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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