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Mar
15

Review: Her True Match by Paige Tyler

Review: Her True Match by Paige Tyler Her True Match Author: Paige Tyler Reviewer: Una Rating: C  What I’m Talking About: After Her Rogue Alpha, I wasn’t sure what to expect in the next X-Ops novel.  This review has been tough to write.  I wasn’t sure how to articulate my feelings on it.  Though I eagerly wanted to see the story of Dreya Clark, I was a bit disappointed with Her True Match. I’m completely torn about this novel.  On the one hand I felt it was a bit lackluster.  The romantic journey of Dreya and Braden reminded me too much of Ivy and Landon.  Though there are distinct differences in plot points, the essence of it was too familiar.  The premise of the cop falling for the thief was alluring, and I did enjoy that part of their story.  However, though I am no expert in police procedures, there were moments that completely suspended my disbelief.  Some of Braden’s actions did not seem realistic.  Nor was his almost gilded invitation to not only keep an eye on Dreya but be her partner.  The latitudes taken were too much for me and the world lost me.  I was also taken a back that no one warned him about Dick.  Really?  No one warned him not to trust him?  At the very least I would have thought his cop-spider-senses would have clued him in that Dick was off. There are a few plot lines running in this novel as seems to be the case later in the series.  I was surprised at how quickly Dreya took to training, especially working with a seasoned cop like Braden.  It felt like the story “jumped the shark” when, after an incredibly short time, they were sent on missions.  I understand being short-handed, but the work they do is really not for amateurs. This was especially apparent when they send out basically two rookies without the oversight of a veteran.  I found the continuing hunt for the crooked members of the DCO’s oversight committee, as well as the tracking down of the rogue scientists, fascinating. Yet, the cliffhanger event at the end was a complete surprise. Though I don’t believe all is as it seems, this would be my only reason for reading the next novel. As much as I loved the premise of this series at the beginning, the last two novels have disappointed me for different reasons.  I did like Dreya and Braden and felt satisfied that they found...
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Feb
16

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Vacation Hell by Eve Langlais

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Vacation Hell by Eve Langlais Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Princess of Hell Series Book: Vacation Hell Author: Eve Langlais Narrator: Rebecca Estrella Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Princess of Hell #4 Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance / Urban Fantasy Source: Tantor Audio Vacation Hell Vacation Hell opens with Muriel and her family settling into their new lives as parents and lovers. Although everyone is extremely happy, Muriel is being called to the beach, someplace she does NOT like to visit, indicating larger forces at play. Yet with her precocious, meddlesome daughter, Lucinda, driving Muriel to emotional and mental exhaustion, the gang decides a family vacation to the beach is in order. Vacation Hell is the fourth addition to Ms. Langlais’s wild Princess of Hell series. Although the story is mostly standalone, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this one – too much of the world is developed over the course of the previous books. With the nature of Muriel’s sexually charged magic, jumping in here may be confusing, and not as emotionally satisfying. The story contained within Vacation Hell is light and short. Keeping in concert with the previous stories, Muriel must take on a new lover to feed a different aspect of her magic. This time she is practically shoved at Tristan, a merman and son of King Neptune, by someone in her own family. I like that Muriel is learning to be more at ease with her needs and the part other sexual partners play in her life. However, I am not happy with the fact that she was placed in the situation via manipulation. I also enjoyed that different than the past, Tristan is not ready to jump into the orgy as easily as her previous lovers. The author has made each male unique, with their own sexual needs, which keeps the stories fresh. After eliminating the “big bad” from the prior books in Hell’s Revenge, the author creates a new story arc that will clearly span into the next book, as there is a huge aspect of this story that remains unfinished by the end of Vacation Hell. Since the ending isn’t a true cliff-hanger, I don’t mind that the story arc continues forward; however, the book is very short, and I felt the plot line was weak. So I would have preferred the author continue the story, creating a longer, more fulfilling book. Ms. Estrella’s familiar performance creates a bit of comfort in this, the fourth title....
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Dec
19

Review: The Furies’ Bog by Deborah Jackson

Review: The Furies’ Bog by Deborah Jackson The Furies’ Bog Author: Deborah Jackson Reviewer: Nima Rating: C The description of Deborah Jackson’s The Furies’ Bog will draw in any regular sci-fi reader.  It promises a lot.  Jackson spreads her tale across multiple locations worldwide and even space, incorporating genetics, archeology, and secret agents. The Furies’ Bog was thought-provoking. It was well-written. Parts of it were definitely engaging, but sadly, you could say all of those things about a textbook on a subject in which you were interested. Jackson has definitely done her homework—literally.  According to her end notes, she studied science journals and went back to school at MIT to take classes with this book specifically in mind.  You have to be in awe of someone that dedicated to writing a scientifically plausible story.  It’s a relatively long story, however, coming in at over 500 hundred pages. Long books are not unusual in the sci-fi world, but The Furies’ Bog is not a page-turner despite a fair amount of action. It wants to be an exciting sci-fi thriller, well-grounded in current genetic science, but never achieves real momentum, getting—if you’ll excuse the expression—“bogged down” in the science. She even includes an entire thesis paper within the body of the story.  (In the electronic version, you can click a link to skip over this.) In the first of two appendices, which is not wholly unusual for the science fiction genre, she includes the entire DNA sequence of the LIPE gene referenced in her thesis stating, “I wanted to emphasize how a small mutation in this entire length could alter the function, or trigger the dysfunction, of a protein and upset the balance in our bodies, or even entirely alter the way our bodies work.  These mutations can lead to cancer or other diseases, or set us on a new evolutionary path.”  I don’t know that that actually adds anything or even emphasis to her story.  Before the link to skip it, Jackson offers this disclaimer:  This document contains a variety of technical terms that may be confusing to the average reader.  Feel free to skip over it, if you find it tedious. To me, it felt a little condescending.  I’m not exactly sure who she intended as her primary audience. Probably most significant to me, because the action of The Furies’ Bog is stretched across multiple locations, Jackson has main characters in each of those places.  This meant we didn’t spend enough time with any of them...
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Nov
16

Review: Dirty Wicked by Shayla Black

Review: Dirty Wicked by Shayla Black Dirty Wicked Author: Shayla Black Reviewer: Jen Twimom Rating: C What I’m Talking About: Set up and sent to jail for a violent crime he didn’t commit, Nick Navarro is determined to take vengeance on the corrupt district attorney who framed him and killed his best friend, Mike Porter. Sasha Porter holds the key to putting away Clifford for good. Now if Nick can keep his desperate need for his best friend’s widow, Nick and Sasha may yet survive the ordeal. Dirty Wicked is a quick and danger-filled love story. Clifford is a evil, corrupt soul, who will stop at nothing to see Nick, Sasha, and her three-year-old daughter, Hannah, dead. I like that he’s not a good man in any way, making him a easy character to loathe.  Additionally, being on the run adds an element of suspense to the story, which in turn allows the author the freedom to create intense feelings between the couple, regardless of how little they know of one another. While Ms. Black won me over with her ability to create strong emotional bonds between the hero and heroine in her previous 1,001 Dark Nights novellas, she fell short of the mark with Dirty Wicked. There were good moments and sexy scenes, but there were also easy outs and ridiculous actions (or non-actions). The pair fell into unwarranted “I love you’s” after only two days, and the descriptive text like “he could taste the love in her kiss,” and “Devotion flowed from her fingertips. Acceptance oozed from her soft palms,” felt a bit over the top to me. Yet there are brilliant moments like when Nick felt pushing Sasha into sex would keep her away, lessening his temptation. “You can force me to spread my legs for you and give you everything between them. You can’t force me to share everything under my skin.” The demonstrates Sasha’s a fighter and still has some spirit left despite the circumstances. This is followed by Nick’s “Until you can give me all that, don’t offer me your body again,” which allows a little glimpse of his true desires though. Unfortunately, those moments were outnumbered by the less brilliant ones. In the end, Dirty Wicked was a let down for me after loving the previous two 1,001 Dark Nights titles by Ms. Black. Although there were wonderful moments in the story, Dirty Wicked had too many stereotypes and a cookie-cutter plot. The story just didn’t feel well-thought out to me....
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Oct
20

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Dragon Kin Series Book: Dragon Actually Author: G.A. Aiken Narrator: Hollie Jackson Audio Speed: 1.5x & 2x Series: Dragon Kin #1 Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance Source: Tantor Audio I have heard very good things about G.A. Aiken’s Dragon Kin series, so when I saw it was being release on audio by Tantor media, I jumped at the chance to review the titles. Dragon Actually, the first story in this paranormal/fantasy romance series is actually two books in one. The primary story, Dragon Actually, creates the settings and develops a world full of waring humans and powerful dragons. The second, short story, Chains and Flames, shares the backstory of two dragon characters we meet in the primary tale. Dragon Actually shares the story of Annwyl the Bloody, the bastard sister of the current, malevolent king. She is the fearless and heralded leader of the rebellion, which is growing with each passing day. However, her brother, with the help of a powerful warlock, grows close to capturing Annwyl. Just as some of his troops are about to deliver the mortal blow to Annwyl, Fearghus the Destroyer, a powerful dragon, steps in to save her. Dragons are rarely seen these days, and many believe they are just a myth, something the solitary Fearghus thinks is just fine. However, after he feels compelled to save Annwyl, nursing her back to life and agreeing to assist in her battles against her brother, he finds he cannot stay away from her. Overall, Dragon Actually is a solid and entertaining paranormal/fantasy romance. I like the mythology and admire the strong female hero. Annwyl is her own person and doesn’t apologize for her attitude or behaviors. She is known as “the bloody” for a very good reason, cutting down her enemies without remorse as any male leader would. Fearghus is the only male who could be her equal and that makes them a good fit. I enjoyed their companionship and the times they let their guards down to talk. I did feel that there was a high “cheese-factor” in this story, both in the romance and in the interactions between several of the characters. I felt the story was dated in terms of tone, and my tastes in PNR have changed in the past 10 years. One thing I did not care for was the abruptness of the ending! Without giving spoilers, the ending felt incomplete. I would have liked...
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Oct
17

Review: A Most Extraordinary Pursuit by Juliana Gray

Review: A Most Extraordinary Pursuit by Juliana Gray A Most Extraordinary Pursuit Author: Juliana Gray Reviewer: Ang Rating: C What I’m Talking About: If you are familiar with my reviews, you know that I enjoy Juliana Gray’s work and typically rate it fairly high. I am disappointed to say that wasn’t so much the case with A Most Extraordinary Pursuit. When I received the title I was excited to continue the adventures with the Duke of Olympia’s tribe, and although Olympia clearly has a hand in this story, I found it to be nothing like Ms. Gray’s other novels. I realize that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but I really struggled with her changed format and writing style. Although the characters had plenty of chemistry and banter, I found the storyline to be jumpy. The constant bouncing back and forth between the narrator’s current world and the “book of Hayward” was distracting, hard for me to follow, and sometimes downright exhausting. I finally had to start taking notes so I didn’t have to keep going back and forth between chapters to remember what was going on. I understand what Ms. Gray was attempting to do, but think it would have worked better if she had added these parts at the beginning or end of the chapters, rather than sprinkling it whenever and wherever. Another area that was a struggle for me was in the way some of the secondary characters were presented, for example the Queen. I have read the entire book and still have no idea what her purpose is or why she is a part of the storyline. Is she supposed to represent the mother Truelove never really knew? Is she just a figment of her imagination? I understand better why her dead father appears throughout the book better than why the Queen jumps in and out. Maybe that will be better explained in future books, but in A Most Extraordinary Pursuit I found it to be distracting and frustrating. While the dialogue between Truelove and the Queen is well written and the banter between them is even humorous at times, I’m just not sure why it’s in the story. It adds to the word count but I’m not sure it adds to the storyline. I guess my greatest struggle is that I was expecting a love story, a romance novel and although there is a love story between Tedeus and Desma and there is romance hinted at between Truelove and Silverton, it...
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Oct
3

Review: Can’t Hide From Me by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Review: Can’t Hide From Me by Cordelia Kingsbridge Can’t Hide From Me Author: Cordelia Kingsbridge Reviewer: B. Rating: C What I’m Talking About: As a member of a highly-skilled ATF team, Charles Hunter is a clever, adept agent who takes his profession seriously. Having recently broken off an engagement, the last thing he needs is to reconnect with another ex-lover during an emergency extraction from the latter’s current undercover assignment. Still hurting and bitter, Charles isn’t prepared for all the ways his life spins out of control when a stalker complicates the situation, and all the secrets he’s tried to hide come crashing down on him. Ángel Medina has been living a lie for two years. When he was given the chance to go undercover and bring down one of the most notorious cartels on the ATF’s hit list, he had to take it. Letting go of the man he loved to do it wasn’t easy, but he wasn’t willing to live his life as someone’s “dirty little secret,” either. But, when his only contact to the real world goes missing, and an extraction is his only hope of survival, his past and present collide in ways he could never have expected. On initial examination, Can’t Hide from Me, by Cordelia Kingsbridge, had a lot going for it: a diverse cast of characters, strong personalities, a range of sexual identities, suspense, as well as a path to redemption and second chances. Yet, as I got further into the narrative, I found that there were a few issues that I was never able to accept or ignore enough to become truly engaged with the story. One of my biggest issues is that I thought there was too much sex for the story trying to support it. It’s not the actual quantity of sex scenes that bothered me exactly, it’s just that, due to the characters’ circumstances, and the suspenseful intent of the narrative, a majority of these encounters seem more gratuitous than purposeful. Given the nature of Ángel’s most recent undercover operation, as well as the addition of a stalker who’s clearly much closer than should have been possible with an elite ATF team, a lot of the sex in Can’t Hide from Me seems emotionally and mentally reckless, at best. I try to ignore the “heat ratings” of a story, however, so others may not have any qualms about the situation. While I usually love suspense and mystery in the stories I get to review, it just...
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Sep
21

Review: Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black

Review: Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black Ninth City Burning Author: J. Patrick Black Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: C  What We’re Talking About: Ninth City Burning is the debut novel of J. Patrick Black.  This science fiction story was fascinating and easily visualized, if only Gikany and Una enjoyed reading it. Truly, we loved the overall premise – a science fiction story about a post-apocalyptic Earth battling back an alien species in order to avoid extinction.  The discovery of a new resource, Thelemity which most of us would describe as magic, is critical in the battle between these two factions.  It is utterly engrossing.  The novel begins with the assumption that we are winning, when in fact we discover, the hard way, we may be about to lose.  We watch as Earth makes a desperate move in order to survive the approaching alien horde.  Does this sound riveting? It was in a sense. Gikany and Una really enjoyed the overall world and the premise.  We just didn’t like reading it. An on-going preference of ours is that we prefer multiple points-of-view novels written in third person.  (We apologize if this will sound awfully academic).  In third person, it is easy to move from character to character, place to place while allowing the story to flow.  However, this is a novel from seven different character’s perspectives, all written in first person.  The story suffers from a lot of “stop and go.”  Each chapter is title with the character that will be narrating.  Now some consecutive chapters are from the same viewpoint, but not always.  The story doesn’t flow well regardless of how gripping the premise.  It was difficult in the beginning to orient to the world as we were in four different perspectives of the “current” world.  There is no background or prequel summary, we just start in the middle of each of the character’s lives.  It wasn’t until about 25% where several narrators encountered each other that we were able to fully comprehend the “what” and “where” of the story, including chronology.  Though each character was unique and fascinating, we feel that not all of the points of views were necessary. The mythology was completely fascinating and intriguing.  The science involved with Thelemity – an element that we would think similar to magic — is utilized in technically advanced engineering.  There is a pivotal moment near the end that questions the war.  With the politics we encounter, it makes us wonder if it is true...
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Sep
8

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook review: Wickedly Dangerous Author: Deborah Blake Narrator: Romy Nordlinger Audio Speed: 1.25 – 1.5x Series: Baba Yaga #1 Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance Source: purchased Barbara Yager is one of the Baba Yaga, a human, nature-witch of sorts. She was summoned to Clearwater County by an elderly Russian couple whose granddaughter was kidnapped. Right from the start, Baba realizes that otherworldly forces are at work, and that there is a menacing connection between the proposed hydro-fraking of the land and the missing children. Liam McClellan is the hardworking sheriff whose job is on the line because of the missing children. He knows there is something unusual, something more, going on, but is he ready to accept the truth? Wickedly Dangerous is the first book in an interesting UF romance series centered on the Russian mythology of the Baba Yaga. I enjoyed the premise of the book, taking a modern day spin on the witch who lived in a hut that walked on chicken legs. Baba’s powers are impressive, but she has limits and rules, which makes the entire situation a bit harried when she can’t take the necessary actions to right the wrongs. I don’t know if it was the narrator, writing, or both, but the book seemed to have a fairytale quality when the subject matter warranted a gritty, urban fantasy tone. I couldn’t always put my finger on it, but it didn’t always suit my tastes. I liked the storyline, but the almost whimsical quality turned me off. The language was often flowery and overly descriptive with odd comparisons. “His hands clenched on the folder until the papers inside crunched like dry bones in an abandoned graveyard.” “The drowsy coals flashed into sudden wakefulness, flames shooting upward as if to meet the stars halfway. Baba’s heart roared with matching fury and pain, it’s intensity catching her by surprise. One rare tear fell onto the fire and evaporated like a stillborn dream of happiness.” And then there was the awful part when the author compared a luscious roasted chicken to a Vegas show girl after a day in the sun. Just ew. Unfortunately, between the off descriptions and the constant witch hunt against Baba and Liam, the book began to wear on me, and I just wanted the issues resolved. I understand that witch-hunt mentality and type of behavior would happen in real life, and I don’t disagree with the direction...
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Sep
6

Review: Her Rogue Alpha by Paige Tyler

Review: Her Rogue Alpha by Paige Tyler Her Rogue Alpha Author: Paige Tyler Reviewers: Gikany and Una Rating: DNF / C What We’re Talking About: This is an odd review to write since only Una finished the book, but we do that we were disappointed with Layla and Jayson’s story. Una finished the novel, but found herself feeling let down.  The connection between Layla and Jayson was forged early in the series.  Their story is one we have waited for: a shifter who just joined the X-Ops and her wounded soldier.  However, Jayson is emotionally abusive.  The abuse is substantial enough to make us feel that there should possibly be trigger warnings for this book.  In the end he does apologize for being selfishly brooding in his disability, but it was long overdue.  He was brash and reckless in the beginning, and Layla accepted that all the pain he caused her was okay because he loves her.  Their reunion in a battlefield was odd and seemed untimely.  The plot of Jayson’s mission was convoluted and far-fetched – especially his abilities.  At the end of the novel, there is a revelation about Jayson that Layla reads and then destroys – without the reader being privy to it.  This carrot dangling was infuriating to Una.  Since this part of the story was told from Layla’s perspective, we should have been privy to the message.  It would have been preferable to have her destroy the note without looking. The plot that kept Una reading was regarding a thief.  This plot line is tied to the search for the enemy within the X-Ops.  Una found this storyline fascinating and intriguing.  And knowing it is not the end of seeing the thief, we hope to see her in a future novel. Gikany did not finish this novel.  The emotional abuse that begins between Layla and Jayson was too much.  By the 25% mark, the urge to have Layla punch Jayson and leave him was too great for Gikany.  She felt that there was no way he could redeem himself, and he just didn’t deserve her love.  Gikany could not stand to read anymore. Although we do agree that this novel did not go altogether well, Una was able to finish it.  Both Gikany and Una were disappointed in this long awaited story.  Una will read the next novel in the series but Gikany will not. Una’s Rating:  C, Finished It – Liked some, didn’t like some Gikany’s Rating:  DNF – Did...
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