Sunday, December 30, 2018

Review: The Darkest Captive

The Darkest Captive The Darkest Captive by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has been a long time coming and I can't believe they didn't even get their own book! That being said, I'm glad we got to spend time exclusively with Galen so I could get over my instant hatred for him (just like the Lords). He's just so... arrogant. This book helped us peel away the layers of Galen to find the gooey center, where Legion/Honey gets her HEA.

Legion/Honey was in lockdown until Galen comes crashing in. Highlight? Robo-pigeons. You'll learn all about them when you read the book. After that, Galen has a bit of an uphill battle, trying to get through her very high and very venomous walls. The sizzle is there between them (like always), but there are boatloads of drama to contend with.

Of course, there wouldn't be a Lords story without a big bad, and this one is everyone's favorite clone (really?). While we nudge this larger storyline towards completion, you shouldn't hold your breath. As a short story/novella goes, this gave a lot without getting too bogged down in the very rich history of all the lords and ladies.

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Review: Shades of Wicked

Shades of Wicked Shades of Wicked by Jeaniene Frost
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy crap this was a really good book! After a little consideration (sure, it's not a standalone, but dayahm!) I have it my very rarely given 5 stars, saying I'd re-read this sucker. After the rollercoaster that was the last series in this world, I am happy to report that this book is just... the best!

Remember Ian? If you don't, I guess maybe you should try to get to know him before this book. He has a varied and dark past, having started out in this world as a "bad guy." Things have changed and now he's counting down his time left on this earth before a demon comes to claim his soul. Sounds bad, but Ian reacts in a very Ian way - attending a circus themed orgy. It's here that Veritas, a law guardian finds him.

Veritas also has a lot of secrets in her past, as well as her own secrets pertaining to the Cat/Bones/daughter drama. She's hunted Ian down for mysterious reasons, but they quickly find themselves falling into a comfortable rhythm of law-breaking and magic using. It was just so... fun! Ian's banter is everything you'd expect it to be and I was shocked to discover that Veritas was a good companion to him all along the way.

Admittedly, I spent much of the book waiting for whatever horrible twist to happen. I mean, this is just book 1 of the series so they can't end up all happy and wonderful, right? Was someone going to die? Was a massive miscommunication or sacrifice going to mess up all their relationship work? I'm not going to spoil anything, but the "twist" I was expecting ended up being not has horrible as I braced myself for, leaving me pleasantly surprised and eager for more books! Where are they? Give them to me now!

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Review: Tommaso

Tommaso Tommaso by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After meeting Tommaso in the previous books I was eager to see him get his happily ever after. In the wonderful and wild world of Mimi, nothing is ever simple, though. There's Cimil to contend with, remember? If this is your first foray into this world, I would probably suggest you slow your roll and start at the beginning of at least this series, but probably the previous one. There are oodles of characters with lots of ugly baggage. If you can't wait, this will get very confusing.

Tommaso is turning evil (again), but at least he may have found his mate. Unfortunately, she doesn't remember him and appears to not even find him attractive at all, after he ends up tracking her down again. There are a whole mess of evil and confusing traps to avoid on their way to happiness (including a lot of golf). Oh, and there's a messload of open questions at the end of the book. Oh, and! there is a huge side story in Zac and Tula (with no resolution yet). I would say this book was split about 50/50 Tommaso/Zac which was maybe a good thing?

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Review: Echoes of Fire

Echoes of Fire Echoes of Fire by Suzanne Wright
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've read a few of the Phoenix Pack books and all of the spin-off Mercury Pack ones, but I'm pretty sure you can join this story at any point in the series (either one). Each of these books is a littles self-contained love story, mixing unique pairings with predestined mates.

Bracken is a bit of a broken shifter. He's still serving his pack as an enforcer but his heart just hasn't been in it since his entire family was murdered, leaving him as the lone survivor. He's about to leave for some time on his own, but the sudden task of picking up an injured Madisyn snaps everything into place.

Madisyn is awesome. She's tough as nails, can take on any opponent (verbally or physically with her insanely vicious shifter side) but she is dumbstruck by the sudden identification of her mate. He's upfront with her and is just... perfect. All of their verbal sparring was like foreplay leading up to this moment. Oh, and there's bad guys out to get her, leaving everyone on edge. Don't worry, though, we get a nice self contained HEA where these two work out the kinks (or work on the kinks...). I always like the slightly broken romance pairings, so this was a nice read for me.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Review: Tiger's Claim

Tiger's Claim Tiger's Claim by Celia Kyle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This second installment in the series gives us Cole's love story. Don't worry, he doesn't get matched with some timid woman who bends to his will. Instead, he discovers someone who hates the same evil doers as he does, and she's willing to blow herself up if it means taking all of them out.

Stella is out for revenge and has been working at it all her life. The men who killed her sister are going to pay, one way of the other, and sexy Cole isn't about to stop her. Sure, he can kidnap her, get her to join their mission, but she will make the most ridiculous decisions along the way if she thinks it will get her closer to her goal. Cole, who has been working at playing rich womanizer for a while to get into the inner fold of an evil organization, has to work twice as hard now to make sure the woman his lion wants to protect doesn't get herself killed.

There is a lot of back and forth drama, some secrets, lots of stupidly dangerous decisions, and possible betrayal. In the end, we don't really get everything tied up nicely, but I assume we'll revisit this in future books. These two definitely deserve each other, though, if for no other reason than to keep their lives interesting.

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Review: Keeping His Siren

Keeping His Siren Keeping His Siren by Kiersten Fay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book blew me away, and I don't typically even read anything remotely "post-apocalyptic" in nature! The paranormal romance and smutty elements had me completely obsessed with finishing this book, even though I lost some sleep to finish it in one sitting.

Naia is a girl who loves to sing and has the paranormal powers to really make it work to her advantage. She's in a bit of bind for cash and cannot turn down an offer from her boss to go spy on another vampire club owner. Said club owner, Cortez, is immediately smitten with the mystery girl who seems to be the answer to his dreams. There's a bit of cat and mouse game but, damn, the chemistry! So much smutty goodness follows!

There's, of course, lots of secrets that get in the way of these two, and some bad stuff ends up happening, but this vampire/paranormal/romance storyline was really great. It made me worry that I was diving into this series at book number 4, but it looks like we start fresh here and I was able to catch on without problem. If you're looking for some steamy paranormal read, look no further!

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Review: Masked Longing

Masked Longing Masked Longing by Alana Delacroix
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are so interesting and unique that I never know where they will take me next. While you can probably start here, it's best to begin with the introduction to these races of supernaturals so you can get the full story.

Estelle is a very controlled vampire who has done just about everything in her power to avoid fully embracing her new role as a sort of vampire leader. Having stepped into this role after the predecessor's death, it makes for a difficult situation all around, made more so by her distracting attraction to Stephan.

Stephan is suffering from guilt over the loss of his friend and fighting the rising tide of voices he's inherited. He is also in denial about his draw to Estelle. His friend and leader, however, forces the issue by getting him to work in close quarters with her as a liason of sorts. When Estelle appears to be on the edge of running off, he runs right after her, determined to protect her in any way he can. These two are off-the-charts sizzling, but their trust leaves much to be desired. He's paranoid and she's less than confident in their budding relationship, but life and death situations have a way of putting everything in perspective. Another great story in this series wraps up nicely.

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Review: Demons Lie

Demons Lie Demons Lie by Sherry D. Ficklin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was a fun blend of YA, paranormal, and action/adventure that I couldn't put down! As the start to a series it gives you just enough to have you hooked, without feeling cliffhanger-y.

Aria is a tough as nails teenage girl who spends her days searching for magical doorways to close and hunting demons who prey on the innocent. A small town is not her usual haunt, but it seems like this particular location is a hot spot for demon activity. As if fated, she ends up meeting another gifted person, just like her, who can aid in the fight against darkness (and high school finals). To make matters a bit tougher, though, Aria's #1 suspect for being a demon hiding in plain sight is a boy who also happens to make her get all nervous and fluttery.

Aria's world is and moral decision making is shaken when people who she may have previously deemed killable are suddenly... likable. These characters were so wonderfully young and lovable that I easily got sucked into every bit of YA drama they encountered. Sure, there's still big bads and tough choices, but the romance, action, and magic was perfectly blended together to make an irresistible story. I'm glad there are more of these coming!

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Review: Drakon’s Tear

Drakon’s Tear Drakon’s Tear by N.J. Walters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are all unique and interesting in their own way and this one is no different. Rather than spending time with all the drakons we already know, we get to take a trip into Russia with Abigail, who we previously met. If you haven't read any of the previous books in this series, I would recommend starting from the beginning, but you can probably muddle through if you must.

Abigail is on a bit of a vacation. She's taking photos, exploring the world, and generally trying to get over her horrible kidnapping by the Knights. While wandering the streets, her gift for sensing gemstones calls her to a store where her life turns upside-down (again). Poor Abigail, she just wants some peace, but is immediately under attack when it's found out that she was able to identify the hidden "treasure" in that store. A trap, for sure, but it leads to even more complicated matters when she becomes the companion of a certain mysterious Russian man who saves her life.

Vasili is a mystery and a loner, which makes his drive to protect Abigail even stranger. Don't worry, though, because everything is revealed and we even get a nice HEA at the end of all this. There are new friends (or at least tentative friends) and a bit of resolution to all of this. Overall, this is a very satisfying paranormal read, whether you enjoy dragon stories or not.

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Review: Born of Darkness

Born of Darkness Born of Darkness by Lara Adrian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, woops, I kind of missed this spinoff series starting and instead went along with the main Midnight Breed series unaware. That was until I read a short story that pointed me back towards these forgotten Hunters and this Hunter Legacy series.

This Hunter book is about Asher, a previously enslaved Breed male who was tasked with hunting down his own brethren and punishing them. On his own, he eventually fell into a solitary life on a farm, carving furniture and generally keeping away from civilization. One night, however, he can't seem to help himself from intervening. Some thugs were beating on a defenseless human and he's drawn to protecting who he believes is a young guy. After everything settles (with more dead bodies than before), he realizes that it was actually a woman in disguise that he saved. That complicates things, but the fact that she's a breedmate is even more interesting.

Naomi is a woman who could care less about the breed. She's focused on very few things: getting revenge on the man who killed her mother and taking care of the forgotten children in town. That town happens to be Vegas, so it makes sense that the guy she's going after runs a casino. Using her magical ability to mess with mechanistic things, she's working on funneling money away from her mother's murderer. Unfortunately for her, they are on to her and it seems like Asher is the only one who can properly protect her. Don't worry, she fights him at every turn, making his life infinitely harder. There's lots of twists and turns, not everyone makes it out of the book alive, but in the end we get a good HEA and a good start to this series.

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Review: Shadow and Ice

Shadow and Ice Shadow and Ice by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A new series from one of my favorite authors? Sign me up! I barely read the description before downloading this audiobook for my quick consumption. So - what's this new series about? We are not alone in the universe and instead of having really friendly or probing alien types, we've got massive warriors tasked (or enslaved) to fight each other to dominate any newly discovered worlds. There can be only one and all that (which means lots of people have to die)! It's called the All War, and Knox of Iviland is one such combattant.

Things are going pretty well for Knox when he and all the other participants find themselves frozen for a whole bunch of years. The fortuitous finding of these frozen warriors by two would-be bakery owner sisters starts a whole new page in this war. Combine them stumbling in with global warming and you've got crazy fighters busting out all over the place! Vale, one of the unlucky sisters, ends up begrudgingly teaming up with Knox because his warrior instinct tells him she's important. If he only knew how important, maybe he would have hesitated.

These two lovebirds fight the attraction a whole lot, but end up eventually acknowledging their status as mates. This would have probably been easier if they weren't in a fight to the death. Lucky for us (or maybe the readers in general), there are way more combattants than we originally thought, meaning many more installments in this world and series before we reach any sort of conclusion. While this book is a good start, it certainly leaves a lot of follow-up to happen in future books. I'm especially looking forward to her sister's story.

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Review: Secret Lives

Secret Lives Secret Lives by Sierra Dean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gosh, it feels good to visit with old friends! It has been a pretty long time since I've spent some time with Secret. Yes, there's a spinoff series that I should have probably been reading but I tend to commit to the "end" of a series. I guess that shows me! Now this series has been resurrected (haha) and I'm sucked right back in. It's almost been long enough that I had forgotten how many questionable decisions Secret makes.

We join Secret some time after her becoming a real human. After all her drama surrounding the werewolf side and the vampire side of her nature, I guess she assumed being human might slow that down. Nope! Her husband still wants her firmly on Team Werewolf, her vampire ex-boyfriend manages to lure her into Tribunal work, oh, and she is just content to stay away from all these crazies and lay in the sun on the other coast. Laying in the sun does come with the nasty side-effect of working for the government, fighting evil doers, and stopping the apocalypse all the damn time. This time in particular there are really huge demons involved.

I guess that's important? The most awesome part of this book, though, was visiting with these familiar friends. God, I could listen to Secret's witty quips forever! Her and her new BFF demon had me smiling from page 1. The banter is top notch here and so is the adorable quirky world that we get to visit. Yes, lots of death defying acts, usually due to Secret's inability to plan anything properly, and yes, there is a big vampire thing going on, but I would absolutely read anything about Secret as long as we get tons of dialogue (inner and outer) to keep me smiling.

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Friday, November 30, 2018

Review: Serpentine

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

At this point, you know what you’re getting from an Anita Blake book. If you don’t, then what are you doing here?!

This book was much the same, with the bonus added flavor of Edward/Ted’s wedding being the backdrop. Do things go well? Of course not! There is a lot of sex (although, actually, not that much), lots of action (way more than usual, I think), and too much Otto. If any of things turn you off, what are you doing here?! Yes, I am frequently frustrated by the amount of time Anita spends dealing with relationship troubles during crisis times (when people could be dying!), but I write it off as part of her “charm.” Things that were different about this book, though, were that sometime my frustration was actually with Nathaniel, Micah, and this new chick, Dixie. Man, I really hated her and she seemed to end up just being a throwaway in the end. These books never really get a huge review from me because you could probably predict the contents without even picking up the book. It’s nice in the predictability of it all.

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Review: Sugar Spells

Sugar Spells Sugar Spells by Lola Dodge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This second installment in the series is just as sweet as the first (ha!). While I’m sure you should always start from the beginning of a series, this can probably be read as your first foray into this world.

We join Anise as she reels from some side effects of her last misadventure into the world of baking and magic. She’s got a healthy (maybe?) dose of death magic mixed in with her normal magic that’s making her baking… bad. Really, really bad. So bad that she’s on the verge of being kicked out of the kitchen permanently. Lucky for her, she’s got super supportive friends, one of which is a specialist in death magic, and they’re all determined to get this out of her system.

Aside from Anise’s battle against her own magic (and baked goods), we’ve also got a front row seat to the show that is Anise and Wynn. Wynn may be essentially enslaved and bound to protect Anise, but we know very little about his past before the book starts. We get a nice in depth look and also get a nice development of their relationship here. The impetus? Well, how about a death eating big bad? That seems about par for the course in Anise’s life. All in all, this story was fun, interesting, and left me desperately craving baked goods (minus the death magic).

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Review: Your Wildest Dreams

Your Wildest Dreams Your Wildest Dreams by Tawdra Kandle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are so wonderfully gritty and real. Just when I thought I was done with the Nate saga, this book took me right back there, only from a different angle.

If you’ve read the previous books in this series, you have seen the Eli/Zelda romance from the outside in little hints and whatnot. If this is your first book in the series – welcome! You’re really in for quite a ride. I’m not sure if it’s better to know the outcome of the drama that is Zelda and Eli’s friends or to be surprised, but either way you will be in for a journey. This book starts dark – fair warning. Zelda’s life has a lot of ups and downs that make her a bit of a damaged person. Eli, also, has his fair share of drama, mostly in the form of the accident that left him paralyzed. These two are a very unlikely pair, but I found myself rooting for them every step of the way (even the steps filled with cringe-worthy decisions).

When we met (or re-meet) Zelda at college, she’s embraced her “I don’t care what people think” lifestyle, largely due to the life changing experience she shared with Eli when she was younger. Eli, having no current recollection of said event, seems mystified but enthralled by Zelda from the start. With this large secret looming, it seems impossible that these two could end up together, but inch-by-inch they make their way towards one another. These books certainly have one thing in common – you are constantly surprised at how much you can get behind a very flawed set of people. It’s these realistic flaws that keep me coming back for more.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Review: Gabriel

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

Do you love the Vampires in America series? Do you also love the Stone Warriors series? This book is the best of both worlds and was completely enjoyable from both angles. I’m pretty sure you could muddle through even if you haven’t read any of the other books in either series, if you really wanted to live your life that way.

Each of the stone warriors books focuses on one of these epic warriors that was cursed into stone for a whole bunch of years. There is a lot of hand waving about timelines and where they came from, but that’s pretty much all you need to know. Gabriel is the third warrior in this series who also happens to be a vampire (and where the wonderful series cross-over begins). We’ve already seen the threads between the two worlds building through the sorcerer/Cyn’s friend/pain in the butt for Raphael. Watching these two worlds mash up was very satisfying here.

The bigger story is about Gabriel embracing who and what he is while also defending the woman he loves, who also happens to be a really tough fighter chick. The big bad shows his face again, there’s reunions and drama, but as is the center of both these book series, there’s lots of romance and smutty goodness. I highly recommend you read from the start of the Vampires in America Series, but, as I said, you can probably join wherever to dive into this great world the author has built.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Review: Dragonfire

Dragonfire Dragonfire by Donna Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t know why I keep jumping in and out of this series without reading straight through, but each time I come back to the series, I end up loving these books. Even with my large time jumps and missing information/back story, I still am completely sucked in by these engaging characters and sizzling chemistry.

As each of these books centers around a Dragon King finding his true mate, this one started with V (who I thought was going to be the star), but it ended up with Roman. Roman can hear metals in the ground, so he is the obvious choice for a helper finding the lost sword, right? While V is a little off his rocker due to his constant sleep and inability to find what was stolen from him, Roman is steadfast and just as determined not to see his fellow Dragon King suffer any more. While searching the Carpathian Mountains (yes, V is *that* V as in Vlad), they stumble upon a Romanian girl living alone with her brother. Normal, right? Except that the brother can talk to animals and the girl identifies as a gypsy. Oh, and when V touches the brother, he suddenly gets some of his missing memories back.

Of course, there wouldn’t be a Dragon Kings story without romance, and this one pairs the very independent Sabina with the self-sacrificing Roman. While both initially try to resist the pull, some very dangerous adventures and a true connection between these two end up pushing them into instant commitment. The sizzle is definitely there in more ways than one (get it? Dragons breathe fire…). As always, there are oodles of side stories that I’m sure will materialize fully in books to come, but it was a good way to keep things moving and keep us hooked.

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Monday, November 12, 2018

Review: Wretched Wicked: An Urban Fantasy Novella

Wretched Wicked: An Urban Fantasy Novella Wretched Wicked: An Urban Fantasy Novella by SM Reine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novella really gives you an inside view into the relationship between Cesar and Fritz. Having been inside Cesar’s head the entire time their relationship was evolving it was a pleasant surprise to get into Fritz’s head and see all the ways that he reacted/thought about things we’ve only seen Cesar deal with. Don’t worry, there’s still Cesar a-plenty, and there are, of course, secrets revealed that were known only to Fritz. We get to see all the major milestones play out (and some we didn’t even know about) in order, but with some wonderfully refreshing new eyes. Ever wonder how you’d feel about the whole series knowing where it ends up? Well here’s your chance!

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Review: 11/22/63

11/22/63 11/22/63 by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Admittedly, I picked up this audiobook intending to have some way to kill time in the car. I got the recommendation from a friend without even looking at the book description. It was available at the library and Stephen King, while not always my favorite, could at least guarantee good writing. I’m not sure I would recommend going blind into this book like I did, but I would definitely recommend reading this one.

Jake is a school teacher who is a bit adrift in his own life. He recently divorced and his star pupil has graduated. An acquaintance, the local diner owner, ends up phoning him randomly while he is wrapping up his last day of school grading. That phone call ends up altering the course of, well, everything for him. As you’re reading the book, there is definitely a little bit of “where is this going,” but it all pulls itself together after many many hours.

Overall, this is the story of “what would you do if you could go back in time (to a very specific time) and change history?” The timing is right to save JFK, but there are quite a few events that he impacts along the way. With no idea of how many changes the world could take, why they are able to go back in time at all, and what impact it will have on Jake, this story had me completely hooked. There are moments of sheer panic and terror that I found myself hesitant to even take a break from reading during. I was so completely invested in Jake, no matter how many bad decisions he made along the way. I’m not really a big time travel fan, but this book was really phenomenal. Everyone knows that this author has some issues with endings. This ending, however, answered all my questions but still left the door open for happiness.

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Review: A Summoner's Tale: The Vampire's Confessor

A Summoner's Tale: The Vampire's Confessor A Summoner's Tale: The Vampire's Confessor by Victoria Danann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

UPDATE: In re-reading this book I really have to agree with past Carrie - kind of a let down that poor Baka isn't the star of this book. I think the books might be getting better, though, so here's hoping I can get through the next one this time.

I read the first two books in this series and was really looking forward to Baka finally getting his own book. Maybe my assumption that this book was going to be his story led me to have some unrealistic expectations. To me, this book read more like a continuation of Elora and Ram's love story and had Baka pushed to a background story.

The story does, however, start with Baka. He is still a cured vampire (so not quite human), and is working with a beautiful but frigid research companion named Heaven. Most of his time is being spent obsessing over Heaven's chilly demeanor and devising ways to crack through her shell. A wrench is thrown into his plans, though, when he sets out on a rogue mission to save some vampire only to be captured. Since he told no one of his plan, he's essentially on his own. When he doesn't show up to work, Heaven begins to worry and ends up doing some research on Baka while waiting for them to open an inquiry to his absence. The research she does on him ends up revealing that he met or interacted with just about ever famous artist or thinker of his time (really?).

While that story is going on, we end up flip-flopping back and forth to Elora's story. She's super pregnant but still determined to be independent. While Ram is working on their future house, she works on befriending wolves (for some reason). Also while this is going on, the inhabitants of Elora's old dimension send some assassins to kill her (for some reason). They believe they are somehow preventing any more evil from her line, even though it seems like *a lot* of work just to maybe, sort of, somehow, prevent her from ever, possibly, going back to their dimension, and, somehow, ruling them with an iron fist (or something). The rationale was a little bit confusing, but it led them to injure her while she is all alone in the woods. She defends herself, but ends up injured and suddenly going into labor. The wolves take care of her (of course), but this leads to some really crazy searching when she doesn't come home.

There is a lot of fun action when the team comes back together and many revelations along the way when the team is confronted with their future plans. Also, we dive back into the Heaven/Baka story to be shows some even more shocking revelations. I had some trouble with the romance here (which was probably due to the "fated mates" type scenario). Either way, there was still some steaminess that is well suited to Baka's story.

I have to say that while I enjoyed the first two books, this one is not my favorite. I had some high hopes for the vampire's story and was instead given a very detailed birthing story and some history tales (with a vampire story peppered here and there). I'm hoping the next one will give me back the excitement that the first part of the series had.

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Review: Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny

Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny by Holly Madison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As a fan of the Girls Next Door TV series, I was always interested in what went on when the cameras weren’t rolling. My favorite was definitely Holly, so picking up this book was a no-brainer. I had checked out her TV show once or twice but this seemed like an easier way to get all my “what’s she doing now” and “what really happened” questions answered all at once.

First, I should warn you that you don’t get the graphic, detailed answers you’re probably looking for here. You get some general idea of how things went down, but it’s more along the lines of the emotional torment and a peek behind the scenes of what went on TV. Holly’s life is explained in such a way that I, oddly enough, could totally see how she ended up where she did. Sure, I’m positive that this gives her a better light than if I were reading one of the other girl’s books, but it was still pretty entertaining. The disappointing part? After I finished reading the book I wanted to know how Holly and her husband were doing and, sadly, they’re getting divorced! Big bummer! Overall, though, this was an entertaining way to spend my afternoon walks, listening to the drama and intrigue behind all the Playboy events.

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Review: The Confectioner's Guild

The Confectioner's Guild The Confectioner's Guild by Claire Luana
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an adorably sweet (haha, cupcakes) romance coupled with a mystery and wrapped in magic. While set in an unknown historical time period, it read as relatively contemporary, if not in a strange universe where magic definitely exists.

Wren is an orphan working in a bakery for slave wages. Life could definitely be worse, and at least she gets to use her extraordinary talent for baking every single day. She’s also not living on the street anymore. Things take a weird turn when she is questioned about a cupcake she made and then whisked (haha, baking joke) away from her “home” into a castle. There, things might have actually turned around for her, if she hadn’t quickly been accused of murder.

This book introduces a whole world of interesting characters – from her fellow guild members to the ruling class, all the way to her petty classmates. I was sucked into this world, no matter the time period. This is clearly the start of a brand new series and eagerly introduces relationship and builds the world around them. As a paranormal read, it is definitely unique and interesting, worth checking out, definitely.

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Friday, November 9, 2018

Review: Dearest Ivie

Dearest Ivie Dearest Ivie by J.R. Ward
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like to read every novella and short story when I start a series and sometimes it gets me in trouble. This was one such case. I was so determined to read all the nuggets of BDB along the way that I read this one. Maybe it’s just me, but this book was so incredibly depressing and painful that I had some series trouble even finishing. I kept thinking – but what if there is something that ties into the main storyline??? There isn’t anything that makes this required reading for the series, so it is definitely not necessary. If you enjoy putting yourself through heartache and some very dark times, this is the book for you, otherwise, I would recommend skipping it. You will cry, a lot.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Review: Healer's Need

Healer's Need Healer's Need by Rhenna Morgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I completely didn’t realize this book was the second in a series of books, but I don’t think it hurt my enjoyment of this awesome read. I absolutely could not put this book down!

Tate is a shifter, a tattoo artist, and a warrior. He has also newly identified his fated mate. Too bad for him, the mate chosen for him is newly introduced to this world and is still adjusting to the craziness of people transforming into animals and magic being real. Elise, Tate’s fated mate, is completely unaware of this fact. He may have started avoiding her to not put pressure on her, but instead it seems to be telling her that he isn’t interested.

Tate has his inner animal driving him to claim his mate all the time, especially with some bad guys still up to no good. With Elise’s soon to be discovered magic, everyone assumes she will be in an elevated position of power, so there is added pressure on Tate to protect her. Throw all of this in the pressure cooker, and you’ve got the breaking point for Tate’s patience. It was great to watch it break! These two sizzle together and it made me just want to go back and see where this whole world started. As a new series (for me) it is a definitely interesting twist on your typical paranormal read.

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Review: Otherworld Chills

Otherworld Chills Otherworld Chills by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This may be my favorite of this set of short stories. While I’ve definitely read most of these before, they involve some of my favorite couples from slightly different perspectives. If I had to choose just one set from this anthology series, this would be it. Also, we get the bonus of having a new story from Paige and Lucas that was filled with pretty awesome updates.

I’m pretty sure I’ve reviewed most of the short stories, so I’ll just discuss the overall themes. In this set, the time period does have a lot of jumping around, which was a little difficult to get used to. Aside from that, the theme in these seemed to be general creepiness. Even the puppy plan story, which was told from Logan’s perspective, was a little dark. Maybe that’s why I prefer this set? I like this world because it is a good blend of romance and paranormal.

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Review: You're Never Weird on the Internet

You're Never Weird on the Internet You're Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book gave me all the nostalgic feels of re-living my internet discovery and meeting online friends. Boy can I relate! I also really learned a lot about the gaming world that I haven’t actually been exposed to. As this book is narrated by Felicia Day on top of being written by her, you get the bonus of her super entertaining storytelling style and the wonderful sounds of old school dial-up.

I don’t think it’s worth summarizing her entire life here, but I completely admit that I had no clue about the Guild. Does that make me a bad person? Am I no longer qualified to be a nerd or geek? This book was like a treasure trove of relatable memories from childhood, quirky awesomeness, and an insider view of anxiety. If you are even a little nerdy or geeky, this book will make you laugh out loud (sometimes while working out when everyone around you thinks you’re insane) and smile ear-to-ear. Read (or listen to) this book now!

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Review: The Witch's Dream

The Witch's Dream The Witch's Dream by Victoria Danann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

UPDATE: Re-reading this series and this book certainly feels different from the first. There is a lot of new character addition (clearly setting up the many books to follow) but the love story was a little... rushed. After all this flipping between characters, it was a little hard to get into the romance (was there a lot of romance?) and celebrate the HEA for the broody warrior.

So many new characters! This can't possibly be the last book, right?!? This one blew the first one away in so many different ways that I would love to read another one in this series! Loved the witty banter of the demons and half demons! Give me more!

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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Review: Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to this audiobook on a long car ride and was absolutely hooked. I know that I enjoy Trevo Noah on the Daily Show (although was very hesitant in the beginning to "cheat" on Jon Stewart). I didn't even really know anything about him going into this so it was 100% a surprise (other than him being from Africa, which comes up a lot on the show). I don't think I can accurately summarize the plot, except that it shows you South Africa through the years Trevor lived there and how he adapted to the his ever changing surroundings. For someone with very little background and knowledge of the region, everything was new and completely engaging. Trevor's storytelling had me hoping for more time in the car so we could get further in the book.

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Review: My Familiar Stranger

My Familiar Stranger My Familiar Stranger by Victoria Danann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

UPDATE: I am re-reading this series from the beginning as part of a book club and, yeah, this book is still really good. While the main character isn't my favorite, the supporting guys are all so unique and I know they ultimately get their own stories (so I'm excited to keep going... again... for real this time).

This book was completely not what I expected. Maybe I suck at reading plot summaries or something but I thought it would revolve around a girl who went from our dimension into some alien dimension. Instead, it is more like the opposite with some differences. Also, I know Black Swan isn't always about ballet but there was none if that in this story. This book was a great setup for a fun series taking place in a sort of Buffy-esque "Unit" compound. A lot of the characters were entertaining and I actually found myself rooting for the wrong guy again. I can't wait to see where this goes.

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Monday, October 8, 2018

Review: Protecting the Wolf's Mate

Protecting the Wolf's Mate Protecting the Wolf's Mate by Sasha Summers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I feel like this book can either be read as part of the larger storyline or as a standalone. Though there are not giant chunks of “catch you up” paragraphs, it was easy enough to join back in without this refresher.

Ellen joined the misfit pack that Hollis is a member of by protecting the alpha’s pregnant mate. She has an affinity for man/wolf relations (internally, as shifters), so she has been a surprisingly good influence on these new-er shifters. She’s also got a boatload of secrets that she keeps tucked away, but finds herself more willing to open up and shed the prickly exterior, especially for Hollis. Hollis has been tormented by Ellen since she came to live with them. Since he’s a man of science and facts and she is a strong believer in magic, they were bound to clash. He also has the unique disadvantage of not being able to shift into his wolf because of a heart defect.

Once it becomes clear that the Others (the big bad) is coming for them in a very real way, Ellen and Hollis (or their inner wolves) recognize the urgency of their fated mating. This was filled with dirty sexy times, lots of action, and one tough magical shifter in the form of Ellen. Hollis isn’t too bad, either. This pack is rapidly growing on me and it is clear there are even more happy couples in the not so distant future.

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Review: Sentinel of Darkness

Sentinel of Darkness Sentinel of Darkness by Katie Reus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a quick, standalone read in the Darkness series that was absolutely wonderful from start to finish. Even if you have no experience with this author, I would recommend picking this book up to check out what you are missing.

Keva was introduced to shifter at what became a very dark time in her life. Her boyfriend at the time came out to her as a shifter as just another way to control and manipulate her. After the abuse began escalating, she made a break for it and never looked back. Her savior, a dragon shifter, further introduced her to the world, but she’s been happy just to work on her art and focus on her business.

Dagen recently joined the dragons in Keva’s town and ends up putting himself in front of her in a rather unflattering way. Unfortunately/fortunately for them, Keva’s past comes back in a real way, forcing Dagen to protect her as only mates can. This book had a wonderfully fast-paced and completely engaging story that should not be missed! Oh, and there’s some good sexy times, too!

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Review: Vampires Like It Hot

Vampires Like It Hot Vampires Like It Hot by Lynsay Sands
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was yet another installment in the never-ending series about the Argeneau’s and their extended family. I don’t think you’d actually need to have read any other books to start here, but I’m just not wired that way.

Jess is an attendee at a destination wedding tasked with babysitting the bride’s evil sister. Maybe not evil, but she certainly manages to find a way to spoil most activities for her. Chasing after her ends up putting her on a pirate ship filled with vampires that leaves her no choice but to escape overboard. Raffaele is playing babysitter himself, except to his fellow vampire/immortal as he heals from the physiological trauma he’s endured. Saving a woman floating in the ocean comes naturally to him, but even he’s surprised when he life mate turns up in the off season at a resort.

There is a lot of deception and misdirection as Raffaele tries to win over Jess and overcome her natural fear of vampires (and pirates). There’s a lot of kidnapping threats, sneaking around, travel, and sexy times thrown into a short amount of time for these two. While the book ends happily (not for everyone), I don’t think this book was my favorite. Ultimately I think the reason for that was the character of Jess. In theory, she should have been like any other tough chick character – resilient and strong, able to overcome her past and the fact that they are vampires to make the difficult decisions. Sure, she’s got all the components to make her a great character, but her actions were all over the place. One particular sticking point with me was the fact that she started the book (and got into this whole mess) because she felt responsible for her mean cousin. Said cousin may be mean and may have bad motivations, but if Jess really was this great person, I don’t understand why she would laugh about her cousin being stuck with a sexually abusive guy. It just seemed… strange and off-putting. It made me second guess Jess and Raffaele actually being a good match. Maybe it was just me?

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Friday, October 5, 2018

Review: In the Mood Fur Love

In the Mood Fur Love In the Mood Fur Love by Eve Langlais
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am loving these little sets of 3 stories. The combination of authors, story, and smuttiness makes for some wonderfully easy and entertaining reading. While I’ll probably not do justice to each story individually, you can expect to enjoy a nice variety if you pick up this collection.

The Eve Langlais story was adorable with a bit of a noir feel. Becka has been kidnapped and is trying to escape during a “scuffle” when she finds herself face-to-face with an overprotective man. Said man, Stavros, may also happen to shift into a bear and have identified her as his mate upon first touch, but that’s beside the point. These two are caught in an internal tug of war with themselves – Becka wants to run to keep this nice man save and Stavros wants to run because having a mate means commitment and settling down. Through it all, they end up getting caught up in some action, some sexy times, and lots of nosy family scenes. This was probably my favorite of the three.

The Milly Taiden story continues with the “mate for hire” world (if you’ve read the previous ones, which are probably not required). These two poor lovebirds are also in denial. This story was a bit of boss/employee taboo, some shifter fated mate madness, and lots of miscommunication. Oh, and did I forget to mention super naughty sexy business?

The Kate Baxter story also continues in an established world but is definitely not required reading to dive in here. Ellie is a woman who has been cursed by a witch to stay trapped in a town that will never thrive. She’s essentially immortal, which makes her a good fated mate to Colin, who wanders in and shakes up her whole life. With magic and an old-timey feel, this story was a neat departure from the norm.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Review: More than a Phoenix

More than a Phoenix More than a Phoenix by Ashlyn Chase
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was just bursting with magic and paranormal craziness! We even get two love stories for the price of one!

The first of two stories involves Dante’s mate. He’s had a crush on a girl from his high school for as long as he can remember. He was never really expecting to discover her talking to herself walking down the street. Turns out, Mallory has been cursed in a few different ways. The first way is that she has been making friends with ghosts. It would be a little more manageable if they didn’t look and seem so darn real. The other way is a bit more concerning. Sure, ghosts are bad (and ends up getting her fired), but turning into a monkey when she get stressed out is somewhat worse. What kind of guy would be up for that kind of challenge? Dante. He has grown up in a loud and invasive phoenix shifter family and knows exactly how to go with the flow. He manages to balance supporting her budding art career while at the same time trying to fix her curse issues.

Dante’s roommate and brother, Noah, ends up meeting his match while going to bat for his brother’s girl. That ghost thing ended up landing her in the ER, where Kizzy happens to work. Since nothing is ever really normal, Kizzy ends up coming from a family of witches who are protecting one of a set of 3 books. As fate would have it, Noah has an interest in fancy old books and happened upon one just recently. After overcoming the secrets and worry, these two end up teaming up with the whole gang to go after the big bad. A huge installment and undertaking, this book went by super-fast!

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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Review: Surviving and Thriving with an Invisible Chronic Illness: How to Stay Sane and Live One Step Ahead of Your Symptoms

Surviving and Thriving with an Invisible Chronic Illness: How to Stay Sane and Live One Step Ahead of Your Symptoms Surviving and Thriving with an Invisible Chronic Illness: How to Stay Sane and Live One Step Ahead of Your Symptoms by Ilana Jacqueline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have never been one to read anything labeled self help and typically stick to contemporary paranormal romance with few exceptions. After a particularly bad instance of freaking out while trying to self-inject, I decided to look into possibilities for audiobooks that might boost my "endurance" during this RA "race."

Again, I admit to being very hesitant. I've had experiences with support groups online where it just turned into victim blaming - "You need to avoid eating X and you will cure yourself!" or "You need to take Jesus into your heart in order to heal yourself" - so I tried to screen my first self help book pretty carefully. I didn't want to read about "magical cures" or some sort of anti-science garbage, and this book totally fit the bill. It had enough positive messages, scientific references, and general ideology to have me focusing on the message (sometimes even taking notes!).

The chronic illness she talks about is general enough that people of a wide variety of ailments can relate to her story and her recommendations. The recommendations even range from youth into adulthood. I don't think anything contained in here is really shocking or radical, but I was definitely in a bit of a rut and this may have helped me at least have some new brainstorming ideas to discuss with my doctor. I'd recommend this as a quick read (only 5 or so hours in audiobook) for anyone looking for a different perspective on their illness.

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Review: Otherworld Secrets

Otherworld Secrets Otherworld Secrets by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up this anthology because coming back to this world is warm and comforting. I love the characters and feel familiar with them. Even though I'm not typically one for short stories, this seemed like a nice collection.

The mix of new/old is fairly heavy on the old side, but old enough that I didn't really remember most of them. There's all the usual cast and characters from the werewolves to the witches and the necromancers. We even get a vampire story thrown in. If you are an insane completionist like I am (must... read... all... in... series) then you'll obviously be picking this one and the next in this trilogy up either way. It was fun to go back into this universe and most series readers will appreciate it.

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Review: Race of Thieves

Race of Thieves Race of Thieves by S.M. Reine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a die hard Reine fan and have read all the previous books in this world/universe/timeline/etc. That being said, I think you can pretty much dive into this world wherever as it resets and changes dynamics continually. Yes, there are references or names I caught and had a little smile or chuckle over, but it's 100% not necessary for bizarre enjoyment of this book.

This book is definitely the start of a whole new series. The feel, the amount of smut, the witty banter all combines to a bit of a new take on this post-genesis world. Shatter Cage is a shifter with delusions of being a soon-to-be hero. He's hiding his squirrel shifter heritage behind the mask of a phoenix and he's living like a millionaire in a rundown movie theater. His partner, Vex, was a highlight for me, and helped me crawl through the frustrating parts of Shatter's story. His small-time stealing ends up showing some real promise at attracting a dream job, but he isn't the only "applicant."

Brigid is a fellow thief who shared a sordid past with Shatter, complete with whips and chains. The rivalry between them is constantly escalating and it was 100% enjoyment to watch. This book read like a comedy, an action heist flick, and a paranormal romance gone awry. I'm not even sure I can sum up the actual plot, but the characters were so unique and interesting that the pages flew by. If you have any interest in any of the above genres, then this is definitely worth a read. Fair warning - there are some yucky parts, some dark parts, and some smutty parts thrown in here. If any of those things aren't for you, you've been fairly warned!

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Review: Kiss of the Fallen: A Sensual Urban Fantasy

Kiss of the Fallen: A Sensual Urban Fantasy Kiss of the Fallen: A Sensual Urban Fantasy by Kharma Kelley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There are three secret races, vampires, werewolves, and witches, all vying for dominance in this world. At the top of all of these races is a sort of demon cop-type, called a Black Blood Slayer. Tristan is the vampire commander who is one job away from retirement. He’s tasked with keeping the companion of one of his rulers. She’s been making some headway in peace talks between the races, but with that comes death threats from those that like the status quo. Tristan selects some of the strongest fighters and is determined to survive this one last gig. It is unfortunate that he is one of the only survivors. This incident starts filling Tristan’s mind with suspicions and doubt surrounding his leaders and their ulterior motives.

Zoe is not your typical Black Blood Slayer. Instead of being a mindless killer, she actually cares about each of the races and the balance between them. Through a mysterious series of events, she ends up chained to Tristan’s bed after his horrible night of betrayal. They obviously meet one another with a great deal of skepticism, but it seems like they are on the same team. Strange things are afoot in the vampire leadership. Of course, there is attraction, smutty goodness, and twists and turns, but we ultimately end up with a satisfying ending for everyone (except the poor sacrificial lamb at the beginning).

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Review: The Boss

The Boss The Boss by Abigail Owen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an excellent start to what will hopefully be a series with plenty of books! Firefighters, dragons, tough chicks, and some smutty goodness round out this fun and engaging read.

Finn is the leader of a group of elite dragon shifters, stationed and tasked with monitoring for rogue dragon fire and helping hide their race from humans. He has had a tough life, having thought he found his mate only to result in her death. Sure, he could blame the system for identifying mates (which is archaic and not always right) but instead he blames himself, swearing off women and especially any possible mates. Enter Delaney – a tough woman who has been on the run from a stalker ex who definitely has some more supernatural elements up his sleeve. She is also sort-of running from the inexplicable fires that seem to follow her during black-outs. After Finn’s people come in to fight a fire that has erupted near her, she finds herself drawn into their strangely comforting world of the unbelievable.

Obviously they immediately pin her as a possible dragon mate but things just don’t seem to add up. Either way, Finn and Delaney are drawn to one another. While there is some reluctance to give in, they ultimately make a really great team. All of the rest of the guys in the “crew” deserve a shout out, too, because I cannot wait until they all get their turn with mates. The writing was great and the world building had me begging for even more time there. This was a surprising and wonderful book that restored my faith in paranormal romance.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Review: What Does This Button Do?: An Autobiography

What Does This Button Do?: An Autobiography What Does This Button Do?: An Autobiography by Bruce Dickinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this for much the reason probably everyone reads this book - I really enjoy Iron Maiden. Admittedly, I was even really aware of Iron Maiden until my husband introduced me to the band. Since then, I've gone to concerts, watched Flight 666, and suddenly found myself a big Iron Maiden fan. Bruce Dickinson has been a mystery to me, what with his interesting collection of hobbies and interests on top of being an insane heavy metal lead singer. I was happy to share this audiobook with my husband and have yet even more Iron Maiden discussions.

So, full disclaimer - I listened to this rather than regular reading it and I think that really helped. It is read by the man himself, and he is a great storyteller. You get a lot of history on his time at school, how he learned and developed his fencing skills, and (of course) how he ended up a pilot in varying degrees of certification. I did notice the lack of mention of any relationships and kids along the way (I'll have to go check the wikipedia page), but he discusses that in the afterward.

The life he has had (and he's not done yet) is amazing. I loved the stories, the history, and the passion he tells it all with. As my typical type of book is paranormal romance, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to have myself sucked into this autobiography. I'd even say that I would recommend it to non-Iron Maiden fans, if only for the interesting story that is included here.

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Review: Companion Pieces: Stories from the Old World and Beyond

Companion Pieces: Stories from the Old World and Beyond Companion Pieces: Stories from the Old World and Beyond by Melissa F. Olson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This set of short stories was a really nice mesh of stories I may not have even known I wanted. I'm familiar with this Old World (and you should be, too, if you're reading this one), but this gave some "behind the scenes" looks at some stories that either we saw from another side or beyond where the story ended.

While I've already read "Malediction" and "Sell-By Date" but the rest were so... fun. Even a story that I really thought I wouldn't enjoy - Scarlett giving birth - was silly and fun enough that I completely enjoyed it. If you are looking for a unique blend of stories that helps round out the sets of series, this is definitely worth it. You even get some bonus material at the end, if you're interested in other works by the author.

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Review: Bloodsick

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

This was somewhere between a short story and a compilation of chapters. If you've read other books in this universe, this is definitely a much read. I swung back around to this short story when I was reading another anthology. I have always been interested in Will and Sashi and this gives you their full history.

I would recommend reading this at some point during your experience in the Old World, but I'm not exactly sure where it would fit best. Maybe after we meet Sashi? It would certainly help you feel a little more sympathetic for their situation. I both loved and hated that I knew where they would end up, but it was still totally worth the read.

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Review: Magic Triumphs

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

I admittedly was dragging my feet at reading this one. I was sad to say goodbye to these characters, even if I get to see more in the Hugh universe (Hughniverse?). I love Kate for so many reasons and this book delivered.

As if Kate's life wasn't threatened enough by her own father, she has even more problems to deal with (what else is new?). Kate and Curran are now parents, and as much as I usually hate the new kid storyline, I really loved it here. Their kid is exactly what I'd expect from them - already getting into trouble and breaking through boundaries. They are both hiding things (as usual) but still in their awesome relationship. So what's the big bad? Well, here's a hint - it involves fire and lots of death. Destroying their enemy means they have to call in all their favors and create some sort of mega-alliance. It's a nice ending to the series, getting to see all the familiar faces and watching them work with (or fight) one another.

There are some twist and turns, some surprises, and some secrets around how the two sets of books work together, but all in all, exactly the type of ending this series deserves. Things are relatively wrapped up, at least for Kate, and I guess we get more books from yet another narrator? That remains to be seen. There were some characters I wish we had spent more time with, but I am still hoping we get to circle back around at some point. I was particularly bummed about a few off-screen death scenes that seemed like cheating the reader a bit, but what do I know about writing big battle scenes? I'm happy with where the pieces fell, not too sad about the body count, and looking forward to more from this author in the future (with this set of characters, probably).

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Friday, September 14, 2018

Review: Hell in a Head Gasket

Hell in a Head Gasket Hell in a Head Gasket by G.A. Chase
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was filled with alternate dimension demons, motorcycles, and bounty hunting. While this is the first book of this series, it read almost like a sequel.

This story just throws you right into the deep end. I ended the book with way more understanding of the universe than when I started, but found myself getting a little frustrated by my lack of knowledge along the way. We join Sere, who has a magical affinity for snakes, kicking butt, and healing herself from large injuries. She is this world’s version of a demon (of sorts) and is tied to her “real” – another identical body that has her own life. If that wasn’t complicated enough, she’s also the daughter of “the devil.” Or something. I’m still not 100% on a lot of things in there.

The larger story (aside from grasping at details about this unique universe setup) is about a “demon” who has escaped from the same place Sere is from. It’s a little unknown how he gets out, or what his real end game is, but Sere has appointed herself as the hunter for this prey. The hunt involves a stalker-ish bartender with a motorcycle, a gigantic hell gator, disguises, gruesome murders, New Orleans, and an accountant. Along the way, like I said, you get dribs and drabs of information about how this world is set up and exactly how it came to be, but I am left wanting so much more! Sere eventually grew on me, as most gritty tough chicks do, so I kind of want to know what happens next in her story.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Review: Hot and Badgered

Hot and Badgered Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Holy crap there were a lot of characters and storylines jammed into this book! I guess I wrongly assumed I could start at book 1 of a new series and not be lost but, wow, I was totally lost and overwhelmed from the start.

We dive into this world filled with *so many characters* that there must be a bunch of books before this that I have not read. Each character is totally developed with a personality, backstory, and history with all these characters that I know I’m missing something. About halfway through, I think I started to get the hang of the craziness (on top of crazy behavior) and was able to focus more on the main story. That being said, the main story is bananas!

Charlie is the eldest daughter of a jerky womanizer. She’s got two other insane (in different ways) sisters that each have their own buckets of problems. They’ve got a super tight bond and some shared honey badger DNA, but are perpetually on the run from something or other, usually tied with their deadbeat (and largely criminal) father. A group of trained assassins end up chasing Charlie into a bear shifter named Berg. Not much shocks him, but when Charlie ends up naked, disarming guys with guns, it gets him to raise an eyebrow. When he ends up running into her a second time at a random apartment, it must be fate.

These two are adorable in their love of family, ability to battle almost anything, and awkward nervousness about their romance. While their romantic storyline was a highlight, it got a little bogged down in so much other story and character. I guess I was expecting something a little lighter, but went into this world blind, based on an amazon recommendation.

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Review: Claiming His Lioness

Claiming His Lioness Claiming His Lioness by Kerry Adrienne
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have only read one previous book in this series, but was able to jump in here to the drama that these shifters are in now without any issues. This book had shapeshifters, evil human plots, environmental groups, and mystical seers galore!

Mason and Lara have been sniping at each other since Mason took over leadership (reluctantly) from his recently deceased father. He rules with his twin, which is probably his saving grace. Lara, the pride’s enforcer, is constantly bucking at the rules Mason puts on her. His chauvinistic attitudes only make her job harder. Determined to prove herself deserving of her position, she stumbles upon a plot to run an oil pipeline directly through their Deep Creek sanctuary. The ramifications could be catastrophic, so the entire pack (and all the shapeshifter clans) must work together to get them out.

There were a few elements of this story that overlapped. First, there’s the stubborn fighting/romance between Mason and Lara. These two are obviously destined to be together, but they are fighting tooth and nail. The fated mate aspect is just as sudden and abrupt as usual, but a nice relief from the fighting. Second, there is the evil human corporation that is lurking in the background. When Lara is captured by these hunters, there is a surprise shifter in the mix with maybe even more secrets than Lara herself. Lastly, we get to see the mystical inner workings of the magical cave. That all ends up rolling together to bring some unity to the packs. While this book was a little light on romance, it was nice to see where all the characters are in their lives and get a taste for all the different packs (even if I am just an evil human).

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Review: 12 Nights of Christmas

12 Nights of Christmas 12 Nights of Christmas by Rebecca Hunter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read only the Tawdra Kandle story in this collection (December 27: The Meant to Be Girl), so can only review that portion of the collection.

I’m an avid Tawdra Kandle fan and have devoured all of these small town stories. Even without that background, you could surely read this short and enjoy it just as much. The characters in it are genuine, real, and filled with love. This story shows the inner workings of the budding relationship fans have seen in the background. Ashley is a hard working business owner who falls in love with her salon’s customer, Zane. They skirt the issues and seem to keep missing each other, but this story gives them the perfect (and maybe magical?) way to take the next step. Who wouldn’t love a story about romance, determination, and fruitcake?

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Review: Pecan Pies and Dead Guys

Pecan Pies and Dead Guys Pecan Pies and Dead Guys by Angie Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love these adorable southern mysteries! If you haven’t yet met Verity, you can probably join at any point in the series, but to watch her grow along the way is part of the charm of the series.

Verity is still very early on in her ghost hunting career, but in order for that to work, she’s got to have access to her ghostly partner – Frankie. Sounds like an OK plan since he can’t actually leave her property without his urn, but their new ghostly companion, a deceased inspector, has other ideas. After their meeting on the train in the previous book, they are on the hook to solve a murder for him in exchange for Frankie not getting locked up (and Verity’s house becoming a prison of sorts). The murder mystery also happens to have occurred at a local estate that Verity can pull some strings to get access too.

As if Verity’s life isn’t crazy enough, Beau is also newly hooked up with a girlfriend who runs a food truck. Beau’s mother is losing her mind over him possibly quitting the law firm and has (for some reason) decided it is Verity’s fault. So much stress! Oh, and someone is trying to kill her, again. Seems like Verity can’t just catch a break and just have a relaxing, somewhat normal, couple of weeks. At least at the end of this book we are left with some real positives out of this insane outing for Verity and company. I simply devour these books at a rapid pace every time they come out! I’m torn between wanting Frankie to move on and never wanting this series to end. And I want pie.

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Review: Transmonstrified

Transmonstrified Transmonstrified by R.L. Naquin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up this book just so I could finally say I’d finished the entire Monster Haven series.

I had already read a few of these stories and have some experience in the Unamused Muse world, too, but these were still fun, quick stories to read. The two new stories in the Monster Haven world were about Kam and Riley. The Kam story was adorable and, having read one of the spin-off books, I wish her own series had the same light heartedness to it. She solves a sort of mystery and does her job all in one night’s work.

Riley’s story shows his start in the reaper business and actually allowed me to appreciate Art in time for the final book. I think Art is largely misunderstood as a character. Riley I still love, but since he spends the majority of the books telling Zoey that she’s trying to get herself killed, it was nice to just see Riley on his own for once.

If you (like me) are obsessed with finishing all the books and short stories in a series, reading this one will help you feel complete. If you don’t feel the need to do that, you can absolutely skip over the shorts without missing anything in the main storyline. I think they were worth the read, especially if you haven’t read the other, previously published Monster Haven shorts in this collection.

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Review: Phoenix in My Fortune

Phoenix in My Fortune Phoenix in My Fortune by R.L. Naquin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Update: As this now came at the conclusion of my re-read it was extra sad to say goodbye to this crew. Seeing the people I've come to adore find their ending (good and bad) made it hard to get through this one. Still a fun and quirky series, even at the re-read.

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

Wow - what a wonderful end to a completely entertaining series. There are HEAs for everyone and all the loose ends are neatly tied up.

I fell in love with Zoey and her bunch of misfits from the first time I met them. They are all so unique and wonderfully witty that I have often found myself laughing and smiling along with them. If you haven't had a chance to check out this series, you should go back to truly appreciate this great read. We left these characters dealing with some loss, but worried about this "last hidden." They had a little reprieve, but things are changing rapidly.

Zoey and her mother are the last protectors around and they are tasked with something impossible - stop the end of the world as they know it. With little support from a system that is rebuilding, Zoey is the leader of an army of hidden that she has accumulated along the way. Their bond is unbreakable and they all support her as she marches against the end of an era. This last hidden has shown up too early, broken all the rules and appears just as confused as they are. The battle might not be as bloody as you'd expect, but there are some bittersweet losses. What would an ending be without some tears? The very end, though, is very sweet. I'm sad to see these characters go, but happy with the way it was done. Thanks for the wonderful series!

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