Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Review: Low Midnight

Low Midnight Low Midnight by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow – what a fantastic book in the Kitty universe! After being inundated by the bad decisions (or decisions I disagree with) that Kitty makes at every turn, it was refreshing to climb into Cormac’s head for a bit of a break. He’s relatively simple in his ideology and it was really great to get a deeper dive into what drives him.

Cormac is a man who is essentially possessed by the spirit of a powerful magician. What may have started as a relationship of convenience (she saved him and he helped her escape) is now an active partnership. These two have definitely won the prize for most complicated relationship ever. On top of that, Cormac is growing in skill as they spend more and more time “together” which has changed him for the better (I think). While he may have started out in this world as a hunter and then love interest for Kitty, he is now an integral part of this universe.

The larger story here is about Cormac and Amelia on their adventure out of Denver. At the end of the previous book, Kitty posted the coded book of shadows she “inherited” on an anonymous website – a sort of crowd sourcing exercise. Cormac’s been screening the replies and identified one that seemed viable and worth a look. Unfortunately for Amelia, it happens to be in the town where her life took a tragic turn. These two are both forced to face their past in ways they did not expect. It was a really good story overall.

My favorite parts were probably watching Cormac handle the responses to the online posting. The twist ending here was one of the most fantastic I’ve read in a while and had my jaw dropping. Cormac is still one of my favorite misunderstood characters and I hope we get more (unless this series ends pretty catastrophically).

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Review: Dragon Slayers

Dragon Slayers Dragon Slayers by Kristin D. Van Risseghem
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What a strange and interesting blend of YA, dragon slaying, and reverse harem!

Brooklyn (I know, you get used to the names) is a rich kid who was raised in a family that has always been involved in dragon slaying. When she reaches the age that you can enter the dragon slayer academy, she signs right up. She’s worked hard to train and get ahead, but even she is surprised when she shows the aptitude required for killing dragons in the field. After getting moved from level 1 to 2 she is suddenly inundated with guys interested in her (who all have the borough names, you get used to it).

On top of this seemingly simple (if not paranormal) story, there’s an added element of mystery. Why does Brooklyn feel so drawn to these guys? Why does she show an amazing gift for magic? Why does it feel so wrong to kill dragons, something she was raised to do? All of these things tumble together in a cliffhanger ending that definitely left you wanting more answers. As the start of a series, I could see this as a good intro, though!

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Review: The Big Alpha in Town

The Big Alpha in Town The Big Alpha in Town by Eve Langlais
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m fairly certain I’ve been exposed to all 3 of these authors and their sets of books before. Either way, I think that someone who has no experience with them would still enjoy their unique writing styles and levels of quirkiness and smut in different ways. I really enjoyed each of them for different reasons.

The first story is about a group of relatives all receiving cards indicating they may have fathered a child. While one goes on the hunt to discover who the culprit is, he ends up finding his very own mate. Unfortunately, it is not the one who sent the card, but things get so much more complicated than that. The humor and adorably outgoing nature of these characters was completely addictive. I immediately loved the pushy, Greek bear and his pesky habit of breaking in.

The second story is about a playboy who suddenly discovers his mate. Unfortunately she has no tolerance for his playboy past and is firmly in denial about the whole mate thing. Keir, said playboy lion-shifter, is aided, thankfully, by his friends and family in his attempt to woo his reluctant mate. The sizzle between them also makes things a little more difficult to resist. These two ultimately end up with their HEA, and another happily mated couple is helped by technology!

The last story is a follow-up to the story that got us into the middle of nowhere, Idaho. Owen, the second to the newly mated alpha, is brooding at a bar about the odds of finding his own mate in this very small town when she waltzes right onto the stool next to him. Mia is a wood nymph, which is a thing that exists in this world, and he starts planning their life together right away. Of course, the attraction is off the charts so they have some things to do before the wedding and everything. Mia, however, has other plans and was only looking for a baby daddy so she could take the leadership title from her father. While she may have been motivated to do good, it sure comes across as crappy when she sneaks out on Owen. Don’t worry, though, this one has a happy ending for us, too.

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Review: Paranormal Bromance

Paranormal Bromance Paranormal Bromance by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This shows up as 12.5 in the series, but is totally not set there. It’s set where Rick is still in charge of the vampires of Denver and still his amazingly chill self.

This is a very short read that gives us an insider look at the lives of some “normal” vampires who want no part in the politics (or long game). There are some truly relatable ideas about what to do with forever, assuming you have no larger plans than become good at Xbox. This band of nerds, plus one less nerdy guy all end up being pretty excellent at just barely scraping by. We see a brief cameo by Kitty in the form of a helpful call-in made by Sam. Sam, as it turns out, has made a new friend during one of his friend’s failed attempts at making him social. I guess it actually wasn’t so much a failure, just less successful in said friend’s eyes.

Sam struggles with where to go next in this new-to-him world of having a new friend. He even goes as far as addressing the fact that he could be her father, though they look the same age. Bravo – for actually confronting this idea head on! This was a cute and quirky addition to this universe but probably totally unnecessary in the larger scheme of things. It was nice to see old Rick again, though.

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Review: Kitty in the Underworld

Kitty in the Underworld Kitty in the Underworld by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kitty continues to frustrate me with 100% of her decisions, but I will say, she’s a good character. That and the characters she surrounds herself with (except maybe in this one) will keep me reading this series until the bitter end.

This book begins with the mundane but quickly escalates into the typical Kitty adventure. Who knew that Ben going away on business would end up with Kitty in peril? I mean, sure, we all probably did, but it still was an engaging story. I admit to not reading the description at all before beginning this audiobook and was expecting something a bit more supernatural (actually involving the underworld, perhaps?) so this was almost a pleasant surprise. Kitty is still trying to move along the takedown of Roman (aka whateverwhatever) but is frustrated by the lack of progress by the long lived vampires in her ally force. After discovering where he may be, they all vote to just wait and see, which is probably why Kitty found herself ultimately kidnapped by a misfit group of fanatics.

This misfit group is made up of a vampire (who has some insane beliefs and is super old), a cat shifter (who was also maybe crazy, but less so), a magician (another crazy human woman), and a wolf shifter (who I think may have just been in it for his girlfriend, the cat). This group ends up tempting Kitty into investigating some strange scents and then getting knocked out. Trapped in a mine and subjected to some minor reprogramming (nothing Kitty hasn’t endured before, and then some), she is coopted into a ritual that is predicted to end Roman.

I have already said that I disagree with all of Kitty’s decisions. She’s really bad at them. If this had ended up panning out, I guess the series would have ended here, so, yeah, things end up going badly, as they usually do for Kitty. All in all, the only outcome of this book was a few wacky friends and some insane ramblings. Maybe that’s good for Kitty? I don’t even know what to expect anymore.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Review: Twice Bitten

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

This installment in the pack is a bit of a departure from the larger storyline. Sure, everyone is still short staffed because of the hunt for the evil doctor, but it doesn’t actually play in directly to the events here. The book is a bit of Cinderella mixed with sleeping beauty if you are a fairytale lover.

Elspeth has been trapped under her mother’s thumb all her life. What started as a smothering mother has definitely taken a turn into an incredibly damaging relationship. When your mother can actually control what you do and think, there’s a danger there that she’ll go too far, and that’s exactly what Espeth’s mother does. Lucky for her, during a trip, she manages to sneak away and move out on her own. That all begins to crumble away when her mother and sisters show up for a surprise visit. Her friend and landlady would have probably given her the heads up, if she hadn’t been busy with her own surprise visit in the form of her grandson, Wyatt.

Wyatt met Elspeth four years ago, but she appears to not remember. He should’ve probably known something was wrong when she never showed up for their follow-up date, but all the searching in the world didn’t find her for him. Those crazy nanos, however, ensured that she would certainly be able to identify her life mate when she re-meets him! With all of the abuse that Elspeth takes from her mother, it was nice to see Wyatt and her form a real and true bond. While this book didn’t really progress the larger story, it did show the darker side of immortal families and what can happen. I wonder where this series will take us next!

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Review: Quinn

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

If you’re looking for a sexy, standalone (if you want) vampire read with all the bells and whistles – this is the book for you!

I picked up Quinn not really knowing what to expect. I’m 12 (or more) books into this world and now we are rapidly moving out of America and into other countries. Here, we join Quinn as he moves to Ireland with the plan to become the new vampire lord here. The current lord (who is in league with the bad vamps who are doing a really bad job at beating Raphael) is obviously corrupt and is doing a pretty poor job of taking care of the vampires who are sworn to him. Maybe it’s laziness, maybe it’s a character flaw, but either way, it looks like the remaining un-American-vampire-ruled-countries will probably show up on the radar like this. That being said, Quinn is not your typical “Raphael vampire.” We don’t have an extensive experience with him, he hasn’t been a prominent side character in previous books, and he doesn’t call up Raphael or his close buds a whole bunch in this book. It was kind of a relief to have such a change!

So, we already know the main story – Quinn’s battle to win Ireland – but what would these books be without the mates? They’re always spunky and awesome, and Eve is no different. Eve’s brother was killed by vampires in front of her, thus creating the slutty Buffy character she now is, roaming the streets killing the “bad” vampires in town. In Ireland, it appears, there are more bad vampires than good. Quinn, however, is looking to change that and it happens pretty quickly (just like his romance with Eve). These two combust quickly, despite her having a penchant for vampire slaying. The combination of Quinn’s aggressive vampire lord-ish-ness and Eve’s determined pluckiness reminded me back before Raphael and Cyn had all this baggage.

The book follows a similar format to the others but really had me guessing along the way. Maybe moving to other countries is a good thing and will keep things interesting? Either way, I wish there was more book, but at the same time I’m happy we have a HEA for Quinn and Eve. These books could go on forever and I would just keep reading…

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Review: The Anti-Cinderella

The Anti-Cinderella The Anti-Cinderella by Tawdra Kandle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading these books is like sitting down and watching the best, most addictive reality TV. They are filled with the gritty realness you love, but also tell a wonderful story, edited and beautifully orchestrated to leave you smiling by the end.

This story follows a passionate young woman as she confronts a lingering “what-if” in the most romantic way possible. Cara is in her final year of school, dedicated as ever to her sustainable cause, but essentially up in the air as to where she will end up for her future. Sure, her family owns a big company that will gladly welcome her into the fold upon graduation, but she seems a bit too unsettled to simply accept that. The necessary shake up happens when she gets set up by her grandparents in a spur of the moment dinner. Not out of the ordinary, Cara dutifully shows up dressed accordingly to discover her teenage crush was invited as well.

Nicky, said crush, also happens to be a member of the royal family. Oh, and he was her first kiss before disappearing into the wonderful world of non-stop T.V. coverage and royal family businesses. While these two should be destined to remain just good old friends, they somehow manage to beat the odds and dive into a relationship. This relationship had it all – sizzle, romance, and the inevitable rocky times that come with a life in the spotlight. Nobody said it would be easy!

These two were just wonderful to watch. They each discovered their faults, strengths, and loves together (and sometimes the hard way) and it was so… believable. A book about royalty seems to be the stuff of fairy tales but the author really created some very relatable characters here. As a side note – I even stayed in one of the hotels mentioned in the book and I was instantly transported back through the wonderful description included. These books easily grab me and don’t let go until they’re done. It’s that reason that I usually tear through them all in one sitting (ish). If you’re looking for a fun and unexpected romance, definitely pick this one up!

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Review: The Awakening: A Wolf Creek Falls Novel

The Awakening: A Wolf Creek Falls Novel The Awakening: A Wolf Creek Falls Novel by S.D. Vieau
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book took me all sorts of placing that I was not expecting! I figured this would be a tame little coming of age story about a witch but then it started getting dark and dirty (in a good way).

Cara is a girl who is trying to find her own way. Her past was locked away by magic (hiding her own magic, by consequence) and when she unlocks all this via her grandmother’s passing, all hell breaks loose. There’s good witches against bad witches, long lost loves in the form of wolf shifters, fated mates, and some down and dirty threesomes. All of this rolls together to form a paranormal love story unlike one I’ve read in recent history.

I admit to having some trouble getting started with this book. There is a world to be built and I guess I was a little anxious to get to the action (and so much action was to be had… in the bedroom… in the garden… etc.). Cara is pretty much on her own so there’s really just the main characters to worry about introducing, but you can see that this book could establish a town’s worth of books to grow into.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Review: Burn Bright

Burn Bright Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Charles and Anna. I would read just about any story that involves them, so another Alpha and Omega book was a pleasant surprise.

We join Charles as he fills in for the Marrok, who has suddenly decided to go on holiday after some usual Mercy drama. While that would not seem so very strange, it is oddly timed with a concerning call from one of the Marrok’s wildlings. The Marrok is known for taking on “strays” that cannot stand to live completely on their own. While the Marrok is gone, Charles must attempt to wrangle them as best as he can – luckily he’s also got Anna to help temper his brother wolf.

What may have simply been a case of the wildlings living up to their name is quickly discovered to be an act of magic and betrayal. With Anna and Charles stories there is always a mess of emotion, magic, and love. This combination kept me eagerly devouring the chapters and so very sad when it came to an end. I love every extended glimpse we get of their relationship, their life, and how well they work together. Bring on more Alpha & Omega books!

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