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Nov
2

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Charley Davidson Series Title: The Trouble with Twelfth Grave Author: Darynda Jones Narrator: Lorelei King Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Charley Davidson #12 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: Macmillan Audio Note: this review contains spoilers from earlier books in the series, to include the surprising ending of the previous book. Opening three days after the explosive conclusion of Eleventh Grave in Moonlight, Charley is searching for her husband-turned-malevolent-god, Rey’azikeen. No longer Reyes after his short jaunt into the god glass hell dimension, Rey’azikeen is loose and Charley has been given one more day to find and stop him before Jehovah sends his army to capture him. The Trouble with Twelfth Grave is a wonderful addition to this crazy, hilarious series. Overall, the story is shorter and far more direct than previous titles (well, as direct as Charley Davidson can be). Each strand of the plot is clear and makes sense, and then Ms. Jones expertly draws them all together to create a larger picture as the book progresses. Charley uses her wit and cunning, along with her team of friends, to solve multiple cases that seem unrelated, but ultimately tie in loose ends or come together by the end of the book. I love how free Charley is in this book – she’s back. The whole “do I trust Reyes or not” issue seems to FINALLY be put to rest as Charley struggles with the very real possibility she may lose the love of her life forever this time. She goes from moment to moment, bringing readers and listeners along for one crazy ride. The convoluted subplots are absent, leaving behind a solid story with a bring big twist at the end. Additionally, the continuity issues I’ve noted in the past are either gone, or irrelevant because the rest of the story runs so smoothly. Finally, while the author does do some info dumping, it’s in the form of children’s books, and scattered throughout the story, rather than at the very end. Lorelei King, my all-time favorite narrator, continues to capture Charley’s unique and crazy personality, easily jumping from one subject to the next without pause. She has mastered Charley’s sarcasm and sincerity, her passion and her fury. I think the only reason I can keep up with Charley’s ADD lifestyle is due to Ms. King’s masterful performance. And it’s not just Charley, but Ms. King provides a large range of unique voices for...
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Oct
31

Review: Save a Truck, Ride a Redneck by Molly Harper

Review: Save a Truck, Ride a Redneck by Molly Harper Save a Truck, Ride a Redneck Author: Molly Harper Reviewer: Jen Rating: B/B- What I’m Talking About: Heading back home to spend the summer before going to law school, Marianne begins to question her life goals and dreams. She’s always feared being stuck in small-town Sackett, Georgia, but now the idea has a little more appeal, as long as she can maintain some distance between herself and her large family. Carl and Marianne were high school sweethearts, but when Marianne thought Carl might propose before Marianne headed off to college, she panicked and left him. After four years, the sparks are still there, but can they move forward instead of looking back? Save a Truck, Ride a Redneck is a short novella that kicks off the new Southern Eclectic series by Molly Harper. While not full of Ms. Harper’s usual snark and wit, the story is sweet and charming. However, I’m a bit curious as to its place in the series. I say this because there is a HUGE spoiler in the beginning of the book: a family tree which shows Marianne and Carl married with kids, as well as the death a major character who is still alive in this story. I really wish the family tree had been left out of the novella, and added once the series had progressed to match what the graphic displays. Other than that little issue, Carl and Marianne share a sweet romance. The novella sets the stage for the upcoming series by developing the basic framework of the world. Save a Truck, Ride a Redneck was entertaining and engrossing enough that it got me interested and invested in the characters, and I want to know more about the McCready family. My Rating: B/B- Liked It, but I had a small issue About the Book: Carl and Marianne were high school sweethearts, loving the way only teenagers can—with no thought to logic or pride, just a bone-headed, optimistic frenzy of unicorns and hormones. That was all they needed. Or so Carl thought. Scared of being stuck in Lake Sackett, Georgia, like so many of her friends—without a real shot at a future or achieving her own dreams—Marianne panicked and bolted to college after stomping Carl’s heart into the high grass. But when she returns to Lake Sackett for the summer with her family after years away, she and Carl are drawn together like moths to a flame. As they rekindle their old...
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Oct
26

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: A Plague of Giants Author: Kevin Hearne Narrators: Luke Daniels and Xe Sands Audio Speed: 1.25x & 1.5x Series: Seven Kennings #1 Genre: Fantasy Source: Random House Audio A Plague of Giants is the first book in a new fantasy series from one of my favorite authors, Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid Chronicles). Set in a world where certain members of the population are blessed with Kennings – the ability to manipulate one of the four elements, plants, or animals – although no one has discovered the sixth Kenning (animal control) yet. The six nations of the known world coexist in a tenuous peace; however, that all changes the day that the mysterious Bone Giants attack several cities along the coast. Coming from an unknown land, these warriors dressed in bones, speaking an unknown language, cut down all that stand in their path. A Plague of Giants is the first part of an epic tale. Similar to the first book in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the book shares the journeys and battles of the land and its people, ending not at the conclusion, yet not on a cliffhanger, but rather, at a point of rest in between the parts of the whole. This story is shared in two ways within each chapter, both in present day and in flashbacks that cover the past year or so. First, the story is narrated in present day by Dervan, a scholar and historian, friend of the ruling king, and survivor of the Bone Giant attack. Willing to help his country as asked, he gets wrapped up in potential espionage and political maneuvering. From his point of view, readers are able to experience how the war has impacted the various classes of people. Additionally, he gives the story a personal connection – a way to internalize the massive events unfolding before our eyes. Dervan’s primary job by order of Pelenaut Röllend (king) is to accompany Fintan, the Raelech bard, each day and record the knowledge and the tales Fintan shares with the masses on Survivor Field. A Raelech bard has perfect memory recall and the ability to transform shape into the character who’s story he shares. The pelenaut believes Fintan to be a spy of the Triune Council, and wants the details of his day observed. This leads to the second method of storytelling, which is the bard’s recounting of the events of...
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Oct
24

Review: Drop Dead Gorgeous by Juliet Lyons

Review: Drop Dead Gorgeous by Juliet Lyons Drop Dead Gorgeous Author: Juliet Lyons Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B What I’m Talking About: This is the second title I’ve read by Ms. Lyons, and I do love her voice. There’s something about reading a story set in London and having the history aspect for a vampire whose lived several centuries that makes me a bit giddy—especially when the details are on-point. I really like the premise of this series, and I hope to read more. There were a couple things I read in Drop Dead Gorgeous that might’ve been caught in another round of editing—or it’s something I missed about the world-building in the first title that I just glommed on to. Honestly? It probably wouldn’t be a big deal at all to anyone, like, ever…but I’ve recently done some world building for my own vampire book series and it snagged me and held on tight. Really—it’s insignificant and probably a ‘me’ thing. That’s the only reason this isn’t an A rating from me. Mila is an interesting character. She’s a little less self-reliant than the usual female MCs I prefer. Vincent made MY heart stop a few times, what with the chivalry and all that. But, hey. What should I expect from a dude that’s been around since the French Revolution? Even with the one teeny, tiny snag, I did adore the characters and plot from Drop Dead Gorgeous. As I read through the title, I always wished I had more time to sit and enjoy the title. I may have snapped off the heads of a few people who interrupted me (this is why there are headless people running around…) when there wasn’t blood or impending death. I think I like the change in the series name, too. My Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: SWIPE RIGHT FOR MR. BITE Mila Hart’s first experience with the hot new vampire dating site is a complete disaster. Turns out, her date is wanted for murder! But things turn around when she’s rescued by dashing vampire cop Vincent Ferrer. Dangerous and drop dead gorgeous, he’s just the vampire hottie Mila was hoping for. Haunted by his past, Vincent can’t risk falling in love again, even if Mila charms him more than anyone he’s ever met. But when the killer from Mila’s first date seeks her out, Vincent is the only one who can protect her. Protecting his heart is a different story… Release Date: October 3, 2017 Publisher:...
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Oct
24

Review: Rock Candy by Devon Monk

Review: Rock Candy by Devon Monk Rock Candy Author: Devon Monk Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: Rock Candy is a delightful novella that centers on Jean and her new beau, the baker Hogan.  Gikany and Una enjoyed this spooky seasonal read.  How could you not enjoy a romantic tromp complete with a curse, zombie gnomes, and Death stopping by to visit?!? Ms. Monk has created a unique and fascinating world set in Ordinary, Oregon.  For fans of the series, you won’t want to miss this chance of seeing Ordinary from the youngest Reed sister’s eyes.  Though Jean loves Halloween, there is one aspect that is trying – the October gnome-sitting.  For some reason, there is a curse that brings the gnomes to life every October 1st through October 31st.  It is always the responsibility of a Reed sister to ensure that the trouble the gnomes get into is minimized (if possible) and kept from the humans who are NOT in the know.  However this Halloween, the curse is ramped up due to a zombie infection that is moving through the gnomes.  Not to mention Death shows up partly for work (someone it seems will die) but also to experience the Halloween Harvest festival. This novella was a riot to read.  One of our favorite parts was the “five stages of zombie grief: denial, acceptance, hunger, more hunger, and knock-knock jokes.”  It was priceless!  Though the story moved quickly, we enjoyed how Jean chases down the (ahem) head gnome all while trying to figure out if this six-month dating anniversary with Hogan is a good milestone or an ominous one. Her inexperience with long-term relationships coupled with her own insecurities was heartening. Not only do we learn more about her personality, but also about her ability.  We hope this is not the only story told from her point of view. All in all, Rock Candy is a fabulous Halloween novella from the intriguing world of Ordinary, Oregon.  It’s a must read for fans and would be a fun introduction to those that won’t mind some mild spoilers from the previous three novels.  Gikany and Una eagerly await the next novel in the Ordinary Magic series. Our Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: Just An Ordinary Halloween…  Police officer Jean Reed doesn’t normally mind pulling the graveyard shift in Ordinary Oregon, the sleepy little beach town where gods vacation and monsters reside. But October in Ordinary is anything but...
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Oct
17

Review: Grigori by Lauren Smith

Review: Grigori by Lauren Smith Grigori Author:  Lauren Smith Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Grigori is the debut novel in the Brothers of Ash and Fire series.  Gikany and Una were interested in this new urban fantasy series focusing on dragon shifters.  We were pleasantly surprised that it is not just about dragons shifters and, although there were a few odd notes, we liked our introduction to this new world. The premise and mythology of the dragon shifters was interesting.  We did, however, wonder how they could even attempt flying in dragon form, no matter how rural an area is, with satellite surveillance and other modern technology.  Despite all of that, it was fascinating to imagine Grigori flying in his stunning dragon form.  Grigori’s immediate desire to mate with Madelyn upon catching her scent made perfect sense.  So did his chivalry:  Grigori is thousands of years old.  This longevity was overshadowed by a sense of melancholy.  Considering how small the Barinov family is and how few close companions they must have, their melancholy is not surprising.  It was most notable in some of the interactions between Grigori and his brother Rurik. One thing we felt was odd about this story is an issue that centers on Madelyn.  Even in this modern age, a single woman would hesitate to venture into a country alone with only a basic understanding of the local language.  It just doesn’t seem prudent or safe.  Then after Grigori kidnaps her, the instant and overwhelming attraction she has for him is bizarre.  She even jokes about how she is suffering from Stockholm syndrome.  Their “courtship” is rather terse and although the romance is sizzling, the fuse was quite short.  We understand the drive of mating, but Madelyn’s reaction was unexpected.  In the end, we loved how the truth revealed itself.  We liked the allusion to Romeo and Juliet’s infamous love story.  We hope to see Grigori and Madelyn in the next novel. Overall, we liked this new take on modern day dragon shifters.  Although this first novel is a little clunky with its odd notes, the flow of the story and romantic journey of Grigori and Madelyn more than compensated.  We look forward to reading about Grigori and Rurik’s lost brother, Mikhail, in the next Brothers of Ash and Fire novel. Our Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: He’s one of the last of a powerful but vanishing bloodline … Grigori Barinov is the eldest...
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Oct
17

Review: Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt

Review: Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt Duke of Desire Author: Elizabeth Hoyt Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Duke of Desire jumps right into the thick of things, with Iris, the Lady Jordan, kidnapped four days ago as she departed from the Duke of Kyle’s wedding. She is currently bound on an alter in front of the masked Lords of Chaos who are arguing over Iris’s identity, confusing her with the new Duchess of Kyle. Raphael, Duke of Dyemore, is working to infiltrate and eliminate the atrocious Lords of Chaos, the group his father once proudly ruled. Seeing the innocent Lady Jordan held captive on his own lands pushes him to take action. Demanding she be his to use, he hauls her away, in an effort to save her. However as circumstances become dangerous for Iris and Raphael, he insists marriage is the only way he can protect her. As a late-comer to the wonderful Maiden Lane series, I was sad to learn that Duke of Desire is the last novel in this delightful world. While this book isn’t my favorite of the series, it puts some issues to rest and leaves readers with a happily-ever-after epilogue. I enjoyed the story, but I felt the plot revolving around the Lords of Chaos and Raphael’s revenge overshadows the romance. Iris is a strong woman and wonderful character. She’s a different type of heroine from many that I normally read. Rather than push to get her way, she decides she shall convince and plot. Rather than stand up, she goes along, keeping faith and hope she’ll turn things around. She knows what she wants, and is willing to temporarily “settle” for less, with the hope she will get through Raphael’s defenses eventually. Not that she’ll wear him down, but rather that she’ll help him realize there is more to life than revenge. But her nature causes her to appear complacent at times, and I wanted to her to fight harder for herself and those she cares about. It’s a good thing I’m not Iris, or the author, or I’d have ended up pushing Raphael away permanently! Raphael was left emotionally, physically, and mentally damaged by his father and a horrific childhood. Even though his aunt was able to help him escape the dangers at home, Raphael’s memories will never let him rest. His mind is warped; convinced he will end up a monster like his father. While Raphael’s behaviors and attitude are probably genuine and...
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Oct
16

Review + Excerpt: Midnight Unleashed by Lara Adrian

Review + Excerpt: Midnight Unleashed by Lara Adrian Midnight Unleashed Author: Lara Adrian Reviewer: Jen Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Six weeks ago, Tamisia (Sia) was banished from the Atlantean colony where she helped rule as council member; trusting the wrong man earned her a lifetime on Earth. Now she finds meaning in helping run a shelter for women and children in Rome, with fellow Atlantean Pheaedra. But when a deadly Breed Order operation causes the death of one under her care, Sia decides to take action. Trygg, a dangers Gen One Hunter assassin who prefers to work solo, is obsessed with bring down the human responsible for distributing the deadly Red Dragon drug. When his mission crosses paths with the beautiful Sia, his emotions start getting in the way of his job. As much as he tries to avoid her, Trygg seems destined to tangle with the Atlantean. Sia, who was introduced in Defy the Dawn (Midnight Breed #14), put her love and trust in Elyon, who was a traitor and still loyal to the evil Atlantean Queen. This resulted in the deaths of two Atlanteans and the colony was quick to blame Sia, banishing her and placing her under the protection of the Breed leader, Lazlo. Trygg also has trust issues, first from his youth as a Hunter under Dragos, and then when he was used by another who he thought loved him. This makes a relationship difficult to say the least – with two people both weary of the world and unable to trust one another. Yet, they cannot fight attraction and their mutual backgrounds seem to draw them closer rather than push them apart. Midnight Unleashed is another good Midnight Breed novella that carries the same basic romantic premise as so many before it. It starts with a main couple who can’t stand one another. He’s rough and alpha, she’s tough yet feminine and tender. They are attracted but don’t like that they are. And then, in a matter of days, all hesitation melts away and they just know they are meant to be. “It was as if she’d been waiting for this all her long life. Waiting for this man to awaken her and make her feel truly alive.” They are in love – the kind that will last an eternity. If you are good with the basic premise than I highly recommend Midnight Unleashed, and the series in general. The bottom line is that I liked Sia. I liked Trygg....
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Oct
12

Review: A.L.F.A. Mates by by Milly Taiden

Review: A.L.F.A. Mates by by Milly Taiden A.L.F.A. Mates Author: Milly Taiden Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Strangely enough, Milly Taiden is a new-to-me author! I have had her on a list of “I should really read her…” but haven’t ever gotten to her on my TBR. I know. No one is surprised. I was super excited to pick up the first two titles in her A.L.F.A. series in one volume—I’m pretty sure I swooped in on that like a corvid to road kill. The first story is Elemental Mating, and it features Melinda and Hamel. One thing I really liked about their story was how intense Melinda was. The scientist seemed to be at the forefront most of the time, and I loved her inquisitive mind. What I liked most about Hamel is that he was pretty bound & determined to keep Melinda safe. Things get a little hairy when there’s a couple events that put Melinda in danger—as well as her research. This title had a lot more to it than I expected, and could’ve been a longer title—I felt there was a lot crammed into around 150 pages-ish. The second story, Mating Needs, was interesting. Okay. I got my copy via NetGalley and I’m hoping there was another round of editing happening—it did take me a little extra time to get through this story because there were so many proof-y things they distracted me. But, I’m sure the publisher would ensure this was addressed. So, it’s not figuring into my review. I just had to put it out there. I have a long-standing fascination with the Mafia—more specifically, Al Capone. I’m not going into all the stupid, anecdotal stuff I know about him because of my obsession interest. Which is why Amie kept me riveted to this title. Not gonna lie. I have a predilection for cougar shifters, and Frank’s draw to Amie drew me in. Complications, you say? Oh, this title definitely had them. I really liked the way they worked out, though. All elements of a well-written story, which Ms. Taiden delivered. I’m definitely on-board for reading more sexy shifters in Ms. Taiden’s ALFA series—a third title had an excerpt in the back of the edition I read. I did NOT read the excerpt because that’s something I don’t do, but I am still excited. My Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: The Alpha League Federal Agency is sworn to protect humanity from paranormal threats and now...
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Oct
9

Review: A Shot at Love by Peggy Jaeger

Review: A Shot at Love by Peggy Jaeger A Shot at Love Author: Peggy Jaeger Reviewer: Jen Rating: B/B- What I’m Talking About: Agent Kyros (Ky) Pappandreos has been working on a mafia case for three years when the only witness is shot and killed on the streets of New York, along with two of Ky’s men. Photographer Gemma Laine happened to be in the right place at the wrong time. Capturing faces of New Yorkers for her next book, she witnesses and records the entire event on her camera… making her Ritandi’s next target. When there is one attempt too many on Gemma’s life while she’s in FBI custody, Ky realizes he has a mole within his team, and takes her safety into his own hands. The pair hide out in a remote cabin and come to realize that while hiding away, they both have never felt more alive or free. A Shot at Love is the second romance in the Will Cook for Love series. While the book takes place in the same world and involves the same characters as the first, it is a standalone read. And even with their similarities, the two books are unique and independent. A Shot at Love definitely falls more in the romantic suspense subgenre than the first title, which also contained a bit of action. Ky and Gemma are a great couple. They share similar values and interests. They are both physically strong and mentally sharp. I enjoyed watching the pair as they each learned more about the other; each pleasantly surprised that their physical attraction is rooted in something deeper. It’s like I could feel the awe in each as they grew closer together, becoming more and more entwined. I especially liked that the professional aspect of Ky’s job and getting involved with Gemma is addressed and always on his mind. The author gives Ky support in the form of an additional protector, helping ease the way for the couple to pair up. Ky and Gemma have a palpable chemistry that explodes when they touch, especially their first couple encounters. My only small complaint is that the pair is a bit goofy with their talk, in bed. They are silly in a way that made me think both are nervous, which may be exactly the point. Gemma has some serious trust issues, and the author does a great job developing the character. However, I wanted Gemma just to take charge and let go of her fears (which...
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