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Currently Browsing: Rating B
May
4

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shattered by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Shattered by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Shattered Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #7 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Shattered Warning: Spoilers of events from previous books are included in this review. Shattered opens with the exciting addition of Atticus’s arch-druid, Owen, fresh off one of the time islands and unaware of the millennia that have past since he was last awake. As Atticus and Oberon work to acclimate Owen to the twenty-first century, Granuaile takes her own Druidic journey and heads to India to meet up with Latcha and save her father from a demonic possession. So much happened in Shattered! It was exciting to listen to; however, it did get confusing at times. This time around the story is shared by three voices (Atticus, Granuaile, and Owen) and two different POV tenses (Atticus in past tense, while Owen and Granuaile are present tense). Additionally, there are time lags and overlaps between the different narrators which left me scrambling at times to keep up. The overall stories of the Tuatha Dé Danann chasing after Atticus AND Loki’s intentions for Ragnarök, seem to take a backseat in this one… at first. But then the pieces of the puzzle slowly lock into place until BAM! two huge reveals and a lot of forward momentum. In fact, the events are so huge, that there will be impacts from the revelations for a long time. I loved the addition of Owen, Atticus’s arch-druid, who is now physically younger than Atticus (even tho he looks older) by a couple millennia. Atticus helps restore his body to a more youthful state and acclimate him to the modern times. His POVs add additional comic relief and thoughtful insight to the tale. Allowing the pair to come to terms over their past filled a void I didn’t realize was there. Watching teacher become student was humbling for both. I also enjoyed the addition of Orlla, Granuaile’s Irish wolfhound, and look forward to the time when she and Oberion can speak together. I spent a lot of the book fretting for Granuaile. Between the ominous predictions from Jesus and Granuaile’s own hindsight on her actions, I seriously was afraid of what would happen by the end of the book. No spoilers – something significant does occur, and I survived the tale. haha. But not since the battle with the Norse pantheon in...
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May
3

Review: Borrowed Souls by Chelsea Mueller

Review: Borrowed Souls by Chelsea Mueller Borrowed Souls Author: Chelsea Mueller Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Callie’s brother Josh is in trouble and the only way to get him back alive is to do the bidding of drug lord Ford. For her task, Callie must borrow a soul from the Soul Charmer and commit a crime. But it’s not that easy. The Charmer insists Callie work for him for two weeks in exchange for the soul saying she doesn’t have enough cash to outright loan it. The Charmer is intrigued by Callie’s soul, and Callie may be getting way more than she bargained for. In Ms. Mueller’s fascinating new Soul Charmer series, souls are pawned for cash or other favors. The Soul Charmer is able to wield “soul magic,” allowing him to take souls from and place souls in bodies. One can trade their for a short time to get cash, or borrow another to sin without repercussions on your own soul. The mythology is completely unique and unlike anything I’ve read before, which is one of the reasons I was drawn to Borrowed Souls. As the first book in a new series, there is a lot of world-building, but it’s not heavy-handed or shared via info-dumping. The author leaves clues about the world in dialogue and descriptive scenes. The reader learns about soul magic as Callie is exposed to this dangerous trade. Callie is rather naive at times, even though she comes from a rough childhood and her mom is a bit of a con artist. I like that Callie has to work for her badass UF heroine status; she’s not born with powers or have innate fighting abilities. Try as she might, Callie just can’t be mean, which gives her a soft edge. Callie makes mistakes, sometimes costly ones, but she seems to learn from her situation and move forward. Callie works as part of a soul repo team for two weeks to earn a day use of a soul. The Soul Charmer pairs Callie with Derek, the muscle to shake up those who are delinquent on returning borrowed souls. Derek is the strong, silent type, but Callie forms a bond with the big guy fairly quickly. She also has difficulty hiding her attraction to Derek, and soon the pair find themselves a couple. I LOVE Derek. He’s kind and good, giving someone for Callie to trust. She’s got so little good in her life, and Derek fills all...
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Apr
27

Review: The Chosen by J.R. Ward

Review: The Chosen by J.R. Ward The Chosen Author: J.R. Ward Reviewer: Una Rating: B What I’m Talking About: The Chosen is a novel that I have both wanted and dreaded.  This fifteenth book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series was to be a make or break book for me.  Suffice to say, the WARDen found and worked that special magic.  Though there are some highs and lows, overall I liked it – my crack is back! ****Needless to say, this is the 15th book in the series…if you haven’t read the series, there will be spoilers.  If you haven’t read through The Beast, there will be spoilers.  There are a few elements to the plot I will hint at since I can’t review the novel without it.  You have been warned.**** From the beginning I have never been a fan of the pairing of Layla and Xcor.  Romeo and Juliet had a more promising future than these two.  At the beginning of the series, Layla was endearing.  Quirky and sickeningly sweet, she was the poster girl for a Chosen.  Once liberated by the Primale, Layla floundered.  However, she still seemed to have the best interests of the species at heart. Once she was duped by Xcor, however, and all but threw herself into his machinations, I was irritated.  Layla went from being selfless to selfish.  I kept waiting for her liaisons with Xcor to be discovered, her betrayal of her “family” brought to light, the train she fought so hard to get on was going to wreck, it was just a question or when and the amount of collateral damage.  It does early in the novel and it is HUGE.  I found myself torn from feeling sorry for Layla and being angry. Xcor rubbed me the wrong way from the first moment we met him.  I did not believe that I could understand him nor root for him.  As the novel begins, we experience Xcor’s parents at the dawn of his birth.  I never thought Xcor’s life would have been easy, I expected it to be tragic – I wasn’t prepared for how awful it was.  Xcor is a male of worth from birth, but the environments he was raised in, honed him into the male he became.  I feel that it was not his meeting Layla that transformed him, contrary to his belief.  It was the revelation in Payne’s book that he is not the son of the Bloodletter that is the catalyst...
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Apr
25

Review: Wanted and Wired by Vivien Jackson

Review: Wanted and Wired by Vivien Jackson Wanted and Wired Author: Vivien Jackson Reviewer: Una Rating: B  What I’m Talking About: Wanted and Wired is the first in a new sci-fi romance series, Tether. Though it had a bit of a clunky slow start, I liked this new world and what seems to be a fascinating new series. The Tether world is fascinating; futuristic with a bit of a wild-west/ post-apocalyptic vibe.  I enjoyed the racial issue of organic human versus altered (cyborg/enhanced) human.  Those that feel people who have enhanced their bodies are somehow less human. Though the technology of the nanos are not fully explained, the technological advances were fascinating, especially the artificial intelligence. I am eager to learn more about this intriguing world. The journey of Heron and Mari started off… confusing. As a sci-fi novel, I was surprised how dominant the sexual thoughts were – Heron and Mari’s hormones were in overdrive.  In the midst of a mission and then as they are started to be hunted, it seemed… odd, that they would have sex being a major though process.  It started to be a bit old as the balance between their plight (the action) and the romance (sexual thoughts/tension) was off. However, by the halfway point, I felt there was a better balance. Some of the tripping points for me could be settled in the typical first novel in a series issue – world-building, character building, not to mention the different story arcs.  However, they did smooth out, and I found the last half to be an enthralling read. Mari’s botched mission and subsequent running was a gripping tale. I enjoyed how the history between Mari and Heron helped to not only give credence to their trust but their romance.  As Heron’s past comes to light, I found the mythology of the world shine.  As they closed in on who was behind the nefarious plot, I was truly surprised at who was it was.  I look forward to seeing how this may be part of an over-arching plot. Wanted and Wired may have stumbled a bit at the beginning with some first novel issues, by the end the story was captivating and smooth.  I liked Heron and Mari’s overall journey and hope to see them in the next novel.  The world is what I found truly fascinating and I cannot wait to learn more about it.  If you enjoy a bit of a science-fiction twist in your romance, you may just...
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Apr
18

Review: Snared by Jennifer Estep

Review: Snared by Jennifer Estep Snared Author: Jennifer Estep Reviewer: Jen Rating: B What I’m Talking About: With clues left by her late mentor, Fletcher, Gin and Silvio have started identifying the members of the devious Circle. They discover the “easiest” mark is Damian Rivera, a trust fund prince with a huge drinking problem, and Gin starts surveillance on the man, looking for any clues as to the identity of the mysterious head of the Circle. Meanwhile, Gin’s friend Jade comes to her asking for help locating her missing sister. As Gin digs deeper into both situations, she uncovers a serial killer is loose in Ashland. Once again, Ms. Estep had me glued to my Kindle as I took a ride with my favorite assassin. The Elemental Assassin books are always full of high-octane action, and Snared is no exception with its race against time – serial killer plot. While parts were fairly predictable, I found the energy surrounding Gin and her situation strong, and it pulled me in right from the start. I enjoyed learning more about the Circle and Gin’s own past. With that said, there are a few things that bugged me this time, more than usual. I genuinely enjoyed Snared, so I don’t want you to think otherwise as I list these issues, but I feel like it needs to be said. These are character flaws and/or plot devices that have started becoming repetitious, making the books predicable. First: Gin is an extremely intelligent woman; one of the smartest heroines out there. She also relies heavily on her gut instincts. So when she “hears” something or feels an ominous presence and then just walks away, saying it’s nothing… it frustrates me. We ALL know it is something, so why doesn’t Gin go with her gut instincts?! And she always seems to have facial recognition amnesia. That whole “something is off but I can’t figure out what” thing happens too often. Second: The dreams. I know the dreams are Gin’s “thing,” guiding her as if Fletcher was still around. But at this point, I find them disappointing. Too often, after recalling nothing about a significant memory from her youth, things that Gin *should* have remembered or never forgotten, she suddenly remembers something HUGE from her childhood that is just too coincidental in solving her current case. It’s just frustrating to see it over and over again, uncovering these secrets that Gin didn’t know she knew all along. Even with my frustrations...
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Apr
17

Review: The Thing About Love by Julie James

Review: The Thing About Love by Julie James The Thing About Love Author: Julie James Reviewer: Nima Rating: B What I’m Talking About: FBI agent Jessica Harlow likes her job and wants to be the best. From the early days of her training, she’s been trying to overcompensate for her diminutive size and any perceptions of weakness because she’s a woman. Agent John Shepherd came through her same class at Quantico. Always at odds for top marks, they became bitter rivals. Years later, they end up in the same field office and get assigned to the same case.  They will have to work to put aside their competitive natures if they are to collaborate successfully.  With the focus on the operation, the story has a substance in what would otherwise just be a fluffy romance of rekindled passions.  James gives us a lot of context for their history and relationship which added a depth that improved it. The banter and wit James is known for, like, “She who nearly climbeth the man like a tree must owneth it” rounds out the corners and makes this a strong addition to her FBI/US Attorney series. I wish we had had the chance to see John in action. He’s basically a superhero without the cape. James doesn’t take advantage of the character she’s created to show off his mad skills.  I also took issue with the ending.  She wrapped it up with a tidy bow, but before getting there, her own character, Jessica offers up an alternative ending.  Frankly, I liked that one better. As usual, the families James creates around her characters are wonderful and I enjoyed their intrusions into the storylines.  They make these overachievers relatable to the rest of us ordinary humans.  Even though there are things I would change, I can definitely say I liked this book. My Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: FBI agents Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd have a past. The former lawyer and cocky Army Ranger clashed during their training at Quantico and gladly went their separate ways after graduating from the Academy. Six years later, the last thing either of them expects is to be assigned to work as partners in a high-profile undercover sting. For both of them, being paired with an old rival couldn’t come at a worse time. Recently divorced from a Hollywood producer and looking for a fresh start, Jessica is eager to prove herself at her new field office. And John is just one...
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Apr
13

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Tricked by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Tricked by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Tricked Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #4 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Tricked Warning: Spoilers of events from previous books are included in this review. Tricked opens with Atticus’s spectacular death as foreseen by the Morrigan. Her prophesy was actually a deal that Atticus brokered with Coyote in the previous book, something readers/listeners were not privy to at that time. Coyote shifted to look like Atticus and then let the remaining, avenging Norse pantheon kill him, with the help of a few thunder gods. Now Atticus, Granuaile, and Oberon must move on, but first Atticus must fulfill his promise to help Coyote move some earth. Well, knowing that Coyote is a trickster god means nothing is as it would appear. After the self-serving adventures into Asgard that dominated the previous title, I was thankful to see that there were indeed consequences to Atticus’s actions. Hel has been unleashed on Earth, and she looks to start Ragnarök for her father, Loki. While this wasn’t the primary plot of the book, I was glad Atticus now realizes the mistakes he made when he indulged Leif’s vengeance. And speaking of Leif… he is back, and he has changed. Or maybe he hasn’t changed, but now that he’s used Atticus for the purpose he intended, we are privy to his true vampiric nature. I enjoyed Tricked for its Native American-based mythology. While I have no clue how much of it is based in actual beliefs, I found the story engrossing and the mythology interesting. My favorite character was the Navajo spiritual leader who brought a new level of spiritual magic to Atticus, and conversely, he learned much about the earth’s magic from Atticus. Their temporary bond was genuine and fruitful. It looks to me like the series is heading for change, with the farewells in the previous book, Hammered, and the start of new identities in Tricked. Atticus wants to focus on training apprentice Granuaile, who he is also completely taken with. I love his awkwardness around her. I also enjoyed how he opened up about his own long life to her. Granuaile, in turn, shares some secrets with Atticus that she had been internalizing. Their bond is growing stronger. I also really like the development of Oberon’s character. He’s becoming an intelligent, humorous sidekick. His nature has matured and grown...
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Apr
10

Review: Sanguine Moon by Jennifer Foxcroft

Review: Sanguine Moon by Jennifer Foxcroft Sanguine Moon Author: Jennifer Foxcroft Reviewer: Nima Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Sanguine Moon is the second installment in the young adult paranormal romance Camazotz Trilogy.  It picks up right where Sanguine Mountain left off.  I appreciated the fact that this was not a filler book, but had its own, valid plot.  While it is a complete story, this is definitely a “read in order” trilogy, also setting us up for book three in the last chapter. With two years between the release of the first and second installments, there is a character list in the back to help the reader keep multiple players in order. I found the first story was unique enough that I did remember most of it and have been looking forward to this read. I’m enjoying continuing this alternate version of the vampire myth.  Camazotz are a species of shape-shifting vampire bats—more zoology, less Bela Lugosi.  They shun modern technology and outsiders in an effort to keep their secrets.  Main heartthrob Rockland “Rocks” is desperately in love with aeronaught (ordinary human) Connie Phillips. Unfortunately he’s also heir-apparent to leadership of his colony. Connie has her own troubles as the identity of her biological parents prove to be more than problematic. In fact, they become very adult problems which is why I was frustrated by Connie’s lack of faith in the adults in her life—parents who are perfect in a way only fictional characters can be.  Keeping them from the action of the story felt a little contrived, even if necessary.  Academy Award winning director Keith Merrill once said, “If you’re a screenwriter and understand the essence of drama, and you want to plunge your characters into conflict and keep them there, then you probably need to ‘lose the mom.’ Mothers go missing in movies because leaving them in the lives of characters in crisis makes sustaining conflict difficult. Mothers listen and understand, solve problems, and resolve conflicts. They are selfless and love without conditions. You want to stir up a heap of trouble and make it believable? Better keep Mom out of it.”  Foxcroft’s justifications for keeping good parents “out of it” wore very thin before being resolved.  To her credit, however, when we finally got there, it was almost a physical relief.  I hope it is appropriate to give them a larger support role in book three. Rocks has his own problems with his colony.  Their fear of the outside world, especially...
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Apr
6

Review: Sins of the Warrior by Linda Poitevin

Review: Sins of the Warrior by Linda Poitevin Sins of the Warrior Author: Linda Poitevin Reviewer: Una Rating: B  What I’m Talking About: Sins of the Warrior is the final book in the gripping Grigory Legacy series.  While I am chagrined to say I liked it – the ending was a bittersweet yet satisfying conclusion to this series of Armageddon. First, I wish I had the time to at least reread the previous novel. It has been a few years since I’ve read Sins of the Lost. It took me a bit of time to jump back in. The beginning was slow for me as I struggled to remember so much of what had happened over the course of the series. If you haven’t read the series or are interested, trust me, start from the beginning. But once my brain cells kicked in and I recalled the past, I soon found myself gripped by this novel. ****If you haven’t read the series, this review will contain spoilers.**** As the novel begins, we find Alex hunting for her niece.  Her steel core of honor and duty won’t let her give up on her niece or on the world.  Alex has sacrificed and suffered since the beginning of this series. This novel is no different.  She continues to exemplify true courage, loyalty and determination.  Alex balances on the razor’s edge of sanity as her world and her future falls apart. However, it is a sign of her platinum will that she holds herself together, continuing on the path of doing what is right; even though the effort and choices are excruciating.  Though in the end there is a bittersweet consolation, it was still sad. I enjoyed how Michael (or Mika’el) was more fully developed in this book.  We see more than just the gruff warrior exterior – there is so much more to him.  Through this novel, it makes sense the by-play between him and Alex.  They are both warriors cut from the same cloth.  They have the same loyalty, same courage and determination and sadly, the same ability to sacrifice, to make the hard choices.  Once they start letting down their guards, they discovered how much alike they are, that they are both working for the same goals. What keeps me from rating this higher is that it is sad.  The end of humanity is not something you can say you loved.  This is Armageddon – the absolute war. The losses in this war will be catastrophic; you...
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Apr
6

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: The Iron Druid Chronicles Book: Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles Author: Kevin Hearne Narrator: Luke Daniels Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Iron Druid Chronicles #0.6 & #3.5 Genre: Urban Fantasy Source: purchased Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles is just that – two shorter-length stories set in the Iron Druid Chronicles world that are tied to the series, but do not directly impact the overall storyline of the series. The first tale, Kaibab Unbound, takes place shorty before the start of the series. Atticus and his dog companion, Oberon, go north to the Arizona wilderness for some hunting time. However, their trip is cut short when the Kaibab elemental calls to Atticus for assistance, and Atticus must right the wrongs of a trio of witches. The short story is a glimpse into Atticus’s life and duties as the last Druid. It’s a self-contained short and good introduction to the series. It was enjoyable for this existing fan of Atticus and Oberon. Test of Mettle is a bit different because it is shared in the first person POV narration of Atticus’s apprentice, Granuaile. The story takes place concurrently with book 3, Hammered, when Atticus is in Asgard. Granuaile is keeping her promise to Sonora, the desert earth elemental, by ridding the river of an evasive species, when she is attacked by animals under the direction of the goddess of the hunt, Flidais. Test of Mettle was my favorite of these two tales because it gives a perspective we don’t normally experience. I liked seeing how Granuaile interacted with Oberon since she can’t hear him, therefore neither can I. I also enjoyed seeing her survive her trials and get a new perspective of her enjoyment and desire to become a Druid. HOWEVER… there is a dark side to Granuaile as she thinks about a time in the future when she will be able to destroy her stepfather. Eep! While the stories are both narrated by series narrator Luke Daniels, my first notice was that the narration was slightly different. The biggest difference was that Oberon came off a bit rough around the edges – more wild and goofy than I’m used to. I don’t know if it was recorded early on or if the narrator purposely changed slightly. Since we haven’t had a story told from Granuaile’s POV, I didn’t have a lot...
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