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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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Apr
10

Review: Sanguine Moon by Jennifer Foxcroft

Review: Sanguine Moon by Jennifer Foxcroft Sanguine Moon Author: Jennifer Foxcroft Reviewer: Nima Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Sanguine Moon is the second installment in the young adult paranormal romance Camazotz Trilogy.  It picks up right where Sanguine Mountain left off.  I appreciated the fact that this was not a filler book, but had its own, valid plot.  While it is a complete story, this is definitely a “read in order” trilogy, also setting us up for book three in the last chapter. With two years between the release of the first and second installments, there is a character list in the back to help the reader keep multiple players in order. I found the first story was unique enough that I did remember most of it and have been looking forward to this read. I’m enjoying continuing this alternate version of the vampire myth.  Camazotz are a species of shape-shifting vampire bats—more zoology, less Bela Lugosi.  They shun modern technology and outsiders in an effort to keep their secrets.  Main heartthrob Rockland “Rocks” is desperately in love with aeronaught (ordinary human) Connie Phillips. Unfortunately he’s also heir-apparent to leadership of his colony. Connie has her own troubles as the identity of her biological parents prove to be more than problematic. In fact, they become very adult problems which is why I was frustrated by Connie’s lack of faith in the adults in her life—parents who are perfect in a way only fictional characters can be.  Keeping them from the action of the story felt a little contrived, even if necessary.  Academy Award winning director Keith Merrill once said, “If you’re a screenwriter and understand the essence of drama, and you want to plunge your characters into conflict and keep them there, then you probably need to ‘lose the mom.’ Mothers go missing in movies because leaving them in the lives of characters in crisis makes sustaining conflict difficult. Mothers listen and understand, solve problems, and resolve conflicts. They are selfless and love without conditions. You want to stir up a heap of trouble and make it believable? Better keep Mom out of it.”  Foxcroft’s justifications for keeping good parents “out of it” wore very thin before being resolved.  To her credit, however, when we finally got there, it was almost a physical relief.  I hope it is appropriate to give them a larger support role in book three. Rocks has his own problems with his colony.  Their fear of the outside world, especially...
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Apr
6

Review: Sins of the Warrior by Linda Poitevin

Review: Sins of the Warrior by Linda Poitevin Sins of the Warrior Author: Linda Poitevin Reviewer: Una Rating: B  What I’m Talking About: Sins of the Warrior is the final book in the gripping Grigory Legacy series.  While I am chagrined to say I liked it – the ending was a bittersweet yet satisfying conclusion to this series of Armageddon. First, I wish I had the time to at least reread the previous novel. It has been a few years since I’ve read Sins of the Lost. It took me a bit of time to jump back in. The beginning was slow for me as I struggled to remember so much of what had happened over the course of the series. If you haven’t read the series or are interested, trust me, start from the beginning. But once my brain cells kicked in and I recalled the past, I soon found myself gripped by this novel. ****If you haven’t read the series, this review will contain spoilers.**** As the novel begins, we find Alex hunting for her niece.  Her steel core of honor and duty won’t let her give up on her niece or on the world.  Alex has sacrificed and suffered since the beginning of this series. This novel is no different.  She continues to exemplify true courage, loyalty and determination.  Alex balances on the razor’s edge of sanity as her world and her future falls apart. However, it is a sign of her platinum will that she holds herself together, continuing on the path of doing what is right; even though the effort and choices are excruciating.  Though in the end there is a bittersweet consolation, it was still sad. I enjoyed how Michael (or Mika’el) was more fully developed in this book.  We see more than just the gruff warrior exterior – there is so much more to him.  Through this novel, it makes sense the by-play between him and Alex.  They are both warriors cut from the same cloth.  They have the same loyalty, same courage and determination and sadly, the same ability to sacrifice, to make the hard choices.  Once they start letting down their guards, they discovered how much alike they are, that they are both working for the same goals. What keeps me from rating this higher is that it is sad.  The end of humanity is not something you can say you loved.  This is Armageddon – the absolute war. The losses in this war will be catastrophic; you...
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Apr
6

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #0.6 & #3.5 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles is just that – two shorter-length stories set in the Iron Druid Chronicles world that are tied to the series, but do not directly impact the overall storyline of the series. The first tale, Kaibab Unbound, takes place shorty before the start of the series. Atticus and his dog companion, Oberon, go north to the Arizona wilderness for some hunting time. However, their trip is cut short when the Kaibab elemental calls to Atticus for assistance, and Atticus must right the wrongs of a trio of witches. The short story is a glimpse into Atticus’s life and duties as the last Druid. It’s a self-contained short and good introduction to the series. It was enjoyable for this existing fan of Atticus and Oberon. Test of Mettle is a bit different because it is shared in the first person POV narration of Atticus’s apprentice, Granuaile. The story takes place concurrently with book 3, Hammered, when Atticus is in Asgard. Granuaile is keeping her promise to Sonora, the desert earth elemental, by ridding the river of an evasive species, when she is attacked by animals under the direction of the goddess of the hunt, Flidais. Test of Mettle was my favorite of these two tales because it gives a perspective we don’t normally experience. I liked seeing how Granuaile interacted with Oberon since she can’t hear him, therefore neither can I. I also enjoyed seeing her survive her trials and get a new perspective of her enjoyment and desire to become a Druid. HOWEVER… there is a dark side to Granuaile as she thinks about a time in the future when she will be able to destroy her stepfather. Eep! While the stories are both narrated by series narrator Luke Daniels, my first notice was that the narration was slightly different. The biggest difference was that Oberon came off a bit rough around the edges – more wild and goofy than I’m used to. I don’t know if it was recorded early on or if the narrator purposely changed slightly. Since we haven’t had a story told from Granuaile’s POV, I didn’t have a lot...
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Apr
4

Review: Between a Wolf and a Hard Place by Terry Spear

Review: Between a Wolf and a Hard Place by Terry Spear Between A Wolf And A Hard Place Author: Terry Spear Reviewer: B. Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Picking up where the last in the series left off, Between a Wolf and a Hard Place follows the developing relationship between Ellie MacTire, one of the new owners of the Silver Town Inn, and Brett Silver, local news reporter and third–born of the Silver quadruplets. As it revisits the setting and characters that were established in the fifth Silver Town Wolf story, A Silver Wolf Christmas, slipping back into the world of the novel was easy to do. While I’ve really enjoyed this series, as well as those connected to it that I’ve had the pleasure of reading, this particular story didn’t draw me in quite as thoroughly as its predecessors. I can’t help but like the MacTire sisters so far, and the Silver brothers and cousins have all proven to be just as interesting, so the cause of my reaction wasn’t about the characters themselves. All of the wolves are memorable in different ways, and seeing the return of some of my favorites was definitely a nice benefit. Personality-wise, I think Ellie and Brett are a wonderful pair. Ellie’s gift is a secret, and rightfully so, given the reactions she’s experienced in the past. But, Brett has a few surprises of his own that come back to haunt him, the focus of which I thought only made them both more intriguing as a couple. I do wish, though, that their romance had been allowed to develop a little longer over a narrower range of happenings, rather than the multitude of issues they had to contend with. Which is where I felt a little lost on occasion. Rather than bonding with each other while facing down a single threat, and the complications associated with it, Ellie and Brett seemed to be dealing with four or five different conflicts, and at least one of those of their own devising. One thing, in particular, that concerned me was simply a misunderstanding that might have been resolved fairly quickly, but instead plagued the couple throughout the narrative. This, in addition to the reaffirmation of the discord between the MacTires and their troublesome cousins, along with a rescue mission on the side, and so on, distracted me from the main plot of Between a Wolf and a Hard Place more than once. Still, I was very happy with the resolution of the more romantic...
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Apr
3

Review: Cooking with Kandy by Peggy Jaeger

Review: Cooking with Kandy by Peggy Jaeger Cooking with Kandy Author: Peggy Jaeger Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Cooking with Kandy is the EBC’s number one food show, making Kandy Laine a highly successful woman, and apparently a target. Kandy is self-driven with high standards and an incredible work ethic. While she is extremely busy, family always comes first; she is giving, caring, and would do anything for those in her inner circle. So when threats on Kandy’s life grow more serious, she’s honestly perplexed that it could be coming from someone close to her. Josh Keane was hired to protect Kandy and get to the bottom of the threats. While he has always put his job first, his instant attraction to and growing friendship with Kandy messes with his head and heart. Will getting to the bottom of the danger signal the end of his time with Kandy… or will it start the beginning of something more? Cooking with Kandy is an enjoyable combination of sweet romance and light mystery/suspense. As the first title in Ms. Jaeger’s new Will Cook for Love series, readers are introduced to Kandy and her entire extended family, ninety percent of which seem to work for her in some capacity. The author has created a warm, genuine environment, which should serve well for the series setting. Kandy and Josh are two peas in a pod (food reference intended!); both are driven individuals who have their own fair share of baggage. While each has found success and happiness with their career paths, it isn’t until they are put together that they truly see some holes and loneliness in their lives. Although they are forced by circumstance to be together, they develop a genuine bond, and the nature of the events surrounding their pairing lends itself to a rapid opening up and sharing of innermost thoughts and desires. Josh and Kandy are sweet together. They are like the couple that finishes each other’s sentences. And while it took a little while for the steam to build, once the couple allows themselves to indulge in desire, the heat factor raises quickly. Kandy’s world is full of characters, and at times it was difficult to remember who was who. This is important because not only is the book a romance, there is a pretty serious mystery which gives way to a bit of suspense. Ms. Jaegar establishes a solid problem, complete with clues and red herrings. I enjoyed piecing together the...
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Mar
29

Review: Legacy Lost by Jillian David

Review: Legacy Lost by Jillian David Legacy Lost Author: Jillian David Reviewer: Una Rating: B What I’m Talking About: I was excited to find that the second novel in the Hell’s Valley series would be Shelby and Eric’s story.  With Shelby’s potent ability, I wasn’t sure how she would find a happy ending with anyone.  Though there were pitfalls, I did enjoy their story. Both Shelby and Eric are very strong personalities. I wasn’t sure how they were going to make their relationship work in a healthy way. With Shelby’s empathic abilities, I didn’t think she could make it work with Eric. Though I did like how they tried to communicate with each other, they did sometimes run hot and cold. That being said, it was true to their personalities, and I enjoyed watching them grow and try to figure out how to make it work. Eric’s ability to compartmentalize seemed to be what could help them, though I liked how (realistically) no one could keep all their feelings and thoughts bottled up. Without giving anything away, I liked how the ending wasn’t a miracle, “every thing is fixed” conclusion. There will still be challenges, but the fact that they are going to be stubborn together is the “big red bow”. Though Shelby and Eric’s journey was strong and gripping, I felt a bit lost with what is going on with their neighbors, the Brands. It is implied that the threat is demonic, and I wonder at the connection to the Brands and how it will eventually play out.  With the introduction of a new couple to help at the ranch, I hope in the next novel we will learn more about what seems like an ancient feud.  I was happy that the lost eldest brother (Vaughn) has returned.  It appears his story may be next and I can’t wait to learn more about him and the tension between Vaughn and the emergency room doctor. Overall I liked Legacy Lost, the second novel in the Hell’s Valley series. Though Shelby and Eric could run hot and cold, the story was true to their personalities, and I loved how they found their common ground.  I continue to be intrigued by the dark demonic plot and hope to learn more in the next novel as well. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Growing up as an honorary Taggart, Eric Patterson found the family he’d always wanted. Almost. He couldn’t ever manage to see the clan’s...
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Mar
28

Review: The Enforcer by Stephanie Julian

Review: The Enforcer by Stephanie Julian The Enforcer Author: Stephanie Julian Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Jess Gardiner has hockey in her blood. With the best scout in the NHL for a father, Jess learned the game inside and out at a young age. The problem is, women aren’t scouts in the NHL. So she works as the promotion manager for the Redtails, honestly loving her job, and feeds her scouting side by making recommendations to the coach on the side. Will is a veteran player without much time left playing the sport he loves. However, after a recommendation to give him a look, the Redtails pick him up to be a leader for its young team. And from the moment he meets the intriguing Jess, he’s hoping he’ll stay with the Redtails for a while. The Enforcer is a quick, enjoyable story with equal parts romance and hockey. Hockey isn’t just a setting for the book, but rather the story is infused with the ins and outs of the sport. It’s clear that Ms. Julian understands and loves hockey as much as her heroine, Jess. Right from the start, Jess and Will experience a strong pull and mutual attraction, accompanied by the sudden realization that something has been missing in their lives. However, Jess was burned by immature hockey players in the past, and she’s worried about the impacts to her credibility on the job if she dates someone on the team. Yet, she cannot deny herself the joy of being around Will. Similarly, Will recognizes he’s getting older and doesn’t want to play games when meets a woman he really likes. Yet, he is respectful of her concerns and willing just to be friends because he enjoys her company – totally swoon-worthy. Their romance is quick, sexy, and sweet, and I really enjoyed their story. My biggest issue with The Enforcer is the number of apparent continuity errors within the storyline. I can adjust to one or maybe two issues, but I found a handful of situations that seemed in clear conflict with something stated later in the story. For example, in a scene early in the book, Will discusses an upcoming game with teammate Justin and how a player named Mason will cause Will problems. Mason plays for Syracuse. Yet later in the text, we find out that the Redtails are playing Milwaukee. While not important to the overall story, continuity issues like this drive me nuts, and I...
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Mar
22

Review: Midnight Unbound by Lara Adrian

Review: Midnight Unbound by Lara Adrian Midnight Unbound Author: Lara Adrian Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: A loaner and one of Dragos’s Hunters, Scythe doesn’t belong among humans or his own kind. Yet when his brother, Trygg, requests his help, Scythe agrees to protect Chiara Genova and her young son. Chiara’s life has been filled with danger ever since marrying her now deceased mate. When a crazed Breed breaks into her home and threatens to force her blood bond, the Order realize there is more going on than appears and send in the one male they trust to protect her. The story of Chiara and Scythe actually begins in the previous novella, Midnight Untamed, when the pair meet and sparks are evident. Midnight Unbound completes their story as the pair is once again tossed together in a deadly situation. This time around, the pair are forced to spend days together, alone, and after a week, they can no longer deny their burning attraction and physical needs. Midnight Unbound is an entertaining, straight-forward paranormal romance. Predictable maybe, but enjoyable certainly. He saw her and longed for her. She saw him and wanted him. He’s tender and caring under his tough exterior. She isn’t the fragile flower she appears to be. After being cooped up together for a week trying to fight their attraction, bam… sexual explosion and uncovering of feelings. Sharing of pasts. Working together for a future.  Midnight Unbound can be read as a standalone, although the general Breed background mythology may make it more enjoyable. I liked the straight forwardness of the tale and enjoyed the tie into the previous novella. My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: A lethal Breed warrior is called upon by his brethren in the Order to bodyguard a beautiful young widow he’s craved from afar, in this new novella in the “steamy and intense” (Publishers Weekly) Midnight Breed vampire romance series from New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Lara Adrian. As a former Hunter bred to be a killing machine in the hell of Dragos’s lab, Scythe is a dangerous loner whose heart has been steeled by decades of torment and violence. He has no room in his world for love or desire–especially when it comes in the form of a vulnerable, yet courageous, Breedmate in need of protection. Scythe has loved–and lost–once before, and paid a hefty price for the weakness of his emotions. He’s not about to put...
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