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Currently Browsing: Rating B
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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Dec
10

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Black Blade Series Author: Jennifer Estep Narrator: Brittany Presley Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Black Blade #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Young Adult Source: author Dark Heart of Magic Dark Heart of Magic, the second book in the exciting Black Blade trilogy, opens with narrator Lila Merriweather and good friends Devon and Felix (all of the Sinclair Family) discovering that something has the tree trolls agitated. Although this is an intriguing mystery, it must be put aside because of the annual Tournament of Blades, a competition that pits the best youth fighters from each Family against one another in a 3-day event. Lila and Devon are two of the many selected to represent the Sinclair family, just as the usual suspects (along with some new ones) are also selected to represent each of his/her Family. Unfortunately, things start to go wrong at the tournament, resulting in injured and dead competitors, and it’s up to Lila to figure out who’s behind the attacks. Unlike its predecessor, Dark Heart of Magic has no need for extensive world-building; therefore, the story takes off right from the get go. I was completely engrossed as the story unfolded, and I found that the additional characters framed the tale perfectly. We learned so much more about not only Lila’s heritage, but what brought the current warring situation to a head. I appreciated that each character is multi-faceted, although the antagonist, Victor Draconi, is just downright evil. As much as I love her, I was a bit frustrated with Lila this time around. It took her way too long to put together all of the pieces of the puzzle and make connections that were pretty obvious. Lila’s constant “it’s on the edge of my memory” bit was annoying, as was the fact that one of the bad guys basically had to spell out to Lila what was happening and why. But maybe I’m just a super-sleuth. haha. Once again, narrator Brittany Presley does an excellent job of capturing each character’s persona within the context of their voices. I can tell the personalities and corresponding moods of each just by listening to her performance. She continues to capture both the youth and life experiences of the each of the primary characters. Overall, I enjoyed this Dark Heart of Magic. I liked the standalone story of the Tournament of Blades and how it brought out each character’s personalities, strengths, and weaknesses....
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Dec
3

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Black Blade Series Author: Jennifer Estep Narrator: Brittany Presley Audio Speed: 1.25x Series: Black Blade #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Young Adult Source: purchased Cold Burn of Magic Cold Burn of Magic is the first book in the new young adult urban fantasy Black Blade trilogy by Jennifer Estep. Even though I very rarely read YA, I decided to give this series a chance, since I absolutely love Ms. Estep’s Elemental Assassin series. Overall, I enjoyed listening to Cold Burn of Magic and found this new world both exciting and engrossing. I will admit that at first I struggled with the book. Being a new series, the author took time to build her world and introduce the characters, which I found strikingly similar to the Elemental Assassins world. Our main character, Lila, is a younger version of Gin. Her world is filled of warring mobster Families, and Gin’s world has fighting mob bosses. Other similarities include some folks having magical Talents/powers, a rare metal used to make weapons, runes/images that represent the different alliances, and, by the way, Lila is an orphan like Gin. At first, I found the resemblances a little disconcerting, but I was willing to wait patiently for the book to take on its own life. And once that story started, it was an amazing ride right up to the very end! The story centers around attacks on Devon Sinclair, the second in command of one of the powerful Families. Lila is forced into protecting Devon and partnering with the Sinclairs to help figure out who the Mystery Man is behind the attacks. I enjoyed watching Lila piece together the puzzle successfully (even though I figured it out before she did!) While the story itself is entertaining, it’s the wonderful characters that bring the book to life. Lila may be a loner thief at the start of the story, but over the course of the book, we are introduced to an amazing cast of characters that I guarantee will become Lila’s closest friends and family before the end of the trilogy. Of course, there are sparks between Lila and Devon, a dangerous attraction given she’s his bodyguard and all. I admire how this is handled by both characters – well, mostly Lila since we share her POV and understand why she does what she does. Oscar is one of my favorites – a house pixie assigned to help...
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Nov
30

Review: Pirateship Down by Suzanne Johnson

Review: Pirateship Down by Suzanne Johnson Pirateship Down Author: Suzanne Johnson Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Pirateship Down is the compilation of several previously released shorts, many that have only appeared on blogs and websites, and one new novella, all set in the marvelous Sentinels of New Orleans world. Each story features one or more of the series’ regular characters. This book is basically a companion piece to and compendium of the series, and therefore, is best enjoyed by existing fans of the series. I would encourage those who’ve not read the series, start with the first book, Royal Street. Talk Like a Pirate This story takes place before first Sentinel book and features the historically undead pirate (privateer) Jean Lafitte. Thinking it would be fun to have a real pirate show up at her “talk like a pirate party,” Meg attempts to manifest the ghost of Jean Lafitte. Much to her surprise, the real Jean appears, and roommate Rhyn takes it upon herself to ensure Jean doesn’t cause any trouble in modern-day NOLA. Overall, the short story is fun, and I liked seeing interactions between Jean Lafitte and Wizard Gerald St. Simon long before the current conditions of preternaturals in NOLA. Lagniappe: The Sentinels Multiverse This is not a story per se but more of a primer on the world. Alex, the Pig This is an excellent story narrated by series heroine, DJ Jaco. It is a super short scene that takes place between River Road and Elysian Fields. Boyfriend, Alex, leaves DJ with a pig that is actually a cursed leprechaun. Extremely entertaining.  Cat Mon Dieu This is another short, flash fiction piece, and same timeline as the previous story. It is told in the third person POV of Jean Lafitte. He’s going grocery shopping with DJ and thinks cat food is actual food made of cat. It’s another funny short. Lagniappe: Jean Lafitte-The Man, The Myth, the Undead Pirate This section shares both true facts about Jean Lafitte and more about his character in the series. Rivalry This is a short story that I had read previously. Shared from Alex’s POV, it takes a look at cousins Jake and Alex Warin in their teen years, well before the events of the first book. Here we learn the story of when Alex discovered he was a shapeshifter at 15. Another great short, giving more depth to one of my favorite characters. Swamp Rats This one takes place shortly after...
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Nov
27

Review: Unabashed by Sasha White

Review: Unabashed by Sasha White Unabashed Author: Sasha White Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Note about the series order: After completing Unabashed, the author realized that it is actually the second story in the series, although it was written and released third. It is the continuing story of Ronnie and Ian, which started in the first book, Unfettered. Additionally, this story was originally released as a short novella in the Every Which Way anthology. It has been reworked and lengthened for this release. We originally met mechanic Ronnie and computer geek Ian in the first Overwatch story, Unfettered. The pair grew up together, but never explored the potential sparks that hung in the air when they were younger. Now, Ronnie seeks acceptance as a submissive, and finds her dream Dom in Ian. Unabashed picks up immediately after the conclusion of Unfettered, as the pair begin a new romance and venture further into the D/s aspect of their relationship. Although Unabashed was previously released, this version has been greatly expanded, giving much more thought and energy into developing their relationship and additionally adding in their first public scene at Overwatch. The original short was more like a slice of life, whereas this version is a more complete story with stronger relationship development. All in all, Unabashed is a delightful romance with emphasis on developing a relationship through trust and sex. The BDSM elements are used to further the trust and growth between the pair. The book continues the ongoing love story of Ian and Ronnie, making great strides towards an HEA and true love. But their romance truly begins with Unfettered; therefore, I strongly urge readers to start at the beginning in order to fully appreciate their journey. Seeing Ronnie and Ian grow as a couple is the foundation of Unabashed, and it will not be nearly enjoyable without seeing their start. The Overwatch series explores the passion that ignites when lovers trust one another with their innermost desires. Ms. White writes sexy stories that are both exciting and entertaining; following couples from sensual play to their happily-ever-afters. I look forward to reading more from this series, discovering each member’s secrets and desires while finding true love. My Rating:  B, Liked It   About the Book: She’s finally found a man who sees her for the woman she is, and she’s not holding back. Mechanic Veronica “Ronnie” Mack joined the Overwatch club because she’d given up on finding love, and decided...
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Nov
24

Review: Veiled Magic by Deborah Blake

Review: Veiled Magic by Deborah Blake Veiled Magic Author: Deborah Blake Reviewer: Nima Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Donata Santori is a classic witch, manifesting her power through ritual, spells, and ceremony.  Her specialty, however, is speaking with the recently departed.  In a modern twist, she works for the police department, interviewing murder victims, in an alternate reality where several supernatural species have been “outed” and are accepted as a common among humanity. Author Deborah Blake creates several likable characters that surround Donata in Veiled Magic.  I especially liked Peter, an art restorer that becomes deeply involved in the mystery surrounding Donata’s latest case. Chemistry builds between Peter and Donata, but it doesn’t have time to go anywhere while chasing down leads.  Donata also enlists the aid of a former supernatural boyfriend, Magnus, creating what’s supposed to be a love triangle, but doesn’t really feel like one.  It felt more like the threads of something over and done that were still clinging to her as she began to explore something totally new. Magnus is loveable, but I’m team Peter until he proves unworthy. Blake’s unfolding of this story was, at times, obvious.  That said, it was written in a way that made it feel comfortable rather than boring and still succeeded in hiding the overall storyline. Other than the witch community to which Donata belongs, Blake pulls in some unusual, less utilized paranormal species like shape-shifting bears to make her story fresh. Because of the way the story resolves, I assume Veiled Magic is an introduction to a series.  If so, I’ll give Blake some slack over the fact that Donata is under-developed.  She begins to exert herself over the course of the book, becoming more of the person she seems to want to be.  She really shines when she stands up to her family without disrespecting them and when she stands up to the governing council of supernatural beings.  No doubt the next book in the series will see her taking on more responsibility and rising to meet the fall-out of what was begun in Veiled Magic. My Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: Since Witches came out of the broom-closet in the early 21st century, they have worked alongside humans as police officers, healers, stock traders, and more. But they aren’t the only paranormal entities in our world… Police officer and Witch Donata Santori spends her days interrogating dead witnesses by summoning their spectral forms. Normally the job is little more...
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