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Mar
21

Review: Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by Kerrelyn Sparks

Review: Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by Kerrelyn Sparks Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon Author: Kerrelyn Sparks Reviewer: Una Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Ms. Sparks continues to enthrall me with her Embraced fantasy romance series.  I thoroughly loved Gwen and Silas’s journey and look forward to the next installment. I was most intrigued by the hint in the last book, So, I Married a Sorcerer that Gwen would be the next heroine.  She is the most unique appearing of the Isle of the Moon “sisters”; her elven features easily distinguish her ethnicity.  Though accepted by her sisters, many others do not. It was sad to see that the animosity from the extended wars between the elves and humans color how the majority of folks treated her.  This was most emphasized by her reception after being kidnapped and dropped among Silas’s people. Silas is no stranger to be ostracized, even though he is a prince.  Unfortunately a curse seems to plague not only his country but himself.  Gwen’s personality; her wit and intelligence combined with her unique beauty calls to Silas.  I enjoyed their courtship, even though Gwen fought stubbornly against it.  She feared she would never be accepted by Silas’s people and therefore would rather her heart break than his.  Though it was trying at times, I could understand Gwen’s reluctance to place Silas in a more negative position than he already was.  Thankfully true love wins, as always, giving Gwen and Silas a happy, though bittersweet ending.  The revelations of Gwen’s past along with the mystery of the curse was gripping. As I said, I continue to love this world and witness how these embraced sisters are bring about a positive world impact. The world is rich, the characters are endearing and the plots are intriguing.  I am eager for the next novel in hopes that our heroes will finally banish the evil that is trying to take hold. My Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: Gwennore has a talent. An Elf able to track down the cause of an illness and heal it, she’s a valuable asset to her people. But when the kidnapping of a young girl thrusts Gwennore into the very heart of the realm of the dragons, she discovers not only a place of power and magic, but also a haunted land, plagued by an ancient curse that all but ensures extinction to the royal family. But when she meets the smoldering General Silas Dravenko, they strike a...
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Mar
20

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Lake Silence by Anne Bishop Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Lake Silence Author: Anne Bishop Narrator: Alexandra Harris Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The World of the Others #1; The Others #6 Source: Penguin Random House Audio Spinning off from and taking place several months after the conclusion of the original Others series, Lake Silence shifts from the activities of the Lakeside Courtyard, to a human settlement, Sproing, located in the Finger Lakes region of the Wild Country. The story centers on Vicki DeVine, a recently divorced human who received a rundown, rustic “campground” known as the Jumble in Sproing as her settlement. After suffering ten years of emotional and mental abuse by her ex, Vicki enjoys a quiet life rebuilding her property. However, when her tenant, Aggie Crowe (a member of the Crowguard), discovers a dead body on the adjacent property, Vicki and her lodge become the center of much attention, with Vicki a suspect. Soon Vicki finds herself entangled in a fight with her ex and his partners to keep the Jumble. And Vicki also discovers she has a number of Other allies, bringing her face-to-face with the predators living around Sproing. Lake Silence introduces readers to an entirely new set of characters, location, and a new species of Other; however, there is mention of a few key players from the original series. And although the book doesn’t open with the “history of the world” as did the previous books, there is enough backstory and history woven into the plot that a newcomer to the series could enjoy the book without having read the first five books (but you should!) The narrative is first person when shared by Vicki, with all other characters shared in third person. There is a bit of jumping back and forth between characters and locations, with each perspective adding a piece to the larger picture. I was a bit apprehensive when starting Lake Silence, because I had grown to love the residents of Lakeside and was concerned I wouldn’t like moving away from Meg, Simon, and the gang. I’m happy to report that my concerns were for naught. I quickly became attached to Vicki, Aggie, and the other residents of Sproing. The story starts with the same premise as the original series: a damaged girl/woman being hunted/harassed, while the Others, Intuits, and humans rally to protect her. Yet, even with the similarities, the story is fresh, exciting, and engrossing. Vicki may not be able to...
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Mar
15

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: To Catch a Stolen Soul by R.L. Naquin

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: To Catch a Stolen Soul by R.L. Naquin Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Djinn Haven series To Catch a Stolen Soul  Author: R.L. Naquin Narrator: Chandra Skye Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Djinn Haven #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio I’m so glad that I picked up this new urban fantasy series, Djinn Haven.  Kam’s adventure was funny, fascinating and intriguing.  Left with a bit of a cliffhanger of intrigue, I cannot wait to listen to the next novel. Though To Catch a Stolen Soul is a spin-off from another of Ms. Naquin’s series, I did not feel as if I was missing out on any back story.  That being said, with the freshness of this world, I’m interested in picking up the previous series, Monster Haven.  The world is rich with a mix of paranormal creatures, the Hidden.  Kam is a Djinn soul chaser.  It’s her job to chase down souls that for whatever reason when released from their bodies did not move on to the next realm.  Kam is very much a free spirit, only ensuring she has what she needs.  She’s tough but tenderhearted and compassionate.  I liked how she didn’t rely on her powers as much as her own ingenuity.  Her humor and crafty intelligence is endearing as it is intriguing.  Though not a detective, she finds herself in the role and not doing a half-bad job of it. The plot of the missing reaper and murdered Hidden food-truck operators was compelling.  The darker moments offset by Kam’s wit.  The detective narrative flowed well and though the culprit was fairly easy to puzzle out, there were plenty of twisting nuances that kept the novel gripping.  Plus, we also have Kam’s mysterious intended that is trying to find her while she is trying to stay on the run.  I’m further intrigued by the “Master” that held Kam as a prisoner (think genie in a bottle – only for Kam it was a box).  The relationship she cultivates with the fellow food truck operators along with her own hitchhiker adds richness to the overall feel of the novel. Ms. Chandra Skye’s narration was complimentary to the personality of Kam.  I enjoyed how she not only conveyed the story but added depth to the personalities of the characters.  Though her voice, I was able to immerse myself in the world.  I look forward to listening to more of her performances. As I said, I eagerly look forward to the...
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Mar
14

Review: On the Brink of Passion by Tamsen Parker

Review: On the Brink of Passion by Tamsen Parker On the Brink of Passion Author: Tamsen Parker Reviewer: Jen Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Jubilee, a veteran SIGs pairs figure skater, has returned to the spotlight with new partner, Beckett. She was the SIGs four years ago with her husband as her partner, but shortly after, he suffered an untimely death. Vowing never to lose so much all at once again, Jubilee appreciates Beckett because he is hard working, dedicated, and has no desire to her friend. Beckett missed out on the SIGs four years ago, after which his then partner and lover, Sabrina, dumped him. Finding Jubilee was a godsend, and the fact that they are favored at the SIGs after only two years together is almost a miracle. Beckett is looking forward to the competition, and everything (and everyone) that comes along with the ride. Through a mistake in room assignments, Jubilee and Beckett are placed in the same suite, and neither is happy. Jubilee needs her downtime and private space. Beckett needs to get laid, but the Ice Princess won’t allow him to bring anyone back to the room. So on a dare/joke, the pair decide to sleep together. On the Brink of Passion is a wonderful, amazing story and by far my favorite of the Snow and Ice Games series. It works for several reasons, namely it punches all my yes buttons. I enjoy books where the primary couple already has a strong sense of an established, non-sexual backstory, which is especially important when characters fall deeply in love on a shortened timeline. I also love books that pull at my heartstrings, allowing me to feel the heartache and/or suffering of one/both characters, but also brings me up so high in their love. Finally, the story is well-written, lacking any side stories or distractions that detract from the ebb and flow of the book. The romantic journey begins well before the book starts – even though neither Beck nor Jubilee recognize it. The pair meshes perfectly on ice, creating an intimacy even though they aren’t friends or lovers. This gives the book a solid foundation for which their love affair can grow. The ludicrous start, being placed in the same suite and having sex on a dare, creates a forced proximity and more intimacy, once again, even though the characters attempt to keep a distance. Beckett is strong and kind, funny and determined. There were times I was laughing out loud at his...
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Mar
13

Review: Shooting Star by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: Shooting Star by Jeffe Kennedy Shooting Star Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Shooting Star is a darker contemporary romance.  At first, I did not think it was my cup of tea.  But I have enjoyed several of Ms. Kennedy’s previous works and she has never let me down.  After the first couple chapters, I was utterly hooked with my fingers crossed that Joe and Ava could not only survive the journey, but heal and flourish. It’s true I was a bit reluctant when I started this novel.  The obsessed fan getting into the inner circle of his object of obsession was unnerving.  However, in the past, Ms. Kennedy took me on some darker fantasy rides, so I put aside my fears and jumped in.  This story was unlike anything I could have imagined.  It is the simply the story of two people, broken, living each day to at least get by.  Both have their crutches, their unhealthy coping mechanisms.  For Ava, it’s alcohol mainly while for Joe, it’s Ava.  But what starts as an obvious recipe of disaster for Joe turns into salvation…for both of them. Joe is recovering from trauma suffered overseas.  The scars ones he will carry outside as well as inside.  While recovering in the hospital, it was Ava’s music, her voice and the lyrics that kept him going.  Once fully discharged from military and hospital, Joe is able with the assistance of Arlin his therapy dog to about life one day at a time.   Arlin senses when he is getting overwhelmed, losing his grip on reality and falling into what he has named the nowhere zone.  Arlin’s steady presence is able to keep him grounded when the world threatens to fall away.  The solace and strength he found in Ava’s music became a passion that moved into obsession – he was drawn not only by her looks but by the mind that created the lyrics that spoke to his soul.  It was not surprising that he became not just a fan, but obsessed with everything Ava. Though he tries to fight it, Joe cannot help but accept the job as driver and bodyguard for Ava.  However, through this experience he discovers how much depth and pain those golden eyes try to hide behind the glamour; the make-up and dazzling smile.  Her past was brutal, full of abuse that has left deep scars, emotionally and psychologically.  But Ava still has been able to retain...
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Mar
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Binding Magick by Debbie Cassidy

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Binding Magick by Debbie Cassidy Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: The Witch Blood Chronicles Binding Magick Author: Debbie Cassidy Narrator: Zehra Jane Naqvi Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x Series:The Witch Blood Chronicles #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Binding Magick was something entirely new to me and I absolutely enjoyed it.  Ms. Cassidy wove an intriguing and gripping urban fantasy mystery full of mythological characters that were fresh and enthralling. Carmilla is a dud of a witch, a disappointment to her witchblood mother, and pretty much ignored by the witchblood community until she unwittingly accepts a bargain with a Djinn.  She then finds herself with power she never knew, but also a new purpose – to help find the entity responsible for kidnapping some of the Djinn’s people, as well as Carmilla’s friend (boss and landlord), Ovashi.  Carmilla is a very down-to-earth strong but compassionate character.  I loved her personal mission to assist those down on their luck.  Her dedication to the shelter is only an example of her desire to make the world a better place.  Even with the amount of magic at her fingertips, it was tempered by her humanity.  I really connected with Carmilla and her feeling of being a disappointment.  Her strive to make a difference even if it wasn’t via powerful magic. Her determination to help even before it directly affected her. The story flows well, the mythology is rich with a more Eastern twist on supernatural creatures and gods.  The nature of her bargain with the Djinn was also deeply fascinating.  I enjoyed how complicated things became for both of them.  Part of me wishes I had read this novel as many of the words were a bit foreign, leading me to believe that the author may be British, not to mention difficulty hearing the nuances of some of the Eastern sounding names.  Please excuse any and all misspellings in this review as I am spelling them phonetically and mean no disrespect. At first, Ms. Naqvi’s voice was a bit surprisingly high.  Most of the female narrator’s I’ve listened to have mostly been more altos.  However she truly captured the personality of Carmilla.  Her natural high voice conveys some of her innocence and compassion that would not be conveyed by the previous narrator’s I’ve heard.  The other various character voices were well done and easily distinguishable.  I look forward to her being the voice of Carmilla in the upcoming novels. If you...
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Mar
6

Review: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs

Review: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs Burn Bright Author: Patricia Briggs Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Burn Bright is another fascinating and thrilling installment in the Alpha and Omega series.  Gikany and Una were fascinated by the more in-depth look into some of the relationships in the Mercy Thompson World. This series is one of our all-time favorites: the world-building, the characters, and the ever-changing politics – it’s all captivating.  The contrast of the Alpha and Omega series is that we experience Mercy’s world from a completely different perspective (sometimes several).  There is an interesting insight presented early in this novel about Bran.  In fact, though he is absent for most of the novel – we learn an incredible amount about him, especially in regard to his relationship with Leah.  The more we discovered, the less (in some ways) it was to dislike Leah. She is a tragic character – and though it doesn’t excuse her behavior, it does help us to understand why she is that way. The plot of this mystery was fascinating.  Learning about those wolves that Bran keeps in hopes they can heal was immensely telling about his personality.  The sleuthing to uncover the traitor was just as intriguing, but the reveal was shocking.  Though it makes perfect sense – we were a little sad about how it all turned out.  The traitor is dealt with, however, we still think there is a great threat out there and we eagerly look forward to finding it out. Burn Bright is another enthralling adventure in the Alpha and Omega series.  If you haven’t journeyed into Mercy’s world, you are truly missing out on a staple of urban fantasy at its best! Our Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: 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...
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Feb
27

Review: Dead Eye by Alyssa Day

Review: Dead Eye by Alyssa Day Dead Eye Author: Alyssa Day Reviewer: Jen Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Tess has lived in Dead End her whole life. Although the town is no stranger to the weird and unexplained, she’s a bit of an oddball; able to see a person’s death when coming into contact with another. She runs a pawn shop, which she is now partial owner, and genuinely loves her job. Jack, a tiger shifter, has been away for ten years, leading the human resistance against vampires and working side by side with the Atlanteans. He recently discovered his uncle (and only family member), Jeremiah, was murdered, and after being back in Dead End for less than a day, another dead body is dumped at the door to his deceased uncle’s pawn shop. Now Jack is determined to figure out what’s going on. I absolutely enjoyed reading Dead Eye, the first in Ms. Day’s new Tiger’s Eye Mysteries (although the book was previously released). The story is shared by the first person POV of Tess, and features Jack, one of the heroes from the Warriors of Poseidon series. There are so many delightful surprises in this one… and not at all what I expected after reading the Warriors of Poseidon. Dead Eye is filled with light-hearted humor and has a cozy-mystery vibe. The mystery of who killed Jeremiah and what is happening in Dead End builds slowly and clues delivered sporadically. Tess and Jack do a great job of seeing the interconnected strings that tie everything together. While it’s not a surprise who did what and why by the time the master plan is revealed, it unfolds in a way that is thoughtful and interesting. Tess is a great heroine. She’s an “average Joe” (with a weird gift of being able to foresee a person’s death), who rises to the occasion. She finds courage when she doesn’t expect it. She’s kind and good, but has a wicked side when it comes to seeking vengeance against those who’ve done harm to innocents. Jack compliments her in many ways,  bolstering her and allowing her to be more. Their attraction is slow-burning but obvious to the reader. Dead Eye is a fabulous, engrossing story filled with great humor, interesting adventures, and a hint of romance that has the potential for some serious heat. I found myself cheering for Jack and Tess. I enjoyed meeting all of Dead End’s denizens, with all their quirks and flaws. The...
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Feb
22

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Sightlines by Santino Hassell

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Sightlines by Santino Hassell Welcome to our feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Sightlines Author:  Santino Hassell Narrator: Greg Boudreaux Audio Speed: 1.0x Series: The Community #3 Genre: Paranormal suspense, LBGTQ, m/m romance Source: Tantor Audio 3/10/2018 Edited to Add: Please note, this review was written and posted prior to the occurrences brought to light in recent days (https://thesaltminers.tumblr.com/post/171680546960/the-santino-hassell-debacle). The book was read and reviewed in good faith and as presented at the time. The posting of this review in no way condones the actions of author. ======== In this third, and final, addition to The Community series, author Santino Hassell brings all the conflict and suspense that has been building since the beginning to a compelling and satisfying end. As both prize and project, Chase has been the realization of the darkest machinations of the Community itself his entire life, as well as the common thread between all the other characters we’ve gotten to know so far. Additionally, Chase and Elijah have been favorites, if captivating unknowns, throughout the many twists and turns of the series, so I thought it especially fitting that this part of the arc is theirs. While I had a little difficulty keeping track of how much time passes in the very beginning of Sightlines (which is fitting, since time is a means of control on the farm), the speed with which the plot starts unfolding takes effect fairly early in the narrative. What’s been done to Chase all his life is completely abhorrent, and I found that hearing his perspective in the audiobook version was as devastating as it was during my initial reading of the story. Elijah, too, has unhealed wounds, inflicted by people who should have loved him, making his hidden strengths the inverse—yet perfectly matched—answer to Chase’s necessarily unacknowledged need for support. Narrator Greg Boudreaux likewise sees the series through with just as solid a performance as when he began. With all the characters reuniting for much of the story, eventually leading to an emotionally fraught and fast-paced conclusion, his ability to maintain each distinctive voice was more impressive than ever. His unflinching portrayal of the sometimes wildly shifting emotions of the characters was equally noteworthy, and he remains one of my favorite performers. Although The Community series has been a departure from most of Mr. Hassell’s other stories I’ve read, I believe it is an indisputably successful one. Common themes such as greed and fear are explored in an entirely different way in...
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Feb
21

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie Welcome to our feature that focus on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: A Tommy and Tuppence Mystery The Secret Adversary Author:  Agatha Christie Narrator:  Nadia May Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x Series: Tommy and Tuppence Mystery #1 Genre: Mystery Source: Library With the release of the new Kenneth Bragnah Murder on the Orient Express movie, the nostalgia I felt over watching a remake of one of my favorite Agatha Christie mysteries has spurred me to finally read one.  All of my experiences of Agatha Christie has been via movies or very short stories.  There is something to be said to listening to a classic novel and reliving it all over again – learning something new and finding out what may have been left out of the film version.  As I wait for the more mainstream Agatha Christie mysteries (Hercule Poriot and Miss Marple) to become available at my library, I discovered a mystery series I’d never heard of – Tommy and Tuppence Mystery series.  Beautifully narrated by Nadia May, I fell in love with the antics of Tuppence and the solidarity of Tommy. Tommy and Tuppence are old friends.  They grew up together and have stayed in touch over the long years.  In their (I’d guess) mid-twenties, they are finding it difficult to maintain a good job now that the war (WWI) has ended.  As they catch up since their last meeting, they decide to start the New Adventures Limited – where they would advertise that they would do anything if the price is right.  Before they are even able to put their advertisement in the Times, a gentleman overhears and offers Tuppence a job.  Thus begins their first gig in their new entrepreneurial endeavor. Tuppence was a breath of fresh air.  I enjoyed her plucky optimism and exuberant spirit.  She balances the more cautious and thorough nature of Tommy.  However, they are both exceedingly bright and clever.  Tommy is exceedingly quick witted and was surprisingly quick when sleuthing out clues or trying to escape the henchmen.  Tuppence is dogged and determined, willing to do anything to sleuth out the clues.  It was delightful to follow their bumbling through this case of murder, espionage, and potential political upheaval.  All woven intricately by the mysterious “Mr. Brown”, an elusive character not unlike Keyser Soze who seems to be the puppet master at the center of this web of deceit.  With the addition of several other characters, Ms. Christie did an excellent job...
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