Friday, July 28, 2017

Review: Magic Strikes

Magic Strikes Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With each new book, I like Kate more and more. At first she sort of rubbed me the wrong way, but now I am 100% on board. She’s tough, takes crap from nobody, and manages to get herself in the most magnificent situations.

This book revolves around a supernatural gladiator-like battle that is illegal, the pack has banned everyone from participating, and is filled with all sorts of strange oddities. Ultimately, this book can really be distilled down into “Kate risks everything to protect her friends.” The first friend(-ish) person that drags Kate into this danger is everyone’s favorite shapeshifting nightmare. He/She/Idontknowhowtoidentify somehow ends up with Derek in custody and trades a favor for a favor.

This type of thing usually ends badly for Kate and this is no exception. She’s tasked with going to these illegal games which tips her further into badness as the matches go on. What harm could possibly come from passing a note and attending some fighting matches, right? Well, this is Kate we’re talking about so obviously she discovers a bunch of mythological creatures that need stopping. Should someone else be in charge of doing that? Of course not!

So what’s the bigger story at play? Well, other than my never ending desire to see Curran and Kate end up together, we get a lot of side character awesomeness. There’s a vegetarian shapeshifter we meet, Derek gets some unwelcome spotlight, Andrea and Raphael dance around one another in an amazing way, and as a bonus we get a lot more backstory from Kate. All in all, this was a great book, with a super awesome ending. I’m diving right from this book into some Curran POVs and then into the short story in between. There better be more hotness!

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Review: Betrayed by Blood

Betrayed by Blood Betrayed by Blood by Beth Dranoff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wow, this book just throws you right back in to the wild and crazy world of Dana. She’s an ex-agent of some shadowy organization. She’s a commitment-phobe. She’s a surly bartender just trying to pay her rent. Oh, and she’s always on the run from some baddies. Throw in some Daddy issues, an evil demoness, and new shapeshifting issues and you’ve got a mess of a life.

Dana’s love life alone would be enough to fill the pages of a separate book, but we somehow (barely) manage to juggle that chaotic world with navigating the paranormal world. At this point, now at the end of the book, I kind of don’t even know how to summarize. There were so many things going on at once, that you just hold on tight and hope to get through OK.

As a second book, you definitely need to be up to date on your book 1 knowledge because there is no time to spare. Were you left hanging, wanting more from Dana? This is definitely your “more.” After all the ups and downs, I’m not even sure where we would head from here.

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Review: Kill Game: An Urban Fantasy Thriller

Kill Game: An Urban Fantasy Thriller Kill Game: An Urban Fantasy Thriller by SM Reine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dana is still the determined, crass, warrior that she always was. The only difference by the start of this book is that she’s now living as a “blood virgin”-type vampire and is separated from her wife (and sleeping in the tomb of a mystical church). She’s even allowing herself to maybe-sorta-kinda hope that there is a path to the super rare cure for vampires who haven’t fed and that might just get her back to “normal.”

Dana’s teammates (aside from the hunting club) are a little stranger now – the shifter who was dating the vampire that turned Dana and the blood virgin that killed said vampire with the only known cure shot. They’re all somehow working towards more cure shots and/or some level of destruction of the city. Either way, Dana is on board and she’s just as reckless and brutal as ever.

I will admit to being some level of angry at her for most of the book, but not so much that I wasn’t still secretly rooting for her to have a nice HEA-type ending. Sadly, we are still in a series where we have to get through the bad to get the good. In this book, we got back hope, but we are still probably a ways away from wrapping things up.

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Review: Freeze

Freeze (Midnight Ice #2)Freeze by Kaitlyn Davis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! This book really blew me away! Who knew a second installment in a series could grab me as much (if not more) than the original book?

We join Pandora already locked up tight in Titan jail. She’s been betrayed by the one guy she thought she could trust (and love) and she’s also slated to be executed pretty soon. Too bad for them, she’s got some pretty crazy tricks up her sleeve. As usual, the thing that makes her so very different from all the titans is exactly what will help her get away from them.

Speaking of Pandora’s shadows, there’s still the mysterious, sexy stranger who drops hints and clues about their history without really giving her too much to go on. I was completely torn between Team Jax and Team Sam throughout this book. Pandora is definitely not hurting for attractive men trying to help her. In Jax’s case, he’s hunting for redemption. In Sam’s case, he’s trying to get her far away from the titans. This book is filled with tough choices.

Along with the general plan to escape her prison, Pandora can’t help but want to know exactly why she is dangerous enough to murder. She seems like a generally average titan (minus the shadows) who hasn’t done anything so wrong as to warrant a death sentence, so there’s clearly more that she’s missing. Don’t worry! We get all these answers and more in a fabulous ending that left me dying for even more of this world. If you read the first book in this series, this is a must read continuation of this truly wonderful world. I’m desperate to know what happens next for Pandora!

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Review: Boundary Born

Boundary Born Boundary Born by Melissa F. Olson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books never cease to amaze me. Somehow, we ended this trilogy where we did, but I have no idea how we got there. This author has the magical ability to take a hundred different ideas and make them work to a very simple conclusion. At any rate, I still enjoy Lex, which is more than I could say for Scarlett at the end of her trilogy, so I’m a pretty happy camper.

Lex is still doing damage control in her life after she “outed” herself to her brother in law. We join her after he decided to take the rest of her family and his daughter to Disney on a vacation. She’s thrown herself into other things (training, her work, chopping up a really big supernatural worm), and is working on teaching Lily some combat moves when what appears to be a rabid animal crashes through her window.

Here’s where this story begins – rabid animals? Obviously never that simple. There’s also someone poisoning vampires, a guy claiming to be her birth father shows up on her doorstep, and her usually solid witch friends appear to be having a rough time dealing with their previous family drama. Throw all those things into a blender, add some ghosts, crystals, and an incredible amount of physical damage (to Lex and property) and you’ve got the finale to this trilogy wrapped up.

The mystery portion of the book, of course, was unpredictable. We don’t get enough information and Lex is trying to handle too many things at once, so when we finally reach the conclusion, I was left saying “huh.” I guess maybe there were signs? Not really, though. Lex freely admits to not being a real investigator, so we, by extension, are mostly left grasping at straws (like her). I wish we had a little bit more wrap up at the conclusion, which felt rushed and clunky. As I said, though, I still like Lex, so she gets a little more leeway in her confusing life choices. I hope that we swing back around to her at some point so we can maybe get some more answers.

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Review: Midnight Untamed

Midnight Untamed Midnight Untamed by Lara Adrian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This short, sexy story takes place in Europe, as Savage tries to take down a complex drug ring. Seems simple enough – blow up the building with all the key players inside. Everything changes when he spots a familiar figure in the window. The one woman he is eternally drawn to suddenly shows up in his line of sight. He obviously can no longer stick with the plan (to his teammates’ ire), so he creates a new plan to take her from the house and *then* blow it up.

Arabella has been a prisoner in this world ever since her brother sold her off to this monster to cover his gambling debts. Since she still has family that can be hurt, he knows exactly what buttons to push to get her compliance. It’s for this reason that she fights her long ago boyfriend when he attempts to forcibly remove her from the house. There’s lots of action, escape, fighting, and romance thrown in to this short story. Enough happens that I found myself wishing for even more side stories of the other characters involved. Hopefully we see them reemerge in future full length novels. Either way, this story read like a regular size book, complete with satisfying HEA.

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Review: Wolf's Mate

Wolf's Mate Wolf's Mate by Celia Kyle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book took your typical shifter mate story and threw in buckets of danger, deception, and the introduction of a shadowy organization. Essentially, it threw you in the deep end of the pool, with shooting and running and general chaos.

Abby is a mild mannered accountant who has been tasked with auditing at her recent company. While looking through their transactions, she discovers that they are linked to a fanatical anti-shifter organization. She does the right thing and tries to squirrel away as much information on her private drive as possible… until the guys with guns show up. Declan has been tasked with watching Abby while she works. As part of a sort-of suicide squad type group, he has a history of bad deeds and training that he puts to use for the “good guys” now. He’s also obsessed with Abby. When the bad guys start showing up, Declan does the only thing a guy who is her mate (but in denial) could do – he charges over there and gets her to safety (eventually).

These two fight to stay in denial for way too long! Sure, there’s lots of danger and time spent on the run, but it took a little bit too long to get to the sexy times. This story also sticks a toe into darker waters in some of the kidnapping scenes that kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. We do, thankfully, end up with a HEA after much drama. This was clearly the set up for future books and all the ones we’ve me definitely deserve to meet their match.

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Review: Hell Can Wait

Hell Can Wait Hell Can Wait by Celia Kyle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These Caith Morningstar books just keep getting better and better. I find it very hard to put them down to take a break, what with the snappy dialogue and engaging story. At this point, I’m 100% invested in Caith’s life story and cannot wait to see where she ends up.

Caith’s nightmare story starts with ghouls that are super-powered, spreading contagion, and stealing people’s life force for some evil mastermind behind them all. After getting out of the last crazy mayhem, you think she’d get a break. Unfortunately, she’s somewhat responsible for the magical activity in Orlando, which puts her in the path of the evil ghouls. Infection was never really an issue for her, what with her insanely mixed heritage, but this appears to be spreading through her body rather quickly.

What could have easily been a super depressing story ended up making me love Caith even more. Sure, she’s got death looking over her shoulder, but that doesn’t stop her from being herself and charging at the danger. There was only a teensy bit of romance thrown in here, but I didn’t mind the loss. I know that Caith and Sam’s relationship is somewhat doomed, but I’ll hold out hope until the bitter end.

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Review: Magic Burns

Magic Burns Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Magical mysteries? A big battle? Sexual tension? Sign me up! This book had a little bit of everything and had a *superb* ending. It left me smiling and wanting more.

We join Kate, now firmly entrenched in her new life as a liaison, essentially working for The Order for the steady pay while taking jobs with the mercenaries to cover her growing real estate empire. With magical fluctuations starting to point at a big flare coming, things are all sorts of crazy. There’s someone killing her targets, a young girl looking for her mom, and the ever-present beast lord is still… mysterious. I really think this book showed us what constitutes the “softer” side of Kate. She really forms some bonds (or further develops them) and they remind her what it is like to have someone counting on her/caring about her.

This book also took a deep dive into the world of gods and goddesses, with a bonus road trip-like story thrown in. Who knew a vampire, a shifter, and a witch could make such a great team? I can’t even put into words how epic the final battle was, but it certainly exceeded all my expectations. Kate is a force to be reckoned with and I can’t wait to read more from her world. Oh, and that ending! Gah! It couldn’t have been more perfect!

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Review: The Way You Bite

The Way You Bite The Way You Bite by Zoe Forward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book felt like a mix of Underworld and a BDB book. We get an introduction to the world of vampires (with pre-arranged political marriages, forced breeding, and an ongoing war with werewolves) and werewolves (an archaic, hierarchy based group of pack members, all trying to survive the increasingly deadly weapons thrown at them by the vampires. Of course, the worst thing you could possibly be is a mix of the two.

Vee is determined to keep her head down and eventually escape her arranged marriage and live far away from the war. Everything goes wrong when a sexy werewolf ends up getting treated in her office. By helping him, she puts herself in danger, but it might just all be worth it if she can survive the next couple days.

There's secrets and answers on Vee's way to her own, unexpected, path to escape. As a world, this was an interesting set up for possibly future installments (with Lexan's other guards?). As a romance, we get the HEA we wanted, delivered in an unexpected way.

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Review: Enigma

Enigma Enigma by Tonya Kuper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not sure you can dive into this world at book 2 without having read book 1, but it almost felt like that for me, so - give it a shot if you want! There isn't much "catch up" work done in the book, so you're essentially on your own for refreshing your memory if you've had many books between #1 and this one.

Reid and Josie start the book on the run from the "bad guys." They're supposed to go on the run, but information about her family heading to the Resistance changes their mind. Sure, it means they're supposed to hide their relationship (trainer/trainee's aren't supposed to date), but it's something they're willing to sacrifice to keep her family safe. We meet a wide variety of characters at the compound and get some really neat power displays, reminding me of the super cool powers they've all got. Josie, the super power in the house, was definitely the most impressive in the bunch.

There is a lot of mystery, betrayal, suspicion, and eventually a HEA all jammed into the pages of this book. Just when you think you've figured everything out, the book throws you another twist and you have to question everything all over again. I believe this is the last book in the series, and was super happy with where everyone ultimately ended up.

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Review: Magic Bites

Magic Bites Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As someone who is typically not a fan of dystopian future stories, I was surprised I liked this book as much as I did. It's probably around a 3.5 stars for me, but sets the world up nicely for future installments. This is clearly the start of a series type book, where we get a lot of introduction, a solid story, and some loose ends to make you wonder and pick up the next one.

Kate is a tough, gritty, no-nonsense mercenary with a mysterious and magical history who finds herself drawn into a the last place she wants to be - The Order. She left them after determining that she didn't want to compromise herself and her goals, but the death of her guardian sends them right to their door, demanding they let her investigate. Throw in some vampires, some shapeshifters, and even a date or two, and you've got the complicated world of Kate Daniels.

What started out as a relatively straightforward mystery ends up getting twisted and turned into something significantly larger. Kate's level of damage along the way definitely rivals Harry Dresden's. The two have a bit of similarity - what with the sarcasm, magic, and mayhem - but I think Kate has a little more... edge. I can't wait to see where she ends up after a few books. She's already starting to build up her supernatural reputation which could be good or bad for her (or both).

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Review: The Chosen

The Chosen The Chosen by J.R. Ward
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Gah, I don't know what to say about this book. As usual, there are a few ongoing storylines that dominate this book. The main story, however, is between Xcor and Layla. This was been building for a while, so it's not too much of a surprise. That being said, this was not... what I was expecting.

When we last saw Xcor, he was in the custody of the BDB, essentially waiting for him to wake up and get interrogated. It's assumed that they'll kill him afterwards, but there's a bit of a line for that honor. Layla gave birth to her twins and is, of course, a very doting mom. When the book starts, and Qhuinn is determined to get to the bottom of Layla's depression I thought he had finally become the honorable man we all thought was hiding inside his rough exterior. I was wrong. So very wrong. When Layla inadvertently reveals all her secrets to him, he goes insane. There's no other way to explain his actions that follow. His actions set off a series of horrible and torturous scenes. It was pretty hard to get through - depressing and gritty.

Since I found the central story so hard to get through, I ended up focusing on the side stories that consisted of revisiting the super depressing Trez situation, handle the missing virgin scribe issue (probably the best part of the book), V being the worst ever, and get little glimpses of some other loose ends. All in all, though, this was a book I could have done without. Sure, it pushed things along and we knew Layla and Xcor had to end up together, but certain aspects just seemed to be there to... undo things that happened earlier. After finally accepting Trez losing his mate now we're going to reopen that wound? After we get a HEA for V, we get some rushed side story about that not being true? I can't even get into how much I hate what Qhuinn did to his own relationship. Oh, but don't worry, somehow everyone is happy at the end? Bah. This book left me wishing for more of the spinoff series and less of the brothers.

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