Author: Annette Marie

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Aug 21

Can’t Wait Wednesday #18 – The Alchemist and an Amaretto (Guild Codex #5)

Books/Writing 0

I’m joining in the fun with a Can’t-Wait Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Usually the books are ones yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

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Can’t Wait Wednesday #18 – The Alchemist and an Amaretto (Guild Codex #5)The Alchemist and an Amaretto (The Guild Codex: Spellbound, #5) by Annette Marie
on October 11, 2019
Goodreads

As a guild bartender, I can handle pretty much anything—mages, sorcerers, witches, the occasional demon. But show me anything family-related and I'd rather run for the hills. It doesn't even have to be my family.

So I have no idea why I thought spending the holidays with Aaron's mom and pop was a good idea.

Meeting his famous parents is already terrifying enough, but I've got a bigger problem. Students of his family's renowned mage academy are being attacked on the grounds—and somehow no one has seen a single assailant? Unexplained tracks litter the nearby woods, rumors of forbidden alchemy are circulating the campus…and Ezra has been acting strangely since we arrived.

Something deadly is brewing in the shadow of Sinclair Academy, and the longer we take to uncover it, the more dangerous it becomes. But no matter the risk, we'll protect the students.

And Aaron's parents too, I suppose. If we have to.

--THE GUILD CODEX

Spellbound Series:Three Mages and a Margarita (#1)Dark Arts and a Daiquiri (#2)Two Witches and a Whiskey (#3)Demon Magic and a Martini (#4)The Alchemist and an Amaretto (#5)Druid Vices and a Vodka (#6)

Demonized Series:Taming Demons for Beginners (#1)Slaying Monsters for the Feeble (#2)

I’m obsessed with this series and this author. <3 Love Tori so much! You can read my reviews of the first two books in the Guild Codex series here and here.

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Jan 24

Review of Bind the Soul

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

If you haven’t read the first in this series, I highly recommend it and you can check out my review right here. That review is spoiler free, but THIS review may contain spoilers for the first book!

Bind the Soul picks up right where Chase the Dark (Steel & Stone #1) left off. Piper is back home at the consulate, and Ash is gone. Lyle has spent weeks searching for him and only has the barest of information. Piper knows that Ash is a big boy and can take care of himself…but she also knows he sacrificed a lot for her, and that despite his own power seemed genuinely afraid of whoever – whatever – holds sway over him. To help him would mean defying her father AGAIN, risking her own safety (since she still has no idea how she managed to use the Sahar), and plunging into Hades itself…and the choice may not be hers to make.

“Death is easy. Living is difficult.”

Phew! This book took a really dark turn. There are some torture scenes that left my heart racing. I was so very emotionally invested in these characters. I’m also Team Ash ALL THE WAY, I don’t care what anyone says. I love anti-heroes in general, and as a love interest he is just so swoonworthy (is that a word? it should be).

There is SO MUCH going on here. The upper and lower daemons are still trying to get their hands on the Sahar, which has so very inconveniently become attached to Piper. Piper just wants to prevent world destruction, and get Ash back. And become a consul, which means never becoming involved with Ash, or Lyre, or any other daemon.

Riiiiight.

How’s that working out for ya, my girl?

The pace of this book is fast and furious as our lovelies escape and re-escape and try to stay one step ahead of the Father of All Nasties, a.k.a. the very sadistic Samael. Every time I thought they might get a breather – whoops, just kidding! Here’s another nasty punch to brighten your day. It just kept going and going and I absolutely loved it. There are also a couple of new characters introduced that I really hope will be in the rest of the books, as their stories seem like they would be absolutely fascinating. Also, ahem, can someone please introduce a love interest for Lyle so that I can stop fretting over it?

There are some absolutely heart-melting scenes spaced in between all the action. Ash and Piper have such incredible chemistry and yet they both seem convinced they can’t be together (trope-y, yes, but it works). Rational thought never keeps sparks from flying though, and it doesn’t keep traitorous hearts from caring when the mind would rather not.

She lifted her face, met his eyes – and saw his soul beneath the black. “Kill that bastard,” she whispered.

One thing that really bothered me throughout the first half of this book was how Piper seemed to have regressed in maturity. This series is marketed as YA, I understand that. However, the first book was really not very YA in tone or content, at all. Piper is supposed to be seventeen, but she acts more like someone in their early twenties. So, I expected this one to be the same and it wasn’t quite. The last half it was back to the old Piper. It was rather frustrating, but oh well. It was only mildly distracting.

Piper’s parentage and inherited (or not) magic still isn’t explained and I am absolutely dying of curiosity. I feel like there must be SOMETHING there or else she wouldn’t have been able to connect with the Sahar the way she did, but that part wasn’t delved into much at all in this book.

Overall 4/5 stars, highly, HIGHLY recommend! This is an awesome futuristic urban fantasy series with characters you can really get behind. I am SO READY to dive into the third book!

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four-stars

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Dec 06

Review of Dark Arts and a Daiquiri

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★½

Review of Dark Arts and a DaiquiriDark Arts and a Daiquiri (The Guild Codex: Spellbound, #2) by Annette Marie
Published by Dark Owl Fantasy Inc. on November 16, 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads four-half-stars
two-flames

When I found myself facing down the scariest black-magic felon in the city, practically daring him to abduct me, I had to wonder exactly how I ended up here.

It all started when I accidentally landed a job as a bartender—but not at a bar. At a guild, populated by mages, sorcerers, alchemists, witches, and psychics. Good thing this lame-o human is adaptable, right?

Then my favorite guild members—three sexy, powerful, and intermittently charming mages—asked for my help. Did they want access to my encyclopedic knowledge of cocktails? Oh no. They wanted to wrap me up in a pretty ribbon and plunk me in the crosshairs of a murderous rogue to lure him out of hiding.

So that's what we did. And that's why I'm here. About to be kidnapped. Oh, and our grand plan for safely capturing said murderous rogue? Yeah, that completely fell apart about two minutes ago.

Why did I agree to this again?

--Note: The three mages are definitely sexy, but this series isn't a reverse harem. It's 100% fun, sassy, fast-paced urban fantasy.


Tori has no problem getting herself into trouble in every book in the Guild Codex series, but each one is a complete adventure—no cliffhanger endings.

--THE GUILD CODEX: SPELLBOUNDThree Mages and a Margarita (#1)Dark Arts and a Daiquiri (#2)Two Witches and a Whiskey (#3)

So excited that this book published right on the heels of the first one! I was anticipating a long wait, but it was only about two months. And the third one is due to be out February 8th…be still my heart! Also please tell me it is NOT the last one…after the way this one ended, I don’t see how everything could possibly be wrapped up in only one more book.

Dark Arts and a Daiquiri picks up just a few weeks after the events of Three Mages and a Margarita, and we jump right into the action as Tori and the guys set up an exorcism for a faery spirit haunting the apartment she wants to rent. Much hilarity ensues, and then sadly the apartment and the faery are abandoned while they all become involved in hunting down this big-huge-black-magic-bad-guy that is stealing magically inclined youngsters. And by hunting down, we mean using Tori as bait. Things do not go as planned. Things – and people – are not what they seem.

I loved this one just as much as the first, even if some things I was hoping for didn’t happen. I snickered and giggled my way all the way through, as well as having a few moments where I simply couldn’t read fast enough.

Characters

I planted my feet, hands clenched as I glared at him, silently daring him to blast me into Tori goo.

Tori is the same smart-mouthed chick we met in the first book. We learn a very little bit more about her past, but mostly the story was moving along so quickly there wasn’t a whole lot of time for reflection. There are some new characters, Nadine, Echo (I don’t care what anyone says, I am INTRIGUED), and perhaps most interestingly, Zac. Oh! And Harry. Can’t forget Harry. Yes, I am being intentionally vague because this book is VERY easy to spoil.

“Sorcery,” he interrupted irritably. “Not sorcerer-y.”

In Tori’s words:

“You are a supreme dickhead and I haven’t forgiven you for anything.”

Actually, you know what? I just want to be able to come up with this smart-mouthed retorts like Tori. My daily life would be so entertaining.

“I don’t think you’re as bad as you think you are.”

“I told you not to get the wrong idea.”

“Oh, sorry. What I meant to say was you’re an evil bastard and I can’t wait to see you burnt at the stake for your evil crimes of evil.”

I don’t know exactly why this particular exchange struck me as so funny, but I laughed until I had tears running down my cheeks.

Also, I am in awe of the author’s ability to make me care about ALL these characters. Usually when I read a book I’m only really invested in one or two. Not so with these. Which is why I was very disappointed that we didn’t see much of the three mages in this book. They were there, but just not nearly as much, and I reeeeeeally wanted to find out more about their backstories!

Plot

If you’re hoping for some resolution of previous things, forget it. This book is an entirely new can of worms, and we only barely see the house-haunting faery that appear in the very first chapter! It does seem like it will play a larger part maybe in a later book, but damn.

Also, there are now dragons – including baby dragons – and I want to see more of them.

“For the blood of my blood’s life, I will aid you again – but only once.”

With so many loose ends, this seems like it could be a fantastic series of at least five or six books. Can we please go back to Ezra’s story? I want to know why everyone seems to be afraid of him when he really seems like such a nice guy.

Oh, and Zac. I really want to know more about him too.

Flame Rating:

More sexual tension, but not as much as in the first. Come oooooon, girlfriend. Tori’s obviously got the hots for Aaron but I’m still Team Ezra.

Minor Complaints

As already mentioned, lack of screen time for the three mages. Also the unfair teasing with the house faery. Then…does Tori have to immediately get into a confrontation with every other woman she meets? I thought she and the witch from the first book were going to be friends, but she only appeared in passing in this one…does it have to be all guys?

4.5/5 stars. Great second book, can’t wait for more!

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four-half-stars

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Nov 30

Review of Chase the Dark

Book Reviews 1 ★★★★★

I recently discovered author Annette Marie with the first book of her new series, Three Mages and a Margarita, and have started going through her back catalog. I’m so excited that she HAS an extensive backlist, as it seems a lot of the authors I really love are so new they only have two or three books.

Review of Chase the DarkChase the Dark (Steel & Stone, #1) by Annette Marie
Published by Annette Marie on October 17, 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 302
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads five-stars
three-flames

Piper Griffiths wants one thing in life: To become a Consul, a keeper of the peace between humans and daemons. There are three obstacles in her way.

The first is Lyre. Incubus. Hotter than hell and with a wicked streak to match. His greatest mission in life is to get Piper into bed and otherwise annoy the crap out of her. The second is Ash. Draconian. Powerful. Dangerous. He knows too much and reveals nothing. Also, disturbingly attractive — and scary. Did she mention scary?

The third is the Sahar Stone. Top secret magical weapon of mass destruction. Previously hidden in her Consulate until thieves broke in, went on a murder spree, and disappeared with the weapon.

And they left Piper to take the fall for their crimes.

Now she’s on the run, her dreams of becoming a Consul shattered and every daemon in the city gunning to kill her. She’s dead on her own, but there’s no one she can trust — no one except two entirely untrustworthy daemons ... See problems one and two.

Chase the Dark seemed to be the logical place to jump in after Three Mages, while I was waiting NOT so patiently for the next in that series (which I’ve since read, and a review is coming soon!). Also, the entire Steel & Stone series is available through Kindle Unlimited, which I happened to be trying for a free month. I hesitated slightly because in my experience, often an author’s first book or even first few books are not as good as their later works. I am thrilled to report that I was wrong, and I quite enjoyed the start to this storyline.

As with any fantasy, urban or otherwise, there’s a good deal of worldbuilding setup required in the initial book. Chase the Dark is set in a future earthworld that sees traffic from daemons of various “species,” most of which take on a humanoid form during the time they spend on earth. Piper, our main character, is in training to be a consul, a go-between for the daemon guests and earth’s diplomatic figures. It is, OF COURSE, frowned on for consuls to have any kind of personal relationships with daemons, regardless of their benevolent intentions…OF COURSE. *wink wink*

The story moves fast, as Piper, with Lyle – an on-so-alluring succubus – and Ash, an enigmatic draconian daemon (which is just as interesting as it sounds) – in tow has to make a run for her life and freedom after a horrifying attack on the human embassy erupts. Naturally, law enforcement jumps to conclusions about just who is behind the attack. Things snowball from there.

Characters

I love Piper. I love her backbone, her willingness to try ANYTHING to do what she perceives as her duty, and I love how she cares about people. She’s young, but not TOO young (I do think the YA label is somewhat misleading on this series…it felt more New Adult to me, but without some of the explicit sex scenes that a lot of NA books have). She has a lot of past hurts from her parents and relationship issues, but she keeps going, chasing her dream, despite the fact that she has a sizeable obstacle in her way. Piper is haemon – half human, half daemon – through a VERY interesting set of circumstances, and as such has none of the magical capabilities that haemons usually have. She hasn’t let this stop her though, instead training ten times harder than most in an effort to level the playing field. You. Go. Girl.

Somehow, Annette Marie has managed to avoid making this feel like a love triangle. I suppose it…sort of IS, regardless, but it just doesn’t feel like a typical one. Despite Lyle and Ash both being insanely hot and there being quite a few sexy scenes. The three of them are a team, and they work best when they are ALL together…it’s not only hot, it’s funny as hell. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. One of which involves spiders.

Piper went stiff as board. Ash crouched over her, a knee on either side of her as he craned to try and spot the insect. She bit her lip so hard she tasted blood…her muscles quivered. Give her minotaurs, sphinxes, anything but spiders.

I love that they do have weaknesses. Perfect characters are so unrealistic and unlikeable.

Though if you’re wondering, Ash was my favorite of the two guys. Because I love anti-heroes. He IS a real piece of work though…which is about all I can say without spoiling anything. Also, HE HAS A DRAGONET FOR A PET AND SHE IS THE MOST ADORABLE THING EVER. Ahem. I need a Zwi in my life. Ash does seem a little too emo at the beginning, but once they start running his seeming immaturity sort of evaporates. Again also, his refusal to show his real form at ANY costs is very VERY intriguing. What can I say, curiosity killed the cat. Some of the events at the end of the book involve him in a way that pretty much had my jaw on the floor…who IS Ash, exactly? And why does he have to be my favorite? I feel like he might end up the bad guy and I would absolutely HATE that…

Plot

SO MUCH HAPPENING. I find this is usually the case in the first of a fantasy series, because as mentioned before the entire world, etc., has to be set up. I was just more and more intrigued the longer this went on, and while a few things were explained in the end, it is really just a gigantic cliffhanger that left me gasping for air. I desperately need to read the rest, and plan to do so hopefully over winter break. Piper learns a lot about herself and her family that she never knew, and basically entire pieces of her life have been a fake or a lie. Yay overprotective parents.

Oh, and there’s a freaking amazing fight scene – because Piper can kick just about anyone’s ass, be they human or daemon – that is hot. AF. Just saying.

Worldbuilding

The world is basically our current earth with some technological upgrades and the addition of daemons from both an underworld and overworld. Very fascinating, especially since the good and evil distinction does not necessarily follow the under and over bit. I loved it. I hope the next books maybe actually let us GO to these other worlds.

Flame Rating

There isn’t any actual sex, or even any real clothing removal. Just load and loads of sexual tension and some hot kissing. And the fight scene.

5/5 stars. If you like urban fantasy AT ALL, I would definitely give it a try!

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five-stars

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Oct 19

FULL Review of Three Mages and a Margarita

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

FULL Review of Three Mages and a MargaritaThree Mages and a Margarita (The Guild Codex: Spellbound, #1) by Annette Marie
Published by Dark Owl Fantasy Inc. on September 14, 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 312
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads five-stars
two-flames

Broke, almost homeless, and recently fired. Those are my official reasons for answering a wanted ad for a skeevy-looking bartender gig.

It went downhill the moment they asked me to do a trial shift instead of an interview — to see if I'd mesh with their "special" clientele. I think that part went great. Their customers were complete dickheads, and I was an asshole right back. That's the definition of fitting in, right?

I expected to get thrown out on my ass. Instead, they… offered me the job?

It turns out this place isn't a bar. It's a guild. And the three cocky guys I drenched with a margarita during my trial? Yeah, they were mages. Either I'm exactly the kind of takes-no-shit bartender this guild needs, or there's a good reason no one else wants to work here.

So what's a broke girl to do? Take the job, of course — with a pay raise.

--Note: The three mages are definitely sexy, but this series isn't a reverse harem. It's 100% fun, sassy, fast-paced urban fantasy.


Tori has no problem getting herself into trouble in every book in the Guild Codex series, but each one is a complete adventure—no cliffhanger endings.

--THE GUILD CODEX: SPELLBOUNDThree Mages and a Margarita (#1)Dark Arts and a Daiquiri (#2)Two Witches and a Whiskey (#3)

I was expecting to like Three Mages and a Margarita. I was NOT expecting to love it. And well..let’s just say as soon as I finished I jumped onto GoodReads to see when the next one was coming out!

I signed up for the book tour because I like sassy female characters and felt like I could use a lighthearted, amusing read in the middle of all my heavy science stuff that I’ve been working on for months. The description made me think Jim Butcher and Gail Carriger had a brain-child…and I was NOT disappointed!

Characters

Tori is the bomb. She takes no shit, from anyone, and yet she still has soft heart and she tries to care about people. It’s only sort of hinted at what sort of trauma her past holds (she tries to reveal-but-not-reveal to one other character in the book and it just left some things up in the air), but she has difficulty trusting anyone. She takes care of herself, but she tries to take care of other people too. The dichotomy is something she admits to struggling with, but it doesn’t weigh the book down.

The three mages are, as promised, sexy AF. Despite that, it is not (also as promised) a reverse harem. Just a good dose of sexual tension and admiration on all sides, hence the two flames. Nothing too sexual though, though I feel like the potential is there. I am extremely eager to see what happens in subsequent books, and I’m kind of hoping for a HEA on all counts for this series. Because it just seems like it needs it. All three guys – despite being often seen together and best friends – are quite different and I loved them all but I loved Ezra just a teeny bit more. :heart_eyes: Ahem.

Worldbuilding

Now, I don’t read that much urban fantasy, so it’s possible the magic system isn’t all that original, but I thought it was fascinating. I loved how the explanation of magic users in the modern world was explained, how they stayed hidden from the normal/human set, as well as how they used their powers and weapons.

Storyline

The plot kept it moving, which I really liked. The only reason I didn’t read this all in one sitting was because – well, homework and being a responsible student. 😛 Whomp whomp. (Also when I went to write this review, my ePub had for some reason VANISHED from my computer and I really wanted to look back and re-read a few things before I wrote it, hence the very short review in the actual tour post.) Things just kept happening! I wanted to find out more and more and it didn’t feel predictable at all. I did feel like one part – not the actual climax, but leading up to that – was oddly rushed, but when I thought back over it a scene between wasn’t really necessary, I was just a bit stunned by how fast it moved on. The ACTUAL climax I actually panicked slightly, though I was pretty sure they wouldn’t kill off a particular character it certainly seemed like it was going to happen for awhile and just OMG NO. In the end, everything seemed pretty well-resolved though, aside from the non-romance, so I’m interested to see what else is going to happen in the next two books.

Yes! Two! Aaaaah!! Maybe more? I certainly hope so! I think Three Mages and a Margarita is the start to a series I could see myself enjoying for a very long time to come.

Book 2, Dark Arts and a Daiquiri, is due out November 18, of THIS YEAR! Such a short wait between books, I am just over the moon.

Book 3, Two Witches and a Whiskey, titled but no GR page or pub date yet.

I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher as part of a promotional book tour by Expresso Book Tours. This in no way influenced my ability to give an honest review.

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five-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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