release of this book is the understatement of the year. The problem when you want something so much is that your expectations get very high and in most of the cases you have to deal with disappointment. I’m happy to say that was not the case of Storm Fall, Tracy Banghart delivers another winning story.

Aris has come a long way. She is now more mature, stronger, and self-confident. She knows what she wants and she knows her strengths. She also knows what she does reflects in other women and always gives her best. I really liked her, she is one of those heroines you can’t help but like and cheer along the way.

Storm Fall is heavier in the romance department comparing to first book. I’m saying this not as a complaint, because I was actually pretty happy with how things were developed between Aris and Malik.

Now, I have to talk about Malik. I love him! Looooove him! I loved how he accepts Aris the way she is, how he never pushes her and how he believes intrinsically in her strength and her intelligence. There were circumstances in which he could have gone all macho protector on her, but he didn’t because he respects her. I love him more for it.

The seeds of their romance were planted in first book and we see them flourish in this installment. I loved how they took their time to fall into each other’s arms. I loved how they are aware of the complications their relationship will bring them and how they are willing to fight for their love. They are perfect together because they bring out the best of the other.

In this installment we see more of Galena and Pyralis. I enjoyed seeing them together and can’t wait to see what Banghart has in store for them.
One character I wasn’t expecting to see or at least to see that much was Calix, but I’m glad Banghart brought him back into the story. He was a lot better this time around; he was almost likeable.

The plot about the war is further developed. The crisis is at its peak and every little mistake can be disastrous. We learn new things about the enemy, things that bring to the light the atrocities of war. We also learned about some secret plans Ward Balias has been working on and they are scary as hell. The only problem is I have to wait for next book to know more about them.

Storm Fall is a great follow up to fantastic series. No second book syndrome here. It was everything I was expecting it to be and more.

I recommend Storm Fall to YA/NA Sci-fi fans or to anyone who wants to read a well-written book, with a smart story and compelling characters. I also recommend reading Rebel Wing first to get a better understanding of what’s going on in the story. Actually, you should read Rebel Wing because it’s an amazing book, it’s one of my favorite reads of this year… and I have read many books…. So what are you waiting for? Go buy it and read it now! And then read Storm Fall… You can thank me later… chocolate is a good way to thank me.
For real people, you need to read this series. I really don’t understand why these books are not better known. The Rebel Wing series is simply made of awesome!

My Verdict: 4 ½ Paws

Other books in the series
Storm Fall (December 16th)

Other reviews Goodreads

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