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Currently Browsing: Rating B
May
22

Review: Enemies Like You by Annika Martin & Joanna Chambers

Review: Enemies Like You by Annika Martin & Joanna Chambers Enemies Like You Author: Annika Martin & Joanna Chambers Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: NOTE: The authors recently released a free “prequel” novella, Enemies with Benefits, prior to the release of this book. It is actually the first eight chapters (about 25%) of Enemies Like You. So if you have read the prequel, the authors direct you to start at Chapter 9, which is what I did. If you have not read the prequel – no need to pick it up. CIA operative Will is set to kill his enemy, Polzin. It’s a personal kill since Polzin is responsible the deaths of so many of Will’s brothers-in-arms. Kit has been deep undercover for two years, forced to protect Polzin as his bodyguard. Kit must keep the dirty Russian alive until he completes his own, secret objective: locate the Roc file. Now the pair face off in a deadly match that neither can walk away from. Will and Kit begin the story as two sides to the same coin. Both ultimately after the same goal – eliminate Polzin – but with opposing methods and reasons. I’m glad that through their relentless pursuits, each learns the truth about the other, allowing the pair to team up and work together. I appreciate that the authors didn’t drag out the stand off between the pair, rather they used each encounter between Kit and Will to slowly wear both down. This ultimately changes both men, giving them the space to grown and open up. And I loved watching the pair evolve before my eyes, maturing and joining. I loved how each scene brought them closer together and changed each just a little bit, until they are a solid couple in love by the end. I look forward to more challenges and Kit’s “Kate persona” taking on Will, but I like that Kit has a soft, vulnerable side as well. The espionage story is a good one. Like a classic spy thriller, there are several players in action, and the reader doesn’t fully understand all the pieces until nearly the end. I enjoyed watching Will and Kit figure out every step and finally getting to the end game. I was, however, a bit disappointed in the ending. I felt there was a distinct lack of closure on a specific character and what happened after the final showdown. Whether the authors were deliberately obtuse, or I was supposed to make assumptions based on...
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May
16

Review + Giveaway: Firestorm by Nancy Holzner

Review + Giveaway: Firestorm by Nancy Holzner Firestorm Author: Nancy Holzner Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: It’s been 3.5 years since the release of the previous Deadtown story, Hellhound, and I’ve been stalking the author, er… um… patiently waiting the release of the sixth and final story of Vicky Vaughn’s tales. As always, the story opens with Vicky in action, this time trying to banish a group of sirens who are causing people to plunge to their deaths off the Tobin Bridge and into the Mystic River. Aunt Mab is still around, there to help Vicky prepare for the upcoming final showdown with longtime demonic nemesis, the Destroyer. Firestorm is the exciting climax of and fitting conclusion for Ms. Holzner’s amazing Deadtown series which features a “Buffy-like chosen one” set to save the world from evil forces. The book is the culmination of every title that came before it, so you definitely want to start back at the beginning. I was concerned that with so much time passed and the intricacies of this urban fantasy arcing plotline, that I would be completely lost and playing catch up. But between reading my previous reviews and the author’s expertly placed reminders of important events, I was able to jump right into the story. In the previous book, Vicky allowed the Goddess Ceridwen inside her, and now both the Destroyer and Ceridwen are fighting for control of her body. It’s a seesaw battle, and poor Vicky is the one suffering its impacts, like when the goddess took over and when on a tear through the bars of Deadtown. The back and forth wreaks havoc on Vicky’s mental and emotional states, leaving her vulnerable and open to making poor decisions. She feels like she’s constantly being played or used and that she’s fighting against her own destiny. I liked that Vicky had to go through this final set of trials, helping her to realize what is truly important. I also appreciated that the author made sure to tie up all the loose ends with the major characters. No spoilers, but I was happy with everything! Because the focus of the book is the FINAL BATTLE, Firestorm didn’t have a standalone mystery or storyline like each of the previous titles, and I missed that aspect of Ms. Holzner’s storytelling. At times I felt the storytelling suffered from ADD because it jumped from one thought to the next, and the plot wasn’t as complex as previous tales. However, the...
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May
11

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Staked by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Staked by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Staked Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #8 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Staked Warning: Spoilers of events from previous books are included in this review. Staked opens with Atticus back in Toronto, a place he swore he’d never visit again. He’s there to steal the list of all vampires in the world. While there, he runs into Joseph – the head of Hammers of God, who has retired and married. Atticus learns that Joseph has seen the errors of his youth, and now Joseph wants to help Atticus kill off the vampires. We also finally learn what happened when he was in Toronto years ago, under the name of Nigel. Meanwhile, Granuaile is in Asgard with Oden, working on a way to remove Loki’s mark. And Owen has moved to Flagstaff with Greta, where he plans to train six young humans to become Druids. As with the previous book, Staked is shared in three different POVs: Atticus, Granuaile, and Owen. This time around, there are actually three separate stories, as each of the Druids is on his/her own journey. I wasn’t as confused this time around since I was used to the jump from character to character. While I truly enjoyed listening to Staked, Atticus’s life weighs heavily on his soul, and it brought me down at times. Also, I continued to worry about what would happen to the characters, especially with Jesus’s dire prediction in the previous title. I was waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop, and didn’t feel lighten by the end of the book. I don’t like feeling this way. But as Owen would say, Atticus has really cocked things up, and I fret at how far-reaching his actions will reverberate. Although at the beginning of the book I felt the narration was off, it settled back into its usual patterns after a couple chapters. Mr. Daniels’ voices are all pretty consistent from the last book – Granuaile’s voice remains not as light as she was when we first started hearing it – and I think it’s because she’s not the same wide-eyed girl she once was. But Luke Daniels continues to provide a top-notch performance, and he does a great job with all the voices, especially the trolls. Staked is emotionally dark at times, which makes for a gripping, if not heart-wrenching,...
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May
4

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shattered by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shattered by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Shattered Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #7 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Shattered Warning: Spoilers of events from previous books are included in this review. Shattered opens with the exciting addition of Atticus’s arch-druid, Owen, fresh off one of the time islands and unaware of the millennia that have past since he was last awake. As Atticus and Oberon work to acclimate Owen to the twenty-first century, Granuaile takes her own Druidic journey and heads to India to meet up with Latcha and save her father from a demonic possession. So much happened in Shattered! It was exciting to listen to; however, it did get confusing at times. This time around the story is shared by three voices (Atticus, Granuaile, and Owen) and two different POV tenses (Atticus in past tense, while Owen and Granuaile are present tense). Additionally, there are time lags and overlaps between the different narrators which left me scrambling at times to keep up. The overall stories of the Tuatha Dé Danann chasing after Atticus AND Loki’s intentions for Ragnarök, seem to take a backseat in this one… at first. But then the pieces of the puzzle slowly lock into place until BAM! two huge reveals and a lot of forward momentum. In fact, the events are so huge, that there will be impacts from the revelations for a long time. I loved the addition of Owen, Atticus’s arch-druid, who is now physically younger than Atticus (even tho he looks older) by a couple millennia. Atticus helps restore his body to a more youthful state and acclimate him to the modern times. His POVs add additional comic relief and thoughtful insight to the tale. Allowing the pair to come to terms over their past filled a void I didn’t realize was there. Watching teacher become student was humbling for both. I also enjoyed the addition of Orlla, Granuaile’s Irish wolfhound, and look forward to the time when she and Oberion can speak together. I spent a lot of the book fretting for Granuaile. Between the ominous predictions from Jesus and Granuaile’s own hindsight on her actions, I seriously was afraid of what would happen by the end of the book. No spoilers – something significant does occur, and I survived the tale. haha. But not since the battle with the Norse pantheon in...
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May
3

Review: Borrowed Souls by Chelsea Mueller

Review: Borrowed Souls by Chelsea Mueller Borrowed Souls Author: Chelsea Mueller Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Callie’s brother Josh is in trouble and the only way to get him back alive is to do the bidding of drug lord Ford. For her task, Callie must borrow a soul from the Soul Charmer and commit a crime. But it’s not that easy. The Charmer insists Callie work for him for two weeks in exchange for the soul saying she doesn’t have enough cash to outright loan it. The Charmer is intrigued by Callie’s soul, and Callie may be getting way more than she bargained for. In Ms. Mueller’s fascinating new Soul Charmer series, souls are pawned for cash or other favors. The Soul Charmer is able to wield “soul magic,” allowing him to take souls from and place souls in bodies. One can trade their for a short time to get cash, or borrow another to sin without repercussions on your own soul. The mythology is completely unique and unlike anything I’ve read before, which is one of the reasons I was drawn to Borrowed Souls. As the first book in a new series, there is a lot of world-building, but it’s not heavy-handed or shared via info-dumping. The author leaves clues about the world in dialogue and descriptive scenes. The reader learns about soul magic as Callie is exposed to this dangerous trade. Callie is rather naive at times, even though she comes from a rough childhood and her mom is a bit of a con artist. I like that Callie has to work for her badass UF heroine status; she’s not born with powers or have innate fighting abilities. Try as she might, Callie just can’t be mean, which gives her a soft edge. Callie makes mistakes, sometimes costly ones, but she seems to learn from her situation and move forward. Callie works as part of a soul repo team for two weeks to earn a day use of a soul. The Soul Charmer pairs Callie with Derek, the muscle to shake up those who are delinquent on returning borrowed souls. Derek is the strong, silent type, but Callie forms a bond with the big guy fairly quickly. She also has difficulty hiding her attraction to Derek, and soon the pair find themselves a couple. I LOVE Derek. He’s kind and good, giving someone for Callie to trust. She’s got so little good in her life, and Derek fills all...
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Apr
27

Review: The Chosen by J.R. Ward

Review: The Chosen by J.R. Ward The Chosen Author: J.R. Ward Reviewer: Una Rating: B What I’m Talking About: The Chosen is a novel that I have both wanted and dreaded.  This fifteenth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series was to be a make or break book for me.  Suffice to say, the WARDen found and worked that special magic.  Though there are some highs and lows, overall I liked it – my crack is back! ****Needless to say, this is the 15th book in the series…if you haven’t read the series, there will be spoilers.  If you haven’t read through The Beast, there will be spoilers.  There are a few elements to the plot I will hint at since I can’t review the novel without it.  You have been warned.**** From the beginning I have never been a fan of the pairing of Layla and Xcor.  Romeo and Juliet had a more promising future than these two.  At the beginning of the series, Layla was endearing.  Quirky and sickeningly sweet, she was the poster girl for a Chosen.  Once liberated by the Primale, Layla floundered.  However, she still seemed to have the best interests of the species at heart. Once she was duped by Xcor, however, and all but threw herself into his machinations, I was irritated.  Layla went from being selfless to selfish.  I kept waiting for her liaisons with Xcor to be discovered, her betrayal of her “family” brought to light, the train she fought so hard to get on was going to wreck, it was just a question or when and the amount of collateral damage.  It does early in the novel and it is HUGE.  I found myself torn from feeling sorry for Layla and being angry. Xcor rubbed me the wrong way from the first moment we met him.  I did not believe that I could understand him nor root for him.  As the novel begins, we experience Xcor’s parents at the dawn of his birth.  I never thought Xcor’s life would have been easy, I expected it to be tragic – I wasn’t prepared for how awful it was.  Xcor is a male of worth from birth, but the environments he was raised in, honed him into the male he became.  I feel that it was not his meeting Layla that transformed him, contrary to his belief.  It was the revelation in Payne’s book that he is not the son of the Bloodletter that is the catalyst...
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Apr
25

Review: Wanted and Wired by Vivien Jackson

Review: Wanted and Wired by Vivien Jackson Wanted and Wired Author: Vivien Jackson Reviewer: Una Rating: B  What I’m Talking About: Wanted and Wired is the first in a new sci-fi romance series, Tether. Though it had a bit of a clunky slow start, I liked this new world and what seems to be a fascinating new series. The Tether world is fascinating; futuristic with a bit of a wild-west/ post-apocalyptic vibe.  I enjoyed the racial issue of organic human versus altered (cyborg/enhanced) human.  Those that feel people who have enhanced their bodies are somehow less human. Though the technology of the nanos are not fully explained, the technological advances were fascinating, especially the artificial intelligence. I am eager to learn more about this intriguing world. The journey of Heron and Mari started off… confusing. As a sci-fi novel, I was surprised how dominant the sexual thoughts were – Heron and Mari’s hormones were in overdrive.  In the midst of a mission and then as they are started to be hunted, it seemed… odd, that they would have sex being a major though process.  It started to be a bit old as the balance between their plight (the action) and the romance (sexual thoughts/tension) was off. However, by the halfway point, I felt there was a better balance. Some of the tripping points for me could be settled in the typical first novel in a series issue – world-building, character building, not to mention the different story arcs.  However, they did smooth out, and I found the last half to be an enthralling read. Mari’s botched mission and subsequent running was a gripping tale. I enjoyed how the history between Mari and Heron helped to not only give credence to their trust but their romance.  As Heron’s past comes to light, I found the mythology of the world shine.  As they closed in on who was behind the nefarious plot, I was truly surprised at who was it was.  I look forward to seeing how this may be part of an over-arching plot. Wanted and Wired may have stumbled a bit at the beginning with some first novel issues, by the end the story was captivating and smooth.  I liked Heron and Mari’s overall journey and hope to see them in the next novel.  The world is what I found truly fascinating and I cannot wait to learn more about it.  If you enjoy a bit of a science-fiction twist in your romance, you may just...
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Apr
18

Review: Snared by Jennifer Estep

Review: Snared by Jennifer Estep Snared Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: With clues left by her late mentor, Fletcher, Gin and Silvio have started identifying the members of the devious Circle. They discover the “easiest” mark is Damian Rivera, a trust fund prince with a huge drinking problem, and Gin starts surveillance on the man, looking for any clues as to the identity of the mysterious head of the Circle. Meanwhile, Gin’s friend Jade comes to her asking for help locating her missing sister. As Gin digs deeper into both situations, she uncovers a serial killer is loose in Ashland. Once again, Ms. Estep had me glued to my Kindle as I took a ride with my favorite assassin. The Elemental Assassin books are always full of high-octane action, and Snared is no exception with its race against time – serial killer plot. While parts were fairly predictable, I found the energy surrounding Gin and her situation strong, and it pulled me in right from the start. I enjoyed learning more about the Circle and Gin’s own past. With that said, there are a few things that bugged me this time, more than usual. I genuinely enjoyed Snared, so I don’t want you to think otherwise as I list these issues, but I feel like it needs to be said. These are character flaws and/or plot devices that have started becoming repetitious, making the books predicable. First: Gin is an extremely intelligent woman; one of the smartest heroines out there. She also relies heavily on her gut instincts. So when she “hears” something or feels an ominous presence and then just walks away, saying it’s nothing… it frustrates me. We ALL know it is something, so why doesn’t Gin go with her gut instincts?! And she always seems to have facial recognition amnesia. That whole “something is off but I can’t figure out what” thing happens too often. Second: The dreams. I know the dreams are Gin’s “thing,” guiding her as if Fletcher was still around. But at this point, I find them disappointing. Too often, after recalling nothing about a significant memory from her youth, things that Gin *should* have remembered or never forgotten, she suddenly remembers something HUGE from her childhood that is just too coincidental in solving her current case. It’s just frustrating to see it over and over again, uncovering these secrets that Gin didn’t know she knew all along. Even with my frustrations...
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Apr
17

Review: The Thing About Love by Julie James

Review: The Thing About Love by Julie James The Thing About Love Author: Julie James Reviewer: Nima Rating: B What I’m Talking About: FBI agent Jessica Harlow likes her job and wants to be the best. From the early days of her training, she’s been trying to overcompensate for her diminutive size and any perceptions of weakness because she’s a woman. Agent John Shepherd came through her same class at Quantico. Always at odds for top marks, they became bitter rivals. Years later, they end up in the same field office and get assigned to the same case.  They will have to work to put aside their competitive natures if they are to collaborate successfully.  With the focus on the operation, the story has a substance in what would otherwise just be a fluffy romance of rekindled passions.  James gives us a lot of context for their history and relationship which added a depth that improved it. The banter and wit James is known for, like, “She who nearly climbeth the man like a tree must owneth it” rounds out the corners and makes this a strong addition to her FBI/US Attorney series. I wish we had had the chance to see John in action. He’s basically a superhero without the cape. James doesn’t take advantage of the character she’s created to show off his mad skills.  I also took issue with the ending.  She wrapped it up with a tidy bow, but before getting there, her own character, Jessica offers up an alternative ending.  Frankly, I liked that one better. As usual, the families James creates around her characters are wonderful and I enjoyed their intrusions into the storylines.  They make these overachievers relatable to the rest of us ordinary humans.  Even though there are things I would change, I can definitely say I liked this book. My Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: FBI agents Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd have a past. The former lawyer and cocky Army Ranger clashed during their training at Quantico and gladly went their separate ways after graduating from the Academy. Six years later, the last thing either of them expects is to be assigned to work as partners in a high-profile undercover sting. For both of them, being paired with an old rival couldn’t come at a worse time. Recently divorced from a Hollywood producer and looking for a fresh start, Jessica is eager to prove herself at her new field office. And John is just one...
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Apr
13

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Tricked by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Tricked by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Tricked Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #4 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Tricked Warning: Spoilers of events from previous books are included in this review. Tricked opens with Atticus’s spectacular death as foreseen by the Morrigan. Her prophesy was actually a deal that Atticus brokered with Coyote in the previous book, something readers/listeners were not privy to at that time. Coyote shifted to look like Atticus and then let the remaining, avenging Norse pantheon kill him, with the help of a few thunder gods. Now Atticus, Granuaile, and Oberon must move on, but first Atticus must fulfill his promise to help Coyote move some earth. Well, knowing that Coyote is a trickster god means nothing is as it would appear. After the self-serving adventures into Asgard that dominated the previous title, I was thankful to see that there were indeed consequences to Atticus’s actions. Hel has been unleashed on Earth, and she looks to start Ragnarök for her father, Loki. While this wasn’t the primary plot of the book, I was glad Atticus now realizes the mistakes he made when he indulged Leif’s vengeance. And speaking of Leif… he is back, and he has changed. Or maybe he hasn’t changed, but now that he’s used Atticus for the purpose he intended, we are privy to his true vampiric nature. I enjoyed Tricked for its Native American-based mythology. While I have no clue how much of it is based in actual beliefs, I found the story engrossing and the mythology interesting. My favorite character was the Navajo spiritual leader who brought a new level of spiritual magic to Atticus, and conversely, he learned much about the earth’s magic from Atticus. Their temporary bond was genuine and fruitful. It looks to me like the series is heading for change, with the farewells in the previous book, Hammered, and the start of new identities in Tricked. Atticus wants to focus on training apprentice Granuaile, who he is also completely taken with. I love his awkwardness around her. I also enjoyed how he opened up about his own long life to her. Granuaile, in turn, shares some secrets with Atticus that she had been internalizing. Their bond is growing stronger. I also really like the development of Oberon’s character. He’s becoming an intelligent, humorous sidekick. His nature has matured and grown...
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