Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Dark Taste of Rapture

Dark Taste of Rapture (Alien Huntress, #6)Dark Taste of Rapture by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Soooo, this book was really fantastic! It had all the witty banter from the previous book with a more enjoyable love interest in the form of Hector. Noelle is great, the story is great, but... for the last book in a series, it wrapped up exactly 0%.

Noelle is scrappy and awesome. We get to see some of her time in training and watch the slow burn that is Hector and Noelle's relationship. He's got a bit of an issue with relationships, since his hands can light everything on fire and/or go through someone's body (depending on the book, scene or chapter). Continuity is not your friend in this series, but who cares? We get to see behind the curtain of the wonderful show that is Noelle!

The book is split almost half in flashbacks and half in present day where they are tracking down a slave ring (yawn, so early series!). There is one random reveal, no big shockers other than that, and some weird twist for the vision we get to see in the last book - only one will come true and the other will kill Dallas? Weird, but OK. I enjoyed this damaged romance enough to ignore most all issues along the way. While I wish it tied things up for the series better, I guess there is yet another spinoff we need to get the answers about what happens with Dallas?

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No Rest for the Wicked

No Rest for the Wicked (Immortals After Dark, #2)No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've got to admit that I stuck my toe in the waters of this series at book 1 and gave up immediately. It seemed too forced/rapey for me to continue and/or enjoy the rest. In a determined struggle to complete a series, though, I ended up reading a short story that takes place almost parallel to this one and was pleasantly surprised. Since I didn't have another audiobook downloaded, I gave this one a shot, and was satisfied enough with it to continue the series after it.

This book can most definitely be read as a standalone (as shown by my taking a many year break between, which may as well have been starting at this book). We join Kaderin, who is hunting down a vampire, as Valkyries do. She gave up her emotions a long time ago, so nothing should stop her from ending his life. Of course, they end up somehow blooded/fated/brided? Which really just means that he gets his heartbeat back and they begin a struggle that can only end in bed. They both have some pretty massive baggage, yet somehow Sebastian is more practical about it all. Maybe because he is the scholar of the group, he manages to outthink other paranormals to get him into a secret game that Kaderin has a long history of winning (and destroying others in).

There's a lot of death defying antics, insane tasks, fun side characters I hope we come back to, and some sexy times, too. This book was surprisingly satisfying, even though you know from the outset that they will end up together. I enjoyed it enough to continue, which says something after my initial reactions to the first book in the series. Here's hoping we get more crazy girls driving guys insane.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The Traitor

The Traitor (Fire's Edge, #5)The Traitor by Abigail Owen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've got to admit - this is one of the stories I have been waiting for since first meeting the mysterious Rune.

Rune's story has been a long time coming, so it shouldn't be easy for him but should be satisfying. This book delivers on all counts. It pushes along the larger story in big ways, pulling together the battle of the kings, the shadiness going on with the mates being taken, and Rune's backstory with his old team. Was it sad in parts? Yes, there are losses along the way, some shocking. But it was so very satisfying to see the guy who has been accused of "stealing mates" be dumbstruck by his own.

Hadyn has an unconventional dragon mate story. Her dragon mate recognized her too young. He may have been determined to wait for her to grow up, but was killed instead, leaving her in a state of limbo, newly orphaned, and adopted by her dragon's parents. Raised with full knowledge of dragons, when the time came to be on the run on her own, she is more prepared than any of the previous mates we've met. She scales Rune's old hideout's mountain to meet him, fully aware of the danger and trust involved.

I really enjoyed the banter and sizzle in this book, once they both get over their issues (somewhat). It was also particularly satisfying to watch all of Rune's old friends react to his somewhat uncharacteristic behavior. There are a bunch of battles and bad situations throughout the book that had me unable to put it down. I was really hoping for a good resolution and, while we got there, it really took some doing (and a lot of near death experiences). All in all, this book delivered everything I wanted to see for Rune.

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Deacon's Star

Deacon's Star (Orion's Order #3)Deacon's Star by M.C. Solaris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are gigantic and addictive, so prepare yourself before diving in! As these build on a larger storyline, I'd also recommend starting from book 1 and working your way to here.

This story gives us the HEA we have been chasing for Deacon and Starr. They both have a lot of baggage, but Deacon is willing to do whatever it takes to end up with his Starr, while Starr is convinced that it's not worth trying. Throw these two together in a fight, but have them try to get serious about their relationship and it's the wrong kind of fireworks. So - weren't we done with these two in the last book? Well, a chance encounter catching a bad guy is really all it takes to restart the drama.

In the "background" (this book us huge, so the background stories could each be individual books!) we also get more from all our favorites - the girls being the focus. Aleia has been still struggling with a lot of issues that came from losing Nico and finding her somewhat lost love again. All of these non-romance related stories end up tying back to our larger big bad - the Mastermind. While we don't get full payoff there yet, we do get a nice step in the right direction for Nico's horrible capture in this book. Oh, and couple happiness (always).

So, back to Deacon and Starr - they have a real steep hill to climb in order to establish a solid relationship. There are a lot of bumps in the road, mostly bloody and involving a healer, but there's also the trust building that takes a long time for both of them. OK, maybe Starr takes the longest, but that's to be expected. I especially enjoyed spending time between Starr and the infamous "Whisper." I can't wait to see when she ends up with a mate! This book was long and took me in all sorts of places, but by the end I was ready for even more from this wonderfully build world!

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Sunday, August 22, 2021

Big Witch Energy

Big Witch EnergyBig Witch Energy by Kelly Jamieson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a super cute paranormal romance that put a unique spin on a blind date mishap.

Romy has lived her life according to rules, either imposed by her mother (now deceased) or by herself (having grown up in such a fashion). Something weird pushes her to take a DNA test, trying to find her birth father, and that leads her into the wonderful world of witches. Sure, she doesn't get that revelation right away, but there's still a series of events that shake up her world.

Trace was set up on a blind date that ends up being crashed by Romy when his intended doesn't show up. They hit it off, only to find out that they are destined to cross paths beyond their one night romance. The whole witch thing gets in the way again when Trace, who has a big chip on his shoulder, ends up having to tutor Romy for her witch exams. I promise, this seems much more normal in the story than in summary!

The romance and sizzle here was pretty good. They fight their attraction for so long, I thought I was going to expire before they finally ignite. I don't think I've read anything else from this author, but as an intro book it has me hooked! There was some unique and entertaining world building thrown in to the romance that I really appreciated. Oh, and a HEA, of course!

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Pack

PackPack by Jeaniene Frost
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a short, very self-contained story that originally existed in an anthology.

Marlee is going through some stuff. Even after her friends have to stay behind, she ends up hiking alone and getting lost, all to prove her independence. That kind of backfires when she ends up getting attacked by wolves that are... more. In this world, they are hidden from society. They exist in their own bubble, and Daniel, the pack defender, ends up taking her under his wing (or paw?) until they can determine if she will shift or not.

Things, of course, get a little sizzly between these two. Marlee is annoyingly confident that she can continue to survive on her own, and that she won't become a wolf, even when all signs point to werewolf. This was a good, easy read, with the appropriate level of sizzle and paranormal to keep me entertained.

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The Brightest Embers

The Brightest Embers (Broken Destiny, #3)The Brightest Embers by Jeaniene Frost
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book probably lands somewhere between 3 and 4 stars in my ratings, but I rounded up. Having gone through the trauma here, it gets another star.

This is the final installment in this series and, jeez, we have been put through it! Between break ups, make ups, assumed deaths, surprise betrayals, and all manner of other thing, we finally get to the end of this saga. Ivy has grown, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I enjoy her character more. Her second guessing and crying filled most chapters, especially towards the end. At some points, I was rooting for the bad guy more than her, which is just sad.

So - where's the good? Well, Brutus for one. He is a star of this series. His story arc had me hooked more than the main two characters. I mean, I get it, Adrian and Ivy are supposed to be star-crossed lovers, etc. etc. but there was like no break coming anytime soon for these two. Brutus, I can get behind. Even Ivy's sister started to grow on me. The story ends probably exactly how you would expect, but there is a lot of back and forth progress between the start and end. I'm not really sure what else to highlight here - we got through it!

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Saturday, August 21, 2021

The Sweetest Burn

The Sweetest Burn (Broken Destiny, #2)The Sweetest Burn by Jeaniene Frost
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oof, this was a tough one. As the “middle story” I should have known it would be trouble.

We join Ivy as she continues to trudge through her “destiny” and navigate the “relationship” she has with Adrian. Adrian appears again, full of promises and apologies but we know that denying their collective destiny will be difficult. There are oodles of half truths that only end up getting them into trouble and a few lies thrown in for good measure. The journey here is to find the second hollowed weapon and defeat the demons, but things are never simple for these two.

There are a bunch of ups and downs alone the way, for their relationship, progress with Ivy’s family and trust, and the inescapable destiny they have to fight. Overall, I would have been happy where we got if not for Adrian making some silly decisions. I mean, yes, they both work hard to make terrible decisions through the book, but Adrian made me want to throw my phone across the room (listening through Audible). I know, book 2 can’t solve everything and has to set up book 3, but it was still super frustrating.

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A Void of Magic

A Void of Magic (Kennedy Rain, #1)A Void of Magic by Sandy Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an interesting and unique story we have here to start a series! You’ve got your typical paranormal bunch, but they are forced to acknowledge humans because they control a magically neutral territory that gives them back their humanity for a time. I can’t wait to see where this goes!

Kennedy has done some typical teenage rebelling in an atypical environment. Since her parents own said magically neutral territory, she’s got a bit of a weight hanging over her. It passes down a bloodline, so there’s no escaping, but she’s definitely tried. The Rain Hotel is her birthright and a curse. It’s partially controlled by the whims of the two big factions – vampires and werewolves. Kennedy tried to skirt the rules, allowing in people not on the ruler’s lists, and got into big trouble for her attempt. Who knew there was so much involved in running a little hotel? She’s since made a life outside the property grounds, but finds herself pulled in while her parents are on holiday. Things do no go smooth.

There’s a visit from her frenemy, who wants to marry a vampire. There’s a health inspection that fails. There’s some possible trespassers she can’t find. Oh, and some very attractive but domineering wolves.

This book takes you on a serious rollercoaster ride and leaves you wanting more. While not really a cliffhanger, I was a little angry we didn’t get to see where Kennedy ends up at the end of her troubles but they don’t ever seem to really end. I guess I’ve got to go along for the ride that is this series and hope Kennedy can become the person the staff believes she can be.

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Ecstasy in Darkness

Ecstasy in Darkness (Alien Huntress, #5)Ecstasy in Darkness by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Working through this series book by book has been an experience. This book in particular reads as if it was after some pivot in the author’s writing style. It’s fun, snarky, and gives a lot more than the previous ones. I hope to see more from Ava and Noelle (and whoever she ends up with) in the future!

Ava is a snarky and awesome recruit for the AIR. She’s got a really tough vibe but inside is a big marshmallow. Who is she going to be paired up with? Well, remember that really mean vampire we met in the Bride story? McKell has apparently been tearing apart any AIR agents that are sent his way because… reasons. His character, like most in this universe, has gone from moderately annoying to pretty mean. He has traumatized the poor AIR to the point where they are willing to throw two trainees at him in the hopes of capturing him for blood testing. We are still dealing with the whole disease/end of the world thing, so anything is worth a shot.

Ava and Noelle’s banter was a true highlight in this book. I could read a whole Ava/Noelle saga series but was ultimately glad where we got here. Ava needs somebody to look out for her, perhaps more than Noelle does. Don’t get me wrong, these girls are a nice balance to one another, but their plans could use some review (e.g. when they try to “lure” vampires). Ava and McKell have some sizzling chemistry from the first attempt at luring him, but it only grows from there. Throw in some fated mate stuff, lots of sexy times, and your typical miscommunications and you’ve got this book in a nutshell.

The out of the ordinary stuff (random doors, the queen’s attempt at persuasion, etc.) and you get the very hurried wrap-up I’ve come to expect in this series. There are always a few loose ends that I hope we pick up next book (or not – see the whole underground vampire love interest stuff that we still don’t have resolution on). I’ll keep reading this series until it ends, and probably leaves some things incomplete!

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Tuesday, August 17, 2021

The Haunted Homecoming

The Haunted Homecoming (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries, #10)The Haunted Homecoming by Angie Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can't believe we are 10 books into this world! Each book adds another layer on top of the already awesome previous ones, dragging me deeper and deeper into this wonderful Southern story.

This book has us officially meeting Verity's mom as she returns for the town's homecoming celebration. There are tons of generations all celebrating in town, which leads to your expected mayhem and mystery. In this instance, it is a gruesome discovery in the town's time capsule that puts Verity hot on the case of a murderer. Ellis, always supportive, is now forced to try to protect all the Long girls at once - a tall task indeed!

Our favorite gangster also plays pretty prominently in this story, while not an eager ghost hunting participant, he is at least working (also, reluctantly) on his love life. There's a lot of deception, twists, and turns there, just like with the main mystery storyline. This story had me both rooting for and cringing at Verity's mom the entire way. Do we get a solid mystery resolution? Yup! Verity always gets her man, or ghost, or "other." On top of that, we have a bit of a cliffhanger at the end here that has me eager to dive in to the next installment!

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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Witches Get Stitches

Witches Get Stitches (Stay a Spell, #3)Witches Get Stitches by Juliette Cross
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series is so good. If you haven't read the first few books, you should definitely go back and start there. That being said, you can probably dive in here if you must (because this book rocks, too!).

This story is all about Violet. We've seen her as a supporting character in the previous books. She's a tattoo artist and a powerful witch. She is also a huge commitment-phobic. When she gets all sorts of feelz from Nico after meeting and making out with him, she runs. Nico, the patient werewolf that he is, eventually follows her. His pack at the time was... a bit broken, so it wasn't a hardship, but his wolf wouldn't let him stay away from Violet either way.

Nico and Violet play at being friends, but they aren't fooling anyone. Don't worry, though, we don't have to suffer for the entire book - and it is explosive! So - the big bad in this one? Nico's old pack ends up getting wind of Violet's magical tattoos and for some reason they think that messing with her is a good idea. Even without Nico in the picture, Violet is a force to be reckoned with. This book is a nice bled of paranormal romance, tough chick action, stupid boys, and witchy goodness. Oh, and Fred, who is the best. What a fantastic book and so very satisfying!

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Van Helsing Academy

Van Helsing AcademyVan Helsing Academy by Stacey O'Neale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a unique and fun story! I'm excited to see where this series ends up going!

Mina (yes, I know) is a Van Helsing. They are part of the supernatural legacy, which in this world includes setting up a rehabilitation facility for supernaturals that step out of line. The group tasked with policing supernaturals is where we meet Mina. She's got a little bit of an issue with authority, and it's that mindset that ends up putting her alone and in trouble. When she resurfaces, she's got some missing time, but has been recorded on camera killing two vampires.

This killing ends up sending Mina into the same rehab facility that she visited as a kid, but this time is in a very different capacity. There's clearly more at play here, so her father endorses her getting sentenced to the facility in order to gather more intel. This facility is nothing like I expected. It's more like a boarding school with very harsh punishments. The characters we meet here are also pretty amazing. Are there bad guys? Sure, but the majority of the characters that we meet are sympathetic paranormals all there for questionable reasons.

So, what's missing? Well, of course there's romance! It really sizzle between Mina and Sacha, an alpha who seems just as reluctant to like her as she is him. These two, however, end up being the best support system (other than Kiera, of course!). We get some resolution to Mina's mystery, but there is so much more I want to know. I can't wait to see where she ends up in future installments and they can't get here fast enough!

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Death & Desire

Death & Desire (The Jezebel Files, #2)Death & Desire by Deborah Wilde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I added this book to my "to-read" list right after finishing the first installment. I love a good snarky urban fantasy and this delivers on all fronts.

We join Ash, newly acknowledged (a little in secret) for her released Jezebel powers, looking for her "team," trying to navigate her complicated relationship with Levi, and juggling her commitments to the Queen of Hearts. So - what ended up happening? There was a pretty good mystery, new characters, and I can't believe I didn't mention her yet, but Ash's BFF is THE BEST. On top of all this drama, Ash's mom is supporting an anti-magic group even after Ash "came out" to her. Moms, right?

I have to admit, it was a little jarring to dive into book 2 without slowing the snark at all. I eventually got on board, especially with the Levi/Ash banter, but there was definitely a missing learning curve here. I am 100% on board, though, with wherever this series goes - please take me!

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Sunday, July 18, 2021

Edge of Darkness

Edge of Darkness (Hunter Legacy, #3)Edge of Darkness by Lara Adrian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I kind of forgot how good this spin-off series is. I've had this audiobook on my phone for a while and finally got back to it.

This story revolves around Knox, an ex-Hunter who is on a bit of a wander after losing the closest thing he's had to a mate. Lenny is a diner waitress who has been taking care of her sister's son for several years. The boy's father is in prison for assaulting Lenny's sister (who has since "disappeared") so there is a bit of baggage in this small town. When Knox shows up, he has unfortunately timed it when the boy's father is set to be released, and he gets drawn into this drama, too. He somehow can't walk away from this little family, and it's adorable and awesome. Oh, and also sexy.

Lenny was a good female lead here for Knox. She's tough and independent She also doesn't need protecting, but that doesn't stop Knox. These two have the typical misunderstanding phase, but it is rapidly made up for in the end. Looks like this is book 3 of 3, but I hope we continue on to see where the other Hunters end up, and who they mate with.

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Million Dollar Demon

Million Dollar Demon (The Hollows, #15)Million Dollar Demon by Kim Harrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm in this for the long haul, so at book 15 I will happily keep reading these for forever.

Disclaimer - I'm not sure you can dive in at this point. Go back to start, do not collect $200, this world is too developed to join in the middle (?). This book starts with Rachel, still with Trent, but he conveniently has to go out of town with the kids and his almost ex-wife. Their departure sets up Rachel to be almost back to her old ways. She's got Jenks and they are hunting for a new place together because the new master vampire is blocking all efforts to repair and make their church livable. Ivy checks in, but is less involved than Trent at this point in the story. While we certainly have enough vampires, we don't get our favorite one.

So, what's going on with Rachel? Well, Al and her are still not in a good place because of his recently resurfaced and controversial brother. She's also somehow become a bit of a symbol in the city. When this new master vampire, Constance, shows up, all the loosely organized paranormal faction end up looking to her to stop the madness. Does she? Well, yeah, but it's messy and happens in your typical Rachel way, complete with losses and yet somehow worth it. Do we get big resolution of larger storylines (e.g. gargoyle soul related) - no. This was almost like a roadtrip book. Self contained but set deeply in this world with all the baggage that comes along with.

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Seduce the Darkness

Seduce the Darkness (Alien Huntress, #4)Seduce the Darkness by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've probably said this before, but this is my new favorite book of the series. That's probably saying something weird about me, because we met Devyn when he had tried to force his way into a previous main character's bed, but this is his redemption so he gets a pass here, too.

Bride is, if you read the previous short story, the friend of the newly introduced Aleaha. She and her friend have been searching for each other, so it makes slightly more sense that they would both cross paths, through Devyn, in this book. I'm not sure why Aleaha's mate wasn't able to find Bride, but, again, pass. You've got to let a lot of stuff go in this series or it will drive you insane. So Bride has been on her own for a while, thinking herself the only vampire on the planet. She has no memory of her childhood and has had to learn things on the fly. So how does she end up with Devyn? Turns out vampires can scent people out, and he picks up Aleaha's scent on him from a team meeting.

Devyn is apparently a sort of member of the AIR team, even though he, ya know, tried to kidnap someone and has some questionable practices. Don't worry, we get a damaged past for him, too, so we can explain away his bad behavior (thank goodness, because Devyn is one of the most entertaining characters in this series!). Bride and Devyn dance around one another, engaging in some smut but also things that push the overall storyline along for the queen's arrival. We also get a bit of Dallas and the Dallas/Devyn bromance is awesome. This book takes a long path to get us to where we need to be for the big showdown, but was super addictive. I had serious trouble putting this book down and ended up finishing it well in advance of our book club meeting.

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Deep Kiss of Winter

Deep Kiss of Winter (Includes: Immortals After Dark, #7; Alien Huntress, #3.5)Deep Kiss of Winter by Kresley Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this short story (?) set to complete the Alien Huntress series, but I think the Immortals after dark story was actually more compelling. I haven't had much experience with that series, but if they are all this addictive, I'll have to swing back around and start that one up.

So, the Immortals After Dark story - this picks up with a story already in progress and is clearly taking place in parallel to another book or set of stories. The main characters here are Murdoch and Dani. Murdoch is a vampire, but a good one, and Dani is a Valkyrie, but also a frost fae. What does this mean? Well, when Murdoch suddenly makes her his bride (e.g. fated mate), they are quickly confronted by the fact that Dani can't touch anyone warm blooded without pain. This puts a damper in their relationship and leads to, uh, interesting bed games. We get a HEA ending out of this, but we sure do go through some stuff to get there!

The Alien Huntress story can probably be read standalone, but directly set up the next book in the series, filling in some gaps. Aleaha is a shifter of sorts - able to steal anyone's complete identity after touching them. She assumes the identity of a woman who has just joined the alien hunter unit, but finds herself in trouble when her team comes under attack from warriors (from a peaceful planet we met before?). This is a captive turned lover story, which the series has already handled a bit, so I gave them a pass on this one. Breean, the leader of the warriors ends up taking Aleaha into his bed (willingly, sure, but it's still weird). The alien hunter team, having seem way weirder stuff, goes with the flow on this one, and we end up getting new allies in the larger storyline involving the sentient disease. Overall, important to introduce Bride's missing friend, but nothing earth shattering.

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Saturday, July 3, 2021

Badlands Witch

Badlands Witch (Cormac and Amelia Story)Badlands Witch by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who knew I could somehow get on team Cormac/Amelia romance? I sure didn't - that sounds crazy! To be fair, that's not the main storyline in this book, but it definitely takes us there along the way.

The true story here is about Cormac's past and how he leaves a lot of living enemies that still want revenge. Amelia raises her concern about this, but is just as drawn in to a mysterious artifact evaluation as he is. It's this artifact that ends up separating the dynamic duo for the first time in a while. Cormac and Amelia are both forced to face what they've been avoiding and all the while try to work their hardest to get back together.

The enemies bit doesn't really matter so much. It might as well be faceless bad guy #7, but the path Cormac has to go on to get to Amelia puts him in the path of the law (who he doesn't really get along with), local witches (who he can't actually work magic with), and crazy people (who, ok, he might be more comfortable with than the the other two. He is forced to evaluate the man he is now since meeting Amelia, and address how much he relies on her. This was an oddball romance and left me somehow wishing we had more of these Cormac/Amelia books to read through and watch their very unique relationship grow.

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Rebel's Karma

Rebel's Karma (Dark Protectors, #13)Rebel's Karma by Rebecca Zanetti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are great, even after 13 of them (and a spin-off series)! While I'm sure you could eventually understand this world starting here, it's definitely recommended to start from the beginning. Since we are in a mix of the second/third/first/whatever generation of these immortal families, it gets kind of confusing without an intro.

Remember crazy Benjamin Reese? Well, during a raid, he was touched by a Kurjan's mate who was helping them load people into the helicopter. That one touch told him that she was his mate, but his life is never easy. It was fantastic watching this crazy weirdo try to tone himself down to be more palatable to his would-be mate, only to let his freak flag fly in the end. Karma, who has been pretty much brainwashed by the Kurjans, ends up having to re-evaluate her life, all the while juggling her responsibilities with the attraction to this insane dude.

Did I mention I love Benny? He's the best, and watching him get a family was the most satisfying installment I've read in a while. Are there other, larger storylines at work here? Yes, of course. We're still fighting against the apocalypse, trying to keep the scales tipped to "good," but there are also these bonds and feelings of family that run throughout the series (just like the Fast and Furious franchise, right?).

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Pack Darling - Part One

Pack Darling - Part One (Pack Darling, #1)Pack Darling - Part One by Lola Rock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow - this book was impossible to put down! I literally stayed up late last night to finish because, even knowing this was only Part 1, I needed to know where we left things.

This world was immediately captivating. Lilah has the last name "Darling" because she is a ward of the omega training facility where she is housed. She's billed for everything and will only be able to leave and be placed with a pack if they can handle all her debt, too. Accepting (and hoping) she never has to join a pack of alphas, she works very hard to fly under the radar and slow her "awakening." While there is a lot of pack and shifter terminology, we don't see any actual shifting or anything like that. This is all human all the time. And, damn, humans are mean.

Lilah has fought her way through her time at the academy and tried not to become the slave to her hormones that happens post-awakening. This has resulted in her being emaciated, scarred, and perpetually exhausted, but her "owner" ends up shipping her off to a pack anyway. This pack has some issues, but is jam-packed with hot alphas. Unfortunately for the drama levels, they also have another omega, meaning she is poaching. There is some wonderful smut, lots of misunderstandings and drama, and this book seriously left me desperate for more. When is Part 2 coming out again? I need more Lilah!

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Dark Divide

Dark Divide (Cormac and Amelia Story)Dark Divide by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've read all the Kitty books, so I'm familiar with Cormac Bennett. Even if you're not, though, these short stories seem to be standalone mostly. As a Kitty fan, though, I recommend going back and starting from the beginning to get the full story.

So, that being said, we join Cormac and his... internal consciousness (?) Amelia. They are working together, which is weird, but no weirder than other things in this world. Since he's a vanilla human with hunting/detective work experience and she is a wizard with no body, they balance each other's skills out and make a good "team" of private investigators. Through word of mouth, they end up with jobs, like the one in this short book.

Donner Pass is the setting of a mysterious starving incident with a local ranger. Even with all the tools to survive, he somehow perished, leading the surviving member of his team to reach out for some "unconventional" expertise in the form of Cormac and Amelia. I have to admit that I wasn't really sure what these Cormac/Amelia stories would entail - isn't he just talking in his own head the whole time? Well, let me correct my misassumption - this book is a great, quick read that acts as a paranormal detective story with some unique elements.

The mystery itself, which not earth shattering (or world ending, like other Kitty things), was still fun. It was interesting to meet all the locals in this area, hear about the quirks and weirdness, and watch Cormac become some of what he was when we originally met him (minus the guns). He and Amelia are a team I could definitely get behind.

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Saturday, June 26, 2021

Pride and Paranormal

Pride and Paranormal (Souls and Shadows #1)Pride and Paranormal by Adrienne Blake
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

OK, full disclosure - I've never read Pride & Prejudice. That being said, I don't think that is a pre-requisite for reading this book. If you enjoy paranormal romance with a bit of a historical feel to it - this is a book for you.

Izzy is a member of a bit of a manic family of witches. Her father is going through some financial trouble reconciling his early retirement with the non-paranormal demand for income. Her sisters are either getting into trouble, heartsick from romance, or reading a lot (and doing karaoke). Her mother is obsessed with marrying them off. Oh, and her distant relation is creeping on her and her sisters. All of this gets to a boil when Fitz and his friend/business partner move into an old house in town. Said friend and business partner ends up being part of the heartsick sister's story, but we generally care more about the annoyingly romantic Fitz.

Izzy and Fitz immediately do not hit it off. It's almost like hate at first sight, coupled with oodles of gossip, rumors, and general badness. It takes a lot of very random and seemingly unconnected interactions to get them to not hate one another (it even involves a dragon at one point!). There is a lot of build up to a romance that, I have to admit, I was a little put off by. Perhaps it is because this is supposed to be a paranormal retelling of a book I've never read, but it seemed to be a bit abrupt and... historical-feeling, the romance of this story. Assuming that is your preference for books, you should have no issue with the romantic elements in this book. As a book #1, we certainly meet enough characters (I didn't even touch on the vampire storyline!) to carry on a series for several installments. There is a lot of set up in this initial book that I can tell we will do a deeper dive into all the other characters in the future.

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Hexing the Ex

Hexing the Ex (House of Magic #1)Hexing the Ex by Susanna Shore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I tore through this book so quickly because I simply could not put it down! The characters, the adventure, everything was so much fun!

Phoebe gets back from vacation to find her roommate has ruined the apartment. Getting kicked out shortly, she finds herself wandering the streets only to find a room for rent. Said room ends up being so much more than she bargained for, but it the best way. This group of assorted magical/paranormal housemates end up being exactly what she needs when a package for her boss ends up cursing her with the ability to grant passive aggressive wishes.

There's all sorts of discoveries for Phoebe in her new life - vampires, werewolves, mages, warlocks, and so much more! She handles it with surprising calm and ends up being the glue that holds the curse mystery together. Who knew that this room for rent could turn into an amazing twist of fate? I loved every second of this first installment and cannot wait to see what happens next in the House of Magic series!

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Shadowed Steel

Shadowed Steel (Heirs of Chicagoland #3)Shadowed Steel by Chloe Neill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admit that it took me a little while to get into this series spinoff, but I'm now fully on board and Team Elisa.

We join Elisa as she is settling back into her life in Chicago. She had a hell of a time with Connor and the pack drama, but things are OK now - right? Well, in true vampire fashion, they set up a committee to handle "rule breakers" and they are now after her for turning the would-be victim of the pack monsters. This book really gave Elisa the opportunity to save herself instead of somehow being saved. Sure, there are tough paranormals ready to throw in for her, but she is the ultimate heroine here.

The story revolves around what starts as a demand her Elisa to submit to punishment and somehow ends with her teaching the vampires a lesson. She doesn't need a house to be awesome, and she is growing into a bit of an understanding with her hidden "monster." The romance was OK, and the friendships she has are awesome, but Elisa's independence (in a non-teenager-in-a-tantrum way) was refreshing to learn more about.

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Shifters in the Night

Shifters in the Night (Mystic Bayou, #5)Shifters in the Night by Molly Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love this world, and all the characters we meet! Give me 100 books set here, and I will gladly devour them all.

This book can easily be read as standalone, but why would you? This series is amazing, so please start from book 1 and work your way through. This book picks up with Jon, loner brother of the already paired off seal shifter. He is trying to enter society again, at the request of his nosy brother, but is having some issues. Not only is he concerned with the town people who have long memories of his youthful mistakes, but he also appears to have peeped on a trespasser on his property.

Lea is in town to help with the further development of Mystic Bayou, to support the rapid influx of visitors and additional locals. While her boss is a monster, she is pretty good at her job, a side-effect of her doe-shifter abilities to read folks. She was going with her gut when she went skinny dipping in Jon's yard (not that she know it was his land at the time), and the two begin to circle one another in a wonderful way.

It's such a joy to know that these bite sized installments will always end with family, love, and an even larger town community. There's no stress and I absolutely love them for it. If you haven't checked out this series yet, do it!

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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Savor Me Slowly

Savor Me Slowly (Alien Huntress, #3)Savor Me Slowly by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is definitely the best of the series so far. We got a lot of familiar faces from the previous two, but also a healthy dose of smut that was somewhat missing in previous books.

We met Jaxon in Mia's story as the supportive team member, but he is definitely a harder, different man than we previously met. He's been kidnapped when we see him again, and tortured beyond the point where non-agents would have been able to resist. Another torturer ends up entering the room and taking him as her own hostage.

Mishka is an assassin, part-robot, part-alien, unique entity. She's controlled by her "master" and forced to do horrible things. The love story here is closer to fated mates than any sort of romantic tale. These two are mostly trapped together, but become obsessed. There is smut a-plenty, so no worries there, but there were a lot of muddled motivations thrown in along the way. While people are dying from an incurable disease, we are taking time during a firefight to duke it out amongst allies? Really? Visions are infallible, even though that was largely the basis for book 1? The overall story doesn't even wrap up neatly, so I assume we will still deal with the big bad from this book in the next one. While this is a big step up from the previous books, I'm hopeful we get an even more solid installment next.

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Nicodemus

Nicodemus (Stone Warriors, #5)Nicodemus by D.B. Reynolds
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love this world, the characters, and most of all the vampires that started it all, but was excited to get to the conclusion and finale with Nic's story. This book was like 3 books in one and I'm sure would be better enjoyed in more bite-sized portions (at least for me).

We get ALL of Nic's story in here. There's time in his own kingdom, then in the past in Paris, then still in the past in other locations, until we finally get the resolution I was dying for all book. This book was very different than the others because it reads as more of a historical mystery than a paranormal romance. We are introduced to the elusive Antonia and shown their earlier quick romance, which leads him on a chase through dimension and time.

Was I ultimately sucked in? Yes. Nic's story is addictive, just like all the others. We get to watch the showdown we wanted, with lots of familiar faces from previous stories. Really, that last part was THE BEST! I'm happy we got there, and I want to dive back in with the vampires.

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Lover Unveiled

Lover Unveiled (Black Dagger Brotherhood, #19)Lover Unveiled by J.R. Ward
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think this book was one of the toughest to get through for me. Yes, we are at book#19, so things are a bit formulaic at this point, but there were just too many subplots for me to enjoy this one. Also, Mae was not my preferred type of lead female. Sigh.

OK, so, it's hard to sum this one up because in BDB style, there are like 10 other things all winding through this one main storyline. We start with Mae, who is trying to use evil magic to save a loved one. We also meet Sahvage, who has a battered past and just want to die. Then we reunite with some other characters from previous books, meet new friends of those people, and there's a meteor. THEN there is a demon, who we met previously, and a book. Oh, and THEN there is the thief from the bastards, who once got electrocuted.

Somehow, all of those things end up winding together, but it takes A LOT. And all of that has to happen while we get on board with the love story between Sahvage and Mae. I just couldn't do it. Mae makes all the wrong decisions no matter how much support she gets from everyone around her. Ultimately, the BDB ends up cleaning things up (mostly), but for me, this one was a miss.

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One Fine Fae

One Fine Fae (Mystic Bayou, #4.5)One Fine Fae by Molly Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love this world, this town, and all their characters. I would read/listen-to 100 of them! I was shocked to find I inadvertently missed this short story, so dove in immediately.

This short and self-contained story centers around a newcomer, Charlotte. Remember the search for a midwife for mixed-shifter pregnancies? Well, Charlotte is the answer. She arrives in town with her trailer and is immediately immersed in the wonderful world of Mystic Bayou. This includes the wonderfully adorable, but woefully cursed Leonard. As an assistant in the league offices, he's pretty well established in town, and touted as being one of the only non-evil assistants (Jessica is questionable).

These two are cute, though a little rushed, in their romance, but that could be my own selfishness talking. I would love to get even more from these two! The bonus here, though, is that we get to spend less time in the "awkward misunderstanding" phase and more time in the love. While you can definitely read this alone, you should really read all of these books, because they are awesome!

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Darkness Betrayed

Darkness Betrayed (Guardians of Eternity, #17)Darkness Betrayed by Alexandra Ivy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I gotta admit that I have been hopping in and out of this series for a while. While I know the general world, I tend to miss some big events along the way. All of that to say that I don't have trouble rejoining this crew and enjoying each installment.

This book follows Brigette, the previous baddie who was under evil influences. She's punishing herself and trying to perform her own form of redemption when she is suddenly faced with an opportunity. She's a bit damaged and determined which somehow ends up putting her in league with a demon/vampire uprising.

Xi has been tasked with finding out who the new big bad is, as evidenced by a series of strange and concerning occurrences in town. He ends up having to team up with the ex-big bad, Brigette. Obviously these two end up reluctantly attracted to each other in the fated way that happens in this series. They both have their own tragic story, and that lends itself to making it feel less rushed and more romantic than others. I liked their sweet moments, but, as usual, Levet was a highlight.

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Friday, May 28, 2021

Idols and Enemies

Idols and Enemies (Amplifier Book 4)Idols and Enemies by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series has certainly grown from the first book that I had to drag myself through. Now I am fully on Team Emma, even when the rest of the usual suspects are away.

We knew Aiden would have to open the letter from his father someday, and that's really what this book is about. We deal with the fallout and the larger scheme at play, all while they are also trying to raise a teenage witch and hunt down the rest of the five. Aiden's father, it turns out, is battling something that is killing the great Azar head of household. With no easy cure, they need to have the most awkward family reunion ever.

While I loved the new sorcerer dynamic (who knew I could enjoy Aiden's brother?), the witches were TERRIBLE. I mean, I guess that's great, because I know we were supposed to be put in the position to make some judgments, but still. It had some of those horrible scenes where you know some funny business is going on, but people turn a blind eye to it because... faaaaaamilyyyyyy. Sigh. That aside, by the end of the book, I was surprisingly aligned with the sorcerers who have tried to kill Emma. If this series can convince me to change my mind about them, what can they accomplish next?

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Enslave Me Sweetly

Enslave Me Sweetly (Alien Huntress, #2)Enslave Me Sweetly by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In our book club we are working through this series. That might be one of the main reasons we are continuing, because I didn't really see any strong thread holding book 1 and book 2 together. I hear it gets better at book 3, so here's hoping!

This book focuses on an alien race (so, ok, that is a connection to the overall world), but she's not a government agent like the last main character. Instead, she has been adopted by and trained into this world of hired killers. It's good that she can defend herself, because her race was hunted to near extinction for their beautiful skin. So - who is the love interest? Well, there's no magic necklace (WAIT - there totally is!!), but she is somehow drawn to this other agent that her adoptive father pairs her up with.

Lucius is full human, but somehow magically endowed in the strength and stealth categories. They naturally fight, but are also naturally drawn to one another for some reason we shouldn't look too hard at. There "romance" is your typical fated mates story. The twist here is the aliens and some betrayal. Honestly, I was expecting way more horrible things to happen or be revealed, so we got our relatively unscathed in this installment. Who knew the would-be rapist would be a highlight in the character department?

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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Wolf's Curse

Wolf's Curse (Otherworld Stories #13.9)Wolf's Curse by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book definitely redeems the one before it. I don't really understand why this couldn't have all been a single book, leaving out the cliffhanger ending. Either way, it was nice to go back to familiar territory - the alpha kids being awesome.

Logan and Kate are definitely the stars here. This installment ties up all the loose ends from book 1 and then some. We get a good amount of twists and turns that kept me fully engaged. We also get to see the teenage struggles that the alpha twins are going through. The little hints at the larger world were much appreciated and made me smile. It a thoroughly enjoyable way to end this set of books.

Now, would I rate the overall set higher knowing where it took me? Probably. Was it worth reading book 1 without book 2 being available immediately? No. So, now that both are out, I would recommend reading both at once or none.

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Mystics and Mental Blocks

Mystics and Mental Blocks (Amplifier #3)Mystics and Mental Blocks by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm rapidly working my way through this spinoff series in the adept universe and loving it more and more. What originally felt a little forced and cold is now a familiar family that I've grown to love.

They poke fun at this in the book series, but this time around it isn't Aiden family drama coming to bite them, it's one of the five. We don't get a familiar face we've already met, of course, and instead we get to meet the telekinetic part of the group. She is just as prickly and tantrum filled as you would expect, but when she arrives wounded on their doorstep (or backyard, as the case may be), even Emma can't turn her away.

This book deals heavily with family, betrayal, and trust. We get to see Aiden and Emma's relationship mature into something more like a family and a home, which understandably pushes Christopher out of his "comfort" zone, yielding unintended consequences. I really enjoyed the ride this book took us on, even if a lot of that time was not really spent in the real world exactly. These books are definitely getting better and better.

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Monday, May 10, 2021

Alpha Lover

Alpha Lover (The Alpha Council Chronicles, #3)Alpha Lover by Brenda Sparks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oops - I haven't read any of the other books in this series before starting this one. That being said, I think diving in at this book is totally OK and didn't have any trouble with catching up.

Juliette is on holiday in Russia with her friend when she meets Nicholai in a pretty unconventional way. He is a starving vampire who desperately needs blood but doesn't like to feed off of locals. The tourists become his "meal" and he discovers that Juliette is his heartmate. In this world, that essentially means fated mate. In typical paranormal romance, though, he hides his vampire nature and decides to try to "woo" her first.

In parallel, there's a group of demons causing trouble for Nicholai's "alpha council" friends who are investigating killings. This particular element of the story is pretty gruesome and dark, so be warned. This is, however, nicely balanced with the smutty romantic storyline of Juliette and Nicholai. Does it go smoothly? Of course not! There are some dangerous situations, some missed communication, and emotional baggage to be handled, but we get to a HEA (and lead in to another book).

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Friday, May 7, 2021

Bonds and Broken Dreams

Bonds and Broken Dreams (Amplifier #2)Bonds and Broken Dreams by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are definitely growing on me now. While Emma was a bit tough to get used to, I now find myself hoping she finds whatever happy ending she is after.

I was a little worried that each book would involve a different member of the five showing up and us dealing with the repercussions. Surprise, surprise, but this one is actually mostly Aiden's fault. He is still out trying to cure his magic addiction when his brother and ex-"girlfriend" show up at Emma and Christopher's place looking for him. This sets things in motion for his quick return, not that Emma needs protection.

This installment also addresses a loose end from the "job that went bad," that we hear about a lot. The witch that was being used to power the spell (the spell Emma has since been obsessed with cracking) ends up playing a larger part here, and probably in the future. Opal, the witch, and Ember, Emma's lawyer, end up helping or confusing Emma's somewhat reclusive existence with knowledge, or (in Opal's case) some humanity.

There are certainly some twists and turns in this one and it kept me on my toes. I find myself more and more in agreement with Emma's battle strategy to defend her land, her family, and her friends. There was a lot of battle (and goo) in this one, along with some fallout we will certainly address in the future. You've convinced me, Amp-5, to continue reading this series.

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Awaken Me Darkly

Awaken Me Darkly (Alien Huntress, #1)Awaken Me Darkly by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a fan of the author and decided to try to fill some gaps in my book experience with her. This series is one of her earlier ones, and I had it all ready to go for a while - why haven't I read these before now?

This story takes place in a sort-of dystopian future. There are aliens and we coexist, with the help of task force that keeps the different species in line. Mia is one such "huntress" who uses her skill set hunting down aliens that are out of control or do things that are frowned upon in human society. She's got a high kill count, a team that would do anything for her, and little issues with killing aliens. She's also got oodles of mental baggage from the way she was raised, which helps/hurts her later on.

Kyrin is an alien that happens to both attract and repel her from the start. While Mia is navigating what seems to be a new set of skills, he presents her with a unique opportunity - can she sacrifice her values to help her teammate survive? The answer, of course, is yes, and yields sexy results (albeit, mostly fade to black ones). There are definitely signs that this is the first book of a series, and I hope they get better, but this was enjoyable and a good enough way to build a world.

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Meant to Be Immortal

Meant to Be Immortal (Argeneau #32)Meant to Be Immortal by Lynsay Sands
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK, at this point (book #32) you know what you're getting yourself into. There's no excuse for not expecting a wonderfully quirky fated mate installment. This one was cute, sweet, and exactly what I expected.

Mac is one of the many Argeneau's out there, this one having been a lab employee in the mega-empire that is the family business. After moving in, he is soon set on fire (or his house is), which puts him in a bit of a bad spot with his new small town locals. He's got to mind control everybody, which is how he discovers his life mate.

CJ is in town to investigate a report of police misconduct and is somehow dragged onto the scene of a house fire in lieu of any detectives being around in the precinct to handle it. She meets Mac and they are drawn to one another, even without being saddled as acting for his protection. With only one place to stay in town, they are also forced to share a place overnight. While this is obviously a fated mates scenario, the unique elements of each character made it interesting for me. There's no shocking revelations or insane twists, but this series is always enjoyable.

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Monday, May 3, 2021

Rise of Heroes

Rise of Heroes (Artifact Hunters, #3)Rise of Heroes by S.M. Reine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who knew that a series based on a world that took many books to build could be so... light? Fun? Easy? I feel like anyone could enjoy this series as a standalone, but I enjoyed it even more having been on this long and wild ride.

We join Cage and Brigid as they navigate cohabitation, the loss of Cage's BFF, a quest for revenge against a hero, and more backup plans than you could shake a squirrel at. There is no way anyone could *not* love Cage, so it's no shock that this series has gone by so quickly for me. The pages turn with ease and I sink into this familiar world without another thought. I am so glad that we wrap things up neatly for Cage (and company) that I finished this book with a huge smile on my face.

Now - how did we get to said ending? Well, there's the usual mayhem, guts, grossness, occasional stripping, and some questionable blood-letting. Oh, and family surprises! As long as you are open to the antics, you will enjoy every minute, even the ones that get tricky. The characters are quirky and awesome, saving some overly emotional scenes with their sheer oddness. I'd happily recommend this trilogy to anyone even remotely interested in paranormal... anything. Please check it out!

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Beautiful Nightmare

Beautiful Nightmare (Beautiful Nightmare #1)Beautiful Nightmare by L.C. Son
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is a huge world-building start to the series that includes any and all paranormals you can thing of.

The main character in this massive world is Damina. She's gone through the loss of her parents at a young age, but was luckily adopted by her aunt and raised along with her cousin. Seems relatively normal until we start seeing signs that she can change the weather with her moods and she has recurring dreams about a tree and wolves. Pretty early on in the story there is an act of betrayal on her wedding night that sends her spiraling into a different world (not literally).

The rest of the book takes place in New Orleans, where Damina finds out her true history and sees behind the curtain of the mundane. There's old historical house restoration work, vampires, wolves, clubs, dancing, sexy times, and more all wrapped in to a hefty size book. There's twists and turns, but even with so many pages, we get a bit of a cliffhanger at the end. While I'm sure this book will suit some readers, I found it difficult to complete personally. There are a ton of characters we meet, so I'm sure the reader can find someone to root for along the way, even if Damina isn't your cup of tea.

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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Wild Sign

Wild Sign (Alpha & Omega, #6)Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Anna and Charles. They are a couple I would read 100 books about, so I obviously jumped at this one from the library.

This story starts with a little flashback, of hints of Bran's mate having some secret history. I guess I never realized how much of a mystery it was until this book. It's nice to try to fill in the gaps here and I was eager to find out where she came from. This all ties in to "Wild Sign," a suddenly abandoned "off the grid" settlement, which just so happens to be on land owned by the pack. No pack members were currently residing there, nor was it widely known to be theirs, but the FBI gets involved when the daughter of a settler finds her father missing (along with the rest of the town).

Things are never straightforward, so there's lots of supernatural elements at play here. Oh, and there's even some big foot stuff, too! Without spoilers, there is a lot that ends up being revealed about this history of "Wild Sign" and how it came to be so far off the beaten path. We also get a nice heaping dose of some lesser interacted with characters, highlighting Anna's impact on the pack as a whole. There's a huge fight scene thrown in to wrap things up and balance out the magic and relationship baggage. Overall, this was a good installment to tie up some loose ends.

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Rafael

Rafael (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #28)Rafael by Laurell K. Hamilton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'll add the disclaimer I always add - if you hate Anita Blake books, why are you reading them? These books are not filled with crazy surprises and are generally pretty formulaic, but I enjoy reading them. There's something calming about knowing the world, the characters and the general outcome at the start.

So - this book is probably (maybe?) shorter than the previous ones. It reads a little bit like a standalone novella at times, especially since things wrap themselves up in a short amount of time. These books are always a little repetitive, so I don't fault them for that, but I also don't think you could start here, at book #28, as your entrance to the series. This book, obviously, revolves around Rafael and the rats. His relationship with Anita has become controversial and caused a number of challenges. This particular challenge has a different level of baggage attached.

The story manages to give us a very small window of time, a quick build-up and delivery, but also pushes some larger loose ends along, too. Is there smut? Very little. Is there action? A ton! This book is definitely heavier on the action (and, at time, gore) than sexy times. There are still lots of men, women, and descriptions of their eye color, so don't worry about that. Anita is still a tough woman who is doing the best she can, but at times you want to throttle her for debating things so heavily in the moment. Overall, this gave me a better understanding of the wererats and Rafael, which I think was the point.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Dare

DareDare by Christina Bauer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are fun, cute, and super quick to read. I can't help but smile while reading them, so if you're looking for a pick-me-up, these are definitely it.

We pick up with Calla, still queen but also still trying to convince her subjects that she's taking this seriously. Well, as seriously as someone who wants a bouncy house in the castle can take things. There is, of course, yet another big bad for her to handle. This time the big bad comes in the form of a disgruntled null who uses a magical sword to try to destroy everyone. That'd be a big bummer for Calla, since she is queen now (and has a bouncy house), so she and Dare mobilize to stop this latest threat.

Nothing is ever simple, however, so there's some detective work, some flirty polo games, some ley line nonsense, and other assorted Calla-isms, but we ultimately get to a good ending. While these are short, they are packed with fun and adventure. There's always a little mystery and good chase to keep things interesting, and I think we might be headed toward real romance soon, too!

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Monday, April 5, 2021

The Warrior King

The Warrior King (Inferno Rising, #3)The Warrior King by Abigail Owen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Third book of this series and the third phoenix - this should be easy and predictable, right? Wrong! This book was surprising and had me unsure of any happy ending here, but don't worry, we get a solid, rewarding ending with some breadcrumbs to the next book.

Meira and Samael are an unlikely pair. Meira may have surprised Samael (and his dragon) in the mirror when they first "met" but it's been even stranger since then. Meira, in some attempt at helping the entire dragon race, agreed to mate with Samael's king, sealing their alliance. The evil red king has been up to no good and needs to be stopped, but that doesn't make this any easier for anyone involved. That gets even harder when things turn upside-down and they end up on the run.

Through this story we watch the timid Meira somehow become a queen in more ways than one. We also get to watch Samael step up and accept the responsibility that his king and his people lay at his feet. It was good to watch the chaos somehow end up resolved into a step forward (maybe a single step, but still a step) into the final battle we expect. It was sad, but satisfying. I can't wait to see where the story takes us next!

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A Wolf After My Own Heart

A Wolf After My Own Heart (BeWere My Heart, #2)A Wolf After My Own Heart by MaryJanice Davidson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

WOAH - this book took me on a ride! To be fair, I have not read book#1 in this series, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into, for sure.

Lila is... amazing. She is unflappable, super weird, and just one of the best characters I've met in a long time. Sure, she's got a backstory that explains some things, but not everything, which leaves me loving her even more. She's just moved in to town, relocated her very strange business, and rescued a bear cub and, somehow, things just get weirder from there. Oz is drawn to her in a totally not creepy shifter way. There might be fate at work here, but no matter what, these lovely oddballs are perfect for one another.

The cast of characters here is INSANE. Each is so awesomely strange and quirky that how could I not love them all? The larger story here is... pretty twisty turny. There's missing people who are presumed dead but might not be dead. There's mysterious strangers who fly planes for a living. There's possible sabotage and spies around every corner! Throw all that together with some fires and lots of sarcasm and you get the wonderful world that I stumbled into (already in progress). I couldn't put this darn thing down!

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Wicked All Night

Wicked All Night (Night Rebel, #3)Wicked All Night by Jeaniene Frost
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a little sad and a little happy that this is the end of this trilogy. I think any and all issues I had with this book stem back to my issue with the series as a whole. Was it nice to visit with lots of familiar faces in the big showdown? Yes! Did I wish this entire series was from Ian's perspective? Absolutely.

When I heard there was going to be a series involving Ian I was super excited. He's the lovable rogue who is a good bad guy and a bad good guy. What's not to love? Veritas being the star here was a surprise, but she certainly grew on me. We watch her grow into her powers, grow into her family (both blood and chosen), and she is really a good match for Ian. This last book takes us through the wild rollercoaster that is Veritas and Ian. Ian is dying at the start of the book. Veritas is married, yet still somehow still betrothed to a god. Things spiral from there and yet somehow end up wrapping up without a flaw.

This book really does end up having a big story about a war that both starts and finishes in record time. While I was OK with a bit of "fast forwarding" for things like summoning spirits, but it really felt like portions of the book went way too fast. Why introduce a war if we weren't going to spend a lot of time in it? Weird. The smut was present, too, but it also felt oddly rushed. So, to summarize, while I am happy where we ended up, this book did feel a little strange. Maybe we will check in with them later? Here's hoping!

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Saturday, March 27, 2021

Demons and DNA (Amplifier #1)

Demons and DNA (Amplifier #1)Demons and DNA by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've got to admit dragging my feet on this one. I've read all the other books in this world, so this was holding up my "complete" status, but after reading the novella before this I had trouble caring about the characters. I get that they are supposed to be a bit programmed by the organization that created them, but it was an issue for me. This book had me hooked by the end, though, so I guess I'd recommend reading the novella after you take a trip in this one.

Emma and Christopher are on the run, but laying "low" in a small town. Emma has reluctantly adapted and even sort-of made friends by the time Aiden shows up. Since avoiding adepts in any form is rule#1, inviting a sorcerer back home with them to heal is not exactly a smart move. It's the first of many choices that ends up forcing them to confront their past in new and interesting ways.

It's pretty impossible to do a quick summary here without spoiling things, so I would sum up the elements of the book as an action sort-of-coming-of-age type story with paranormal elements. There's a hint of romantic story, but the focus is really on the "broken" engineered kids and how they are adapting to society. I'm curious where this world will take us and if we will cross paths with any familiar faces from the other series.

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Shadow's Lyric (Crossing Daggers, #1)

Shadow's Lyric (Crossing Daggers, #1)Shadow's Lyric by C.A. Worley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow - what a fantastic read! I never give 5 stars unless I would re-read, so that's telling. This book had everything I want in a book: sarcasm & wit, smutty goodness, paranormal twists & turns, and a good romance element. I'm sad book 2 isn't ready for me to dive in!

Lyric has been raised very unconventionally, even for a half-demon. As daughter of the ruling demon, she's endured countless tortures and "training" sessions that have carved her into the tough chick she is today. Her father helps guard the passage between her world and another, more dangerous one that she's been warned to never cross into. All of that goes out the window when she is told of an arrangement her father brokered to send her over there and "give" her to the leader on the other side, Draven.

These two were amazing together. I enjoyed switching between the two perspectives and learning how alike they truly were. Draven is tough on the outside but a marshmallow inside. Lyric, for all her fighting and displays of strength, is also a compassionate soul. Together, it makes sense they are drawn to each other, even with the cruel situation they've been placed into. Yes, there's surprises and reveals along the way, but the relationship was great to watch unfold. I would encourage any paranormal fans out there to pick this one up and clear an afternoon, because you won't be able to put it down!

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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Dragon Spawn

Dragon Spawn (World of the Lupi, #13)Dragon Spawn by Eileen Wilks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admit that I finished this book a little while ago, but was so mad that I left this review to simmer.

Now that I've had time to think, I'm still not happy, but can at least review the rest of this. This book? It's like one big battle. We all knew that the ending of the previous book would leave us some loose ends to tie up. This book tries to come back around and tie them up, but we are left with a really huge cliffhanger. Like the type that makes you throw your kindle across the room. We don't know how anyone is left really at the end here, don't know where we are going in the next book and in general it was just unsatisfying.

The road leading up to the cliffhanger? It was good, but very, very heavy on the buildup to this big showdown we were going to get. While the showdown did happen, and I enjoyed the Lily character development, it was a little heavy for me to get through. Something about the balance in this book made me feel like I was reading a separate novella or a different series. For someone who has been eagerly devouring this series, I will probably take a break here to let this settle and then dive in to hopefully finish (?) the series.

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