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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