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Dec
3

Review: The Vault by Emily McKay

Review: The Vault by Emily McKay The Vault Author: Emily McKay Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B- What We’re Talking About: Note: This review contains spoilers from the previous two titles. If you have not read the previous books, read this review at your risk. Gikany and Una have come to appreciate the compelling world of The Farm series. The unique vampire mythology is fascinating. Humans already possess the DNA that can turn us from thinking beings into ticks consumed by only the hunt and need for blood. That this potential can be made a reality through a catalyst created by human scientists is staggering. The previous two novels, The Farm and The Lair, have led to this final resolution: the search for the cure. Does it exist? Will it actually work? But most importantly, what are the consequences using the cure on the tick? As the novel begins, Carter and Mel are forced to split up to try to save Lily. Carter returned to base camp to get help obtaining a sample of the cure from the vampire Sabrina. Meanwhile, Mel returned to El Dorado to hopefully find Sebastian and use him to open his impregnable vault. However, nothing in this novel was as simple or clear cut as it seemed. The end of the novel nicely tied everything up with a big bow. We enjoyed how the story came full circle and the hope we were left with. Despite that, we still wonder what happens next. The world isn’t fixed, but there is hope that it can heal. However, with nothing on the author’s website alluding to future novels, it seems like this is the last novel. After experiencing so much heartbreak and tension through the series, it was really wonderful to have that sense of hope and happiness at the end. Gikany and Una are not fond of multiple points of view when utilized in first person narration. The Vault is told from the viewpoints of all three main characters. This is a chapter from Mel, then a chapter from Lily, a few from Carter, then one from each, and so on. The constant starting and stopping interrupted the flow of the story for us, especially as the story bounced from once location and situation to another. To add to the roughness of the rhythm of the story, Carter and Lily’s perspectives are in past tense while Mel perspective uses present tense adding to the confusion as the story transitioned from one...
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Nov
28

Review: I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas by Molly Harper

Review: I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas by Molly Harper I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas Author: Molly Harper Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B What I’m Talking About: I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas is a lovely holiday novella set in the Half-Moon Hollow series. The story is told from the first person POV of Gigi, sister to Iris, the main character of the first full-length book, The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires. Gigi is home on holiday break from the University of Kentucky, and it is first time seeing her big sister since Iris became a vampire. Fans of Ms. Harper’s Half-Moon Hollow series will enjoy this story, and while it can be read as a stand alone, I feel that there are too many side characters with detailed histories for someone new to the series to complete enjoy the novella. I felt that if I hadn’t have read the first book in the series, I would have been lost. With that said, those who read the series need to pick up this story because actions that take place are sure to have a major impact on the next book. I enjoyed seeing what’s become of Gigi, Iris, Cal, and the others since the conclusion of Stray Vampires, and this novella serves as a lovely “catch up.” However, it reads more like a prequel to the upcoming full-length novel, The Dangers of Dating a Rebound Vampire than its own story. Gigi is coming into a transitional point in her life. She’s finishing up college, looking for a job, deciding if her high school sweetheart is the one for her… She’s making some big decisions that will undoubtedly have repercussions on her life and possibly her well-being. While the decisions are made during this novella, their impacts are yet to be discovered. The novella has many of the traits that I adore in Ms. Harper’s writing: charming setting, crazy characters, and a sense of humor that has me laughing out loud. However, it bothered me that after everything Gigi and Iris have experienced, Gigi was so casual about a potential deadly threat. I was also frustrated that the story itself was left completely open ended. Overall, I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas is a funny look at the holidays in Half Moon Hollow, and Gigi’s story is far from over. Coupling the craziness of the holidays with the zany chapters in this series had me laughing too many times to count. I enjoyed my return to Half Moon...
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Nov
25

Review: The Darkest Touch by Gena Showalter

Review: The Darkest Touch by Gena Showalter The Darkest Touch Author: Gena Showalter Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Torin, possessed by the demon Disease, has spent his immortal life separate and apart from those he calls friends. Knowing his touch would either kill or create disease carriers who would spread pestilence, Torin enforced his own isolation. When he recently broke this vow of separation, he ended up in Cronus’s prison where he meets Keeleycael, the Red Queen, a very longtime prisoner. Together they escape and begin the journey towards home, but whether it is as friends or foe, neither can tell. I’ve been waiting for The Darkest Touch for a long time, curious how Ms. Showalter could make a lover out of a man who cannot touch another. While I wasn’t wow’d by Torin’s book, I did enjoy the way the author brings together Torin and Keeley. She creates a situation that allows the pair intense sparks and passionate scenes, satisfying my inner romantic. Although I felt Keeley was a bit too over-the-top and pushy at first, she really grew on me. I love her strong will and sense of humor. She makes important decisions on a whim and justifications for reasons like “because I’m a girl.” However, Keeley is very selfish. It’s all about what she is owed or what she must do for/to another to make her ledger clean. Torin’s motives confuse her because she’s been so misused. I enjoyed her journey to happiness. I also liked Torin, although I was annoyed that he had a backpack that seemed to contain every possible thing he could need while in the wilderness. How did he end up with it in prison? Unlike in each of the previous books, Torin’s demon, Disease, doesn’t talk to him or suggest he do things. The demon doesn’t seem to have a strong opinion of Keeley either. I actually liked this change because it allows Torin the man to form his own opinions rather than his demon direct the decisions. As much as I enjoyed the couple, I felt that the book needed at least a hundred fewer pages. There was a lot of back and forth and bickering, which I enjoyed, but it became repetitive. In addition, there are old enemies and new characters involved in a few subplots that don’t add a lot of value to this book or the overall picture. However, the biggest issue I had with the story is the introduction...
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Nov
24

Review: A Cursed Bloodline by Cecy Robson

Review: A Cursed Bloodline by Cecy Robson A Cursed Bloodline Author: Cecy Robson Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: NOTE: This review contains spoilers from previous books in the series. The Weird Girls is a series in which each book builds upon the previous books, and therefore, you should start with first book, Sealed with a Curse or try the series out by reading either of the two prequel novellas, The Weird Girls or A Curse Awakened. After the conclusion of Cursed by Destiny, Gikany and Una were on pins and needles awaiting A Cursed Bloodline to find out how Celia would overcome the cliffhanger threat left by Anara. Though the first two chapters were a bit sluggish, once it takes off, you better hold on to your socks! But one word of advice, keep the tissues handy. Anara’s threat from the previous book almost destroys Celia. At the start of A Curse Bloodline, Celia was a shadow of herself.  Gikany and Una didn’t like how withdrawn Celia was, especially with her family. We understood the threat and we understood her deep-seated drive to protect her loved ones, but Celia wallowed in self-pity so long, we were yelling at her to “Buck up little camper and go kick some butt!”  We were surprised that her inner tigress didn’t try to lash out or urge her to seek assistance from Misha.  This is not to downplay the absolutely awful situation she was in.  She had hit rock bottom and her pain was palpable.  But Celia never stays down; she finds a way to fight and doesn’t give up.  Though it was difficult to read, all was not lost and after the first couple chapters, the stubborn side of Celia came back to fight.  From this point, it was a nail biting, page gripping, suspenseful, and pathos-filled ride. This book had a different feel from the previous books and novellas.  The series has always been a mix of dark themes and lighthearted humor, occasionally leaning toward the happier side.  This book is much darker, more emotionally charged, and we experience tragedy.  Gikany and Una are still trying to come to terms with the loss of a minor character who had played a large part in the series.  Maybe it couldn’t have ended any other way, but it was still painful and we think this lovable character will be greatly missed.  Perhaps the ramifications will be found in the next novel. However, rest assured, it...
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Nov
22

Review: On a Rogue Planet by Anna Hackett

Review: On a Rogue Planet by Anna Hackett On a Rogue Planet Author: Anna Hackett Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: On a Rogue Planet is the third exciting adventure following the treasure-hunting Phoenix brothers and their cousins. The prior two stories shared how two of the three brothers found happiness and love while saving the galaxy. For the third time out into space, Ms. Hackett shares the story of Phoenix cousin Malin Phoenix. Loving her life as a salvage mechanic, she’s always felt lacking in the girly-girly department and unlucky in love. While on the cyborg planet of Centax, Malin gets caught up in a violent coup and helps the head of Centax Security (military), Xander Saros, escape the uprising. She and her cousins are hired to help locate and retrieve an ancient Terran artifact that will allow Xander to restore order to his home world. What follows is a whirlwind of crazy action and intense emotional breakthroughs. On a Rogue Planet is full of intense action, starting right from the get go. The classic sci-fi setting coupled with the non-stop excitement reminded me of something I’d see on Star Trek (which is a good thing). I enjoyed the multitude of humanoid beings that filled the pages, especially that the good guys aren’t always human. Xander was identified for military action at a very early age. With the number of implants in his body, his emotions are dampened to such a point that he comes across as cold, hard, and scary. However, during the uprising, he was attacked and his emotional filters and dampeners were damaged. For the first time he experiences anger, lust, and more. I like how Xander’s ability to experience emotions springs to life because of Mal and that it’s not just desire he feels, but also jealousy, possession, rage, joy, etc. His emotional growth is fulfilling, especially since it leads to finding love with Mal. Although Mal is secure with herself, she is not always comfortable in her own skin. She has been hurt too many times in her past and won’t allow herself to fall for an emotionless cyborg who’s primary duty is to his planet. Telling herself that she’s just helping Xander experience some of the more pleasurable aspects of life, Mal assumes he too will leave. This makes her journey to love satisfying as she opens up to him, even knowing he will leave her. Together the couple is smokin’ hot. WOW! Their sex scenes are...
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Nov
20

Review: The Tears of the Rose by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: The Tears of the Rose by Jeffe Kennedy The Tears of the Rose
 Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B+ What We’re Talking About: The Tears of the Rose is the second novel in the Twelve Kingdoms trilogy and focuses on Amelia (Ami) the youngest sister. Though it had a slow start, Gikany and Una were captivated by Ami’s journey from petty princess to powerful queen. The previous novel, The Mark of the Tala focused on Andi, the middle child. Ami and Andi are opposites in many ways.  Andi felt invisible and to a great extent she was.  She was restless and felt like she didn’t belong, her heart yearned for something more.  Ami was the cosseted and beloved baby of the family.  Her sweet nature and unbelievable beauty allowed her to manipulate by flirting or pouting to get her way.  As the novel begins, this effervescent princess is gone.  Ami is deeply grieving for her murdered husband and feeling betrayed that Andi was responsible for his death.  But through her grief and subsequent political machinations of her father and her father-in-law, Ami finally begins to mature. It is not surprising the novel begins slowly.  Experiencing another person’s grief is difficult.  Ami is incredibly self-absorbed and egocentric which adds difficulty as well.  However, Ms. Kennedy is truly talented.  At the beginning of the novel, Gikany and Una did not care for Ami.  Her self-centeredness and pettiness were off-putting.  About one-third of the way through the book, Ami’s eyes are opened and she awakens.  She finally has a much needed “come-to-Jesus” moment.  Thus begins a gripping and exciting read as Ami explores her own potential and power growing from a spoiled immature princess and into a woman worthy to be a queen.  She also discovers that a first love may not always be the only or the true love of your life. We enjoyed The Tears of the Rose and eagerly look forward to the final book, The Talon of the Hawk, which will focus on the last sister, Ursula.  We saw Andi’s perspective of Ursula in The Mark of the Tala and we learned more about her from Ami in this book.  Considering the somewhat cliffhanger we are left with at the conclusion of Ami’s story, we truly wonder what is next.  We hope to see more of Ash, whom we thoroughly enjoyed as a character as well as more of Andi and Rayfe. Our Rating:  B+ Liked It A Lot About the Book: Three...
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Nov
19

Review: Holiday on Ice by Jaci Burton

Review: Holiday on Ice by Jaci Burton Holiday on Ice Author: Jaci Burton Reviewer: Nima Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Holiday on Ice is a little Christmas gift from Burton to her readers.  It’s the kind of little novella that you can pick up and finish during the holiday chaos when you just need a moment to yourself.  It’s a bit of Christmas spirit, a little winter fun, and a lot of steamy, um… recreation. Patrick “Trick” Niemeyer is on the New York Traveler’s professional hockey team with Drew Hogan of Burton’s earlier novel Melting the Ice. He has some recent history with Stella Slovinski who has just landed one of the dance leads in a new Broadway musical that will open in the spring.  Burton does a good job of getting us to accept the depth of their relationship quickly because of their shared past. We move through the Christmas season as the couple reunites, overcomes misunderstanding, and finds their happily ever after. Unfortunately Holiday on Ice suffers from the same predictability that its predecessors did.  Burton has been here before.  Once again we have a woman who has been badly burned in a previous relationship.  At the first hint something is not all bliss in the relationship, she goes jumping to conclusions or isolates herself against any relationship at all until our hero shows how great a guy he really is, and deserving of her trust, to win her back in the end.  Burton just did this in Hope Burns, book three of the Hope Series and in Melting the Ice.  Nevertheless Burton’s regular readers will not be disappointed. Holiday on Ice includes a preview of Quarterback Draw due out February 2015, the next full book in the Play-by-Play series and Love After All due out March 31, 2015, the next book in the Hope series. My Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Superstar hockey player Patrick “Trick” Niemeyer and dancer Stella Slovinski have picked up where they left off a year ago, resuming their hot, uncomplicated affair. Stella refuses to call it dating, or a relationship. But lately, Trick is looking for more… Stella’s been burned before—in a relationship she never talks about—not with her family, not with her friends, and definitely not with Trick. But now it’s the holiday season and Trick is determined to give Stella his heart wrapped up in a bow. He knows Stella is the right woman for him, but he’ll have to melt the ice...
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Nov
11

Review: Her Lone Wolf by Paige Tyler

Review: Her Lone Wolf by Paige Tyler Her Lone Wolf Author: Paige Tyler Reviewer: Gikany & Una Rating: B- What We’re Talking About: Her Lone Wolf is the follow-up novel to Her Perfect Mate, focusing on Clayne, the quick tempered wolf shifter that seems to be a thorn in everyone’s side.  Though Gikany and Una were interested in his story – suspecting that the prickly exterior was due to the loss of his previous partner, the story was not what we were expecting. Firstly, we liked Danica and Clayne, they seem an excellent match for each other.  She is pretty tough and holds her own well without being intimidated by Clayne, whose gruffness and size overwhelms most everyone else.  The animosity between them at first was understandable from Clayne, but from Danica, it was surprising, since she was the one who left and we do not find out until much later why.  Her anger felt oddly out of place to us.  Yet once that was revealed, having the object of your heart’s desire so close but impossible to touch is brutal.  Experiencing their off the charts chemistry explained so much of why Clayne acted the way he did in the previous novel.  It must be agony to live with your heart gone.  His love for Danica was humbling in its purity. The nature of the case that Danica and Clayne are working together was intriguing and we enjoyed this detective drama, overall.  The suspense was good in both the case as well as between Clayne and Danica.  It reminded Gikany and Una of the detective shows on television.  Watching our heroes as they try to zero in on the culprit, hoping to prevent the next victim from succumbing to the serial killer was nail-bitingly gripping.  Just when you think the case is solved, a twist occurs, changing the game.  Though we felt it was a little contrived, it was tension ridden until the end. We did have one pet peeve, however. Through most of the story it feels as if the reason Danica upped and left Clayne was dangled like a carrot in front of our noses.  We understand when there are plot points that need to come later or explanatory backstory.  It is a useful technique for building suspense and tension.  But it is very frustrating when as a reader you know that main character is keeping something from you.  That deliberate refusal in the narrative to share was a thorn in our side.  With...
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Nov
10

Review: What a Woman Gets by Judi Fennell

Review: What a Woman Gets by Judi Fennell What a Woman Gets Author: Judi Fennell Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Cassidy Davenport has spent most of her entire life living under the benefit of her father’s name. No expense was too great, and Cassidy was expected to be her father’s perfect hostess and showpiece. However, after befriending a terminally ill young boy, Cassidy realizes she’s tired of living in the gilded cage kept by her ice-cold father. Liam Manley is one of the four Manley siblings (his two brothers are the main characters of the previous two books). Like his brothers, Liam lost a poker bet with his younger sister, Mary-Alice Catherine (Mac), and must spend a month cleaning the house of Cassidy Davenport to help with his sister’s maid service business. When Mitchell Davenport evicts his own daughter out of her home, Liam agrees to take in Cassidy, who is penniless and has no place to go. Although the pair share a strong mutual attraction, past pain and hurt has created tarnished views for both. What will living together do to this pair? What a Woman Gets is the third story in Ms. Fennell’s delightful Manley Maid series. The book overlaps in time with the previous two, even sharing some common scenes; however, each book may be read as a stand alone or in any order. The series chronicles the lives of the Manley siblings as each meets his/her match and falls in love. I enjoyed Liam and Cassidy’s story for what it is: a sweet romance with relatively little conflict. Liam’s ex, Rachel, did a number on him, using him for his relative wealth and position. Because of Rachel, Liam believes Cassidy to be selfish and only interested in superficial status. I liked reading Liam’s point-of-view as he realizes Cassidy isn’t Rachel, although he’s using it as an excuse to keep from getting hurt. The author does a great job bringing Liam around slowly, making each interaction with Cassidy count. Cassidy is a strong woman, and I appreciate getting to know her from both her own point-of-view monologuing, and through her actions in how she deals with both her father and Liam. I liked Cassidy’s tenacity and spunk, although I could not relate to the fact that she had no clue how to do basic cooking or laundry. I applaud Cassidy’s physical restraint, knowing she needs to trust Liam, and visa-versa, before they can act on their mutual attraction. The pair...
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Oct
29

Review: Seventh Grave and No Body by Darynda Jones

Review: Seventh Grave and No Body by Darynda Jones Seventh Grave and No Body Author: Darynda Jones Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: For those that have yet to experience Charley Davidson: stop right here, do not read this review, and instead go to your favorite book retailer and purchase First Grave on the Right. Unfortunately, this review is not intended for those who’ve never read the series. So much as happened over the course of seven books, each building on the previous, that I cannot “dummy it down” for virgin readers. I do apologize for this. Also note: Some may find that the list of “good and bad” about the book (below) spoilerish. If you do not like spoilers please do not read this review. Now… on with my thoughts… At the conclusion of the previous book, we found out that Charley is pregnant and agreed to marry Reyes. Also of note is that the twelve hounds of hell have been sent to destroy Charley. There were also various unresolved issues left dangling such as what’s going on with Charley’s dad, what exactly is Mr. Wong, and Charley’s ex-BFF turned enemy is a ghost. As the seventh book unfolds, we find Charley helping Special Agent Carson (who we find out has a first name!) on a cold case involving a mass murder of girls at a day camp. Reyes is tagging along because the Twelve are after Charley and their baby. What happens after the opening scene is a flurry of jokes, action, ghosts, mysteries, and so much more. I had serious issues with the previous book, Sixth Grave on the Edge. I felt that there were simply too many storylines, with several left open-ended and a few that were downright pointless. I mention this because instinctively I was comparing the sixth book to the current one while reading it. While Seventh Grave and No Body did not come across quite as convoluted and uneven, I was still overwhelmed by the sheer volume of plots and storylines; once again with too many left unresolved or mentioned once or twice and then nothing. At about the 25% mark of the book, there were already eight separate storylines introduced. I stopped counting after that. While the multiple storylines bothered me some, I found Charley’s apparent inability to grow and mature after seven books even more frustrating. I adore Charley. Her humor is unparalleled. Her ADD gives her interesting quirks that make her unique. Yet she doesn’t...
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