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Nov
13

Blog Tour & Review: Shock & Awe by Abigail Roux (plus Giveaway!)

Blog Tour & Review: Shock & Awe by Abigail Roux (plus Giveaway!) Shock & Awe (and Bait & Switch) Author: Abigail Roux  Reviewer: B. Rating: A+, 5 Stars What I’m Talking About: Born of an anti-smoking campaign, a healthy dose of serendipitous chemistry, and a contest bribe, Shock & Awe is, in my experience, one of the best gifts of writing an author has ever given to the fans. This offshoot of the Cut & Run series shouldn’t exist (I recommend looking up the chain of events if you don’t already know it—it’s a fun chain of events), but, thankfully, now does. Kelly wasn’t supposed to survive the events of Touch & Geaux, and Ms. Roux had other plans for Nick. But, the characters had a mind of their own, and altered the shape of things to come. I admit that I had mixed feelings about Nick O’Flaherty when he was formally introduced in the series. My heart was overruling my head, as has been a consistent side effect of reading Ms. Roux’s works, and it took a second reading for me to understand his perspective a little better. By the next book he appeared in, Armed & Dangerous, I began to love him, and upon finishing Touch & Geaux I was completely hooked. Nick is a good man through to his soul and a ferociously loyal friend, ranking his allegiance to Team Sidewinder—his real and chosen family—above all else. Kelly Abbott, on the other hand, has always been a favorite of mine. From his initial appearance, he’s been an open, shiny presence, living honestly and with a generosity of self that is so very rare it’s stunning. Referred to more than once as the “heart” of Team Sidewinder, Kelly lives his life without pretense or malice, his devotion to the other members of his unit unwavering and all encompassing. Similarly to Nick, they are the only real family he’s ever known, and there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for them. He is always willing to put himself on the line in every way for those he loves, even if it hurts him. One of the things that made me love Kelly even more in Shock & Awe is that, although Kelly wants everything that being with Nick promises to be, he knows Nick so well that he is willing to settle for whatever piece of himself his best friend is able to give. Though the chemistry between them is undeniable, their differences are substantial and add intensity and genuineness to their situation....
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Nov
4

Review & Giveaway: Bound by Wish and Mistletoe by Kat Bastion

Review & Giveaway: Bound by Wish and Mistletoe by Kat Bastion Bound by Wish and Mistletoe Author: Kat Bastion Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+, 5 Stars What I’m Talking About: Kat Bastion has done it again!  Bound by Wish and Mistletoe, a follow-up holiday novella to her fabulous first title in her Highland Legends series, Forged in Dreams and Magick, offers the reader more insight to the wonderful world created.  And more of Iain and Isabel! I don’t think I’ve read a heroine as sassy as Susanna MacEalan in a long time.  To say that she begins as a reluctant participant in the ‘couple’ is an understatement.  With physical agility as well as tenacity to be free, she definitely was no wallflower in her battle of independence.  As Susanna grew as a character and learned to trust, she did have roadblocks to hurdle.  It wasn’t easy for her.  Learning to love – and BE loved – was probably the most difficult task she’d ever undertaken. Watching her build friendships with Isa and Iain’s sister was parallel to watching a newborn colt gain its legs.  As feisty as Susanna was, I think she found her match in Robert. Head of Iain’s guard, Robert had sworn-off women.  They’re all more trouble than they’re worth.  Always trying to manipulate him into a marriage proposal or some sort of commitment.  I found it fascinating that Robert just knew that Susanna was the one for him.  His inner voice telling him resistance was futile.  How he knew he’d win her over eventually.  How that big lug of a man went to the mat for this woman that he innately knew he loved, but merely wished would be able to one day love him back.  I was rooting for Robert from the first moment he saw Susanna. Over-all, this was a great way for me to catch another glimpse at Iain and pregnant-with-twins Isa.  I missed them.  Stoic Robert gets his HEA… and Isabel gets Christmas.  What a wonderful magick that is!  Excellent holiday novella, perfect for a cup of cocoa and snuggling under the blanket in front of the fireplace this holiday season! 5 stars: Personal favorite – a must read (A+) About the Book: Desperate to honor a life-long promise, Susanna MacEalan escapes her abusive clan with the fierce determination of never falling under the power of a man. Ever. Aggravated by shallow-hearted pursuing lasses, Robert Brodie, commander of his clan’s elite guard, has foresworn scheming women. Forever. When magick transforms Brodie Castle into a Christmas...
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Oct
21

Review: Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh

Review: Archangel’s Legion by Nalini Singh Archangel’s Legion Author: Nalini Singh Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A+, 5 Stars What I’m Talking About: After a two-book departure from featuring the primary couple of the Guild Hunter series, Nalini Singh brings back one of my all-time favorite pairs, Raphael and Elena, front and center. Archangel’s Legion opens with a significant and unexplained event (the Falling) that nearly cripples Raphael’s Tower stronghold in Manhattan. Determined to make a show of strength, Elena continues her work as a Guild Hunter, making some very public appearances to show the world that Raphael and his territory are business as usual. She partners with Guild buddy Random to find a missing Hunter – one presumed to be close to the edge and possible going rogue. Along the way, they discover a mysterious illness that is killing vampires – something thought impossible. As we discovered in earlier books, the world is entering a time called the Cascade. Ms. Singh writes of the Cascade that it is a confluence of time and certain critical events that lead to a surge of power in the Cadre. No one, even the Archangels, know what will happen, only that it will most likely lead to war between the Archangels and a dramatic shift in world power. It is this unknown that leaves Raphael and his Seven unsure if the horrible events happening within his territory are events of the Cascade or deliberate attacks made by Archangels with new found power. One thing I adore and admire about Ms. Singh’s writing is that everything has a purpose and plan. The book begins with three mysterious things: The Falling, the diseased vampire, and a missing Hunter, plus a few other actions/events tossed in. It feels like so much; however Ms. Singh is a fantastic storyteller, and no event is random. I enjoy looking for the connections and trying to piece together the puzzle as I read. Somehow all the events will tie into one another, and it’s always one heck of a journey. I love that this book is back to Raphael and Elena, and while crazy events are happening all around them, their love and relationship are the focus of the story. Although the pair are still in their honeymoon phase of sorts, this time around they have some bumps to smooth over. Elena questions herself and her relationship with Raphael. She fears he will change her and worse, that she makes him weak. She struggles with her...
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Oct
10

Review: Rogue on the Rollaway by Shannon MacLeod

Review: Rogue on the Rollaway by Shannon MacLeod Rogue on the Rollaway Author: Shannon MacLeod  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+, 5 stars What I’m Talking About: I’m not quite sure exactly what draws me in about a hot Scot displaced in time.  Whatever it is, however, Shannon MacLeod has totally entranced me with Rogue on the Rollaway. With a strong hero and a believable heroine, I found that I was rooting for the couple and their star-crossed relationship throughout the title. I really enjoyed the fact that Faolan and Colleen built a relationship before jumping into bed.  Yes.  That means they’re not rolling in the sheets in the first 30 pages.  It’s still hot.  I was entranced at the way Ms. MacLeod showed the inner conflict of the characters – Does he like me?  Does she like me? – at the beginning of the title.  The fantasies, the descriptions of how the characters felt about the other, I found to be heartwarming and quite honest.  Yes.  I like a healthy dose of reality with my fantasy.  Thankyouverymuch. Colleen was a completely believable and realistic female lead character.  This. Was. Fabulous.  Many times, we have female leads that are either wishy-washy, or they’re so head-over-heels in love with the hero that they lose themselves.  Not so with Colleen.  She kept her job, she maintained her connections (at least superficially) with other people.  She actually taught Faolan about this new place in time where he’d landed.  Instead of him magically understanding everything, we watched her fret over the little things, like not burning down the house using appliances.  We watched her open-mouth, insert-foot a couple times and ultimately recover and reconnect with Faolan.  Making her a very relatable, honest and intense character for me.  Which I enjoyed. Faolan is really one of the most honest male characters I’ve read this year.  Sure, he’s cursed.  Sure, he’s too nice to just manipulate someone into ending his curse.  Sure, he’s hot as hell.  But in the grand scheme of things, Faolan trusts his heart, and damn all the nay-sayers.  He believes in true love, and with that belief, anything is possible.  He begins the story thinking he could finally end his curse but realizes rather quickly that there’s entirely too much going on with this woman for things to be simple.  Protecting her as much as possible, Faolan puts Colleen and her safety first at all times.  That’s one of the things I absolutely adore about him.  Even though he isn’t completely...
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Sep
23

Review: Forged in Dreams and Magick by Kat Bastion

Review: Forged in Dreams and Magick by Kat Bastion Forged in Dreams and Magick Author: Kat Bastion  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+, 5 stars What I’m Talking About: It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that completely captivated my attention like Forged in Dreams and Magick.  As the first title of Ms. Kat Bastion’s self-published Highland Legends series, readers are certainly in for a pleasant surprise. I went back and looked at my Goodreads updates while I was reading this title.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so up and down and all around emotionally for a dudes-in-kilts title as I was while reading this one.  Which is a good thing.  Ms. Bastion’s writing is tight, and able to transport the reader to 13th century Scotland or to the ancient Pict villages with her vivid descriptions and her attention to details needed to bring the reader into the time periods in question. In reflecting on Forged in Dreams and Magick, there’s nothing that irritated me.  Which. Is. Amazing.  Most of the time, even when I’m reading a fabulous book, something just doesn’t sit right with me.  You know, that one thing that makes you go, “Hrmmm…”  Additionally, I spent days revising this review just so I could write it spoiler-free.  VERRA difficult.  Here’s what I came up with. Characterization and setting were the primary focus, for me, while reading Forged in Dreams and Magick.  Without ever having been to Scotland, I felt as though I were riding through the woods on a trusty steed, wind in my face, the smell of the sea filtering through my lungs.  I could nearly smell the aromas in both time periods.  The tactile experiences were nothing short of amazing.  I could practically feel the fabrics and furs beneath my fingers.  I relished the experiences of Isabel, which can be two-fold.  The reading experience is EPIC.  Sometimes, however, vivid experiences such as this, throw me into the dreaded book hangover.  Not this time.  Ms. Bastion expertly resolved everything to my satisfaction, for this storyline.  Gently bringing her reader out of author-induced story hypnosis, and sending us on our merry way, with a smile on our faces.  A spoiler-free passage needs to make its way into my review; however (and seriously, I marked MANY passages I loved…this was the only one that was spoiler-free).  The illustration of emotion Ms. Bastion has masterfully crafted should convince any reader of the genre that this is a must read: Iain masterfully orchestrated every note of...
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Sep
2

Review: Friday Afternoon by Sylvia Ryan

Review: Friday Afternoon by Sylvia Ryan Friday Afternoon Author: Sylvia Ryan  Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+, 5 stars What I’m Talking About: Friday Afternoon, my first journey into the works of Ms. Sylvia Ryan, absolutely hits my top 10 books of 2013.  Ryan’s perfect blend of reality – the reality of actually being a parent – with the fantasy that we, too, can have steaming-hot sex with our long-term partners makes me weep with joy.  This title is off-the-charts HOT!!! I highly recommend this title for anyone that has been struggling with the doldrums of their own sex life within a monogamous relationship.  The way Ms. Ryan frankly discusses the patterns we allow ourselves to fall into is realistic and spot-on, in my opinion.  Even those of us that are in fantastic relationships hit speed bumps.  The modeling of the **RIGHT** way to communicate makes the story so much better for me!  The way Mia and Levi went about remedying their ‘situation’ is nothing short of inspired.  I enjoyed watching both partners use their creativity for their mutual pleasure.  Cryptic, right?  No spoilers here… Character development is always important to me, as a reader.  I’d venture a guess that I’m a character-driven reader, and when stories focus intensely on character development, I’m always happy.  Friday Afternoon was no exception, and exceeded my expectations for a novella.  A shifting point-of-view – something that always has the potential to drive me completely bonkers – expertly executed by Ms. Ryan, illustrated the changes (for the better!) of both Mia and Levi.  The way they both spoke, as narrators of their own chapters, frankly and we were able to see their thought processes.  That was big for me. While I’d love to go on and on about all my favorite (as well as naughty!) things about Friday Afternoon, I’m going to close my review by stating this:  If you’re the parent that’s been doing the majority of the kid duties, you’re 30-something or more, and you feel as though your partner doesn’t want nor need you any longer, Friday Afternoon is the perfect novella to shift your perspective.  Get creative!  Life is what you let it be.  And this title definitely drives home that message. 5 stars: Personal favorite – a must read (A+) About the Book: Before kids and the responsibility of life, Levi and I shared a spontaneous, erotic, and deliciously deviant marriage. Years transformed what we had into something comfortable and worn. It hurts me to think his...
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Aug
20

Review: Doon by Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon

Review: Doon by Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon Title: Doon Author: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon Reviewer: Ang Rating: A+, 5 Stars What I’m Talking About: Anyone who reads my reviews knows I am a tough grader. It is rare for me give anything higher than a B. I have exacting standards when it comes to books. I want a strong storyline, great characters and most of all I want to be brought into the story. I am the queen of show me, don’t tell me, which was why when I read Doon and found myself completely smitten with it, I was hesitant to turn in my grade. Don’t get me wrong when I turned the last page of this book I was ready to write A A A all over it, but I wanted to be certain it was because the book was, in fact, “A worthy” and not simply because it had been so long since I had read any good YA books.  So I decided to let it marinate for a while, and reread it, before writing this review. After 3 months and 3 readings I can say I am no longer smitten with Doon but completely in love with it and ready and willing to have its kilt wearing, Scottish speaking babies.  So if you will indulge me please allow me to gush. From beginning to end I seriously loved, loved, loved this book. I adored the setting; a magical, almost utopian like, kingdom that only appears every 100 years, count me in, the characters; hottie princes, devoted servants & subjects with a wicked witch whose trying to destroy their world? Fabulous!,  the language; before mentioned yummy princes with a Scottish brogue, yes please,   the humor, insides jokes between besties, a smart maid with a wickedly dry, matter of fact, sense of humor coupled with musical and book references,  perfection!, and this is just the basic overview. Seriously, what’s not to love? Kenna and Vee are fun, smart, witty, relatable characters with the kind of friendship I wish I’d had in a high school friend. Jamie and Duncan are the kind of princes Disney musical revolve around and the wicked witch would give Oz a run for their money. The story is told from both, Kenna and Vee’s points of view, alternating between them a chapter or two at a time. I was worried this would be distracting or feel disjointed, instead I found the approach refreshing and fun, allowing me to experience...
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Aug
5

Review: Guardian Demon by Meljean Brook

Review: Guardian Demon by Meljean Brook Guardian Demon Author: Meljean Brook Reviewer: Twimom227 Rating: A+, 5 Stars What I’m Talking About: The end is finally here. After waiting almost two years for Ms. Brook’s grand finale to her marvelous Guardian series, I started Guardian Demon with mixed feelings. I was excited to finally read Michael’s book… I was sad knowing this was the end of one of my favorite series. So on that note… Let me share with you my thoughts. Please note: as the eighth and final book of this series, it truly is not meant for the first time reader, and my review will inevitably contain spoilers from earlier books in the series. Note: This review contains mild spoilers about actions the occur in the beginning of the book. I feel it will not impact your overall enjoyment of the book, nor give spoilers for the bulk of the story, but if you do not want to know ANYTHING about the book, please skip the next two paragraphs. Our story opens in Hell. Taylor, still living with Michael’s essence inside, is searching for the Dragon Michael, who escaped from Hell’s frozen field in the previous book. Once she’s located him (and has been subjected to a bit of mental and emotional abuse), Khavi rejoins Michael’s body, spirit and soul using a long spear, driving it through the chest of all three bodies (dragon, Michael and Taylor). This traumatic process causes Taylor to sink into unconsciousness. When Taylor awakes, she is healed and at her mother’s home, and it is two and a half years later! There are two critical things that arise: first, the process of separating Michael from Taylor is slowly killing him. His soul clung to Taylor too tightly, and now he’s being ripped apart on a molecular level. He only has a couple weeks left to live, a fact that he keeps secret from almost everyone. Second, Taylor does not trust Michael after he turned on her in Hell. She questions everything that he’s ever said – all of his intentions. And although it has been over two years since the incident, it feels like a day for Taylor. These two situations together are the crux of the emotional intensity throughout the entire book. And what marvelous emotional intensity it is! Ms. Brook is a master at conveying true emotional depth in her stories. I cried – no bawled – at several points during Guardian Demon. At one point I...
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Jul
26

Review: Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

Review: Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews Magic Rises Author: Ilona Andrews  Release Date: July 30, 2013 Publisher: Ace Kate Daniels #6 ISBN: #978-1937007584 Genre: Urban Fantasy Format(s): Paperback (368 pgs), e-book Book Source: Publisher/ NetGalley Reviewer: Twimom227 About the Book: Mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, are struggling to solve a heartbreaking crisis. Unable to control their beasts, many of the Pack’s shapeshifting children fail to survive to adulthood. While there is a medicine that can help, the secret to its making is closely guarded by the European packs, and there’s little available in Atlanta. Kate can’t bear to watch innocents suffer, but the solution she and Curran have found threatens to be even more painful. The European shapeshifters who once outmaneuvered the Beast Lord have asked him to arbitrate a dispute—and they’ll pay him in medicine. With the young people’s survival and the Pack’s future at stake, Kate and Curran know they must accept the offer—but they have little doubt that they’re heading straight into a trap… What I’m Talking About… NOTE: The Magic Rises book also contains the short story “An Ill-Advised Rescue,” which centers on the kidnapping and rescue of Saiman by Kate and Derek. The events in the story occur prior to the start of Magic Rises, and the authors recommends you read it first. The story starts on page 331 of the mass-market paperback. As a stand alone “short,” “An Ill-Advised Rescue” is a wonderful little story that highlights Kate’s talents, how she processes information, and the way she thinks. It’s a great warm up for Magic Rises. Now for Magic Rises… Our story opens some time not too far off from the end of Gunmetal Magic. Kate and her ward, Julie, are sparring, where we witness Julie being a teen, and Kate struggling with being a mom, never having had one herself. The scene quickly moves inside the Keep where Kate is accosted by a desperate mother trying to save her twin daughters who are going loupe. Loupe to shifters is the point when the animal takes over and the human never returns, and they are killed pretty much onsite. Although she’s witnessed loupism before, Kate experiences the destruction it has on a family first hand as the life of Julie’s best friend is in the balance. I have never read such a powerful and emotionally intense first chapter in my life! The raw pain and suffering by all involved was incredible and so well...
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Jul
22

Review: Making It Last by Ruthie Knox

Review: Making It Last by Ruthie Knox Making It Last Author: Ruthie Knox  Release Date: July 15, 2013 Publisher: Loveswept Camelot Series, Book #4 Genre: Contemporary Romance, Novella Format(s): e-book Book Source: Publisher About the book: A hotel bar. A sexy stranger. A night of passion. There’s a part of Amber Mazzara that wants those things, wants to have a moment—just one—when life isn’t a complicated tangle of house and husband and kids and careers. Then, after a long, exhausting “vacation” with her family, her husband surprises her with a gift: a few days on the beach . . . alone. Only she won’t be alone for long, because a handsome man just bought her a drink. He’s cool, he’s confident, and he wants to take Amber to bed and keep her there for days. Lucky for them both, he’s her husband. He’s got only a few days in Jamaica to make her wildest desires come true, but if he can pull it off, there’s reason to believe that this fantasy can last a lifetime. What Nima’s talking about: Ruthie Knox has bookended her Camelot Series with Tony and Amber Mazzara’s story.  Together the novellas represent the blissful beginning of their romance and then the reality of after “happily ever after.”  Making It Last picks up Amber and Tony’s story fourteen years after the first book ends.  We’ve seen them make guest appearances through sibling Caleb and Katie’s romances, but not enough to know more than the fact that they’re still married with children.  We are allowed to assume that their love has given them the answers to wedded bliss, perfect hair, stress-free Christmases, a new car every five years, as well as expert parenting skills that make their lives the stuff of fantasy.  So what’s there to write about?  Knox bravely takes on the romance, or lack of it, inside of real married life. I have to admit to a serious “This is Your Life” vibe that is no doubt coloring my glowing opinion of this story.  I am an exercise instructor, stay-at-home mother of three high maintenance kids (including one with generalized anxiety disorder) who lives in a small suburb of Ohio, all things I share in common with lead character Amber.  I even read the book at the beach with my family, not at a wedding, but a fiftieth wedding anniversary reunion.  There are enough common markers, however, to give most married women with children that same feeling.  We all struggle with fatigue,...
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