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Day Reaper, Melody Johnson

Day Reaper,  Melody Johnson

Day Reaper (The Night Blood Series) by [Johnson, Melody]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

I loved the first three in this series, but this final novel was a real disappointment for me.

Its a complex cast of characters, not just the usual Humans and Vampires, but Night Bloods, Day Walkers and The Damned too. At times they overlap a lot, and I had to keep reminding myself of the differences between the groups. Its not always a s clear as it seems with Walker being a Night Blood who is out to kill Vampires ( and The Damned and Day Walkers), Ronnie who’s a Vampire but can’t seem to thrive on blood, and Cassidy’s brother Nathan transformed to one of The Damned back to Something Else….he still has the same characteristics of The damned, but not the murderous impulses and rages.

The friendships that were such an integral part of the early stories take a battering, with Cassidy fighting her friends to convince them she, Dominic and co can work with them, that they are on the side of good despite being vampires. At times its hard seeing which way either side will go. Harsh too that bonds of friendship were stretched, that Cassidy’s friends were so ready to just dismiss her, write her off a Vampire=Bad. It’s difficult too, to know who is going to help and who is just going to take advantage of the situation and change sides, or revert back to their history of preservation at all costs, or killing non humans, believing they are all evil.

The thing that really got me from this book was the credibility. Dominic has been so strong throughout, loyal to his coven, a great leader ( though I’m not sure why when the Levelling is a regular event he wasn’t more prepared…) but in this book I felt he became emasculated and that Cassidy became what I hate in fantasy reads, one of those recently transformed characters who have endless new powers popping up to save the day. It just doesn’t feel real that someone who only weeks earlier learned about vampires, gets transformed and becomes The Great Savior, so to speak, not struggling with her days only transformation but able to think clearly, adapt and do what Dominic and the others with their combined thousands of years experience can’t. I know part of it is the friendship she has with the humans but its just a step too far for me. A per hate, one that I guess won’t bother many readers, but for me which always spoils novels when it happens. 😦
I felt much of this story was dragged out just to fill pages, and perhaps the books would have been better condensed into three. Dominic could have been left as the strong, intelligent character he’s been for hundreds of years, with his quick, strategic thinking, The focus could have stayed on the Levelling, which as a huge part of the early books seemed to fizzle out into a non event really, and less attention put on Cassidy as the Saviour of Everyone! No New Girl saves the Day, keep my pet peeve out.

Stars: Three, a really disappointing ending for me, still a good read but this final book lacks the special qualities that the earlier ones had, the thing that made it such a perfect read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Shadow Hunt ,(Disrupted Magic 3), Melissa F. Olson

Shadow Hunt ,(Disrupted Magic 3), Melissa F. Olson

Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic Book 3) by [Olson, Melissa F.]

Genre: general fiction(adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy.
I love this series, and the sister series set in the same world. It was that one, featuring Quinn and Lex that brought me the the Old World, and let me to buying more and being lucky enough to have some review ARCs too.

I love Scarlett, she’s in a tough and dangerous world, has to do things that her heart really isn’t in, but which are necessary to protect others. It means she’s alone though, having to keep family and human friends at a distance as they can and will be used to get to her.

One of her few human friends from the early days is Jesse, and he’s a human that’s been allowed to know about the Old world because of the way he learned about it via his police job, and because Dasheil, Vampire leader for the city, feels he could be useful. Jesse is retired from the police now, but still very much friends with Scarlett and helps her when she needs assistance.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Jesse, wanted him and Scarlett to be together but through the series its never been the right time for either and they have both been in other relationships, and just remained good, true friends.

Its another exciting adventure, bringing into play characters, enemies Scarlett thought had been neutralised – or at least a truce reached with them. The attack, when it comes, is very unexpected, and once more its Scarlett and Jesse in the thick of things, rescuing those they love, and trying hard to prevent a massive tragedy and loss of life. We meet a few new characters, catch up from some from past stories and Maven, we learn a bit more about her too!
I really enjoyed this, perfect pacing, perfectly balanced and “realistic” within fantasy realms 😉 situations. The why ad hows were the usual puzzle for me, with me thinking “ooohhh…riight” when all was revealed. And the ending, Sob, just perfect.

I’m glad the way is open for more Old World adventures, I’ve grown close to many of these characters, and would love to read more from them. Molly and Wyatt, Maven, Will and Sashi, there’s so much more to learn about all these guys, plus Jesse and Scarlett of course 😉

Stars: Five all the way, fabulous finish to the trilogy. More please Melissa!

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Touch of Ice, Mary Auclair

Touch of Ice,  Mary Auclair

Touch of Ice (Dawn of Dragons Book 1) by [Auclair, Mary]

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I’d never read anything by this author but liked the sound of this. I really wanted to like it but…TBH it was a little too simplistic for me.
Endora, I get why she lied about not having children, what parent wouldn’t when their child’s life is at stake but I didn’t understand why she lied about Wilfrid. Or why that event didn’t actually seem to matter.
I though she was far too many times just TSTL. She’s ready to blame Aldric for everything – even while melting in lust against him…gah! I hate that. Personal gripe though, its common in paranormal reads so clearly others don’t find it an issue. She sees Wilfrid after ten years of being abandoned, no support, no help even when their child was dying and yet ignores the fact that she and the children are huge targets for bloodthirsty killers, skips out against all Aldric’s instructions to keep them safe, even when last time she did that the guard almost lost his life – and that time she just wanted some fresh air. This time she thinks Tallie ought to be able to see her dad! WTH?

It’s an OK story, better if you can get past Dora’s stupidity and judgmental tendencies. The dragon and child thing was a good touch, and I liked Aldric and his family, and the whole dragon structure. I can see how this is going to build into a decent series if you like a kind of simple paranormal romance theme. For me I need a bit more depth, but the best sellers are dominated by books like this so obviously many readers love them, even if I want a bit more substance 😉 Horses for courses, reading taste is subjective. Just because this wasn’t right for me doesn’t mean others won’t love it.

Stars: Three, OK but a bit light and Dora was a real Fail for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Heart on Fire, Amanda Bouchet

Heart on Fire, Amanda Bouchet

Heart on Fire (The Kingmaker Trilogy Book 3) by [Bouchet, Amanda]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

The final stretch, and what a fantastic trilogy this has been. A mesh of traditional legends, Gods, Goddesses, fantastical creatures and imagined kingdoms. Amanda has taken bits of stories we all grew up with and shaped them into an amazing story that had me gripped right from the start.

The characters, a real mix, and finding out some of the ones Cat has known for years were actually more then just magical humans came as a shock to her. Griffins family, she wishes she’d been brought up that way, secure in her parents love, but her upbringing was very far from that. Griffin and his siblings and parents support each other at every turn, Cat’s siblings were forced to fight each other and their mother for their lives, and killing her sister scarred Cat’s psyche in unimaginable ways.
When she ran, aided by Thanos, and found the circus they became her family for many years, but she kept secret inside her talents, her magical skills. Then Griffin came into her life.

Griffin has been incredible, he’s ambitious, but not for power, for peace. He wants to reunite the fractured kindoms and stop all the fighting, the abouse by those in power, the cruelty and murders, but he’s happy to stand behind Cat, to take second place as he knows she’s meant to be the figurehead.
Turns out much of what he feels is real, that he and Cat were shaped for each other, given the skills to get this done but that doesn’t mean its plain sailing. They’ve come so far but still have a big battle in store, Cat’s mother won’t give up her kingdom easily, and Cat knows just how powerful she is.

I love the way this plays out, as with the other two books there are battles, both on a large scale, and small with just Cat, Griffin and sometimes some of the others from Elpis team.
There’s a backstabbing betrayal that comes as a shock, there are multiple times they face death and scrape by aided by one of the Gods, or by a talent they’ve gifted them in the past – nothing was ever free though, they had to prove they had the skills, they were right to hold that gift.

I love the way Amanda has dealt with my pet hate, when characters are right on the edge of losing and one of them gets a new power and miraculously is skilled and wins the day. Mostly she has them use powers we already know they have, having worked hard to refine the use of them. There are times when they are almost in the situation I’ve described, but they have to really think about, understand the consequences of using what they have, and often it doesn’t go right first time, or even fourth time, and they need a quick Godly rescue 😉
I want my characters to have to work to win, to have to make tough choices, to really understand what it is their asking, doing, wanting.
I need them to practice to get the skills they need, not just whip them out of a hat at the tough moment, and Griffin ensures Cat and the rest of the team do all that.
There’s lots to understand to about him and Cat, why and how they are who they are, the consequences of their actions, their pasts and how that has affected them.

Of course it culminates in an amazing battle bringing in so much of whats gone down earlier in this book, and in the previous two.
I love stories that do that, build on events and characters, let them play a full role in how the story ends, not just a bit part along the way.

Way back when I read the first part of Charlie N. Holmberg’s  Magician trilogy, I wrote that I thought it would make a fantastic family film – and a couple of years later Disney picked it up.
I really think this trilogy would be a terrific film too, but more for new adults upwards. There are scenes between Cat and Griffin that are very sensual, which belong to the story, show their connection, but which would probably get toned down too much or disappear if this became a family film, and that would be a real loss IMO.

Stars: five, a fantastic trilogy, gripping, entertaining and one to keep.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Water Viper ,(Jesse Alexander 1), R.J. Blain

Water Viper ,(Jesse Alexander 1), R.J. Blain

Water Viper: A Jesse Alexander Novel by [Blain, RJ]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

My first novel by this author, got it as part of some free book offer, I’d read the amazon sample and wanted to read more. Sadly I didn’t note exactly how I came by this book, just found I’d filed it in the review collection….

Its a long book at almost 500 pages, and usually I love long books but TBH at times this felt a bit Padded, a little too much Filler and – heresy for me saying this – I think if it had been a little more succinct it would have been better for me.
There were story-lines which looking back the day after finishing I can’t recall what was their purpose, nor what the resolution was in some of them. I’m thinking here of who was behind the second bounty/kidnapping attempt, the one where Henry and Anatoly find her? There are other parts too which were funny the first and second times but after a while….they got old. Its frustrating reading plots and then finding they don’t actually add anything to the story.
I didn’t see how on earth, even cleverly disguised, she thought she was still getting away with fooling everyone about who she really is/was when she was day to day living with people who she classed as friends, who knew her very well.

Set against those moans though was some subtle humour, some terrific characters, and a really interesting new world post Starfall, with a good mix of paranormal creatures. Sometimes the shifter/magic types stories feel like I’m reading the same ones but with minor plot changes and new names. This was very unusual and I really liked it.
Overall, even with my caveats, I really enjoyed the story, and would be happy to read more Jesse Alexander stories, or other characters set in this world. I think it has a lot of potential, and is an interesting take on a genre that can get tired from all the stories set in it.

Stars: Four, an interesting read, one I really enjoyed but which dragged at times, losing it a star.

 

The Silenced Tale, Book 3 of the Accidental Turn Series, J.M. Frey

The Silenced Tale, Book 3 of the Accidental Turn Series, J.M. Frey

The Silenced Tale (The Accidental Turn Series Book 3) by [Frey, J.M.]

Genre: LGBTQIA , Sci Fi & Fantasy

I’ve loved this trilogy, fresh and unusual, it hinges round the characters in a series Elgar read wrote. By some quirk of fate he wrote magic so perfectly that it – and the actual characters, places and events, became real. As a Reader, Pip was pulled into the world and met Forsyth. Now they both live in the Overrealm, our world, with their daughter Alis.
They had issues with Hain and certain people in the last book, where events there were affecting the Overrealm, and now they fear that things weren’t as safe as they left them, that maybe, just maybe, someone else has come through to the Overrealm.

There’s another fantastic adventure, Syth being his spymaster self here in the real world, master of the PC and Internet. I love how he’s adapted to it, his careful turn of phrase, his planning, always looking ten steps ahead and of course his love for Pip and Alis.
Pip is wonderful, such an intelligent girl and I love how she breaks out the writing jargon, explaining to Syth ( and readers like me!) about tropes, genres, and how books are plotted. I read, I had no idea of the structure of a story but it makes sense, and makes my author admiration even greater! She’s having a bad time in this book, due to the events of the past that connect her to magic through the carvings.
To begin its just a series of odd events that could be explained away, but Syth being the cautious type he sets his programme up to look for anything that might be connected. I love when he says he thought Pip’s Poster “its not paranoia if they’re out to get you” was a warning not an irony. That sums him up in a way, written to protect, its in his very marrow to do just that.
Of course what he and Pip don’t know is that Elgar is having issues too, with what the police think is a stalker, but what Elgar fears is Hain stuff, and vengeance from there. He had no way of knowing what he wrote created a real world, and he feels so guilty for the casual way he wrote torture and death in his stories. There’s a top secret TV series based around his books being planned and the police agree its a good idea for him to go there for a couple of weeks. Syth’s programme tells him what Elgar didn’t though, so he’s beginning to piece together events and he now knows he, Pip and Elgar are facing real danger that the police can’t help with. How can they fight magic and fictional people that have become real. If they tried to tell them they’d be taken to the nearest Psych centre!

It all comes together in a nail biting, climatic finish, and I was gutted at some of the events and yet – it was the perfect way to end the trilogy.
I read the Magician trilogy when that was first out, back in Oct 2014, and thought it would make a great family film, Disney agreed some time later. I think this too would make a great film, has that magic (hah!) content that will appeal to kids and adults alike and is so very unusual.

Stars: Five, a perfect ending to a terrific, exciting and fresh trilogy.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Maid of Ice, Shona Husk plus black friday audible offers.

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Maid of Ice, Shona Husk

Maid of Ice (Blood & Silver) by [Husk, Shona]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy

I hate the title of this book, its horribly “twee”, sounds more like a 70’s M&B title than a contemporary fantasy.
Don’t let that put you off though becuase under that awful title is the third novel in a fun and unusual fantasy world.

Each book is slowly building on this world, where supernaturals who can do magic live unnoticed among humans. Barely noticed actually, though there’s a group called Guardians who want to rid the world of all of them.
The battle between Albah and Guardians has been one from centuries back, and currently there’s supposedly a truce, though its looking more and more that the Guardians have been killing off Alba in what were first thought of as accidents.
The Guardians main grump is that the Albah can make vampires, Albanex, and those can create mayhem in their search for human blood.

There’s more to the story, the Albah are concerned that their race is dying out. They’ve kept themselves isolated and hidden for so long, but the threat of the Guardians has made many of them drop out of the group, go their own way. The fracturing of the group like this, and the actions of the Guardians have made them a weakened society, and there are those that think its time to be proactive, make changes.
Its a tough time for them right now, Finlay’s dad is the Albah King, leader of all, and that’s part of why Finlay doesn’t join in, share with the group. He was conceived as a kind of duty baby in his eyes, brought up by his father when his mother left to go on to have another family with the man she loved, and to do her job protecting Keepers.

Keepers, they’re a third arm – centuries in sleep, they’re the people who hold all the old secrets, and people like Archie, Findlay’s mother, protect their hidden sleep places. Finlay has always felt abandoned by her, his stepmum died when he was young, and he’s regarded her as his mum. He just doesn’t want to join in on Albah stuff, wants to stay alive and live his life, believing that maybe it is time they died out as a society. Then he meets Alina, and gets a taste of what that could be like and its not the way he envisaged.

Alina has no idea what she is, her mother has kept them on the move, away from her family and done her best to keep Alina’s water magic hidden. When she meets Finlay circumstances bring her heritage to light, and place both of them in extreme danger.

Its an entertaining read, not as good IMO as the last story but still very interesting. I wasn’t quite convinced of the love between Alina and Finlay, that’s the main issue for me. Their romance seemed to go from nothing to full pelt with little in between. What did work well here though was the story-line that advanced the overall novel arc, leading up to what looks to be at some point a gripping fight involving all of the factions, and before that happens Finlay and those like him need to decide what they want from the group. Do they see a future for them or not, will they fight or give in?
Finlay makes his choice here, but with others having broken off from the main group, tracing them is going to be a hard challenge and time is running out fast.

Stars: four, not quite the five star read of the last novel for me, but an excellent installment moving forward the overall story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

 

Council of Souls Fated Eternals 2 by Jen Printy

Council of Souls, Fated Eternals 2, Jen Printy

Council of Souls (Fated Eternals Book 2) by [Printy, Jen]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance

Well, I loved book one and was keen to crack on with the story but….its so different from other fantasy books, so many new immortals with different talents that I was lost. I went back and read last five or so chapters of book one to refresh my mind and fell back into the story.
Having finished this book I really think it would benefit from an index or something, so that we know how each person is connected, and the difference between the supernatural types. Now we’ve Souless, Timeless, Endless, Immortals, Soul Immortals, Death, the Fates, Shadow Death….you get the idea. I just kept forgetting who fitted where and the difference between them all.
Its a great read once more. The love between Jack and Leah is so perfect, and the lengths each will go to to save the other really emphasises that. I love Artagan too, he seems to know a lot more than he lets on. Kemsi, a puzzle that one. What does she really feel about Artagan and he her? Death? What’s his end game and why does he seem to let Domitilla get away with so much. How are people chosen for Gathering and why? So many questions and the end of this book sets things up nicely for the next.
Its a five star read, though I really would have benefited from an index of types and hope that maybe for the next book Jen does one. I did have to put this aside sometimes as I just got so lost between characters and connections. I needed to sit back from the story a bit and think about how that worked before I could continue and it spoiled the flow a bit for me. These kind of very different supernatural reads work best for me when all books are out and its one that I’ll definitely do a back to back read when that happens, immerse myself in the story and be able to read through remembering who’s who and where they fit in things. Currently with them being different from the fiction norms, and with a gap between books it means I need to refresh my mind on all that before starting next book.

Stars: five, a fabulous, fresh take on the supernatural world.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Beneath the Skin, Lauren Dane

Beneath the Skin, Lauren Dane

Beneath the Skin (de La Vega Cats) by [Dane, Lauren]

Genre: sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

A reworking of an earlier series, this is book three.
I hadn’t read first two books, and they’re not on netgalley or available to buy, and that’s a shame as it would have helped the story a bit. There are characters and events from those that crop up here, and would have made understanding motives etc easier.
There are terms too – The Bringer, and the Jambouree – that I kind of worked out as I went along, but which would have been good to know early on exactly what they were.

Anyway, its a pretty fast flowing story, succinct and yet packed with action. I loved Mia, a strong lady, she’s no Baby to be tucked in a corner….and she’s a perfect foil for Gibson, tough guy, charged with overseeing justice for the pack.
He’s a real ladies man, but he’s also a true gentleman. He’s secure enough in his own skills to enjoy Mia’s strength, knows he wants to protect her but has to let her do so much for herself. Its who she is, and he has to let her be that person if they are to be happy together.

I enjoyed meeting the rest of the family, seeing how the Cats all connected, and working out what was going on, who the bad guys were. Its not a brain taxing thriller, but a fun and sexy suspense, and a perfect HEA sensual read.

I have to finish with a bit that made me snort. On my review blog i have a post called bad sex terms – and this has to go in, it’s perfect. “he nudged at her gate, pushing in very slowly. thick and meaty he filled her up…..” WTF? Her gate? Thick and meaty?? Oh that had me sniggering like a twelve year old….

Stars: five, bad sex terms aside 😉 its a fun short, a sexy and sensual quick escape into the supernatural world.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Masked, M Greenhill. Silva, J.A. Hazel

I reviewed this story a few weeks back, its now out on amazon UK and Com. a great read. full review here

 

Silva: End of a Rock and Roll Love Story (Indie Rock Star Book 2) , J.A. Hazel

Silva: End of a Rock and Roll Love Story (Indie Rock Star Book 2) by [Hazel, J.A.]

Masked, M Greenhill

Masked by [Greenhill, M]

Genre:  Mystery & Thrillers, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I love Fantasy reads, especially if there’s a romance in the story.
Sadly the best sellers lists are dominated by stories where the romance is all the story, and though clearly others love them I want a bit more substance.
Happily Masked delivers all that 🙂 and I look forward to reading more.

There were a few weak spots though, Daniel is hundreds of years old, Alpha Commander, and yet in this age of technology he’s a total Luddite.
I would have though that with technology now posing such a risk to them he’d have a specialist team. Its not as if he can hire out either, he’s determined to avoid any Human involvement. Fortunately his alphas are more open minded, and through circumstance Parker has become a friend to one of the packs, after her cousin was turned.
Now they need her but she and Daniel have friction between them from an earlier case.

What I struggled with were things like early on in the novel when there are four murders, the wolves just whisk away the bodies, and remove the SD cards from every ones phones? I just kept thinking “How?” you just can’t do that without creating massive attention, and that’s the last thing they needed.
It would have been easier to believe had they their own tech specialists that can hack into networks and delete data that way, change paperwork so that nothing is missing but the true details don’t get out, bodies appear to have died from another cause.
Its a more believable way round things and one I’ve seen in other supernatural reads.

That’s a small criticism though and on the whole I really enjoyed this book. First in a series has a hard job, delivering a new and exciting story while introducing characters for future books. I liked the way this part of the story wrapped up while still leaving the opening for future books connected to what happened here.

I liked too that the author isn’t afraid to kill off key characters. That’s always sad when it happens, but does add to the believability factor when not just weak secondary people die. Keeps the reader on their toes too, never knowing what’s coming.
In some books whatever the dangers you know all the main guys are safe, and it makes me think things like in real life it doesn’t happen that way, that all the good/lead characters survive, and lessens credibility.

There were some great characters here, from Parker and her cousin Bobby, Daniel and his betas, the two tech-geeks-in-training, to Daniel’s sister and characters from other packs. the bad guys were just that – truly awful, and with psychotics like that you can’t predict what their next move would be. I like that 🙂 like to be surprised.  The story too has lots of potential to follow through in later books.

Stars: four, maybe four and a half, tidy up the few weak spots and this is shaping up to be a five star series.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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