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Uncaged Review – Victoria at Sea by M. Kate Quinn

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As seen in Issue 4 of Uncaged Book Reviews. One of November’s Top Reads.

Victoria at Sea
M. Kate Quinn
Contemporary Romance

‘Why?’ has no place in what the heart knows for sure.

On the eve of their wedding, Victoria Gliden and fiancé, Owen Walker, call it quits. He accuses her of not being able to get over her deadbeat father’s vanishing act when she was a child and she and her cold feet run and don’t look back.

Victoria, an interior designer, has an important meeting on Cancun that could garner her a promotion and the plan had been to incorporate her presentation with the honeymoon cruise that’s journeying to the island. Since she’s sure Owen is on his way to Portland to escape the aftermath of their ruined wedding, Victoria takes the honeymoon cruise anyway. Only Owen has the same idea and they’re stuck with each other for six days, five nights.

When Tony Gliden, Victoria’s father, dies in a freak accident, he is sent back to Earth disguised as a crotchety old man with the mission to convince his daughter to believe in love. So, he, too boards the ship.

At sea, destiny takes a detour when Victoria befriends the quirky old man with kind eyes and together they join forces with a quartet of unabashed women in their fifties who drink pink martinis and flirt with the waitstaff but are wiser than they look. While trying to dodge Owen, Victoria’s new acquaintances help her face old wounds and confront new fears.

By journey’s end, will two broken hearts get their answer?

Uncaged Review: Such a charming story. Victoria breaks up with her fiancé, Owen, and takes the cruise ship trip they had planned for their honeymoon, to get away and since she has a meeting in Cancun with potential clients for the company she works for in New York, it will be the answer, or so she thinks. Owen also decides to take the same trip, before he leaves to move to Portland, Oregon to take over his father’s business. But neither of them counted on Gil….

The fun of this story is Tony, who is the lost and estranged father of Victoria. After he is killed, he wakes up in a place, that to decide his everlasting fate, he must prove himself. So the powers that be, send him to the ship, disguised as Gil, a charming, older gentleman and his duty is to help his daughter. Within six days. A lot of fun ensues. I have to admit, I wanted to slap Victoria many times and throw Shawna overboard, but the characters are memorable, fun and I would consider it a fun rainy day read. Reviewed by Cyrene

4 1/2 Stars

Uncaged Review – Faerie Fate by Margaret Madigan

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As seen in Issue 4 of Uncaged Book Reviews. A Top Read for November.

Faerie Fate
Margaret Madigan
New Adult/Fantasy Romance

Holly Spencer is a 22-year-old IT major who’s ready to graduate and find her place in the world. What she really wants is a good job and a condo with a view.

But when she’s rescued twice in one day by a mysterious man who claims to be a fae warrior, she’s plunged into a world she grew up believing existed only in fairy tales, and is forced to run for her life from warring factions who all want her dead.

Shadow’s on a routine mission when he runs headlong into Holly—the soul mate he’d given up on ever finding. Even when she refuses to believe they’re meant for each other, he fights to protect her from the very thing that brought them together, even when it means making a dangerous deal with Fate to save her life.

They must confront their pasts together, and fight for their future against a demon determined to win.

Uncaged Review: This book is very original take on the genre of the faeries. In most books, Faes are human sized, but in this one, they can shift into a human form or the faerie form which is small and pixie like. It’s also a very fast paced storyline that tosses you headfirst into the action right away. Our main character Holly, goes to visit her dying grandmother in the hospital, never having met her. When her “aide” comes in the room, she has what she thinks is a seizure, and the woman dying in the bed isn’t all she is supposed to be. Holly soon finds out, she had her “First Sight,” a reaction when two soulmates that are Fated to be together meet. She also finds out she is half fairy/half human and her life is in grave danger. Shadow, the man/fairy she is fated and also the “aide” to the dying grandmother, knows he needs to protect her. When the father she never met, comes after her to kill her, Shadow escapes with her into their realm.

I’m not going to give more away, but this book is fast paced with a lot of action, humor, and originality. There are very few boring areas, I think the author does a great job giving enough information, but not overdoing it. I see the storyline continuing easily, but this book wrapped up its own storyline satisfactorily. Reviewed by Cyrene

4 1/2 Stars

Uncaged Review – Autumn Winters by J.S. Malcom

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As seen in Issue 4 of Uncaged Book Reviews.

Autumn Winters
J.S. Malcom
Paranormal Suspense

Autumn Winters has a secret that could get her killed. She just doesn’t know she’s keeping it.

Autumn Winters doesn’t realize that she’s come into her powers as a protector of the veil. All she knows is that her world suddenly looks onto another, one full of ghosts and other supernatural beings that can’t possibly exist. But another window has opened within her, bringing memories of when her sister, Cassie, also displayed magical abilities. That was just before Cassie went missing. She hasn’t been seen since.

Autumn believes there must be a connection between what’s happening to her now and what happened years ago. Determined to finally rescue her sister, Autumn sets out with the mysterious, and psychic, private investigator Ian to track down who committed her sister’s abduction, as she struggles to accept her own legacy as a veil witch and master her newfound magic. What she doesn’t realize is that, when the powers of a realm watcher awaken, there are those who’ll be waiting. Getting closer to the truth only means getting closer to danger.

Autumn Winters is the first book in a dark, thrilling urban fantasy series journeying into the place where our world converges with that of ghosts, vampires, magical creatures and other trans-dimensional intruders—a world humans were never meant to detect.

Uncaged Review: This one started out slow for me, and it took a while to really grab my interest. I give props to the original storyline and the editing was perfect. But I’m not sure I got the full gist of it. The majority of the book is told in our main character’s point of view, or first person. But there are a couple chapters that go off that narrative and go into the third person, I’m sure it’s to help the reader understand more. I’m not sure if writing the book fully in one way or another would clarify it more, I just think a lot of information was left out, and I never fully grasped the whole supernatural part of it, and our main characters real role. Since this is book one in a series, I’m sure things will click into place better as the story evolves.

Now with all that said, the storyline is a nice original take in the urban fantasy landscape. Autumn is a protector of the realms, and is only beginning to come into her powers. As beings from a different dimension start showing up on her radar, she’s not sure what’s happening, or if she’s going crazy. This is where it gets a bit confusing, on exactly what her job is as a protector. The beings from the other dimension, can take over a body and essentially kick the consciousness of the person out, like a parasite. She teams up with a psychic investigator, Ian, over the disappearance of people, that have left no clue as to where they’ve gone.

This book does wrap up one storyline, but it leaves on a cliffhanger of sorts. So although I do plan on reading the next one in the series, that will be the book that will decide the fate of this series for me. Reviewed by Cyrene

4 Stars

Uncaged Review – Book of Angels by K.H. Mezek with Excerpt

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As seen in Issue 4 of Uncaged Book Reviews. To read an interview with Karen, and a review of the first book in The Night Chronicles series, The Key of Mystery, please see the issue. 

 

Book of Angels
K.H. Mezek
Young Adult Fantasy

All Sera ever wanted was to solve the mystery of her dad’s death and find out whether or not the Night Angel, Peter, really loved her. Now, there are bigger issues at stake. After being saved from death by the Night Angels, Sera returns to Oak Haven to find her brother, Salem, has been saved by her nemesis, the sinister Los Angeles mayor-to-be, Fabian Gore. Sera and her brother meet again in their hometown of Oak Haven as powerful denizens. And as enemies. Someone is channeling power to the Queen, imprisoned in St. Catherine’s Monastery. If she escapes, the Ancient Ones will rise up from their sarcophagi beneath churches throughout the world and wreak vengeance on denizens and humans alike.

To thwart the Queen, Sera has no choice but to form an uneasy alliance with Gore. Meanwhile, Sera’s power and her connection to the Key of Mystery is growing. Only she can open the Book of Angels. But whoever does that will become something that Sera never wants to be: the Seventh Angel. How can Sera solve her own problems when everyone else wants her to solve their problems as well?

Excerpt

This is from Book of Angels. Sera and the Night Angels suspect someone is feeding power to the Queen, so they go to investigate.

The next thing I knew I had leapt into the air with Peter and Blanca, my mind on St. Catherine’s Monastery. I found myself hurtling through the Passage, horribly aware of every atom in my body and the indomitable forces of the universe that were trying to pull me apart.

As if it were a part of my very being, I held myself together, “remembered myself”, and traveled through the Passage.

Within seconds, I was floating down from the sky, surrounded by the immense, desolate beauty of what looked like a moonscape. Except that the moon shone brighter and bigger than I had ever seen. Behind me, sand stretched, wave upon wave of it, with not a hint of grass or trees, while in front rose a sheer cliff, taller than a skyscraper. The monastery seemed to grow out of the rock, so closely was it pressed against the cliff.

“All looks peaceful,” observed Peter.

“Maybe too peaceful,” said Blanca.

Together, we jumped over the fortress walls, landing in the empty courtyard. We entered the sixth century basilica. We walked from the vestibule into the ornate nave and down the aisle, toward the sanctuary. I gazed in awe at the ancient artifacts and the icons shining with gold. Hundreds of lamps hung from the high ceiling like glittering galaxies, bathing the vast room in an eerie light. Out of the shadows the figure of the Abbot appeared, wearing a long gray robe and a cylindrical, flat-topped hat. His long black hair was tied in a knot at the nape of his head, a frizzy beard spreading out from his face like tangled wire. His large, hooked nose resembled a bird’s beak and his dark eyes burned uncannily from deep sockets.

He greeted us with a humble bow and wordlessly led us through a dark and narrow arched doorway into a small, circular, windowless chamber, padding silently on bare feet. The chamber was empty except for one plain wooden table. On the table sat the black lacquered Life Box, looking just as insignificant as the Object Holder had when I had first seen it and fought over it with Salem. This box, though, was about twice the size of the one that had held the key. And, whereas the Object Holder had a gold lock and tiny gold key to open it, the Life Box had no lock and no visible way to open it.

On either side of the table stood two impressive Bedouin warriors. Each had one hand resting on a curved scimitar and the other holding the hilt of a knife tucked into a belt. Their faces were lined and weather-beaten and expressionless, as if carved from the rocks of the mountain. The desert surrounding the monastery was home to many Bedouin. They were devout Muslims with a long history of guarding the monastery. They had made a vow to guard the Life Box with their lives.
The Abbot motioned for the Bedouin to stand at ease.

Bowing low to us, the guards said in unison, “Assalamu alaikum.” It meant, “peace be upon you.”

Along with Peter and Blanca, I responded. “Alaikum assalamu.” This meant, “upon you be peace.”

Like everything else in my crazy life these days, I had no idea how I knew to say that, but I did.

The Abbot didn’t speak, just gestured for us to gather around the box.

“He has taken a vow of silence and hasn’t spoken in thirty years,” said Peter.

My attention was drawn to the box. I realized it vibrated and hummed in an almost undetectable manner. Only when I remained completely still and stared fixedly did I notice it.

“This it does without stopping and just today, it gained in force,” said one of the Bedouin.

Sure enough, as we watched, the box jumped slightly, shuddered, and jumped again before falling back into its continual vibration. It hummed a little louder now.
As I watched in fascination, I slowly became aware that the key around my neck was growing heavier and beginning to burn.

The box vibrated more violently and hummed louder. As it did, it rose into the air and hovered about two feet above the table. The vibrating and humming grew so loud I thought the box might split apart.

The key was searing my skin and I yelled in pain. I tried to tear it off, but it was stuck to my chest and my hand burned when I touched it. I felt the Queen’s presence, reaching out to me. It was pure evil and I felt attracted to it. I wanted to bow down and worship the Queen, give her the key. I became brutally aware of her perfections and my own failings. I loved the Queen! I despised and hated myself! Horrible thoughts rose in my mind, the impulse to do horrible things.

Blood was pouring from my eyes. Tears or something worse, I didn’t know.

“Take me away!” I cried out to the others. “She’s grabbing at me. Take me away. Please!”

The Bedouin had drawn their swords and whipped out their daggers, but there was nothing they could do except stand there, at the ready. Blanca and Peter had drawn their swords, too. They’d placed themselves as a shield between me and the box. The Abbot ran in front of us all and pushed Blanca and Peter back.
He turned to face the box, bracing himself as if against a great wind, and raised his hands to heaven in prayer.

Peter and Blanca were then able to pull me out of the chamber. I don’t think I could have moved before the Abbot faced the box. As soon as we were back in the nave, I collapsed onto the ground, gasping great gulps of air, thankful to find the heat of the key subsiding. With a great cry, I tried to take it off, but it was stuck. Completely stuck now. To my skin.

“Fuck this key! Why am I cursed with it?”

My entire body was bathed in red sweat. I looked down at myself in horror. What had I become? What nightmare had I entered? I pushed back my hair and swallowed, my throat dry and constricted. I had to get control of myself. I breathed in and out deeply.

“She’s getting stronger all the time. She’ll get out. Maybe soon. And I was ready to help her!” I shuddered.

“But you didn’t,” said Peter.

“At least now we are sure she is still inside,” said Blanca.

“She won’t stay there.” I could see my fate, as I had already seen it in my Turning, and it was clearer than ever. One day I would face the Queen.
And I would fail! How could I not, when she was so easily able to deceive and confuse me?

One of the Bedouin exited the chamber. “The Abbot wants you to know he is now sure someone is channeling power to the Queen, but he cannot see who.”

“It’s just not possible,” said Blanca.

The Bedouin bowed respectfully. “I only tell you what the Abbot believes.”

“Thank you,” said Peter.

The Bedouin continued. “The Abbot further believes that you must discover who is doing this. You must stop them or she will escape.”

He bowed again and returned to the nave.

“He’s right,” I said, as we walked out of the sanctuary and into the vestibule. “She and her sons will kill me and take the key.”

“Coward.” Banca kicked the church door open with her foot. “We might as well be protecting a pile of trash! If it weren’t for the key around your neck, I’d kill you myself!”
For the first time, Blanca’s words didn’t bother me. “You can call me what you want, I don’t care. But you better listen because she will escape and we won’t be able to stop her. We need to figure out what to do instead of arguing all the time.”

“Well said,” said Peter. “Let’s get back to the castle and tell the others.”

We were outside of the basilica now and we stood for a moment, surveying the courtyard, the full moon casting eerie shadows across the ground. I looked more carefully and saw that some of the shadows moved like living things.

“What’s that?” I asked.

Peter and Blanca looked up to the sky and I did the same. A gathering storms of wispy black tendrils snaked across the sky, mirroring the moving shadows on the ground.
“What the hell…” I said.

“Wind demons,” said Blanca.

I looked at Peter inquiringly. “Seventy-two demons were captured by King Solomon and then released by mistake. Up there you see maybe twenty of them.”

The Abbot and the two Bedouin had joined us in the courtyard.

“We have never seen them here before,” said one of the Bedouin.

“And so many,” said Peter. He sighed. “I hate wind demons.”

The Abbot was motioning us to follow him. We hurried across the courtyard, which was now filled with a howling wind, the shadows of the wind demons slithering back and forth across the stones like snakes. A group of monks appeared, running in the opposite direction, heading for the church.

“They will pray,” yelled one of the Bedouin above the din.

This was not making me any happier. I had just escaped the clutches of the Queen and now I had to contend with wind demons? Was there no end to the problems I had to face in one day?

The Abbot led us to the Fatimid mosque that stood across from the church. Standing on its own, opposite the gigantic bell tower, was the minaret and we entered and climbed swiftly up the stairs. It was from this highest point that the muezzin sang across the desert, calling the followers of Islam to prayer, five times a day. We climbed out onto the little platform that ran around the top of the minaret, and from here, I felt the full force of the gale. The shadows screamed and I could see cavernous, greedy mouths appear and disappear as they whipped around the tower, creating a whirlpool of darkness. Only when I looked straight up could I see clear sky and stars. But that opening was growing narrower by the minute. All around was completely empty of light, as if the very sky itself had been sucked into a giant black hole of whirling mouths and tails, into which we, too, would be sucked if we tried to fly upward.

Peter and Blanca unsheathed their swords and I did the same.

Peter pointed with his sword. “We must fly straight up. They don’t dare come too close to the minaret.”

The Abbot nodded, making motions that we should hurry.

“Put your sword away,” Peter said.

I began to object, then obeyed. This didn’t seem like the time to argue.

He gripped my arm. “Listen carefully! Jump onto my back. Once we’ve achieved the Passage, we’ll be safe. Until then, you must hold your breath—don’t breathe, understand? If you do, the shadows will enter and steal your soul.”

I nodded, terrified.

I jumped onto his back and held on tightly.

The Abbot raised his arms, while the Bedouin brandished their swords at the swirling darkness. It seemed to abate a bit, and Peter and Blanca seized that moment to leap into the air. I breathed in deeply and held onto my breath.

All was chaos in the tunnel through the shadows, the terrible wind trying to push us back down, a screaming noise like a thousand pigs being gutted. Flying straight upward, the two Night Angels fought the demons with their swords, slicing into the tendrils that tried to encircle them.

I was sure we had almost made it when I felt an icy tendril touch my leg. I almost opened my mouth to scream. As it was, I let go of Peter with one arm and tried to reach down to bat at the tendril. I felt myself slipping halfway down his back and scrambled to pull myself back up again.
I was falling!

The snaky thing had my ankle now. I tried to kick with my foot to shake it off, while struggling to get a better hold on Peter. I was growing weaker. I had to take a breath. My chest was exploding.

And then, the Passage was achieved and we were through. I pushed away from Peter with relief, feeling the now familiar force of my molecules trying to split apart and me holding them together, as we rocketed through space and time, landing within seconds in the little garden of the castle.


Uncaged Review: This book carries on right after the events of book one, The Key of Mystery. Sera is saved from death by the Night Angels, and has now become one of them. The ever-present key is still the mystery that needs solving, and Sera is special, as the Night Angels have told her that she is the only one that can keep the key, as it chose her. Both a burden and a blessing – and Sera feels it will help her find out what really happened with her father.

This book is a much faster pace, her friends, Jimmy, Scooter and Inez are even more loyal than ever, and her role with the Night Angels continues to develop. Her love for one Night Angel, Peter, and his love for her, can never be – which is distressing for both the reader and Sera. In this book, I cared much more for Sera, as she started to show more depth, and as she comes into her own powers, she’s still bratty at times, but considering what’s been dumped in her lap in a short amount of time, you can forgive those moments. But her caring attitude toward street kids really begins to unfold, and the story gets more intricate. This story does satisfactorily end its mission and sets up for the next book nicely, but doesn’t leave you on a cliffhanger. I highly recommend that the reader starts with the first book, as it could be a bit confusing if jumping right into this one. Reviewed by Cyrene

5stars-web

 

 

Uncaged Review – Sleeping with Elvis by Beth Carter

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Sleeping with Elvis
Beth Carter
Contemporary Romance

Pepper Langley, an unemployed preschool teacher with a fear of flying and boating, hopes a vacation to remote Key Lime Island will bolster her confidence and salvage her relationship with her rogue boyfriend. From tiny Nowhere, Arkansas, she scrimped all year to afford the lavish trip, but a deadly storm changes everything.

Gorgeous Elvis impersonator Ty Townsend flees to Key Lime Island between gigs. During this hiatus, he reevaluates his profession after twice forgetting the King’s lyrics. He craves the isle’s solitude—far away from social media haters—where he shares beach life with a cursing parrot. The last thing on his mind is a woman, especially one who isn’t supposed to be there.

Will their secrets tear them apart or will they find happiness on the sand and stage?

Uncaged Review: So Pepper is meant to be going on holiday with her boyfriend Derek. Who is a jerk in every way possible. There both going to Key Lime Island But the only way to get there is a boat ride and then a plane ride. Two things Pepper is scared of forced to go nevertheless. It isn’t smooth sailing and some unexpected tragedies hit. But on the plus side there is some fun holiday times to enjoy. A swearing Parrot and let’s throw in an Elvis singer to mix things up.

This book has some sad moments but a lot of funny and heartwarming moments. Plus it’s a perfect read for on holiday or just a beach read. I really enjoyed this book and wouldn’t mind visiting the Key Lime Island myself. Reviewed by Jennifer

4 Stars

 

Uncaged Review – Night and Chaos by Naomi Clark

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Night and Chaos
Naomi Clark
Paranormal Romance

Ryan’s past isn’t just haunting her. It’s trying to kill her. 

Ryan McCarthy fled Kimberlyn Island, her father, and her lover six years ago, desperate to build a life away from the weird science and supernatural experiments of her childhood. But everything she hoped to escape comes back with a vengeance when she’s kidnapped and tortured by a possessed madman out for revenge on the man responsible for his possession: Ryan’s father.

Now, reunited with the lover she abandoned, Ryan is forced back into a world of danger and darkness she no longer understands, pursued by enemies with powers she can’t fathom. But Ryan’s not entirely powerless herself. She’ll have to use every trick she knows—as well as the mystic gift she hates—to stay ahead of those enemies. And that will be easier said than done.

 

Uncaged Review: This was a good start to a new series, and there was plenty of action, and suspense. This story brings you Ryan, who for the last 6 years, has been trying to build a new life for herself, after escaping from an organization run by her father, that has been experimenting on people and transplanting demon souls (devas and asuras) into human hosts for a symbiotic relationship. It’s rare when it actually succeeds.

 

When Ryan is kidnapped and tortured by a man whose experiment went horribly wrong, she escapes and ends up in the middle of the danger she left behind. It took awhile to really grasp this one, as the book is told from Ryan’s point of view, so whatever she doesn’t know, then the audience really doesn’t either. But it was not a long read, and it was well paced and I liked the characters introduced in this book. The one major hang-up I have with the book, is it ends on a cliffhanger without tying up the storyline introduced. I normally don’t mind a segway into the next book in a series, but I’m really not a fan of books that don’t tie up the storyline that it’s started. Reviewed by Cyrene

4 Stars