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Jun
29

Review: The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter

Review: The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter The Darkest Torment Author: Gena Showalter Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Long, long ago, Baden was once a Lord of the Underworld and keeper of the demon, Distrust. But when he was betrayed and beheaded, the demon inside was set free and he died, destined to spend eternity in a special Purgatory. Eventually, Hades found him and gave him a way to leave, recruiting him for his war against Lucifer; however Baden didn’t understand the true price of his freedom. The book opens with Baden residing in Budapest with his fellow Lords. He is angry and prone to violence and doesn’t like to be touched. He has a new, more powerful demon, named Destruction, and in order to rid himself of Hades, Baden must complete a number of tasks for him, including retrieving a coin from drug lord Aleksander Ciernik. Katarina Joelle was forced to marry Aleksander Ciernik, the evil man who has Hades’ coin. He is brutal and plans to bend Katarina until she breaks. He killed her childhood sweetheart, hooked her brother on drugs, and has threaten to kill all of Katarina’s beloved dogs. Not knowing the situation, Baden kidnaps Katarina, hoping to force Alek to turn over the coin. To be honest, I started The Darkest Torment, unsure if I wanted to continue with this series. I went back and read my notes from the previous books and remembered how confused I was and how I felt things were growing overly complex and the mythology was meandering a bit too much for my liking. However, once I started the book, I was pleased with the overall direction and tone. Baden’s struggles with his inner demon and the romance between Baden and Katarina shared many of the qualities that first drew me to The Lords of the Underworld series. There was humor and passion, with gripping storylines. Additionally, the author does a great job recalling previous important facts and storylines, keeping readers in the loop. Overall, I enjoyed Baden’s inner battle with his demons (both literal and figurative). Katarina is a great fit for Baden (and visa versa), and I found her transformation from victim to heroine entertaining. Their story tied strongly to a larger story arc involving Hades, and although I didn’t quite recall or understand how this particular story began, it didn’t really matter as I read it. Additionally, there are two side stories setting up future books: William and Gillian’s potential romance, as well as Cameo’s search for Lazarus. I understand the need to set...
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Jun
21

Review: By the Numbers by Jen Lancaster

Review: By the Numbers by Jen Lancaster By The Numbers Author: Jen Lancaster Reviewer: Nima Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: I was attracted to By the Numbers because I have arrived in the sandwich generation and my older brother is an actuary.  Main character Penny Sinclair is an actuary at the highest fellowship level who’s ready to move on from a painful divorce and embrace being an empty-nester.  Her parents and her children have other plans and issues with appropriate boundaries.  For those of you who don’t know what an actuary is (we had to look it up when my brother came home from college and announced that’s what he wanted to do with his life,) it is someone who analyzes the financial consequences of risk.  They are calculating ninjas.  This kind of work is especially cogent to the insurance industry where most actuaries are employed.  They are the ones who figure out how long you’re going to live. Becoming an actuary is a brutal process.  They sit for multiple, lengthy exams twice a year.  Each exam is like taking the bar and the process can take anywhere from six to ten years to complete.  They make pretty good money because, yeah, math.  We have a family joke that actuaries are the people who didn’t have enough personality to be accountants.  We can say that because my father is an accountant and truthfully, they both have a great sense of humor.  So my interest was piqued to see what Lancaster would do with a female actuary. Penny’s character borders on being a stereotype, but really, since so few people know what an actuary is, I’m not sure the word “stereotype” really applies.  The average reader will see her as financially obsessive compulsive.  She studies statistics and plans accordingly.  She reminded me of my father who, trying to plan for every possibility, actually budgeted for both he and my mother to get one speeding ticket the first year they were married.  The preparedness thing is probably Penny’s most endearing quality. This is how she does her best by her family. The book opens with emails going around among Penny’s family members about the upcoming wedding of her daughter Kelsey.  They are snarky and even rude. Penny’s own mother is described as a “lesser Disney villain.”  I very nearly DNF’d the book because there was no way I could trudge through an entire novel of these self-centered brats.  Thankfully, we got to Penny’s narrative fairly quickly and...
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Jun
16

Review: Blood Lust by Alexandra Ivy

Review: Blood Lust by Alexandra Ivy Blood Lust Author: Alexandra Ivy Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Continuing directly from the storyline of the previous book, Blood Assassin, Bas must deal with the outfall of his daughter’s, Molly, kidnapping by supernatural forces. The events ruined his business, and he ended his roll as the leader of a renegade band of mercenary high-bloods. All he wants to do now is raise his daughter in peace, but that all changes when Molly’s mom, Myst, reenters their lives. Myst had a one afternoon affair with Bas which resulted in a pregnancy. Leaving Molly with Bas after her birth, Myst has been in hiding and impossible to locate. Unknown to Bas, Myst has stayed in contact with Molly via telepathy, and promised Molly she’d come visit after the horrible ordeal. Now that Myst is back, Bas won’t let her go. While you don’t need to have read the previous books in the Sentinels series to enjoy Blood Lust, the story arc started in the second book, which provides much of the background needed to better understand the high-blood mythology. I enjoyed reading Blood Lust and found the story easy to follow and straight-forward. Myst and Baz’s relationship had its bumps, but overall flowed smoothly. Their albeit brief shared history lends itself to a sexy reunion, fueled by the fact that Bas has longed for and searched for Myst ever since their one shared afternoon. I enjoyed watching the couple rekindle their feelings and act on their desires. I especially liked how open and honest Bas was with Myst, especially with his desires. While the romance was engaging, I had a few troubles with the suspense/action part of the story which involves the Brotherhood, a high-blood hate group populated by human fanatics. Unfortunately, the group felt like a stereotype of cliched cults. I also felt some of the scenes were too easy, with convenient weapons and perfectly timed coincidences. Additionally, I would have loved it if the part of the story I found most intriguing, having to deal with Molly herself, was explored more. Honestly, my favorite parts of the book had to do with the ongoing denial of Lana and Wolfe as they push the limits of their mutual desire. Ms. Ivy is building a wonderful, über-steamy relationship that drips with sexual tension. I want their book… I want to know more about their paths and how they can work out an HEA. In the end,...
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Jun
15

Review: The Billionaire’s Favorite Mistake by Jessica Clare

Review: The Billionaire’s Favorite Mistake by Jessica Clare The Billionaire’s Favorite Mistake Author: Jessica Clare Reviewer: Nima Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Greer Chadha-Janssen is the daughter of a multi-millionaire.  That money brings her independence to work at a job she loves, wedding planner extraordinaire. She’s also completely invisible to the love of her life, billionaire Asher Sutton.  They were roommates in college and have been close friends since, but Greer by her own description is “overlookable.”  These characters were introduced in book one, but I didn’t have the advantage of watching Greer love Asher from afar or experience the heartbreak  he went through that spiraled him into the emotional abyss he had been living in for years before Greer finally made her move in The Billionaire’s Favorite Mistake.  The plot felt highly contrived to me, but that may not be the case for someone who has followed the series. Without the advantage of the first three books, it is still a complete story arc. Despite all the manipulations of the plot, the emotions of the characters felt real, especially Greer.  She was angry and with good cause.  I liked that she was as angry at herself as she was with Asher when a seriously bad one night stand results in an unplanned pregnancy. She proves to be capable of forgiveness which makes her more human and less a caricature of an angry woman.  Greer’s charitable heart even helps to redeem a minor character before she finds her happy ending. Asher wasn’t quite as developed, but he does go through a significant transformation, even if it feels a little abrupt. Once he becomes a changed man, his charm and playfulness made it easier for us to see what Greer sees in him. His biggest flaw seems to be that where Greer is concerned, he’s overly sexual, getting aroused at completely inappropriate times.  It was amusing the first time it happened, after that it was just awkward.  Still, in their mutual attraction, they prove to be well-suited for each other. I have to give Clare props for the creation of Greer’s disinterested father.  He’s a porn magnate and lives a Scandanavian version of Hugh Hefner. Totally original.  He was as comical as he was pathetic in his single-mindedness.  He was easy to seriously dislike. The Billionaire’s Favorite Mistake is a fast read.  It’s a great book to go between longer, meatier reads.  It’s fluffy and fun. My Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: Greer has always...
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Jun
13

Review: The Ghost Rebellion by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris

Review: The Ghost Rebellion by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris The Ghost Rebellion Author: Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: The Ghost Rebellion is the latest exciting installment in the ultra-creative and madly crazy Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences steampunk series. Co-authors Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris take readers on a fantastical journey though an alternate history, filled with familiar names and places. This time around, our favorite Ministry agents are chasing down leads on the evil Dr. Jekyll, which takes them to India. Meeting up with an old friend, the pair gets involved in helping eliminate a dangerous rebel uprising known as the Ghost Rebellion. Once again, the authors have created a high-action adventure filled with twists and turns. However, while The Ghost Rebellion is richly detailed and full of surprises, it is not as intricately complex as its predecessors. And this is a GOOD THING, because in the past couple of books, I’ve found myself confused and lost. This time around, I felt that the story was much more straightforward, with pieces of the puzzle falling into place seamlessly (even with the twists). I was able to see some twists well in advance of the reveals, yet at times, the authors still caught me off guard. While the Ghost Rebellion mystery plays out by the end of the book, there is a generous mix of the continuing storylines involving The House of Usher, Dr. Jekyll, and Sophia del Morte. Additionally, the authors continue to toss in the entertaining “Interludes,” focusing on a side-assignment run by Agent Bruce Campbell. There are still plenty of open avenues for additional heart-stopping adventures. While the MoPO series is a steampunk adventure series, romance continues to blossom and deepen between Eliza Braun and Wellington Books, and l adore that they are finally out in the open about it. After watching the pair come together as partners and then friends, witnessing the continuing development in their relationship is emotionally rewarding. The alternating POVs between each gives the additional details that help create a well-balance, loving relationship, and a well-oiled pair of working agents. I think this line from Eliza sums up quite a bit of their relationship: “It was strange how much she had come to love Wellington Books, and yet still enjoyed working his levers.” Overall, I enjoyed my return to The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, and look forward to more adventures with Books and Braun. I get caught up in each exciting adventure, which...
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Jun
9

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Fate’s Edge Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Edge #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: Purchased The third Edge story, Fate’s Edge, features Kaldar Mar, the swindling, grifting cousin of Cerise, the previous book’s heroine. The story is set two years after the second book, with Kaldar working for the Adrianglian spy network, the Mirror, hoping to exact revenge on Spider and the Hand for killing his family. He’s been recruited to recover a valuable stolen artifact, which should give him the opportunity for which he’s been waiting. Audrey Callahan wants to live a normal life, working for a PI firm in the Broken and maintaining a small home in the Edge. After living a life filled with heists and disappointments, she’s left her family behind, for good. However, when her dad shows up and requests her help in “one more big job” she gives him a choice: he can either walk away and keep her as a daughter or she’ll do the job and he will no longer have a daughter, killing him if he returns. Her dad picks the heist over his daughter. Now the Hand is after her to recover the artifact, and she doesn’t know who she can trust. I am throughly enjoying my time in Ilona Andrews’ Edge. The mythology is unique and interesting, and with each passing book, the plot expands and deepens. While each story is a standalone romance with its own adventure, there is an overall urban fantasy arc. Although new characters are introduced in each title, previous characters are brought forward and sometimes play key roles. Kaldar and Audrey’s story is genuinely fun, although at times confusing and complex. The pair are con artists, working both the enemy to gain back possession of the stolen artifact, but also with each other. They play games, hiding their true feelings in an effort not to get conned and hurt. While on the surface, the plot of retrieving the items Audrey helped steal seems simple, the overall story is anything but. At one point, the pair had to steal money from a pirate to get in good with the preacher, so that they could rob him and exchange that item for an invitation to the bad guy’s auction, in order to get back the item stolen in the first place. *phew* I became tired of all of the layers of...
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Jun
7

Review + Excerpt: Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh

Review + Excerpt: Allegiance of Honor by Nalini Singh Allegiance of Honor Author: Nalini Singh Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B/B- What I’m Talking About: Nalini Singh creates a sweeping look at her entire Psy-Changeling cast of characters and previous storylines with Allegiance of Honor. Bold in scope and content, the book picks up the overarching storyline of the series, focusing on the downfall of Silence and what it means to the three species inhabiting Earth. While there are no new romances or characters featured this time around, the story continues forward the series while giving fans a look at each character and how they’ve fared since introduction. Within the book, there are a handful of primary stories: 1. There is an unknown treat to Lucas and Sascha’s child, Naya; 2. The PsyNet continues to deteriorate even after the re-introduction of Es; 3. There is a lead on one of the missing BlackSea changelings, Leila Savea; 4. Father Xavier Perez is looking for his lost love; 5. Making the Trinity Accord work and what to do with Ming LeBon; and 6. Planning a huge, joint SnowDancer/DarkHunter celebration. Each of these stories progresses, with a conclusion to some, while others may give lead to what looks to be the next story-arc of the series. While I adore the slice of life features Ms. Singh sends in her newsletter and posts online, I now realize that I best enjoy them in small doses. This book felt like it was primarily a huge collection of these short slice-of-life features, and it didn’t always work for me. Each mini-look was interesting, but when all tied together, they started to drag on. I was more interested in the overall storylines and seeing progress, rather than catching up on each character or waiting for the pupcubs to be born. When the book focused on the bigger storylines, like searching for the missing BlackSea member or working on the Trinity Accord, I was completely captivated and hungry for more. I am excited for the future of the series as the three races work together. Overall, I enjoyed Allegiance of Honor, but in the end, I wanted more. The book is entertaining, and I generally liked the little visits with every single character we’ve met in the past, but I wanted more guts to the book. More story and less all over the place. I wanted more of the solid, complex storylines and rich plots that I’ve come to expect and love from Ms. Singh. My Rating:...
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Jun
2

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Bayou Moon by Ilona Andrews Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Bayou Moon Author: Ilona Andrews Narrator: Renée Raudman Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: The Edge #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance Source: Purchased Bayou Moon opens two years after the conclusion of the previous book, On the Edge, where we find William living a solitary life in the Edge. He is soon recruited by the Mirror, a spy network for the country of Adrianglia in the Weird, and finds himself off to the Mire in the Edge. Cerise Mar lives in the Edge in the swamps called the Mire. The Mars are in a family feud with the Sheeriles, and her parents have been kidnapped by evil agents of the Hand. Lucky for Cerise, she crosses paths with William, and they team up to stop the Hand. The second book started as a bit of a shocker to me. I thought that the Edge series was an urban fantasy series that would follow Rose and Declan through four books. But it’s not… It’s more of a UF romance, with a different couple featured in each book. After my initial disappointment, I learned to love both William and Cerise. Overall, I enjoyed Bayou Moon. Once again, the storytelling is phenomenal, with an engrossing plot filled with some twists and turns. It is, however, a long book, and I felt that it would have benefitted from some editing. The ending dragged on a bit too long and started to frustrate me. Additionally, the authors left open some doors that I would have preferred closed. I guess I’ll have to wait to see if they are resolved in future titles. I did enjoy the reintroduction of the main characters from the first title. I hope that the next two books will continue to involve some of these familiar players. Renée Raudman’s performance is utterly amazing. She captures every moment perfectly – reconstructing emotions that allow a listener to experience what the character feels. She also introduces appropriate sighs, breaths, and more to express the attitudes and physical exhaustion (for example) of the characters. In the end, another wonderful addition to the Edge series. My Rating: B Narration:...
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Jun
1

Review: To Love a Wolf by Paige Tyler

Review: To Love a Wolf by Paige Tyler To Love a Wolf Author: Paige Tyler Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: To Love a Wolf is another satisfying installment in the SWAT series.  Gikany and Una have liked Cooper since we met him in the first novel, Hungry Like the Wolf.  We were eager to see him meet his “One” and we were not disappointed, although the mythology took an unexpected turn. Cooper and Everly’s story is a great change of pace from the previous stories.  Shortly after meeting Everly, Cooper rescues her (and a number of other victims) from bank robbers.  However, this is an isolated event, the overarching plot is the search for a bomber.  We really liked how Cooper and Everly met and courted one another.  Everly’s background gives a new twist to the mythology and an interesting obstacle for the destined mates. At the start, the plot of the bomber is really on the back burner while the journey of Everly and Cooper is established.  As the novel progresses, the bomber becomes more prominent, but does not diminishment the romantic plot.  The bomber plot is quite easy to puzzle out.  The plot of Cooper and the bomber was only suspenseful in waiting to see if Cooper would figure it out and how it would all end. With a new twist of the mythology, we wonder if our SWAT wolves will learn more about their natures and history.  Either way, we liked the journey between Cooper and Everly.  Their story, including the love at first sight during a bank robbery, was sweet. If you enjoy a little military/police drama with your paranormal, pick up the SWAT series – it’s good fun!  We recommend reading the series from the beginning since the mythology is slowly divulged through each novel.  One thing is for certain, we look forward to the next novel in the series. Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: HE’S FOUND THE ONE… SWAT officer Landry Cooper is certain Everly Danu is The One. The problem is, she has no idea what Cooper really is. And as much as he wants to trust her, he’s not sure he can share his deepest secret… When Everly’s family discovers Cooper’s a werewolf, her brothers will do anything to keep them apart-they’ll kill him if they have to. Everly is falling hard for the ridiculously handsome SWAT officer, and she’s not about to let her brothers tell her who she can...
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May
25

Review: The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy The Pages of the Mind Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: The Pages of the Mind is the debut novel of the Twelve Kingdom spin-off series, The Uncharted Realms.  Overall we enjoyed the first book in the beginning of a new series. Gikany and Una love the world that this series takes place in.  It is not imperative to read the Twelve Kingdoms series first; however, you will have a stronger understanding and appreciation if you do read the previous series (and you should because it is good).  You will also have a much stronger connection to Dafne.  For fans that have followed the previous series, it is exciting to learn more about the world and surrounding kingdoms. Dafne was introduced at the beginning of the Twelve Kingdoms series.  She was a quiet librarian who had access to knowledge that each princess needed.  She was a rock of support and strength and a steadfast advisor to each of them.  Dafne isn’t afraid to show her backbone and speak her mind.  We liked her immensely and have eagerly looked forward to her romantic journey.  We couldn’t have imagined the direction her life would take.  We loved seeing the journey Dafne takes and watching her struggle between her heart and her sense of duty.  Her ability to wield the pen far more mightily than the sword was breathtaking. Overall, we liked the journey between Dafne and Nakoa, even though we thought there were some off-notes in it.  Although they did not detract from our enjoyment, they were noticeable.  We were surprised that Nakoa could be so devoted to Dafne and then abruptly write her off, not trusting her.  His belief that she should automatically know who he is and fall into the role as queen coupled with the odd ultimatum to choose him (who she’d only known three days) over Ursula (who she’d known her whole life) was a bit of a stretch.  We were surprised that although he understands (and we assume) speaks Dasnarian, he never tried to communicate with her in it, but instead insisted that she learn to communicate in his language. Overall, we really liked The Pages of the Mind, abrupt moments and all.  The passion and connection between Nakoa and Dafne smoothed over those rough patches.  Gikany and Una are biting our nails in anticipation of the next novel, which will center on Jepp and Kral.  If you enjoy...
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