Saturday, July 20, 2024

Easy Bake Coven

Easy Bake Coven (Easy Bake Coven, #1)Easy Bake Coven by Liz Schulte
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really like the cover and title, which left me wondering why I haven’t read this series before. I love a good paranormal romance and this looked like something I’d be into. I dove in without even reading the description, which might have been a mistake on my part. All the reviews will tell you that this is not about a coven or witches, but big bad elf politics.

Selene is a witch, so that much is true. She owns her own yoga studio, has a tight knit group of friends that are also in her coven (they have powers, too), and has some family drama. Oh, and she’s also in a relationship at the start with what seems to be the perfect guy. All of that blows up when Cheney shows up in her yoga studio to harass her. He really started at a defecit for me, and it took a while to get behind his story.

Turns out, Selene’s life has been a lie. She’s a changeling and things only get stranger from there. There’s powers, drama, politics, and rigorous training that all needs to come back to her in order for her to support this stranger/forgotten person in a big maybe war. It just seemed like the drama and complications for poor Selene just never let up. She took it in stride for the most part, but this book definitely doesn’t end in any sort of solid resolution here. I am not sure I would call it a cliffhanger, but we don’t end this book with all the answers or even in a “happy” place. I’m not sure I’ll continue, even though I’m that type of reader. Something about the character dynamic gave me the creeps, but that could just be my take.

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Born Magic: The Diary of Scarlett Bernard

Born Magic: The Diary of Scarlett Bernard (Disrupted Magic, #4)Born Magic: The Diary of Scarlett Bernard by Melissa F. Olson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK, I took a bit of a long break between the previous book and this one, but knew I would circle back eventually. I ended up picking this up in audiobook format which I found really entertaining. I did scroll to a few other reviews to she how folks who powered through the whole series found it, and I guess I’m in the minority?

Diving right back in to Scarlett’s life was relatively easy. I completely forgot just about everything about this world, but the diary format of this made it easy to weave in summary info for folks like me. Scarlett’s narrative voice is great and very relatable. While I can’t relate to the whole new mom vibe, she just seems… authentic. Her and Jesse trying to navigate living together (with vampires), figuring out their careers, next steps, family drama, etc. was really entertaining. When I found the book winding down I was so sad to see it wrap up for good. I loved being in their world.

So, other than baby stuff, is there a big storyline? I guess it’s a series of mysteries that, of course, end up all being tied together in a supernatural way. If I had come straight into this book from the previous one, maybe I would have been dying to see where everything ended up, but for me this was almost starting fresh and that was nice. I think I am going to need to look up other books by this author!

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Dragon Born

Dragon BornDragon Born by Donna Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After so many books, I wasn’t sure we’d ever get to see Henry’s story fully told, but here we are!

Henry is a human in a world full of magic. He doesn’t fault them for it, but he also doesn’t feel completely part of their universe. When he meets Melisse, a bit of magic is created in the form of some unexplainable bond between the two of them. She does her best to push him away and he does the same, leaving them both unhappy. Now that Henry can sense a dangerous Druid in Zora, where he knows Melisse is, there’s nothing that will stop him from going rogue and diving into trouble.

Melisse has also been a bit of a loaner, what with being dubbed the most dangerous weapon and kept locked up for ages. She doesn’t fit the title of King, but also doesn’t really seem to be a “normal” dragon either. Through a determination to save a small child and prove her worth to the dragons of Zora, Melisse ends up wandering into a magical area and getting rapidly captured in a labyrinth-like setting. There is, as always, more in the works than you think, so it’s not a simple thing to get in and out, saving the many captured dragons. Henry and Melisse must get over their misunderstandings and hesitations to work together and save each other.

This book was a lot of fun to read, even with all the dangerous twists and turns. Henry really deserves his own tale and this was a very satisfying ending for him and Melisse. It was also great to see all the recurring characters crop up in fun ways, adding their own special abilities to the fight.

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Thursday, July 4, 2024

Deadly Little Secret

Deadly Little Secret (Secret McQueen, #11)Deadly Little Secret by Sierra Dean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK, first off - this book ends in a bit of a cliffhanger, but I hope that can be expected if you know the next book is the last of the series. We have to build to something big!

This book picks up where the previous on left off. Secret is now a werewolf and is unfortunately stuck with Lucas as a third in her counseling sessions. Having two husbands is complicated. Also complicated, navigating the politics of a bunch of rogue wolves threatening you on the way home. Said rogues end up stirring up some history that Secret was not privy to before now. On top of this, Secret ends up on a wild goose chase for the council to find her friend.

Both these things end up coming out a head right around when Secret is going to make her first full moon shift with the pack, so I give her a pass for the very emotional way all of the parallel stories went down. While the outcome of that council endeavor ended up screwing up what could maybe/hopefully be her happy ending, good on her for standing up for herself. Also, I am really rooting for werewolf divorce (from Lucas). Fingers crossed we get that in the next book, too!

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A Wicked Secret

A Wicked Secret (Secret McQueen, #10)A Wicked Secret by Sierra Dean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are so fun and comfortable. Will Secret make terrible decisions that put her in grave danger? Yes. Will her love life be trouble? Yes. Throw in a wild paranormal adventure and you’ve got a formula I love.

Secret and Desmond are still trying to work out the “new normal” of Secret, the ex-vampire ex-werewolf now human, mated up with the New York king of werewolves. Secret is still partnered up with Harry, a demon, and running down the “bad” demons despite her human status. Desmond is still leading the werewolves even though Lucas, the previous werewolf king and Secret’s ex-ish-husband has returned from the dead. Their life is complicated.

Lucas manages to complicate their life even more when he gets captured in another country and another werewolf king’s territory. What should be a “simple” ransom exchange ends up escalating rather quickly into a hunt through the jungle with Secret, Desmond, Harry, and their assigned local liaison running for their lives on the full moon. So much happens that it doesn’t even make it possible to give high level points, but when they leave the jungle (as we all expected, right?) there are some changes that we will address in the next book. I still really enjoy this series, even after the ending/re-starting business, which is more than I can say for other series I have barreled through.

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Soulmates, Doorways, and Other Unruly Magic

Soulmates, Doorways, and Other Unruly Magic (the Dowser 9.5)Soulmates, Doorways, and Other Unruly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As the completionist that I am, I picked up this short bonus story to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first book. This book gives you a flavor of the chaos in Jade’s life and maybe even a “normal” day in the life? What it does not do is give you a huge story with resolution. A happy diversion, just like for the characters.

We join Jade, Kandy, and Kett as they sit around “bored” and waiting for the next crisis. Jade is boredom baking, Kandy is fastidiously ignoring her pregnant state, and Kett is being stoic. As weird as it would be for anyone else, for these three a magical doorway showing up in the middle of the bakery is not too strange. It is, however, an easy diversion. They silently agree to choose danger over boredom and away they go!

There’s a bunch of twists and turns that truly put our main characters in peril, but since this is just a teaser, not too much of major significance occurs. There’s a little bit more understanding among the three, the start of something big, and maybe a new appreciation for boredom by the end.

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Sunday, June 23, 2024

The Accidental Sereph

The Accidental Sereph (Carran Hollow Fated Mates, #1)The Accidental Sereph by Maci Aurora
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who doesn’t love a quick PNR read that checks all the boxes? I could gobble up a handful of these and still be ready to read more.

This, assuming it’s the first of the “Curran Hollow Fated Mates” series, introduces us to the brothers Black, a group of Serephs who protect a very specific territory from demons. Because they have the power to hide what they do, they basically just look like bad boy bikers who start fights for no reason. It would probably lead to a very solitary existence except for the promise of finding your fated mate, subsequently getting wings, and oodles of sex. Atlas is the star of this particular installment and heads out to see if any demons are swinging by the local pub when all hell breaks loose.

Ivy is on the bus to try to rescue her kidnapped sister when she runs into Atlas and is immediately bowled over by his magnetism. Demons spoil their awkward introduction and Ivy is force to learn things in the moment, which she does miraculously well. It was neat to see the dynamic, learn the lore, and meet all the characters in rapid succession. The book has great pacing and even though we jump into bed quickly, it somehow didn’t seem weird (or weirder than this world expects). There is a nice HEA with enough loose ends to tie up for future books as everyone finds/re-finds their mates.

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The False Pawn

The False Pawn (A Song of the Ancient Flame #1)The False Pawn by A.E. Asavi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book pulled me in a few different direction and was very much a world building first installment. There is a ton of lore, character introduction, and surprising turns jammed into this book.

Anthea lives with her two sisters, acting as a pseudo mother to them after their parents died and going to work for a paycheck but not much fulfillment. I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t her going to a club and then falling through a portal in to an elf-run world. Once there, she is imprisoned, forced to be a slave (or act as one, it’s confusing and edges close to Stockholm syndrome), kidnapped, tortured, betrayed, and then sort-of/kind-of revered? This book takes you through all the feels.

The overall story revolves around a prophecy and lots of court intrigue. Turns out humans exist in this world but they are a slave race, doing the bidding of the elves (who also have magic). It is quickly discovered that Anthea is immune to magic, so they quickly put her to work. Is there romance? Yes? I guess? Again, she is everyone’s prisoner so how much is her own bidding and how much is questionable consent? It toes a line there, but if you can put that aside, there are more than enough very attractive elves who could easily be in the running for Anthea’s partner.

None of this truly pans out as this is just book 1 and we need to set up a lot of things all at once. I’m not the best high fantasy reader, so admit that a lot of the very similar names ended up blurring together a times, but the author did convince me I should be rooting for our unlikely hero, Anthea. It will be interesting to see what other trouble she gets into in future books.

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Friday, June 21, 2024

Fused in Earth and Stone

Fused in Earth and Stone (Kennedy Rain, #3)Fused in Earth and Stone by Sandy Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of those books where you spend the whole time worrying about all the things Kennedy has not done. In that worry, you somehow do not predict the even worse things that happen during what she *is* doing. Not sure if any of that made sense, but that’s Kennedy’s insane life right now.

Kennedy, as the reluctant caretaker of the Rain, has begun putting in place her own rules, breaking from the status quo, much to the dismay of the werewolf and vampire leaders. They were used to submitting a list that they had each vetted, taking money from the folks who wanted to use the hotel (and give a little bit to the Rains), and going about their merry way. Now Kennedy wants to control who comes and goes and that is not going so well. When the werewolves show up with tent camps, knowing she won’t let them in, she tries to go around the list again, sparking even more werewolf drama.

On top of this, she’s got friends who are starting to suspect non-human stuff, she’s got a vampire ally who is being tortured and is need of rescue, and she’s still got some mysterious debt to a very bad fae. There’s probably more (oh, like the witch who killed her parents still out there causing trouble) but Kennedy has a knack for swinging for the fences in the chaos department. It feels like she has no real clear plan but it sort-of ends up working out for her. Also - what is up with Christian? I have so many questions and while this book gives us an ending that blew my mind, it certainly did not come close to answering all my open questions here. There better be more to this story!

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Cold Curses

Cold Curses (Heirs of Chicagoland, #5)Cold Curses by Chloe Neill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am so incredibly sad that I’ve got to leave this world now. I didn’t realize this was the last book until all the loose ends were tied up! This fantastic world is so fun and filled with interesting characters - I’m left hoping for yet another spinoff.

Elisa and Connor are still a bit of a powerhouse duo. They’re officially engaged and navigating the complicated life of a vampire and a shifter alpha pairing up. Elisa is still actively working on keeping the city safe, but that’s proving particularly hard when demons are essentially taking it over. You’d think after the events of the last book we’d get a break, but news of the demon wards going down appears to have signaled an all clear to any and all demons who want to create mayhem. The larger story here is about a bit of mafia-like demon warring that spills over into the human and other paranormal arenas.

While Elisa is trying to calm down her inner monster about getting it back to the sword, she’s also coordinating ward work with her bff’s parents, calling in cops from the city, supporting Connor in his apex challenges, and trying to figure out the “big bad” who is stirring the pot this time. Oh yeah, and she’s also got to plan a wedding or something. Loves seeing the gang firing on all cylinders here in this last act and particularly seeing Lulu step into her own power. This really did offer a fantastic wrap up and while sad, I’m satisfied where we are leaving things.

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Friday, June 14, 2024

Badge of Honor

Badge of Honor (The Potentate of Atlanta, #6)Badge of Honor by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book shows up a few different ways online. Sometimes it says this is part of the series, sometimes part of the larger epilogue world, but I’d recommend reading this as a very satisfying conclusion to the POA storyline.

Hadley is working on getting the final prep done for her Star Trek themed wedding, while also training for her “final exam” for the POA role she’s essentially been doing this whole time. The vote appears to be in the bag, what with her, ya know, saving the city a whole bunch of times. But there’s a bit of doubt thrown in when a contender is announced with experience being a potentate from another city. While the team (and the city) rally to support Hadley, there’s a lot more at play than just a fair fight.

Midas, of course, has her back 1000%, as does his pack. It was great to see most of the familiar faces resurface to truly put a nice bow around the end of this series. We do finally see a test, the outcome, and even some HEA in Hadley’s future (hopefully). I couldn’t have asked for more in a finale to a great series. This is definitely a must read.

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Shadow Kiss (re-read)

Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy, #3)Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Adding my re-read notes here:
This book is definitely a turning point in the series. We see Rose, still reeling from the ending of book 2, feeling like an adult but still with training wheels. Lissa is becoming more and more a political figure/pawn in this battle, with less and less insight into Rose’s mental state. Lastly there’s Dimitri, who I didn’t even mention in my few lines review originally (at the bottom). Adrian is really the standout here and thank goodness he gets his own spinoff later.

So - what’s the story? Well, Rose see’s dead people. Or at least 1 dead person. She does the somewhat logical/sane thing and hides this from everyone. While that’s going on, there is the growing darkness Rose is getting from Lissa as she re-embarks on her journey with magic. With her and Adrian working it together often to try to cross train, it starts to add up. Through all this - the “real world” experience part of class is in session. Teachers are fake/real attacking paired up folks and Eddie is really kicking butt, even though he is somewhat reluctantly assigned to Lissa.

The other big thing? Their old nemesis resurfaces with ominous threats and almost blackmail about Rose/Dimitri’s make out session. In my re-read I have to admit that I was way more conflicted about where that all ends up this time around. Maybe it’s the +13 years since my original read through, but it made me feel way more icky. All in all, though, lots happen at the end of this book that begin a whole new journey in book 4.

Original review: Gah! So much happened in this book that I think I need a breather before I start the next one. Ps I love Adrian.

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Sunday, June 2, 2024

The Epilogues: Part III: How to Rattle an Undead Couple

How to Rattle an Undead Couple (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy, #9)How to Rattle an Undead Couple by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We are just blasting through all the important events in Linus and Grier’s new life together. At the end of the previous novella we learned that Grier was unexpectedly pregnant and they didn’t really have time to evaluate what type of powers the kid would get. That’s not their biggest problem, though.

At almost the start of the much awaited baby shower, Linus’s very powerful mother is a no show. There is absolutely nothing short of kidnapping that would keep her from this event, so they all immediately go on high alert. There are hints that our mysterious vampire nemesis might be behind it, but that would be too simple. With all the mysteries going on, it’s no surprise that the reveal caught me off guard. Also, I didn’t expect to have such a “to be continued” ending, but I guess with Grier and Linus there is no such thing as expected endings. I’ll be hopping from this to the novella in the spinoff series.

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The Epilogues: Part II: How to Survive an Undead Honeymoon

How to Survive an Undead Honeymoon (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy, #8)How to Survive an Undead Honeymoon by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After that very messy and very chaotic wedding, I was excited to see what they had planned as a honeymoon. With Linus planning, it seemed like a safer bet than something Grier chose. No such luck.

They end up in a remote bed and breakfast that comes complete with a haunted history. Seems like something that should be easy enough to navigate, even if the ominous anniversary of demon sightings is rapidly approaching. Things never go easy for these two, though, so even while on their honeymoon, they get sucked into a bit of a murder-mystery, with cats, demons, and things that go bump in the night. Even a simple trip to the library comes with attempts on their lives.

If you’re worried that this will be a road trip story with no other characters we know - don’t worry. Oh, and it has a super fun ending! I’m loving these little shorts to add on to the main story and would happily read even more of them.

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The Epilogues: Part I: How to Kiss an Undead Bride

The Epilogues: How to Kiss an Undead Bride (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy)The Epilogues: How to Kiss an Undead Bride by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really love that we get to revisit with Grier and Linus post-main series big stuff. Don’t worry, there’s still big stuff here! It’s finally wedding time!

After all the potentate training, long engagement, and other craziness, we get to have a wedding! It is (of course) happening at their home and will be filled to the brim with the required society guests and their chosen families. Now that the important food decisions are winding down, of course that’s when the last seed nobody ever wanted to hear from again seems to resurface. There’s terrible clues pointing to someone hell bent on ruining the wedding, even out to get their vendors!

I loved watching the crew dig into the mystery but I definitely didn’t put all the pieces together in time. The wedding ends up being an affair to remember in a pretty terrible way and I was a little let down at the mood killer. It wraps up okay, but you definitely get to feel all the feels in this reveal.

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Pinky Promise

Pinky Promise (The Summoner’s Mark Book 6)Pinky Promise by J. D. Blackrose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series has gotten me completely addicted and no amount of bad decisions by main characters can shake me loose. It might go without saying, but you should start at the beginning here - if you somehow picked this book up first, I don’t know what to tell you.

Becs and her big mouth have committed her to somehow restoring Pinky’s powers, that he expended so completely to rescue… everyone. On top of that commitment, her dream walking friend has just informed her that she’s also got to do the one thing she swore to never do again - visit Faerie. She somehow needs to convince the queen to help them repair the connective tissue between Earth and her world, to save them both. Oh, and Becs gets a dog. That’s important.

Also very important is the bizarre love triangle-ish thing happening between a possibly reformed mobster (who started the whole trip to Pinky losing his powers) and Asher, the ex-angel. I completely thought this book was going to be Asher tripping over himself to become powerful again but instead it really surprised me. No spoilers, but it’s a good ride to get there. I can almost support the rationale - almost! I can’t wait for the next book to see how they get out of this messy not-really-a-true-cliffhanger ending.

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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Moment of Truth

Moment of Truth (The Potentate of Atlanta #5)Moment of Truth by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where do you even begin when you wrap up a 5 book series? This was a very satisfying ending, wrapping up all the loose ends I wanted it too, but still left me wanting lots of epilogues (which I will go into right after!).

Hadley just needs to do one small thing before she can continue to her official role as Potentate - ya know, just save the city from the encroaching evil witches, lock said witches out of their “wardrobe”, and figure out her relationship with Midas. OK, so the last one kind of already worked itself out, but they still have the whole balance between Potentate and the pack to discuss.

Without getting into the details and spoilers, it was fun watching the team work together, play it their strengths, and I also really appreciated the mystery of who was behind this whole thing. There was a lot of time slippage, portal hopping, and *a lot* of “screen time” from our oddly favorite shadow. This book somehow helped me reach a certain appreciation for him and I feel pretty good about how Hadley ends this journey.

She and Midas are a perfect pair and their chosen family is even better. I was sad to say goodbye to someone, but hope they have their own update/spinoff opportunity. As a series, I am happy I took the chance and dove into the world of Hadley, even after not particularly liking her in the original series. I went on the journey with her and was happier for it!

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The Hedge Witch

The Hedge WitchThe Hedge Witch by Colleen Delaney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a fun start to a series! I wasn’t sure what to expect with this new (to me) sort of hedge witch, but I fell in love with this merry band of sisters.

Laurel is a hedge witch. She’s got all sorts of powers, but she mostly tries not to use them and instead has leaned into her calling as a tarot card reader. Living with her sisters in a house on a relatively remote island, there aren’t huge witch-related issues to worry about until one particularly eventful hedge jump. Having all been warned that the sisters would find their fated mates, Laurel eagerly discovered her soul mate (or a version of him), but that appears to have triggered her past lives-self’s cursed arch-nemesis to resurface.

Owen is the son of a witch but is not particularly powerful. He is a carpenter entering his slow season when he meets Laurel in what he deems a dream. On a quest from a higher power, he ends up adventuring the said remote island and gets quickly pulled into the mayhem that ensues. Don’t worry, though, because there is also romance, sexy times, good conquering evil, and all that jazz. I like the unique blend of powers we learned about and hope Owen’s chaos-loving family comes to visit them soon!

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Thursday, May 16, 2024

Proof of Life

Proof of Life (The Potentate of Atlanta, #4)Proof of Life by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really thought I couldn’t stomach another book with Boaz in it, yet here we are, with me loving this one despite the stupid big oaf. Hadley has completely converted me and now I can handle anything as long as she and Midas are there.

By the end of the previous book, we got to watch Hadley and Midas make it official, moving in together, being really mates, so all is well in the romance department (if they could only get time to get together alone - that’s another theme in this book). It’s of course at this time that her family (original and new) decide to come visit for some random art exhibit. Seems very shady, but that appears to be legit. At the start of this book, we begin to notice a theme - someone is trying to blow up Hadley and/or her friends and family. They manage to hit a few places, kill a few people, and everyone is still trying to find any clue as to who it could be. Signs point to betrayal, unfortunately.

Addie is maybe one of the best new characters for me, and while I didn’t appreciate her in the Boaz spinoff story, she is a great “big sister” to Hadley throughout. This book really explores all the trauma and terrible time Hadley had growing up, and even unblinds that to her inner circle. At this point, most people also know about her alter ego, her “shadow” and we even get an amped up screen time to that effect. I'm loving where we are heading, with the big showdown on the horizon, but boy oh boy was this a crummy reveal at the end. Well written, kept me guessing, but we have a big mess to clean up in the next book!

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Change of Heart

Change of Heart (The Potentate of Atlanta, #3)Change of Heart by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m loving this series, so much in fact that I’m way behind in reviewing because I am gobbling these up as quick as I can! I also have completely determined that this series is better than the original (Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy), though we need to get through that to get to this wonderful place.

Hadley is wonderful. It’s refreshing to be in both her head and Midas’s, which seems to be evening out and I love it. The snark, the laughter, the love, is all just perfection. They also balance each other out in wonderful ways. This book is about the yucky yucky yucky “drug” that is being distributed among paranormals and humans alike. It comes from a truly terrible source, and of course they need to stop it from killing their kind (an “unfortunate” side effect).

Also, coming off the heels of the previous book, they need to collect hearts from the evil coven that’s after them. It’s gross and terrible, but that’s the deal that was struck. This book also unblinds a member of Hadley’s team, which is a nice side-effect of the weird magical interference. I’m happy that we might see everyone pair up and be happy by the end of all this craziness. I do really mean craziness because there is a surprisingly large amount of explosions, damage to the main characters, and fire around. We get to meet more supernaturals, too, and even get a glimpse into Bishop’s background a little more. Loving all this and highly recommend this series!

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Bound by Bloodsong

Bound by Bloodsong (Kennedy Rain, #2)Bound by Bloodsong by Sandy Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has been on my wishlist since I read the first in this series. I got a little distracted and didn’t circle back until now. This is a series with a rich world and really unique, fun, paranormal bits.

Kennedy is kind of a jerk. I get it, she’s thrust into a life she doesn’t want to pursue and it’s all because her parents were murdered. She’s being told what to do by just about everyone around her and she wants no part in it. And then there’s Blake, a sexy werewolf stalker type who she is equal parts attracted to and scared of. He’s definitely got an agenda, but by the end of this I’m kind of convinced that he just wants in her pants. To add more love interests to the pot, we’ve also got Christian, who knows more than he says and hides all sorts of secrets. He also seems to be sort-of in love with Kennedy.

The big sweeping story of who killed her parents is continued here (and resolved?), but we also get more bits of Kennedy’s past, previous friends, introductions to yet more paranormals out there, and lots and lots of Kennedy saying no to really really powerful people. By the end, I was on her side, but it definitely takes a lot to love her. I will 100% be continuing on to see where we go with all the drama she stirred up at the end of this book.

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Monday, May 6, 2024

Pack of Lies

Pack of Lies (The Potentate of Atlanta, #2)Pack of Lies by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are really good. Like, maybe even better than the main series that this is a spinoff from. Big plus? No Boaz. Also - Midas is really great. Oh, and Hadley too!

I gotta say, by book 2 I’ve completed gotten over Hadley’s previous “sins” and am now firmly on her team. Her team, too, is awesome, and I love that we get to go there and learn all about them. This book starts with them recovering from making some bad decisions during the “snowball” incident. It’s a teachable moment, but there’s also some strangeness going on with Hadley. She’s waking up in places she didn’t go to sleep and she’s worried Ambrose is slipping the leash. This book also showed Bishop stepping up and being a good friend and I guess partner? Not sure what to call him because he’s not really the leader, but he definitely enjoys unlimited spending on flame throwers.

This book also took a deeper look in the mentor/mentee relationship between Hadley and Linus, which developed “off screen” between the two series. Love it all, and I especially love the blossoming relationship between Midas and Hadley. Don’t really love the Ford mess, or the bugs that are a messy gross thing almost as much. These books are fun, surprising, and I find myself laughing or smiling while listening. I love where they are headed and I’m also glad this book marks the hopeful end of the triangle.

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Frostbite (Vampire Academy, #2)Frostbite by Richelle Mead
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m re-reading this series with book club and have a new/old appreciation for them.

While I can see that my original read was a long time ago and has a bit of a nostalgic feel, the re-read is giving me new appreciation for the journey these characters all go on. The big important thing that I took for granted first time around is the introduction of Adrian. He is the best and continues being the best. The main story, though, is about how the bad vampires are ganging up and combining their efforts with humans for hire to take out whole families. In a world where it being daylight out used to mean safety, this throws their fragile world into chaos.

In romantic storyline news, Rose is still filled with the teen angst and I’ve got to say that she is way in the wrong here. Having stepped back from the sizzle, it’s totally not OK for her to hook up with essentially her teacher. Don’t worry, though, they dance around that line a bit in this book. There’s also poor Mason, the rebound, who goes through all the feelings in the span of this one book. Also, making a somehow redeeming appearance is Mia. By the end, you kind of stop hating her as much, and group all these teens in a more traumatized bucket. Overall, this book begins the steady climb to the end of their journey, but they all don’t even know it yet. Still love this series - it’s a super easy read, too!

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Sunday, April 28, 2024

Shadow of Doubt

Shadow of Doubt (The Potentate of Atlanta, #1)Shadow of Doubt by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After finishing up the Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy series, I knew I wanted to see what happened next in this world. While I don’t think you need to have read that series, I do feel more informed about the backstories here, which might be confusing to the uninitiated.

We join “Hadley” after some time has passed since we last saw her volunteering to take on the Potentate of Atlanta mantle from Linus. It was a selfless offer, which also happened to give her a way to feed the evil she forever bound herself to. I was particularly interest in learning more about the mysterious team that Linus worked with, so this certainly didn’t disappoint. Hadley is lying to everyone about who she is, but she is also hiding her scent from the shifters who previously met her. Nobody has let out this secret, but it seems only a matter of time, especially since Midas has taken a very close interest in her after “meeting” at a crime scene.

Hadley’s first solo assignment ends up being a shifter kill. Paired up with Ford (who was a wonderful character addition in this world), she has to navigate the complicated pack politics in the city, as well as the myriad of lies she’s told. Ford is very interested in Hadley, which just seems to ignite Midas’s own interest. Enter: The Love Triangle! I’m here for it, though. I found Hadley so much less annoying outside of the Boaz shadow and away from Grier. Her team is also awesome. I am hooked and even the mystery had me guessing wrong the whole way through. If this is where it starts, I can’t wait to see where this series goes!

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How to Wake an Undead City

How to Wake an Undead City (The Beginner's Guide to Necromancy, #6)How to Wake an Undead City by Hailey Edwards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really plowed through this series on audiobook and am happy I did. Were some of the installments better/more satisfying than others? Sure. Was it worth it - absolutely!

This really wrapped everything up that I was hoping for. There was a bit of a scare at the end where I thought there were some loose ends dangling but a quick sprint to the finish took care of them (and the epilogue installments will likely expand on that universe). So - we pick up this book in the post-apocalyptic world that is now Savannah, and Grier’s new non-necromancer squad of human helpers. Grier has a FULL plate, too - she’s got to go back to Atlanta (which was never a really great time for her), ask her estranged family for more info on her “condition”, beg the alpha for some help defending the city she loves, and manage to pull off this new mantle without being called out as a total fraud. Oh and she’s also got to get the city back from her vampire grandfather when she gets home.

Lucky for us, Linus is there to keep her alive (or vice-versa?) oh and the most awesome and adorable thing happens that I won’t spoil. There’s also pack dominance fights, shifter nonsense, magic misbehaving, life-threatening possessions, and stupid Boaz. Nothing goes right during any step of their plan in this book. Nothing. It is both frustrating and reassuring in that we get to leave Grier stronger, but still never taking the straight path through things. We leave this world (or series, since there is a spinoff and follow-up books) better, I think, than we joined it. All the characters we met have grown in leaps and bounds. I even sort-of didn’t hate Boaz (that’s probably a lie). I’m happy that the series took us to such a satisfying end.

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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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