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The Stone Warriors: Kato, Book 2, Stone Warriors Series, D.B. Reynolds. Warrior of Fire, Shona Husk.

The Stone Warriors: Kato, Book Two of the Stone Warriors Series, D.B. Reynolds

The Stone Warriors: Kato by [Reynolds, D. B.]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, Wow. I think now I understand the overall plot and world building I really need to go back to book one, as I’m sure I’d rate it higher than I did on first read.
Some series are like that, it takes another book or two before the overall theme falls in to place for me, and this clearly is one such.
I think part of it too was over-expectation, I so love ViA, and was hooked from book one and expected this to be the same.

Its is the same great writing though, full of people who feel real, who I have strong mental images of, ladies who aren’t simpering kittens waiting for a big strong man to save them 😉
Grace is anything but one of those, though our and Kato’s first impressions could be forgiven for thinking that, because that’s the image she tries to project. she’s more than that though and a perfect lady for Kato.

He’s the second stone warrior, and I kept thinking how awful, to be trapped like that for thousands of years, seeing and hearing everything but unable to interact.
Sometimes books have things happening and I think “ how very convenient that he/she does that riiigght at this point”, and you could feel that about Kato coming out of imprisonment just in time to save grace from the Demon. D.B has the answer though, she’s made it so there’s a very real explanation why things are happening just now, and weaves every small thing into part of the larger overall plot that threads though the series.

Its another great read, a race against time to stop demons from being unleashed and creating mayhem. Another, well..brush with danger feels too subtle, its more than that, another solid drama where the characters face a horrible death over and over, but manage to scrape through, and without using any of that New Skills Gained Just at the Optimum Moment that I so hate. You know the sort, he or she has just learned of their place in the supernatural world, takes it in their stride, and by  the fourth page or so they’re killing the bad guys the others have been fighting and losing against for centuries, using some new skill that showed up just as the Demon or whatever is about to kill them! Gah, that really annoys me.
D.B doesn’t ever do that, and though here Grace saves the day a few times, it works because she’s the skills needed already, the training to keep calm and deal comes from her background. She gained her gun skills as a child, and as an adult she’s been involved in some dangerous and scary dramas. Add in how clever and analytical her mind is and she’s perfect for Kato.

I loved catching up with Damian and Cass, and yep, now want to re-read their story.
Two more warriors to go yet, and of course there’s also Nick, Nico, Nicademus…what a guy he is. When we first met him back in the early, the first book I think of the ViA series he was almost a throwaway guy, Cyn’s friend with benefits hot guy, but he grew in importance in later books, and then we learned he’s a powerful sorcerer.
I love how these two series interact, how we get snippets of other characters, even if only in conversation or thoughts.
I can’t help but wonder if there’s someone special in Nico’s life planned? The mysterious talented Lili maybe – or perhaps someone from the Via series? Loads of possibilities to pick from, and I look forward to D.B.s next book(s) of either series.

Stars: Five, a cracking, riveting, engrossing read and a great addition to D.B’s series.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Warrior of Fire, Shona Husk

Warrior of Fire (Blood & Silver) by [Husk, Shona]

Genre:  Sci-fi and Fantasy

I really enjoyed Lady of Silver, the intro book to this series. that featured Saba, an Albah lady and Dale a human cop.
This book is about Liera. Saba’s sister, who we met in book one as a secondary character, and Julian who’s a son of cop Quinn, who is also the Albah’s “King”. Its a title that’s really name only, they don’t meet or live closely as its too dangerous.

There’s a faction called Guardians, who are out to kill Albah, though supposedly there’s been a truce for the last 200 years. Strange though how so many Albah die in accidents. That’s what happened to Julian’s mum, she died in a car crash when he and his younger brother were in the car. Its affected them both, as traumatic events do to young children, and they’re not a close family. In fact Julian has been away for the last 12 years and only returned six months ago.

He’s been working at a local hospital, somewhere he can put his healing skills to use without creating attention.
See that’s the thing the Guardians won’t recognize, that most Albah just want to be responsible, to do good and work in fields where their talents are best use to humankind. As far as Guardians are concerned the only good Albah is a dead one.
Its that potential to turn into an immortal blood sucking murdering Alabanex that worries them so they think killing all Albah means humans are safe. Shame they don’t focus on how humans can become murdering vicious killers too, or even look at their own behaviour, murdering parents, children, wiping out whole families proudly and bringing up their kids to believe in the same.
Hate rhetoric is so pervasive when instilled from a young age and that’s what’s happened here.

Julian has been having a “casual” relationship with a woman for the last few months. He doesn’t know much about her, that’s what he likes, physical only stuff, no need for pleasantries and socialsing, not knowing she’s a Guardian and a killer.
She’s come to do a job, make her first kill and become a real Guardian, a role she’s trained hard for, encouraged by her Guardian mother and family.
She’s finding it hard though, she’s become attracted to Julian even though both agreed upfront this was simply a casual fling, and now she’s becoming clingy Julian is thinking the time has come to part ways. she won’t like that!

Liera has always known she’s meet the love of her life on a train, she and Saba are very good at seeing into the future, though its not fixed but depends on paths taken by individuals.
She doesn’t know who her future is with though, and so is astonished when she feels a visceral reaction to Julian at a meeting of the local Albah. It’s where they connect via the internet with others to discuss recent events. Julian feels the attraction too but its a kind of muted pull for them both, not a huge insta-lust kind of thing. Jut that feeling of rightness when they connect with each other.
Liera is puzzled. What about the future she and Saba had seen?
Julian isn’t sure he’s ready yet either, he’s always felt he would marry an Albah. His people need the males that come from only Alabah pairings, but he thought that was way in the future, loads of time yet. Until now he’s been content with simple casual relationships, like the current one with Emily. This has thrown him though,made him question that, and he decides Emily’s been getting clingy lately, not what they agreed and its time to let go.

She is Not Happy though. Pressure from home about why she hasn’t killed him yet and the excuse she’s given, he could lead her to more is wearing thin. Now he’s dumped her, and as she’s been spying on him she sees him meet Leira and just knows it’s all down to her. the knives come out, Liera is in the way, time to move her. She knows now Leira is an Albah so has no worries about killing her, she’s been brought up to beleive thats the right thing to do.

It all leads to a cracking story, brings danger to the Albah, not just here but across the globe, makes them think about the future of the race, brings the Guardians into the series in a big way and is a hugely entertaining read. One that flows easily, has that element of suspense I love, the wondering what if, and how will they…?
The romance too, I enjoyed that, the doubts both had, it makes a change from the one-look-and-they-are-in-love scenario we see so often. Instead they both talk, tread carefully, think about how they feel inside.

There’s no simply quick fix solution for the future of the Albah. It needs some decision if they aren’t to die out, and the way they’ve lived for the past few hundred years needs to change. Using the internet they can conference, avoiding the dangers when large groups get together, and hhopefully make changes to their lifestyles the majority agree to while keeping safe.
Maybe the time for Quinn as king has become the era for change, for the role to become more than the lip-service one its been. He’s certainly a decisive enough character to generate momentum for change.

I really enjoyed this installment, loved meeting Dale and Saba again, was intrigued as to how things were going to work between Julian and Liera, whether the change of place of their first meeting meant their future had changes in a big way, and of course the drama with Emily was pretty solid and full on.

I found it easy to believe in Emily, that she’d been brought up and trained to kill Albah, but in her greed to kill more by finding Julian’s family she actually came to like him, to see the good he did. Somewhere deep in her psyche she had to rationalise why she hadn’t killed him yet, rather than admit she was falling for him. She was a twisted individual but also a product of a very dark upbringing, brainwashed that Albah were all bad, potential killers.

Its an easy read, well paced, solid writing. Its not as in depth as many fantasy reads, but a fun story that made me look at the characters as individual, see them as real people, and wonder just where the story is going next.
I’m really hoping Quinn gets some happy, right now he gets all the flak and doesn’t really seem to have anyone close to support him when it goes bad.

Stars: five, a great story, building on the first one and expanding the world.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

In Her Blood, (The Dagger Chronicles 1), Janice Jones

In Her Blood, (The Dagger Chronicles 1), Janice Jones

In Her Blood by [Jones, Janice]

Genre:  Romance, New Adult
Edit: Its priced at over £10, $13 for an unknown author…Seriously?? I’m all about supporting writers but that price is way to much. I think twice about paying that for one of my favourite, well established authors.

Well, its termed Romance so I expected there to be some in the book, but apart from some heated action between Jason and Alex towards the end, that’s it for Romance.
Even that feels more like scratching an itch, sex for the sake of it, there’s no real closeness, nothing other than lust between them though there are hints Jason might be feeling more.

I felt there were too many people, too many plots, and there I’m saying that when I hate the simplified, one plot book that pervades the best seller list.
This though feels like Janice has taken every supernatural concept she ever could come up with, every possible connection and thrown it all together. the Blunderbuss effect, throw it all and hope some sticks. It makes for a messy novel though IMO.

I didn’t really like Alex, didn’t dislike her, but there’s nothing special that I can say I like about her personality. I felt for her, but I didn’t understand how she went from A, working as the Dagger for her “father” to B, famous successful business owner. That just doesn’t happen without an awful lot of clout.
Then there’s all her very useful contacts and people owing her favours. how did that happen, so many powerful people knowing her, owing her?
She spent from 13 to 21 as far as I can see locked away underground unless out on a mission with the rest of the team. After that she’s building a base in the human world for her clothing line I assume, so how did she become so close to all these powerful supernaturals. What did she use for funding to build her business?
There’s too many unanswered questions for me to believe this could happen that way.

Jason seemed intriguing when I read the synopsis but I’ve a horrible feeling he’s going to be one of those soft in love types, that become almost emasculated vampires when it comes to their lover ( Think JC from Anita Blake…)
I do wonder how these centuries old vampires survive when a pretty face can make them lose all sense.

There are irritations too, at one point Jason and Coop are talking and “Jason sat back with a grin and took Amy’s water…” Who’s Amy? Its only the two of them meeting.
Then later we’re told Jason was born 115 years ago. OK – so how come later he’s talking to himself “after three centuries of being what I am” – is he 115 or over 300.
The bit about Someone – won’t mention a name ( though if you’re as confused as me it probably wouldn’t matter!) who’s recovering and needs…how shall i put it…a certain type of blood, was a step too far for me, really made me feel uncomfortable.
I just don’t like reading things like that and it wasn’t necessary. shock value writing and not good IMO.

I’ve got all the way through and I’m still confused, so many double deals, blackmails, bait and switch, so many hidden agendas, and those playing both sides that I really aren’t any wiser now I’ve finished.
I really, really wanted to like this book but for me its a fail.

Stars: Two, sorry one that I won’t be continuing with. I tried, I did finish it but am still lost as to whats actually going on.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Wraith Hunter, City of Crows 3, Clara Coulson

Wraith Hunter, City of Crows 3, Clara Coulson

Wraith Hunter (City of Crows Book 3) by [Coulson, Clara]

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, sci-fi and Fantasy

This is turning out to be a cracking series, seems to be full of drama, action, puzzles, danger and each day seems to bring Cal and the crew into more of it. It’s not quite like that though, when this story opens its some months after that action of the last book, the gang have taken time to heal from the incredible injuries they incurred back then and that’s as it should be.
When a book is day after day of non stop action it makes me think” who dealt with all this before?” and “who will do xyz when this gang are gone?”
Spaced out over time feels much more fluid and natural than the one-drama-on-top-of-another story lines too many books have.

 

The last two books have proved to be openers for more action, and I love that the vampire who was the catalyst for Cal joining the DSI is in this book, and of course wonder about him and his actions. Are they as cut and dried as they seemed? Or is he just as much a victim of circumstance. Or maybe its just his job, that’s going to make him p iss off a lot of people, maybe it is all about the money for him. Who knows? He’s an intriguing character and I want to read more of him.

I love Cal, he’s a great lead, talented and yet flawed too, he knows he doesn’t have all the answers, knows his limitations but throws himself in wholeheartedly when he believes its needed regardless of the cost to himself.
Erica, oh I hated that bit, what she needed to do, and why she felt she had no alternative. fingers crossed that all works out well.
Cooper – a surprise there? Or not, maybe its another red herring – though book one made me wonder if that might happen. I love storylines that make me wonder what if, and how come, and maybe this will….you know the sort, where you get so involved with characters you think of them as real.
The rest of the gang are there, with a few new guys ( and ladies) joining in and it was great seeing them all again. Like meeting old friends, and making new ones.

Its a fabulous read once more, things to puzzle out, drama and action, dangers, and speaking of which, those elevating zombies – what fun they were. The sly humour that had them dressed up in long coats and carrying scythes.
Its little touches like that which lift this novel up, give some levity to the dark dramas surrounding some of the main plots. There are other little touches worked in too, moments of humour, things that make these characters feel real. We all crack jokes at inappropriate times, that’s the kind of human way of dealing with stress and fright and it works so well here. Thats what separate a good book from the crowd, the little extras that keep us reading.

The plots in this part wrap up well, but open up the wider one that’s been building, and I really want to read more right now!!

Stars: five, another rivetting instalment, whetting my appitite for more. I know when this series is ended its going to be one I reread right through, in a back-to-back reading fest. I love to read series like that, get fully immersed in another world.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Heart of Malice, Alice Worth Book 1, Lisa Edmonds

Heart of Malice, Alice Worth Book 1, Lisa Edmonds

Heart of Malice (Alice Worth Book 1) by [Edmonds, Lisa]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and fantasy

What a cracking read this is, and it seems to be Lisa’s debut book!
I love when I find an author who can write books like this, with so many multi layers of plots, with interesting and varied characters that it keeps me gripped to the end.

There are so many paranormal reads out right now, and it seems 90% are one plot romances; those where its a meets b, and there’s just one plot making – or preventing – that happening. Clearly that’s what many readers want, they sell really well, but some of us want that bit more. A story where it isn’t obvious which way its going from the first chapter, and Heart of Malice delivers that.

There’s a clear and solid story-line in this first book that wraps up, but there is so much more going on in tandem with that, that its easy to see its going to make a fabulous and gripping series.
My favourite Fantasy authors are Patricia Briggs, Jeanine Frost, Kelley Armstrong, Kim Harrison, Rachelle Mead, Debbie Reynolds and of course Sookie’s creator Charmaine Harris. Those reads are what I love, ones where the world settings are clear, the plots multi layered and always imaginative, and there’s so much more going on underneath the main plot in each book.
I read and reread them finding more each time I devour the content. They kind of build up an over-arcing story-line, while delivering individual ones, and the Alice Worth series feels that way.

Clearly Alice has a gruesome and terrifying history, she’s escaped for now but the dangers are ever present. We get glimpses of her past from her memories and nightmares.
Then there’s the world as it is, where supernaturals are open and out, mixing with humans, but as ever there are some vigilant, at times over vigilant, official organisations policing them.
We’ve ghosts, shifters, vampires, mages, in the supernatural types, SPEMA and SPERA gov orgs and I’m sure more will come out in future reads.

Alice is a Mage PI, working alone, always trying to keep her head down, avoid any hint of her past being exposed. That means she tends to be very self contained, doesn’t have freinds, and when Malcolm the ghost comes into her life he’s kind of the first person I feel she really talks to.
She’s careful with him too though, but his help in this current investigation is invaluable as it gets ever more complex and brings her into real danger.
Natalie, her client was a great girl, and I felt a real rapport between her and Malcolm. Will anything come of that in later books? Who knows…
Then Alpha wolf shifter Sean comes in. Alice meets him in a bar, and he tries to persuade her they can be more than just a one night stand. The chemistry they have is incredible, but is he really trustworthy? Its far too soon for Alice to let down her defences, however beguiling and persuasive he seems, and she keeps him at arms length. Except for those scorching times when he’s not 😉
And what about Vampire Charles, over 200 years old, suave, good looking, perfect charm and manners, very well respected by the Vampire Alliance, and full of his own vampire intrigues…what’s his interest in Alice?
He’s held back so far, keeping her in a kind of loose acquaintance field which suits her. She trusts him, just a little bit, a very, very little bit, but she isn’t letting her defences down for a pretty face and a few vampire wiles. She’s wary as to what his end game is, vampires aren’t known for altruism…He’s never yet hinted at wanting more from her but it feels like there’s an unspoken text whenever they meet.
Of course we can’t forget Agent Lake either, comes into the book early and turns up again at the end. I get the feeling he’s got an interest in Alice, but why? What sort? What does he want from her?

Its a cracking read, ages since I read a new fantasy story that’s gripped me like this, that I so enjoyed.
Its up there with my favourite reads and I hope Lisa is hard at work with the next book.

Stars: five, a fabulous read, fast paced, solid plots great characters, and will join my favourites.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Spectacle, Rachel Vincent

Spectacle, Rachel Vincent

Spectacle (The Menagerie Series, Book 2) by [Vincent, Rachel]

Genre:  General Fiction (adult)

Book one had me riveted, saddened, excited, scared, and was an incredible read, book two lives up to all that and more.
The books are  based upon a world like ours, a kind of parllell universe, its our timeline but with different events. There’s been a terrible slaughtering in the 1980’s they call The Reaping in the USA. It led to some harsh legislation where people deemed to be not wholly human have no protection, can be used in experiments, sold, exhibited, abused  and have no rights. Interspersed between chapters are snippets of TV and News report from that time.

We met Delilah and some of the characters from here in book one, where they finally escaped Metzger’s Menagerie. They’re carrying on as if Metzger still runs it, and once the curtains are closed then everyone who can safely be freed is, and hopefully they can escape to a better life in another country.
Its not long though before their coup is revealed, and they are caught once more, and become part of the Savage spectacle, a private collection specializing in some horrific shows.
Once more they lose all their hard won freedom and are subject to Vandercamp and his wife’s cruelty. Money is all they care about, the cryptids are kept in more hygenic situations, better fed, but only because they can make more money out of them that way.
Its horrible to see all their hopes and dreams shattered, but Delilah just won’t give in.

At first she doesn’t see what they can do but when she sees how the others are convinced she’ll come up with a plan again, that they are relying on her – well, she just has to start thinking of what they can do, so that if an opportunity arises they can make best use of it.
Its far harder though, Vandercamp has perfected collars that control them, stop them shifting, or force a shift when he wants one, stops them talking about certain things and at night stops them talking at all. The collars can even paralyse them completely, leaving them conscious but helpless, and of course they deliver shocks if the wearer tries to go beyond a set boundary…..it seems fool proof, no way out but with them looking to Delilah how can she let them down?

Gallagher is here too, thought to be human at first and taken to prison but his cap finally gave away his species, and Vandercamp is using his loyalty to Delilah to force him to fight and kill for entertainment.
Its horrific for him, his honour demands that he fight only when threatened and yet he also has vowed to protect Delilah so he has to do what’s demanded to stop her being hurt.

There are some awful scenes here, you wonder just how far people will go for power, money, influence and plain old blood thirsty entertainment, and once more its done in such a realistic way that I truly believe there’s a real danger that if this were genuine situation then much of it would be possible, that we would pass such legislation, telling ourselves that they are not “human” and so don’t need protecting, are dangerous, need to be controlled…
There’s an undercurrent too below the visible entertainment, that seems to dredge the depths and behind the scenes even darker depravity is going on.
Delilah is determined to find a way out, and situations arise that speed up the timeline, that mean they need to be out sooner rather than later.

It was good to see so many of the previous characters, heart-breaking seeing parents separated from their children, seeing kids forced to fight for their lives, seeing how awfully they treat them all, how they only look at what they can do to make money and simply don’t try to understand the individual characters. How ready they are to simply euthanise them if they aren’t financially viable. Its truly awful knowing the consequences of the depravity the Cryptids are forced into. There’s a big shock for Delilah here too.

The ending is similar to book one in that it completes the book, wraps up this part of the story and yet we know that the search for freedom is very far from over, that their next moves need to be carefully thought out, that the risk is always there in everything they do, everywhere they go.
Its not one of those awful cliff hanger endings that I hate, but one that opens up and shows the direction the next book will take.

Its another fascinating, fabulous and absorbing read, and though I’ve used the word horrific several times its not a horror book per se, but one where horrible things happen, mainly due to human greed.
Book three soon please Rachel 🙂

Stars: Five, another terrific read and I really hope the next book isn’t long in coming!

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Called Out, Jen Doyle. Fraud Twice Felt, J.T. Hall

Called Out, Jen Doyle

Called Out by [Doyle, Jen]

Genre:  Romance,

Carina: what I love about Carina books is they have a happy ending, eiother a HEA or a HFN, and thats what I want in a romance, an escape from realisty into happy times, a way to leave todays probelms behind and disappear into a world where things go wrong but end well.

I’ve got to start this review with a gripe though 😦 One thing that really bothered me about this story.
We’re told Jack screwed over his best friend and work colleague, and has been given the cold shoulder by everyone since.
What he did was dreadful, a total no-go thing to do to your best mate but I kept thinking, maybe there’s something we’re missing? There are some details that mean what we think happened may not be quite that way perhaps? **see edit at end**
Equally there were complications, something results from that act that gets left open. That felt weird to me, I can’t understand why it wasn’t dealt with, why Jack would have not acted upon what resulted, or again maybe there’s something I’m missing. The Jack we know from this story would not have just done nothing, would have acted, stepped up, not just left things hanging.
Without giving it away its hard to say what happened, maybe it resolved spontaneously, but it felt very strange to me, and was hard to match with the Jack we came to know.

I love this kind of book, enemies to lovers, and there was some serious chemistry between Jack and Lola, some scorching sensual scenes that are page melting.
Lola, I so felt for her, devastated after her husbands death, left with four small boys, she’s kind of running through life on autopilot, and anything that affects that fine tuned organisation she has is disastrous. So she’s not in the best mood when she meets Jack. Her boys though – he’s one of their idols.
Jack’s actually a really good guy, though his background leads to him to deny that, to think he’s like his parenst and incapable of love. Yet the things he does for Lola show us otherwise and how he is with the boys, (one, two and three…and four the later addition!!) well, that’s heart melting.

We meet up with the gang again, I loved Dorie and Nate from the first book, somehow missed out on book two, but its the same great group of characters, who’ve known each other for years, who feel so real.
Its another story I loved, that pulled at the heart strings, made me laugh and feel tearful all within a few pages sometimes.
Its a great summer read, one for when you’re feeling a little down and want something to make you smile and feel really good at the end.

Stars: four and a half. I have to take off a half star for that huge, unresolved issue, the thing that’s such a catalyst for the story and yet gets left hanging. ( but may not be in final version)

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

** that may have been only in ARCs. Seems debut had her losing the baby. Hopefully thats clear in final version**

Fraud Twice Felt, J.T. Hall

Fraud Twice Felt (The Oddities Book 2) by [Hall, J.T.]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I hadn’t read book one. Occasionally I have to restrict myself and catch up on the TBR list and must have missed it that way because its a series that’s got so much I love.
Still, looking at sample and reviews it was pretty easy to catch up.

Derwin and Elliot are finding a new life together. It seems strange to think they’ve only been together three weeks but I guess its been very intense so that’s why they feel as though they’ve known each other longer. They really are Jack Spratt and his wife with Derwin needing pain to feed, and Elliot getting enjoyment from being hurt. Makes them perfect for each other.

Now Elliott’s given up the rent boy gig and moved in with Derwin, he’s also working at Bob’s Bail Bonds. Just filing currently but hoping to learn more and be a bounty hunter himself. For now though he’s enjoying having some autonomy over his life, its not been that way for a very long while.
He’s still in danger though from the head of one of the local gangs who sees Elliot as his special plaything, his to hurt, his to keep. Derwin is determined not to let that happen and with most people his strength would do it, but Roy seems to have some abilities of his own, plus of course backing of a gang…

As well as the relationship issues, and the gangs there’s a supernatural bent to this series too with some people like Derwin and Elliot having extra abilities. That’s good – and not good. It helps keep them alive and in work but if the government gets to hear about it they’ll be whipped off to some science lab, no doubts there.
So they need to fly under the radar carefully. The last book put them in the eye of some of the local cops, so caution is needed.
Life isn’t like that though, and long time friend and colleague Connie’s son is missing. That leads them into an adventure that brings in more people, the cops, the underclass of homeless and prostitutes Elliot knows so well, Roy and his gang, along with another local gang, and of all things a sea serpent, a huge sea dwelling dragon…

Its a breathtaking adventure with a bit of everything thrown in, romance and esp m/m romance, the issues of homophobia, the police/government and the bias against Oddities, the danger from the local gangs, who of course don’t work together so cause issues everywhere, the bounty hunters, the sea dragon and in that mix they need to find and rescue Connie’s son and his girlfriend without getting caught in any of the competing dangers.
Well, there’s so much going on, so much action, planning, thinking on the fly when plans go wrong that its a solid read, and yet its not five stars for me as I expected.
I’m not sure why but maybe its just that there’s a bit too much of everything happening. That kind of diluted some of the effects, and the constant crisis to crisis action didn’t really leave much time for thinking, for seeing how the relationship between Elliot and Derwin was developing.
Its romance, but really more an action read than romance read IMO.

Its a good read, I enjoyed it but its not (yet) a series I’m in love with. time will tell I guess, there;s the potential from far more from this setting.

Stars: Four, an action packed read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Surrender the Dark, Tibby Armstrong

Surrender the Dark, Tibby Armstrong

Surrender the Dark by [Armstrong, Tibby]

Genre: Romance

Vampires and Romance, check and request. sadly though its a fail for me.
I didn’t like the characters, didn’t follow all the odd terms though most could be guessed at. I couldn’t get a feel for Benjamin or Tzadkiel as people, didn’t feel I knew them, and they certainly have a real hate going on.
I know its said there’s a thin line between love and hate but here I just didn’t feel the lust between them was genuine, they were both so mired in hatred.
Its that old bearing a grudge for history, we can’t change it, both sets of ancestors did things that were wrong, but which they felt justified. someone has to make it stop sometime.

There were things too that just didn’t feel right for me, the times something weird, different, new comes up that gets them out of a tight spot, the way Benjamin’s freinds take off when he gives them some patently untrue lies, I didn’t feel they’d have believed him or abandon him like that.

I gave up about halfway through, just couldn’t bring myself to read more.
Shame as it sounded perfect for me, and maybe sometime in the future I’ll give it another go?
I can see others love it so perhaps I’m missing something, need to be in a different mindset to appreciate it? Who knows…it happens. Everyone likes different stories so some will love this, others like me won’t connect.

Stars: Two, just not the right story for me, but perfect for others. You choose.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Owl and the Electric Samurai, Kristi Charish

Owl and the Electric Samurai, Kristi Charish

Owl and the Electric Samurai (The Owl Series) by [Charish, Kristi]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

I loved the first two novels but this one was, to be honest, a bit of a slog 😦
I’ve loved Owl, her kind of skewed world views, and yet underneath you know she cares deeply for her friends, that she’s moral, will always do the right thing, for people anyway even if artifacts are a bit of a grey area….but in this book she came over as a bit self centred, kind of blowing off issues that her best friend Nadya was dealing with, acting pretty cold towards Rynn at times.

I love Rynn, but in this book they felt more like two people working together who didn’t really like or respect each other, and though its clear Rynn cares deeply for Owl, would do almost anything to keep her safe she really wasn’t looking out for what was going on in his life, seeing his POV, seeing what he was worried about, didn’t really take Nadya’s issues seriously, only as far as they affected her.
This book seemed to be Only Worry About What Concerns Owl…and I didn’t like that, that wasn’t the person I knew from book one.
Then too there’s the whole Electric Samurai…its not Owl V the ES, its Owl searches for the ES. The Electric Samurai itself doesn’t really come into play til the end.

I had issues with Owl and Rynn jumping form one hot-spot to another, escaping by the skin of their teeth, jumping from country to country, and the non stop action that was hit, done and over just in time for the next issue got dull.
I wanted more in depth detail, to know exactly how they did things, how they escaped, not toss in a few whiz bangs and they’re out, but that’s how each drama began to feel to me. Just more of the same, another place where everyone wants a piece of Owl and she escape barely to fall into the next drama.
I’d have liked a bit more day to day details, more conversations that didn’t just involve “how are we getting out of this mess” type of thing. Less skin of teeth and bombs, less Carpe doing some amazing tech stuff, characters suddenly dropping in unexpectedly and a little more reality.
Back to one of my bugbears, the This just couldn’t happen problem. There’s an IT Acronym IFTTT (If this then that) where if one thing happens its the trigger for another action, and when I’m reading I want to believe that if this one thing/action/event is real it could trigger a defined reaction, but too often in this story I didn’t feel the first issue could be real, it lacked that believability factor, which meant that the action that followed felt wrong to me.

There were parts I enjoyed, and the whole story is so unique that it was really refreshing to read when the series started, but now its seems to have moved away from that and I just need a little less action a little more conversation….A bit more reality even though its fantasy.
How does Owl get from country to country without getting stopped at usual channels ect, without ever having any luggage? She never seems to eat or drink, need to shower, sleep, feed Captain, you know, all the everyday dross that makes a story feel real.
I don’t need loads, just a little to ground her, make things feel real.
She just flips from one country at the end of a chapter and on first page of next chapter she’s where she needs to be, and I’m thinking “but how??” Especially given Captain is with her. Travelling with a huge cat isn’t easy…and where does she keep getting cat carriers?
It is a very complex world blending real world with the fantasy game playing base Shangri-La, but it felt increasing detached to me from the characters and settings we started out with in book one.

Then the ending…no………How could Kristi leave us like that? I’d almost decided this was it for me, wondering whether I really wanted to continue with the series but I can’t stop at this point, I’ll have to see how it plays out and hope a return to the styles of books one and two are forthcoming.

Stars: Three, a bit hard going this installment. Hopefully book four will bring a return to the style of the first two.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Fallen, P.J. Fox

Fallen, P.J. Fox

Fallen by [Fox, P.J.]

Genre:  Romance, General Fiction

I wasn’t really sure what this book would be about. Seemed to be some kind of dystopian/futuristic romance read, and as I’d not read any of PJ Fox’ work before I decided to try it.

I’ve finished now and TBH I’m still not really sure what it was about….A very strange romance between Dane and Ani, a weird society who have one might a year when everyone is free to kill who they want without reprisal, and some very odd behaving characters.

That’s about it for me. I didn’t really understand the story, didn’t get a sense of who and what the characters were and what the whole thing was about.
The idea that the free-for-all Purge kept society working better than imprisonment was just plain weird and of course open to all sorts of abuse. Some of the characters didn’t want justice, just wanted a chance to kill someone, anyone, just for “fun”.
I hold my hands up and admit I skim read the last third as frankly I was floundering and just wanted to get the book finished.

This is probably one of the shortest reviews I’ve ever done but even though I read the whole book I still can’t understand what it was about, what the point of it all was and whether or not I actually wanted Dane and Ani to end up together.

Stars: Two, a book that just didn’t work for me. Might be one you love – who knows? for me though it was a fail.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Muddy Waters (Otherwhere 1), Book ONE of the Otherwhere, Sara O. Thompson

Muddy Waters (Otherwhere 1), Book ONE of the Otherwhere, Sara O. Thompson

Muddy Waters (Otherwhere Book 1) by [Thompson, Sara O.]

Genre:  General Fiction (adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy

I was really intrigued by the description, i do like these “crossover world ” reads, where our world and the supernatural exist together but in a kind of parallel spacing. And Magic, I love that!
Its kind of a muddled read though 😦 some things I liked, but sadly a lot that was just plain confusing and had me backtracking trying to work it out.

When we first meet Tessa she’s been incarcerated in a tough prison for five years, much of that doped up and then – wham- the FBI flexes its muscle and she’s out. No detox issues given she’s gone from one extreme to nothing and no support!
Somehow given she’s still assumed to be guilty of killing her family, and also a very dangerous witch I thought she’d be under more supervision.
I like her and of course we know she didn’t do it, but others in the book will still see the conviction and think she’s guilty.

The whole FBI thing seems like a device used to get her – and other characters at different times – in a certain place in the story. There’s little that connects to real policing, no training, no office meetings and direction, no reports to make. She’s more or less left alone to run her shop, except for this one thing they need her for right now.

Her FBI partner Qyll is a Dark Elf. Other than being told he’s hot, and picking up that he’s a man who uses few words, and has a sort of old fashioned speech style we don’t really know much about him.
They don’t really spend a great deal of time together, don’t act as partners, and I found that hard to believe in. Tessa is just a short while away from maximum imprisonment, regarded as dangerous to a deadly extent, drugged up to a comatose state for much of that, and now she’s let loose on the world to track down a murderer, or murderers, without any real guidance, training, directions or input from the FBI and Qyll.
He was a potentially great opportunity that seems wasted. His character has the potential to be so much more. Maybe, hopefully, as the series continues….

Of course the murders stack up, everyone except Qyll seems to have a down on Tessa, and despite having no real experience she’s more or less left alone to track down the perpetrator(s).
There’s lots of action and drama, but it got very confusing at times, and I found one of my pet hates being used too much, where the lead character gets new/unexplained powers just when they’re needed most, and when the reader thinks there’s no way out for them.
I needed to know more about Tessa, more about what she could do, before I could believe she escaped almost injury free from the multiple conflicts she gets caught up in.
There’s so many characters too that I had to keep backtracking to find out who they were, how they connected, and where they belonged in the story.
The timing is sometimes a bit strange. There’ll be an action packed, drama filled few hours, and then next paragraph we’re days or weeks later, without any indication of what had happened in the interval.
Its sounds as if all I have are criticisms and that’s not true, these are real issues for me, but the potential for things to work out into a great series is there IMO.
It just needs tidying a bit, better pacing and use of characters and constructs ( the FBI for example).
Set secondary characters in plots that fix them in the readers minds, instead of leaving them wondering “who was that again? Where do they fit it?” when they suddenly crop up.

Its not only a debut story, but a first in series and that’s always tough to get right.
I do feel though that there’s some unique ideas in this story, a series with a good future here.
I like Tessa’s spells, the way they’re explained, the way she uses ones developed in childhood – that kind of things works well for me, and I feel then that as they are so ingrained its believable when she pulls them out just when she needs them without barely thinking about them. Kind of how they’ve become second nature.
More of that kind of thinking for other events would help IMO.

Its not billed as Romance, but I get the impression that possibly in the future Qyll and Tessa will get closer to that. and a s a romance lover of course that appeals to me too!

Stars:Three, a story that for me has a great future but which I feel needs some series tidying and attention to get there.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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