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Oct
20

Review: The Single Undead Moms Club by Molly Harper

Review: The Single Undead Moms Club by Molly Harper The Single Undead Moms Club Author: Molly Harper Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Libby Stratton is a widowed, single mom fighting an incurable cancer. Faced with the prospect of leaving her six-year-old son Danny to be raised by her in-laws, Libby places an ad looking for someone to turn her into a vampire. After waking into her new life as one of the undead, Libby starts to realize the ramifications of her actions. Luckily Jane Jameson and her undead circle of friends help Libby make the necessary adjustments, and then there is Wade, hunky human father of her son’s best friend, who is willing to help Libby in ways the Vampire Council can’t. I always enjoy my time with the denizens of Half-Moon Hollow. Ms. Harper’s southern small town is filled with crazy mischief, lots of humor, good friends, and the occasional mishap or five. The regular cast of characters is extremely likable, and I want to befriend each as I cheer for a happy ending. On the flip side, her antagonists are generally despicable yet complex, and I enjoy that sometimes they aren’t as they seem. And while the Half-Moon Hollow series, as well as the original Jane Jameson series, feature the struggles of women who have been recently turned into vampires, The Single Undead Moms Club stands out because Libby must integrate herself back into the human world and raise her human son. I really enjoyed Libby and Wade as a potential couple. They shared an awkwardness and a “I don’t give a damn” attitude that bonded them right from the get go. Their initial spark smolders a bit until their passion ignites into flames. They just fit so well together, and they made me smile. I adored how much Wade cared for Libby and wanted to help her without smothering her. I also loved and appreciated Jane’s constant help, especially with the frame of reference that Jane didn’t have it when she had been turned. What I didn’t really care for was Libby’s unexplained attraction to her Sire, Finn. Having never met him, I didn’t understand Libby’s strong desire to make nice and almost please him. He came across quite creepy to me, and therefore her actions around him felt misplaced and odd. I felt similarly about his mysterious companion as well. Overall, I simply enjoyed The Single Undead Moms Club and found it to be an engrossing, quick read. Ms. Harper’s...
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Oct
14

Review: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

Review: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher The Aeronaut’s Windlass Author: Jim Butcher Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: The Aeronaut’s Windlass follows a group of inexperienced, youthful soldiers who fate pairs with an honorable yet disgraced veteran, as they battle a powerful enemy on multiple fronts. Fighting along side this group is a pair of etherealists, individuals who are sensitive to the ether waves, giving each unique talents, but at the cost of eventual insanity. Additionally this world is home to clans of cats, who have the ability to communicate and are intelligent, yet mostly apathetic to the plight of humans. The protagonists live on Spire Albion, a closed off world that somehow hovers above the abandoned surface. Their enemy is Spire Aurora. We don’t have any clue how many Spires exist, or what is so foreboding about the surface below. All of this together makes for an extremely interesting world about which I long to know more. The Aeronaut’s Windlass is it a monster of a title at over 600 pages, plus it’s a solid fantasy tale with a whole new world filled with unique and interesting aspects. This doesn’t lend itself to a quick read, and in fact, I spent two weeks getting through this title. You have to be committed to read it. I don’t want to make it sound like it was a chore to read, but it’s not fluff. I’m glad I made it past the first half, which was spent trying to learn all of the players and understand the constructs of the new world. In the end, however, I am glad I made the time. Part of the reason the front half takes so long to get through is that there are numerous key characters, each sharing a portion of the story from his or her point of view. At first, I got a headache trying to note each character’s place in the world, along with his/her personality traits. But as the story progressed, I discerned amazing qualities about these characters that came out through his/her actions or, even better, I was able to infer after eavesdropping on his/her innermost thoughts as the character spent time pondering situations. The author showed rather than told, revealing truly remarkable characters who I grew to enjoy more and more as they developed and matured. The other primary reason the book takes time to get into is that the world is new, and building it up takes time to...
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Oct
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Vlad brings on the heat

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Vlad brings on the heat Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Bound by Flames Author: Jeaniene Frost Narrator: Tavia Gilbert Audio Speed: 1x Series: Night Prince #3 (Night Huntress Universe #12) Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: library loan NOTE: This review may contain spoilers from the previous books in the series. It’s been a few books since I last listened to the Night Prince series, and I have to say the time away seems to have changed my feelings towards the series and narrator. I’m not sure if it’s this book in particular, or if it’s due to what I’ve listened to in the interim, but I’m not enjoying the story and narrator nearly as much as I did a couple months ago. The story opens with Leila using her electrical talents to try to find which of Vlad’s associates are working with his mortal enemy. Unfortunately, she places herself in danger, and being the controlling, overprotective vampire he is, Vlad puts a semi-permanent stop to her efforts. This puts the pair at odds as neither can find a way to a happy middle-ground where Leila helps. However, as the danger intensifies, Vlad must turn to another enemy for assistance. The focus of the entire book is finding Szilagyi, the vampire who has pretty much ruined Vlad’s life lately. And while I was temporary irritated at the wall put up between Vlad and Leila, the communication and compromises came much sooner than I expected. Although, I was annoyed at the constant references to Leila’s dreaded “inner voice” and the “he’ll leave you when he finds out what you did” scenes. However, Vlad and Leila’s relationship strengthened even more during the course of the book, and for that I’m grateful. They had a couple of emotionally intense scenes, which reminded me of the reasons why I enjoy this series. With that said, I have to ask… how many times will Leila be captured and tortured? Enough already. It’s old news and I really hope that it won’t happen again in future titles. And there will be future titles. While Bound by Flames may put a wrap on some of the outstanding, over-arching storylines, the ending provides insight to an even more dangerous threat to Vlad and his family. Finally, the narration really annoyed me at times when listening to the story. Where as in the past I enjoyed Ms. Gilbert’s  non-speaking vocal additions and the way she’d infuse emotion into the voices, this time...
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Oct
2

Review: Loved by a SEAL by Cat Johnson

Review: Loved by a SEAL by Cat Johnson Loved by a SEAL Author: Cat Johnson Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: The story of SEALs falling in love continues with Brody’s story in Loved by a SEAL. Brody, younger brother of retired SEAL Chris Cassidy, is still on active duty and has been deployed for the past six months. When he returns stateside to find no one around, he realizes how much he’s missing, leaving him disconnected and out of sorts. Deciding to get some R & R, he heads home for a short break, where he runs into the one woman whom he ever loved, and who broke his heart ten years ago. Ashley Reed refused to give up her future as a nurse to follow her teenage love when he left for the Navy. Now she finds herself back in her hometown, helping her grandmother and the Cassidy family. When Brody walks in through the door and into her life again, she cannot deny the feelings she still has for him. Loved by a SEAL is another slice of life in the Hot SEALs universe. Like several of the previous stories, the book shares a budding romance between a man with a high-risk job and the woman who steals his heart, without taking the reader all the way to an HEA (happily ever after). If you are good knowing that the stories have HFN (happy for now) type endings, then this series is definitely worth the read. Brody and Ashley have a history, making their quick romance seem very realistic. The author perfectly captures those unrequited, long-lingering feelings left over from when Ashley walked out on Brody ten years prior, causing this reader to swoon just a bit. Their story is more about love and passion, rather than hot, steamy sex, which suits the story just fine. I was left with the feeling that this couple could actually make it work, and that made me happy. Overall, I really enjoy these wonderful little novellas for what they bring to the table: a bit of danger and action, a bit of love and romance. Sitting back, relaxing with a cup of tea and my Kindle, Loved by a SEAL made for a wonderful morning read. My Rating: B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: Brody Cassidy. Navy SEAL. Southern boy. A guy’s guy. He likes beer and barbecue and the occasional visit to the backroom at the strip club just off base. What Brody doesn’t know is that all of...
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Oct
1

Listen Up! Nice Girls Don’t… #Audiobook Review Part 4

Listen Up! Nice Girls Don’t… #Audiobook Review Part 4 Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… What I’m Listening To: Title: Nice Girls Don’t Bite Their Neighbors Author: Molly Harper Narrator: Amanda Ronconi Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Jane Jameson #4 Genre: Paranormal Romance, Contemporary Chick-Lit Source: purchased/Audible Audiobook Review: Nice Girls Don’t Bite Their Neighbors Nice Girls Don’t Bite Their Neighbors is the final book of the Jane Jameson vampire series. This time around, Jane’s life is finally coming together. She’s living happily with Gabriel, has made up with her estranged sister, Jenny, and her book shop is successful. But this is Jane, and something is bound to go wrong. When an errant car strikes and kills Jamie, the dairy delivery teen, he asks Jane to turn him into a vampire. Now Jane is a sire, and has to deal with the fallout of changing a beloved hometown high school student. Oh, and it looks like maybe someone is out to kill Gabriel in an act of revenge. Overall, I really enjoyed this final book in the series. Although at first, I was a bit worried I wouldn’t like it. The book starts light and happy, but turns dark very fast. Jane’s horrible grandmother sets out to ruin Jane’s life and frankly, it’s a bit much for me. It hurt to know how awful her own grandmother is to Jane. Additionally, Jamie’s parents and friends don’t take his turning into a vampire well at all, causing me additional sadness. Luckily, the issues are both dealt with head-on, and I found myself really enjoying the talk between Jamie’s mom and Jane. It was realistic and a little bit hopeful. I was also a bit put off by the circumstances surrounding Jamie’s death, which are revealed at the end of the book. I know this is just fiction, but it was a little too over-the-top and manipulative in a way. However, I love how Jane dealt with the news. She’s a great sire/mom. The overall story of Jane’s life preparing for her wedding and being a new “mom” to Jamie were both highly enjoyable. I also liked the mystery of who is trying to kill Gabriel. The story is filled with Jane’s wonderful sarcasm and wit, making me laugh out loud more than once. The supporting cast just gets better with each story. By now, this the fourth title, I find comfort in Amanda Ronconi’s performance. I love each voice she gives all of the characters. She’s pretty consistent from title to...
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Sep
30

Review: Right by Your Side by Christi Snow

Review: Right by Your Side by Christi Snow Right By Your Side Author: Christi Snow Reviewer: B. Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Skye Taylor knows a thing or two about control and the sacrifices it takes to get it and to keep it. She also knows how it feels to be without any whatsoever, and decided long ago that the possible losses involved with sharing her heart with anyone but her best friend aren’t worth the risk. But, when her tour bus crashes, and her world threatens to come apart at the seams, Skye learns that sometimes things don’t work out the way you planned. And love may be the most uncontrollable thing of all. After the murder of his brother, Thomas, Scott Martin has distanced himself from most of the other people in his life, his family included. While he helps out at his family’s ranch when he can, he’s been trying to build a life for himself away from the constant reminders and pain left by the tragedy. An explosion on a deserted road in the dead of night threatens to disrupt his plans for solitude, however, and winning the love of the wounded, stubborn singer who’s come to mean everything to him might just be the best way to heal them both. Although this novel follows a similar pattern to some of Ms. Snow’s other stories, I had a slightly more difficult time settling into Skye and Scott’s story. Skye is a contradiction in a couple of ways. Her ability to resist the near-constant pressure to bow to the demands of her record label seemed to conflict with her self-consciousness over her understandably emotional responses to the relentless onslaught of stressful events she suffers. I also felt that her support of her best friend, KC, who is gay, was weakened somewhat by her occasional tinge of discomfort about the subject. Despite these few incidents, Skye is unquestionably a survivor. She doesn’t trust easily, but when she does, she gives herself completely, which made it especially hard to see her get hurt. She is also funny, snarky, bossy, and keeps every man she comes in contact with on his toes. Another thing Ms. Snow writes well is the “alpha male,” and in Right by Your Side, there are enough of them to populate a small town. Scott is one of many here, but he still stands out in all the ways that make him perfect for Skye. He’s not finding it as easy to...
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Sep
29

Review + Excerpt: The Bloodforged by Erin Lindsey

Review + Excerpt: The Bloodforged by Erin Lindsey The Bloodforged Author: Erin Lindsey Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: The Bloodforged picks up a few months after the events of the first novel, The Bloodbound, ends.  This novel had very different feel from the first book, and although we liked the book overall, it wasn’t quite as solid as the previous one. The Bloodforged is a transitional novel, and that is the main reason for the different feel.  In order to get several pieces into position, Ms. Lindsey split the narrative between four characters.   Gikany and Una are a bit divided in our reactions to this change in the style of narration.  Una liked having each chapter devoted to a single plot line.  She preferred the longer moments, but wished they had been more balanced in length.  Gikany would have preferred having multiple short check-ins in every chapter, giving glimpses of each of the three plot lines as the novel progressed.  This way the reader does not get fully immersed in the point of view of a single character, making the transitions less jarring.  We both agreed that the antagonists’ points of view were not needed.  They were unnecessary since we were able to discern most of what they confirmed from other moments in the other point of views. There was a lot going on in this novel.  Rig is the general of an army facing almost impossible odds.  He must prevent the Oridians from overrunning Alden’s border while Liam and Erik seek aid from their allies. The battle against the Oridian’s and the difficulties of the front line were compelling.  Rig is as uncanny, sly, and irreverent, as he is amusing and endearing.  We liked the introduction of Vel and look forward to seeing what happens next. Liam’s mission to Onnan City was compelling and fascinating.  The machinations of the Republicana were intriguing and frightening.  The mystery of who is sabotaging the fleet was interesting and we enjoyed watching as Liam bumbled his way through it.  Experiencing Liam’s adventure allowed us to see him mature more fully into his new role. Alix and Erik’s harrowing journey to Harram and the final meeting with the King of Harram were captivating.  We were given both Alix and Erik’s point of views, which were fascinating to experience.  Knowing what both of them were thinking and feeling became very important as the novel concluded with a surprising cliffhanger.  Gikany and Una enjoyed Alix and Erik’s...
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Sep
23

Review: Autumn Moon by Jan DeLima

Review: Autumn Moon by Jan DeLima Autumn Moon Author: Jan DeLima Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Autumn Moon is another exciting tale in the Celtic Wolves series. Ms. DeLima has found a way to make shifters and paranormal romance exciting and engrossing again. I love her mix of mythology, even if I get confused by the terms from time to time. What I’ve learned is that I don’t have to remember every single detail to enjoy the story. Cormack and Elen have a romance that is a few hundred years in the making. Long-time friends, hampered by the fact that he was born in his wolf form and unable to shift, the pair spent countless hours together. The fact that he was wolf wasn’t weird because it never was sexual; however a deep bond did form. Once Cormack became human, each realized that bond equated to love and desire. I admire how Cormack wanted to learn to be a human – a man – without Elen’s assistance, and I like that Elen, while frustrated by his distance, understands his logic. While the story could have been bogged down by misunderstandings, keeping the pair apart, the author did a good job minimizing the impacts of communication breakdowns. And while the couple didn’t come to terms with their true feelings after the midpoint of the book, the coupling didn’t feel prolonged because of silly issues between the pair. Both sweet and innocent, yet passion and flames, the pair’s chemistry was perfect, and they made up for any inexperiences with enthusiasm. The overall story involving the Guardians and a pending war moved forward over the course of Autumn Moon. There were some great twists within the book, especially one that I didn’t piece together until it was “too late.” It was evident by the conclusion of the book that all the pieces are falling into place to create a maelstrom of violence against the “lesser” wolf packs. I worry that things are going to get worse before it gets better, but I look forward to the journey. What I love about the Celtic Wolves series is that the overall plot has an urban fantasy vibe to it, yet every book has a stand alone romance, therefore, the reader gets a happy ending with each title. Overall, I enjoyed Autumn Moon and look forward to finding out what’s going to happen next for Dylan, his family and friends, and his pack. My Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot...
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Sep
22

Review: Summer Moon by Jan DeLima

Review: Summer Moon by Jan DeLima Note: As I was preparing my post for tomorrow’s review of the third book in Ms. DeLima’s Celtic Wolf series, I discovered that I never posted my review of the second book! Eep! So here is a no-frills review of the title; no links, no book info, etc. I hope you enjoy the review! Summer Moon Author: Jan DeLima Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ Summer Moon is the follow up title to Jan DeLima’s delightful debut, Celtic Moon. Set in northern New England, the series follows a werewolf pack/community who views its Celtic roots and the Guardians of its race with unease. Summer Moon picks up the story of these wolves and their families shortly after the conclusion of the first title. I do recommend reading Celtic Moon first, as the story provides a great deal of world building for the series and setting. Also note, this review has spoilers from the first book. When Dylan exacted his revenge by killing Math, a Guardian married to Rosa, he unknowingly sped up Rosa’s secret plans to take over Avon, her home, and protect its citizens. Seeking out Dylan’s help in protecting her home from the Guardians, Rosa proposes an arrangement of marriage with Dylan’s brother, Luc, in an effort to thwart the Guardian’s plans to use Rosa to produce werewolf offspring. Soon, Rosa and Luc find themselves torn between duty, history, and the desires of their wolves. Summer Moon is an enjoyable story and excellent addition to the Celtic Wolves series. I really liked how the author brings Luc and Rosa together though an arranged marriage of convenience rather than having them long for one another for days and weeks. However, preventing the couple from a simple romance is both Rosa’s history of mental and emotional abuse from her first husband and the memory of Luc’s only love and long-decesed wife, Koko. Their romance had both emotional and physical fulfillment. I found myself even tearing up once or twice. “‘I want her,’ he whispered to the woman who’d taught him how to love. ‘I’m sorry, Koko… I’ll never forget you. Never. But I ache for another and I don’t know how much longer I’ll last.'” While I found their romance both sweet and steamy, and I enjoyed it immensely, I do wish that more time was spent on the pair’s relationship during the course of the book. It’s not that their story was lacking, but I felt that at times their...
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Sep
22

Review: Dance with the Devil by Angela Dennis

Review: Dance with the Devil by Angela Dennis Dance with the Devil Author: Angela Dennis  Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Dance with the Devil is the first book in the Soul’s Harbor Pride series.  We had not previously read any books by Angela Dennis, but her new paranormal series sounded interesting.  Overall, we are glad we picked it up. This lion shifter series shows promise, and we look forward to more. The beginning of Dance with the Devil is heavy on the sex, but the novel ends up being pretty well balanced between the romance and the mystery plot lines.  We liked the political suspense provided by the issues of the Council and their prejudice against half-breeds. We also enjoyed the suspense of whom Jillian would choose to mate with – would she take Lucas and follow the dictates of the Council or would she choose her heart and pick Carrick. The mythology was interesting, and we look forward to learning more in the upcoming novels in the Soul’s Harbor Pride series.  We have read a lot of paranormal novels that focus on shifters, and we found this one to be fascinating.  We liked how the half-breeds are actually stronger than the pure-breed shifters.  The prejudices and politics that come from that were an interesting quirk. Although we were concerned with how Carrick and Jillian’s story started, we were pleased with how they ended up.  They do share a history, and with the mythology of mating, their desire makes sense.  But to have them mate at the very beginning of the book was a bit much.  The novel shows the points-of-view of both Carrick and Jillian, which helped to give weight to their connection and feelings.  Their journey was compelling and we liked how they finally came together. We do wish that the antagonist’s backstory and character had been fleshed out better.  His identity was supposed to be shocking, but with so little information given about him and with us having no contact with him, it isn’t all that surprising.  Although the manipulations and assassination attempts were not particularly surprising (nor was the identity of who was behind them), the story was still compelling and engaging.  We liked how it progressed and resolved as we watched Jillian, Carrick, Lucas, and the Council appointed Regulator, Quinn, work to find out who perpetrators were and who was pulling their strings.  We especially loved Jillian’s two best friends, Garth and Abbey.  We were a bit...
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