Monday, February 28, 2022

The Stealing

The StealingThe Stealing by S.A. Sutila
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book surprised me at every turn and I never got my "sea legs" (get it? she's the captain's daughter) under me.

Sarah is a troubled young girl. She's been made fun of all throughout high school because of her father's profession, her ability to be part of a ship's crew, and, it turns out, because she's secretly coveted by the guys. As graduation looms, she's excited to escape her small town and start fresh. The neighbor boys have been a particular thorn in her side for her whole life, always bullying her and making fun. Grant, however, decides that now is the time to ask for forgiveness and pursue her. While there are some sparks, she quickly ends up in a suicidal tailspin when her dad says she can no longer go away to school.

There are some very dark themes in this book and I found myself cringing at times to get through Sarah's morbid thoughts. One such trauma ends with her adrift in a spirit world, where a narcissist ends up taking her life as punishment and/or a learning exercise (still a little unclear there). Max, this mystical being, transforms her into something more and sends her back to earth, leaving her hoping it was all just a dream and she doesn't have a ticking clock on her life.

Grant and Sarah as a couple was a combination of awkward high school romance and borderline stalker-ish. With all the other stuff going on in her life, though, his family seemed like a nice place for her to discover her true self worth. That's the ultimate HEA for me in this book, and the overall romance is secondary. I'd warn that if you are easily triggered by the darker types of paranormal storylines, this book may not be for you, but otherwise, it was definitely unexpected.

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Sunday, February 27, 2022

Sweet Ruin

Sweet Ruin (Immortals After Dark, #15)Sweet Ruin by Kresley Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't think I even know how to rate these books anymore. I was, however, a little surprised that 15 books in, we are meeting 2 brand new people to follow as the only main characters. Sure, there's Nix and some familiar faces, but Josephine & Rune are both brand new to me.

So - Josephine is a girl who is really rough around the edges. She was forced to grow up fast when she found herself taking care of her baby brother while on the streets or in foster care. She also had a special ability to attract trouble, which is how she ended up thrust into the paranormal community against her will. She can do "wicked strong" things, and ends up having to force herself away from her little brother to protect him. Fast forward to meeting the "bringers of doom" that we heard about previously. They're coming for Earth, but in advance of that, Rune is sent to scout things out and then to take out a big player.

When Rune and Josephine meet it isn't all hearts and rainbows. These two *struggle* but it's pretty fun to watch. The sizzle is there, and it's not as bad as other consent issues I've had with the series. The big struggle is with some "whoring" that comes up now and again. And, ya know, Josephine is... rough. Other than that, I feel like we are relatively back on track for the series. You can see the puzzle pieces moving around now, getting ready for war.

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Secrets and Truths

Secrets and Truths (Otherside Heat #1)Secrets and Truths by Whitney Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oooooh I liked this one a lot! Having not been exposed to this author or world before, it was a wonderful surprise!

Lya is a halfbreed who has been exiled into the US. Forced to work for a fae boss that hates her, she's been going about her business as a bounty hunter without incident trying to build up her own career. Cade is a vagabond vampire who happens to be in the right place at the right time for sparks to fly. He and Lya meet and the rest is history. There's some truly wonderful smutty goodness thrown in with some heartfelt surprises along the way.

The story, which is almost unnecessary when there's a nice romance, centers around conflicting priorities and people who are assumed dead resurfacing. This couple really surprised me in some great ways. I am eager for more both from this author and this world. What a great find!

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Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Not the witch you wed

Not the Witch You WedNot the Witch You Wed by April Asher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this fun read! It's like a romantic comedy had a baby with a sexy paranormal romance and it produced this great (hopefully only first) installment!

Vi is one of three twin sisters and the only one who was born without magic. As (technically) the first born, she should have been heir to a sort-of throne for witches. Her power doesn't manifest until after re-connecting with her boyhood frenemy, Lincoln, who is now the leader of all North American packs. In this world, paranormals are out of the closet and Lincoln is a type of celebrity. He is also obligated to find a mate before his next birthday or one will be assigned to him. Vi is in a similar "mate or be mated" situation herself.

After literally running into one another and feeling a bit of that tingle, they agree to a pact which of course could not go wrong or include misunderstandings. Lincoln, saddled with his own secrets and long standing love for Vi, readily agrees. Chaos and magical romantic storyline ensues. These two were fun to watch, even with the inevitable cringey scenes of miscommunication and misunderstanding. We get a HEA for these two lovebirds, but I am DYING to see where all the other characters end up!

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Dark Skye

Dark Skye (Immortals After Dark, #14)Dark Skye by Kresley Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm giving this a reluctant 4 stars because it was a good book on its own, but after all this buildup, was a let down.

We have known about Lanthe and her fear of reckoners for a bunch of books now. We also watched her get dragged off by one, sacrificing herself to free her friend to run after her adopted daughter. In this book, we finally get to see what happened after that scene for Lanthe. Turns out, they knew each other as kids (not just in the gruesome murder of Lanthe's parents) and they are fated mates (as should be expected in these books). The hard part here? Thronos wants to obtain her, but is doing it completely the wrong way. He wants to lock her away to produce heirs? Yeah, Lanthe (and her sister) would never let that happen.

Along the yelling, arguing, fighting way, we learn that Thronos didn't realize his brother (who we met in a dramatic scene in a previous book) was going after Lanthe and her sister, succeeding in killing one of them several times. So - what's the big revelation in this book? What pushes this bigger story along? I think it's Lanthe's power and how she addresses her lack of it in this book. Other than that, it ties a bit of the other actions and stories together. As a standalone, I guess it's fine, but it was very heavy in the domineering arguments and very light on the actual romance part. Personally, I think Lanthe can do better.

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Saturday, February 12, 2022

Misplaced Souls

Misplaced Souls (Misfits of the Adept Universe Book 1)Misplaced Souls by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This world (22 books in now) is so comfortable to me that each installment is like coming home. I will continue to gobble these up until the series (or the world) ends.

This book is about Mory. She's been a bit of a loner type since we met her, having gone through some serious trauma that introduced her as a big player in the magical scene. She works with death/life magic, knits, and is friends with an undead turtle. She also happens to be magically protected by Jade and her friends, but in this book she finds herself thrust into the "real world."

Having just gotten certified in magic stuffs, she can now take jobs and act like a grown up for the most part. Her first job ends up being from Liam, the police sorcerer we know from previous books. Who knew he would take such a turn? He ends up contracting her for work trying to solve some unexplainable murders of children. Along the way we learn about surprising magical creatures, Mory's even more tragic internal monologue, and maybe some actual romance. All in all, this felt like the start of a series, but it appears we move into Archivist stuff after this. I want more Mory!

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Trifles and Folly 2 (Deadly Curiosities)

Trifles and Folly 2 (Deadly Curiosities)Trifles and Folly 2 by Gail Z. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my second journey into this world and I found I enjoyed this one even more than the first anthology. You can certainly start here (and I'd recommend it), but I'm sure this serves as a great accompaniment to the series as a whole.

The set follows the same set of characters, with the main being a touch psychic who owns an antique shop. She works with some other magical and non-magical folks to make sure cursed or other dark objects don't make it back out to the public, but also appears to dabble in un-haunting houses in this set. I really enjoyed all the characters and stories contained in the set, with a particular focus on the very interested inter-personal relationships along the way.

Who would I recommend this set to? Someone who wants a nice, easily digestible story that could either be read as standalone or all together. Someone who likes mysteries and magic, with a touch of paranormal romance thrown in for good measure.

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Azuri Fae (Caledonia Fae, #2)

Azuri Fae (Caledonia Fae, #2)Azuri Fae by India Drummond
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We are working through these books for book club and while they are interesting, they are definitely not exactly what I'd usually keep coming back to. It's like a mix of high fantasy, contemporary procedural (a little), and fade to black romance.

This book picks up after the outcome of the previous book. Eilidh is a bit of a hero, having saved her kingdom from the insane fae who could have destroyed them all. He also uncovered druids, so she is associated with that re-discovery as well. The big thing here is... war, pretty much. Things aren't well in the kingdom, beginning with the queen who may be a little mad herself. There is a division in the kingdom because some want to welcome the fae they previously exiled while others are more traditional.

There's also a big thread of Munro and Eilidh struggling with their fated relationship. For Munro, he's all in, but unable to navigate the fae way of life so easily. For Eilidh, she's struggling to open herself to such a wild change in her life. Who knew that would be the smallest change. Things in this book escalate super quickly, so brace yourself. The twists and turns that center around a mystery (which ends up being... not so big?) kept me interested but not necessarily invested. I find the side characters more interesting than the main. We'll see what happens after the big end of this book, but I think most of these characters are a little hard to relate to.

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