Friday, July 29, 2016

Review: Waking the Bear

Waking the Bear Waking the Bear by Kerry Adrienne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is the first book in a new series about shifters that are soon to be at war. While there are romance elements in here, the real focus was the old rivalry that could start the war.

Amy wants to get away from her abusive ex-boyfriend and a job that no longer appeals. The woods seem like the place for her, and when she finds an adorable rental that meets her severance package budget, she decides to stay for 2 months. Within minutes of wanting to sign the lease, she meets Griff and falls into lust.

Griff, a local bear shifter, knows she is his mate instantly. This is bad timing, of course, because the bears and lions are almost at war. Every advantage will be used, including someone's mate. He, just like every other male in paranormal romance, tries to protect her by staying away, but that soon proves impossible. A man who for some silly reason blames Griff for the death of his parents is looking for any chance to attack him and Amy provides him with that.

There's a lot of the standard elements here: girl ignores man's warning about danger in the woods, man tries to protect her without telling her the truth, bad guys abound, lots of miscommunication, etc. A bit of this book felt... incomplete. I'd be interested in seeing if this gets a final polish at some point to fix some of the inconsistencies in the dialogue and internal monologue. While not the most romantic or smutty book I've ever read, it was clearly trying to set up a building war and a new history of shifters.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Review: Bitten by Cupid

Bitten by Cupid Bitten by Cupid by Lynsay Sands
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this book up with the intention of only reading the Lynsay Sands story. In an effort to fully compete the Argeneau series, I’m trying to be thorough in reading all the short stories along the way. This anthology, however, totally lured me in and I ended up reading the whole thing. While I liked some stories better than others, it was overall a 3.75 star read (rounding to 4). I have zero experience with the other worlds (Feral Warriors by Pamela Palmer and Offspring by Jaime Rush) but didn’t really have trouble diving in.

Vampire Valentine (4 stars)
The first story is the Argeneau tale. We FINALLY get to give Tiny his life mate! Tiny (for those of you who don’t know) is only of the only remaining mortals in a world filled with vampires and life mates. He seems to get along just fine, but he is obviously the weak link when sent out with other vampires. It must hurt his ego a little bit, especially because, despite his name, he’s pretty huge. Mirabeau is the punky misfit that has been on the periphery of a few stories but never really got her own starring role. Here, we see that they’ve both got things they have to wrap up before they can fully commit to one another. No matter how they get there, I’m still super happy that Tiny has finally gotten paired up. It was also nice to have a little follow-up on the youngest of the vampires.

Hearts Untamed (3 stars)
This story deals with a woman hiding all sorts of secrets from her long lost love. In a world where people can live for centuries but magical sorceresses are assumed extinct, Julianne is burdened with a secret that she’s not only a half-breed between the two magical races, but also being blackmailed into finding a precious gem. All of this drama is coupled with the abrupt return of her lost love, Zee, and now she’s got a recipe for disaster. She can’t really be expected to keep all these secrets from him and it seems he arrives at the exact time she needs him to. There’s some HEA and a relatively simple introduction to this world thrown in.

Kiss and Kill Cupid (4 stars)
This story had me on the edge of my seat the entire time! We meet Kristy, a punky and awesome writer who just happens to also be able to read minds. During a job interview she happens to hear the thoughts of a serial killer identifying her as his next victim. Through a series of events, it turns out her soon-to-be-maybe-boss might also have some secrets of the paranormal variety. From start to finish, I had no idea who the killer was, which makes this an awesomely entertaining read. I will definitely be checking out this author in the future if this is just a small example of what they can do.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Review: The Renegade Hunter

The Renegade Hunter The Renegade Hunter by Lynsay Sands
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am so sad that we still don’t have any real resolution in this book. After the previous 2 books had left me feeling like I was missing something I thought for sure they would deliver in book 3 of this story arc. Instead, what you get at the end is another rushed conclusion, without even finding out who is responsible! Ugh – if I wasn’t assured that eventually we get to find out “whodunit” I would probably just take a break from these books here. The promise of a short story after this was a nice little reward.

So, to go in reverse, the story is about Nicholas, the rogue who has made an appearance prominently in the last story. We know there’s more to the story than meets the eye since he just keeps saving people when he should be a crazy murderer. At the start of this book we join Jo as she is introduced to all of the enforcers (which Sam secretly set up to try to find her sisters life mates). After a night of people staring at her forehead, she tries to get some air and ends up getting attacked. Nicholas (of course) saves her and finds out – surprise! – she is his second life mate.

Aside from the unsatisfying ending of this book, everything else was fantastic. I *love* Jo and wish we could get even more of her. Watching her and some of the stone faced vampires interact was so hilarious I laughed out loud while reading certain sections. Maybe when her other sister hooks up with her life mate we will get another dose of this? I can only hope. I would recommend this book if only it could be standalone. Until I reach the book that wraps all this stuff, I would unfortunately not recommend picking the books up here.

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Review: The Immortal Hunter

The Immortal Hunter The Immortal Hunter by Lynsay Sands
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book continues on with the storyline introduced in Argeneau#10/RogueHunter#1. We might have met Decker last time, but this book is all about him. What starts out as a chance to hunt down his ex-partner/now-rogue grows into something much more complicated. We meet the no-fangers (who we might have been introduced to before) and see what happens when one doesn't successfully make the change.

Decker tries to do his job, even though going after his ex-partner has to have oodles of emotional baggage along for the ride. Lucky for him, he is soon swept away in the insanity that is finding your life mate. Dani isn't exactly in the right place to be wooed when she meets Decker. Sure, he takes a few bullets for her, but her sister has just been kidnapped (again) by some crazies and they have no real way of knowing where they are going or even if she is safe. An uneasy alliance is formed between her and some people who might be less crazy than the kidnappers.

The overall story of the crazy no-fangers and the kidnapping doesn't truly get resolved at the end of this book, leaving it feeling a little unfinished. Even the romance, while we get a HEA-ish, it seemed super rushed towards the end. I'm hoping the next book in this series delivers some good tying up of loose ends because there are now a lot of characters running around that need to be tracked down. Everyone seemed entirely too good with how things are being left in a rush and I'd like to see some of them address the lives they abandoned for their life mates.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review: Karma

Karma Karma by Nadine Nightingale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book hooked me from the start, with its hints, mystery, and ability to dive right into the story. There are witches, zombies, and some really evil men that round out what I would call an urban fantasy.

Amanda is a witch who has been surviving by reading cards for people. There’s some mystery around whether or not she’s evil enough to get rid of the bad guys herself, but overall she seems like a morally flexible good guy. She is actually working on turning her life into something less nomadic when her ex-boyfriend Alex shows up. He’s your typical dreamy good guy with and edge. Oh, and he also happens to have a job that gets him to hunt down witches. Obviously, when these two started “dating” they were both hiding things from one another, which probably caused an epic breakup, but we join them well after the fact.

The visions that Amanda gets are a way for us to catch up with the history between these two as well as hunt down the real bad guy(s) here. The main story (other than the scorching chemistry between Amanda and Alex) is that Alex’s brother has gone MIA after trying to hunt down a powerful voodoo practitioner to (for some reason) bargain with him. Things get a little twisty-turny after that, with some clients from Amanda’s past and lots and lots of secrets being kept. I am 99% sure I figured everything bout about halfway through the book, but even by the end you don’t get a true confirmation of your predictions. For a starting book, this one sure has me hooked and dying for book 2. How long do I have to wait??

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Review: Jason

Jason Jason by Laurell K. Hamilton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I accidentally skipped this book while reading the rest (probably because it was so short and not really critical to following the next book). Is this even a full book? I’m not sure the page count is accurate because I read it in a handful of hours, with interruption.

This book follows Anita as she helps Jason out in his relationship with JJ. While that was the initial intent of the events, they end up showing Anita that she really has no business dating Jade. Girl-on-girl doesn’t do it for me, so the book was a little boring in that respect. Otherwise, not a lot of actual story got discussed. Sure, JJ and Jason come out of the book as a stronger couple. Anita and JJ have some good hooking up. Nathanial gets to enjoy some time in the bedroom, too. All of this is pretty “normal” for Anita so without the bad guys and guns it read as a short story.

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Review: Kitty Goes to War

Kitty Goes to War Kitty Goes to War by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I took a really long break between books in this series and was not quite sure where I left off. If you are in the same boat – don’t worry! These books are almost like standalones at this point, with enough backstory and reminders to keep even me up-to-date.

This book has two main story lines. The first story deals with Kitty and her radio show getting her into trouble (again). After years of being on the air, she is finally sued by the owner of “Speedy Mart” after talking about their possible supernatural ties. Some deaths and detective work later, Kitty might actually be on to something. Oh, and there’s the fact that his guy seems to be suspiciously located near big storms.

The second story deals with a secret group of army werewolves. The NIH reaches out to Kitty to try helping some soldiers who recently returned from Afghanistan as something more than human. Throw in some PTSD, the loss of their alpha, and wild pack dynamics and even Kitty isn’t sure she can help. But, being Kitty, she of course has to try (and beat herself up about any failures along the way). While we get some visits from pack members and there are some mysterious happenings, this story was pretty self-contained. On top of that, it was a super quick read, which inspires me to pick the next one up.

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Review: Always Our Love

Always Our Love Always Our Love by Tawdra Kandle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

These books are always so wonderful to read! Who doesn’t love some southern romance and oodles of happy endings?

Jenna has been seen in a few of the other books. She’s always appeared very fragile and broken, but this book really showed me her true colors. Once the vapid teenager who became the unstable 21 year-old, she is the person who can’t hide her story from anyone. Living with that burden, she somehow manages to get back on her own two feet again. Now, she’s working at the historical society (which crosses paths with a few other familiar faces) and has been given the project of a lifetime.

Linc has also been seen in another story, but here we get to dive deep into his history. Once a married father living the “perfect” life (complete with 2 kids!), after losing his wife he had a hard time putting his life back together. Drinking and work kept him away from his kids, but he’s in a good place now. He co-owns the restoration company that sends him to Burton for a special renovation project with the historical society. Here’s where Jenna and Linc cross paths – first as coworkers, then friends, which grows into a pretty natural-feeling romance.

This couple was probably one of the most “broken” to start and rapidly grew to become stronger together than apart. It is so nice to see Jenna get a new start in life that isn’t bogged down by the drama and gossip. While this book goes into some dark places, it rewards you with a wonderfully happy ending.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Review: Dead Ice

Dead Ice Dead Ice by Laurell K. Hamilton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First, if you haven’t read any other Anita Blake books go back and start from the beginning. There are too many storylines and men at this point to catch up. Now, if you’ve read other books in the series (or even skipped one, as I appeared to do here), I really found this book to be not nearly as bad as the other ones. I know, that’s kind of a horrible thing to say, but if you’ve endured some of the unending man-descriptions of the other books, you know what I mean.

This book picks up with Anita, now officially engaged and working on planning a parallel commitment ceremony with her more domestic group of men. As with all things Anita, nothing is simple. There’s some drama about adding another lion to her commitment ceremony to fulfill some stupid prophecy or something. There’s Asher being a stupid dick. There’s a necromancer making zombie sex tapes. Oh, and there’s also a lot of issue facing and discussion about the mental state of all those that surround Anita. Overall, my favorite was that we finally got to have a case and it kind of overlapped with all the other stuff. The entire book is maybe 2 days long in Anita-time, but it didn’t feel as insane as some of her other cases.

Yes, there’s still smut, but it didn’t fill *all* the pages and it actually felt useful and natural-ish (how many shapeshifters does it take before it become a little unnatural? I’m not sure). At any rate, things seemed to progress with all of her relationships, men, animals to call, and even her vampire bride (will he push his limits in the next book?). If you’re looking for a relatively light installment for Anita, this is a good book to dive back into the series with. It actually made me want to go back and read the book before this one, too. Just when you think you’re done with Anita Blake, she reminds you of what you actually enjoy about her.

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Review: The Rogue Hunter

The Rogue Hunter The Rogue Hunter by Lynsay Sands
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is the first in a sort of spinoff (?) from the typical Argeneau books. While still in the same world, here we join Mortimer as he tries to track down a rogue vampire. Of course, we still get all the things we’ve grown to love about Argeneau books – romance and a HEA.

Sam is an overworked genius lawyer. Her family finally convinced her to get away for two weeks at their lake house. She takes her phone (of course), but is relatively convinced that she can manage to relax and spend time with her family. The added bonus is that there appears to be 3 handsome men staying next door this year.

Mortimer has always had a picture in his head of what his life mate would look like and she vaguely resembled Jessica Rabbit. When he meets Sam and is unable to get into her head, he realizes that fate had something entirely different planned for him. What starts with reluctance soon grows into an obsession he can’t ignore. Oh, and his plan to get her alone to “woo” her is helped along by the fact that work requires her to take a trip during her vacation.

Sam is reluctant to accept work’s request to check on a client’s missing daughter but things are looking a lot better when Mortimer joins her for the journey. These two are like teenagers, trying to figure out who likes who and how much, all the while facing an undeniable lust. When they finally decide to throw caution to the wind, it seems like the universe has a funny way to blocking their every opportunity. Turns out, the mystery was the least suspense-filled part of the entire book. Instead, I was desperately hoping these two could find time alone to figure out where their relationship could go. While not the same as the other books, this one still has me eagerly diving into the next book in the series. Now we’ve got a whole new pool of people to hook up!

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Review: Twice the Growl

Twice the Growl Twice the Growl by Milly Taiden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This short, sexy read was everything I wanted. It had some super sizzling alphas and a nice start to a new series (for me). There is even some action to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Talia is trying to reclaim her life after her ex-husband left her without a family to call her own. When an invite to a family wedding shows up (and she knows he will be there) she is desperate enough for a date that she approaches her shifter-neighbor-matchmaker. Urging her to keep an open mind, she ends up with date with two of the hottest men she’s ever met. As long as you are okay with some dirty fun, this book reads wonderfully and definitely has me hooked.

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Spotlight: Going Down in Flames

Title: Trial by Fire (Going Down in Flames, #3)
Author: Chris Cannon

About Trial by Fire (Going Down in Flames, #3):
Bryn’s hopes for a peaceful new semester at school go up in smoke when someone tries to kill her—again. She’s not sure which is scarier, facing the radicals who want to sacrifice her for their cause, or her impending nightmare-of-a-Directorate-arranged marriage to her nemesis, Jaxon.
The one bright spot in her life is Valmont, her smoking-hot knight who is assigned to watch over her twenty-four hours a day. Is what she feels for him real, or just a side effect of the dragon-knight bond? At this point, stopping the impending civil war might be easier than figuring out her love life.

Author Bio:
Chris Cannon lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and her three dogs, Pete the shih tzu who sleeps on her desk while she writes, Molly the ever-shedding yellow lab, and Tyson the sandwich-stealing German Shepherd Beagle. She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures or romantic comedies. 

Bonus Excerpt!
Classes the next day were oddly normal. If you didn’t count the guards posted at the front door of every building and the undercurrent of animosity toward the injured students who’d returned to school.
“Is it me,” Clint said as they walked across campus to the dining hall for lunch, “or do the guards seem a little tense?”
“They’re supposed to be on guard,” Bryn said. “It’s part of the job description.”
“On guard is one thing,” Clint said. “I sneezed when I walked out of the restroom, and the guard in the hall shifted and growled at me…because I sneezed.” He emphasized that last part like she might not have gotten it the first time.
“The solution is simple,” Ivy said. “Stop sneezing.”
“I’ll get right on that.” Clint slowed as they reached the steps to the dining hall. “In my head, I thought, ‘wouldn’t a pizza from Fonzoli’s be good right now.’ Then I remembered about the attack on Dragon’s Bluff. Every time, it’s like a smack in the face.”
“I know what you mean.” The attack on Dragon’s Bluff had come in the form of fire. Bryn and many other Blue dragons had tried to beat back the fire by combatting the flames with ice. Still, damage had been done. None of the attacks made sense. If the enemy wanted to overthrow the Directorate, then they should attack the Directorate, not everyone else. Bryn trudged up the steps and nodded at the Red guard who opened the door for her.
Ironically enough, the buffet was loaded with Italian food. Bryn inhaled. “Hey...that smells like Fonzoli’s.”
“It should, since a Fonzoli made it.”
Bryn whirled around. Valmont Fonzoli, her knight—a human who’d been bound to her when a dormant spell in his blood had been activated by an act of chivalry—stood there smiling, wearing a pair of dark jeans and a white shirt with Fonzoli’s Catering stitched across the pocket.
She dropped her book bag and threw her arms around him in a hug. He laughed, wrapped his arms around her waist, and picked her up off the floor.
There was that happy warmth again, which she associated with him. He set her down. “And here I thought you might not be happy to see me.”
“What? I’m always happy to see you.”
“As heartwarming as this is, you’re blocking the line for food.” Jaxon's voice came from the small crowd gathered behind them.
Reluctantly, Bryn released Valmont and grabbed her book bag. “Can you stay and eat lunch with us?”
“Planned on it.” Valmont gave a small bow. “After you.”
A part of her brain knew the joy she felt when she was with Valmont was a side effect of the Knight-Dragon bond but who cared? He made her happy. She made him happy. It was a win-win situation.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Review: Hell's Gates

Hell's Gates Hell's Gates by Lauren Creed
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book had a nice mix of action, adventure, paranormal, and romance to keep just about any one of those types of readers quickly turning the pages. I'd recommend starting with book one so you get the full impact that is Caith Morningstar.

We join Caith almost a year after the first book. She's now an adoptive mother, still "single" (or whatever it is you would call someone whose mate is learning how to be fallen), and now a little bored because the demon ban has caused a downswing in people she needs to beat up. It seems like this might be her new everyday life until her son turns up sick. Ordinarily, this would be nothing new - a kid getting sick - but there is definitely something foul afoot when the most powerful witches and healers can't fix him. With her uncle MIA and oodles of others turning up with the same illness, she's forced to face facts - maybe her demon ban might not have been the wisest things. But, hey, she was pissed and had the power to do something drastic.

Aside from trying to find the source of the evil illness, Caith also has to tread carefully as she and Sam try to find their new normal. There is a lot of tough chick goodness, yummy smuttiness, and some good detective work along the way. All in all, I'm hooked on this new series and can't wait to see where it goes next!

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Review: Billionaire in Wolf's Clothing

Billionaire in Wolf's Clothing Billionaire in Wolf's Clothing by Terry Spear
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Jade thought things were looking up when her brother (and pack leader) invited her and her half-human son back to the pack. Little did she know there was a much darker reason he wanted her back. After kidnapping her son and threatening to kill him, he forces Jade to attempt to connect with a billionaire bachelor wolf to weasel some information out of him. With no other choice, Jade is forced to try her best to lure in the real estate mogul.

Rafe is tired of women coming onto him just for his money. The usual tricks of jogging in front of his beach house in bikinis isn’t working, but when a woman ends up getting sucked into a rip current, he’s willing to take the risk and save her. Discovering she is a wolf too is just the icing on the cake. He remains guarded, assuming that she must be up to no good, but also cautiously optimistic. Something about her draws his wolf out and makes him want to take a chance.

These two end up finding their own way and somehow get everything they ever wanted (and might not have even known to wish for). While this is the start of a new series, I felt like I was missing some pieces along the way. Are there recurring characters from other books? Maybe knowing about them would help set the stage a little better. Otherwise, it was your typical, run of the mill, paranormal romance (+kid).

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Review: Vampire, Interrupted

Vampire, Interrupted Vampire, Interrupted by Lynsay Sands
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The longer storyline from the previous books finally gets resolved in this one! I really didn’t know if I’d like reading the love story for the mother of all the other “kids,” but this one was so jam packed with revelations that I couldn’t put it down!

Marguerite is the meddling mother of many mated kids. Sure, they might complain about her being in their business, but they have all gotten their happily ever after, which left Marguerite without a goal. She dove into becoming a detective with Tiny and gladly accepted her first case. This case, however, took her to Europe where she promptly fell off the radar. What started out as a simple trace of a vampire’s lineage grew to be so much more (and so much more personal) than anticipated.

Julius is the father of the vampire that hired Marguerite. He’s been keeping his boy’s mother a secret for hundreds of years (for good and bad reasons) but it seems now he has to face the truth. This leads him to Marguerite – his lifemate. There are oodles of denial but just as much chemistry at play. These two rapidly grew into a great couple, if they could just get over hundreds of years of baggage. I don’t want to spoil the twists and turns, but they are many and completely unexpected. This was a romance and mystery all wrapped in a smutty, awesome package.

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Review: The King

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

This book got me back into BDB. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to revisit Wrath and Beth (why fix what ain’t broken?), but this book really great.

First, let me say that this book has like 800 different storylines going on at once. For someone who took a large break between books, it was really confusing. There is not recap portion of the book during which you can refresh your memory, you just need to dive right in. As indicated by the title, Wrath is really the star here, being forced to make decisions. Sometimes they are wrong and lead to horrible things, but for the most part he gets things right in the end. Beth is going through some issues herself and has somehow managed to develop a sort-of rift between herself and Wrath that makes her hide these things. With the Band of Bastards still out there plotting, this was not the right time for them to be divided.

With all the flashbacks to his parents and the huge build up, this book read like some sort of epic culmination. Don’t worry; really only one storyline is tied up at the end so there are many, many more books to be had, I’m sure. We also get no resolution on the seizure storyline and, having since read The Shadows, it doesn’t even get brought up there. With so many ongoing stories, I can’t imagine everything will ever be addressed fully. I guess one of the benefits to taking long breaks between is the omissions are less obvious. All in all, though, this book reminded me why I liked these dark romantic paranormal reads.

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