Saturday, February 23, 2019

Review: Moonsworn

Moonsworn Moonsworn by Amber Renard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was totally unexpected. This had a lot of elements all together, which produced a completely surprising read.

Kel is an independent, tough as nails, heir-to-be of a neighboring pack. She's traveling incognito, with the reluctant blessing of the local pack, who has been told she can't be a mate. Acting as a local vet, as well as supernatural doctor to shifters, vampires, fae, and anything else that goes bump in the night, she is suddenly dragged into a whole mess of drama when the local heir brings a wounded shifter to her door.

Tavis, the heir of a relatively troubled pack, has no choice but to wander into Kel's life when hunters ramp up their actions against the supernatural community. There are a lot of twists and turns along the way, but ultimately Kel and Tavis end up needing each other to survive this tumultuous time. OK, the mystery wasn't exactly too hard to solve, but who cares? This book was so addictive that I couldn't put it down! This story is definitely standalone (no cliffhanger) but it is definitely the introduction to this new world. I'm sold! Give me more books, please!

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Review: Prisoner of Night

Prisoner of Night Prisoner of Night by J.R. Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm so confused as to why this is a Black Dagger Brotherhood book at all. I get that these are the BDB type of vampires in that world, but...c'mon, at least give us a cameo if this is at all related. This may as well have been any other book series for all the connections there are. We haven't met this girl before, we haven't met this guy before, and there wasn't even any Shadow crossover (which would have been possible!). All of that aside, it was a good read, forcibly jammed into this existing universe.

We start with Duran, who has a sole reason for living - to kill his father to avenge his mother. While in the final planning phase, he ends up getting dragged from his cult-life to become prisoner of warlord. Fast forward about 20 years and we see Ahmare dragged into this world as well. She's determined to pay her brother's ransom, but it seems there will always be one more thing. This latest task comes with a "weapon" in the form of Duran.

These two become reluctant allies along the way, and, of course, there is a lot of romance along the way. By the end of this short read we end up resolving Duran's revenge storyline, Ahmare's storyline, getting a bonus story of a Shadow, and seeing an overall HEA. I think anyone could read this book, since there is no reason needed to be familiar with the larger world that this supposedly takes place in.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Review: The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels

The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels by Michael D. Watkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book as part of a future leaders program. That being said, I was pretty thoroughly sucked in immediately. There are a lot of different scenarios that can apply to a lot of different people in transition. Some quotable moments really stuck with me, so I'm sure just about anyone can find something in here that resonates. If you are in transition, this can absolutely assist.

A little side note, I did this via audiobook. Usually the transition between book and audiobook is easy, but there were a lot of tables and figures that were left out. Based on that, I had to also pay for the paper book (after listening to the audiobook). I really think that these things should have been included as a PDF or something. Minor annoyance.

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Review: Gathering Storm

Gathering Storm Gathering Storm by Victoria Danann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am so conflicted about this one. Is it my favorite? Or is it my least favorite? There are parts that I really loved, but then out of nowhere it would turn dark. I guess it's just too much of a mixed bag to decide, so I'll go with the higher rating here.

The story starts as normally as they all do, except for a freak accident that lands Storm in another dimension with no way home. Litha is obviously pissed at her demon father, who was transporting her husband at the time. Everyone offers to help search, but at the same time, there is the little matter of Storm's daughter. She's aging rapidly and is turning out to be just as exceptional as they expected.

This wouldn't be a Knights of the Black Swan book without another storyline and this one is a resurrection of one I thought we abandoned. Remember when soldiers from another dimension were trying to kill Elora? Well, they apparently still want to do that. They have gone to extremes to find "volunteers" that can make the trip and actually make a good attempt at killing Elora. While all of this is happening, for some reason that I don't quite understand, the knights are training an accidental replacement Storm to pretend to be Storm. Again, not really sure why, especially given his rather dark introduction. At the end of all this craziness, we do get a pretty good HEA with quite a few loose ends tied up (remember Kay? and Z team?). I'm still pretty conflicted, but the ending left me satisfied.

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Review: Legacies of Love: Six Seductive Stories to Steal Your Heart

Legacies of Love: Six Seductive Stories to Steal Your Heart Legacies of Love: Six Seductive Stories to Steal Your Heart by Tawdra Kandle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This review is only for Tawdra Kandle's story in this anthology

I've read most of the Crystal Cove stories, but this story can certainly be enjoyed on its own. While you will miss the history of these characters, we focus on two new friends and their love affair.

This story was a complete love story from start to finish. We join this couple of longtime friends and new lovers at the morning after. She may be eager to run away but he is 100% all-in. To prove his point, he runs across the country to show her what true romance looks like. There's a lot to overcome, but these two are definitely stubborn enough to stick it out! This was a fabulous standalone story that had me rooting for them the entire way.

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Review: It Was Always You: A Thrill of the Heart Anthology

It Was Always You: A Thrill of the Heart Anthology It Was Always You: A Thrill of the Heart Anthology by L.E. Perez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This review is only for the Tawdra Kandle story in this collection.

While you'll undoubtedly enjoy this short read if you've read the Anti-Cinderella story before now, you can probably still enjoy this yummy little gem either way. This is a quick start to an unlikely romance. It starts with a former journalist turned handler for a soon-to-be royal. She's still proving herself amongst the other members of staff, but is finding it particularly hard to be professional around a very aggressive american journalist. Said american journalist might, however, end up being just what she wasn't looking for. This was not an all inclusive HEA romance story, but is instead a really hopeful start. I loved this one!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Review: Jaguar's Mate

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

This quick read is part of a larger series but can absolutely be read as a standalone novella. I’m not 100% sure I remember who anyone is most of the time, especially when there are a lot of side characters flying around in these worlds, and I didn’t lose anything from this book.

Sapphire has some baggage. Having dated a few people who, upon breaking up, immediately found their mates has left her with a bit of a complex. A byproduct of this is her determination to avoid long term relationships. Eli, unfortunately, has unfortunately had to suffer for Sapphire’s misgivings. After spending some time together that he thought was heading somewhere, she snuck out in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. She even used a fake name! After finally tracking her down, he is determined to make her acknowledge the fact that they are mates.

Sapphire has a bigger issue going on other than her love life, though. Her friend has a kid who has stumbled into an abusive relationship. After a lot of discussion and finally discovering she’s pregnant, they’re ready to make a break for it. Sapphire, being the tough chick and awesome friend that she is, offers to help them escape their pack. On her way out the door, imagine her surprise when she is saddled with a partner – Eli.

These two are great fun to watch as their relationship grew. I completely enjoy a self-contained short story that has a little bit of everything. There’s action, romance, adventure, and a HEA. If any of those thing interest you, why are you waiting? Pick this novella up today!

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Review: Dark Alpha's Awakening

Dark Alpha's Awakening Dark Alpha's Awakening by Donna Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Admittedly, I have popped in and out of this and the related dragon series, leaving some gaps in my history with the Reapers. This book delivers a story that appears to have been a long time coming – Death.

Death has been leading the Reapers for quite a long time. Her past is a bit of a mystery, even to herself, but she has managed to build a sort of family along the way. With Bran slowly stealing her power, the time is ticking away for her to engage her Reapers and face her hidden demons. We learn a lot of information about how Death came to form her Reapers, how each of the allies out there are progressing in their own individual wars, and where the key players are.

The other large storyline shows the softer side of Death, as she and her lifelong secret love finally address their feelings. What should have been a no-brainer ends up being the best weapon Death has in her arsenal. Have no fear – the battle actually finally happens in this book and it is very satisfying. Even though it was sad to see this storyline end, it was a well-deserved HEA.

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Review: Hunted

Hunted Hunted by Rebecca Zanetti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After a lot of buildup for the mysterious mate to Connlan Kayrs, I was very excited we would finally address this missing witch. This new voyage into the world of the witches definitely delivered a new twist on this awesome world.

Moira stepped up to help the vampires save one of their pregnant mates, but she is still firmly convinced that she is not ready to be a mate to Conn (and might not ever be). Conn takes the decision out of her hands when he forces his way into her life. She may fight and complain, but these two are awesome together. They are both probably just as tough as one another, though they are determined to protect each other just as much. Moira, being the seventh, is used to fighting fate, so this is not a change for her. Maybe she’s just fighting fate out of habit at this point. After Conn becomes aware of witches disappearing and Moira being targeted, there is absolutely nothing she can do to get rid of him.

Nothing manages to break these two up, including kidnapping, teleportation, attacks, threats, and evil witches. Throughout it all, there are fun experiences involving mysteries and the ever present disease. Oh – and my favorite little girl! I’m completely obsessed with this world, so I’ll continue to plow through these books in rapid succession. I can’t wait to see where everyone who is still unmated ends up!

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Review: Claimed

Claimed Claimed by Rebecca Zanetti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I dove right into this book immediately following book 1 – how could you not? We had left Emma having just been kidnapped and on her way to mate with a Kurjan! Not to fear, though, we get resolution rather quickly and the rest is all the Emma/Dage show.

Emma is everything I think I wanted from Cara. She’s independent, smart, determined, and protective. Sure, she makes some stupid decisions (don’t we all?), but ultimately she’s motivated by a drive to protect… just about everyone. Dage is the king of the realm, so protection feels like it should be his job. Emma challenges him in a million different ways, and I’m sure he wouldn’t have it any different.

In this book we also get a closer look at the prophets and their role in the realm. There is the introduction of even more characters and I can’t wait to see each and every one of them find their mate. It’s clear that we are steadily building to one of the Kayrs brothers going after his witch in the next book. So, where does this book take us (other than to sexy town with Emma and Dage)? This book was really about this evil virus. It has infected more people and it growing in strength. Through research and determination, they manage to slow it but it’s clearly the big bad (other than the Kurjans).

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Review: Tempted

Tempted Tempted by Rebecca Zanetti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a little obsessive when it comes to reading books in order, so right after finishing Book 2 in the series, I dove into this novella. I don’t really think you need to be as insane as that – this short story can probably be read almost anywhere in the series, as long as you are aware of the virus and the adorable little girl.

We met Max earlier in the series when he was displaying his really horrible luck at cards. His unlikely pairing as a bodyguard to the little girl only makes him that much more loveable. I was so happy to watch him get his little HEA here. As a diversion from his day-to-day babysitting duties, Max was sent to retrieve a gifted woman on the run from the “bad vampires.” She was unfortunately thrown into their world when she witnessed a horrible murder. Even more horrible, her half-brother ended up having her sent to a mental institution and is now threatening to take her company away by declaring her unfit.

Sarah was a teacher until all this craziness happened. Now she is cursing her ability to read the history of items by touching them, which ultimately ended her in this mess of being hunted. Max is an unexpected bright spot in her new world, instantly showing her what she may be able to have after all. Who knew she would find love will on the run from murderous vampires? These two are *great* and I was sad this was only a short story. I could’ve read more of the Max/Sarah show and would especially like to see how his little friend feels about Sarah.

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Friday, February 1, 2019

Review: Hell's Hinges

Hell's Hinges Hell's Hinges by S.M. Reine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

These books are insane! Just when you think you may have a handle on the timeline and storyline in this world, there's another book to throw everything up in the air again.

We left Sophie and Lincoln in kind of a bind. Full disclaimer, if you haven't read any of the previous books - what are you doing? You definitely need to start at the beginning. It's been a while since I read the original books, so I'm sure I missed a ton of references to the original timeline, but it was mostly a separate tale. You should at least know where things end up with James and Elise, because the framework of that is critical to appreciate the changes created here. So, as I said, we start with Sophie and Lincoln along with the Traveler.

The Traveler has kidnapped Sophie to make her pay for something that we are not entirely sure of. That quickly gets explained when they manage to go back in time, back to the same timeline where Elise and James are semi-retired and dance studio owners. Sophie is thrown back into her teenage life, secluded and protected. Lincoln gets thrown into his younger body, complete with an even more flawed decision-making brain than usual Lincoln. Sigh.

So what happens here? Well, they certainly screw up the timeline. Instead of trying to avoid big changes, they make *all* the changes. Sophie ends up escaping her farm, Lincoln crosses paths with Elise and all hell breaks out (or heaven?). Either way, there's a lot of killing, death, magic, and so, so many changes to the timeline that I am so very invested in. I still despise the Lincoln/Elise relationship and will forever be rooting for the Elise/James broken love story. That aside, this story had all the action and adventure that you would expect from this world. Obviously there are a lot of things left undone at the end of this book because there are more in the series, but it wasn't a "smash your kindle" type of cliffhanger. I'm definitely interested in where we go next here, and if we ever get the original timeline back.

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