Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Review: I See You

I See You I See You by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are great, and it’s really nice to flip back and forth between the Oracle books and the Dowser ones. Just when I reach my threshold with one, we get the other, and vice-versa. We join Rochelle after she’s spent some time without her visions, but all good things must come to an end.

Rochelle is developing (or re-developing) powers of all sorts from magic tattoos to ominous visions. She is finally stepping into her full power, unfortunately it’s with some ugly visions about someone Beau knows. In this story we get a more in depth view of Beau’s troubled past, complete with all the horrible things you could imagine. While Rochelle’s motivations are good and genuine, I was ultimately rooting for the foretold death by about halfway through the book. Some people are just determined to be mean and awful.

One bonus in this story was Kandy (and I guess Blackwell?). Kandy’s just as snarky and awesome as she tries to navigate Rochelle’s insane world. I think Rochelle and Beau could use more of that in their otherwise wonderful relationship, so it was a welcome addition. This trio was fun to watch, but I did miss the cupcakes. I will continue to read anything from this world, no matter how much I end up rooting for people to die. Something about the wonderful construction of these “bad guys” (in the non-traditional sense) makes me wildly angry. Cupcakes help.

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Review: Taming Her Mate

Taming Her Mate Taming Her Mate by Kathy Lyons
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Somewhere along the lines I missed one of these books, but I think you can catch up relatively quickly, even if you’ve read none of the previous books. They are set in an alm0st-post-apocalyptic city, where a “poison” in the water is making people with latent shifter abilities turn into monsters.

We join Detective Ryan, the only shifter on the force, as he tries to track down the source of the contamination. While hot on the trail of a suspect, he ends up finding some goons transporting the “goo” and winds up shot. Francesca Wolf, one of his longtime admirers, ends up stepping in to secret him away. As the daughter of the pack responsible for the poison, she’s been trying to subvert the pack’s plans while winning support for her claim to the alpha spot. Things are obviously not going well, since she’s now in hiding from her brother with a bear shifter who wants to be her mate.

Things in the city are at inferno levels of tension, only made worse by the political positioning happening in the wolf pack. Bears, wolves, and humans are all fighting invisible enemies both within and without their structures and that leads to some pretty frustrating situations. Oh, and there’s some fated mate romance thrown in just to make Francesca’s life even more complicated. This confusing jumble of personalities somehow finds a HEA in all this mess. These books might be a little grittier than romantic, but are still interestingly different than your usual paranormal read.

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Monday, May 20, 2019

Review: Enchantress Under Pressure

Enchantress Under Pressure Enchantress Under Pressure by A.C. Spahn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really love this world. All the magical strangeness only makes it more compelling for me. While you can probably start your entrance to the series here, book 1 was amazing, so you should really start from the beginning.

Adrienne has made a deal with the devil, the leader of the Void Union, to keep everyone around her safe. It has the side benefit of giving her access to some sweet medical treatment, and a bunch of commandos ready to protect her (begrudgingly). She’s still shaping magic around her but things are starting to get… weird. She and her friends are sent out almost nightly to put down what used to be randomly occurring ghosts. It seems like a minor nuisance until she spots someone from her past.

Things escalate quickly from there. Adrienne is forced to make some tough choices, most notably focused on whether she wants to run or fight. With her newly formed relationship and her supportive friends and apprentice, this is no longer a simple decision. There is a mess of mistakes, guilt, determination, and love all rolled in to a tough place for Adrienne. Oh, and maybe the end of the world? Is that enough pressure? I couldn’t put this book down, and am completely invested in Adrienne now. This is a wonderful world to lose yourself in, even if there are some tough outcomes to handle.

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Review: Maps, Artifacts, and other Arcane Magic

Maps, Artifacts, and other Arcane Magic Maps, Artifacts, and other Arcane Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gah – this book was infinitely frustrating. I spent most of my time wanting to wring Jade’s neck or her enemy’s neck. Either way, I am left feeling like there should have been way more death than there ultimately was. Sadly, also, there was a distinct lack of werewolves in this one.

So, we join Jade as she navigates life sort-of dating a dragon. Yes, there’s still cupcake and chocolate descriptions enough to make you ravenous. Yes, we are still on the hunt for the instruments of assassination. Yes, Jade still has her entourage. So what was this book about? She’s been tasked with finding all three of these mystical killing weapons, so we are on to number 2. Also, remember that crazy girl from the previous book? She gets way worse in this one. I am left wanting to throw things at how bad it gets.

Seems pretty straightforward for a book, right? Well, there is a lot of drama, travel, anger, horrible angry koala girls, and stupid dragons in Jade’s way. I’m actually pretty glad to take a break from Jade in the next book and visit with Rochelle. While I enjoy the bakery and all things chocolate related, I am getting a little tired of everything going wrong for Jade.

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Friday, May 17, 2019

Review: The Savior

The Savior The Savior by J.R. Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I gotta say, it was nice to take a break from the core characters of the BDB. This is so far removed from the larger relationship drama that I honestly think you could probably dive in here and join the series with Murhder’s story. Yes, the names are ridiculous.

This story picks up with the only member to ever get kicked out of the BDB. To reinforce the name of this book, he “took one for the team” by not explaining his motivations and simultaneously covering for his ex. The result is him getting kicked out and essentially exiled. Lots has changed since last he was in this world, but he has started to rebuild him mind after it was supernaturally destroyed. He has also maintained his objective – save the woman who mysteriously showed up in a piece of sacred glass. It’s this woman who finally forces Murhder to rejoin society, if only for help tracking her down.

Alongside this story is Sarah’s tale of lost love and evil research labs. In one such lab, unbeknownst to her, they were experimenting on what turns out to be the son of Murhder’s mystery woman. Here’s where they cross paths, and you can obviously predict these two will end up together. As the required additional story, we get some movement on the larger shadow story, including some bad injuries along the way. That is still shaping up to be the next big bad, but the focus was mostly on the Sarah/Murhder (and some others) story. If you’ve been previously burnt out on the BDB, I invite you to come back for a bit of fresh air. Sure, the romance is relatively predictable, but the characters were a little more developed and separate from our regulars for once.

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Review: Knave of Blades

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

In this topsy turvy world that the author has created, I often have times keeping the timeline and characters straight. That being said, you can definitely dive in wherever, because my previous experience with the world, while beneficial for recognizing names, is totally not helping me predict any outcomes.

We join Leander, now a sidhe post-Genesis, who is one of the higher-ups in an anti-court “True Kingdom” group. It seems very glamorous, being the rebel fighters of this story, but early on we watch their co-leader try to kill some kids – instant side shift! Now firmly on the side of the courts, or at least people who don’t kill kids, we meet Allene, a scavenger mundane just trying to survive. While checking out the wreckage of the kid-killing mobile, after watching the True Kingdom big bad drag off a court knight, Allene discovers a tarot card. If you’re familiar with this world, you know these are bad (kind-of) news, or at least signal some big trials.

A lot happens pretty quickly – there’s transformation, lots of dirty, smutty goodness, and a mix of betrayal and rejection. Roll all that together, and you’ve got an epic showdown with sexy results! We don’t get a really neat, nice HEA at the end here, either. Beware – there are cliffhangers! I can’t wait to see where this goes next!

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Review: The Wild Heart of Stevie Nicks

The Wild Heart of Stevie Nicks The Wild Heart of Stevie Nicks by Rob Sheffield
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m not sure what I was expecting from this audiobook, but this was not it. I knew next to nothing about Stevie Nicks other than what I assumed by watching the Fleetwood Mac reunion show and some of American Horror Story. That being said, I now can say that I know a lot more about her, but most of it was a bit redundant. We start with her after she is already set on her path to becoming a rock star. We don’t get much information about her early life, except in anecdotes.

So, why am I “meh” about this one? I’m probably spoiled, having listened to audiobooks read by the person they are about, or by really engaging narrators. This was like listening to a book report on Stevie Nicks, done by a super fan. Sure, I love her music, too, but this was a bit over the top. If you’re looking for a cheap/free overview of Stevie Nicks, this is worth the time invested. I guess I was just hoping for more of a story, rather than a report.

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Thursday, May 9, 2019

Review: Death by Didgeridoo

Death by Didgeridoo Death by Didgeridoo by Barbara Venkataraman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an adorable, short, quick read. I don’t even think you need to be a fan of mysteries to fully enjoy it. The characters are fun and engaging, the mystery was mysterious enough to keep me guessing, and I’m hooked enough to go right into the next book.

We join Jamie, a lawyer who has recently suffered a tragic loss. Somewhere along the way, she got lost in her own pain and ended up drawing away from almost everyone in her life. Through a tragic event, she ends up being forced to put on her lawyer clothes again and step up to help her special needs cousin. Upon arriving at his music lesson, he discovers his music teacher murdered. This doesn’t stop the cops from charging him, though. Enter super lawyer – Jamie.

She’s thrown back into the game and reaches out to all her old contacts/friends/acquaintances, all to save her cousin. I loved everyone and how they all rallied around her to help wherever they could. If this is where this series starts, I cannot wait to see where we go next!

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Thursday, May 2, 2019

Review: Shadows, Maps, and Other Ancient Magic

Shadows, Maps, and Other Ancient Magic Shadows, Maps, and Other Ancient Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jade, Jade, Jade – you are both enjoyable and infuriating! After Rochelle’s story, I wanted to see who all those visions played out and was on the edge of my seat all the way through!

We join Jade, post-snap (ugh, sorry, I just couldn’t resist, I’m horrible and I hated her sister). She is still holding a super huge grudge against Desmond, but have no fear! Pretty early on in this book, we get a yummy replacement in the form of a dragon, previously stuck in time. That makes our gang of good guys for this book: Kandy, Jade, and Warner (the new guy). We only get a brief visit from Kett that left me missing him for most of this book. There is also, aside from the beginning, an extreme lack of baking throughout. While my waistline appreciates it, it was definitely missed. So, all of that aside, the overall story is one of treasure hunting. We knew that Jade was practicing (although she probably wouldn’t call it that), so it makes sense that it would ramp up into a bigger quest-like situation.

The treasure they are hunting is something mysterious, assigned to Jade with very little detail, and puts everyone’s life in danger. Oh, and did I mention there are shadow demon leech things involved, too? Ugh. Kandy is determined to help Jade, even when Jade’s plans are pretty awful. I’m not sure if you would enjoy this book more or less if you read the Oracle book before this one. Knowing the scenes we will encounter without context made for a lot of nail-biting moments. That being said, going in blind is probably a different type of nerve inducing scene.

Each book gives us more insight into the dragons, their world, and their powers, but I admit to being somewhat baffled at the end of this book. The assignments they give Jade just seem… horrible and dangerous. I know that she is unique and talented but I wish she had a bigger support system she could lean on. Will we get Desmond back? I don’t like Warner as a replacement… Will we see Kett again? I miss him a lot, too. Thankfully, nothing happened in this book to make me quit future installments, but it was close!

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Review: The Rookie

The Rookie The Rookie by Abigail Owen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book 2 in this world and I’m already hooked! You can probably dive right in here, but, as always, I recommend starting from the previous one.

We join back up with this team of firefighting dragons (weird, right? Yet it totally makes sense). They are still determined to keeping humans unaware, keeping everyone safe from rogue dragons, and continuing to work as a tight-knit team. Aiden, the rookie, is eagerly proving himself on the team. He comes from a different background, and probably wouldn’t have gotten this far without the help from some truly phenomenal people.

In the previous story, we met a winery owner, her kid, and the woman who became the first dragon mate with some weirdness going on in her markings (or lack thereof). This time around, we’ve had some time between books, and Aiden is still just as smitten with the winery owner, Sera. They’ve been sharing steamy dreams for a while, but neither acknowledges that they might be something bigger than fantasy.

There is, of course, a twist. The shadowy feeling around the whole mating process was called into question previously, but this time it is very much in your face. Sera and Aiden have even more drama thrown at them when someone forces her dragon sign, almost kills her and her kid, and makes everyone go on the run. There’s a bunch of action, betrayal, and mystery rolled up in this paranormal romance. There’s a happy ending, but everyone has to trust their instincts to get there unscathed.

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Review: Ignite

Ignite Ignite by Donna Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book continues the story of the dragon kings. If this is your first journey into this world – welcome! I think it may be a little difficult to catch up, but don’t doubt that it can be done. There is so much build-up to where we are now, but things are always changing along the way.

This story centers around V. Sure, there is a bunch of side story around Rhi’s building/upcoming war (and ex-boyfriends) and there’s always the bigger storyline making progress, but this was all about doing right by V. Poor guy, he has this nasty habit of causing mass destruction when he wakes from his slumber, so he may be the most out of touch dragon king of the bunch. This time around, as we learned in the last book, he finally found his missing sword and is somewhat whole again. Weird, though, that he still feels like he is missing something. It becomes pretty clear after a few pages of interaction between him and Claire. Maybe interaction is too strong a word as they were almost dancing around one another.

Claire is a woman who just cannot seem to meet the right man. Maybe she’s self-sabotaging at this point, because who could get into a relationship where you could never reveal a secret you’ve kept for years. Claire remembers her time being kidnapped and introduced to the magical world of dragons, evil, and other assorted monsters. She doesn’t hold a grudge, but she actively lied to avoid getting her memory removed. She knows V is more than he appears, but that doesn’t stop her from falling head over heels for the guy. It’s definitely not one-sided and these two ignite (see what I did there?) the pages of my kindle. There was an interesting and possibly heart breaking twist thrown in that I can’t wait to see play out in later books. Bring on more of these awesome dragon kings!

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