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Sep
2

Review: Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh

Review: Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh Archangel’s Enigma Author: Nalini Singh Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Archangel’s Enigma picks up the story of angels, vampires, and Hunters roughly seven months after the conclusion of the previous book. Readers learn that Archangel Lijuan is, in fact, alive, yet not whole. Still viewing herself as a goddess, she seeks to act on a prophecy by killing one of the Ancients while he Sleeps. It is up to Raphael, with the help of Elena and his Seven, to prevent Lijuan from finding and harming Alexander. As a scholar and an expert in Sleeping Ancients, Andromeda is Raphael’s best bet to stop Lijuan. However, she is also Charisemnon’s granddaughter. (Charisemnon is the one who caused the Falling and a deadly vampire disease, and was aligned with Lijuan in the past). Since Andromeda has cut all family ties, Raphael trusts her and sends one of his Seven, Naasir, to protect her from Lijuan and assist her in her endeavors. When he meets Andromeda, Naasir, who has been on the hunt for his mate since the conclusion of the previous book, decides she may very well be his hidden mate. There are so many wonderful things about Archangel’s Enigma. Both the romantic storyline and over-arching plot of the brewing war between the Archangels, are entertaining and completely engrossing aspects of this tightly woven story. The two parts are well balanced, creating an almost perfect reading experience: urban fantasy action and intrigue together with a sensual paranormal love story. And once again, Ms. Singh proves how she is the master of character development. I’ll admit that I didn’t know how she’d be able to pull of a romance for Naasir. A little known and rarely seen member of the Seven, Naasir came across child-like, innocent, and almost feeble-minded in his actions and dialogue during the previous book. Yet at only the 12% mark of Archangel’s Enigma, I saw Naasir as a viable sexual being while maintaining his curious and innocent persona that made him feel childlike. Reading how his mind works and how he sees the world on a large scale and in ranging situations from lust to vengeance, sincerity to hurt, created a genuinely lovable character. Similarly, Ms. Singh creates the perfect match for Naasir in Andromeda. Both a scholar and a warrior, she understands and sees more than most others, and values Naasir for the person he is under the enigma of his species. She’s patient...
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Sep
1

Review: Lady of Magick by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

Review: Lady of Magick by Sylvia Izzo Hunter Lady of Magick Author: Sylvia Izzo Hunter Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Ms. Hunter has done it again!  I enjoyed this second installment in the hauntingly beautiful and mysterious Noctis Magicae series. Though Lady of Magick moves slowly, it is only because it is like a chess match; pieces slowly moved into position until you realize too late the trap you are in. As in the previous novel, Sophie and Grey move about in their latest adventure, while slowly the mystery and clues are building up around them. I love the slow burn mystery set within scenery and a world that is breathtakingly and hauntingly beautiful and rich.  The historic setting, mixed with the magic and history of the world, weave together such a rich background, it is mesmerizing.  However, for me, the language slowed down my reading speed, as it has the cadence and pace of a historic novel.  But in that, I enjoyed that my vocabulary has expanded in the exercise. The way the author can weave together the fantastic elements with the political intrigues, the mystery and the love/life affairs of the characters, is spellbinding.  There just so much to enjoy and appreciate in this series. Without giving anything away, I loved how the mystery meandered; the clues plainly visible, but due to the timing, easily overlooked.  The race to save Grey was gripping and nerve-wracking.  I also enjoyed the on-going political/romantic intrigue of Roland and Joanna.  There are some interesting cliffhangers in that realm, and I eagerly look forward to seeing how it eventually plays out.  I also hope we will see how Sophia’s other sister is faring.  Not to mention, what will Sophia and Grey stumble into next. It is difficult to discuss this novel without giving anything away.  But suffice to say; once I was able to slip back into the comfort of the language and the land, I was lost in the world.  I found it difficult to put down, as I eagerly wanted to know what was in store for Sophia and Grey.  I feel as if there is still so much left for them as they continue on striving for a happily-ever-after. Though I hope it is not the end, but just another milestone in this fascinating and gripping series, I enjoyed Lady of Magick.  If you enjoy historical mysteries within fantasy world, look no further and give the Noctis Magicae a try. My Rating:  A- Enjoyed...
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Aug
31

Review: The Highlander’s Bride by Amanda Forester

Review: The Highlander’s Bride by Amanda Forester The Highlander’s Bride Author: Amanda Forester Reviewer: Nima Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: There are something like a million books out there (ok, I’m exaggerating, but there are a lot) that share the title or some variation of The Highlander’s Bride. We like our Scottish heroes and imagining what’s under—or not under—their kilts.  Come on now, Gerard Butler?  Richard Madden?  Sam Heughan? Kevin McKidd? *fans herself* So highlanders and their stubborn brides abound.  It’s almost its own genre.  I admit that I didn’t expect much from Amanda Forester’s version of this historical romance category, but I was very pleasantly surprised.  The Highlander’s Bride was, in a word, charming. Our Highlander in this case is Sir Gavin Patrick.  Think of Richard Madden now and sigh.  Picture him as your personal guard, spending his every waking moment trying to protect and take care of you. He is a knight of the highest moral character.  His only flaw is that always doing the right thing often means he’s in the middle of conflict, trying to right wrongs, fulfill duty, and keep his word.  In The Highlander’s Bride, Gavin’s duty is to see the Lady Marie Collette and her substantial dowry safely to Scotland and deliver her to the contractual fiancé her father has chosen for her.  This is the entire plot of the book.  You don’t need to read it to know what the main struggle is going to be.  For its simplicity, I normally wouldn’t even consider handing out an A+ rating, but Forester surprised me.  Gavin is only human, and the lengths to which he goes in trying to do the right thing made him entirely endearing. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but my favorite moment in this book involved rope and a cold, wet night.  It was worthy of an award because in a predictable storyline, I didn’t see that particular moment coming. It would be easy not to like Collette.  She’s been raised as the daughter of nobility that she is, and she most definitely makes Gavin’s life difficult.  However, Forester deftly justifies her words and behavior.  She is a stubborn charge, but in the feisty, likable tradition of Maureen O’Hara, Sandra Bullock, and Julia Stiles.  She was sympathetic, not whiny and annoying.  With two such captivating main characters, I wanted to take the journey to Scotland with them. It was a rocky journey with thieves, enemy soldiers, war lords, madams, orphans, ladies-in-waiting, and...
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Aug
24

Review: Ricochet by Keri Lake

Review: Ricochet by Keri Lake Ricochet Author: Keri Lake Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Ricochet eviscerated me. I felt drawn and quartered near the end. And then, Ms. Lake—with the precision of a surgeon—stitched all my pieces back together. This is not a title for the squeamish; the author put a warning in her blurb for a reason, folks. This book is NOT for everyone. It IS graphic, like the author states. But, if you really like great urban contemporary romantic suspense, this is DEFINITELY a book to put in your TBR. So. The graphic violence. I live in Michigan. I hear about Detroit all the time. I drive through the city and hope I don’t take a wrong exit off the highway. I know there’s bad stuff that happens in the nooks and crannies where no one is looking. And, I know there’s people that turn a blind eye to all the illegal happenings. Ricochet takes all those eventualities and lumps them together in an organized, non-chaotic manner. I connected to the setting because I’ve seen it. I work with kids every day that have lived there. I see the product of that environment. Ms. Lake brings to life the horrors of what some of us, raised in Hicksville or Suburbia, can only imagine. Yes, there’s graphic violence. But it’s not gratuitous or sensational. It’s planned and purposeful. Methodical. There’s a reason for every single act described. And, it *could* have been more graphic and it wouldn’t have bothered me, but that wouldn’t have fit the plot arc. While each character introduced was planned and purposeful, Nick, one of our main characters, is an enigma. I was immediately drawn to him in that strange way I sometimes connect with characters that are so unlike me. I take that back. Nick *is* like me in several ways. He just acts on the impulses and dark thoughts I keep securely locked in my imagination. It’s almost like he’s been created as a living, breathing, one-man-show of all the things I know aren’t allowed. He actually reminded me of Wolverine a little. I had a hard time figuring him out, getting a handle on all that was going on with him. We learn early on that Nick’s wife and young son were killed by a gang, sent forth to ‘clean up’ part of Detroit. And, by ‘clean up’, I mean burn down the houses so the land can be sold for new development....
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Aug
24

Review: Heat Exchange by Shannon Stacey

Review: Heat Exchange by Shannon Stacey Heat Exchange Author: Shannon Stacey Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Shannon Stacey starts strong with the first book in her new Boston Fire contemporary romance series. Bringing her trademark small town feel to a big city fire department, Ms. Stacey creates a world full of wonderful characters and a story filled with passion and charm. Lydia Kincaid comes from a family full of firefighters, was even married to one, and that’s something she tried to escape when she moved from Boston to Concord, NH, after a bitter divorce. However, when her sister, Ashley, calls and asks her to come home to help their retired dad run his bar so she can deal with her own marital issues, Lydia packs up and heads home. Now she finds herself right where she was trying to avoid, and falling for her little brother’s best friend, Aidan. Scotty Kincaid is like a brother to Aidan Hunt, so Aiden shouldn’t have feelings for Scott’s big sister. However, when Lydia returns home, Aiden decides it’s worth the risk to kiss Lydia. Now he is lying to his best friend, and he’s lying to himself if he thinks he can keep his feelings under wraps. I absolutely adored almost every moment of Heat Exchange. The characters and their stories grabbed me from the start, and I couldn’t put the book down. Lydia and Aidan’s romance was heartfelt and genuine. The fact that they “shouldn’t be together” gave the entire story an added urgency and edge. However, it is the depth of their emotional growth and their sincere passion that stole the show. Ms. Stacey created likable, relatable characters that gave my own heart a tug a few times. It helps that Aiden is everything a girl could want: sexy, alpha, yet gentle and loving. He’s got great communications skills, and he helps Lydia get past what her ex did to her emotional well being. Additionally, the side story of Ashley and her husband Danny’s separation gave added depth to the book. I like the parallels and differences drawn between their marriage and what Lydia has gone through. Ashley also brings the voice of honesty to Lydia, even when she doesn’t always want to hear it. All in all, Heat Exchange brings together a handful of entertaining and well-written stories, with three-dimensional, enjoyable characters at its core. Other than one too many outrageously awful parents that I could have done without, the book...
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Aug
12

Review: Dark Ascension by M.L. Brennan

Review: Dark Ascension by M.L. Brennan Dark Ascension Author: M.L. Brennan Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Ms. Brennan has done it again!  Dark Ascension, the continuing saga of Fort, the reluctant vampire, remains exciting, riveting, and fascinating.  If you haven’t tried the Generation V series, you are seriously missing out. Although Dark Ascension is a transitional novel, Ms. Brennan sacrifices nothing despite all of the change that occurs in this rich and vibrant world.  Fort’s world goes through some dramatic changes, which we would love to share, but we don’t want to ruin the novel for you.  As the story progresses, we are exposed to different supernatural species and learn more about Fort’s family. There were a few slow parts when we wondered where all the different plot lines were leading, but then the novel sucked us right back in.  By the ending, we were desperate to pick up the next book so we can find out what happens next!  This world continues to be rich and vibrant, and we cannot wait to found out what more we learn about in the next novel. There are some very emotional parts in this novel that we were not expecting.  Fort’s relationship with Suze is completely new for him.  He’s never dated a supernatural before and so he has a learning curve as he and Suze adjust to each other.  It was fascinating to watch their relationship evolve and learn more about both of them in the process.  We can’t wait to see what happens next. In Dark Ascension, Fort matures and starts exhibiting his independence.  So much happens in this novel, but there is so much more to come. We are highly anticipating the next book to discover how the pieces come together.  If you haven’t read the Generation V series yet, you are seriously missing out on one of the best urban fantasy series out there. Our Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: After a lifetime of avoiding his family, Fort has discovered that working for them isn’t half bad—even if his mother, Madeline, is a terrifying, murderous vampire. His newfound career has given him a purpose and a paycheck and has even helped him get his partner, foxy kitsune Suzume, to agree to be his girlfriend. All in all, things are looking up. Only, just as Fort is getting comfortable managing a supernatural empire that stretches from New Jersey to Ontario, Madeline’s health starts failing, throwing Fort into...
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Aug
11

Review: The Espionage Effect by Kat & Stone Bastion

Review: The Espionage Effect by Kat & Stone Bastion The Espionage Effect Author: Kat & Stone Bastion Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: Shhh. Don’t judge me. If I ever have the privilege to meet Kat & Stone Bastion, I’ll totally fangirl all over them. That’s a warning, and everyone should save me from embarrassing myself.The Espionage Effect grabbed me by the neurons, tossed in some endorphins, a healthy dose of hormones, and let the adrenaline soar. In other words, it was one helluva ride. I was completely intrigued when I learned about The Espionage Effect. It’s no secret I’ve been a Kat fan from the first page of Forged in Dreams and Magick (also, ITCHING for Born of Mist and Legend…), and my love of her writing extended—and possibly expanded—in the No Weddings series, co-authored by her awesome hubs, Stone. Naturally, I was entirely geeked to read The Espionage Effect. Gotta be honest. I’m picky about my romantic suspense titles/authors. I kind of have to know they’re solid in their craft before I’ll dive in and read. I know. Not fair. It’s the only way I can do RS, though. Readers will find that while this title is sort of romantic suspense, it’s really more action-adventure—with the usual suspense tossed in for that genre. The romance IS there. And… It. Is. Sooooo. Hot!!! Tall, cool glass of somethin’-somethin’ needed, folks. And a fan. And maybe a fainting couch to catch you when you swoon. If you’ve read my reviews before, you know I write a lot about how I connect with characters. The Espionage Effect review is no different. I feel like I *know* these characters. I *understand* their backstories. I *empathize* with them and their situations. Well, not the whole spy part. The closest I’ve come to being a spy is when I sit at Starbucks and people watch… and make up their ‘story’ as I observe. This was an extremely fast-paced book. I don’t think there was really any down-time; nowhere obvious to take a break from reading (although I was forced to, grudgingly, put my Kindle down in favor of interacting with people, periodically). One event led logically and seamlessly to the next throughout the title. The few minor characters in The Espionage Effect are necessary to round out the plot, are not extraneous, and are all planned and purposeful. No fluff or incidental characters to clog my brain. All the minor characters were likable (until they’re meant to NOT be likable),...
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Jul
31

Review: Nightlife: Night Terrors Box Set by Matthew Quinn Martin

Review: Nightlife: Night Terrors Box Set by Matthew Quinn Martin Nightlife: Night Terrors Box Set Author: Matthew Quinn Martin Reviewers: Gikany and Una What We’re Talking About: Night Terrors: Nightlife (Nightlife #1) This full-length story was previously released in October 2013. You can read our full review using the link below: Nightlife by Matthew Quinn Martin Night Terrors: Hazardous Material (Nightlife #1.5) It is not often, but every once in a while, Gikany and Una do not agree on a review.  You are in for a treat because we are split on our opinions about this novella in the Nightlife series.  Generally we both liked it, but Una enjoyed it more than Gikany. This novella can be read as a stand-alone story although it is currently included in a boxed set, Night Terrors, with the first two novels.  In fact, it works as a decent introduction to the series.  Hazardous Material deals with an offshoot of the world and gives a deeper look into a mysterious entity from the first novel, Nightlife, the ever-allusive Division.  It does give a good feel for the series – the suspense and creepiness are evident as well as the mystery. As stated, this novella is a little different.  It centers on Jarrod who finds an old arcade video game.  Una enjoyed this ghost-in-the-machine story, although whether it is a possessed video game or just diabolically clever programming is left for the reader to decide.  We watch as Jarrod finds it, plays it, and becomes a slave to it.  The story is creepy and suspenseful.  Una enjoyed the goosebumps it caused.  For Gikany however, it was just strange. The various news clippings included during the novel gave some foreshadowing and clues, but we liked how they added to the overall feel of the novel without taking away from Jarrod’s story.  True to how Nightlife played out, nothing is as it seems.  Although this gives a deeper look at the Division, we still are not sure if they are “good guys” or “bad guys”, but we look forward to the next novel in the series. If you enjoy suspense, a bit of creepiness and with a touch of horror, you may just want to give Hazardous Material a try.  It was delightfully creepy. Our Ratings: Una: A- Enjoyed A Lot Gikany: B, Liked It Night Terrors: As the Worm Turns (Nightlife #2) The second novel in Nightlife series was not quite what we were expecting, although it was not lacking in suspense and horrific monsters. ...
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Jul
29

Review: Old Dog, New Tricks by Hailey Edwards

Review: Old Dog, New Tricks by Hailey Edwards Old Dog, New Tricks Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: *gasps like fish-out-of-water* Well, that was certainly unexpected. In a good way. Fans of Hailey Edwards’ Black Dog series will certainly want to pick up Old Dog, New Tricks. This little run of the series—Theirry’s story—does come to a close here. For now. Looks like we’ll have opportunity to keep up with Theirry and Shaw because Mai gets her own book next!!!! *throws confetti* I kinda don’t know how to write this review. I want to just say, “Go forth and read the Black Dog books. Thank me later, you will.” They need to be read in order, and Ms. Edwards’ website and her Amazon page have that information. I also feel that pretty much anything I have to say that is NOT spoilerific is covered in the blurb. But, I have the ability dig deep, as it were, and look at the relationship development and all the emotional growth. Because, even though there was a lot of action in Old Dog, New Tricks, what drew me in was the character growth. So, Theirry starts off super irritated at Macsen, her dad. Readers of the series will be all, “Oh, yeah. She totally has that teenager eye-roll going when it comes to him.” Throughout the story, she’s actually forced to work with Mac in order to get Shaw back before he flips the incubus switch and goes totally feral. It was actually pretty awesome watching Theirry and Mac develop a relationship after so many years of tempore nullam, no contact, it seems like Mac is here to stay. Things were initially pretty dicey—Mac pulled some low blows, and Thierry was less than forgiving regarding the past—but with a common goal in mind, they were able to power forward and managed to force a tenuous relationship that will continue to need work. First, I want to say that I missed Shaw, and I thought there was too much Rook. I’m just being selfish, though. Rook rubs me the wrong way, and I really adore Shaw. Realistically, Old Dog, New Tricks was complete *exactly* the way it was written. I was pretty impressed by the change in Mac. Being from Faery, he doesn’t know the ‘rules’ of relationships, and needs to learn stuff in order to get along with Theirry and her mom. Some beautiful moments in here, folks. Not only does Mac learn to get...
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Jul
29

Review: Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews

Review: Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews Magic Shifts Author: Ilona Andrews Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: It’s honestly becoming difficult to write reviews for the Kate Daniels series because I cannot find the words to express how amazing the books and overall series are. The world building, story telling, plot development, characters’ relationships… every aspect of the series… it all works so well, the stories are darn near perfection. Every book, while completely original, builds upon the previous story, creating an utterly sublime experience, making me want to reread the series from the beginning each time. If you aren’t reading the Kate Daniels series, you are missing out. Note: This review may contain spoilers from earlier titles in the series. So let’s begin with Magic Shifts. It’s been about two months and Kate, Curran, and Julie are enjoying some down time in their new home in the suburbs. Curran is adjusting to retirement as best as he can, but the gang cannot step foot in the Keep or sway anyone into leaving the Pack with them. This is an important point because Mahon’s daughter, George, comes to seek help from Kate and Curran in locating her fiancé, Eduardo. Pack politics and a disapproving father have left George desperate to find the man she loves. Unfortunately, the missing were-bison is only the tip of the iceberg for the gang. Magic Shifts is a transitional book for the series, yet it is so much more. What makes this book in particular so wonderful? Kate and Curran. Now that Kate has confronted her father and laid claim to Atlanta, she no longer has to hide her magic. Plus Curran is no longer the Beast Lord, so he’s got time on his hands. I absolutely love the interactions between the couple and family dynamics with Julie. Kate and Curran’s relationship has developed to a whole new level. Their mutual respect and love grows with each interaction, making them my absolute favorite literary couple. World-building. It’s complex and so very interesting. I always admire how the authors take generally obscure and unknown mythology, twisting it to fit their magic-infused world. It becomes so logical and believable because they always cover all the basis and explain the intricacies. Magic Shifts makes me want to learn more about Arabic mythology. The characters. I have grown to care about them all. I love how in every book one or more surprise me. Only because the characters change and grow...
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