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Thursday, August 16, 2018

REVIEW: Serpentine by Laurell K. Hamilton

Publisher's Summary:A remote Florida island is the perfect wedding destination for the upcoming nuptials of Anita's fellow U.S. Marshal and best friend Edward. For Anita, the vacation is a welcome break, as it's the first trip she gets to take with wereleopards Micah and Nathaniel. But it's not all fun and games and bachelor parties...

In this tropical paradise Micah discovers a horrific new form of lycanthropy, one that has afflicted a single family for generations. Believed to be the result of an ancient Greek curse, it turns human bodies into a mass of snakes.

When long-simmering resentment leads to a big blowout within the wedding party, the last thing Anita needs is more drama. But it finds her anyway when women start disappearing from the hotel, and worse--her own friends and lovers are considered the prime suspects. There's a strange power afoot that Anita has never confronted before, a force that's rendering those around her helpless in its thrall. Unable to face it on her own, Anita is willing to accept help from even the deadliest places. Help that she will most certainly regret--if she survives at all, that is.
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Unfortunately, Serpentine is yet another entry in the Anita Blake series that loses the bite and luster of the series' heyday circa books 1 thru about 10.  There is too much repetitive nonsense that readers of the series have endured for the past 15+ books.

Yes, Anita lives an unconventional, polyamorous life. Yes, she and her partners are okay with it. Why then do readers have to go through the same conversations each book? It feels like a vicious cycle.  If we're still reading, we get it, we can deal with it, so move on and get back to good paranormal monster/police investigations plots with a smidgen of steamy romance fun and not these droll dialogues that go in circles.

Serpentine is a step up from Dead Ice but again lacks storytelling flare. The is too much wedding and relationship drama while the connecting paranormal aspects are not fully explored and wrapped up too quickly in the last 10% of the novel. Elements I did like were appearances by Jean Claude, Micah, Nathaniel, and Nicky. Edward is always a treat and scary Olaf aka Otto shows up - plus eek freaky prediction for a future story tie-in w/ him as Anita's lion to call. I missed some of the other regulars and couldn't tell you a thing about the bodyguards who were present this book.

Why do I keep reading? I'm a glutton for punishment I suppose. Anita and Jean Claude have been a part of my live for more that 15 years. I can't quite give them up even if I'm disappointed with their current journey.

Final rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Monday, August 6, 2018

REVIEW: Bound by Gods by Eva Chase

*Thank you to Netgalley and Ink Spark Press for an ARC in exchange for a review)

The second book in the Their Dark Valkyrie series, Ari and the Norse gods (Loki, Thor, Baldur, Freya, and Hod) are still searching for Odin while trapped in a fake Asgard.  Their capture is none other than Odin's raven of memory, Munnin. 

Can they work together to free themselves while also forgiving each other for many past evils and hurtful transgressions?  Probably, but it is a long journey toward redemption.

I am enjoying this series. Ari is a good female protagonist and she is developing as a character over time. Chase has embodied the Norse gods well. Loki is sexy and sly; Thor a bit hot headed. The romance element to the series fits and who would be able to choose between all those alluring gods? Ari has decided not to!

This series is by no means perfect; however, they are a fun, easy and entertaining read.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

REVIEW: Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne

Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born . . . and so begins every fairy tale ever told.

This is not that fairy tale.

There is a Chosen One, but he is unlike any One who has ever been Chosened.

And there is a faraway kingdom, but you have never been to a magical world quite like the land of Pell.

There, a plucky farm boy will find more than he's bargained for on his quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. First there's the Dark Lord who wishes for the boy's untimely death . . . and also very fine cheese. Then there's a bard without a song in her heart but with a very adorable and fuzzy tail, an assassin who fears not the night but is terrified of chickens, and a mighty fighter more frightened of her sword than of her chain-mail bikini. This journey will lead to sinister umlauts, a trash-talking goat, the Dread Necromancer Steve, and a strange and wondrous journey to the most peculiar "happily ever after" that ever once-upon-a-timed.

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Kill the Farm Boy is hilarious and over the top.  I love the idea of this as a pun driven twisted fairy tale. What isn't to love: an unlikely Chosen One, talking animals, magic, and an adventurous journey filled with twists and turns.  Dawson along with one of my favs Hearne, write a "punilicious" tale that was a much needed breath of fresh air.  I dare any reader to not laugh out loud.

As fun as Kill the Farm Boy is to read and experience in text, once again, I have to hand it to Luke Daniels as the narrator of the audiobook.  He's outdone himself with this one--creating truly unique characters that bring the narrative to life.  Listening in the card, I know that other drivers must have thought I was a madwoman.  I laughed so hard I cried. All the characters were a hoot but I have a soft spot for Gustave  the goat;)

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

REVIEW: Shadow's Bane by Karen Chance

Dorina Basarab is a dhampir--half-human, half-vampire. As one of the Vampire Senate's newest members, Dory already has a lot on her plate. But then a relative of one of Dory's fey friends goes missing. They fear he's been sold to a slaver who arranges fights--sometimes to the death--between different types of fey.

As Dory investigates, she and her friends learn the slavers are into something much bigger than a fight club. With the Vampire Senate gearing up for war with Faerie, it'll take everything she has to defeat the slavers--and deal with the entirely too attractive master vampire Louis-Cesare.

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Shadow's Bane is the fourth in the Dorina Basarab series, loosely connected to Chance's Cassanda Palmer books.  Dory's life remains complicated to say the least. She continues to battle literal and figurative monsters while balancing her dual nature and her love life.  As a reader, I like Dory but not perhaps as much as Cassie Palmer in the other novels.

Dory's father Mircea remains intriguing as readers get a whole lot more to the story of how and why he chose to block Dory and Dorina off from each other in order to save them.  The narrative explores this well and brings up a whole slew of new questions and problems to be examined in the next book.  Once criticism for me was pacing and transitions. I felt like these could have been smoother at times to help the narrative; however, part of Dory and Dorina feeling so fragmented might allow for the same to be said of the reading experience.

Final rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

REVIEW: Iron and Magic by Ilona Andrews

Happy Book Birthday to Iron and Magic!


Publisher's Summary: 
Truly a stellar read. Iron and Magic marks the first in the Iron Covenant series for Ilona Anderews, the husband and wife writing team that have brought us the Kate Daniels books and many more.  If you love Kate Daniels, then you have also grown to love/hate Hugh d'Ambray. He's a complicated villain who has now lost his way since being cast out by Roland, Kate's evil, wizard father. (That is probably over simplifying lol).
Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars


Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh is a shadow of the warrior he was, but when he learns that the Iron Dogs, soldiers who would follow him anywhere, are being hunted down and murdered, he must make a choice: to fade away or to be the leader he was born to be. Hugh knows he must carve a new place for himself and his people, but they have no money, no shelter, and no food, and the necromancers are coming. Fast. 

Elara Harper is a creature who should not exist. Her enemies call her Abomination; her people call her White Lady. Tasked with their protection, she's trapped between the magical heavyweights about to collide and plunge the state of Kentucky into a war that humans have no power to stop. Desperate to shield her people and their simple way of life, she would accept help from the devil himself—and Hugh d’Ambray might qualify. 

Hugh needs a base, Elara needs soldiers. Both are infamous for betraying their allies, so how can they create a believable alliance to meet the challenge of their enemies? 

As the prophet says: “It is better to marry than to burn.” 

Hugh and Elara may do both. 

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When Hugh learns that his Iron Dogs are in jeopardy, his pulls himself together and forges an alliance with Elara, a witch known as the White Lady. Elara is an enigma--strong, beautiful and possessing a mysterious ancient power that is both awe inducing and terrifying. The two have a marriage of convenience--Hugh will help protect Elara's people, and in turn Hugh and his Iron Dogs have food, shelter and a chance at a new life.

Their alliance is tenuous at best but rife with coiled tension. Hugh remains an antihero but as reader's learn more about him, Hugh has an interesting past and his perceptions are skewed based on his time under Roland's influence. He isn't without honor or empathy and he is learning to care for others and see a larger picture. Following his journey will be exciting.

Elara is equally intriguing. I cannot wait to find out more about her and just what she's sacrificed for her people. She and Hugh are a good match and we'll have to see if real love is in the cards (which I'm guessing it is).  These two have amazing banter, tension and good sexual chemistry--tenants of what you'd expect from any of Andrews' couples. There is great plot, action, adventure and monsters.

Loved the book!

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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