Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Review: Sapphire Flames

Sapphire Flames Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I joined this series, already in progress, based on the description of this book. It sounded like everything I wanted and more! I wasn't disappointed in the storyline, or the writing. I'm going to warn you, though, I had a really hard time with the ending. Are all of these books like this? If so, I may rethink my plan to go back and start at book 1.

We join this book, with Catalina stepping into the role as head of the house. It’s kind of like Harry Potter, except with way more murder, betrayal, and sexy chemistry. Catalina has siren powers, which is good when she gets the chance to save a young boy from a ledge, but bad in that she can’t exactly have normal relationships. Her family is filled to the brim with quirky characters, all of which were a wonderful joy to meet. As a PI firm (kind of?), she ends up being tasked with tracking down an evil doer that conspired to murder a young woman’s mother and sister in a supposed house fire. Things get much worse and more confusing from there.

There’s also the other bright spot in the story – Alessandro. He’s someone that Catalina has a serious crush on, who also happens to have crazy super powers. Their paths cross and there’s oodles of sparks. I mentioned the cliffhanger, right? Well this falls under that heading, too. Sigh. Overall, the story sort of wraps up, but I still wanted to chuck my Kindle at the wall to vent my frustrations. I’m angry, but not angry enough not to read the next book.

View all my reviews

Review: Selkies are a Girl's Best Friend

Selkies are a Girl's Best Friend Selkies are a Girl's Best Friend by Molly Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love the author, and the series, so it was a pretty sure bet that I would enjoy this book. I did, of course, and it even did some unexpected things along the way. Oh, and there's pie. There's always pie.

Sonja is a beloved character of this series, and the town people of Mystic Bayou acknowledge her awesomeness pretty unanimously. Will, however, is unaware of Sonja's near-god-like abilities and high unofficial (and official) rank in town. Having been away for years, he returns to take the open doctor position and, kind of shockingly, pokes at Sonja. Poke is probably not the right word (but we get to the fun poking later). They almost tested one another from the start. They are both clearly from out of town, though Will originated in town, and they are both determined to prove themselves in one way or another. Being forced to work together manages to smooth out all the rough edges, though.

Will is a Selkie and has a bunch of baggage. I guess most of it goes along with the whole Selkie pelt nonsense, but there is also the usual family drama. One super awesome bonus of this story was the introduction of John, who I hope we see again. Will's brother was simply a delight! While Will and Sonja work out their relationship, there's still the larger story of the rift, what's happening to it, and who the evil folks are. In typical paranormal formula, we get the romance, the smutty goodness, the misunderstandings, some evil doers, and then a nice HEA. I love these little yummy audiobooks and will happily continue to devour them as they are released.

View all my reviews

Review: Listening: Learn to Really Listen and Develop Active Listening Skills

Listening: Learn to Really Listen and Develop Active Listening Skills Listening: Learn to Really Listen and Develop Active Listening Skills by Christian Olsen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I grabbed this audiobook based on the short amount of time, and the content. I guess I should've been prepared for it to be a very cursory look at active listening for the approximately 40 minute read time.

If you're looking for something in-depth, there are definitely other books out there. This reminded me of the things I already knew to do, almost like a refresher. It did get a little bit preachy about attention, phones, etc. and, for some reason included a list of quotes at the end. Overall, I guess you get what you pay for. As a brief introduction or a refresher, this hit the spot. Anything more, look elsewhere.

View all my reviews

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Review: Wishful Thinking

Wishful Thinking Wishful Thinking by Helen Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book blew my socks off! There was just the perfect combination of cursing, magic, sexual chemistry, and relatable workplace characters that I couldn’t put this book down. As the start to a series, you’ve got me ready for book 2 (and 3 and 4… you get the hint)!

Saffron Sawyer is not in the most glamourous job when we first meet her, but she is doing her best for her clients. As a dope fairy, she guides them on a journey of sorts, but ultimately the choices are up to them. Her ambition has always been to become a fairy godmother, but the position is coveted and the wait list is long. There is also a bit of a class system in the fairy world, leading the same families to have several generations of fairy godmothers, not leaving room for newcomers. All of that changes on the day her boss informs her of a surprise interview to become one of them! It seems her dream has come true, but, as with most jobs, it’s nothing like she expected.

The fairy godmother workplace is filled with anxiety over some missing employees, leading to them being overworked, suspicious of everyone, and not exactly welcoming to poor Saffron. She manages to make the best of it, though, focusing on her clients, but also getting drawn into the mystery of who is making fairy godmothers disappear. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that she ends up in close quarters with an attractive Devil’s Advocate. All of the twists and turns had me eagerly (digitally) flipping pages only to be surprised by how it all ends. I loved the characters, and most of all this world! I can’t wait to read more and get to know them all even more!

View all my reviews

Review: Beware the Darkness

Beware the Darkness Beware the Darkness by Alexandra Ivy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book picks up exactly where the last one leaves off, so I don’t recommend diving in to this as your first book in the series. I’ve jumped in and out of the series, and while the author does a good job catching up, I enjoyed this one a lot more having met most of these characters previously.

Tarak is newly freed from his prison, having learned his lesson about the evil of the mermaid ruler. He’s determined to find his vengeance and also equally determined to ignore his affection for the mermaid princess that visited him to keep him “fed” during his captivity. Waverly, the aforementioned princess, is also in denial, but willing to do just about anything to keep her sister safe and do whatever is right for her people. Riven, the ruler of the mermaids, is doing some horrible things to her people, so when things start to indicate that he may not have been mystically chosen as he said, Tarak and Waverly team up to take him down.

Oh, and there’s also the wonderfully amusing and always catastrophe filled gargoyle sub-story going on. And the romance elements. And some visits from familiar faces. All in all, this was a nice, new spin, making me re-thing mermaids as a paranormal main character storyline. I can’t wait to see where this world goes next.

View all my reviews

Review: Blood Truth

Blood Truth Blood Truth by J.R. Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I gotta say, I wasn’t really dying to hear about Boone. Sure, he is essentially what started them learning more about the shadows attacking people, but he was never really a super mystery I wanted to know more about. This book felt like a bit of a filler book, which is sad, because the rest of the series was fun and new, which is exactly what the BDB needed to get me re-hooked.

Boone, as I said, is the one who came to the brotherhood to warn them about the big party filled with treason (and shadows, surprise!). He’s got a rough home life, what with his father essentially disowning him and his mother having passed away without much ceremony. The fake lifestyle he’s forced to hold up when he’s there is a bit of a drain on him. Oh, and he’s also dealing with tendencies to take the fighting a little too… dark. He doesn’t go for the quick kill and instead draws things out like a serial killer. For something that we spend a lot of time learning, this ends up going nowhere (yayyyy, more loose ends!).

When Boone finds out his father was killed at that party, he rightfully has mixed feelings. In an effort to avoid being along with his thoughts, Butch offers to train Boone on investigative techniques. It’s through this investigation into a serial killer (not Boone) that he meets Helaine. The expected mate dance begins there and has some bumps in the road, just like all the others. This book manages to tie all the separate stories into one by the end, leaving the typical loose ends, but giving a happy ending none the less. As a close to the spinoff, this was not really that satisfying – we barely saw the other trainees – but as a story, it delivers something entertaining, if not completely wrapped up.

View all my reviews

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Review: Accidental Sire

Accidental Sire Accidental Sire by Molly Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Man, I enjoyed Meagan so much more in this book than the previous short story. She gets a fully formed personality that was a lot more enjoyable than the one that paired up with Ophelia. Her being friends with Ophelia just seemed like more of her being an awesome open hearted person.

So, we join Meagan after Ophelia has introduced her to Ben and they appear to be having a great time. The start to a wonderful relationship? Not in this universe! Vampires end up breaking poor Meagan in a confusing accident that ends with her being turned. Things kind of spiral out of control from there, ending up with Meagan and Ben's relationship becoming even... more. Don't worry, though, because Jane steps in to... help?

The story takes a lot of twists and turns, taking me from wanting to punch Ben, to wanting to punch Meagan, and finally to punch all of their enemies. It takes a lot of doing, but they eventually get to a happy ending in their new and unique life together. It was very nice to finally close the book on "poor Ben." Is there anyone left here that doesn't have their mate yet? Maybe the next book will be about new characters that also get drawn into Jane's web of madness.

View all my reviews

Review: Big Vamp on Campus

Big Vamp on Campus Big Vamp on Campus by Molly Harper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Again, I'm powering through this series, complete with all the short stories. Since it seemed to be somewhat important to complete the "in-betweens," I was even willing to listen to some Jamie and Ophelia time. Yuck.

Ophelia was "sentenced" to going to college with her boyfriend. Yeah, I don't think it was a real punishment, but it certainly seems like it to Ophelia. I figured this book was going to be the one where I suddenly didn't hate her. Nope. I still really don't like her and I don't get the Ophelia/Jamie thing even more now that I got an inside view. For someone so very old, she definitely is not in a healthy one and should probably know that. It almost hurt to watch it happen.

The most important part of this book was the introduction of Ophelia's friends, who play a prominent role in the next full length book. There were a bunch of loose ends thrown in (some that don't even get wrapped up in the next book, maybe just dead ends?), but I guess you can't expect big things from a short read. If you are okay playing catch up in the next book, I would recommend skipping this one.

View all my reviews

Review: Where the Wild Things Bite

Where the Wild Things Bite Where the Wild Things Bite by Molly Harper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am so dedicated to this series and this author, that now I'm blindly downloading the next in the series without reading any description. Maybe that's my problem - remember how I said how much I did not enjoy Finn? Well, this is his book. Maybe his redemption book? Kind of? Ugh.

Anna is a new character who made the mistake of crossing paths with Jane. Welcome to crazyville! Anna's life has been a bit troubled as far as her academic history goes, but she persevered and made a name for herself by appraising supernatural texts. Enter Jane's mystery text, which resulted in Anna getting on a very small plane, no matter what her anxiety warned her about. For once, her anxiety was right, and through a series of confusing events, the plane crashes, leaving Anna and the only other passenger, a vampire, stranded in the woods.

Finn is not exactly the outdoorsy type, so they are pretty much on the same page, except Anna isn't allergic to sunlight. No matter what Finn did or didn't do in this book, I just couldn't get over my baggage with him. The misunderstanding section of this story only reinforced how much I do not like him. Maybe you enjoyed this book if you didn't have previous bad experience with Finn? I did enjoy Anna, though. She's a tough babe and I can get behind her storyline. Too bad for her choice of match.

View all my reviews

Review: Queen of Vampire Hearts

Queen of Vampire Hearts Queen of Vampire Hearts by Jeanette Rose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow - I am completely shocked by this book! At the start, it seemed like it would be your typical smutty erotica, but this was so much more! Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of dirty good times, but there was a lot of solid world building and story that made this more than your standard read.

Phoebe is a really powerful witch on the run from the ruling witch council. She made a mistake and trusted her vampire ex-boyfriend with some witch secrets and was sentenced to death. Lucien is a jaded vampire king, tired of life and just biding time. At an orgy (of course) he is drawn to a stranger who just so happens to be the most wanted witch ever. He doesn't know that, and this is where all the secrets and miscommunication begin.

This world has everything supernatural - gods, vampires, werewolves, witches, curses, magic, and different realms. Throw in a confusing and fated relationship, and you've got Phoebe and Lucien's story. Watching them build a life together (and almost destroy it) was completely engaging. I couldn't put this book down! The end gives you all the happy feels, but leaves you wanting more. Where's the next book? I need it now!

View all my reviews

Review: A Kid's Guide to Drawing Cartoon Animals (Happy Fox Books) From Kid Scoop, Step-by-Step Instructions and Trace-and-Draw Sketches for Elephants, Crocodiles, Tigers, Sea Horses, Sharks, Pandas, & More

A Kid's Guide to Drawing Cartoon Animals (Happy Fox Books) From Kid Scoop, Step-by-Step Instructions and Trace-and-Draw Sketches for Elephants, Crocodiles, Tigers, Sea Horses, Sharks, Pandas, & More A Kid's Guide to Drawing Cartoon Animals (Happy Fox Books) From Kid Scoop, Step-by-Step Instructions and Trace-and-Draw Sketches for Elephants, Crocodiles, Tigers, Sea Horses, Sharks, Pandas, & More by Vicki Whiting
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK, full disclosure - I used this book myself. I am no artist and have struggled with trying to take a stab at drawing. I figured using a kids book might be less pressure and have a greater variety of adorable drawings . I was right! It even gives you some very helpful words in the beginning of the book, letting you know that it's OK if your drawings don't turn out identical to those in the book.

My husband and I set out to show how awesome we could be at art by flipping through this book together, armed with crayons, pencils, and drawing paper. I chose a few to demo and I have to say - the steps were totally doable! Otter may have been the most challenging for me, but that was probably because some steps seemed rather large in expectations. This book would definitely entertain kids and I'm sure they would do an even better job than me and my husband. We sometimes got in our own way by assuming we knew the next thing to draw, only to have to erase or go back. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a great activity (with or without kids!).

View all my reviews

Friday, September 6, 2019

Review: Hour of the Wolf

Hour of the Wolf Hour of the Wolf by Dana Marie Bell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think I did myself a disservice joining the series at book 5. There appears to be *a lot* of characters floating around with lots of stories that I felt very lost trying to keep track of. As a paranormal romance, though, it is super unique.

Iva has just recovered from some horrible torture/kidnapping from the big bad Van Helsings. Noah, who apparently discovered that Iva was his mate, has been trying to balance sitting by Iva's tree and managing the North American shifters. They are both rulers in their races, so them coming together is a great match. Iva seems like a free spirit, worried more about others than herself, but pairs off nicely with Noah. Noah, who has taken to being an adoptive father to two young kids, is the real-world to her wandering mind. Oh, and there's chemistry that lights up the page.

The larger storyline here, other than their fated mate status, is hunting down the big bad. They use all of their larger paranormal network to their limits - there's magic, dragons, unicorns, vampires, shifters, ghosts - you name it! Their combined power might be able to keep the bad at bay and give us a happy for now ending, but it's clear there's still more story to be had.

View all my reviews

Review: The Second Coming: A Mythpunk Urban Fantasy Novel

The Second Coming: A Mythpunk Urban Fantasy Novel The Second Coming: A Mythpunk Urban Fantasy Novel by SM Reine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you're new to this world, this is not the starting point for the series. You definitely need to at least go back to the start of the original series, a spinoff, or read a whole bunch of spoilers. There is so much baggage we've accumulated along the way that you will be LOST. I've read all the books, and I could still use a timeline with diagrams and character sketches. I muddled through, though, and I'm glad to have read this one.

Rejoining James and Elise is like putting on your favorite sweater, if that sweater was also filled with warm blood, guts, and things that make you vaguely uncomfortable. One thing this book delivers, like the previous ones in this world, is a gritty, sometimes gross, and horribly realistic post-apocalyptic environment. There are battles and they get ugly. There's a kid now, and that's horribly graphic. James still might be a dick, and that's... annoyingly familiar. The story revolves around James and Elise coming back to earth significantly later than planned so they can live the somewhat perfect life of two somewhat normal folks, complete with baby.

There are *a lot* of familiar faces in this book, so have your thinking cap on and be prepared to recall their backstory. We get hints, but more to spark your memory than to retell things. Assassins are after Elise and may have kidnapped James, all while Elise is a new mother and things are... bad. As usual, there are twists and turns, some awful loss and then a somewhat happy ending (with mild "to be continued" type ending). I will read just about anything with James and Elise, so I'm in for these books no matter what.

View all my reviews