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.

View all my reviews

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).

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews

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!

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews

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.

View all my reviews