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Jan
15

Review: Redzone by William C. Dietz

Review: Redzone by William C. Dietz Redzone Author: William C. Dietz Reviewer: Una Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Redzone is the second novel in the futuristic detective series: The Mutant Files.  Detective Lee’s quest to capture the Bonebreaker is further complicated along with a bit of tough self-discovery and her knack for making new enemies. I liked this sequel more so than the previous novel, Deadeye. Part of my increased enjoyment was that there were less points of view than the previous novel.  We were able to be in Lee’s head for longer periods, along with the Bonebreaker, with less side-point of views.  Though, the additional POVs were necessary and fascinating. However, maybe it was the nature of the digital ARC copy, but there were no clues as to when we changed POVs. One example was when I was in Lee’s head and the following paragraph transitioned to the Bonebreaker’s head, and it took me several paragraphs (and some confusion) to realize the viewpoint had changed. The overarching plot of Lee’s quest to find and apprehend (or end) the Bonebreaker continued to intensify.  It was enthralling and fascinating to watch how the investigation progresses.  There was an interesting twist that I didn’t expect in this novel.  This led us to learn more about the Bonebreaker and his mission. I liked how this was entwined with Lee’s self-discovery and the adventure that accompanied it.  Though it was a bit of a dead-end, I liked how it allowed Lee to grow and mature.  I also liked the side story of Lee and Lawrence. I really liked this latest installment of the Mutant Files.  Redzone was a great balance between action, drama, and suspense. If you enjoy a good detective novel, especially one set in a somewhat post-apocalyptic future, then you might want to pick up this series.  I eagerly look forward to Graveyard, the next novel in the series. My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: The year is 2065, almost thirty years since a bioterrorist attack decimated the population. The world has been divided, and new nations have formed. Those mutated from exposure inhabit the red zones, while “norms” live in the green zones. In the nation of Pacifica, Los Angeles detective Cassandra Lee is in charge of investigating a disturbing case, tracking a cop killer dubbed the Bonebreaker. But strange new murders have occurred, falling outside the normal pattern and leaving Lee and her team wondering if the serial killer has become...
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Jan
12

Review: Of Flame and Promise by Cecy Robson

Review: Of Flame and Promise by Cecy Robson Of Flame and Promise Author: Cecy Robson Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: At first Gikany and Una thought we were getting Taran’s novel when we received Of Flame and Promise.  However, this is a prequel novella that gives Taran’s back-story and sets up what will be her journey in the coming novel. This novella was a breath of fresh air.  We liked seeing behind Taran’s brash bravado into a sweet and vulnerable soul.  We also loved seeing her sisters through her eyes, especially her view of Celia.  Throughout the previous novels, Celia was unsure of herself and was plagued with worry about her relationship with Aric and the welfare of her sisters.  Taran sees Celia as the head of the family and a rock of support and guidance.  She also witnesses Celia’s absolutely devastating heartbreak and learns through Celia’s example that she cannot allow herself to be that vulnerable – no matter how much she loves Gemini. This is the basis of what we think Taran’s journey will be.  We know she has buried deep inside of herself a trauma that prevents her from being able to commit fully to Gemini.  Even though they are mates, Celia’s experiences prove that sometimes even being fated mates isn’t enough to prevent heartbreak.  Taran would rather suffer the loss now than allow herself to feel a greater joy and risk an even greater heartbreak. Despite the heavy emotions of this novella, it still has the characteristic humor that is rampant in the Weird Girls series.  We thoroughly enjoyed the disaster of Taran meeting Gemini’s parents.  It is an epic disaster that will leave you in stitches.  Anything that could go wrong goes horribly wrong. Although this novella is labeled as book six, we think the events in the novella, make it book 3.5 or 4.5.  Knowing what happens in book five, we look forward to seeing through Taran’s eyes some of those events.  For fans of the series, this is a must read and we hope you enjoy its heartbreak and humor as much as we did. Our Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: Cursed by a spell meant to destroy them, Taran Wird and her sisters instead developed unique magical talents. With the power of fire and lightning literally at her fingertips, Taran doesn’t fear much. Demons, vamps, whatever—bring ’em on! Only one thing terrifies her: commitment. Taran is crazy about her boyfriend,...
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Jan
11

Review: The Score by Elle Kennedy

Review: The Score by Elle Kennedy The Score Author: Elle Kennedy Reviewer: Nima Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Author Elle Kennedy is quickly developing an avid fan base for her new adult Off-Campus series, and I may have to count myself among them—memes, gifs, and all. For this reason, I had a tough time giving The Score, book three in the Off-Campus series, a rating because it’s not my favorite in the series, although I still liked it very much. Dean Heywood Di-Laurentis is not as sympathetic of a character as hockey teammates Garret (The Deal) and Logan (The Mistake). He comes from old money, has not had much in the way of obstacles that he couldn’t charm or buy his way out of in life, and is therefore less relatable for the average reader.  He’s generally an optimistic person though, and I was inclined to like him.  He doesn’t come off as the spoiled brat many around him choose to accuse him of being.  Still, with that kind of charmed life, you knew going in that something big was coming to bring him down. I think paid porn stars have less sex than Dean.  He oozes sex-appeal and is completely unapologetic about it.  Women basically throw themselves at his feet genitals.  His love interest is not Sabrina as was speculated, but Allie Hayes, roommate and BFF of Garret’s girlfriend, Hannah.  Allie is a nester, she has boyfriends, not boy toys.  After breaking up with her boyfriend of over three years, she decides to try and live life on the casual side. Dean is only too happy to oblige her, falling quickly into bed with Allie on the rebound.  These two characters have very physical personalities so their story has more sex and sex play in it than Kennedy’s previous two books in this series.  There’s too much story to say it crosses the line into erotica, but it does skirt with it. In an unusual format for a romance novel, we see Allie and Dean hook-up (and hook-up and hook-up and hook-up,) fall in love, and just be happy together for at least the first two-thirds of the book before real and difficult challenge pushes up against their relationship.  It was a luxury to see them actually fall in love and find their own kind of intimacy, not just have it assumed because they have been physical. Even though we know the fall is coming—we’re expecting it, it still hurts.  Dean, unfamiliar with...
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Jan
6

Review: Tempted to Death by Jessica Jarman

Review: Tempted to Death by Jessica Jarman Tempted to Death Author: Jessica Jarman Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Tara Wilcox and her brother, Ben, are paranormal hunters. They track down evil, violent paras, hoping to stop them. Ben’s wife Nicole has been captured by a soul eater demon, and Tara knows the only way to find her is with the help of the best hunters in the business, Oliver and Luca. The problem? Tara and Ben are paras in hiding, while Oliver and Luca believe all paras are bad. The other issue? Tara is in love with the couple and left the pair without a word months ago. Tempted to Death is a fun romp in the paranormal romance genre, without being all sunshine and roses. Shared in the shifting third person POVs of Tara, Oliver, and Luca, the reader gets good insight into all facets of the trio’s relationship. The story isn’t overly long, and I appreciate that Ms. Jarman establishes a strong backstory romance for the trio right up front. It makes their romance more believable and allows me to understand and feel their pain over the break up and relate emotionally to Tara. Another great thing about Tempted to Death is that Luca, Oliver, and Tara each love the another: it’s a true menage. I found I enjoyed the story more because it’s three in love and not just two on one. While Oliver and Luca were in love before meeting Tara and remained a couple after she left, they both love her as well, and love being all together. Tempted to Death is an enjoyable, fairly quick paranormal erotic romance. The multi-person POV, gives a balanced view of the relationship and events. The characters are all likable, and with their off-page history, the bonds are stronger and more emotional. It’s one of those stories where you pretty much go in knowing what will happen, and the journey to get there is what makes the book so entertaining. My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: Months ago, Tara Wilcox ran away from Luca Castell and Oliver Gordon. She’d fallen hard for the pair of hunters and feared their growing feelings for her. But what truly terrified her was the possibility that they’d discover what she really is. That she’s the very thing they hunted.  Luca and Oliver are partners, in every sense of the word, and their lives are spent running toward danger. Falling for Tara...
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Jan
6

Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Vampire by Sara Humphreys

Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Vampire by Sara Humphreys The Good, the Bad, and the Vampire Author: Sara Humphreys Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: The Good, the Bad and the Vampire is the fourth book in the Dead in the City series.  This latest offering is another fun and witty romp in this ever-expanding mythology.  Gikany and Una liked Dakota and Trixie’s journey and we wonder what will happen next in this world. First, we enjoyed the dynamic between Dakota and Trixie.  They are two vampires who appear to be polar opposites, yet are magnetically attracted to each other.  Although Trixie tries to fight her growing attraction to Dakota for her own personal reasons, Dakota is determined to win her over.  We loved the banter between them as they danced around this mating urge.  It was fun to watch as Trixie came to terms with the fact that Dakota may not be what she expected or wanted in a mate, but was exactly who she needed. Dakota was a fascinating character that was able to give Trixie the space and time she needed to make her own decision. One interesting aspect of this series is the ever-evolving mythology.  The first book in the Dead in the City series, Tall, Dark and Vampire, had a half-demon vampire mating with a full vampire.  Then in the third book, Vampires Never Cry Wolf, we were introduced to werewolves.  Now, we have gargoyles and witches thrown into the mix.  Yes, gargoyles.  Although the plight of the gargoyles was fascinating, we wonder what could possible be next.  What we find most intriguing about this world is the ability for all these different species to interbreed.  We really wonder what the future holds for this world.  Could there be a cross breed of all the supernatural creatures eventually?  We really did enjoy the addition of these creatures and wonder if we might get a story within the gargoyle world. This is the final book in the Dead in the City series.  We hope that Ms. Humphreys changes her mind and gives us more, since we like the romantic adventures in this world.  The characters are fun and the mythology is fascinating.  We would even be content with a spin-off set in the same world: maybe we can have a demon/gargoyle pairing?  Either way, we do hope that there will be more in the world. Our Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: He wants eternity? Dakota Shelton is a...
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Dec
31

Review: Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward

Review: Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward Blood Kiss Author: J.R. Ward Reviewer: Una Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Blood Kiss is the debut novel in Ms. Ward’s spin-off series, Black Dagger Legacy.  For fans of the series, it is a fascinating look at how the Black Dagger Brotherhood will increase the number of soldiers along with checking in on previous couples.  Those new to the world may enjoy it, but won’t have the full appreciate as followers will. I enjoyed the continuing story of Marissa and Butch: that the happily-ever-after (HEA) continues but not without work and choice.  The fact that Butch tries to shield Marissa, even though her work brings her face to face with domestic violence victims, causes conflict.  It is also fascinating to see that Butch hasn’t lost any of his detective skills and intuition.  I look forward to seeing how his desire to protect the innocent (and by connection, helping Marissa find justice for some of her clients) will bring about change in the vampire community.  The seeds were definitely planted in this novel. The other couple followed in this novel is Paradise and Craeg.  Their initial meetings and dealings reminded me of the early novels of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.  However, as their story progressed there was a bit of some clichéd moments and obvious foreshadowing.  Regardless, their journey was compelling even with the “big bow” wrapped around the HEA at the end.  I admit, the ending gave me warm fuzzies that I enjoyed.  Though Ward has admitted that she finds writing female characters difficult, I thought she did a good job portraying Paradise, a cosseted aristocratic female that seeks to find herself.  She enters the training program as a means to find out who she is and what she is made of.  I liked that though she is naïve in some ways, she is stubborn and tough.  It was enjoyable to experience through Paradise as she learned how strong she really is. Though Craeg is drawn to Paradise, he tries to fight the attraction.  Craeg was a fascinating character.  He is not an aristocrat, he is a commoner who seeks the training program to find his vengeance on the lesser that slaughtered his family.  But there is more to Craeg than just this vengeance.  The journey between him and Paradise was destined to have its issues, but I liked how they resolved themselves.  However, those who are well versed in the BDB mythology might have a few moments...
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Dec
28

Review: Kill Without Mercy by Alexandra Ivy

Review: Kill Without Mercy by Alexandra Ivy Kill Without Mercy Author: Alexandra Ivy Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Rafe Vargas and four close friends were prisoners and survivors of war. Two years after returning to the U.S., the group decides to start ARES Security in Texas. With the firm on the brink of opening, Rafe is called away to deal with his deceased grandfather’s estate in the middle of nowhere, Iowa. Annie White had a new job at a prestigious accounting firm, but after six months, she quit. She’s the daughter and only survivor of the Newton Slayer, a mass murderer known for killing women when Annie was a young girl. Annie claims to have had visions of the murders AS THEY HAPPENED … and two nights ago, those visions returned. Now she’s decided to go back to Newton, Iowa, where it all happened, to find out what is going on and why the visions have returned. Kill Without Mercy is the exciting first book in a new romantic suspense series by Alexandra Ivy. The book is engaging right from the get go, and I had a tough time putting it down. At only one chapter into the book, the author had already pulled out not one, but two mysteries, plus some family drama, without making it overwhelming. The world building was accomplished over the course of the book, mainly through the interactions and dialogue between Rafe and his companions, weaving seamlessly into the storytelling. When Rafe spots Annie at a local diner, he’s instantly attracted to her like no other. So when he sees that she’s clearly rattled, Rafe jumps in to help Annie out. And when he discovers the dangers that surround Annie, his inner-hero rises up, and he feels the need to protect her. Rafe calls in his buddies to help get to the bottom of the murders. I completely appreciated that Ms. Ivy wove so much world-building and hints about the other characters into this first book. She didn’t just introduce them and then have them in the background. Rafe and his counterparts are more than a team-they are a family; therefore important to the overall story and series. The story behind the mystery was gripping, and I was wrapped up trying to solve it along side the characters. The thing was, I got so caught up in the mystery, and it was a gruesome one at that, that the romance felt out of place. I just didn’t...
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Dec
24

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Animal Magnetism Author: Jill Shalvis Narrator: Karen White Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Animal Magnetism #1 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Purchased Having burned out on listing to urban fantasy titles, I decided to go with a contemporary, small town romance to brighten my mood. Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis fit the bill perfectly. Sunshine, Idaho, is a small town where everyone knows each other AND all their business. Lilah Young has lived most of her life in Sunshine, keeping everyone close in her heart, including the rescue animals she cares for so lovingly. But Lilah is lonely, and when you live in a small town, prospects are slim. So when Brady Miller comes to town, Lilah decides to take charge of her attraction and invites Brady to a short, no-strings-attached fling for the month he’s in town. Overall, Animal Magnetism hits all the right notes. It’s a sweet, slow-burning love story between two people who must come to terms with the fact that their feelings are more than lust and desire. The slower tempo allows for the pair to develop a great friendship, making their eventual declaration of love all the more meaningful. Although in the beginning, I felt the pace dragged a little too slowly, once the author developed the world and introduced the characters, the pace moved more quickly. And don’t let the slow-burning part fool you – Lilah and Brady have incredible chemistry that they explore frequently. The performance by Karen White is good. She nails Lilah’s sweet, strong voice, accentuating Lilah’s sensitive and caring nature, but giving her a backbone at the same time. I did find the narration a bit slow even at 1.25x speed, but it did grow on me as the story progressed. I wasn’t as keen on her permanence of the male voices, which seemed slightly too feminine to me. In the end, I enjoyed my trip to Sunshine, Idaho, and will most certainly make a return trip in the future. My Rating: B, I liked it Narration: B-, I liked it, but I had a few small issues...
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Dec
22

Review: Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews

Review: Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews Magic Stars Author: Ilona Andrews Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Magic Stars is a great little side novella for fans of the Kate Daniels series. Told mostly from the third person POV of Derek, the story shares Derek and Julie’s adventures as they work together on a deadly investigation. It is a straight forward tale, giving readers insight into both Derek’s precarious emotional/mental state and Julie’s magical training. We learn some of the rather shocking and dangerous activities Julie has been exploring, all of which make me very nervous for what is in store for her as she grows and matures. *bites nails*. Derek and Julie discover a human family brutally murdered over a mysterious rock. Because this family was a friend, and because children were involved, the pair decide to put a stop to the mad warlock behind the deaths. Along the way, they encounter several of the deadly threats that exist in magical Atlanta. Parts can be rather brutal; it felt more gruesome and gory than is usual in a Kate Daniels story, but it probably wasn’t. The battles mirror and highlight the nature of Derek’s near-loup wolf and Julie’s upbringing on the streets of Atlanta. One of the great appeals of this series is the extensive history of the magic shift and its impacts on the human world that the authors continue to build and share with readers. Kate’s Atlanta is utterly riveting, and the authors find just the right way to share their vision with the reader, enriching the whole reading experience. I found myself equally engrossed by the sights and details the pair comes across, as the plot to find the madman behind the deaths of friends. All-in-all, Magic Stars is a must read for Kate Daniel series fans. While not specifically tied to the overall series storyline, the book sheds light on two its more significant supporting characters, especially Kate’s daughter, Julie. The implications of what she’s doing will certainly have resounding impacts in future books. My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: Scarred, solitary Derek Gaunt has separated from his Pack, and is truly a lone wolf. With no family he answers to no one; but is fiercely loyal to a chosen few. So, when several of those close to him are murdered, he’ll stop at nothing to hunt their killer through the magic-drenched streets of Atlanta.  Never one to be left on the sidelines,...
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Dec
15

Review: In the Company of Wolves by Paige Tyler

Review: In the Company of Wolves by Paige Tyler In the Company of Wolves Author: Paige Tyler Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: In the Company of Wolves is the third installment in the action packed and passionate SWAT series.  Overall, Gikany and Una liked Janya and Becker’s story and the continuing evolving mythology. ***Please note that the novels could be read as stand-alone, but they are better if read from the beginning as the mythology builds from book to book.*** Janya and Becker’s romance was fascinating: the story of the officer falling for the thief – but it isn’t quite that simple.  We liked that Janya was a reluctant thief, her story and loyalty to her pack was endearing.  Though she was a victim that needed rescuing, she wasn’t completely defenseless nor a wilting flower.  Janya was stubborn and smart.  We enjoyed her moxie.  Although the issue of her reluctance to commit was a bit out of the blue for us at the end.  It had felt that they were together, so when the issue came up, it was a little surprising. We liked Becker since we met him in the first novel.  It was interesting to have his point of view and learn more about him.  His bond with Cooper was interesting, and we liked how important that played in the overall story. We liked seeing Cooper, being a fairly intuitive character and a vital one in the previous novel and this one.  However, we wondered how Becker could go off and run an undercover operation without letting Gage know.  It felt odd with the understanding of the legend of “The One” (that there is a true mate for a werewolf) that Gage wouldn’t be understanding of the situation and helpful.  But without Becker going off on his own, the suspense and tension wouldn’t be as strong. The story starts a little slowly, but the action is strong right from the beginning.  The plot of Becker freeing Janya and her pack-mates was nail-bitingly gripping.  Though it felt that this plot overshadowed the romance a bit, both were woven together nicely.  However once we reached the end, the action and pace was almost too much.  The ending went very quickly and was almost a bit abrupt.  But considering all the moving pieces, it is not surprising.  However, we liked how Gage and the SWAT team assist Janya’s pack-mates so they can start over. As we saw in the previous novel, it seems that...
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