Sunday, April 30, 2023

One Wolf Next Door

One Wolf Next Door (The Willow Witch Chronicles, #1)One Wolf Next Door by Efthalia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very quick, cute read that really sets the stage for more installments.

Sam is a witch who has always had trouble with her powers. Left on her own to stumble along and generally shunned by other witches, she’s developed her own flower shop as her source of income and tends to avoid magic use. She’s thrown into the thick of things, though, when someone shows up dead on her doorstep and warlocks start popping out of thin air. There’s also the mysterious hottie next door that keeps sniffing around her.

All of this combines to make for a rather magical (ha-ha) time in her life, with many twists and turns along the way. There’s romance, sizzle, secrets, and a bit of action thrown in to round out this first book of a series. Having met a good number of interesting characters, I’m curious where we go from here.

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Sweep in Peace

Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles, #2)Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s official - I’m hooked on this series. We are reading it as a book club and we’ve all agreed to continue on wherever this series takes us!

This second installment really digs into the inn and innkeeper powers, as well as takes us deep inside some peace talks. Remember our vampire friend from the first book? Well he comes back with an entourage who is all part of peace talks for a contested alien world. Another familiar set of faces is the merchants, who we met bartering last time, but are a key stakeholder in this contested world. Last is a new-to-us race that seems very much like the vampires, but has a slightly different hierarchical structure and culture. All three of these groups end up at the inn (along with our favorite resident guest) under the banner of peace talks. How did they all get there? Well, turns out that there is a structure to arrange such a thing.

The arbiters that show up to arrange these talks come in the form of a calculating organizer of unknown powers, a shapeshifting mischief maker/peace-keeper, and a big bruiser of a sweetheart. Throw in a wildcard halfway through the talks and you’ve got a very uniquely balanced team to handle almost constant threats of violence. Dina, as Innkeeper, has her hands full in the most challenging ways this time, and all without her wolf-friend. I would also be remiss if I left out the necessity for Dina to hire on help in the most wonderful new character we meet this time around. All of this combined to really set the stage for future installments, but was a fun ride none the less.

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Saturday, April 22, 2023

Ancient Warrior

Ancient Warrior (Ancients Rising Book 8)Ancient Warrior by Katie Reus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Aodh and Harlow’s story is just everything. While you can certainly read these as standalone books, I highly recommend reading this whole series - they are all excellent!

This series convinced me that post-apocalyptic worlds aren’t all bad. I mean, sure, they survived something terrible when the dragons destroyed most of the world and a lot of the infrastructure we take for granted, but the stories that come out of it are phenomenal. We join our merry band of housemates with a focus on Harlow, one of the twin tiger shifters. She’s always come across as damaged in the past, but this book shares the betrayal she was living with for years.

Aodh, a dragon shifter and Harlow’s intended mate, has been locked up by an evil witch for years, until a battle knocked him loose from his prison. He believes that Harlow betrayed him, both living a lie because of the witch’s magic. Don’t worry, though, because this story comes with excellent retribution, a lot of clearing the air, a healthy dose of witty banter, smut, and a HEA (for more than just Harlow). We also get guest appearances from our favorite other characters in this world, which is always nice. I enjoyed watching this one play out and can’t wait to see where we go next (Axel maybe?).

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Shoulder the Skye

Shoulder the Skye (Skye Druids, #2)Shoulder the Skye by Donna Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Donna Grant writes some wonderful worlds, so I was happy to dive back into the world already established by a few other series I’ve devoured. I missed book 1 but found it easy to settle back in to book 2 here.

Bronwyn is an outcast, even though she resides in an estate passed down for generations in the very protected world of Skye. She’s made some choices that she has to live with that made her “other.” Elias has been away from Skye for a while and is still trying to find his footing with his estranged family. While away, he made his own family in the form of a bunch of “Knights” who try to rescue those in need. This group of characters was definitely a highlight of the book - their camaraderie and genuine love for one another was wonderful to see play out.

Turns out, Elias and Bronwyn know each other from grade school and the sparks fly almost immediately when they encounter each other again. Yes, there is the pesky issue of Elias investigating the mysterious fog when he spies on her, but when he saves her from a run-in with an ex, they manage to work it out. I really enjoyed the unique twist of Bronwyn’s history, powers, and eventually how they end up conquering their big bad. I’m officially hooked on this series and may even go back to the start to catch up.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Dread and Buried

Dread and Buried (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries, #12)Dread and Buried by Angie Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love these books! While we are 12 books in, I think you can dive in wherever and enjoy a visit in the Southern Ghost Hunter world. This book is especially suited for it, since it’s a “road trip” type story that takes a few main characters on a road trip (or boat trip in this instance).

Verity is celebrating her sister’s birthday in a most unusual way. She, her sister, and both their boyfriends find themselves pulled into a pirate treasure hunt on an island nearby. It’s just distant enough to cut cell service and any sort of help, which becomes an issue when participants end up with more than they bargained for. As usual, the murder mystery part of the story was compelling and had me guessing until the end. Verity and her group made me love them even more (and performed what I thought was impossible for the least-likable cop).

This book really blends together the supernatural and “regular” romance into a wonderful story. These books never fail to put a smile on my face, whether through the antics of the ghosts or some wild and crazy situation. Even without the usuals around in the form of a pet skunk or friendly neighbor, this book had me hooked from the start. If you’re new to the series, I highly recommend you go back and enjoy the journey we’ve been on.

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Saturday, April 15, 2023

Witch Way Out

Witch Way Out (A Full Moon Mystery)Witch Way Out by Cate Conte
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oops, I thought I had read the previous books in this series, but it was readily apparent that I hadn’t. That being said, I was able to catch up and dive into the wild and wacky world of Violet.

Violet appears to have been going through a bunch of revelations. She now knows she’s a witch, and not just a normal one but one with a seat on the magic council, heir to a glitter throwing mega-witch, and she’s also a small business owner. Oddly, it’s the last one that puts her on the route of a big murder mystery. Are there witchy elements? Sure! But her crystal shop gets selected to participate in a big fair for those types of things, by none other than her hero. Said hero, however, ends up at the center of a big mystery that somehow Violet gets involved in.

Oh, and there’s a bit of a love triangle or two going on in the background of all this, making things extra sticky as Violet tries to separate possible jealous with murderous intent in this mystery. I enjoyed all the characters with their somewhat normal quirks and flaws, and would like to get to know them all more. There’s a bit of a big reveal at the end that we hopefully dig into in further installments.

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Hell Bent

Hell Bent: an urban fantasy romance (Jinx McGee Book 2)Hell Bent: an urban fantasy romance by D.B. Sieders
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is book 2 in a series, and while I think you could probably eek by using context clues here, it’s better to begin at the beginning.

The story picks up in the aftermath of a truly PTSD inducing battle that Jinx and her team are all still working through. Every member is different degrees of messed up, physically, mentally, or both. In the case of D and Jinx, there is some trust broken and they are playing keep away until yet another demon attack draws them together again. Oh, and there’s a kitten involved this time. While they try to figure out working together again, the entire team is trying to pick up the pieces that the escaped demons have left.

The big story here involves some nefarious activities seen at the latest demon attack site, which leads them to a plan of infiltration and what is supposed to be detective work. Nothing ever goes as planned for Jinx, though, and she is still trying to figure out life without being possessed. The end here came fast and furious with twists and turns that kept the pages flipping. While we get a lot of hints in this book, I’m interested to see how Jinx deals with some revelations in future installments.

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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Must Love Hellhounds

Must Love HellhoundsMust Love Hellhounds by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think I say this every time, but I’m not a huge fan of short story anthologies. I added this to my wishlist a while ago because I’ve read some of the authors contained here, and I’m nothing if not a reader determined to read all installments in a series. That being said, I don’t think you need any prior experience in any of these worlds, or with any of these authors, to enjoy the writing here.

The stories themselves have a good variety. There are some that lean heavier into romance and others that are more heavy in the paranormal, but they’ve all got hellhounds! As short story anthologies go, I admit that I will be checking out the last author to get more from the series because I found it very interesting. I’d recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good, quick, paranormal set of stories with some romance sprinkled in. Don’t expect down and dirty smutty goodness in each tale and you won’t be let down.

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I Dream of Demigods

I Dream of DemigodsI Dream of Demigods by Alexa Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a cute little start to what I hope grows into a wonderful series!

Or is a witch who can’t do magic. Every spells she tries fails and she’s been blocked ever since some trauma involving her family. All that changes when she gets a new boss, Alex, who also happens to be a grim reaper of sorts. His magic is attraction and oh boy does it work on Ro. These two light the pages on fire, but it also changes Ro. Aside from now being an avid rule breaker, going after her boss, she’s also now got magic to control, secrets to figure out, and a familiar who is simply the best!

This rag tag crew ends up coming together to try to avert certain disaster, fight evil ex’s, and ultimately save this budding romance. I loved the characters in this almost as much as the romance. As an intro to this world, I am officially ready for the next book!

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Guardian Undone

Guardian Undone (Stealth Guardians, #4)Guardian Undone by Tina Folsom
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one wasn’t my favorite in this series. Something about the romance felt rushed and forced, leaving me less and less engaged in the overall story. The highlights here were the guest appearances of Scanguard folks and the hint at something bigger in the next books.

Logan has been a loyal soldier, so when he is ordered to take out a psychic before she falls into the hands of the demons, it should be easy. Instead, he ends up falling in lust, then jumping through a lot of mental hoops to end up justifying keeping her alive as “more useful.” Winter herself is less than enthusiastic in going with Logan, and that’s before she learns he was supposed to kill her. Like I said, the romance seems forced in there, but was OK overall.

The real story hidden in here revolves around the ruler of the demons. There’s definitely something more going on, as we’ve seen building in the previous books. Not sure where we are headed, but it better have a big payoff after so many hints. Here’s hoping having a psychic on their team helps the Stealth Guardians take a big step forward in the war against the demons, otherwise this book truly was filler.

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Clean Sweep

Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1)Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having already known I enjoy this author, me liking this book is not a huge surprise. This author definitely knows how to make a truly unique world, complete with engaging characters.

The characters this time around start with Dina, who is an Innkeeper. This particular title comes with powers and abilities tied to a bit of neutral ground in the form of an inn for supernaturals. She’s not encouraged to take part in anything that could jeopardize her neutrality, but can’t seem to stop herself when the local werewolf, Sean, refuses to take action against someone murdering local animals in their neighborhood.

Sean himself isn’t super likable, but he definitely grew on me. He’s more of a reluctant supernatural in this story, but it works out for us, the reader, because he needs a lot of explanation. Whether it’s the magical world somewhere not on this planet where you can barter and buy just about anything or just generally the powers and responsibilities of an Innkeeper, it was good to have someone else to learn this world along with. The other characters we meet along the way also help build out a really interesting world that I’m eager to dive further into. Another bonus? We don’t get resolution on the romantic elements, the mystery of her parents, or too much info on the inn’s only guest. I like that we get to build slowly in this world and am eager for more!

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