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Currently Browsing: 4.5 stars
Nov
7

Review: Wild Darkness by Lauren Dane

Review: Wild Darkness by Lauren Dane Wild Darkness Author: Lauren Dane Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A, 4.5 stars What I’m Talking About: Wild Darkness was a fabulous conclusion to Lauren Dane’s Bound by Magick series.  Even though the storyline resolved – the Faine and Helena storyline, as well as that of the Owen/Genessee witches – I still have soooo many questions about the universe!  I guess that’s a sign of some magical storytelling, huh? I fell in love with Faine and the Lycians while reading Going Under, the third book in this spin-off of Ms. Dane’s Cascadia Wolves and de LaVega Cats series.  I couldn’t wait to get this title, and I’ve been waiting ten months for it.  On. Pins. And. Needles.  I knew we’d be reading Faine and Helena’s story, and there was no way anyone could talk me out of reading this book.  I was so happy when we were offered the opportunity to review it.  Early.  Before release. 🙂 <Insert Giggles of Glee Here> I am mesmerized by the world-building with this series.  The focus on the witches and the way their magick is generated, cultivated, and used is phenomenal.  While Wild Darkness could function as a stand-alone title, readers will get much more out of the book if they’ve read the first three titles in the series.  They’ll be able to connect with the characters that make appearances, and appreciate the intimacy of several scenes.  I see so much potential for additional titles, based on plot developments within this book!  I am, however, happy that I can continue to look toward the de La Vega and Cascadia series as a ‘fix’ for my need to see more of the intricate and engrossing universe Ms. Dane has created.  I want to know more about all the characters.  I want to see how things go with them in the future.  There’s questions I’ve formulated to which I want answers!  Yup.  That’s the classic signs of reading a great book! I could seriously gush about every major plot line in this book.  Which would make my review as long as the novel itself.  No one wants that.  Let’s start with the Others.  In the previous titles in this series, Ms. Dane brought us the Magister, an evil being that sucked the magick out of everything and threatened to eliminate the magick that makes this universe crackle with emotion.  Defeated in book 2 of the series, the Magister is a side-line threat once again.  The Others...
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Nov
6

Review: Bad Idea by Damon Suede

Review: Bad Idea by Damon Suede Bad Idea Author: Damon Suede  Reviewer: B. Rating: A, 4.5 Stars What I’m Talking About: Trip Spector has spent years slowly going numb, drawing a comic he can’t stand for a man he wants badly, but can’t have. Aimless and highly allergic to pretty much everything, he knows he’s meant to do more with his life, but has no idea what that could possibly be until a chance encounter with a handsome zombie in the woods inspires him to take a chance for the first time in years. But, even the gorgeous, surprising special effects artist may not be enough to help Trip pursue his dreams when his worst habits come back to haunt him. Sampling his way through the judgmental, expiration date-obsessed NYC singles scene has left Silas Goolsby feeling empty and detached. But, when his missed opportunity with a shy, nerdy artist turns into an unexpected second chance, he knows he’ll have to leave all his familiar patterns behind if they want a future together that really matters. Moving on from his past isn’t easy, no matter how much he wants to, but giving his heart away could cost Silas more than he has to give. Trip and Silas are likely the most perfect couple that nearly weren’t that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. On the surface, they don’t have much in common except the artistic nature of their respective professions, and that they’re both gay. Beneath the surface, however, they share a nerd streak that won’t quit and an eager indulgence of their decidedly non-stereotypical sexual inclinations. Otherwise, they couldn’t be more different. Trip has more hang-ups than a dry cleaner, but, from the minute figures out that what Silas really needs is exactly what he’s been aching to give, he’s hooked. Silas, on the other hand, is honest, brazen, devoted, and doesn’t do anything halfway. They both know how the script they’re supposed to be acting out goes, and have lived it faithfully in the past. Once they find each other, however, they realize that they’re tired of playing along and begin to follow their hearts instead. Aside from the unlikely, yet fascinating, pairing of these two artists, Bad Idea is a slice of pure nerd heaven. Maybe Nerdvana. With bountiful pop culture references, heaps of artistic legend name-dropping, and a fearless skewering of “play it safe” industry risk-avoidance, this novel was a complete hoot to read. “The Tick” references alone were enough...
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Nov
5

Review: The Lair by Emily McKay

Review: The Lair by Emily McKay The Lair Author: Emily McKay  Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A, 4.5 Stars What We’re Talking About: The Lair is the exciting sequel to the YA novel, The Farm.  Although The Farm wasn’t exactly what we were expecting, we liked it. But right from the start, The Lair was a gripping read which we enjoyed, and we look forward to more. The story starts off near where The Farm ended.  Mel has been turned by Sebastian, and he has taken her under his wing to “raise” her.  For the first time in Lily’s life, she is not only not watching over her sister, but they are physically separated.  However, being with Carter, softens the blow.  Gikany and Una enjoy that we continue to have both Mel and Lily’s points of view in The Lair.  It was fascinating to observe Mel’s transformation and her time being mentored by Sebastian.  The abilities of vampires seem to develop quickly.  And, as we observe through Mel’s eyes, we question whether Sebastian’s motives are entirely pure. While Mel learns how to be vampire, Lily and Carter finally reach the home base of the resistance.  But all is (of course) not well.  Once they reach the base they realize something is not right…horribly not right.  We would love to say that they do get better, but who are we kidding.  This IS a post-apocalyptic world.  It does not get better… but it does spiral and twist in ways we did not expect.  Keeping us glued to the pages, we could not put down The Lair as we kept trying to figure out Sebastian with Mel and what on earth was going to happen with Lily and the choices she endures.  Let’s just say (we realize we are being utterly vague but we would hate to spoil things for you) there are arguments, break ups, betrayals and more betrayal. We do enjoy Carter’s point of view, but Lily is the main narrator in The Lair with Mel giving us snapshots of her journey.  However, Carter’s point of view does add a richness to the overall world.  He is struggling with being the leader of the resistance without the abductura he was supposed to retrieve.  In Carter we see the epitome of a leader – calm, decisive, confident.  Someone anyone could follow and would.  However, through his points of view we discover he questions every choice, struggles with thoughts of the future while grieving his lost soldiers...
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Oct
16

Review & Giveaway: Someone Else’s Skye by Christine Wenrick

Review & Giveaway: Someone Else’s Skye by Christine Wenrick Someone Else’s Skye Author: Christine Wenrick  Reviewer: Nima Rating: A, 4.5 stars What I’m Talking About: “One night . . . one violent, supernatural battle . . . and five stories of the men whose lives will be changed by it.” Someone Else’s Skye is the first book in the Brahm Hill Series.  It follows Wenrick’s Charmed Trilogy which ended in the battle of Brahm Hill.  I felt the actual battle was a little anti-climatic in book three, but it set us up for this series.  I recommend reading the Charmed Trilogy first so that you are familiar with the characters and their back-stories as Wenrick does minimal recapping here. Sticking with what I felt was a successful format in her previous series, the storyline of Someone Else’s Skye keeps a tight focus on the two main characters, Skye Matthews, and Kane, a rare, natural shape-shifter.  Kane is not a bad boy, he’s a naughty boy, a playboy that we’ve secretly adored throughout the Charmed Trilogy.  In this first book of the Brahm Hill Series, it’s fun to see him want something, or more specifically someone, that he can’t have.  In the past he would have moved on, but there’s just something different about Skye and he can’t walk away; he can’t just leave it alone.  Skye is a new character (or is she?) who also introduces us to a new species of supernaturals that we were unaware of in previous books.  I like that Wenrick is continuing to expand the possibilities in her alternate world while keeping the individual stories tight enough to understand and integrate into the broad picture. This might have been just a four star read for me because it is a slow burn, at times just slightly overdone or repetitive.  I’ve bumped it up to four and a half because it explodes in a twist that I did not see coming.  I knew something was up, I had my guesses, but I was wrong.  I like it when I’m wrong. I like it when the author has me convinced it’s going to go one way and then justifies it going another.  Can’t wait for the next one! 4.5 stars: Loved it – enthusiastically recommend (A) About the Book: Kane, Brethren Guardian and one of the few Natural Shape-Shifters left in existence, survives the bloody battle of Brahm Hill but loses two of his closest friends. For all of his good-natured sarcasm and eye-popping good looks,...
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Oct
10

Review: Catch a Ghost by SE Jakes

Review: Catch a Ghost by SE Jakes Catch A Ghost Author: SE Jakes  Reviewer: B. Rating: A, 4.5 Stars What I’m Talking About: To begin with, I really liked Catch a Ghost. A lot. There were so many things that I liked equally about it, in fact, that I’m not sure where to begin. This story hit every button I’ve got: good writing, complex characters that get under your skin, lots of action, suspense, angst, a little romance, and so on. As a “sub-series” within an established universe (Extreme Escapes Limited), I’m hopeful that the two main characters, Prophet and Tommy, will have plenty of room to stretch and flesh out the parameters of their relationship, without that evolution becoming hurried. Time seems to be more important for some characters than others, and these two men definitely need it. Either that, or I’m a little bit in love with both of them, and I’ll take as many of their stories as I can get. Prophet and Tom are truly wonderful characters. Both are scarred warriors (although not in precisely the same way), keeping their secrets locked away tight while trying to separate their pasts from the present. Yet, for all their mutual antagonizing and denials, there’s also a magnetic pull that connects them, which was at once compelling and fascinating. A more accurate comparison might be the irrefutable attraction that exists between opposing forces. Prophet doesn’t want a partner so that he won’t let anyone else down. Tom wants to partner with Prophet in order to prove that he won’t do that exact thing. Prophet is a master of control, at least to the casual observer. Tom needs to learn to have some. Together, however, they are wickedly provocative, and even though they know that sex with one another is a bad idea, they can’t help but give into their desire anyway. Whether it’s a need for physical pleasure or for basic comfort is questionable, if not irrelevant, depending on the situation and perspective. Yet, even here, they oppose one another. Tom wants more of Prophet in every respect and pursues something more substantial with him to that end. Prophet, meanwhile, denies the unmistakable connection between them to everyone, including himself. Sexually, these two are more well matched than they’d like to admit, each encounter being more of a skirmish, as if the only common ground they can bear to acknowledge is the intimacy of battle. One of my favorite things about Catch A Ghost is...
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Sep
27

Review: So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl

Review: So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl So Tough to Tame Author: Victoria Dahl Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A, 4.5 stars What I’m Talking About: I never thought I would be enamored with a cowboy as much as I am Walker Pearce.  Victoria Dahl continues my love affair with Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in So Tough to Tame, the third title in her Jackson series. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting Ms. Dahl’s Jackson Hole.  It was fabulous to have cameos from characters we’ve previously seen, becoming reacquainted with and catching up with their lives.  The handful of scenes involving former main characters was, in my opinion, a little brief and could have expanded a smidge more on what’s going on with them.  I also enjoyed the underlying plot line regarding Miss Rayleen and her verbal-volley partner, Easy, which seems to resolve in this title.  I love Miss Rayleen.  I hope to be as spunky and sassy as she is, at her age!  I also was overjoyed to see Ms. Dahl’s ‘Ability Ranch’ in this title.  As a special education teacher, I love it when kids with challenges are portrayed full of awesomeness and in a positive way – not pitied or shoved in a corner. Charlie Allington – short for Charlotte – was a great main character.  I was so surprised at the plot twist and resolution that revolved around Charlie during the last 10% of So Tough to Tame that I sat in the parking lot of the grocery store more than the normal 10 minutes just to finish.  I loved the way she handled pretty much every difficult situation tossed her direction.  The way she guarded her heart (ineffectively) from Walker was great.  She wasn’t all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns gushing about him when he wasn’t there.  She had other real-world problems to occupy her brain.  This smart character really used her brains to diffuse a potentially volatile situation, and for that alone, Charlie gets points in my book.  Ms. Dahl even managed to stump me over several plot points regarding Charlie.  Kudos! Walker. Pearce.  Mmmmhm.  Rugged cowboy.  Tremendous flirt.  Heartbreaker extraordinaire.  I thought that Ms. Dahl did a fabulous job bringing him to life for her reader.  From his expressions to his emotions, I felt as though Walker were the guy-next-door.  The Mr. Popular in school.  I felt like the plotlines involving Walker, including his dad and his former relationship, were a great parallel to the issues facing Charlie and established both characters as individuals with...
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Sep
26

Review: Bound by Night by Larissa Ione

Review: Bound by Night by Larissa Ione Bound By Night Author: Larissa Ione Reviewer: Twimom Rating: A, 4.5 Stars What I’m Talking About: Nicole Martin had always thought kindly of vampires, and she was very close with her vampire nanny, Terese. Then Terese and her unborn child were murdered by her mate, Riker, and Nicole would never forget Riker’s face or what he did. And then the unimaginable happened… Nicole was eight when the vampire servants at her parents’ home rebelled, killing almost everyone. Nicole had her throat gnawed, and she was left for dead. The book then fast-forwards 20 years to current day, where Riker is an important warrior in the MoonBound vampire clan. We learn how vampires are hunted by humans to be exterminated, experimented on, and/or enslaved, while free vampires live in clans hidden from humans. Riker is tasked with the job of rescuing a rival clan’s female vampire from the evil Daedalus Corporation – a company owned and run by Nicole Martin and her brother, Charles. Of course, the rescue mission doesn’t go as planned, and Nicole is taken captive by Riker. The two recall clearly the pain the other caused twenty years ago. Riker blames Nicole and her family for his mate’s death while Nicole has had reoccurring nightmares over Riker holding a knife to Terese. Now the pair must decide if they can work together to uncover the truth and rescue the innocent. As the first book in a new series, Bound By Night provides a lot of detail in order to create this new world. While vampire stories are numerous these days, I felt that the world of the MoonBound Clan Vampires is unique enough to stand out as a worthy read. The idea of vampires as strong creatures being persecuted and used as slaves and lab rats is not a version of vampires I’ve read before. Of course there will be comparisons with our own human history, but the book is not preachy or condescending. The world is what it is, and as readers, we are invited to join in the exciting ride! One of the things that I found fascinating with this story, and Nicole’s character, is the discussion of the science and biology of vampires. As a science geek and engineer, I love learning how things work. Ms. Ione piqued my interest with Nicole, who is a vampire physiologist. I was completely absorbed with the concept of “vampirism” and how their biology worked. The science plays...
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Sep
19

Review: The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin

Review: The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin The Lotus Palace Author: Jeannie Lin  Reviewer: Una Rating: A, 4.5 Stars What I’m Talking About: The Lotus Palace is the first novel in a new Tang Dynasty series by Jeannie Lin.  Ms. Lin is a new-to-me author, and I am so excited to have volunteered for The Lotus Palace.  Suffice to say, I was enchanted, engaged and enthralled, the three E’s to which lead to me absolutely loving a new book.  This story reminds me in a way of Pretty Woman crossed with L.A. Confidential and yet is solely its own.  A hauntingly beautiful love story crossed with a fascinating detective drama, all of which seems impossible and yet still finds its happy ending.  I warn you, it is absolutely impossible to put down! Firstly, I know very little about Chinese culture, mores and customs; current let alone historically.  However, from what I have learned from school and movies and the like, it is very different from my own culture and yet, historically speaking, enchanting and similar.  I admit there were terms I did not understand, but thanks to technology (I read this on my e-reader) the definitions were easily found.  It was so seamlessly done that I didn’t realize how much I was learning as I was completely consumed and lost in the story.  I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the novel. This time period is stunningly beautiful, enchanting and yet the the beauty is hiding some very ugly and painful layers in society.  The rich descriptions of the locations and people allow the reader to be completely immersed in the world.  It is fascinating to learn how hurtful, ugly and hopeless the pleasure district is under such extraordinary beauty and charm.  The contrast between what is seen by the aristocracy and the life of those within the walls is staggering.  What allows us to see both sides of this world well is that we are granted the point of view from not only Yue-ying but Huang as well.  The dichotomy between then and the seemingly endless divide which separates them is surreal.  How they can hope to have a relationship seems so impossible and yet, Ms. Lin gives us the hope even when it seems only the darkness will remain. Our heroine of the story is from this more painful and ugly layer.  Yue-ying is the servant of a courtesan (I believe this is the correct term) for the famous Lotus Palace.  She has little hope...
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Sep
9

Review: Perdition by Ann Aguirre

Review: Perdition by Ann Aguirre Perdition Author: Ann Aquirre  Reviewer: Nima Rating: A, 4.5 stars What I’m Talking About: Author Ann Aguirre has based Perdition, the first book in her new series, The Dred Chronicles, in same alternative universe as her Sirantha Jax Series, but set several decades into the future.  Instead of the expanse of space that was the world for a jumper like Jax, the whole of main character Dresdemona  “Dred” Devos’ story is narrowed and squeezed down into the confines of the penal colony ship that is Perdition.  Once upon a time Perdition was a vast mining vessel.  Part prison, part asylum, now it slowly rots away in a static orbit around a dead asteroid.  The prisoners inside it have multiple life sentences with no possibility of parole or escape and they are slowly rotting away as well.  They are all but forgotten by humanity and the Conglomerate that exiled them there.  For the sake of sanity and survival, the inhabitants of Perdition have each aligned themselves to one of six charismatic leaders in as many territories. Dred, dubbed “Queen Dread” by her subjects, is the leader of “Queensland” territory.  In the same way The Sirantha Jax Series followed Jax through multiple books, The Dred Chronicles will continue to follow the rule of Queen Dread. Books two and three have already been named Havoc and Breakout. Perdition is a science fiction read first.  The romantic elements are present, but secondary.  Initially I had difficulty getting into the flow of the book because the setting of a penal colony is not a new sci-fi concept and my mind kept bringing up old references.  Escape from New York and Alien3made big bucks on the idea. Ironically when they filmed No Escape, based on the 1987 book The Penal Colony by Richard Herley, they shot it Queensland, Australia.  Once I let go, however, and dug into Perdition, I liked it.  It had a very gritty feel.  Parts of the book are exceptionally bloody and violent, but given the setting, it makes sense and is not gratuitous. Newly arrived on Perdition with the reader is Jael.  Jael is brought forward from the Jax series after serving prison time for events that took place in book #3 Doubleblind.  It is not necessary to have read the previous series to begin this new one.  Jael’s self-loathing got a little over-done at times, but Aguirre does justify it, at least to my satisfaction.  Jael is the hero you...
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Sep
6

Review: Bound by Lies by Lynn Kelling

Review: Bound by Lies by Lynn Kelling Bound By Lies Author: Lynn Kelling  Reviewer: B. Rating: A, 4.5 Stars What I’m Talking About: Having escaped the stigma of a destroyed family and the cruel whispers of his classmates four years ago, Brayden Clare never considered returning to his hometown again. But, after experiencing the desolation of abandonment personally, he’s not about to do the same to his remaining relatives when they call on him for help. Life at the beach and a lack of conviction about his own sexuality hasn’t exactly prepared him to be a successful caretaker, however, yet he’s determined to do what’s right, regardless of the cost, even if it means losing his freedom to the voices of the past. Golden boy Jenner Parrish, owner of the local bar, has always had it easy, or so everyone else in his small town thinks. Determined to stay out of the crosshairs of the bullies in his high school, he spent his time then as part of their group, often horrified by their exploits, yet never taking a stand against them. While he’s come to terms with his needs as a Dominant privately, his dread of rejection and worry over the opinions of others keep him from living the life he so desperately wants, leaving him isolated and withdrawn. But, when his fantasy-come-to-life walks through his door in need of a job, Jenner begins to question everything about the life he’s built for himself, and realizes that, sometimes, taking risks is the only option. I’ve been very happy to see an increase in the number of novels about “alternative lifestyles” I’ve had the opportunity to read recently, especially when those stories determinedly address some of the misconceptions and myths surrounding their subjects. Bound by Lies, I was delighted to find, does exactly that. Brayden is plagued by insecurities about his desire to submit, believing his need to be dominated to be a validation for all the horrible things that happened during his high school years. Jenner is likewise hiding who he really is, fearing the rejection of both family and friends should they discover who he really is: a closeted gay man who is most at peace when spending time as a Dom. While the majority of Bound by Lies revolves around the sexual relationship of the two main characters, it is through these scenes that we see what drives both men in its most distilled form. By finally addressing their mutual needs, they are...
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