Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Review: Magic Stars

Magic Stars Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This short story stars one of my favorite side characters, Derek, in his new role as essentially the enforcer of Kate’s city. Julie, who has named herself Kate’s herald, joins Derek as he hunts for some awful child murderers.

Derek is far from the optimistic, smiling young man we met in the beginning of the series. He’s got battle scars, both internal and external, and we all know that Julie is in love with him. I think he knows it too, but he feels she is too young to act upon it. For that reason, he keeps a firm wall in place (at least on the outside) when they interact or get too friendly. This story, however, throws them at one another in a battle situation that casts a little light on his feelings (and her feelings, too).

Overall, as a story, it had a little bit too much dark and rough action thrown together and not enough of the lighter character interactions. Maybe that’s how Derek’s story needs to be told, but I found myself spacing out a little bit while reading it. There also wasn’t a real reason to read this story, other than confirming some of Kate’s suspicions with Julie. Having already started the next book in the series, you can pretty much skip this one, unless you want to see what goes on in Derek’s head.

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Review: Hard Breaker

Hard Breaker Hard Breaker by Christine Warren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This last book (?) in the gargoyle series certainly ties up all the loose ends nicely. If you’re joining this story at its conclusion (maybe), you should really dive back in where it all began.

This book joins the guild in a rather unique way. Rather than starting with all the knowledge afforded to other participants, Ivy was thrust into the role of rescuer after her family was murdered. Her gift gave her a front row seat to the horrors that the bad guys can inflict, and that drove her to train to become a sort of witness protection program to wardens who want to be saved. It’s during one of these operations that things go wildly wrong. While under attack and getting ready to put up one hell of a fight, a Guardian suddenly awakes to save her.

Ivy might not know what’s going on, but Baen has the benefit of the shared memories of his brothers (and sister). She doesn’t even know the story of the maidens, which plays such a vital role in the subsequent events. Baen, however, is quick to realize that the woman who woke him is his mate. Sure, she might resist him, but fate certainly has other plans. The sizzling chemistry between them is no different from the other couples we’ve met along the way. Ivy is hesitant, however, to let down her guard where it counts. She can’t seem to wrap her brain around the fact that she might be in a relationship with a Guardian.

While the series has been building up this battle against the bad guys (which I guess they seem to be losing), the big battle scene really sneaks up on you. We were in the last little bit of the book before the battle even started, making it feel a little rushed to resolution. I hope there are more books set in this world, but they definitely did a good job in making sure everyone is in a good place for an ending.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Review: Magic Shifts

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

I admit, I was a little worried what would happen when Kate and Curran settle down. I obviously shouldn’t have been worried because, if anything, I like them even more. What seems like a “retirement” of sorts is actually just the turning of another page in the Kate Daniels saga.

Sure, they don’t live with the pack any more, but that doesn’t stop the pack from coming to them. In the time of their split, all the pack members were given a choice about who they choose (like a divorce). While this is still settling down, there is another mystery afoot – where did Eduardo go? He has been missing and the obvious choice of follow-up would be the leader of clan heavy, however, it seems that George and Eduardo having a secret relationship might have stirred the pot a bit too much.

Some highlights of this book involved Roland (I know, I’m falling for his games). There are some truly surreal moments in Kate’s life, but her trying to find her footing with her father is certainly the top of the list. We spent a lot of time in her head (due to some of her catastrophic choices) and it has led me to love her even more. Her power, also, seems to be evolving in new and interesting ways that can lead to even more surprises moving forward.

As usual, Kate’s life is never very straightforward. What starts as a missing person case ends up leading to a whole mess of supernatural drama that somehow draws Kate and Curran to consider taking over the Guild as payment for Curran’s tied up pack holdings. With that looming after the close of this book (along with other prediction-related cliffhangers) I cannot wait for more. It looks like there is a short story put between this book and the next, but I’m terrified because that means I’ll have to wait for more Kate! Please give me more of this world!

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Review: Not Broken Anymore

Not Broken Anymore Not Broken Anymore by Tawdra Kandle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love these perfectly imperfect love stories! Each one has their own unique spin on a very real-life romance. This author has a fantastic ability to build a world that immediately sucks me in, no matter that I’m a marching band kid who doesn’t know much about football.

We met Tate a while ago as a side character in the Leo/Quinn drama. While that was playing out, there was a silent romance starting between Tate and Gia. Who knew that these two would wind up in a story of their own? Tate is the most honest, well mannered, wonderfully perfect love interest we’ve met in this world. He is patient, caring, and a really good listener. That served him well, helping along the more tragically broken relationships, and is serving him even better as he waits patiently for Gia to be ready for him.

These two might have met and been attracted to each other years ago, but Gia had a long road to take before she could be somewhat ready for a true Tate/Gia relationship. Whereas Tate seems to have a real plan for his life, Gia has been bouncing around from one place to another, always carrying around the tragedy that is Matt Lambert. If anyone can force her to face her demons, though, it is definitely Tate. Their romance is so natural and realistic that I found myself recalling fondly my own times spent hanging out and watching TV with friends growing up. I was just as sucked in by Tate as Gia was by the time they finally acted on their attraction.

Of course, this story is not all flowers and puppies. There is a definitely darker edge to Gia’s time with Matt that is always lurking. Tate, however, is not one to give up when the going gets tough. I think you’ll be happy with this tale of romance and patience, and even if you’ve never read another book in the series, it is worth checking out.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Review: Cloaked in Sorcery

Cloaked in Sorcery Cloaked in Sorcery by T.F. Walsh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I haven’t really read any other books in this world, so this was my first introduction to all of these characters. That being said, this novella was a good intro to the magical world of witches and shifters.

Kalin, a member of the local shifter pack, is doing her duty, trying to earn some money to support the pack by playing fortune teller at a local party. Seems innocent enough, but the party ends up going horribly wrong. Axe, a double-agent of sorts in the Russian pack, ends up at the party with a witch to follow his alpha’s plan. He’s supposed to have the witch lower everyone’s inhibitions and get the owner to sell his land to them. This would give them the foothold they need to start taking over Kalin’s pack’s territory.

Axe, of course, is straddling a very dangerous line. He wants to not allow his alpha’s reign to continue, but also wants to show loyalty enough to continue gathering information. His life gets a lot more complicated when his wolf recognizes his mate in the form of a rival clan wolf, Kalin.

These two had some very sexy times even before realizing they are fated mates. The romance may have been a little rushed, but what can you expect from a magically drunk party? There’s action, mystery, and even some death thrown in to keep the plot going. While we don’t get a very complex story, you get a really great introduction to this world. I’d like to see more.

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Review: Eternal Brothers

Eternal Brothers Eternal Brothers by N.J. Walters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read the other books in this series, I really wasn’t sure where the series would go after we matched up the last brother to his mate. I shouldn’t have worried, because this naturally progresses the world and kept me completely engaged.

This book was like two in one – the first story revolving around Zane York and the second around Cassidy (one of the few remaining humans in their world). Zane was bit of a mystery in the beginning. I wasn’t sure how he really fit into their world, but I was sure how he fit into Sophia’s. Sophia was a new introduction by way of her stumbling upon a crime scene while following a reporter tip. She and Zane smash into each other, trying to fight this instant attraction while also let go of some walls they’ve both built up. Oh, and there’s the whole vampire thing. Aside from their romantic storyline, there’s also a murder mystery to solve that includes the Dalakis brothers.

Cassidy enters the story as an investigator into threats against the Dalakis brother, his well-paying clients. While looking into leads, he ends up meeting his own match in the form of a stubborn and tough as nails woman who fell in with the wrong crowd. She fights and pushes against him but he is a patient man and used his non-vampire charm to try to win her over. The two relationships ended up playing off of one another nicely and I was happy to see the humans get a story to match the vampires. All in all, this was a good shift in this series and I look forward to even more.

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Review: Revelation

Revelation Revelation by Lauren Dane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Somehow, after reading all of the other series by this author, I missed the first installment in this cat shifter series. I don’t think you really need to have read book 1 to enjoy this one, but I’ll probably go back and pick it up for completion’s sake.

This book is filled with chemistry from start to finish. Kendra is a tough as nails witch who doesn’t take lip from anybody. She and Max (the next-in-line-to-lead cat shifter) have been dancing around each other for a little while now and everything explodes in this book. Max is a patient cat, willing to work on their relationship before dragging Kendra into his house. Sure, there are bad guys out to get them, but everything changes when they make a direct attempt at Kendra’s life. Things speed up a little bit from there.

The attraction between these two was fantastic! I am absolutely dying to see what cats continue this series and how their relationships grow if this is only book 2. Like most PNR, this book wraps nicely, with some action, some bad guys getting punished, and lots of sexy times. I was happy with the quick read and liked the familiar faces from the other series.

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Review: Master of Magic

Master of Magic Master of Magic by Angela Knight
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this short novel without actually realizing there was a whole world built into a series that I have no experience with. That being said, I was able to catch up rather quickly and still enjoy this glimpse into a magical world.

Olivia wakes up on a freezing bench with no recollection of how she got there. She’s a magical being who is lots of years old so nobody should really be able to kidnap her, let alone hold her against her will. It seems, however, that she can’t seem to get off that bench until a tall dark and handsome stranger appears, loaded with magic. Sure, it seems suspicious, but when a pack of werewolves try to kill them both, beggars can’t be choosers.

Oh, did I mention that there’s also some sizzling hot attraction between these two? That was fun to watch play out, even if magic might have had something to do with it. There’s magical beings, lots of family surprises, and magic, magic, magic! And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the HEA.

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Review: Alpha's Prize

Alpha's Prize Alpha's Prize by Renee Rose
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was a little dark, a lot alpha, and pretty smutty. As my first intro to the Bad Boy Alphas series, I think it gave me a good flavor of what to expect. I read it as a standalone, but I’m sure there is a lot of backstory given in other books.

Sedona is the daughter of an alpha shifter, away on holiday, when she is kidnapped, stripped, and sold to another wolf clan. She’s chained in a dungeon, naked, and introduced to the current alpha of the pack. Said alpha is just returning from a long hiatus when he’s led to a cell and locked in with a female captive. Some biological imperatives take over throughout the night and these two end up having consensual sex and he ends up marking her.

Sedona is obviously not in the best of places. She’d been kidnapped, found herself attracted to someone who might be in league with the kidnappers, and she is now conflicted about some mating that may or may not have been ok with her at the time. Throw in a very backwards pack structure, her family showing up to rescue her, and a possible pregnancy and you’ve got oodles of drama enough to set even the most calm wolf running. Don’t worry, though, because her alpha mate is willing to chase her to the ends of the earth. If you’re looking for a very alpha heavy, dirty read, this is definitely worth checking out.

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Review: Magic Breaks

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

I don’t even know where to begin here. Since there was a huge disclaimer at the start of this book, warning me about it reading like the last of series (but wasn’t) I spent most of my reading time expecting the worst. Don’t get me wrong, people die, things get wrapped up, it does read like the last book in a series (complete with epilogue) but I almost wish the disclaimer hadn’t been there. I’ll comment on the ending when I get there, too, because… I’m pretty conflicted.

OK, so we all knew this was coming – the big showdown! As the fake last book in the series, this was obviously where we would see Kate’s life mission (sort of) come to its ultimate end. I pretty much expected everyone to die. Every time there was a nice lull in the action and happy moments cropped up, I waited for something horrible and traumatizing to happen. Overall, though… it didn’t. I mean, sure, there are some dead bodies left in the wake of the happenings of this book, but not nearly the amount I expected (and there was a big one that never got into that dead body pile, unfortunately).

Without spoilers, in general, the story revolves around Kate coming to terms with her lineage and fighting to get to the big bad. I say get to because the book spent a really long time taking Kate to Roland. There are meetings, more meetings, planning, castles, cells, more castles, more cells, some camping, lots of vampires, and then Roland. Roland was… unexpected. Not that he showed up – that’s a given, but where we end up with him is surprising and maybe not in a good way? Is it bad that I’m somewhat unhappy with a HEA? Maybe Kate just felt like she needed a tougher path? That doesn’t sound right, because she (once again) sustained Dresden-level-hurt throughout the book.

I guess I’m happy that my favorites made it out alive and I still get more books in this universe? I’m conflicted. Also, there were some notably absent characters for a fake final book: Saimon, Grendel, and Julie. I’m obviously going to see where the rest of the books go, but I’m left a little unsettled by how happily everything ended (especially with some big bads still lurking).

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