Monday, January 23, 2017

Review: Kitty Steals the Show

Kitty Steals the Show Kitty Steals the Show by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK, Kitty Norville, you’ve convinced me not to give up on you! This book was pretty entertaining and I’m not quite sure why I liked it so much. Sure, it had all the regular characters and the madness and mayhem I’ve come to expect from a week in the life of Kitty, but we also got oodles of new faces. Maybe the injection of some new and interesting characters has successfully gotten me hooked on this series again.

Kitty got invited to be the keynote speaker at the first ever international conference on paranatural studies. This, of course, brings all the crazies out of the woodwork. Since she’s been making some progress with hunting down Roman (or at least his followers), everyone is on edge and expecting the worst from the conference attendees. There’s some reemergence of people thought long gone, lots of deception and backstabbing, and even some fighting. Oh, and there’s some wonderful reintroduction of some good guys, too! I’m particularly fond of the blend of Kitty’s past and her present through friends she’s met along the way.

Overall, there isn’t much progression of the bigger storyline. Like I said, I really enjoyed the new characters most of all (and the somewhat forgotten old ones, too). If you’re looking for massive changes, then this isn’t the book for you. Maybe it could be seen as filler, but if so, I don’t care. Sometimes you need to just have an enjoyable read without all the big machinations.

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Review: Thirst

Thirst Thirst by Jacquelyn Frank
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This brand new series was definitely something unique and unexpected. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I picked up this energy vampire book, but it certainly wasn’t this much… electricity.

The story is something familiar – a love story. The twist comes in the form of the players and their surrounding backstories. Rafe is an energy vampire who happens to have a very high standing in their community. He’s been tasked with keeping things under control in a relatively political way. When a member of his community goes off the rails and ends up killing someone in broad daylight, he’s forced to slip into the investigation any way he can.

The lead investigator, Renee, is truly his biggest temptation. As a “good” energy vampire (as opposed to the “bad” ones, called sycophants), he’s looking for pure energy sources. I don’t really agree with the thinking here, but in this book it involved eating only organic and taking care of your body (no drugs, no alcohol, working out, etc.). This got to be a little preachy at times, but it could be my scientific background that is playing into this. Anyway, when they meet, the sparks fly (literally), and what starts out as a fact-finding mission soon becomes a true romance. There are some stigmas attached to dating your “food,” but Renee easily proves worth the risk.

As the start of a new series, it had everything you could be looking for – romance, action, mystery, and a very happy ending. We met a lot of interesting and well-developed characters that I’m sure we’ll see more of in future installments. As I’m familiar with the author, I wasn’t surprised by the high level of storytelling and would gladly read more from her in the future.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Review: The Prophecy of Shadows

The Prophecy of Shadows The Prophecy of Shadows by Michelle Madow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! What a fantastic YA read! This had everything you want: action, drama, romance, teen angst, and magic!

I listened to this via audiobook and had a great time doing so. We begin with Nicole, a recent transplant into a small town. She's in for a rude awakening when her first stop in school makes her think she's losing her mind. They teach magic here, and it seems that she should've started her magic classes even earlier. Witches, in this world, are descendants from greek gods, and there is even a prophecy that indicates big things are on the horizon.

Aside from the big lurking change, there's also your typical high school drama: the geek, the bad boy, the popular girl, etc. It was all written in a way where I didn't mind the love triangle, either. I simply devoured this book! In typical high school fashion, the unlikeliest of allies end up having to work together to save the world. OK, so that's not really typical high school, but in a magical one, I guess that's what you expect. We don't necessarily end in a cliffhanger, but the story is far from over with these "elementals" and I can't wait to see what they're up to next!

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Review: A Witch's Holiday Wedding

A Witch's Holiday Wedding A Witch's Holiday Wedding by Tena Stetler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I haven't read any other books in this series and I think that may have somewhat hindered my enjoyment of this one. That being said, I did manage to catch up and keep up with the crazy band of characters that were thrown at us in this story.

We join Peper (a witch) and Lathen (a wolf) as they plan the holidays and their upcoming nuptials. With the joining of their families, they also have to juggle the expectations and idiosyncrasies that come with all sorts of supernaturals. Oh, and there's ghosts, too. And they run an animal rescue that is filled with all sorts of other oddities.

Their family and friends are really where the story comes from. While Pepper and Lathen have some bedroom scenes and run the rescue, the drama comes from everyone around them as they overcome weather, pregnancy, mystery strangers, and broken ovens to put on an excellent supernatural wedding.

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Review: Thunder Moon

Thunder Moon Thunder Moon by Joanne Mallory
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a really lovely, short, paranormal romance read. As the start of a series, it sets things up just right.

Thea knows that things are about to change, but she can't be sure exactly how until she waves to a stranger on the beach. That stranger, it turns out, is her BFF's brother, on leave from his job for some tragic reasons. There is an instant connection and some extreme sizzle that shows up right away. In the beginning, the magic is almost secondary to the fated romance they begin to experience. There's an inkling that something else is at play, but since both of them are magic in one way or another, it doesn't really change things.

Everything comes to a head when their fates and past lives become clear. They are both forced to make some hard choices and see where things end up. I really enjoyed both characters and the quirky nature of their small town. At the quick pace that the story revealed itself, it was definitely worth the afternoon it took to read.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Review: Dog Gone Ghost

Dog Gone Ghost Dog Gone Ghost by Angie Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This short story was much like the rest of the series: filled with mystery and overflowing with heart. Verity is trying to train her skunk how to walk on a leash when duty calls. A volunteer at the local animal shelter needs help finding the ghost that keeps letting the animals loose. Of course, Verity can't possibly deny this request, even when they can't afford to pay. While Frankie might have objections, the two of them end up setting out to solve the mystery.

The story was wonderful and had a happy ending, but really took you through some incredibly sad things to get there. This was definitely a must read if you've started the series.

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My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was yet another adorable installment in the Dances with Werewolves series. If you enjoy your paranormal romance with a nice side of humor, this is definitely the series for you!

We join the same pack that we met in the last book, only this time they are confronted with a new issue. It turns out that one of their estranged pack members has let a pack photo of everyone in their animal forms (complete with names on the back) go to auction. Being a bit late to the auction, they find that someone has already scooped up the piece - Ella.

Ella recognizes Robert Colbert from his TV appearances, but her stubborn nature will not let her part with the piece she rightfully won. Even when he turns up at her door looking yummy after she's been attacked by a wolf, she is determined to hold strong. Her job as an entertainment reporter, however, won't let her turn down his offer of dinner and an interview. Things definitely take off from there. No matter how much she insists that she will not turn into a werewolf, he won't accept it. These two are definitely matched in the stubborn department.

This book had a really great ending, that I certainly won't spoil for you. There is even a healthy dose of action thrown in to keep things moving. This book was a nice surprise in a romance series - not formulaic and it kept me on my toes. I can't wait to see what the next installment gives us!

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Review: Cast in Godfire

Cast in Godfire Cast in Godfire by S.M. Reine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you haven't read anything in this world, I don't even know where to start and how to describe this series to you. I can say, however, that this book really wraps up all the loose ends and gives a wonderful happily-ish-ever-after type ending. I mean, as much as you can get something with flowers and unicorns in this gritty world.

We join the drama already in progress: Marion is still working her own game, lying to almost everyone in one way or another. Seth is brooding because he loves Marion and can't see the bigger picture (ironic, for a god). Charity is still one of the best characters, in one of the most "normal" relationships of the series, yet still able to act as a friend to Seth when he needs one. Who else? Konig is... still horrible and getting worse? It's very hard to tell, since he always appeared to be an angry, crazy man. Oh, and the original sidhe play a pretty big role now, which is pretty satisfying if you know their history and the tie-ins to this series.

I guess the large part of this book is war. Konig is determined to kill everyone and take everything, like a petulant child. Marion, for some reason or another, is still acting like the doting wife when she's not sneaking behind his back. Don't worry, everything gets explained in the end, but it was still frustrating to watch things spiral in such a way. In the author's typical fashion, the side characters find a way to become key players in the upcoming shift of their world. I was happy to see some of my favorites make it out "okay." How to summarize? The war finds its ultimate conclusion, the time warp (ha) ends up triggering (which you know has to happen), and some tough choices are made. I am not sure anyone actually trusts anything towards the end because there are so many secrets and betrayals, but, thank goodness, there is an epilogue.

If you are at all interested in an amazingly detailed urban fantasy filled with political intrigue and just about every type of paranormal I can think of, this world is *awesome.* I still think you should start wayyyyyy back in the beginning with Elise, but you could probably still appreciate the world by starting with book 1 of the mage craft series. Do it!

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Review: 29

29 29 by Nancy Pennick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! I was absolutely blown away by this book! I'm so glad I took a chance on a vague description and dove into the wonderful world of the 29. I literally just finished the book and had to immediately record my review. Why haven't more people read this book? It was like the magically perfect blend of high school teen angst, sci-fi, and romance. If any of those things appeal to you, pick this book up now!

Allie is a high schooler with a crush. She's been trying out this independent woman gig after breaking up with her cheating ex but the mysterious lure of a boy in her class keeps drawing her attention. After dedicating her after school time to essentially stalking this boy until she found out more, it all pays off in a rather sudden and extremely rewarding way. In the blink of an eye, Allie and Lucas (the mystery boy) are a couple. I guess that's pretty typical in high school, but it was just as shocking and happy to me as I'm sure it was to Allie. Unfortunately, things aren't all unicorns and rainbows. Lucas has secrets and while he appears to get a grip on the hot/cold personality he wears, it's very clear that there is something he's holding back.

Allie, on the other hand, is pretty much an open book. She's got a loving family but her brother's are significantly older than her. On brother in particular, Doug, ends up becoming aggressive in his questioning of Allie soon after she and Lucas begin dating, raising all sorts of red flags. I don't want to spoil any of the twists and turns that this book delivers, but there is definitely oodles of conflict in Allie's future. She is forced to choose between her family, her friends, and the love of her life. I don't envy her the very tough choices she's forced to make in the course of this book.

Another highlight, other than the completely addictive mystery and action, was the wonderfully written characters. Allie's friends play as much a role in the story as she does and they were so much fun. I am *thrilled* to see that there are more books in this series, because there is no way that I can let this world go. If the first book in a series can knock my socks off, where can they go now that all the introduction is finished? I can't wait!

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Review: Steele City Blues

Steele City Blues Steele City Blues by Karen Greco
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was just bursting with action, mayhem, betrayal, and a teeny bit of romance. I would not recommend reading this book if you haven't read the ones previous. You'll be a little lost because this definitely continues right where we left off.

So - we are exactly where we left everything last time. Dr. O is in prison. Nina's mom is still evil and on the loose. Max is still a broody berserker. And Nina and Frankie still have some seriously unresolved sexual tension. To top all of this off, Nina's mysterious and powerful grandfather turns up on her doorstep with ideas of training her as a witch. Everything sort of meanders its way to a few final battles here. I was worried about halfway through about things getting wrapped up in a decent way, but have no fear!

We get Nina's mother issues worked through, even though that looked a little touch and go for a while. The way we go about getting that resolution was a little less than optimal, but, hey, that's Blood Ops for you. Dr. O and the prison storyline also gets tidied up nicely. We meet some new characters in the form of border crossing werewolves. We also, sadly, get some bureaucratic nonsense from a new lead for Blood Ops. Who knew things could get more crappy than having your leader arrested? All of this bundles together in a messy and gritty look at Nina's insane life. I really hope she follows through on that vacation.

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Review: Any Way You Want It

Any Way You Want It Any Way You Want It by Kathy Love
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm in love with this series. Sure, it had some formulaic elements to it and had a somewhat stereotypical self-sacrificing main character, but there's a reason those things are popular. I will easily forgive those "sins" for the really fun read that I had here.

Maggie is trying to get over her ex with a wild and crazy trip to New Orleans. The first guy she meets, though, ends up being more than she bargained for. Was it her wish to the famous voodoo queen that threw their lives together? Who knows! Either way, Maggie's work researching and authenticating music directly intersects with the performer on stage, seemingly performing an unknown piece of work from way too long ago. The rock star and the shy tourist end up dancing around one another while her friends try to push her to take the plunge into one-night-stand territory.

The rock star, Ren, is also pretty smitten with the shy tourist. They give the one-night-stand thing a try, but it's pretty clear that they are addicted to one another. Their romance is filled with secrets, supernatural, and (of course) sizzle. What begins simply enough ends up becoming a life-changing ordeal for them both. You get a nice HEA at the end here and I'd be interested if any other characters we meet get their own love story afterwards. I'm surprised this book doesn't have more reviews - it was great!

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Review: Winged Sex

Winged Sex Winged Sex by Lora Leigh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dirty, dirty, dirty (in a good way). This was a super quick read that showed the shapeshiftery coupling of an eagle shifter (Keegan) and Nikki. I'm not quite sure what the background is or who they are individually, but this scene is HOT.

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Review: Winter Born

Winter Born Winter Born by Sherrilyn Kenyon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow - going back into the Dark-Hunter universe is just plain fun! Seeing Ash again made me giddy with excitement and watching the gentle nudges he gives this outcome was just... wonderful.

Pandora has escaped her captors and is on the run. Her sister, who is also one of the kidnapped werepanthers, helped her get away and told her to find Acheron. Acheron, of course, is at Dragon-con this particular weekend. This leads to a very fun backdrop for this story. Dante, it seems, has also been drawn into Ash's plan here. He and his family show up to find the scent of a werepanther in heat. Dante is completely committed to never getting mated, so he is determined to ignore the scent... until he finds himself at her door.

Though they are both reluctant to hook up, they somehow end up in bed. These two are just stubborn enough to be a perfect match (obviously, Ash doesn't make mistakes...much). There's sizzle, action, and a nice HEA for everyone. If you're missing the gang, this story will definitely put a smile on your face.

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Review: Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice Fire and Ice by Sherrilyn Kenyon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I haven't read any of the series in which this short story takes place, but I found myself sucked in anyway. Usually something with future elements and things like "transports" would immediately turn me off, but this story was well written and engaging.

Adron is a grumpy and crippled ex-league assassin who simply wants to drink the night away in a crappy bar. Livia is a princess of some other culture that keeps their women separate from the males of the species, pairing them off for arranged marriages (in this case, a significantly older man). In an attempt to escape her arrangement, she is determined to make herself less prized by giving herself to the first guy that seems suitable. That person, of course, ends up being Adron.

Even though Adron has a pretty rough exterior, it's clear that he still cares. One night with an incredibly attractive woman isn't exactly a hardship to him. It does, however, change his life. Through a series of surprising events, these two end up bonded for life and it is certainly not an easy life (especially fir Livia).

This story managed to jam a lifetime of experience and stories into a very quick timeline. Livia and Adron were a wonderful romance to read about and it almost convinced me to read the series. I'll think about it, but I'd rather just be happy with the small glimpse this story gave me. Oh, and don't worry, there is a solid HEA.

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Review: Stunner

Stunner Stunner by Trina M. Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very short and quick read, set in and introducing us to the world of Alexa O'Brien. She's clearly a gifted girl - she's a werewolf who can manipulate energy like the vampires of this world. Her emotions are all over the place, being drawn to the alpha of her pack but knowing it's not right, fighting with a vampire but feeling a bit like a scaredy cat. All of these things end up bubbling up while she decompresses back at the pack house.

The story did it's job - I'll check out the series to see if I enjoy a full length story about Alexa and her exploits.

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