Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Review: Drakon Unchained

Drakon Unchained Drakon Unchained by N.J. Walters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow – this book series really surprised me by breaking the formula I this latest installment!

This book starts with characters outside the core family of drakons. After reading the previous books that matched up all of the brother drakons with their mates, I was kind of expecting this book to be more of the same. Color me surprised when we begin the story with Victoria Marshall, the assistant to a Knight of the Dragon who is on the hunt for a “replacement” drakon. Victoria’s connection to the drakons is surprising, too. She was friends with one until he was suddenly kidnapped. Victoria is able to know all this because her personal gift gives her glimpses of other peoples’ lives while she sleeps. These visions are what pushes her to take her current job, determined to find her long lost friend and rescue him from the unnamed Knight of the Dragon holding him captive.

Luther is another person with secrets. He has managed to hide by keeping his enemies close but can no longer keep his lineage a secret. He and Victoria end up with a lot more in common than they expect, and find themselves in a battle against attraction at the same time. Throw in drakons, evil madmen, and so many secrets and you’ve got an action packed story. We get the required HEA, but it was a blast getting there. Now I truly can’t imagine who they focus on next – maybe a friend or two? I want more of these books…

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Review: Demons in My Driveway

Demons in My Driveway Demons in My Driveway by R.L. Naquin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Update: I think I'm enjoying these books even more the second time around, especially since some of my gaps in backstory are now filled. I do miss the less worried Zoey of the first few, but it's nice to see things grow and develop.

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

If you’re looking for a zany and amazing group of misfit paranormals, look no further than this series! They have everything from closet monsters to gnomes and all the paranormals (or “Hidden”) in between. Zoey and her friends battle against Armageddon (and zombies) in this one, and it contains just the right balance of sarcastic humor and wit to make it a fabulous read.

Zoey is in a weird place when we start this book. She’s broken up with her reaper boyfriend and is still trying to figure out where she belongs. Surrounded by her unique group of “hidden” friends, she has no shortage of support system while she struggles through the trials and tribulations of being one of the last remaining Aegis…es… Aegi?...I have no idea what the plural of Aegis is. At any rate, this book is definitely jam packed with action and excitement. There’s monsters upon monsters coming at them from all angles. Also, there’s a bunch of personal drama that gets mashed in between battles.

All in all, if you’ve read the series before, or even if you’re willing to dive into a series already in progress, you’ll be smitten by this completely crazy and wacky group of unlikely allies. Their interactions are silly but full of feeling. This series never fails to entertain.

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Friday, August 24, 2018

Review: Darkest Heart

Darkest Heart Darkest Heart by Juliette Cross
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oops, I joined this series after it had already started without realizing it. That being said, I feel like I caught up quickly and didn’t miss too much in this dystopian angel/demon action romp.

This story takes place in a world where angels and demons are out in the open and warring with one another. Humans are largely cannon fodder and get caught in the middle of these large scale battles. Anya is a battle angel with a much softer heart than her fellow soldiers. Somewhere along the way, she found herself infected by a small amount evil demon mojo. If she doesn’t find and rescue Uriel, a kidnapped big wig in the angel brigade, she’ll eventually become enslaved to a demon.

Funny thing, to avoid getting enslaved by a demon, she finds herself making a deal with a very shady demon. Dom is a demon who has been essentially shunned by both sides. He’s been living his life with his own moral compass, which just so happens to put him at odds with almost everyone. These two have a sizzling attraction, but there are mountains of baggage holding them away from one another. Watching them get drawn closer and closer what great to watch while they battle their way through the bad guys. As an intro to the world (for me) this was engaging but darker than I typically read.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Review: Forbidden Claim

Forbidden Claim Forbidden Claim by R.L. Kenderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been gobbling up these stories one after another, but this one uses a bit of a time jump to further progress all the characters. I admit, I was saddened by the lack of Isabelle and Zane in the previous book, hoping to at least get a check in with them to see where they were. This book really focuses on them, so I’ve forgiven the lack.

Isabelle finds herself in a really horribly abusive relationship. Using her friends and her contacts with the wolves, she ultimately escapes, but is forced to make some pretty drastic decisions to cement her place with them. Zane, who has essentially been pining away for the mystery wolf who disappeared, jumps at the chance to finally claim her as his. The playboy, it appears, has finally met his match.

Aside from that main story, we get the standalone story of Tegan and Reid, and some updates with Hunter’s drama. These books are great quick reads that can probably be read as standalone but read great as a set (as I’ve been doing). I’m sad I’ll have to wait for more now that I’ve caught up.

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Review: Golem in My Glovebox

Golem in My Glovebox Golem in My Glovebox by R.L. Naquin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the culmination of the previous larger storyline involving the murder of the Hidden board members. It is also a bit of closure to the “where is my mother?” story, too.

We join Zoey as she continues to struggle with the work/life/Aegis work balance. Her BFF is holding down the fort at Zoey’s “real work,” while Maurice is essentially holding down the fort at Zoey’s Aegis work/home. Combined, though, Zoey still doesn’t seem to have enough “free time” to adequately address the rapidly declining state of hidden affairs. On top of all the usual craziness, it looks like the murderer has stepped up her super creepy game.

This book is filled with all the creepiest things. Really, everything that might give you nightmares. Oddly enough, it’s not the “monsters” that are the scary things in this book. The big story here is Zoey and Riley on the road trip from hell, working to re-assemble the hidden “cops” and save Zoey’s mom. The body count is climbing and I really don’t know how Zoey and Riley manage to muddle through on very little food, sleep, and quality time together (other than driving). Poor Zoey needs a genuine vacation after this book.

So, as I said, we finally get some closure in the larger stories. After some misdirection and really creepy things, Zoey collects even more friends and allies, and, most importantly, we see an end to the big bad story. Don’t worry, it is rapidly replaced with an even bigger bad that we get to chase down in the remaining books in this series. After the bummer ending of the last book, this ending was a much needed breath of fresh air.

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Review: Forbidden Addiction

Forbidden Addiction Forbidden Addiction by R.L. Kenderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While not as dark as the previous book, this still had some icky elements. If that bothers you, be forewarned. That being said, I’m hooked on this series and wouldn’t stop for anything!

This book is the much anticipated Phoenix/Dante story. Sure, we get some background characters either finding their HEA or heading towards some self-discovery (Lexine and Hunter, most notably). Basically we follow the slow progression of Phoenix from closed-off loner to a loving and open individual. Obviously, that path is not straightforward and has some setbacks, but these two work pretty well together.

Lexine’s story is probably the darkest one, having started in the previous book, she falls in with some bad people who are determined to make the shifter/vampire alliance fail. I’m not 100% sure what their bigger plan was, but it is escalating by the time Lexine starts to see them for who they are. After that there’s some sexual assault, some blood stuff, and just very yucky behavior. She manages to turn it around, with the help of an unexpected ally.

Hunter’s story is one of self-discovery, mostly because he is stunned and shocked to discover himself attracted to a man. While his story doesn’t have any good resolution, I’m sure we’ll come back around to him in later books. All in all, there were some dark clouds at the end of the book, but you still get a relatively satisfying ending for most of the characters. I’m eager to see where we go in the next book.

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Review: Brief Cases

Brief Cases Brief Cases by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This short story collection was exactly what I needed to remind myself why I love this universe. These were short, self-contained tales that each had their own unique flavor.

While all of them definitely had something different, my favorites were the Bigfoot stories and the last one in the collection. The Bigfoot stories are a set of three tales that take place at various points in the larger storyline. It was really interesting to watch how Harry handled this rather strange friendship he now has with a mythological being. We join Harry when he first meets his client (aka Bigfoot) in the woods, worried about his half-human son. The second story follows Harry as he ends up protecting Bigfoot’s son a second time. Lastly, Harry has to navigate young love and supernaturals while trying not to make Bigfoot too mad.

The last story of the collection takes place at the zoo. Harry finally gets to spend a whole day with his daughter, Maggie, and his dog, Mouse, and he’s determined not to let anything ruin it. Of course, Harry being Harry, things don’t go as planned. We get to watch this story play out from all three POVs and it was *the best*. I would re-read this one just to enjoy the insight we get into house Mouse operates. There’s magical mayhem, lots of “heart stupidity” and just oodles of love. Oh, and witty banter. So much witty banter!

At the end of this short story anthology, I wish there was a book I could immediately dive right into, but, alas, we still have to wait for the next full length Dresden installment. At least this was a fun taste of things to come.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Review: Forbidden Temptation

Forbidden Temptation Forbidden Temptation by R.L. Kenderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK, this might be the darkest of these books so far. While still firmly in the paranormal romance genre, there’s real abuse happening in this one.

We join Kenzie and Sawyer soon after they initiated their escape attempt. If you haven’t read the previous books, you will be way out of your depth here. So much has happened! Kenzie somehow ends up the leader of this escape after Sawyer gets drugged and knocked unconscious. Lucky for her, they are nearby her brother’s house and that seems as good a place as any to lay low for the time being. Things change pretty rapidly, though, when she suddenly finds herself with a friendly and open Sawyer who has no idea who he is, except that he’s her mate.

This “honeymoon” period was awesome. We finally get to see what Sawyer and Kenzie’s relationship would be without all the baggage. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and his personality cuts over quickly to his usual surly self. Oh, and he’s maybe even more jealous and controlling now. In the background, we also get to what Zane flail about without his reluctant mate, and Dante and Phoenix fight their attraction for one another. The set up for a big bad also added a note of darkness to an already dark story.

Ultimately, we do find our way to happy, but it is not really as clear cut as I’d have liked. Sawyer is really lucky that Kenzie has a high tolerance for jerks. It took some serious damage before he admitted that he was doing this to both of them. I’m almost a little let down that Kenzie ended up allowing him to control her life like he did. I found myself more eager to see the truly baggage driven relationship of Dante and Phoenix rather than the main characters.

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Review: Forbidden Heat

Forbidden Heat Forbidden Heat by R.L. Kenderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am rapidly devouring this series without any breaks. I’m sure you could start at this book if you wanted, but I think you get more enjoyment out of a series when you start from the beginning.

We join Payton and Damien soon after the events of the previous book. In the first book, a few storylines split and we were left with multiple couples in some form of peril. Payton was walking to her car when a group of men attempted to kidnap her. Damien, knowing that his father was planning this, moved to stop them and ended up speeding away with Payton, both of them injured. They both end up at Damien’s secret cabin, in the middle of nowhere. While this is a great idea for hiding from his evil dad, it ends up adding more drama when they have no way to either get out or each anyone to tell them Payton is OK. Using the last of his battery power, Damien ends up sending his BFF to tell the cat shifters that Payton is OK, starting another couple story between Zane and Isabelle.

Payton and Damien end up getting very involved. The stress of the situation, their natural attraction (even despite their different shifter nature), and then Payton’s surprise heat ends up throwing them from strangers into a very serious relationship. All while they are in their “love nest,” Kenzie and Sawyer are still trapped (having been successfully kidnapped), and some mystery evil cat shifter is still trying to plot against the alpha. Everything would end up in a simple HEA if Damian hadn’t hid the fact that he was the son of a crazy man. Even after the big reveal, these two lovebirds end up working things out in a pretty solid HEA. Of course, the other storylines are still all over the place. While I’m happy that Payton and Damien got their happy ending, I will eagerly continue to devour the other books in this series for some ultimate resolution.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Review: What Zoey Doesn't Know

What Zoey Doesn't Know What Zoey Doesn't Know by R.L. Naquin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is absolutely my favorite of the short stories so far! I am in love with Maurice and would eagerly devour even more stories from his perspective.

Ever wonder what Maurice does all day? Well this about sums up an average day in the life (I’d assume), complete with Pooka, bank robbery, cleaning, cooking, and saving lives. Maurice is my hero.

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Review: Forbidden Blood

Forbidden Blood Forbidden Blood by R.L. Kenderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was such a fabulous read! I’m sorry it got lost in the shuffle of changing kindles and ended up being a bunch late for reviewing, but was so glad I eventually read it!

This is the first of what should be an awesome set of books. We get introduced to Naya, a vampire princess who has been stifled by her parents’ overprotectiveness. In some subtle acts of rebellion, she spends a lot of time volunteering at a local animal shelter, hanging out with her BFF (and human), and clubbing when the occasion calls for it. She hasn’t really confronted the fact that she will eventually end up in a loveless arranged marriage for the “good of her people,” so doesn’t exactly know how to react when a man suddenly turns her head.

Vaughn has secrets of his own, but nothing that keeps him from falling head over heel in lust (at first) with Naya. They end up in her bed pretty quickly with super sexy results (and some forbidden blood taking). This book really had a great balance of smut-to-story that I liked. These two really lit of up the pages when they were together. Of course, Naya quickly learns that her life is not easy and doesn’t exactly allow for boyfriends. While juggling her familial expectations with her attraction to Vaughn, she finds herself sick… and that’s when all hell breaks loose.

Vaughn and Naya end up being forced into some increased level of honesty in order to confront their foes (in the form of family and adversaries). This world was wonderful to discover and I truly enjoyed this introduction. I enjoyed it so much that I ran out and bought the next book in the series just to see where all the new characters we met end up. The book just flew by and I wanted more! I will eagerly gobble up all future installments, I’m sure.

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Review: Fairies in My Fireplace

Fairies in My Fireplace Fairies in My Fireplace by R.L. Naquin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

UPDATE: I ended up coming back to this series and starting from the beginning. It is just as good, if not better the second time around. I still absolutely adore Zoey and while this ends on a bit of a bummer, it was still a great adventure. Diving right in for more!

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

This book was a really fabulous read. It was filled to the brim with amazing characters, witty dialogue, and interesting story. There was even a little bit of romance thrown in, just to make sure it hit everything I love about paranormal reads. I haven't read any of the other Monster Haven books, but it didn't slow me down in the slightest. If anything, this book made me want to read more about all the great characters to see how they ended up where they were in book 3!

Zoey is an Aegis, which in this book essentially means she is the defender and protector of all the "hidden" (aka paranormals). Her house is overrun with them, but she seems to take everything in stride. Rather than being the typical reactionary female character I've read in most other books, Zoey takes charge, doesn't fly off the handle, and refuses to let all the alpha males around her boss her around. The relationships in this book were what really kept me eagerly reading. Zoey's interactions with all the varied inhabitants of her house warmed my heart and kept the story feeling genuine (yes, I know, it's a paranormal read).

There are some darker themes and everything isn't just rainbows and unicorns (although there is one in this story). The overall plot centered around the kidnapping of other paranormals and how Zoey was trying to get them back from the big bad. Like I said previously, this book is really all about the characters. The author could be writing about them just having a dinner party, and I'd be hooked.

I'm so happy that I stumbled upon this book from NetGalley, because now I know to keep my eye out for new books by R.L. Naquin! If you are in the mood for a great read with some awesome writing, check this one out.

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Review: Past Imperfect

Past Imperfect Past Imperfect by Rowan Worth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was like 3 gigantic books rolled into one. Just when I thought we were wrapping things up with one larger story, we moved right into what I would call book 2 and book 3. It made for a longer reading experience and introduction to the world of these shifters.

Natalie is a chef working at rebuilding her life after a boyfriend cut down both her bank account and her self-worth. One night, her good nature gets her into a bunch of trouble. She discovers a seemingly stray and injured dog outside the restaurant and can’t stop herself from taking him home. This “dog” ends up being easily identified as a wolf and begins a whole mess of drama for poor Natalie. All of this starts to go a little sideways when the wolf ends up transforming into a man with amnesia who ends up becoming her love interest.

On top of this, there’s a bunch of thugs trying to get some mysterious cup out of Natalie’s boss. Coincidence? Maybe not? It’s a little unclear how all these moving parts aligned to make Natalie’s life spiral out of control. After one too many attempts on Natalie’s life and one random meeting on the street, she ends up quickly moving into the “pack house.” This pack is unlike anything I’ve read about before and that was a neat unique surprise. It’s a mix of wolves, shifters, and a really close family. Oh, and there’s magic. And some nefarious ex-girlfriends (maybe?). And cops, which are always trouble for supernaturals. And Natalie’s ex-boyfriend. And … did I mention there’s also a plot against the pack for some reason? And some mystery shopper woman? There are so many questions and very few answers to be found in this first of what will most likely be many installments.

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