Thursday, April 18, 2024

How to Live an Undead Lie

How to Live an Undead Lie (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy, #5)How to Live an Undead Lie by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yeesh, Grier's life is complicated. This book ends in some unresolved stuff that led me to *immediately* dive into the final book of the series. We knew this was all building but I was 100% unprepared for the reveal at the end here.

So, what happens in this stunning installment? Well, congrats, Grier's a mommy to a vampire. He ends up showing up on her doorstep in a series of political and necromancer related events. In good news, Linus has really shown that he is the perfect match for her. He balances her crazy with the stable stubbornness that only he can provide. While this is a wild ride that ends with some huge changes in Grier's life, it's very clear we have been pointed in this direction from the start of the series. Grier is now the power player that she only ever dreamt of being, and that grows with each book.

Some things don't change, though. Like Boaz - who is still an idiot. As someone who is firmly in the next book, I wish I could tell you he eventually is not an idiot, but I think he will forever be one. Does he do things with good motivation? Sometimes? It's still infuriating. Lethe and Hood are bright spots and such a wonderful addition to the wild and crazy world that we are in. Does drama get stirred up in their world? Yes. Does it somehow resolve in a way for the better? Yes. I think I prefer that to the never-ending push and pull of Boaz/Grier. As a book series that is complete, I can definitely be happy to wrap things up (hopefully) by the end of the next book, but I'll be sad to say goodbye to most of these characters.

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Sapient Curse

Sapient Curse (Spellcrest Academy #7)Sapient Curse by Michael Pierce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I took a pretty long break between books here so it took me extra long to remember even who anyone was at the start. First, let me acknowledge that this ends in a big cliffhanger, so if that is going to piss you off, wait until we have book 8 out and read for you to devour.

We join Maeve, now heading into her Sapient year at the academy with her friends. One friend has just been turned into a vampire. Her boyfriend is up to shady business with an ex. Oh, and now they all have to go through super traumatic virtual reality devices as part of their routine classes, so everybody is more than a little on edge. The "big bad" of this book revolves around a mysterious man who ran into Devon and Maeve on a training exercise, then attacked the crew when they ventured outside the safety of the school's walls.

It really doesn't sound like a lot when I spell it out like that, and I guess it wasn't. A majority of the time was spent on adapting to changes (i.e. of the vampire variety) and the interpersonal drama that is being a school aged person dating someone older. With all the build-up to the ending here, it was mostly clues, hints, and the usual dangerous threat to Maeve, but it did feel relatively low stakes this time for some reason.

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Vampire Academy (re-read)

Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy, #1)Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Re-reading this for book club and I still love this book. I plowed through it at a rapid pace and can 100% recommend re-reading this series if you haven't already done that. I didn't quite remember all the steps we take to get to our series end, so it was fun to reconnect with the characters and go along for the ride. Not everything was a surprise, but it felt good to see everyone back where it all started.

Original review: I both love and hate Tara for gifting this book to me. I couldn't put the damn thing down! If I didn't have to wake up for work this morning, I would've finished it last night! Now I guess I need to read the rest of these things... Great story and really the blurb doesn't do it justice. I guess I'm a YA addict...

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Friday, April 12, 2024


Beginnings (The Pinewood Pack Series Book 1)Beginnings by Bridget Nicole
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a fated mate book that takes us through all the eyes of someone who has no idea werewolves exist at the starts.

Olivia is engaged at the start of the book. She's with a reliable guy who she could see herself spending a very dull rest of her life with. At a wedding of all places, she ends up meeting Ethan. There is instant chemistry and they even share a secret kiss. This one chance meeting ends up blowing Olvia's world apart. She's forced to take a leap of faith from her "normal" life into the world of werewolves and politics.

Since Ethan is the alpha, he's also very used to getting what he wants. Olivia, being a normal human woman, throws a bit of a wrench in his plans by questioning just about everything. What should, by normal werewolf rules, be a relatively simple fated coupling, ends up hitting many bumps along the way, including some troublesome family members, betrayal, and doubtful soon-to-be-mother-in-laws. As your standard fated mate book, we end up getting through all that to a nice resolution at the end. Does everything get truly resolved? No. In fact, a big part of the start of the book never ends up re-surfacing in this book. Who knows if it shows up in book 2? Either way, it felt a little unfinished by the end here.

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Making It So: A Memoir

Making It So: A MemoirMaking It So: A Memoir by Patrick Stewart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to this as an audiobook, so got to hear Patrick Stewart tell all his stories directly. It definitely added something to the retelling, particularly with the Shakespearean text.

But what made me want to read this? The Star Trek bits. It was really interesting to hear the stories from his side, ones that we may have heard in different ways through cast interviews or rumors, too. Patrick Stewart really has had a long and interesting life, and I was really interested in how he managed to end up an actor. I won't summarize his story, because that's what the book is for, but will say that some of the anecdotes he shared will definitely make me look at episodes a bit differently. There are definitely sadder and happier moments but overall the book left me feeling more enriched having read it. If you are a fan of his work, I'd definitely recommend this read.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Bloodlust Blues

Bloodlust BluesBloodlust Blues by Luanne Bennett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first of a series that had me interested from the start. It combines paranormal and action with just a sprinkling of slow burn romance (maybe).

Charley runs a bar in a town called Crimson, in a world where supernaturals are out in the open. Just because they are out, though, doesn't mean everybody forgot how to discriminate. Charley is just doing her best for her patrons, taking a stab at providing vampire blood (a drug in this universe) to folks who need pain relief. It spirals pretty quickly, though, after a new business moves into an abandoned shop across the street.

This story give a little bit of needful things vibes in that the aforementioned neighbor seems to be doing the impossible and luring in all the townsfolk with a French restaurant of all things. There's attacks, disappearances, and murders in what used to be a very quiet town. Charley, who strongly believes she did not inherit her mother's powers, is the only one willing to stand up to their supernatural bully to try to set things right. She risks her life and her bar in ways nobody would expect and ends up coming out stronger for it all. I'm excited to learn more and see Charley grow into her powers in future books.

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Monday, March 25, 2024

How to Dance an Undead Waltz

How to Dance an Undead Waltz (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy, #4)How to Dance an Undead Waltz by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book did for me what I was hoping for all along. I was dying for Grier to really own her now and by the end we finally got there! She’s powerful and all the attempts on her life need to stop!

So, where do we begin? Grier is still sadly not over Boaz. I’m ready for him to stop with all contact but I will say, the way we leave him at the end of this book is immensely satisfying. Again, this book is all about payoff. Grier sadly has to step outside her “normal” life to take on this new aspect, but it’s all worth it in the end.

You know what else we get in this book? We get a resolution to the open questions about her family. We get payoff for all the slow burn. We get answers to the basement conundrum. We also get a lot of smoothie drinking, which directly impacted my desire to have a smoothie (with different ingredients). After all the previous books showing the weaker or more “damsel in distress” Grier, it was amazing watching her flex her necromancer skills (and actual muscles) and fight back hard. I get that this was a building type of storyline, but I wish it hadn’t taken so long to get here. Now that we’re here I’m almost afraid of backsliding in the next book. Now we’ve just got to solve that dream thing.

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Awry (Conduit, #1)Awry by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Woah. That book really took me for a ride! I dove into this series with absolutely zero preconceived notions. I know I like the author and the other worlds she has built, so I started without even reading the synopsis.

Zaya is the main character here. She’s a conduit, who somehow controls fate, lives, and oodles of more magical things at play in this universe. The story is set in one of my least favorite settings, post-apocalyptic. That should tell you exactly how engaging I found the story that I could not put the book down. I was obsessed with learning more about Zaya and her seemingly spotty memory. The power she wields. The people she chooses to save or “nudge” in the right direction. There is also a good sizzle/love story aspect that had me on the edge of my seat.

The world includes shifters of all kinds - and I mean ALL kinds. They seem to be broken up into motorcycle gangs - also not my favorite thing, but this book pushed me all out of my comfort zone in a good way. One such set of 3 brothers seems to be circling around Zaya with expectations. There are so many mysteries and unanswered questions, but this book gave us just enough to have me asking when the next book will come out. The world building alone was worth the price of admission. I can’t wait to see what Zaya and the reverse harem (hopefully!) will do next!

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Blood Rogue

Blood Rogue (Blood Rogue, #1)Blood Rogue by Linda J. Parisi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first book of what will no doubt encompass a much larger world. You can see the world being built before you and it is definitely not just the same old story.

Chaz is a centuries old vampire who also has the responsibility for policing other vampires, especially when if go rogue later in life. One night, while on his evening wander, he encounters Stacy and can’t turn away. Stacy is human and a scientist cop type who is ruled by logic and procedure. These two seem like a poor match, but attraction is attraction. Even if they wanted to part after their single encounter, they are unable to because Chaz’s old mentor is hunting Stacy.

There’s a bunch of vampire drama, but it all centers around an increase in these rogue vampires. Oh, and there is A LOT of martyrdom that has to happen before Chaz and Stacy even get anywhere near a real relationship. If any of those things bother you, this may not be the book for you. As the start of a series, I can see the need to meet all the characters we do and learn about the politics. Now that they’ve found each other though, I struggle to dive back in to more of the back-and-forth of them trying to protect one another. If we had resolution on the larger story, I’d feel like this was a complete standalone. As it is, I’m likely stopping here.

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Friday, March 15, 2024

How to Break an Undead Heart

How to Break an Undead Heart (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy, #3)How to Break an Undead Heart by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Heavy Sigh. Another Boaz heavy book, but this time we are at least heading towards a finality. Having read the short story that takes place in parallel to this book (or before it?), I knew where we were headed and was happily along for the ride.

Grier is still getting used to her new life and probably will be for a long while. After having just been betrayed by her best friend, taken her on as an obligation, adopted a ghost boy, made friends with Linus's wraith, we find Grier now trying to go on what should be a happy adventure. The house and Amelie appear to be under a magical attack that leads Linus to propose researching the cause at Grier's dream college campus. This book takes a bit of a road trip turn (happily) and removes us from Boaz (who is largely absent otherwise) and Amelie (who is just annoying at this point). Who knew I could be Team Linus already?

Linus gets to show even more sides of himself, keeping his own very protected (but not Grier level protected) apartment, acting as protector of a city, and… well, he has a pet? I don't know what to call that whole thing, but it seems like all the things Grier and Linus try to do go horribly wrong for the entirety of this book. Even with that, time with Linus is still 100000% better than time with Boaz at home. After a lot of buildup and something that I guessed forever ago, this book also solves the mystery of Grier's parentage and outs Linus's crush officially. These two have me somehow rooting for them, especially when compared to the trainwreck that is Boaz. Was that the point of Boaz? I am eager to see us be done there.

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Redemption's Edge

Redemption's Edge (Vampire Motorcycle Club, #3)Redemption's Edge by Alyssa Day
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I gotta be honest and admit that I accidentally skipped book # 2 in this series. That being said, it proves you can dive right in without needing the backstory completely! I'm sure you appreciate it more if you read them in order, but everyone likes a bit of flexibility in their reading.

Maera is a tough as nails master vampire who is determined to destroy an evil warlock group called the Chamber. Things appear to be going in the right direction for that part, but she seems to be getting a little distracted by a particular member of their group. Edge was a scientist in life and is channeling that logical, emotionless part of his brain into his whole being now that he's a vampire. Some horrible experimentation by yet another evil group has led him to believe that he will die if he experiences true love. Romantic, right?

These two really sizzle but try their hardest to fight against the draw. Does it work? Of course not! It all comes to a head when there's a big showdown with this book's big bad. There's all sorts of shockers throw in there but we do eventually come out of this with a happily ever after. As someone who sometimes avoids a motorcycle club book, this was definitely worth overlooking that!

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Invocation (Days of Iron and Clay Book 1)Invocation by Aileen Erin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's been a little while since I've spent time in the world that this spinoff book series takes place, but it was so nice to be back! Even if you haven't read anything else from this author, this new series is a lot of fun. The world is interesting and rich, with a slow burn that I can't wait to see pay off!

Sam is not your average girl. When the book begins, we get to see behind the scenes of what led to her last arrest of her childhood. I say last because she's been arrested and sent to an institution more than once. That's what happens when you can see the spiritual realm and nobody else wants to believe. It's both a blessing and curse to her, but she manages with a lot of grace. As the daughter of one of Satan's generals, she has a bit of baggage. Her mom is doing her best to protect her, but even the cute boy next door can't keep her from helping someone in need.

From there, we fast forward a few years, now in the ramp up to a big showdown with her dad. She's fallen in with a new found family of paranormals and even gets a surprise visit that sets her world spinning. It was really great to see the evolution of Sam, how she molded herself and her life to do battle, and how she is navigating the world of Angels and Demons. I really enjoyed time with Sam and can't wait to see what she does next!

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Endless Skye

Endless Skye (Skye Druids #4)Endless Skye by Donna Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series just keeps getting better and better. There is such a wonderful world already built around this series that there's so many fun characters to learn about. We've got dragon kings, druids, warriors, and the Fae, so the opportunities are endless (see what I did there?)!

This book is about Willa, who is on the run from the bad guys and headed to Skye. Her very overprotective brother is already on the isle and he's none too pleased with how close to death she shows up. Jasper, too, is on Skye but for a completely different reason. He's a bit of a grifter, hiding in plain sight and working for the bad guys, though they've convinced him that the Skye druids are the true baddies. Once he meets Willa, though, he starts to reassess his path. These two have sparks flying almost right away, and while I hate a misunderstanding/breakup scene, this one was done really well. Jasper takes some good steps along the way to cement him as a good guy in my book.

There are a lot of surprises that get thrown in here along the way, but I don't want to spoil anything. Familiar faces show up, there's some good finality to some of these longer storylines, but ultimately this is a bout Willa and Jasper (and some horses) finding a happy ending. If these books keep building and getting better, I don't want them to ever end!

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Death at the Drive-In

Death at the Drive-In (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries, #13)Death at the Drive-In by Angie Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are always a good time, and even if you haven't read all the previous installments, I'd still encourage you to pick one up!

Verity is still determined to free her roommate/ghost Frankie of his connection to her property, but until that can happen she's forced to endure even more hijinks, this time in the form of a homemade still. Everything gets turned upside down, though, when Frankie's lady love gets possessed. By another ghost. Yes! That can happen! We learn a lot about ghostly possessions, but it's more of what Verity was built for - mystery solving.

This book's mystery revolves around a murder at the drive-in. There's love, gangs, betrayal, treasure, and breaking the law all jammed into this one. While we get very little Ellis in the story, we really get a lot of growth from Frankie. As a bonus, we also see Verity push outside her comfort zone both in breaking the law and in mending fences with Ellis's family. That last part had me more surprised than anything else, but in a good way! I am both hoping for Frankie to eventually be free but also dreading when this series will come to an end. Here's to many more installments!

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All I Want for Christmas is a Dragon

All I Want for Christmas is a Dragon (A Story in the World of Sam Quinn, #1)All I Want for Christmas is a Dragon by Seana Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you're looking for a cute holiday story set in Sam's world, look no further! The story is told from Owen's perspective, as he navigates his love life with George and his relationship with the super scary dragon matriarch of his family. As the holiday approaches, the couple appears to be getting a little muddled in stressful times. The story takes place before we dive really deep into the fae/vampire angle, but this story gives us a view about what happens while Sam is MIA. George opens up to Owen in new ways, and Owen really proves himself in the eyes of one particularly stuffy dragon.

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The Banshee & the Blade

The Banshee & the Blade (A Story in the World of Sam Quinn, #2)The Banshee & the Blade by Seana Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This short story is definitely not a required read to understand the whole Sam storyline, but it helped to fill in some gaps in the timeline. It takes place after Dave has already revealed his horrible truth to Sam, about his involvement in her mother's murder. Dave and Sam are still trying to find a new normal together, but Dave is also hyper focused on finding Maggie. After he sent her away "for her own protection" she somehow got snatched up. This story is short, but details Dave's quest to find her and all the twists and turns along the way. There's even a bit of father/son time thrown in as a bonus!

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Monday, March 4, 2024

Not Your Crush’s Cauldron

Not Your Crush's Cauldron (Supernatural Singles, #3)Not Your Crush's Cauldron by April Asher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you read the other books in this series, you’ve been eagerly awaiting the payoff in the Olive and Bax arena. Wait no longer! This is payoff and then some!

Bax is a reluctant guardian angel. He’s kind of terrible at his job, but some mix of obligation to his family and determination not to give up keeps him there. After a series of fails, he gets a rather unfortunate assignment right after Olive moves in. Olive got the offer at the end of the previous book as a way out of sleeping in her faculty office because of her terrible roommate. Not sure I’d say Bax had the best of intentions in mind, but these two end up roomies at the start of this book. After much tiptoeing around things, this book finally sees the combustible chemistry that is Bax & Olive.

So, probably not super great to date your roommate, but they keep it on the low low and also manage to work together accomplishing Olive’s to-do list that pushes her outside her comfort zone. As usual, the side characters are still amazing, and we get to see the culmination of the magical core story. We also, thankfully, get way less misunderstanding time and way more make out time with these two than I anticipated. After being conditioned to expect the worst in paranormal romance, this was like a breath of fresh air. Love these stories and can’t wait to continue!

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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Protecting the Gray Wolf

Protecting the Gray Wolf (Lone Wolf Legacy, #2)Protecting the Gray Wolf by N.J. Walters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series just keeps getting better and better. While I already knew I could expect good things from this author, this series exceeded my expectations.

Kade is the Gray Wolf from the title and he was already dragged into the mage drama of the last book, but if this is your first book that’s probably OK too! He knows that there is something at play, pairing off lone wolves with their seemingly fate mates. Are they actually fated if an evil mage made it that way? It kind of doesn’t matter because the sizzle is off the charts between them. Luna is a bit of a loner herself and she runs into Kade at the art studio she works at. They are drawn to one another, but in truly paranoid fashion, he does a deep dive on her past before meeting up again.

These two are both hesitant, but willing to take the leap when bigger danger is going after them. This book also had a lot of broker action, who was already a mysterious figure in the previous book and hopefully gets all those mysteries answered in the next one. While we get a bit of wrap-up in this installment, there is definitely a storm brewing for the final lone wolf. Can’t wait to see where this series takes us next!

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The Wrath

The Wrath (Rise of the Warlords, #4)The Wrath by Gena Showalter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

By far my favorite of this series! Needs has long been a standout character in this world, so I was pumped to see that she would star in this one (though she steals the spotlight in previous installments, too!).

Rathbone is also a semi-familiar face in this world. Friend of Hades, ruler of his own kingdom, he has made some questionable decisions as of the last century or so. He fell head over heels for a goddess, pushing him to take over his now current kingdom and swear vengeance upon her murderer. Since said murderer ends up being unfortunately one of Neeka’s allies, they end up crossing paths.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the goddess is up to no good and put Rathbone on a long quest to find all her bones and bring her back to life, probably killing everyone. Neeka is… amazing, though. She’s bananas and an oracle, but is also the most amazing ally a person could ever want. There are about a million oddball turns that this story takes, but I was there for it 100%. I could read a whole series about her antics, and never get bored. These two wild and crazy people truly deserve one another forever and ever. I am so glad we got to go on this amazing journey with them!

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Saturday, February 24, 2024

The Redemption of Boaz Pritchard

The Redemption of Boaz PritchardThe Redemption of Boaz Pritchard by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books and this whole series is hard for me to rate. Are they well written? Yes. Do I enjoy the characters - no. Boaz is just… yuck.

This story, I guess, is supposed to be read when I read it, after book 2, but feels like it is filled with spoilers for book 3. Here’s hoping I didn’t just make a mistake. Speaking of mistakes, when I started this story I thought I accidentally clicked on the wrong audio book. Who are these people? Why do I care about some random girls named Addie and Cass? Why do I care about bounty hunters not even in the same state as Grier? Well, I guess off “camera” Boaz tried to save his family by proposing to a girl who has an even worse off family (but good name). Addie and Boaz are essentially an arranged marriage, that Boaz stresses is him turning himself honest, while all the while I lying to Grier? Weird weird weird.

There are definitely some choices made in this story that made me incredibly uncomfortable. Cass is taking advantage of people, assuming she can “convert” straight people, kissing people who don’t want a kiss, etc. etc. etc. It got real tired real fast. I was able to root for her to survive at the end, but it was a struggle. I guess the point of this story is to make Boaz’s betrayal less painful, but I found it extra painful to go through this knowing Grier doesn’t even know what he did. He is terrible.

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How to Claim an Undead Soul

How to Claim an Undead Soul (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy, #2)How to Claim an Undead Soul by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had a little more trouble with this book than the previous one. While I’m all for Grier growing into her new life and making decisions for herself, I wish those decisions didn’t involve the annoying Boaz.

We join our main character, Grier, right after the conclusion of the previous book. She’s been reinstated, has money, but is being forced to train with Linus. I had some trouble with the weird dynamic between Linus and Grier, mistakenly assuming that because they were raised as family that they were related by blood. Either way, the sexual tension reads as incredibly icky. Lucky (?) for us, though, Grier is enamored with Boaz and he seems willing to put aside his ways to attempt to date only Grier. It’s weird, awkward, and pretty painful. I hope this does not continue for much longer because Grier could do so much better.

The larger story in this one is the disappearing spirits, seemingly clearing out their neighborhood. Oddly, the vampire storyline from the previous book seems almost forgotten here, except for a few mentions. I thought we’d dive right into the mystery of who is after Grier, but maybe next book? This read as a definite transition book, and the title of the book between this and #3 scares the crap out of me. If I wasn’t committed to this series, I might pause here to forget the ick.

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Instinct: An Animal Rescuers Anthology

Instinct: An Animal Rescuers AnthologyInstinct: An Animal Rescuers Anthology by L.J. Hachmeister
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not usually a big anthology reader, but for to fill in some short story gaps for Butcher and Briggs’s worlds, I added this one to my list.

This is definitely a mixed bag. Some stories are very short, some very sad, some based in weird future worlds I’d never check out, and some that introduced me to a world I want to know more about. As long as I exit an anthology with at least one new author in my to-read list, I’m happy. This anthology did just that for me with Hailey Edwards. The short stories from my usual authors were satisfying and worth the price of purchase, but I guess it depends how you feel about all the others. I sometimes found it very difficult to get through an installment, particularly when they involve animals in various states of injury or hurt. Fair warning to all those who are not OK with that - this might not be the book for you. That being said, I’m sure you could also hop around, but my own sense of completion will allow me to do no such thing.

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Friday, February 9, 2024

How to Save and Undead Life

How to Save an Undead Life (Beginner's Guide to Necromancy, #1)How to Save an Undead Life by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I stumbled upon this book series by way of a short story I enjoyed set in this same universe. Curious how it all began, I went way back to the beginning with this book!

This book introduces us to Grier Woolworth, the wrongly accused (for murdering her mentor & guardian) who has recently been released from magic jail. She is still settling in to life living in a haunted house alone, reconnecting with her neighbors and childhood friends (one of which she had a very active crush on), and scraping together enough money to keep the lights on by being a haunted city tour guide. Seems about right for a poorly magic-endowed necromancer, right? Well, she's also got to (maybe?) feed an undead parakeet and juggle the weird family dynamic she's been born into. It's this element that ends up turning her all topsy turvy - her estranged relative ends up becoming the leader of their organization for necromancers and reinstates her as a full member of the community.

This big announcement ends up attracting the attention of vampires, as she apparently did some big magic in jail that shouldn't have been possible. It's these vampires that end up taking the timid, displaced Grier and making her into a force to be reckoned with. While the book doesn't really wrap up at the end, you can see that Book 2 Grier will be working her hardest to make sure she owns all her decision going forward (ya know, except for all that stuff at the end of the book).

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A Court of Silver Flames

A ​Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4)A ​Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admit to not being super excited about getting into Nesta's head. After all the interactions between her, Feyre, and Cassian, I was not a big fan of hers. Lucky for me, I've got a bunch of folks who read ahead in book club and they assured me that once you get through the first part and get "used to" Nesta, it's a good read.

Cassian and Nesta have obviously been fated since the first introduction. We saw breadcrumbs of attraction and fun sparring but it took a horrible turn after Nesta seemingly admitted her feelings on the battlefield and lost her father. Nest is also very obviously broken right now, to the point where Feyre and the rest of the gang need to perform an intervention. Given little to no choice in the matter, Nesta takes a job at the secluded library and agrees to train with Cassian every morning. It goes just about how you'd expect, including the hissy fit she throws at the start. We do, however, get to meet and learn a lot more about the folks we have met in previously books only in passing. The priestesses, the shop owner with the clipped wings - they both end up playing key roles in Nesta's transformation.

Cassian knows this will be a huge challenge, "wrangling" Nesta, trying to reign in his feelings, and also perform the duties Rhysand newly assigned him. The bigger story here is that the sorcerer at the lake and our least favorite (maybe?) fae lord in autumn are teaming up with the ex-human queen/crone to find three magical objects that do terrible things. Having been made by the cauldron, Nesta (of course) has the ability to find these things, too. Thus begins the big quest/adventure/almost war!

The more important storyline is about Cassian and Nesta's relationship and the recreation of Valkyries in this world. The sexy times were good here, but even more satisfying is the parallel story arcs of the women that usher in a new generation of female warriors. It felt very hunger games meets harry potter at times, but I'm not mad about it. I do, however, want a book to end without magical lifesaving because of love or whatever.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Nightshade’s Bite

Nightshade's BiteNightshade's Bite by Zoe Forward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After taking a long time between book 1 and 2 of this series, I can confirm that they can certainly be read as standalone books. I didn't remember anything of the world or the characters, but the author did a great job catching me up throughout.

Keira is a loner, having been burned (or almost chopped in half) by controlling people in her life before. She's a very old vampire and she has dedicated her life and resources to trying to subvert the war vampires have on werewolves. She hides her identity well, but has been forced to mostly hide who she is or play particular roles. On a night when she is flipping between roles, she ends up rescuing a very grumpy wolf from a hit squad. Said wolf turns out to be a celebrity of sorts in the werewolf world - Michael Durand.

Michael has also become a bit of a loner, forced to play the role of werewolf savior while not holding the title of king. He's lost all drive, other than a murderous feeling towards all vampires. That somehow doesn't seem to include Keira, who he is inexplicably drawn to. These two sizzle and it seems obvious to their friends/family/associates but they are determined to fight and martyr themselves instead. We get some solid resolution at the end of this book, but I'm still a little sad that the series appears to end here. There is a lot of potential for the side characters to get a more satisfying ending to their tale.

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Friday, January 19, 2024

Magic by the Book

Magic by the Book (House of Magic #4)Magic by the Book by Susanna Shore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm loving this world and the wonderful group of characters in the "gang." Poor Phoebe can't seem to catch a break, though!

We join Phoebe right after the end of the previous book. She and Kane kissed and I'm here for it! Unfortunately for me, nobody acknowledges it for far too long. On a day of antique gathering, they end up stranded and it doesn't even end with them making out. Sigh. It does, however, start the ball rolling down a path we should come to expect now. Phoebe, still learning about her magic, makes a deal with their unexpected host to purchase a pile of magic texts. One book, however, comes with more than they bargained for. Who knew that one book could bring with it family drama, demons, alchemists, and a smattering of con men/thieves?

While warding off thieves and con men, the magical crew gets dragged into vampire politics as well, giving us more yummy time with Morgan Hunt. Don't worry though, because we get some good romantic progress, though we do get the dreaded cliffhanger at the end of this one. I'm obviously going to dive right back in with the next book as soon as possible!

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Wish List

Wish List (How To Be The Best Damn Faery Godmother In The World Or Die Trying, #2)Wish List by Helen Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Admittedly, I took a bit of a hiatus between the previous book and this one, so it ended up taking me that much longer to get back "into" this world. Once I was there, though, I was cringing right along with Saffron as she tries to be the best Fairy Godmother ever!

Saffron is still sort-of on probation. She did a really great thing with Jasper in the previous book, stopping the Trolls from doing more damage, but they are definitely still out there (no matter what everyone wants to believe). After the horrible thing that the fairy godmothers did, they aren't likely to truly back down anytime soon. As part of this continued vigilance, Saffron is appointed the leader of a Troll task force. Determined to make a good impression, she dives in but it somewhat distracted by a particularly troublesome client.

Rose is definitely trouble. She seems like a nice old lady on paper who just needs her wish granted but she and her dog conspire against Saffron at every turn. There is so much chaos jammed into the journey we go on that I'm not even sure how to summarize it all. Ultimately, though, Jasper and Saffron manage to pull things off that I'd never have predicted at the start. Also something to note, this is less romance than I usually read, definitely leaning more into fantasy/paranormal than my romantic side. Definitely a slow, slow, slow burn.

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Sunday, January 14, 2024

Cooper’s Passion

Cooper's Passion: Scanguards Hybrids #5 (Scanguards Vampires Book 17)Cooper's Passion: Scanguards Hybrids #5 by Tina Folsom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At this point in the series, you should know what you’re in for here. There’s going to be vampires (or hybrids, or witches, or something), there’s going to be an element of fated mates to hurry things along, and there’s going to be smutty goodness.

If you’re new to the series, I’m not even really sure what to tell you. 17 books in and now 5 into the spinoff, there’s a lot of characters, world building, and lore that’s thrown at you. If you can roll with the punches, I guess you can catch up, but I’ve been here for the entire ride so I know what to expect and can appreciate seeing character that you’ve essentially watched grow up now find their mates. Cooper is a hybrid son of two previous characters in the original series, now making it on his own at Scanguards. He ends up meeting Anita at a crime scene where she mistakenly thinks he is a killer and tries arresting him.

Anita is on forced holiday from her role at the police force. She’s convinced there is a serial killer loose and is determined to track their next location (and hopefully save someone!). While trying to use her contacts to see if the latest victim matches the one she watched be abducted, she stumbles upon Cooper. Many misunderstandings occur, but they end up going out for a drink (with sexy results). Anita is stubborn but willing to take a chance on Cooper, even working with him to share her theory. The romance feels a little bit rushed, but I’m here for where we end up. All in all, this was a short read and delivered what I expected. These books are always low stakes (get it?) and sometimes you just want some goodness without the scares.

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Goddess of Summer Love

Goddess of Summer Love (Cursed Luck, #1.5)Goddess of Summer Love by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having thoroughly enjoyed the introductory book in this series, I was happy to find that there is a short story that takes place immediately after. I'm pretty sure you shouldn't read this book if you haven't read the previous one.

We get to join Vanessa as she sets to work about matchmaking her newly made friends. On a visit to Unstable for the opening of Kennedy's new shop, the whole gang from book 1 ends up back together again. While Vanessa was hoping to connect Aiden with Kennedy, Rian ends up showing up to crash the party, too. She rallies the troops, though, to try to solve an unsolvable mystery. It was short, sweet, but satisfying as a small appetizer to the next book.

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Endings and Empathy

Endings and Empathy (Amplifier, #6)Endings and Empathy by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is all mashed into what feels like one big scene. When I read the previous short leading up to this, I knew this would be a battle, but I didn't realize it would take up the entirety of the last book in the series.

Emma is going to save the rest of the five, of course. It doesn't matter who captured them or how dangerous it is, the whole team is going to get back together again. It was a little strange how we ended up here, what with Bee and all her weird baggage, but that was the least of my concerns. There is a lot of danger in this book, but in true Emma fashion, she bulldozes her way through it all. We get the final piece in the Collective (I think?) and round out the family that Emma has built for herself and her friends.

While, yes, there is action and adventure and rescue and horrible things, what ended up standing out most to me is the almost epilogue we get. Emma and co settling in, becoming what constitutes "normal" for them, and giving us a little glimpse into what might just be the rest of their relatively uneventful lives. As the last book in this series, it definitely checks all the boxes, tying up loose ends to varying degrees of satisfaction.

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