Friday, November 25, 2016

Review: The Clawed Squad: Stetson

The Clawed Squad: Stetson The Clawed Squad: Stetson by Kim Fox
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a sexy, short, supernatural read that tied in nicely with the previous set of books. Kylee the sheriff in a town inhabited by shifters, humans, and lots of hot men. She's managed to stay single, probably at least partially because she has these uncontrollable visions that are always spot on. Oh, and she's also got this prejudice against shifters, which is a little rough when this new "clawed squad" she's investigating appears so... normal.

Stetson and his friends all moved onto the Vega Ranch before they were informed of the rules. These rules are the same from the previous series - find a mate or move out. After meeting Kylee, though, it seems like this won't be that impossible. The sparks fly and suddenly Kylee is able to look beyond the shifter tag and see the man underneath (and under his clothes). Fate, however, appears to always throw a wrench in the works. This time it is in the form of a murderous vision. Don't worry, though - this book has a solid HEA and can absolutely be read as a standalone quick read.

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Review: Lucifer

Lucifer Lucifer by D.B. Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Remember when we learned that Sophia's mate was kidnapped and you got all mad inside? Well this book resolves it all, and then some. I think it goes without saying that if you haven't read the previous 10 books (and short stories), you shouldn't really choose now to dive in, especially with the war looming.

Sophia has finally involved the other vampire lords in helping to locate her missing mate. Of course, the motivation is assumed to be linked to all the other european incursions lately, so it makes sense that they need to tread carefully. The identified "agent" for this task? Lucifer, Aden's most trusted and valuable hunter. He has a knack for details and getting people to share even their most private secrets. He also has a secret past with Sophia's most trusted guard, Eleanor.

Eleanor has been hiding a massive secret. Before she became a vampire, she was in love with one. She was turned and ran, all because of an assumption that a relationship between two vampires can't happen. She even let him think that she was dead. Needless to say, their reunion is filled with all sorts of revelations. This relatively small misunderstanding is easily worked out once these two open up, but there are a bunch of impediments to their relationship. Oh, and they have to find Sophia's mate.

Sophia's mate is no slouch, though, and he proves himself to be as strong as the vampires sent to rescue him. This turning point in the war books was filled with the perfect balance of action, romance, smut, history, and betrayal. I loved every page!

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Review: For the Bear's Eyes Only

For the Bear's Eyes Only For the Bear's Eyes Only by Kathy Lyons
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the third installment in a series and if you haven't been introduced to this world yet, I'd recommend starting at book 1. All of the drama and tension leading up to Alan's new life is really necessary in order to understand where he is now and feel the weight of it all.

Alan was kidnapped and experimented on. He began the series as the pack's lawyer, the responsible one, and the only one who didn't shift. He was in a unique position as beta to his brother and as close as a non-shifter can get to being officially part of the pack. After being ousted as beta by his longtime crush, Tonya, he goes off to get a little bit of a break from the pack. While on his own, he ends up getting kidnapped and injected with all sorts of shifter activating serum. This would have been bad enough, but on top of all that, nobody even realized he was gone.

So, welcome to the new Alan - he's got an uncontrollable beast inside that is literally killing him. He can't shift completely, leaving him a foul smelling and ugly beast. Oh, and he also is determined to kill the cougar shifter that did this to him (that his pack managed to let get away). Tonya has some strong feelings about his choices and her bear has an awful lot to say about his new status, too. While most of the books have a little dark edge to them, this one had a particularly large amount of darkness, mostly in the form of Alan's inner monologue. This led to a little bit of a tougher read, for me.

Ultimately, though, Alan and Tonya decide to work together to bring in the evil shifter (especially when they realize she might still be hurting people). We get our promised HEA with some little bonus sprinkles on top. It really felt like the end of the series. Is it?

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Review: The Beast

The Beast The Beast by J.R. Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading the spinoff book, I was ready to dive back into the world of way more stories than really need to be in one book. Maybe I'm more forgiving right now, but it felt slightly less chaotic and disconnected than the last few BDB books I read. The basic layout was Rhage/Mary as the primary story with Layla/Xcor, Assail/Marisol, and new girl Jo (really? more characters?).

So, back to the main story - Rhage and Mary. The book starts in a battle that had me on the edge of my seat. It hops from that, to Mary and the orphan Bitty going to say goodbye to her mother. I pretty much immediately knew where Mary and Rhage's story would go from there. No surprises, but the story of Rhage and Mary finding their path forward was great to watch. These two are such a good couple and adding a young girl to the mix was absolutely perfect. Being the predictable formula, I found myself slightly more concerned with the more surprising stories in this one.

Layla is very pregnant and still hiding the fact that she's in love with Xcor. When Xcor inadvertently ends up in the brotherhood's hands, she is reminded of her ex(?) again and it brings up all sorts of turmoil. This one wasn't actually buttoned up in this book (surprise!) so there's still a lot of questions. Will the brotherhood find out she's been hiding things by looking in his phone? Will everyone think she's a traitor? Since her story ended on a mostly high note, I guess we'll reopen that wound in the coming installments.

Assail was another big surprise in this book. He is steadily growing on me. In this book he takes on the role of reluctant hero. Sure, he does dirty things to help out, but he's still helping the brotherhood now. Also, the mix of suicidal and lovestruck just hit me as so much more endearing than his previous combination of egotistical and arrogant. Yeah, he's still got those traits, but he is finally able to admit that he needs help. Good job making me root for this jerk! Again, we don't get to see this buttoned up so I'm sure we'll see some sort of reunion between Assail and Marisol (or maybe they'll kill her? That's a thing now).

Overall, this was a solid installment in the series and has lured me back into this world. Where are they going with the new girl, Jo? Is she going to get another main series installment or will she play into the spinoff? I guess I'll just keep reading these until they stop, so we shall see.

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Review: Weregirl

Weregirl Weregirl by C.D. Bell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It looks like I actually only got 1/3 of the book as a preview, so that’s what this review is based upon. Honestly, I’ve had books that end way more abruptly exactly where this copy cut off so I don’t think the stopping point really changed my enjoyment of the start of this book.

Nessa is a quiet, determined, and independent teenager. She’s already trying to plan her future and how she will afford college, but her only real option appears to be through sports. Her sport of choice is cross-country, and she’s been training hard, but it looks like she’s still not good enough to qualify. In an effort to get to the next level, she accepts the star cross-country runner’s invitation to run at night through the woods. This, it turns out, changes her life but it’s not necessarily for the better.

I’m sure that eventually Nessa will have some sort of love interest/romance/high school crush, but it’s unclear where that will go with this piece of the book. The characters are interesting and I’m definitely rooting for the plucky Nessa. I’m not sure how the polluting company will tie in, but maybe there’s a reason there are mysterious wolves in the area? It would be interesting to see where all this ends up.

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Review: Rise

Rise Rise by Luis Almonte
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book had a little bit of everything: witches, high school, magic, romance, and vampires (that don’t sparkle). This world is something completely different than your typical witch coming of age story.

Alexia is a young teenager who is struggling to find her place as part of her family. Just because you are the daughter of the high priest and priestess for their clan doesn’t mean you’ll inherit the same amount or type of magic. While her brother and sister appear to follow in their mother’s footsteps, she is left with a different mentor because her magics are more battle oriented than traditional. Her abilities, however, have become strong enough to qualify her for the trials (along with her younger sister and older brother).

In high school, things are changing. The girl she thought was her best friend is being very distant. The new boy in school holds her attention in a way no other boy has before. Oh, and she’s really not supposed to even consider dating him for so many reasons. Throw all of this in with the stress of preparing for trials and Alexia is rightly overwhelmed. While just trying to survive this hellish year, she’s also got a handful of secrets, lots of pressure from her parents, and is manifesting some surprising skills. As the start of a series, this definitely left you with an unpleasant cliffhanger. With everything still up in the air, it was hard to feel really satisfied at the end.

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Friday, November 4, 2016

Review: Save Me

Save Me Save Me by Anna Santos
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book throws you right into the story with very little explanation. It is jarring and scary and puts you immediately in Camille’s shoes.

Camille has been formally rejected by her intended werewolf mate after being horribly abused. Now she’s on the run from her ex-mate’s henchmen and is pretty sure she’s going to die. The last thing she expects is a rescue from some gargoyles that were patrolling the area. One touch from her rescuer, though, and she finds herself transforming into an angel with mate markings running up her arm. Jacob (her rescuer) also finds himself changed from his gargoyle-cursed-form into something closer to an angel. Turns out, when someone gets rejected by their mate, it opens up the possibility of being mated to one particular gargoyle. If they cross paths, then they get 30 days to establish a bond that will break the gargoyle’s curse, or he will turn to stone forever.

Camille and Jacob slowly embark on their journey from strangers to mates; all the while searching for Camille’s kidnapped brother and her evil ex-mate. After he tries to destroy a bunch of innocents, Jacob and Camille find themselves with a relative army of people willing to help. There’s a pretty satisfying HEA at the end for these two, who definitely worked their butts off to get it.

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Review: Blood Kiss

Blood Kiss Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a wonderful breath of fresh air in the BDB world! Sure, there are some other stories from earlier in the series that had something new, but this book gave me a much needed break from the monotony. It even convinced me to continue on with the original series.

Paradise is the daughter of the much loved king’s advisor. She has been eking out a little bit of independence while being the receptionist at the receiving house for the king. It’s there that she first meets Craeg, the mysterious stranger who wants to apply for the new training program. As she had already decided to join the program, she’s left hoping that Craeg will show up, too, so she can get to know him. I guess a big part of me liking this book was Paradise. She’s tough, strong, and determined to break through the restrictive binds of the world that she’s been raised in. Craeg was more predictable in his stance that he wasn’t good enough for the pure and perfect Paradise. Don’t worry – that doesn’t last very long.

The other story (because god forbid there just is a single storyline in one of these books) is between Butch and Marissa. We all know that Marissa’s life revolves around Safe Place, so it only makes sense that we get a deeper dive into the day-to-day operations. This story, however, begins with a horrible arrival of a beaten woman. The poor girl can’t even be identified because she is in such bad shape. The only thing that she leaves behind when she finally passes is a mystery key and a very determined ally in the form of Marissa. Somehow, the stress of the everyday, coupled with this horror is enough to nearly strangle Butch and Marissa’s relationship. They’re both hiding things and it finally comes to a tipping point in this book. I guess we’re supposed to compare the new relationship of Paradise and Craeg with Butch and Marissa’s story? I never really get why there’s always multiple stories going on in one BDB book…

The two love stories (or romances, or whatever) interlock in the mystery of the abused woman. It was neat to watch the gears turn and the mystery slowly get solved. I was especially happy when it turns out that there isn’t a damsel in distress moment so much as a damsel kicking butt moment. It was refreshing and had me nearly cheering aloud. If this is how this spinoff series starts, I can’t wait to see where it will go. But, please, can we just have one story next time?

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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Review: Mind Waves

Mind Waves Mind Waves by Amanda Uhl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow – this book was phenomenal! I’m not usually one for serious science fiction, but for some reason this story hit all the right buttons for me. There’s a love story (that is at some points tragic), a lot of mystery and danger, and some seriously cool mind hacker skills.

David Jenkins is the best mind hacker around, so it only makes sense that he has also become the target for a rogue hacker. Under constant attack and forced to hunt down the source, David works for the government by “hacking” into the minds of suspects and targets alike. It seems like his life will be made up of work and attack in varying degrees until he meets Grace. Their first meeting didn’t quite go so well, what with him being responsible for her failing to get a job offer to create some specialized artwork. To try to get herself out of her funk, she agrees to meet up with her longtime online mystery man only to stumble upon an even better job offered by David. David, obviously, has other intentions.

These two have such a wonderful and tragic romance that I found myself torn between wanting to turn pages faster and wanting to slow down the inevitable heartbreak. David uses all of his abilities to work his way into Grace’s life and begin what could be the love story to end all love stories. Unfortunately, the rogue hacker has other ideas. While leaving Grace in the dark about all the mind reading and hacking he does, David opens her up to be attacked by the rogue in some pretty horrible ways. Somehow they have to find a way to keep Grace in David’s life (as he is unable to part with her) and still keep her safe from being attacked for information. With all the odds stacked against them, they really found a difficult, but wonderful way to accomplish all their goals. The ending is completely satisfying, but so sad to come upon. I wish there were hundreds more pages written on these two and how they overcome all their struggles. I’m so happy to have gotten exposed to this world and all these really fantastic characters.

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