Monday, July 30, 2018

Review: A Wolf Apart

A Wolf Apart A Wolf Apart by Maria Vale
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have not read the previous book in this series, but I think I managed to get what I needed from the introductory chapters. That being said, it would probably be better to start from the beginning (maybe?).

Elijah is a wolf shifter who has been designated as “Offland.” He runs their day-to-day business while managing his pack remotely. This is starting to wear a little thin on him and he feels like his sanity is slipping away as each moon passes. He’s been pretending to be human for too long and just about every interaction he has could be scripted. There’s no joy to his offland life and he has resorted to counting down the days between his return home.

His mindset shifts a bit when he finds himself facing a definite attraction. It’s been so long since he showed any interest in anything that the feeling is foreign to him. Thea is everything that he should not be attracted to – she’s gruff, solitary, and has no interest in black tie parties or networking. Somehow, though, she reminds him of what he’s missing. She becomes his surrogate “home.” There are some hiccups, lots of secrets, and the issue of trust, but through it all they manage to fight for a HEA. The pack dynamics are interesting and unique, with a Viking twist. This book was definitely a departure from my typical werewolf read.

View all my reviews

Review: Hidden Holidays

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

This adorable short story gives us another glimpse into the wacky world of Zoey. The story begins during the Christmas holiday, which is obviously celebrated very differently by each of the Hidden. On top of the normal holiday worries and stress, Zoey finds herself coming face-to-face with a real life Selkie.

Things end up getting resolved pretty quickly, thanks to Zoey’s vast network of supernatural friends. It was adorable, satisfying, and put me in a very festive mood overall. I like these little bite-sized stories to link the larger books together.

View all my reviews

Review: Pooka in My Pantry

Pooka in My Pantry Pooka in My Pantry by R.L. Naquin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book certainly moves this whole larger story along in leaps and bounds. Definitely the turning point in the series, I am simply dying to know what happens next.

We join Zoey as she tries to find her place in this world filled with “hidden.” She’s just using her instincts and her empathic gift to get by, still hiding her secret life from her BFF. That possible love interest from the end of the last book, Riley? Well he stood her up. I’m mad at him on her behalf, but that is really the least of her worries. Maurice is trying to get back together with his estranged wife so ends up taking some time away from Zoey’s house. This, unfortunately, leaves a vacancy that is immediately filled by an annoying Pooka (bad luck bringer).

When things appear to not be able to get worse, Riley’s return is accompanied by an auditor of sorts who will be tester her for her Aegis abilities and then deciding if she should have died. No pressure. Oh, and the leprechaun mafia is in town, shaking down humans with magical gifts for money and killing them in horrible bad luck scenarios if they refuse to pay. It’s through this high stress time that Zoey somehow unleashes some more of her mysterious powers.

There’s some information that gets uncovered about her mother’s disappearance, some more infrastructure revealed from the hidden world, love interests, pets in peril, and lots of secrets getting revealed. This book was definitely a turning point in the series, giving Zoey more power, more confidence, and a more definitive goal. She’s going to be the best Aegis ever!

View all my reviews

Review: Spellsmoke

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

Wow – this book has convinced me to root for Lincoln Marshall! I thought it was impossible after kind of hating him in the last book, but somehow I’m left at the end of this book wanting… more of Lincoln? It’s a strange feeling, but I’m 100% on board with this series now.

We join Lincoln following his turbulent entrance into the OPA limelight. He’s doing his own thing as a bounty hunter of sorts, rooming with the guys he hated last time, and once again confronted by the innocent awesomeness that is Sophie Keyes. She is thrust upon Lincoln after running from her own issues. Tasked with keeping her safe, Lincoln brings Sophie deep into Marshall family drama. Around the same time as Sophie showed up at his door, Lincoln also finds out that his father is dying. The money earmarked for finding Elise (and getting rid of his unseen companion) is quickly repurposed into a plane ticket back home.

Not surprisingly, Lincoln’s family goes really out of their way to make Sophie feel unwelcome in their home. Oh, and a jerky memory from Lincoln’s past is actually the sheriff and continues to be a jerk. There’s a bit of a mystery around some deaths in the same place the eldest Marshall is living out his final days, lots of werewolf posturing drama, racism, species-ism, and (of course) Sophie wandering into trouble. All of this combines in a really exciting and entertaining installment that (like I said) had me really in Team Lincoln.

This book ends in a sort-of cliffhanger, leaving me desperate for more. I know where things should end up, so I’m assuming there isn’t some magic HEA for Sophie and Lincoln, but it is definitely fun watching the pieces fall into place. These two are becoming a new pair of favorites in this universe. I continue to not like Abel… at all. Here’s hoping the next few books focus more on Sophie and less on the werewolves. Isn’t it weird that I ended up here? I started this universe with the werewolves and now I am desperate for a reprieve.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Review: Ill-Conceived Magic

Ill-Conceived Magic Ill-Conceived Magic by R.L. Naquin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a cute short story that fills the gap between the first and second books of the series. While not critical, it does give you a healthy dose of gargoyle with a loving splash of family drama.

Zoey ends up finding a kid. I know, I was scared, too. Will this persist? I’m not really a big kid story fan… Don’t worry – this is definitely a standalone that doesn’t necessarily tie in completely. We learn about inter-monster-racism, what Maurice has hidden inside himself, and begin to learn the gargoyle language along the way. Zoey is her usual adorably clueless self who somehow manages to muddle her way through. Maurice is still my favorite.

View all my reviews

Review: Monster in My Closet

Monster in My Closet Monster in My Closet by R.L. Naquin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Admittedly, I started this series almost at the end and then flagged it as “to-read” at a later date from the beginning. I was reminded of this at some point and now here I am! Enough time has passed that I don’t really remember where the series ends up, which makes the beginning that much better.

The main character, Zoey, finds her world turned upside-down when the closet monster of her nightmares needs a place to stay while going through a marital separation. This is only the tip of the iceberg as soon “monsters” of all sorts show up on her property asking for help. As a newly diagnosed empath, Zoey hardly ever says no, and these cases are no exception. Equipped with little to no knowledge of the “hidden,” she still manages to muddle through this rather crowded life until an incubus, drawn by her gifts, starts murdering women she meets.

As the co-owner of a bridal business, it’s kind of important that women around her not die. It’s also got something to do with Zoey’s unwavering morals that she thrusts herself in the line of fire to save those around her. I’ve absolutely fallen in love with her and Maurice (and even the questionable Riley) and can’t wait to see what antics they all get up to. Will Zoey mix her normal life with her monster one? Will I find out how you can get a closet monster housekeeper (they sound awesome!)? Will Zoey’s love life blossom in future installments? I love this universe already!

View all my reviews

Review: Twice Turned

Twice Turned Twice Turned by Heather McCorkle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story revolves around Ayra – a previously abused and battered member of a wealthy family of shifters with a historic lineage. They have in the past produced a line of reapers so they feel a bit too entitled for their own good. Ayra, now gifted with the power to know when a shifter has gone off the rails and killed people, is tasked with hunting those bad guys down and killing them. Along with that power comes some other wicked superhero abilities, like the power to channel lightning, suck other shifter energy, and be generally one tough cookie.

Ayra’s older brother is on a warpath that is forcing her hand. Sure, he’s a jerk, but he’s still family. Trying to figure out a way to track him down ends up putting her face-to-face with her magically disappearing BFF. Vidar went off to college and ended up becoming a monk of sorts. This type of monkhood, however, is secretly designed to create the perfect protector for the chosen reaper. Vidar is especially determined to be that man since he’s in love with Ayra.

These two dance around the issue and fight against all the odds to end up as a superhero crime fighting team. There’s lots of action, assassination attempts, other shifters, and even vampires along the way to a HEA. It feels like there is a lot more to these stories than I know yet and that has definitely given me a feeling of… incompleteness at the conclusion of this tale.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Review: The Book of Peril

The Book of Peril The Book of Peril by Melissa McShane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This world is so unique and engaging, I found it incredibly hard to put this book down. Even as the second book in this story, it kept me guessing every step of the way.

If you’re new to this world, you should really start from book 1 (but could probably muddle through from here). Helena is the newly appointed custodian of a bookstore that doubles as a sort of oracle. Opposing factions of the magical world come by to get their future read or to find answers to their troubles. It’s not free, and requires a certain gift to deliver, so Helena has been trying to find her way through this exciting new occupation. As if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, she’s also finding some strange irregularities to the prophecies given. Since there isn’t really a FAQ for the bookstore, she’s forced to detective answers out on her own.

To compound her drama, she’s also dealing with her forbidden feelings for Malcolm (the magical hottie), and trying to free her only qualified assistant from a nonsense charge. Oh, and there’s still a lot of bad guys that want to kill her. All of this pretty much sums up the life of Helena. Surprisingly, she manages to conquer just about every obstacle, whether by accident or not. I’m absolutely loving this world and cannot wait for more!

View all my reviews

Review: Wild Hunger

Wild Hunger Wild Hunger by Suzanne Wright
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books definitely keep me on my toes! Just when I think I have the “formula” down, they throw me a curve ball. The ending of this book kind of broke my head.

Frankie has been raised by her human uncle and grandparents since the unthinkable happened and her shifter father killed his human mate (her mother). One email from the Phoenix Pack later, however, and her entire world has tilted. Everything she has been told by her family is, apparently, a lie. The pack wanted to help her (her grandparents kept her away from them), she has living relatives with the pack (she was never told about them), and they are not the monsters she’s been led to believe.

The trigger for said email is the declining health of her father’s mother. Since she’s always been an outcast of sorts, she embraces the challenge of reconnecting with the pack (against her grandparents’ wishes). With it, comes the re-introduction to Trick. She apparently knew him growing gup but meeting him again comes with some unintended consequences. Trick immediately knows that she is his fated mate but also knows she is being thrown into the deep end all at once. Deciding to take their time, they are also navigating some pack politics, even more lies and deception, and Frankie’s repressed memories of her parents’ death.

While this couple certainly encounter some roadblocks to their happiness, they manage to get there by the end of the book. We are left with a very satisfying HEA and some resolution to the mystery throughout the book.

View all my reviews

Review: Being Alpha

Being Alpha Being Alpha by Aileen Erin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another installment in this universe and another too quickly read book! These books go by so very quickly, with the pacing making me think I just started reading. I could gobble up a dozen of these novels!

We join Tessa and Dastien, firmly in their honeymoon mode. Of course, the evil forces that ruin all things will not let them enjoy too much happiness and end up throwing them a curve ball. Thought the baddies were gone with Luciana? Think again! They are forced to get their allies back together and address the looming issue of the failing seven.

It was awesome to watch Tessa totally embrace her alpha-ness and leadership role (whether on purpose or just by nature). She and her band of misfits continues to grow and evolve in amazing ways. I absolutely cannot wait for the follow-ups for a bunch of these characters. The larger story, however, is a bit of a downer. The world is ending (again) and this time it’s from a super big bad demon dude. They’ve got to rally all their forces and work together (sometimes a bit difficult with all the old alphas).

There’s a little bit of something for everyone here. There’s romance (new and old), action (complete with life threatening consequences), and some fantasy (in the form of mythological species and, of course, the fae). Tessa somehow manages to get everyone on her team to execute a near-impossible feat. Where they go from here? I’m not sure, but I’m positive that there will be even more challenges in the future.

View all my reviews

Review: The Darkest Warrior

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

OK, I admit to having assumed that even after the way Gillian was left in the last book, there would still be some epic and romantic happy ending for Gillian and William. I get the backlash when this book came out, but from the start, you know it will be different than the other installments.

We begin this story with a whole new dimension/world/whatever. There is a different rate of time, there are different powers, and oracles essentially rule the fates of everyone (or people let them). Puck and his brother are determined to beat the prophecy indicating one will die, but those pesky demons end up messing up their plan. Puck is unwittingly infected with indifference, but is still determined to follow some simple rules. Those rules (or his new plan) end up involving bonding to Gillian to save her and get her away from William, then using her to get William to overthrow his brother’s evil rule.

Gillian has always been a sort of background character. Sure, there was this always simmering Gillian/William romance that was essentially assumed to come to fruition when she gets old enough to do such a thing. She’s a bit broken, but tough, and growing tougher by the day. We rejoin her before she gets “sick” on her birthday and get to see things from Gillian and Puck’s perspectives. Soon after this happens, I was firmly on Team Puck. William is pretty much the playboy jerk we always knew he was, but it is a pretty stark comparison when placed next to Puck.

Puck, though inhabited by indifference, is totally the fairytale prince Gillian deserves. Sure, they hit their bumps along the way, but the time difference between dimensions allows many many years to pass in a single book without being annoying and fast-forwardy. If you’re worried this will seem horrible and forced – don’t worry! This book ended up being a recent favorite of the series. It moves the larger story along, gets Gillian where she needs to be, and gives a super solid HEA.

View all my reviews

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Review: The Science of Pleasure

The Science of Pleasure The Science of Pleasure by Jacquelyn Frank
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve not read book 1 in this series, but since this is essentially a standalone short story, this was a good enough intro to the world as any.

Jenesis is a doctor who unwittingly helped to create a new breed of human. They’re indestructible and have elements of different types of animals. One thing they have in common - they were all tortured by an evil doctor who is currently MIA. While maybe not officially doing this for redemption, Jenesis takes a job in a lab run mostly by these new kinds of humans - morphates - and agrees to assist in research about their kind.

Kin is a leader of one such group of morphates. He was a cop before the unthinkable happened, but he knows he has to embrace what he’s become or it will eat him alive. He is, also, undeniably drawn to Jenesis. When he hired her to run his lab, he assumed she would be driven, but he never expected that they could get a relationship out of the deal. There’s some dirty, sexy times, some action, a little redemption, and a lot of paranormal wackiness that make this a really enjoyable quick read.

View all my reviews

Review: Wolf's Mate

Wolf's Mate Wolf's Mate by Katie Reus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve popped in and out of this series a few times and always enjoy myself no matter where the larger storylines are going. Each of these characters is so fun and engaging that I wish I had started from book 1 and devoured them all in order.

This short story begins with Erica. She’s on a year off to decide what to do with her life when she meets Hudson. They are both free spirits of a sort but suddenly find themselves wanting more. Hudson, in true overthinker fashion, tries the laid back approach to getting them to mate, letting her decide for herself and giving her time. Erica, assuming he would fight for what he wants immediately, takes his lack of effort as a rejection. They part ways, and that’s where we join Erica, now finding out she’s pregnant.

These two are absolutely adorable in their miscommunication and courting. The length of the book left me wanting even more, even though you get a smile worthy HEA for them. This world and the characters within are all fabulous!

View all my reviews

Review: The Howling

The Howling The Howling by Erin McCarthy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a very short story that throws us into a world where werewolves are real and not unlike those we’ve read about.

Liv is stuck in a relationship she never really wanted. Having been left suddenly and had all her money stolen by her ex-boyfriend, she stupidly accepts the offer of a relationship and housing from her ex’s brother. That should probably have been the first thing she should have fixed, but instead she doubled down and ended up somehow engaged to him. Why? We’re not really sure and the story is too short to really elaborate. Suffice it to say, Liv is a little bit broken still from the betrayal. Sebastian, said ex-boyfriend, ends up suddenly resurfacing in what Liv believes is a dream. Why else would she see him transforming from wolf to man? One thing leads to another, and, finally, Liv is forced to fight for her happiness.

As a short story, this did a good job of setting things up, but I wasn’t really in love with any of the characters. I tend to lean more towards strong female characters and Liv was decidedly not one. The elements of premonition and some more real life examples of being a werewolf in the current world were interesting, though.

View all my reviews

Review: Vampire's Faith

Vampire's Faith Vampire's Faith by Rebecca Zanetti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Admittedly, I only read one of the previous books in this series, but I don’t think it was that hard to dive in here. Sure, there is probably a boatload of baggage associated with all the characters we met (or re-met) in this installment, but this could easily be a standalone book that pushes a bigger story.

Faith is a doctor who uses her hidden gift to bring coma patients out of their comas. Sadly, this talent appears to work with everyone but her sister. On one of her many stops on her worldwide rounds, she finds herself in a creepy hospital looking at a gorgeous many who looks nothing like a coma patient. Trapped for years in a collapse of some sort, he should be banged up and wasting away, but its as if time stopped for him. Upon his sudden re-awakening, she finds herself thrown into a world where vampires exist and a war is brewing.

Ronan sacrificed himself to trap a big bad in an alternate dimension. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but, even knowing his awakening means his dimension has failed, he is very happy to be free and looking at his fated mate. Having dreamed of her for years, he knows her immediately. With Faith, however, that is not the case. She’s much more comfortable with facts and figures (and somehow explains away her magical gift). With just about everyone after them in one way or another, they are forced to work together and develop some level of trust.

These two have chemistry that lights up the pages! The sizzle is real and how they are able to resist it is beyond me. It takes some serious life and death situations to finally smash them together and force them to acknowledge their bond. I really enjoyed the side characters who we may or may not have known before and if future books give them a happy ending, I’m all in.

View all my reviews

Review: Iron and Magic

Iron and Magic Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow - this book completely threw me for a loop! Who knew that I had the ability to not hate Hugh, let alone begin to … like him? I’m a little conflicted about that fact, but it just goes to show you how well this book sucked me in.

If you are not familiar with Hugh, you should really go back and start at the beginning of the Kate Daniels saga. I promise you, it’s worth it. Assuming you have been along for the ride like I have, we join Hugh after he’s essentially been dumped by Roland. Since Roland was essentially his reason for living and breathing, he is in a bit of a tailspin. His remaining Iron Dogs end up finding him as he hits rock bottom and convincing him to help save his men. They are all in need of food, shelter, and some sort of motivation. To get this, Hugh must do a very selfless thing - marry and protect “the White Lady.”

The White Lady ends up being a woman by the name of Elara, who is… still kind of an unknown. She’s got devoted followers (much like Hugh) and has a lot of powerful magic, but she is under constant siege by people who used to be part of her community, her neighbors, and (newly) the leader of Roland’s vampires. She’s willing to follow her advisor’s recommendation and wed a man she doesn’t love, but she certainly is in no mindset to even care for him at all. This is all reinforced when they immediately find themselves sniping at one another.

It was pretty awesome to watch Hugh and Elara, who have so much in common, find endless ways to torture each other. It’s only by some miracle that they find some common way of working and, ultimately, a partnership that benefits them both. The stubborness is strong on both sides. In the end, I am completely on Team Hugh/Elara. I cannot wait for the next installment of the series and feel a little guilty for liking Hugh so much. At this point I’d feel really bad if Kate and him had to fight again.

View all my reviews

Review: Claimed in Shadows

Claimed in Shadows Claimed in Shadows by Lara Adrian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At this point, you kind of know what you are getting with these books. The mystery was somewhat easy to solve and the romance was filled with sizzle, but it was still really nice to dive back into a full length installment set in the Midnight Breed world.

Aric Chase is the son of a previously extremely important character. I guess he’s still important, but at this point, we are focusing more on the second generation of vampires in this world. Aric is cocky and determined to make a place for himself in the order. He’s also determined never to find a mate, which doesn’t work out so well for him. Kaya is probably just as stubborn and determined as Aric to make a name for herself with the order. Her motivations, however, are a little less clear from the beginning. She’s obviously hiding some pretty big secrets, but seems to have found her calling, even if she is just a human among vampires.

These two are obviously forced to work together and pretty obviously end up wanting each other. The surprise? Kaya’s secrets are pretty big. Oh, and there a mole, which everyone obviously believes is her. There’s not really some gigantic bigger plot movement in this book, but it was still an enjoyable read. This one can probably be read as a standalone for that fact, but you should always start from the beginning to get the true depth of this world.

View all my reviews

Friday, July 6, 2018

Review: Death Be Blue

Death Be Blue (Terra Vane #1)Death Be Blue by Katie Epstein
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This world had a little bit of everything. There’s a taste of dystopian future in that this world exists on the other side of a portal (off-Earth). There’s magic, in that lots of paranormals exist in the open and are ranked by species and power. Lastly there’s some romance, for those romance lovers (like myself).

Terra is a weird person in an even weirder world. She’s a human with powers of premonition that are not exactly under her control. She’s the only human to make it through the rigorous training required to become a field agent, chasing down the bad guys. Her partner also happens to be her boss’s brother, which probably gives her a little latitude with her attitude (which is plentiful). Oh, and she’s got a secret (possibly unrequited) love for her boss. All of this tumbles together to make for a very sarcastic and determined main character.

The main story here revolves around a drug Terra and Kaleb (said partner) find brining about a weird transformation in the usual bad guys. There’s signs that the government is trying to cover it up, everyone seems out to get them (more than usual) and Terra is definitely torn about how she should behave about her boss (a possible side issue). There’s action, magic, and mystery all rolled into a neat new world “Portiside.” While we see some resolution, this book is clearly the lead in to many more (hopefully).

View all my reviews

Review: Midnight Unleashed

Midnight Unleashed Midnight Unleashed by Lara Adrian
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This short story helps pair off the ornery character of Trygg with the mysteriously misunderstood character of Tamisia.

We met Tamisia during our adventure in the Atlantean colony. She’s been burned before by men so it makes sense that she finds her calling in a women’s shelter. It’s here that she also finds her quest for revenge (and a possible way to redeem herself?), when some men break in and kill one of their guests. Trygg’s own mission ends up intersecting with Tamisia’s and they become very reluctant allies.

These two were a little difficult to root for. While I vaguely remember Tamisia and Trygg on their own, they were a little too prickly for my taste. That being said, I still enjoyed the story and definitely want to devour all tales set in this world.

View all my reviews

Review: Hinder

Hinder Hinder by Kristin Ping
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a truly unique and wonderful world this book throws you into! It’s filled with magic, danger, and all the trappings of a teenage high school experience.

Ethan has lived a hard but rewarding life. He lost is mom at a young age, but has managed to keep his own life, even though he is one of the rare and often assassinated earth element benders. Without finding his “wielder,” however, he is left essentially powerless. He’s found ways to cope and has certainly gotten all the things a young teenage boy could want – prestige, a place on the football team, and a hot girlfriend. While he has to hide his supernatural side from the usual high schoolers, he is still able to shine (even sans power) around all this supernatural pals.

Alex, however, has had a bit of a stranger upbringing. She’s the one with the bigger target on her back, being the earth wielder. To protect her from those who may seek to kill her, she has been locked up in magical world for most of her childhood. Now that her mother agreed it is time to make herself known, she’s forced to wear a draining glamour that also makes her into the ugliest girl in school. Everything changes when she meets Ethan, though. Even in the disguise, there is a natural (and forbidden) draw between the two of them.

It wouldn’t be a good story if it was all that easy, right? Well there are bad guys and deception lurking in just about every corner. Just when things start to settle down, kind of, they get turned on their head. Without spoiling all the twists and turns of the story, let’s just say it gets magically crazy and you’re not sure who to trust. There’s even a big disaster or two. In the end we are left at a bit of a crossroads. Where will these two star-crossed lovers end up next? Are things completely bonkers in the world of the magically inclined? Probably!

View all my reviews