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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

REVIEW: Claimed by Gods--Eva Chase

Publisher's Summary:
I thought I'd survived everything life could throw at me. All I wanted was to keep my distance from the criminals I work for and get my little brother out of the hell that is our mother's house. 

Then I died and woke up to four stunningly hot gods telling me I'm now a valkyrie. 

Sly, sharp Loki. Jovial but ferocious Thor. Dreamily compassionate Baldur. Grim and secretive Hod. They all have something to teach me. And around them, my walls start to crack. 

But the gods didn't summon me just for kicks. Their king is missing, and they need me to find him. The first three valkyries they sent on the job never made it back. 

More power is awakening in me than I could ever have imagined—and the gods' enemies are more devious than even they knew. It's going to take every trick in the book for me to save myself, my brother, and these divine men who're getting under my skin in the most alluring way. 

I'm Aria Watson, and Valhalla ain't seen nothing yet. 

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The initial reader's appeal for me was:

1) Cool cover!

2) The general book description because hey, Norse mythology is cool!  Aria dies and is chosen to come back as a valkyrie to aide Loki, Thor, Baldur, Hod and Freya in their quest to find Odin and get back to Asgard.  I mean that in itself sounds awesome.  

Some issues lingered for me as a reader starting with POV. I'd have preferred the whole story told from Aria's perspective without switching to Lokie, Thor, etc. I think this would help with pacing and general plot and character development. I felt like I was deprived of some of the depth I'd expected.  It seems as if Aria's love life is going to get complicated- LOL!

The plot remains intriguing with one journey seemingly finished and yet more questions and a whopper of a cliffhanger remain.  Fans who enjoy reading mythology based romance and urban fantasy will be entertained.

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

REVIEW: Racked and Stacked by Lorelei James

Racked and Stacked by Lorelei James

Expected publication: August 7, 2018 by Berkley

Publisher's Summary:
Growing up with three older brothers, Larissa "Riss" Thorpe defines the term tomboy--a moniker that never mattered to her until she crossed paths with sexy cowboy playboy, Ike Palmer. His declaration that he prefers his women soft and feminine is the one benefit to becoming his business partner. Since Riss is obviously not his type, there's little chance they'll mix business and pleasure when they're in close quarters on the road together.

Former cattle broker Ike Palmer was ready for a new chapter in his life when he partnered with Riss, a contrary redhead who lords her mechanical abilities over him at every turn. Ike raised his three younger sisters; he knows a thing or three about how women work. The problem is...Riss is unlike any woman he's ever met.

With the odds stacked against them, Riss and Ike will have to choose between the stubbornness that keeps them apart and the fiery attraction that could lead to something more.

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As a true fan of the series, I have been waiting for Riss and Ike's book for far too long!  James once again does what she does best: present realistically, complicated and likeable characters that have electric chemistry that develops into a profound bound and romance that keep readers coming back for me.

I love Riss, sassy yet vulnerable and Ike who is lost in his own way. Sparks fly when these two share close quarters but the depth of their understand of each other is just as interesting as the tension that builds while reader's wait to find out just when they will give in to each other.

Racked and Stacked has the feel like it could be the end of this series but I'd be delighted if we get to see more from this group of characters.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

REVIEW: Furyborn by Claire Legrand

Furyborn by Claire Legrand

Published May 22, 2018 by Sourcebooks Fire

Publisher's Summary:
Follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world...or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed...unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable--until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world--and of each other.

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Furyborn is an enjoyable read for fans of Throne of Glass (Maas) and the Grisha Trilogy (Bardugo) wrought with trials, tribulations, adventure, action and a fair amount of steamy, sexual tension and romance realized. 

The alternating POV between Rielle and Eliana some thousand years apart adds a lovely balance to the narrative. Each must face their own hardships toward realizing their destiny and there is a fantastic build of story, character development and excitment for the readers as the journey into the series begins.  Many questions have been asked, some answered with even more anticipation with what is in store for the future.

I do recommend the audiobook as narrated by Fiona Hardingham.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Monday, May 7, 2018

REVIEW ROUND-UP!

*Thanks to Netgalley and Pocket Star for an ARC in exchange for a review*

Publisher's Summary: 

A prank war erupts in Lake Sackett, Georgia and coroner Frankie McCready has to turn to the gorgeous but surly new sheriff for help in Molly Harper’s newest Southern Eclectic novella, perfect for fans of Kristan Higgins and Amy E. Reichert.
The McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop has crickets running rampant in the store and hot sauce in the Snack Shack’s ketchup bottles. But as the county coroner, Frankie has enough on her plate without worrying about the increasingly mean pranks being played at her family’s business. And the arrival of Sheriff Eric Linden, both devastatingly attractive and painfully taciturn, is enough to push her over the edge.

Linden, who didn’t seem to get the memo about men in uniform and Southern charm, is condescending and cold, revealing absolutely nothing about his past as an Atlanta police officer, while also making Frankie’s job as coroner as difficult as possible. And with the town’s Fourth of July celebration coming up, it’s essential for McCready’s to be cricket-free and in good working order. Strangling the sheriff will make her job even harder. Can Frankie hold off the threats to preserve her own sanity?

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Loved this novella which is the prequel and set up story for Ain't She a Peach!  Frankie and Eric have already shared their night together, ending with Frankie sneaking away at the end of the night.  The Fates intervene to have her one night stand show up unexpectedly in Lake Sackett, causing a bit of friction.

Harper sure knows how to build tension with a good mix of sexy banter and comedic relief.  I'll never get enough of this author's ability to create such imaginative and true to life characters that seem to leap from the page like an all too real bizarre small town family reunion.

I cannot wait to see what Harper thinks up next!

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

*Thank you to Netgalley & St. Martin's Paperbacks for an ARC in exchange for a review*

Publisher's Summary:

Welcome to the Ho-Lee Noodle House, where the Chinese food is to die for. . .

The last place Lana Lee thought she would ever end up is back at her family’s restaurant. But after a brutal break-up and a dramatic workplace walk-out, she figures that a return to the Cleveland area to help wait tables is her best option for putting her life back together. Even if that means having to put up with her mother, who is dead-set on finding her a husband.

Lana’s love life soon becomes yesterday’s news once the restaurant’s property manager, Mr. Feng, turns up dead―after a delivery of shrimp dumplings from Ho-Lee. But how could this have happened when everyone on staff knew about Mr. Feng’s severe, life-threatening shellfish allergy? Now, with the whole restaurant under suspicion for murder and the local media in a feeding frenzy―to say nothing of the gorgeous police detective who keeps turning up for take-out―it’s up to Lana to find out who is behind Feng’s killer order. . . before her own number is up.

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I'm a sucker for a good food inspired cozy mystery. Death by Dumpling is the first in a new series by Vivien Chien.  I enjoyed the mystery aspect of this story as well as the building of characters and a community flush with culture and memorable characters.  Lana is an interesting character that is on the brink of her journey to find her own way in life and love, despite the well intended meddling of her mother.

Overall, I thought the novel contained a well plotted mystery with a few unexpected turns plus built the narrative for future books.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

*Thank you to Netgalley & Del Rey for an ARC in exchange for  a review *

Publisher's Summary:

Unchained from fate, the Norse gods Loki and Hel are ready to unleash Ragnarok, a.k.a. the Apocalypse, upon the earth. They’ve made allies on the darker side of many pantheons, and there’s a globe-spanning battle brewing that ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan will be hard-pressed to survive, much less win.

Granuaile MacTiernan must join immortals Sun Wukong and Erlang Shen in a fight against the Yama Kings in Taiwan, but she discovers that the stakes are much higher than she thought.

Meanwhile, Archdruid Owen Kennedy must put out both literal and metaphorical fires from Bavaria to Peru to keep the world safe for his apprentices and the future of Druidry.

And Atticus recruits the aid of a tyromancer, an Indian witch, and a trickster god in hopes that they’ll give him just enough leverage to both save Gaia and see another sunrise. There is a hound named Oberon who deserves a snack, after all.

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There wasn't much to not LOVE about this final book in the Iron Druid Chronicles.  I'll admit it is a little difficult to say a farewell to Atticus, Oberon and the rest of the gang but I have to hope that they'll make some occasional appearances in the future despite the fact that author Kevin Hearne is moving on to different projects.

What I enjoyed about this narrative was the three separate journeys of Atticus, Granuaile and Owen in order to save the world and help fight Loki and Hel.  Hearne is a genius at creating memorable characters, and he certainly outdid himself with a certain sloth, that I'm sure readers will agree is a gem and new favorite! Reader Recommendation:  You have to seek out the audio done by Luke DanielsOnce again he is amazing!

I have to admit I was a little shocked by the ending. I won't say too much but as I've gotten some distance from the end, I agree with it and can appreciate Hearne's choices. Life is all about the journey and for someone who has lived as long as Atticus, the 'end' is not necessarily all rainbows and flowers.  I understand the feeling of loss, isolation and uncertainty but also the prospect of hope and new beginnings that might not be expected.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

*Thank you to Netgalley & Ace for an ARC in exchange for a review*

Expected publication: June 5, 2018

This is an anthology containing all of the Dresden Files short stories and novellas published since its prequel Side Jobs. I had read most of the entries before with the exception of "Fistfull of Warlocks", "AAAA Wizardry", "Day One", and "Zoo Day". 

"Fistful of Warlocks"—3.5 stars. Loved the idea, but it was a little underdeveloped. I would love to read a much longer work with Lucio as the center and really see Butcher develop this Wild Wild West Wizarding World.

"B is for Bigfoot"— 5 stars. See my previous review

"AAAA Wizardry"— 3 stars. Interesting concept, but I wanted more. I love Harry in 'teacher mode' because event though he is far from perfect, he embraces his flaws and teachers others to do that too.  Learning from your mistakes makes you humble and less likely to repeat them in the future.

"I was a Teenage Bigfoot"—5 stars. See my previous review.

"Curses"—3 stars. Perhaps not my favorite Dresden story but I adore pretty much anything set in this fictional world.  

"Even Hand"—4 stars. I always enjoy a story from Marcone's POV.  I think this bring balance to the series so that there is more perspective than just what Harry goes through. 

"Bigfoot on Campus"—5stars. See my previous review.

"Bombshells"—3.5 stars. I read this and reviewed it in early 2017.  Molly is one of the series' most complex characters and I enjoy when Butcher delves into her voice.

"Cold Case"—4 stars. Another from Molly’s POV with some shocking things associated with her role as the Winter Lady. There are a lot of feels here and I'm still processing in 2018 just as I was when I read this story the first time.

"Day One"—3.5 stars. Nice to get one from Butters’ POV. He has grown as a character so much since his first appearance.  This story seems a bit short but I think there is so much more for Butcher to write in the future. 

"Zoo Day"—5 stars. I loved pretty much every aspect of this story.  Harry takes Maggie on their first father/daughter trip to the zoo.  Of course, trouble is afoot.  The real gem here is the alternating POV between Harry, Maggie and even Mouse. We see Harry at be vunerable and also do what he does best. Maggie is special and I cannot wait to see more of how her character and her powers develop.  And Mouse, love Mouse sooo much!

Final rating for collection: 5 out of 5

Saturday, March 31, 2018

REVIEW: Ain't She a Peach by Molly Harper

*Thanks to Netgalley and Gallery Books for an ARC*
 
Expected publication: June 12, 2018 

Publisher's Summary:
An Atlanta ex-cop comes to sleepy Lake Sackett, Georgia, seeking peace and quiet—but he hasn’t bargained on falling for Frankie, the cutest coroner he’s ever met.

Frankie McCready talks to dead people. Not like a ghost whisperer or anything—but it seems rude to embalm them and not at least say hello.

Fortunately, at the McCready Family Funeral Home & Bait Shop, Frankie’s eccentricities fit right in. Lake Sackett’s embalmer and county coroner, Frankie’s goth styling and passion for nerd culture mean she’s not your typical Southern girl, but the McCreadys are hardly your typical Southern family. Led by Great-Aunt Tootie, the gambling, boozing, dog-collecting matriarch of the family, everyone looks out for one another—which usually means getting up in everyone else’s business.

Maybe that’s why Frankie is so fascinated by new sheriff Eric Linden...a recent transplant from Atlanta, he sees a homicide in every hunting accident or boat crash, which seems a little paranoid for this sleepy tourist town. What’s he so worried about? And what kind of cop can get a job with the Atlanta PD but can’t stand to look at a dead body?

Frankie has other questions that need answering first—namely, who’s behind the recent break-in attempts at the funeral home, and how can she stop them? This one really does seem like a job for the sheriff—and as Frankie and Eric do their best Scooby-Doo impressions to catch their man, they get closer to spilling some secrets they thought were buried forever.


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Harper successfully charms readers again with this second in the Southern Eclectic series.  What's not to love? Harper can write humor effortlessly while blending great snarky, romantic tension with an intriguing, well paced plot. She truly excels with bringing characters to life who are rich with detail, while being vulnerable, eccentric and purely loveable.

Truly, there was nothing that disappointed me about the book other than the fact that I finished it so quickly, that now I'm left wanting more from the Lake Sackett crew.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, March 10, 2018

REVIEW: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs

*Thanks to Netgalley & Ace for an ARC in exchange for a review*

Publisher's Summary:
Now mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham face a threat like no other–one that lurks too close to home…

They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok’s pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.

With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf–but can’t stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills–his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker–to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn.

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Another highly enjoyable novel by Briggs. I enjoy the Alpha & Omega series because Charles and Anna are unlike most couples portrayed in paranormal romances. Briggs always adds complexity and a layer of intrigue that make her characters and books stand out against others in the genre.  Great pacing and creativity.  

I was hooked from the initial prelude. There was a sense of intensity as to learn just what act had taken place and more about these mysterious wildlings. 

I enjoyed the audiobook as well.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

REVIEW: Glimpse by Jonathan Maberry

*Thanks to Netgalley & St. Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for a review*

Expected publication: March 27, 2018

Publisher's Summary:
Rain is a young woman trying to rebuild herself after years of drug addiction and abuse. Ten years ago, at age sixteen, she gave up her baby after the father, her first love, dies in Iraq. Now, three years clean and on the way to a job interview, Rain borrows a pair of reading glasses from an old lady on a Brooklyn train. The lenses are cracked and through the crack she catches a glimpse of a little boy running and screaming. The boy looks so much like Rain’s dead lover. Like their son must look now. 

Rain realizes that the glasses give her quick glimpses of her lost son, Dylan, who needs her to find him. Dylan is important to our damaged, hopeless world. But he’s in terrible trouble because evil creatures - the Shadow People - are trying to corrupt and destroy him. If Dylan dies, then hope dies. 

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Where should I start?  I was hooked from the first word.  Rain's is a compelling story that had me on the edge of my seat the entire read.  This novel has on the components of a chilling yet fascinating read. Rain is a dynamic character whose vulnerabilities make her intriguing and reader's can't help but be entranced by her journey. Maberry does what he does best, write with purpose that is both satisfying for those wanting creative, well developed characterization, action, an interesting plot and enough creepy horror elements to have you sleeping with the lights on and checking all nooks and crannies for any number of evil creatures!

I read in chunks and with the lights on to savor the experience and soothe my overactive imagination.  Maberry remains one of my absolute favorite authors. I devour everything he publishes and pine until I have another fix!

Final rating: ALL THE STARS!!!!!!

Friday, February 23, 2018

REVIEW: Tart of Darkness by Denise Swanson

*Thank you to Netgalley & Sourcebooks for an ARC in exchange for a review*

Expected publication: April 1, 2018

Publisher's Summary:
Right when Dani thinks she’s hit a dead-end in her career, she unexpectedly inherits an enormous old house in a quaint college town. This gives her the perfect opportunity to pursue her true passion—cooking! So Dani opens Chef-to-Go, preparing delicious, ready-made meals for hungry students attending the nearby university, as well as providing personal chef services and catering events for the local community. To help support her new business, she opens her home to a few students, renting them rooms and becoming almost like a big sister figure in their lives.

But just as Dani is relishing her sweet new life, the friend of one of her boarders is murdered, and Dani becomes one of the primary suspects! She’ll have to scramble to clear her name and save her business before the killer reappears—perhaps to silence the new chef forever.

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I have a passion for 'food mysteries' so I was excited about a new series.  This first book is likable--Dani is an interesting female protagonist, down on her luck with new opportunities for a career and love on the horizon.  I thought it was funny that she essentially becomes a den mother to college girls but it the basis for a good premise.

General assessment--the plot works but felt a little clunky at times, especially with the suspect development, the investigation and the wrap up.  It all felt a little forced and as a reader I wanted more finesse. I also think I'd prefer the POV from one character rather than shifts from time to time.

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars