Saturday, June 29, 2019

Review: Even Tree Nymphs Get the Blues

Even Tree Nymphs Get the Blues Even Tree Nymphs Get the Blues by Molly Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm new to Molly Harper, but have a few of her books in my "to-read" pile, based on friend recommendations. I should have known I would enjoy her writing style but it actually took it showing up as included for audible before I took the plunge. Oops, didn't realize this was part of a series already in progress, but, eh, you can probably dive in wherever with these types of books. I'm sure I'll swing back around and check out book 1 & 2 later on.

This book joins a Tree Nymph, Ingrid, as she starts out on her business venture - making ice cream for people. Her passion was discovered when she was deep in a state of depression and it only makes sense that she would help others by making some of the most delicious ice cream that this secluded paranormal town has ever seen. It's quickly apparent soon after arriving that her solitary life is at an end. No matter how much she tries to push people away, they just keep showing up and trying to be her friend.

Then there is Rob Aspern. He is immediately smitten by Ingrid. These two suffer from the usual paranormal misunderstandings, but no matter how awkward and strange they are, they find a way to be adorable. This story was filled to the brim with quirky and funny goings on that left me determined to add the rest of these books (and Molly Harper's other serieses) to my wishlist, ensuring they will get on my iphone shortly, for even more wit-filled enjoyment. I can't believe it took me this long to read one of her books and I highly recommend her to anyone else who loves paranormal romance like I do.

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Review: Drakon's Knight

Drakon's Knight Drakon's Knight by N.J. Walters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When all the original brothers ended up matched up with their mates, I sadly thought that was the last I would see of this wonderful world. Lucky for us - there are more drakons out there! I mean, it's bad for them, because it means that they haven't yet met their brothers and realized how awesome they all are, but we'll get there.

Jericho is a member of his own little family. Grouped together in a company, which just happens to be a group of mercenaries for hire, he's made his own way in this world. They're bikers, they're tough, and they have a mission that they are all too happy to complete - kill the leader of the Knights of the Dragon. We've been watching this overall story unfold by seeing the political scrambling happening with the Knights. All their plans go up in smoke (haha, get it? They're drakons) when Jericho immediately recognizes Karina (leader of the Knights) as his mate.

Karina has more going on than we knew. I think we can all agree that she should have been killed, knowing what we knew going into this book. Of course, nothing is ever that clear or straightforward in their world. There is a lot going on in the first half of this book - motives are all called into question and Karina is somewhat absolved of her actions prior to meeting these drakons. I think each of the brothers represents a way we handle this news - skeptical, accepting, and/or with outright hatred. It's unfair! I mean, I got there, but it seems unfair overall.

Of course, we get a lot of Knights drama, a lot of smutty happy times, and the usual misunderstandings and martyrdom. In the end, though, we get to watch all the worlds collide in a fabulous way. I guess we have even more stories headed our way, and I'm happy for that!

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Review: Alpha's Promise

Alpha's Promise Alpha's Promise by Rebecca Zanetti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This Dark Protectors series is just the best. It has a little something for everyone - budding romance, smutty goodness, action and adventure, and even childlike innocence. Yes, there is a larger storyline out there that begins way back at book #1, but you can probably pick up wherever (I did, then went back to fill in the gaps).

This book follows the Viking, after his return from a few hell worlds. No biggie for these guys, as he eventually gets put back on full duty. It helps that his craziness is tempered by his inability to be killed by most things. As one of the guys who is supposed to be holding the world together, he is a bit prone to wanting to sacrifice himself for "the greater good." Having left his brother back in a particularly bad hell world, he has a singular goal: to find his way back to take his place. Is there more at play? Yes. But all of that gets thrown off course when he ends up accidentally kidnapping Promise.

Promise is a very logical and methodical person, so her world doesn't leave a lot of room for fantasy. After years of repressing any whimsy, accepting her place in this insane world of theirs is a challenge. Luckily, she can hide in her science and math. On the surface, these two seem completely mismatched. We all know how that goes, though, and we ultimately end up with a HEA, for them at least. I'll keep reading this series until they blow up the Dark Protectors universe, or until they run out of mates to match with. Bring on the next book!

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Review: I See Us

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

Oh my god, this had better not be the last we see of Beau and Rochelle! I'm both happy and sad that I'm done with this one. I'm glad that these two kids who've been knocked around have finally found a path all their own but I am so, so sad to say goodbye. Is this goodbye? I don't like not knowing...

We join Rochelle in the aftermath of having sent Blackwell off with Jade and her merry band of badasses. She knew there would be repercussions but I guess she always assumed he would be there for her. Maybe it's better if he's not, because since his disappearing act, she's grown a lot. She's been doing her Oracle thing, living in what may really be the closest thing to a permanent home she's ever had, and even raising chickens! Of course, things are never simple and her HEA is not here yet. She gets a startling vision of a demon coming and, to make matters more confusing, she's also tasked with some sort of legacy from her mom.

Do we get new characters? You betcha! There's a new witch that ends up bringing the legacy to Rochelle, and she's pretty neat. We also get some kids and shifters thrown in to round out the possible body count in this madness. While we learn a bit about Rochelle's past, the big whammy comes in the form of a long lost relative. No, things don't go well. Yes, we do get some great resolution. Yes, we lose a pretty big main character. No, I didn't cry, but I almost did!

Overall, as a wrap-up to this Oracle trilogy, it leaves things in a good place. I could read 20 more of these and still just be chugging along. Sadly, also, the next series is not yet audio, so I will be moving infinitely slower through those. I was hoping we would loop back around and get more Desmond or pack business, but, alas, that will have to wait until later (I hope!). Bye, Rochelle and Beau!

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Review: The Graveyard Kiss

The Graveyard Kiss The Graveyard Kiss by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Am I doing this in the wrong order? I am a completionist and decided to start with 0.5 of the reconstructionist series, but I'm feeling a little lost.

We join Luci, who I don't know (do we get to know her?) and I went right from the Dowser and Oracle into this... high school drama? Luci is a teenager who is adapting to life and mourning her boyfriend in a very unique way. These two are in love in the way that only high schoolers can be, complete with notes, hearts, and poetry. He ends up following up on something on the internet and suddenly she is at his funeral and then at his grave. Then things get... weird. As a short story I'm left a little confused and not sure where it's supposed to be going. Maybe that will be a little clearer when I dive into book 1.

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Review: Who Moved My Cheese?

Who Moved My Cheese? Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As part of a project I'm running, it was suggested that I pick this book up to help address the change management associated with rolling out a new system or a new way of doing things. I've gotten the suggestion a few times but tended to put it off so I finally decided to follow through and read (or listen) to this book one afternoon.

The book or version I got begins with a group of people getting together for their post-reunion meal. They are talking about how much has changed for each of them and were surprised by people's comments. One person ends up telling the "who moved my cheese?" story to them all and afterwards they get back together to discuss it. The book finishes up with some notes from the author, which I would recommend just skipping to come up with your own thoughts, unless you want to hear about his other books.

So, the story is fairly simple, which is probably why it appeals to such a broad audience. You can definitely get different elements out that can work for you, your situation, or your company in general. Basically there is a group of 2 mice and 2 humans in a maze. They wander around and find cheese. After finding the cheese, they each react slightly differently, and that continue on when the cheese is no longer there.

What did I get out out of the story? Basically, people react to change differently. Some people are always on the lookout and ready to adapt. Some people stay in denial, complaining and hoping it will go back to the way it was. Then there are the people in between who may quickly or not so quickly adapt, but they ultimately do. How they get there is different for everyone, but there were some tips and tricks peppered in as well (visualizing and taking the risks, etc.). The biggest takeaway is the most recognized quote, "What would you do if you weren't afraid?"

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Review: Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked up this audiobook after attending a webinar about branding yourself. I guess I thought there would be a little more about a personal part in being remarkable, but this book was definitely more heavily based in running your own business, or being part of a business.

The highlight of the book is really the overall message - take the risk and be remarkable. I think if you can incorporate that into your life and business, you'll be successful and kind of don't need to read this book. That being said, it may have been a more relevant read back when the examples were accurate. Now, reading about ipods and how best buy is the most remarkable example in the market is a little... off putting.

This book could definitely use an update to match with the growing markets and demand for the remarkable. Do I think it's relevant? Yes, overall, but these stories that are peppered throughout take you right out of the book and into a world of skeptics. For example, he talks about how there is no way to further enhance the cell phone. It can't get smaller and the only thing that can be enhanced is allowing the functionality of sending photos to people, but it would require both people to have the same type of phone. Sigh.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Review: Meet 100 People: A How-To Guide to the Career and Life Edge Everyone's Missing

Meet 100 People: A How-To Guide to the Career and Life Edge Everyone's Missing Meet 100 People: A How-To Guide to the Career and Life Edge Everyone's Missing by Pat Hedley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After seeing Pat Hedley speak at a work event, I grabbed the book and it was probably a 50/50 chance that it would join the graveyard of books that I've accumulated throughout my career. Lucky for me, this book was small and engaging and I figured I could just read a chapter a week and make my way through it. I had the extra motivation of having a conference coming up that would be an excellent time to put this to good use.

The book tells a good story, selling the reader on the value of networking and how you should progress through your journey. It was good to see things from the different stories told throughout and I found myself particularly drawn to the actionable items. I'm a sucker for strategic goals, so having something solid I could target and work towards was really tempting. Slowly but surely, I made my way through this 100ish page book. I managed to tab a few pages, pull out a few quotes, and even force some suggestions on my husband (who is now building his own business). If you are looking for something to motivate you to improve your networking skills, I would definitely recommend this book. I'm not sure I will actually meet 100 people, but I will definitely value and nurture my network and prioritize meeting people more than before.

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Friday, June 21, 2019

Review: Artifacts, Dragons, and Other Lethal Magic

Artifacts, Dragons, and Other Lethal Magic Artifacts, Dragons, and Other Lethal Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have a love/hate relationship with these Dowser books. I am addicted to knowing what happens next in Jade's world, but, gah, she can be completely infuriating. That being said, I'm never going to quit this series/world.

Jade is on-strike when we join her. Some time has passed since the last book and she and Warner are the making some really great progress as a couple. There's something holding them back, though, and it is the crazy, murderous woman who has some history with him. Since he could, theoretically, be sent back into wherever he went last time, Jade's eager to cut his ties to his responsibility and... sigh... the crazy koala is the only one who knows how to do this.

This was the start of the horribly frustrating, cringe-worthy, descent into madness. I was ready to strangle everyone involved in every decision made to ultimately ended up with a crazy koala loose in the world (again). I can't even sum up all the madness that has to happen to get to the end of this book. So much has to change, but after all the stress to get to the end, I'm pretty satisfied. This one almost broke me and I am eager to take a break with Rochelle now, please. Also, more Drake now!

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Review: Lunar Court

Lunar Court Lunar Court by Aileen Erin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This world is wonderfully engaging. I am in love with all the characters for different reasons. In this book we get to see behind the scenes with Chris and Cosette.

Along the way (and, really, you should start from the beginning), we have seen little hints and teases about Chris and Cosette. Cosette is a secret powerhouse of sorts. She likes to pretend she has less power than she does, but that's kind of the way of life at her court. Her mother is... a nightmare. We end up learning more about her through this book, but it is essentially all bad. Now that Cosette has to go back there, following the events of the previous book, she's forced to fight for her life on a regular basis, or marry someone she doesn't love.

Chris might have even more secrets than Cosette. We learn just oodles and oodles about his past and all the baggage he has accumulated along the way. With each chapter, I fell more and more in love with him. Cosette is super lucky because Chris's super contained wolf has determined that she is his mate. So, this story ends up following Cosette, her BFF/surrogate father/guard, and Chris while they all try to keep themselves and each other alive.

It should really be easy, because Chris and Cosette love each other. Unfortunately, Cosette lives in the Lunar Court, and if Chris came there he would become a slave to their power. Chris (and some divine intervention) push him towards some shady characters who may or may not be able to sever his lunar tie (freeing him to be with Cosette). It is, of course, never that easy. There's so many twists and turns, but we do eventually get there for these two wonderful folks. I was sad to see this one end because Chris is just the best!

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Review: Darkness Rising

Darkness Rising Darkness Rising by Katie Reus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admittedly have been hopping in and out of this series and I'm not sure why. Every time I dive back in, I love these books. There is just the right blend of action, romance, and smutty goodness.

This story follows a newly awakened dragon warrior who, sorry, is named Reaper. The person who ends up discovering him upon waking is Greer, the pack's healer. These two are unlikely on paper, but completely sizzling together. Something about the blunt, predator nature that Reaper has was the perfect temptation for the loner healer. This, coupled with a bit of big bad machinations, makes for a completely engaging and addictive read.

While Greer does her best to fight the attraction, she ends up getting dragged into life with a warrior, complete with battles, politics, and huuuuuuuuuge changes to the world. It was a little shocking how much changed after a sudden attack, and now they are living in a completely different world than they started in. Lucky for these two, there are some wonderful happy years to come.

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Friday, June 14, 2019

Review: Daughter of Kali: Awakening

Daughter of Kali: Awakening Daughter of Kali: Awakening by Shiulie Ghosh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an interesting little world we get a look into with this introductory book! There's demons and warriors and all sorts of mythological awesomeness jammed into this story.

Kaz is a typical high schooler. Sure, her mom is a bit of an embarrassment and she's super duper broke all the time, but as a daughter of a single mom, Kaz manages to have a relatively decent life for herself. All of that gets turned on its head when she sees her mom do something impossible. From there, all her "hallucinations" from years growing up start to make sense. She's seeing demons, and they are a little too close for comfort.

Also, what's a good YA read without some love triangle action, right? There's a new boy in school who is everything both Kaz and her BFF could want in a guy, although he's hiding his fair share of secrets, too. Roll all this together and you've got the makings for lots of drama. There's apparently been a secret organization taking kids off the street and training them to defend normal folks from demons. How do we know that? Well, something big is going down and somehow Kaz becomes a key player in this showdown. This book really set this world up nicely and has definitely got me hooked for installment #2!

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Review: Anthony Bourdain Remembered

Anthony Bourdain Remembered Anthony Bourdain Remembered by CNN
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is not so much a book as a collection of lovely remembrances from people who had their lives touched by Anthony Bourdain. It was nice to see the variety of ways he was able to help people get on the right path, or just inspire them to do more. Personally, it was a good way to get something positive out of the horrible loss of Anthony Bourdain. There is definitely a hole in all his fans where he once was - luckily many are choosing to give meaning to his life in their future actions.

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Saturday, June 8, 2019

Review: Claimed by Magic

Claimed by Magic Claimed by Magic by H.R. Savage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK, I am admittedly late to the game. This is the last book in this series and I am so sad! I will definitely be checking out the previous books now that I'm in love with this prickly band of misfits.

We get a little refresher on how Fallon and Aidan met, at Fallon's brother's mating ceremony. It was a fleeting thing, but left an impression on them both. After that, they went their separate ways, until a vision Aidan receives indicates that she is in mortal danger. Ignoring all warnings to stay out of wolf business, he's drawn to her anyway. Fallon is independent to a fault. She's determined to live her life by her rules, even at the risk of getting herself killed.

Aidan, on the other hand, is so full of himself that he can't see the relationship developing before his eyes. He is also blind to the happenings in his own coven. There's oodles of betrayal, long buried family issues, fighting, sexy times, and pack behavior jammed into this book. The world was wonderful, and, as I said, I'm sad I missed the previous books to watch it evolve. Aidan and Fallon are unlikely allies and even less likely partners, but this book really took you on their adventure.

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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Review: Unchained Desire

Unchained Desire Unchained Desire by R.C. Alvarez
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As the start of a series, this book definitely paints a unique world complete with angels, demons, and anything in between.

Kyria has lived on the run all her life, presumably from something putting them in a form of witness protection. She learned early not to ask questions and always travel light. While on the run from her longest home, her father gets ill and she’s forced to follow a name he leaves behind before passing out – Ramiel. Finding him ends up throwing her down the rabbit hole of her past and her strange abilities. Turns out, she’s got angel blood in her and with it comes astounding powers.

Ramiel wants to just be left alone for his 7 day reprieve from torture and darkness. He was captured and enslaved many years ago, abandoned by his angel friends and left to become an evil demon’s plaything. As he is approached by Kyria, things change and he finds himself re-evaluating what he believed was truth. These two unlikely allies end up much more than that as they battle to do what’s right. Overall, this was a neat spin on your typical paranormal romance. I found it a little tough to get into rooting for them as a couple, but it did put a different edge to an angel storyline.

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Review: Storm Cursed

Storm Cursed Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I go back and forth between loving and getting irritated with Mercy and her adventures. This book, however, I loved. Something about the combination of Mercy being mostly the master of her own destiny coupled with the big bad witches had me hooked.

This story picks up as the world is still adapting to a wolf pack being responsible for a territory. Half the world thinks they are monsters (and advertise as such), while the other half are running to them for sanctuary. Sure, they might also be the “monsters,” but Mercy doesn’t discriminate. Having just gotten her garage back in order after who even remembers what happened, she’s edging back into her “normal” life, complete with pirate videogames, surly fae employees, and general pack life.

Of course, nothing is simple in the world of Mercy, so there is the ever-present threat of world destruction, this time coming in the form of a meeting between the fae “government” and the US government. Seems easy enough, especially when your mate has been roped into providing security and essentially organizing the talks. Oh, and there’s a bunch of evil witches roaming around killing lots of people and turning them (and things) into zombies. No biggie.

While I usually don’t enjoy zombie storylines, this was coupled with some good witchcraft angle that was super interesting and unique. I especially enjoyed getting some more backstory to some mysterious folks in the mix. All in all, this was a fun, action-filled story that was blissfully missing the cringe-worthy moment that usually comes in Mercy books, where she realizes she’s missing something that you’ve figured out chapters ago. Can you tell I really enjoyed this one? Definitely worth a read!

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