Sunday, December 31, 2023

Cursed Luck

Cursed Luck (Cursed Luck, #1)Cursed Luck by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a cute, unique story and world this book built! I dove in having just recognized the author with little background and was pleasantly surprised here.

Kennedy is one of three famous curse weaver witches, but she is the one who moved away from their hometown to practice on her own. Her specialty, also, is one that seems to be largely underrated and doesn’t come with the same clout as other magical specialties. It’s weird, then, that she is approached at her antique store twice in a row from folks wanting her to work for them. Both without even the courtesy of an appointment. Aiden, at least, offers her a rather cushy job, but also sort-of pushes her to break into his office to uncurse his mirror.

It ultimately works out for them as they have mutual interests in the form of their siblings in trouble. They team up to begin the most strange treasure hunting adventure ever. And yes, there are lots of Greek mythology elements at play here, not just in the form of Kennedy’s power. Overall, this was a really great setup for what I hope is a very big world. I can’t wait to see where this heads now that things have officially been set in motion for even more future mayhem (or havoc?). Loved it!

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Recon Mission: Bee

Recon Mission: Bee (Amplifier, #5.5)Recon Mission: Bee by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was probably more a 3.5 than 4 if only because it was short and a little confusing. Being in a new character’s head after spending so much time with Emma was jarring and I still find it super confusing when they actively change out the nicknames, real names, and “designations” throughout the text. We got to learn a little more about the inner workings of “Zans” while also getting the setup for the next big book.

Zans has issues, like lots and lots of issues. This short story, though, centers around her time after being “ditched” by “Fish” in Russia. They were supposed to be trying to track down “Bee” through a contact only Fish knew. Zans doesn’t go immediately into “tear the whole building down” mode, but we get there. There are a few twists, surprises, and reveals thrown in which make this sort-of required reading before the next book.

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A Court of Frost and Starlight

A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.5)A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was very different from the previous ones, not only in length but in who we get to see inside the heads of. In this case, we jump around quite a bit, giving us insight into most of the main characters. I assume this is to “brace” us for things to come, especially since the Nesta we got to know in the previous book takes a really sharp turn back in this novella.

This book takes place leading up to the solstice, which was nice and festive for my end of year reading. All the main characters are buying presents and navigating drama while learning/educating each other on traditions from years past. There are definitely some dark parts of this book, but those mostly center around the fallout from the war and Nesta. Feyre is still trying to figure out what she adds to this world without dedicating 100% of her waking hours to volunteering. Oh, and somehow Feyre and Rhys haven’t been able to spend time together, even though the war is over. Heavy sigh there.

The part that was probably the longest time coming was a visit with Tamlin. We don’t spend a ton of time with him, but what we get to see is… rewarding? Is that bad to say? Also sad. I felt like this gave some closure though, and that storyline really needed it. Cassian/Nesta story is definitely still a work in progress, but with this and Mor’s story we’ve got enough content for many more books. Hopefully we see a lot more of Lucien play out at some point, too. All in all, this was a nice “short” diversion, but didn’t actually push the main plot much.

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Friday, December 29, 2023

A Court of Wings and Ruin

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t even know where to begin with this book because there was so much in it! While I definitely enjoyed the previous book more than this one, it certainly did wrap up some loose ends (not all, though!).

Remember where we left Feyre at the end of the previous book? Well she’s there and it’s just as terrible as you’d imagine. She’s hiding all sorts of secrets under this pretend-timid person, trying to gather information, get involved in enemy planning adventures, all while also planting seeds of doubt in the spring court. It’s really not that hard since there’s been enough neglect being shown by their ruler. Don’t worry, though, we don’t have to spend too much time here. Does Feyre make choices that make me want to throw the book? Yes. Does she also somehow get to her end goal? Also, yes. So I guess that’s a win?

All of that scheming and plotting takes us to the biggest part of the book - WAR. This book really is a huge lead up and then battle. Oh, there’s smutty goodness, lies, betrayal, shocking decision, more characters than you can remember, and an ending that also had me throwing the book, only to take it back. It really puts you through a rollercoaster ride of emotion that ends somewhere I can live with. Like I said at the start, we get to a good resolution to the war storyline (I hope for now) but we still have some things to resolve in future books. Mostly in the romance category but also in things like who the new world will play out. Also, we got one silly loose end play out in a very “MacGuffin ” sort of way. I still like the world, but have some notes now, whereas the previous book just left me a lot more settled somehow.

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Instincts and Impostors

Instincts and Impostors (Amplifier, #5)Instincts and Impostors by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I took a little while between books in this series before coming back to book #5. I’ve read all the other books in this world as they overlap timeline-wise, but it was still kind of jarring to join back in with the very… robotic (?) Emma. I eventually got over the learning curve here, but it definitely took a little while.

Emma is taking Opal to a cover retreat at the start of the book. While it’s only supposed to be them going with their fellow-witch-ish friend, it ends up bringing along most if not all the characters in some form or another. Also, if you’re a reader of the other series, we get lots of familiar faces for the coven. What should be a somewhat simple matter is made into a big ordeal that starts with a strange witch showing up with a raven. It snowballs from there, involving Paisley, Aiden, and Emma as they band together to save their little family.

I really did enjoy how much Emma manages to pull through as a leader when all her newfound emotions are rebelling. The way that she almost instantly makes really difficult decision is crazy, but fun to watch. I was on the edge of my seat until the end of this book, hoping for the best and generally being rewarded for it. You’ve done it again - I’m back on Team Emma.

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The Viper’s Nest Roadhouse & Cafe

The Viper’s Nest Roadhouse & Cafe (Sam Quinn, #6)The Viper’s Nest Roadhouse & Cafe by Seana Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I will continue to read these books until there are no more in the series. The world and its characters are so fun that I couldn’t stop reading this one (just like the rest!).

This book finally gets to address the business with Clive’s maker, Garyn. We knew she was skulking around and that it would become a point in a future book, but this really spun up quick! They barely have time to visit their under construction “folly” before they are informed that Garyn is showing up for a visit. Should be easy, right? But nothing in Clive and Sam’s lives is ever easy. Turns out, Garyn is not just here for a nice check-in visit, but wants to turn this into an all out war.

How does it all go down? Well, I don’t want to spoil anything too big, but Gary’s powers end up surprising everyone involved. Sam, as usual, is forced to train some more and become an even bigger magical power by the end of all this. There’s lots of battles, powers, magic, mayhem, and alliances thrown into this one. After this fun romp, I’m somehow even more excited about the next book!

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Primal Possesion

Primal Possession (Moon Shifter Book 2)Primal Possession by Katie Reus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oops, I dove into this series at book 2 instead of book 1. That being said, I don’t think it was too hard to catch up with all the previously introduced characters here.

We join December, an independent woman who owns her own book store and is determined not to get involved with a shifter, no matter how much he persists. Liam is not being too pushy (I don’t think) but he is definitely making it very clear that he wants to be with December, overbearing cop brother or not. What pushes them to take the leap? Well, there’s this anti-shifter group who will go to any length to make sure shifters don’t get accepted as “normal.” This leads them to attack December and her friend, leading to even more angry shifter males.

The romance here was pretty solid, and, yes, so was the smut. There’s clearly history I wasn’t aware of, but they do a good job catching you up along the way. The side story is about December’s friend and her shifter ex dancing around one another. Fair warning- this story does get pretty dark as far as kidnapping and torture, so if that type of thing bothers you, you’ll be skimming or avoiding certain chapters. I found this book to be a good blend of action and romance/smut.

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Thursday, December 14, 2023

Wolf’s Bane

Wolf's Bane (Wolves Next Door, #1)Wolf's Bane by Auryn Hadley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In my effort to not go over my allotted audible credits, I looked for a title that was included in my membership, but still in my preferred paranormal romance genre. I didn't even realize this was 1 of 3 in a trilogy, but that explains how this story wraps up now.

Elena is a woman who has realized she's got to get a divorce. After her daughter, Gabby, points out how Elena has been letting her husband treat her with no respect, she's motivated to take the next step. Lucky for her, her BFF, Ashley, happens to have an office opening in the very exclusive gated community she works at/lives in. Seems easy enough, other than uprooting her daughter and shaking up her "normal" life. Things get very complicated when we start throwing wolf shifters in the mix. Oh, and young, attractive, poly wolf shifters, too. This does a slow slide into reverse-harem territory since in this world, that's how wolf shifters operate.

Ian is the wolf shifter alpha and begins the story totally against having a human in their midst. In this world, wolf shifters are still hiding and he doesn't want to risk his pack because Ashley (his sister) wants her BFF living there. The fact that one of his betas, though, Lane, is fated to be with Elena, makes him rethink his options here. Honestly, for a reverse-harem, there is a surprisingly little amount of smut in this book. It is largely centered around Elena's uncertainties, Gabby's new life, and teenage angst. Oh, and can I also say that Elena's ex is the WORST. It was hard to hear about him and I'm not sure I'd sign up for more of him in the future books. While we end relatively resolved, there is definitely more to come for this newly formed family.

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Monday, December 11, 2023

Big Witch Energy

Big Witch Energy (Starfall, #2)Big Witch Energy by Molly Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Molly Harper never disappoints and this story picked right up where book 1 left us. I'd recommend going back so you get the world building, with the promise of Caroline's book waiting for you here.

Caroline is one of the members of the newly formed coven on Starfall Point. She is somehow okay with most aspects of the witch world, but is still figuring out her own family. As the "dependable one," Caroline is often the only family member working her shifts at the bar (other than her mom). Since her family is cursed to die some horribly weird death if they leave the island, you'd think they would want to keep their only family business afloat but her brother are largely useless and her dad is still lost in grief. Caroline's reliable nature, however, is put to the test when her ex shows up one night with kids in tow and her family bar suffers some terrible damage. Oh, and she gets hit by a moped, too.

Throw all these things together and I was very happy with the ups and downs of Caroline's story. She and Ben (the ex) are cute together, but not perfect. The kids are also cute but not perfect. I would read 100 of these types of books and I'm glad to see that, with the world now established, we are working our way through the pairing up of the coven. I cannot wait to see what they end up being able to do and who will enter their world next. The house full of ghosts somehow take a back seat to all the other yummy drama.

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BronxBronx by Margo Bond Collins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I inadvertently joined this story at the end of the trilogy, but was able to keep pace with the world and characters. I'd probably recommend starting from book 1 though.

Bronx is the scarred guardian of his pack and he now feels like a burden instead of a benefit to said pack. With the recent merging of his pack with another one, his alpha has tasked him with taking a mate from the group of outsiders. Cora is a previously abused single mother of said group of outsiders. She ends up moving to the compound and rather quickly finding attraction with Bronx. She looks beyond his scars and sees the warrior he is, always protecting others. Bronx is very quick to jump on the mating idea when he sees possibilities with Cora.

If you're looking for romance, this is more a fated mates and rushed ceremony type of deal, with some smut thrown in to smooth some of the rough edges. I'm not sure if I agreed with how quickly the abuse is resolved or recovered from, but I'm willing to hand wave for the sake of fated mates. There were not really super high stakes at any point, so it was an easy read. Since this is book 3 of a trilogy, I assumed we'd wrap everything up, and we largely did, but we also have some loose ends in the way a side character gets his own chapter. Are there more books coming? I hope so!

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Sunday, December 3, 2023

A Demon's Guide to Wooing a Witch

A Demon's Guide to Wooing a Witch (Glimmer Falls, #2)A Demon's Guide to Wooing a Witch by Sarah Hawley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whoops, I started this series at book 2! I don’t think I had trouble catching up, though, especially since a key element of this book is being able to make the villain of book 1 into the love interest/hero here.

Calladia is a brawling witch who has been determinedly herself ever since she allowed her family and boyfriend make her feel small. She lives on her own, has a massively supportive friend group of various paranormals (who are out in the open in this world), and is a strong witch herself. Surprise, surprise, the evil doer from her most recent demon encounter ends up wounded and begging for her help so soon after their last meeting. Astaroth, said demon, has lost his memory and is injured when he meets Calladia for what feels like the first time to him. With no memories, it appears that he is a lot nicer than before.

Being the somehow still kind-hearted person that she is, Calladia takes it upon herself to help Astaroth regain his memories and thwart the even-more-evil demons who end up taking aim at them. There are a lot of side quests that combine to a big showdown against the rulers of demon kind in a great sort of way. If you enjoy a nice enemies to lovers story with lots of dirty goodness, this is definitely worth checking out (and maybe going back one book, too!).

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Born to Be Badger

Born to Be Badger (Honey Badger Chronicles #5)Born to Be Badger by Shelly Laurenston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gosh, where to even begin with this book filled with mayhem? I’ve jumped in and out of this series, so I can assure you that you will be lost in a whirlwind of chaos no matter if you’re read all the previous books or not, so this can totally be standalone if you are interested.

Tock is one of the band of misfit badgers who are notoriously up to no good. They might be excellent basketball players, but they are really terrible at staying out of trouble. I mean that in the best possible way because their antics make for hilarious reading. Shay is part of the Malone family of shifters and he somehow gets caught up in the tornado of Tock’s life, hitching a ride to a seemingly straightforward heist that goes sideways. Turns out, he can come in handy even when paired off with a nearly indestructible shifter.

While this does include romance-ish aspects and some smutty good times, it really does lean heavily into the larger story of espionage, backstabbing, corrupt politics, etc. If that’s not your cup of tea, I’d still say that this will put it all in a way that a paranormal reader can enjoy. Really - the level of mayhem is off the charts! I always go through a roller coaster of emotion reading these books that always starts in confusion, shock, but ends with smiles and happiness. If that sounds good, check out this or other books in this series.

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