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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