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Oct
23

Review: Legs by Kelly Siskind

Review: Legs by Kelly Siskind Legs Author: Kelly Siskind Reviewer: Jen Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Legs is the delightful and heart-felt start to Kelly SIskind’s new One Wild Wish series. Bringing wit, a strong female lead, and a whole lot of heart to this first book, Ms. Siskind has once again created a world and group of friends I would love to be part of. At times I was laughing out loud, while sniffling during others. Set in and around the wine country of Northern California, Rachel and Jimmy meet when she shouts an embarrassing statement just as the music stops at the nightclub where she is celebrating her birthday with her BFFs. Soon the two are vying for the same sommelier position in a silly contest. What starts out as playful flirtation, turns into a intoxicating love affair, one that pushes comfort zones and tests the heart. Jimmy is a powerful man who owns his emotions, even when they get a bit out of control. Having been hurt by his family and the woman he was set to marry, Jimmy is slow to trust and isn’t looking for the sunshine Rachel brings into his life. Meanwhile, Rachel is so scared of disappointing her mother again, that she’s living an unfulfilling life and playing it safe. Jimmy shows her that it’s okay to be who she really is inside, but she often lets her fears keep him at arm’s length. I enjoyed watching the pair come together. I loved how Jimmy realizes what Rachel means to him and works hard to bring her around. Yet when he makes mistakes, it’s bad. However, between Rachel’s kind and forgiving heart and Jimmy’s own insight, the pair can move past hurts towards a better future. The story takes some ups and downs as it progresses to its HEA. One of the lows is near the beginning, after the pair’s initial hookup. *potential spoiler alert* Rachel was so inebriated that doesn’t recall their marathon all-nighter. *end spoiler* This situation is used by Jimmy to taunt and tease Rachel, and I was a little uncomfortable with the entire situation. However, Ms. Siskind spins it in such a way that eventually worked for me as it progressed. Additionally, there is a twist in the later part of the book that at first had me thinking “really?” but as it moved forward, once again worked out. I like that the author could put me in uncomfortable situations and then...
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Oct
18

Review: To Fall Among Vultures by Scott Warren

Review: To Fall Among Vultures by Scott Warren To Fall Among Vultures Author: Scott Warren Reviewer: Nima Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: To Fall Among Vultures is a solid addition to the Union Earth Privateers series.  I found the writing to be equally as good as the first book, Vick’s Vultures, with the same exception that I noted before, that of repetition. (I read from an advance copy and it may be those few spots I took issue with are changed in final editing.)  Calling upon his own training as a pilot, Warren helps us to mentally visualize extensive battle scenes.  They feel authentic, if a little drawn out. The reader is definitely in the middle of the action as the point of view shifts through the perspectives of different participants in the fight. I wanted to see the movie the same way I wanted to see the campaigns in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. Like Star Wars’ The Empire Strikes Back, there has to be that middle book which gives us very important information, but maybe doesn’t have the final ending we want.  Truthfully, after reading To Fall Among Vultures there’s such a surprise (I won’t spoil it for you) that I’m not even sure what I want from book three.  It brings up major questions that need major answers, but until I read this book, I didn’t know to ask them.  Readers of speculative science fiction like to speculate and when the author is a step or three ahead of the reader—well, it’s just fun. The strength of Vick’s Vultures was watching humans overcome incredible odds, take advantage of opportunity, and make noble sacrifices—things we like to pat ourselves on the back for as a people.  In To Fall Among Vultures, Warren explores our flaws.  Most significantly, as the story becomes more fantastic, it remains plausible where the flawed Earthlings we know are the heroes and the bad guys.  Warren handles it well and maintains my good opinion.  I’m looking forward to book three. My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Humanity has spent decades carefully establishing a quiet foothold in an uncaring galaxy brimming with hostile powers. That all unraveled six months ago when Captain Victoria Marin and her crew of Vultures stumbled into the center of a conflict between two of the galaxy’s three apex civilizations. Eager to get off the intergalactic radar, the Vultures spent the last six months laying low, running routine salvage and recon missions for the...
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Oct
17

Review: Grigori by Lauren Smith

Review: Grigori by Lauren Smith Grigori Author:  Lauren Smith Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Grigori is the debut novel in the Brothers of Ash and Fire series.  Gikany and Una were interested in this new urban fantasy series focusing on dragon shifters.  We were pleasantly surprised that it is not just about dragons shifters and, although there were a few odd notes, we liked our introduction to this new world. The premise and mythology of the dragon shifters was interesting.  We did, however, wonder how they could even attempt flying in dragon form, no matter how rural an area is, with satellite surveillance and other modern technology.  Despite all of that, it was fascinating to imagine Grigori flying in his stunning dragon form.  Grigori’s immediate desire to mate with Madelyn upon catching her scent made perfect sense.  So did his chivalry:  Grigori is thousands of years old.  This longevity was overshadowed by a sense of melancholy.  Considering how small the Barinov family is and how few close companions they must have, their melancholy is not surprising.  It was most notable in some of the interactions between Grigori and his brother Rurik. One thing we felt was odd about this story is an issue that centers on Madelyn.  Even in this modern age, a single woman would hesitate to venture into a country alone with only a basic understanding of the local language.  It just doesn’t seem prudent or safe.  Then after Grigori kidnaps her, the instant and overwhelming attraction she has for him is bizarre.  She even jokes about how she is suffering from Stockholm syndrome.  Their “courtship” is rather terse and although the romance is sizzling, the fuse was quite short.  We understand the drive of mating, but Madelyn’s reaction was unexpected.  In the end, we loved how the truth revealed itself.  We liked the allusion to Romeo and Juliet’s infamous love story.  We hope to see Grigori and Madelyn in the next novel. Overall, we liked this new take on modern day dragon shifters.  Although this first novel is a little clunky with its odd notes, the flow of the story and romantic journey of Grigori and Madelyn more than compensated.  We look forward to reading about Grigori and Rurik’s lost brother, Mikhail, in the next Brothers of Ash and Fire novel. Our Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: He’s one of the last of a powerful but vanishing bloodline … Grigori Barinov is the eldest...
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Oct
17

Review: Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt

Review: Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt Duke of Desire Author: Elizabeth Hoyt Reviewer: Jen Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: Duke of Desire jumps right into the thick of things, with Iris, the Lady Jordan, kidnapped four days ago as she departed from the Duke of Kyle’s wedding. She is currently bound on an alter in front of the masked Lords of Chaos who are arguing over Iris’s identity, confusing her with the new Duchess of Kyle. Raphael, Duke of Dyemore, is working to infiltrate and eliminate the atrocious Lords of Chaos, the group his father once proudly ruled. Seeing the innocent Lady Jordan held captive on his own lands pushes him to take action. Demanding she be his to use, he hauls her away, in an effort to save her. However as circumstances become dangerous for Iris and Raphael, he insists marriage is the only way he can protect her. As a late-comer to the wonderful Maiden Lane series, I was sad to learn that Duke of Desire is the last novel in this delightful world. While this book isn’t my favorite of the series, it puts some issues to rest and leaves readers with a happily-ever-after epilogue. I enjoyed the story, but I felt the plot revolving around the Lords of Chaos and Raphael’s revenge overshadows the romance. Iris is a strong woman and wonderful character. She’s a different type of heroine from many that I normally read. Rather than push to get her way, she decides she shall convince and plot. Rather than stand up, she goes along, keeping faith and hope she’ll turn things around. She knows what she wants, and is willing to temporarily “settle” for less, with the hope she will get through Raphael’s defenses eventually. Not that she’ll wear him down, but rather that she’ll help him realize there is more to life than revenge. But her nature causes her to appear complacent at times, and I wanted to her to fight harder for herself and those she cares about. It’s a good thing I’m not Iris, or the author, or I’d have ended up pushing Raphael away permanently! Raphael was left emotionally, physically, and mentally damaged by his father and a horrific childhood. Even though his aunt was able to help him escape the dangers at home, Raphael’s memories will never let him rest. His mind is warped; convinced he will end up a monster like his father. While Raphael’s behaviors and attitude are probably genuine and...
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Oct
16

Review + Excerpt: Midnight Unleashed by Lara Adrian

Review + Excerpt: Midnight Unleashed by Lara Adrian Midnight Unleashed Author: Lara Adrian Reviewer: Jen Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Six weeks ago, Tamisia (Sia) was banished from the Atlantean colony where she helped rule as council member; trusting the wrong man earned her a lifetime on Earth. Now she finds meaning in helping run a shelter for women and children in Rome, with fellow Atlantean Pheaedra. But when a deadly Breed Order operation causes the death of one under her care, Sia decides to take action. Trygg, a dangers Gen One Hunter assassin who prefers to work solo, is obsessed with bring down the human responsible for distributing the deadly Red Dragon drug. When his mission crosses paths with the beautiful Sia, his emotions start getting in the way of his job. As much as he tries to avoid her, Trygg seems destined to tangle with the Atlantean. Sia, who was introduced in Defy the Dawn (Midnight Breed #14), put her love and trust in Elyon, who was a traitor and still loyal to the evil Atlantean Queen. This resulted in the deaths of two Atlanteans and the colony was quick to blame Sia, banishing her and placing her under the protection of the Breed leader, Lazlo. Trygg also has trust issues, first from his youth as a Hunter under Dragos, and then when he was used by another who he thought loved him. This makes a relationship difficult to say the least – with two people both weary of the world and unable to trust one another. Yet, they cannot fight attraction and their mutual backgrounds seem to draw them closer rather than push them apart. Midnight Unleashed is another good Midnight Breed novella that carries the same basic romantic premise as so many before it. It starts with a main couple who can’t stand one another. He’s rough and alpha, she’s tough yet feminine and tender. They are attracted but don’t like that they are. And then, in a matter of days, all hesitation melts away and they just know they are meant to be. “It was as if she’d been waiting for this all her long life. Waiting for this man to awaken her and make her feel truly alive.” They are in love – the kind that will last an eternity. If you are good with the basic premise than I highly recommend Midnight Unleashed, and the series in general. The bottom line is that I liked Sia. I liked Trygg....
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Oct
12

Review: A.L.F.A. Mates by by Milly Taiden

Review: A.L.F.A. Mates by by Milly Taiden A.L.F.A. Mates Author: Milly Taiden Reviewer: VampBard Rating: B What I’m Talking About: Strangely enough, Milly Taiden is a new-to-me author! I have had her on a list of “I should really read her…” but haven’t ever gotten to her on my TBR. I know. No one is surprised. I was super excited to pick up the first two titles in her A.L.F.A. series in one volume—I’m pretty sure I swooped in on that like a corvid to road kill. The first story is Elemental Mating, and it features Melinda and Hamel. One thing I really liked about their story was how intense Melinda was. The scientist seemed to be at the forefront most of the time, and I loved her inquisitive mind. What I liked most about Hamel is that he was pretty bound & determined to keep Melinda safe. Things get a little hairy when there’s a couple events that put Melinda in danger—as well as her research. This title had a lot more to it than I expected, and could’ve been a longer title—I felt there was a lot crammed into around 150 pages-ish. The second story, Mating Needs, was interesting. Okay. I got my copy via NetGalley and I’m hoping there was another round of editing happening—it did take me a little extra time to get through this story because there were so many proof-y things they distracted me. But, I’m sure the publisher would ensure this was addressed. So, it’s not figuring into my review. I just had to put it out there. I have a long-standing fascination with the Mafia—more specifically, Al Capone. I’m not going into all the stupid, anecdotal stuff I know about him because of my obsession interest. Which is why Amie kept me riveted to this title. Not gonna lie. I have a predilection for cougar shifters, and Frank’s draw to Amie drew me in. Complications, you say? Oh, this title definitely had them. I really liked the way they worked out, though. All elements of a well-written story, which Ms. Taiden delivered. I’m definitely on-board for reading more sexy shifters in Ms. Taiden’s ALFA series—a third title had an excerpt in the back of the edition I read. I did NOT read the excerpt because that’s something I don’t do, but I am still excited. My Rating: B, Liked It About the Book: The Alpha League Federal Agency is sworn to protect humanity from paranormal threats and now...
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Oct
11

Review + Blog Tour: Sightlines by Santino Hassell

Review + Blog Tour: Sightlines by Santino Hassell Sightlines Author: Santino Hassell Reviewer: B. Rating: A What I’m Talking About: 3/10/2018 Edited to Add: Please note, this review was written and posted prior to the occurrences brought to light in recent days (https://goo.gl/Y7WB7F). The book was read and reviewed in good faith and as presented at the time. The posting of this review in no way condones the actions of author. ======== After thoroughly enjoying the first two books in The Community series by Santino Hassell, and having built up so much of my own anticipation for the third, I was very happy when Sightlines surpassed all my expectations. Essentially broken down into two parts—a brutal look at the insidious nature of “The Farm” and Chase and Elijah’s attempt to escape, followed by a reckoning for “The Comm” as a whole—this story weaves the previously unraveling threads back together into new possibilities, and gives some extraordinary characters a chance to truly live. Chase has been a perplexity and source of fascination for me since I first read Insight, and Sightlines underscores that his presence in all three narratives is imperative. Both a prize and pariah, he’s too dangerous to be trusted, yet too unique and powerful to be eliminated. Reduced to a thing to be dissected with an eye towards replication, his story was tough to get through, mostly because the monsters here actually do exist in one incarnation or another in the world around us. As he’s undergone what may be the most jarring evolution since the beginning of the series, I found Elijah to be similarly engaging in Sightlines. There’s a purity to him that’s still downright shiny in a lot of ways, and it’s no wonder that Chase finds himself as perplexed as he does. I also felt that Elijah’s loss of naivety beautifully intersected with the stuttering rebirth of Chase’s capacity to hope, and the resulting collision was as provocative as it was sweet. What made The Community so terrifying to me wasn’t any single moment, but, rather, the fear, greed, and twisted purpose that might lead—indeed, has led—some to perpetrate the horrors we ought never be willing to inflict on one another. While it is a work of fiction, Sightlines makes several extremely pertinent affirmations about human nature, beginning with Chase’s early observation that: “Apathy was humanity’s biggest crime. Not murderous intent.” From the beginning, Sightlines proved itself to be a strong and welcome addition to a series I’ve come to care...
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Oct
10

Review: Sorrow’s Son by Rene Sears

Review: Sorrow’s Son by Rene Sears Sorrow’s Son Author: Rene Sears Reviewer: Una Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Sorrow’s Son picks up shortly after where Strangehold ended. Though it wasn’t what I was expecting, I did enjoy this next installment of the continuing collision of two different dimensions. When I initially picked up this series, I thought (mistakenly) that Morgan would be the main character POV through the series.  This isn’t the case.  Though I really enjoy Morgan, this older witch and the romantic tension between her and Rowan, I was surprised by how fascinated I was with Javier.  It was fairly easy to figure out who Javier is, but it was not easy to figure out what his mother’s family is.  I hope we learn more about this branch of his family. If you thought you knew where the story was going to go, trust me you don’t.  I was surprised and intrigued by all the different ways the story twisted.  We were introduced to different aspects of Strangehold.  I enjoyed watching Javier relax and trust Morgan and the group.  However, I worry about the ramifications some of Javier’s choices will lead.  He has had enough hardship and I hope this path is one that will lead him to happier places. Through this novel we learned more about Igraine and Iliesa. Seeing their magic use through Javier’s eyes was fascinating and I eagerly anticipant the next novel as it seems to be from their point of view.  So much happened in this novel, connections broken and people twisted – I hold on to hope that divisions can be healed without the blood sacrifice that seems to be implied. If you enjoy urban fantasy with Fae and witches, you might really want to pick up this intriguing Crossroads of Worlds series.  Though it wasn’t what I was expecting, I found it engrossing and intriguing.  The plot moved in unexpected ways with fascinating twists.  I eagerly look forward to finding out what happens next. My Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot About the Book: Orphaned during the Savannah Flu, Javier is looking for other spellcasters without knowing if any survived. When he finds a caster named Morgan and her nieces, Igraine and Iliesa, he has to hide the secret of his isolated upbringing, desperate not to alienate the only community he has left. But Igraine and Iliesa have secrets of their own. The wild hunt comes to the mortal world seeking them. Why the Queen of...
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Oct
9

Review: A Shot at Love by Peggy Jaeger

Review: A Shot at Love by Peggy Jaeger A Shot at Love Author: Peggy Jaeger Reviewer: Jen Rating: B/B- What I’m Talking About: Agent Kyros (Ky) Pappandreos has been working on a mafia case for three years when the only witness is shot and killed on the streets of New York, along with two of Ky’s men. Photographer Gemma Laine happened to be in the right place at the wrong time. Capturing faces of New Yorkers for her next book, she witnesses and records the entire event on her camera… making her Ritandi’s next target. When there is one attempt too many on Gemma’s life while she’s in FBI custody, Ky realizes he has a mole within his team, and takes her safety into his own hands. The pair hide out in a remote cabin and come to realize that while hiding away, they both have never felt more alive or free. A Shot at Love is the second romance in the Will Cook for Love series. While the book takes place in the same world and involves the same characters as the first, it is a standalone read. And even with their similarities, the two books are unique and independent. A Shot at Love definitely falls more in the romantic suspense subgenre than the first title, which also contained a bit of action. Ky and Gemma are a great couple. They share similar values and interests. They are both physically strong and mentally sharp. I enjoyed watching the pair as they each learned more about the other; each pleasantly surprised that their physical attraction is rooted in something deeper. It’s like I could feel the awe in each as they grew closer together, becoming more and more entwined. I especially liked that the professional aspect of Ky’s job and getting involved with Gemma is addressed and always on his mind. The author gives Ky support in the form of an additional protector, helping ease the way for the couple to pair up. Ky and Gemma have a palpable chemistry that explodes when they touch, especially their first couple encounters. My only small complaint is that the pair is a bit goofy with their talk, in bed. They are silly in a way that made me think both are nervous, which may be exactly the point. Gemma has some serious trust issues, and the author does a great job developing the character. However, I wanted Gemma just to take charge and let go of her fears (which...
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Oct
4

Review: In Her Court by Tamsen Parker

Review: In Her Court by Tamsen Parker In Her Court Author: Tamsen Parker Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: This is my first venture into Camp Firefly Falls, and Tamsen Parker totally brings it in the eighteenth story in the multi-author series. I love all things Tamsen Parker—this is no secret. In In Her Court, there was this undercurrent of pop culture that drew me in and kept me riveted. Well, along with Van and Willa—our main characters. Because, hoo-boy, these girls Got. It. On. I have a couple quotes from this book I’ll be sharing, and neither of them are too spoilery! First up, this gem from Van’s point of view: That was competence porn wrapped up in a pretty package, and nothing made Van happier. Or hornier. We’ve got two brainiac chicks in this story. Willa is a geology grad student looking for PhD and tenure track for her career. At the start of the story, she’s bummed because her summer of research got FUBARed by Mother Nature. Fortunately, her brother isn’t graceful and needs her to fill in for him at Camp Firefly Falls where he’s committed to work for the summer with his best friend, Van. Who Willa has been crushing on, like, forever. Van—short for Evangeline—is the epitome of geek. She’s a Star Wars buff and isn’t afraid to show it. I mean, who besides a fellow geek describes getting hot-n-bothered like this? …Willa was clearly enjoying herself. Maybe more than Van, and that was saying something given the pleasantly warm tingle that had set up shop in Van’s chest with satellite locations all along her nervous system. And, while I really, really loved all the 80s references and nostalgia it conjured for me, I have to admit what hooked me on Van as an awesome STEM character was how she would swear on Holtzmann. Get it? Holtzmann from Ghostbusters? Wait, you’re not laughing? It’s only me? **shakes head** Nah. It’s not just me. We got pretty deep into the feels and insecurities both Van and Willa had, too. What I loved the most about these sections is that the feelings were authentic—something we’ve all felt at one time or another. Not sure about relationship status? Check. Will it last or is it a fling? Check. Summer camp relationship? Check (This one time, at band camp…). So, what would have happened if everyone was a grown up and having the time of their lives at summer camp? Bingo. While...
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