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Sep
20

Review: Death Shall Come by Simon R. Green

Review: Death Shall Come by Simon R. Green Death Shall Come Author: Simon R. Green Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una discovered Death Shall Come by accident.  We thought we were picking up a new series by Simon Green (we love his Nightside and Secret Histories series).  It turned out to be the fourth book in the Ishmael Jones series.  It is awesome! Although you need not read the first three books, Gikany did and Una got through the first two.  You can easily jump into the series with Death Shall Come, but why would you?  This series has all of the wit, horror and sublime banter that we love in Green’s other books. The mysteries are gripping and not always what they appear. In this installment, Penny and Ishmael are summoned by Ishmael’s boss, the Colonel, to his father in-law’s estate to ensure the protection of the Colonel’s wife.  What befalls is a fascinating murder with a suspect that was quite the twist.  When you think you have this one figured out, trust us, you don’t. The overarching plot line of Ishmael’s background is intriguing. Although he is not human, Ishmael has no idea where he came from or who he really is.  It is compelling how he chooses to be human.  His interactions and mannerisms could give him away and yet, they just add to his odd character.  We enjoy how Penny both humanizes him is also Dr. Watson to his Sherlock. This is truly a fun series. Gikany and Una thoroughly enjoyed Death Shall Come.  This relatively new series is a wonderful balance of murder mystery and urban fantasy with a sci-fi twist. We loved Ishmael and Penny’s witty banter as they sleuth out the clues and find the culprit – hopefully before the body count gets too high.  If you enjoyed Green’s previous books or if you are looking for a classic mystery with a modern twist, this is the series for you!  We eagerly await the next mystery! Our Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: Ishmael Jones is faced with a dead body and a missing mummy in this highly entertaining, genre-blending mystery.  Death shall come on swift wings to whoever desecrates this tomb …  Ishmael Jones and his partner Penny have been summoned to remote Cardavan House, home of the world’s largest private collection of Ancient Egyptian artefacts, for the unveiling of George Cardavan’s latest acquisition: a bone fide Egyptian mummy.  When a...
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Sep
19

Review: A Strange Scottish Shore by Juliana Gray

Review: A Strange Scottish Shore by Juliana Gray A Strange Scottish Shore Author: Juliana Gray Reviewer: Ang Rating: B What I’m Talking About: First, I apologize that this review is not very long; there are just too many places where a spoiler could be dropped and there is nothing worse than a spoiler when it comes to a mystery novel. I am not as a rule a mystery reader. I don’t like trying to guess what will happen or has happened to get us to where we are. I also don’t like to be left hanging as happens all too often in mystery novels. That being said I am a Juliana Gray fan and I enjoyed, her previous offering, A Most Extraordinary Pursuit, so I was really looking forward to A Strange Scottish Shore. However, after having finished it, I can’t say I loved it as much as I did A Most Extraordinary Pursuit. I enjoyed the characters and setting and will admit Ms. gray continues to weave a good story, but there were details like the time traveling that I found to be discombobulating and confusing. I understand there is an element of mystery and magic to time travel but I don’t feel like the rules were clearly explained, and so I spent more time than I would have liked trying to figure out how people got where they were and how they might get back, which kept me from enjoying the story as much as I wanted to. That being said, when I wasn’t distracted by random questions and rules I did enjoy the settings, the escape to another time period, and getting to know new and very interesting characters. Ms. Gray took me to a part of history that I was not even remotely familiar with and did such a good job with it that i actually took time after finishing the book to look up more information on the time period and its people. She also kept me engaged despite the distractions. The bad guy continues to be really bad, while Truelove and Silverton continue to make a fantastic pair. They are funny and engaging and balance one another beautifully. The secondary characters add flavor and insight to Truelove and Silverton’s story, something I always enjoy. The idea of how legend continues to have an effect on people generations upon generations after it is told was also a fun theme to explore. Overall, A Strange Scottish Shore was an interesting break from my usual...
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Sep
18

Review: Too Beautiful to Break by Tessa Bailey

Review: Too Beautiful to Break by Tessa Bailey Too Beautiful to Break Author: Tessa Bailey Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A+ What I’m Talking About: I’m not crying, you’re crying. That sniffle? Gotta be my allergies. Maybe it’s my present state of mind, but Belmont and Sage’s book got to me. I mean, all of the previous titles in the Romancing the Clarksons saga got to me a little, but there’s been a build-up through the series to Bel’s book—and not just because it’s the end of the journey the sibs’ mother charged them to take as her dying wish. AKA, read this series in order. It is SO worth it. It’s probably because I closely identify with the characters. Oh, not because of how I was raised or some freak accident when I was a child. Because of how Bel & Sage are as people. “You didn’t even have to tell me that,” she whispered. “I already knew Because you’re a man who values everyone’s happiness above himself. And that’s what makes you the greatest man any of us will ever know. There’s never been anyone like you, Belmont. There never will be again. How lucky am I that I get to love you?” Let that sink in for a minute. The above passage is a little spoilery, but not really—we know from reading Rita, Aaron, and Peggy’s books that Bel & Sage have it bad for one another. Seeing it on the page though? That floored me. Like a lot of things did as I read Too Beautiful to Break. His black coat blew out behind him in the cold wind, but he seemed untouched by the weather. He was the weather…he was everything. And his arms were wide open for her. I guess I never really saw Bel like this before. Looking at him through Sage’s eyes really made me see him. He reminds me of a gunslinger from the old west, strolling into town and ready to take on anyone and anything for a good reason. Learning about why Belmont is rather closed off from his siblings floored me, and I honestly cried for Bel as a child. It explains how he is, and the presentation was well done after such a stupendous lead-up. Her hazel eyes were wide on his. “No more waiting to touch now. Everything about us is…right.” She laughed and shook her head, a tear sliding down her cheek. “Isn’t it?” Belmont pressed his mouth to her forehead. “More than right,...
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Sep
13

Review: Tripped Out by Lorelei James

Review: Tripped Out by Lorelei James Tripped Out Author: Lorelei James Reviewer: Jen Rating: C- What I’m Talking About: After leaving her well-paying corporate job, Stirling Gradsky took a chance and went into business with her brother. Now they own and operate High Society, a medicinal and recreational marijuana facility. Liam Argent has dedicated his life to understanding the chemical properties of marijuana and loves all the perks of working for High Society. But the constant head-butting and pranking with Stirling needs to end so they can grow the company. While I have enjoyed the other 1,001 Dark Night / Blacktop Cowboy stories, I felt Tripped Out was not on par with its predecessors. First, I felt like I was dropped into the story with no idea what’s going on. It’s written as if I know these characters, but I don’t remember them at all, even though Stirling is sister to London, the heroine in the first novella, and we meet Stirling and Liam in the third book. I felt like I started off kilter and I never found a good balance. It is evident that the author did her homework with respect to the subject matter, and I found the information on the emerging medicinal and recreational marijuana markets interesting. However, I felt that there was way too much information about marijuana use and production, making it feel like a technical report, rather than developing the characters and focusing on the romance. This leads to another issue I had with the story. The characters are big proponents of the use of marijuana, but at times, I felt that they were lecturing me, the reader, taking a holier-than-thou attitude. The two main characters have huge chips on their shoulders and their attitudes are almost condescending. Yet, then the author uses ridiculous stoner stereotypes and actions. And the way they use marijuana to “take the edge off”… needing it at the end (or even during) a stressful day, is reminiscent of an alcoholic needing a drink. As I stated, I don’t feel the author put enough into the development of the characters. While there are some funny moments and sexy situations, overall I found myself annoyed with Liam and Stirling. Their bantering, even when for fun, grated on me most times. Unfortunately, I never felt a strong romantic connection between the pair, making the story okay, but not one I’d read again. My Rating: C- Finished It – Liked a little, didn’t like a lot About...
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Sep
12

Review: Contracted Defense by Piper J. Drake

Review: Contracted Defense by Piper J. Drake Contracted Defense Author: Piper J. Drake Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: B What We’re Talking About: Contracted Defense is the third title in the Safeguard series and was a gripping blend of humor and action.  Gikany and Una continue to like this suspenseful romantic series, even though the romance moves a little quickly for our tastes. One of the elements that we like about this series is that even though the main couple may fall in love quickly, it still ends with the Happily-For-Now, allowing the couple time to date as the next novel begins.  We like that for all the drama and intense passion, they still will take their time not jumping into the forever after. Adam and Victoria’s introduction was as awkward as it was funny.  Although Adam is deeply attracted to Victoria, Gikany and Una enjoyed how Victoria attempted to distance herself and act professional.  Their frankness as they sorted their attraction to each other while working together was mature and a welcome realistic foundation to a burgeoning relationship.  We enjoyed the contrast of Adam’s more flexible and laid-back attitude to Victoria’s more reserved “type ‘A’ personality.” It was fascinating watching them learn to work with each other and while learning from each other.  Though they fell in love quickly it was not thoughtless nor without seriousness of commitment. The continuing overarching plot of establishing Safeguard and struggling against Edict, an unscrupulous competing firm, is gripping.  We look forward to learning more about the seeming bias that Edict has against Safeguard.  There must be more going on in that organization and with the relationship they seem to have with Phoenix Biotech. Adam and Victoria’s story was suspenseful and passionate.  Although their relationship moved awfully quickly, we enjoyed the open communication between them along with their willingness to learn and grow. Though Edict was thwarted again, we look to learning more about the animosity between the firms.  If you enjoy a militaristic suspense romance, you should give the Safeguard series a try. Our Rating:  B, Liked It About the Book: Time is running out and the enemy is at the gate. Adam Hicks may be the rookie at Safeguard, but he’s no novice in the field. Retired from active duty after multiple tours and back fresh from a brief rest in New Zealand, he’s itching to return to action. But the challenge he hoped for arrives in an unexpected form: his sexy yet stern new partner. The...
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Sep
11

Review: How to Save an Undead Life by Hailey Edwards

Review: How to Save an Undead Life by Hailey Edwards How to Save an Undead Life Author: Hailey Edwards Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: Hailey Edwards has a new series out!!! **muppet flail happy dance** I’ve been chomping at the bit to get my grubby little hands on How to Save an Undead Life since Ms. Edwards announced the project and started dropping hints. This is the first of three (currently) planned titles in the Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy series, and I’m already all grabby hands for book two. We’ve got some awesome vampire lore here, and the world is well-developed so it’s easy to see the hierarchy. First, supporting characters. Boaz: this guy is Grier’s bestie’s big bro and her long-time crush—I definitely see something happening here down the road, in the series arc.  Woolly: the house, you guys…I love its personality and I think it plays a pretty significant role as Grier’s safety net. Amelie: Grier’s bestie and Boaz’s sister who lives next door with her parents. Neely: Grier’s personal designer (i.e., he does her hair and makeup for work and personal stuff when she needs a spectacular look) has a purpose (beyond the obvious) I haven’t quite figured out yet. Volkov: this dude? I’m pretty sure we’ll see more of him. Linus: dude makes me antsy. I really love Grier. The way her character was fleshed out in this first book of the series was engaging and I was able to connect with her immediately. This is a first person POV—which I sometimes have trouble reading/getting into—and I think this deep, personal POV was really effective for the story. This girl has every reason to be sitting under her kitchen table, rocking back and forth, having the BIGGEST pity party for herself, but she has that kick-ass-and-take-names attitude I admire in so many of Ms. Edwards’ characters. She’s not a wilting damsel in distress waiting for her hero to rescue her—except in dire situations. Grier has managed to win me over in book one of the series because she’s a problem-solver. While she was locked up for five years in paranormal prison, she’s been exonerated and has returned to her old life. Sort of—you’ll find out when you read it. I’m super stoked to learn more about the supporting characters and see where Ms. Edwards takes us on Grier’s journey in the Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy series. My Rating: A, Loved It About the Book: Grier Woolworth spends her nights weaving spooky tales...
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Sep
7

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Coming in From the Cold by Sarina Bowen

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Coming in From the Cold by Sarina Bowen Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Review: Coming in From the Cold Author: Sarina Bowen Narrators: Joe Arden, Maxine Mitchell Audio Speed: 1.5x Series: Gravity #1 Genre: Contemporary Romance Source: Blunder Woman Productions Willow is stuck in a dream life that was never her dream. Following her then boyfriend to raise chickens on a farm in Vermont, Willow was dumped and left in debt when he found a pretty face with a trust fund, moving to California. Trying to get home one night before the blizzard gets any worse, Willow swerves off the road and is left with a sexy stranger. Dane loves being an Olympic skier, but he’s lonely and hiding a huge secret which keeps him from forming any attachments. Running off the road during a blizzard, Dane finds himself trapped with a beautiful woman who is willing to share one night of passion. But when a freak accident takes him out of competition for the season, he’s forced to face his nightmares head on. Coming in From the Cold is a cute contemporary romance that makes the hero and heroine work for their HEA. The opening scene, with the pair stuck in a jeep during a blizzard, is a wonderful way for the couple to very quickly get to know one another. They trade complaints while stuck, waiting for the plows. The situation creates a false sense of intimacy, allowing both to share secrets and do things (*cough* jeepsex *cough*) they normally wouldn’t do. One thing leads to another and soon the pair take things further than planned. Dane has a HUGE chip on his shoulder, which leads to some MAJOR asshat behavior and an unintentional spill on the slopes. Being laid up and unable to compete adds to his destructive mood, and I honestly wasn’t sure he’d be able to redeem himself. But because Willow is a psychology doctoral student, she has insight as to Dane’s behavior. While she’s not ready to jump back into bed with him, she’s able to put the situation into perspective with a bit of emotional detachment, allowing me to travel her journey to forgiveness with her. She’s not unemotional and still hurts, but understands. The dual POV story has both a male and female narrator for the two POVs. Both narrators are pretty good: not great, but solid. At first, I listened to the book at 1.25x speed, and I did have an issue with Ms. Mitchell...
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Sep
6

Review: Blood Guard by Megan Erickson

Review: Blood Guard by Megan Erickson Blood Guard Author: Megan Erickson Reviewer: Jen Rating: B- What I’m Talking About: Tendra’s mom passed away in car wreck in recent years, leaving Ten all alone in Mission. Something in Ten tells her it’s time to move on, just like she and her mom moved so many times growing up. But that night, Ten’s whole world turns upside down. Athan is a vampire and Ten’s blood guard. Tendra is the Sanguivita of the Gregorie vampire clan. Her mother knew all about it and was supposed to tell Ten, but was killed before she had the chance. Now Athan will escort Ten to live as his brother’s mate. Blood Guard is the solid start to a unique paranormal romance series. I enjoyed the mythology which has some original components; however, it is traditional in ways that helped fill in any gaps. Some of the hallmark paranormal elements such as a prophesy and meant-to-be love gave the story a familiar feel. Unknown to Ten before the night she meets Athan, there are vampires living among the humans, and it is prophesied that she will bring the Gregorie clan much power, which they will use to protect humankind. Tendra and Athan share a forbidden attraction, and being on the run together only heightens the sexual chemistry. She is destined for his brother, the future king, and immediately, she is compelled to fulfill her roll. But that attraction… it gets to be too much, and the pair fall into a dangerous liaison. Funny how prophesies tend to have a way of working out, even when a huge wrench or two is tossed into the mix. While overall I enjoyed the story, I did have to make a big leap of faith with how things go down. I felt Ten was compliant without justification. She just goes along with Athan never really questioning anything. And I didn’t buy how easily she integrates herself into the vampire culture. She just accepts her duty like suddenly she belongs and it’s her life. It is all too easy. I think the second book will be strong because won’t have to world build as much. Blood Guard is enjoyable, even with my small issues, and I look forward to checking out what happens next in this new paranormal romance series. My Rating: B- Liked It, but I had a few small issues About the Book: Tendra: One minute, I’m a bartender in gritty Mission City; the next,...
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Sep
6

Review: The Shift of the Tide by Jeffe Kennedy

Review: The Shift of the Tide by Jeffe Kennedy The Shift of the Tide Author: Jeffe Kennedy Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una were anxiously awaiting Zynda’s story.  The Shift of the Tide is utterly compelling and may have replaced Andi’s (The Mark of the Tala) as our favorite book in this series. Zynda has always been a bit of an enigma character.  She is beautifully mysterious and you just know there is much more going on in her head than she lets on.  Zynda is an amazing shapeshifter — the pride of her people, and she is a relative to the previous Tala Queen, Salena. Regardless, Zynda has a secret mission to save her people. This mission will require her to sacrifice her life as she knows it – to give up everything.  Zynda is prepared to make that sacrifice – she has prepared herself for most of her life.  However, her focus and dedication take a severe hit when Marskal is assigned as her watcher. Marskal is a fascinating character.  We absolutely loved his charm, patience, and wit.  Though charged with protecting Zynda, he never underestimates her.  We loved the give and take that Marskal abides with Zynda.  As Zynda never noticed him prior, he was (or has) been a part of the series since the beginning.  We loved their banter and especially the time spent with Marskal’s family.  He is a truly remarkable and endearing character.  Zynda was not the only one falling for him. The journey that Marskal and Zynda embark on is more than physical – more than her mission.  Zynda’s journey is not only external but internal.  The closer she comes to her goal, the more torn up inside she becomes – the more she questions the sacrifice required.  We loved how these two conflicts wove together becoming almost a single conflict.  It was utterly gripping and pathos riddled full of heartwarming moments. Though this novel is transitional in the battle against the Deyrr, it was still gripping as other issues in the realm are explored.  We loved the journey of Zynda and the heart wrenchingly romantic tale between her and Marskal.  We continue to enjoy this world and eagerly look forward to the next story in it. Our Rating: A, Loved It About the Book: A QUICKSILVER HEART Released from the grip of a tyrant, the Twelve Kingdoms have thrown all that touch them into chaos. As the borders open, new enemies emerge to...
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Sep
4

Review: Disorderly Conduct by Tessa Bailey

Review: Disorderly Conduct by Tessa Bailey Disorderly Conduct Author: Tessa Bailey Reviewer: VampBard Rating: A What I’m Talking About: I love reading book series. It’s honestly one of my favorite things. I get to meet some characters, get to know them, have some sh*t happen, and then it gets fixed (or the author is mean and leaves us hanging…) and they live happily for now. Until the next book in the series comes out and there’s another crisis. OR…we meet ‘supporting cast’ members in the first title who become the leads in a subsequent book. The Academy series by Tessa Bailey is the latter. Slated for three titles, the first two titles are about police academy recruits/students…whatever you call them. The third? I’ve heard is about a grumpy part-time instructor. But, we’re here to talk about Disorderly Conduct today. And, oh…my. This title is a five-alarm-fire-in-your-panties hot. I mean, when things start as super casual-slash-friends-with-benefits, it’s gonna be hot—especially since Tessa Bailey is the author. I loved the pacing and the entire premise of the title—I mean, who wouldn’t? Casual nookie that turns into something more? *fans self* Yeah. That’s the best. One thing I wasn’t too keen on, but got over, was the way Charlie handled the entire situation. The deception and lies—nothing dangerous, just a breach of trust he has to redeem himself for later. I know a book needs conflict, and if we just had Charlie and Ever shift their relationship from F*ckBuddies to Friends and eventually transition to a couple, there’s nothing that would tear them apart and put them back together—the thing that holds the reader’s interest (besides phenomenal characterization and writing). So, I understand why it was done…and it was done well. It worked as an excellent plot point. Ever is a great, independent character that doesn’t NEED a man to be complete. I mean, throughout the title she talks about a bunch of things that makes her seem like she needs to be in a relationship, but it’s really only her falling for (or realizing she’s fallen for) Charlie. This isn’t an in-your-face OHMYGODILOVEHIM romance. There’s a slow burn that made me want to yell at the characters (may have done this…) and/or skip to the end to make sure they made it through okay (I trust Tessa to give me at least a HFN, so I didn’t). And, here’s the thing about Ever. She starts out with ‘rules’ about her relationships. As in, there IS no relationship....
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