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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

 

 

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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

Booke of the Hidden, Jeri Westerson. Hardheaded, Deep in the Heart Book 1, Kim Law

Booke of the Hidden, Jeri Westerson

Booke of the Hidden by [Westerson, Jeri]

Genre: Sci Fi & Fantasy

I really wanted to like this book, sounded a fun read, and to start I thought it was going to be OK…and parts of it were, its just that there were also some strange parts ( and I don’t mean her name), too many convenient co-incidences, people who she needed to know who just appeared at the right time, too many mysteries and unexplained things that didn’t really seem to lead to much.As for the bikers…the least scary scary people I’ve ever read I think. I’m not sure whether we’re meant to be afraid of them or whether they really are meant to come off as ridiculous as they seem to be.
Its got potential as a series, but for me this isn’t a good start. The characters seemed very stereotypical, rather than genuine, Kylie an odd person – who does that, just ups and starts a tea and herb shop without checking to see if you can actually make a living from it, that there is call for it, there isn’t another already there who do it bigger and better….It was a struggle to finish, and I really wasn’t invested in the story despite really looking forward to it.

Stars: two, sounded good, may get better but a bad start for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Hardheaded, Deep in the Heart Book 1, Kim Law

Hardheaded (Deep in the Heart Book 1) by [Law, Kim]

Genre: General fiction (adult), Romance

I usually love Montlake books, so it came as a bit of a shock that though I liked this book, that was all 😦

Its a good story, has some terrific characters ( I especially liked Little and Big Red!), and the premise of the show added a different edge.
Its just that somehow for me the whole thing failed to really gel, I didn’t really ever feel the settings of the characters were real. That’s so important to me, I read to get lose in another world, to lose this life for a while and immerse myself in another.
Here though I just always felt like an onlooker, so though I enjoyed the story, when I reached the end I didn’t feel sad, didn’t miss characters I’d come to love, and I know its a story that’s a one time read only for me.

I can’t really explain why I feel this way. Its possibly that all the characters were so nice, and I use that word deliberately. There wasn’t any nastiness, jealousies, the closest it got was Marci ( I think that was her name ) calling Jill a two-bit orphan, or something along those lines.
With all these “good” characters there wasn’t any friction, and for me that  makes a book.

I love it when sparks fly, I love some genuine temper. Though Jill flipped a couple of times it wasn’t as if she didn’t have provocation, and that’s the only hint of any real drama I felt.
The issues between Jill and Cal were really storm-in-a-teacup, and I just couldn’t see how they were so at odds about what the other wanted, how the other felt when they were supposed to be so close, so in love. Yes they were young when they married but did they ever actually talk to each other?
I just couldn’t see things would play out as they did and it didn’t feel right.

Stars: Three, a decent read, but lacked real emotion and drama for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Molten Dusk, The Norse Chronicles: Book 3, Karissa Laurel

Molten Dusk, The Norse Chronicles: Book 3, Karissa Laurel

Molten Dusk (The Norse Chronicles Book 3) by [Laurel, Karissa]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

A fabulous finish, with the tension and excitement ramped up right to the end.
This isn’t one of those reads where you can jump in part way through – you need to start at the beginning or you’ll have no idea whats happening. Its not a run-of-the-mill paranormal, but one which takes on Norse legends and weaves them and the characters into modern day life.
Its so different from most current paranormal offerings and a real treat to read. The romance part is very muted so if you don’t like romance in your reads don’t be put off, its a small part. Personally I love it so long as the story is strong, but I also like reads such as this where romance takes a back seat.
In fact although its clear how Solina and Thorin feel about each other she’s still fence sitting, worrying about that Immortal God v Human paradox. She’s a fiery Star though herself, literally, so not quite just a human….

Helen and Skoll are still a danger and threatening the second Ragnarok. Baldur now has Nina, but she’s struggling with trying to remember her previous incarnations and with his feelings.
He’s less of a wimp in this book – maybe unfair I titled him that in book two but he really did cop out of helping his freinds, saving the world stuff – then again seeing the person you love die time after time after time and trying to find them each re-incarnation must affect one’s mind and priorities.
Val and the Ravens are still a danger, with them knowing a Thought soon as it takes form and being on Helen’s side, but how can Solina and co plan anything without thinking – tough one but aid comes from an unexpected quarter. Can it be trusted though?
There’s still the doubts about the Valkyries Solina has too, she’s not sure if there’s loyalty there or whether they are playing some long game. She knows Skyla is true but doesn’t know about the others.
Helen seems to be one step ahead all the while and she’s making things pretty tough for them, trouble is they have to treat each threat as real even though they know that she’s possibly double bluffing them, and while they fight one threat she’s planning another.
Its real down to the wire stuff this time, and both sides are pretty equal.

I love the characters here, love that the women are all pretty strong. Thor – well, I adore him. I’ve a soft spot for the Ravens too. All these characters have been through so much over the long years, so many battles, so many tragedies.
When Thor talks about his life and family I found it very emotional, and I adore the way he is so in love with Solina, so protective and yet respects her and doesn’t try to stop her from venturing into danger when he knows she needs to do it.

It’s another fabulous read, and the ending is perfect.
Its a fantasy read for Thinking readers, those who want more than the weak story wrapped around a hot romance, that’s sadly so much of the current best sellers lists.
Its story you’ll want to re-read, certainly now I’m planning a back to back read of all three parts.

Stars: five, fantastic ending to an amazing trilogy.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Beautiful Ones, Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Beautiful Ones, Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Genre: Sci Fi & Fantasy

I really wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, but it sounded so intriguing I wanted to read it – and what a gorgeous treat it was.

Its kind of curious world setting, one that feels historical with its emphasis on The Season, Elegance and Society, but which also accepts that some people have magical powers, although its supposed to be scientifically explained…
I’m not sure if there are other types of magic in this world, we only meet her and Hector who also is telekinetic.
I’d have liked a little more background about the world setting and the magics within it.

Anyway, Antonina (Nina) is staying with her cousin and his wife for her first Season. Telekinesis is not something one does in polite society, and poor Nina struggles to control her telekinesis. She’s got no one to guide her, and back home was called names and ridiculed for it, but when she’s emotional it flames out of her control. She’s not really suited for society life anyway, she’s intelligent, asks questions where Ladies should be silent, doesn’t like frills and fripperies, dressing up, wasting time on tea parties when she could be out collecting beetles and butterflies, reading science papers etc.

Valerie, her cousins wife is quite the cold b itch. She’s very much a person of Society, very much admired as the most beautiful woman in the city. She likes being admired, being rich, likes the power it gives her, likes her position in society. She’s very calculating.
She’s bitter, acts the loving wife but secretly despises Gaelan having married him for money and position, she resents the close relationship he has with his family.
She’s not happy at Nina staying with them, at the money being spent on her, the attention paid to her and takes every opportunity to politely belittle her, under the guise of helping, instructing her in the ways of Society.

Then Nina meets Hector. She’s a sweet girl, he enjoys her company and conversation, and is teaching her about her telekinesis.
Nina of course assumes he’s someone that accepts her for what she is, and not like the rest of society who ridicule her, call her names, and aren’t lining up to marry her despite her rich dowry. Of course she can’t help falling in love, Hector is a good-looking, charming and a courteous man. She thinks her feelings may be reciprocated, as he’s happy to converse with her about nature, science, and of course the telekinesis that others want her to keep hidden, spends time with her and gives every appearance of being interested in her. There are other things at play though, things from the past she doesn’t know about and all is not as it seems.

I love Nina, such a genuine, kind and intelligent girl. When things went wrong between her and Hector I so felt for her, convinced they were a good match, that Hector felt more than he would admit, even to himself. I wanted them back together but then someone else comes into the picture…..has Hector left it too late?

Its a fun read, I would have likes to know more about the world setting and the magics in it. The supernatural part is very much Nina and Hector only, we don’t meet anyone else even though clearly there are more people. Do they all only have telekinesis or are there other types of magic? How do people get it? Is it some kind of genetic link or just random. There’s no talk of Nina’s family having anyone else who could do things ( that I recall) but Hector had been performing in a troupe as a child, presumably with his parents who must have had some abilities to work in the group. I’d like to have those sort of questions answered.

Stars: Four, its an enjoyable read, a little light escapism for a few hours. I don’t think its one I’ll reread, but is one that will appeal to younger and older readers. Some book suit all ages and this is one.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Nocturne, (Hours of the Night 2), Irene Preston, Liv Rancourt

Nocturne, (Hours of the Night 2), Irene Preston, Liv Rancourt

Nocturne (Hours of the Night Book 2) by [Preston, Irene, Rancourt, Liv]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

Vampires, supernatural suspense, M/M romance – what’s not to love? This is a great series but don’t start here, read books 1 and 1.5 or you’ll be lost.

Even though I’ve done that there are times when i needed to do a mental backtrack just to recall who fits where and how…There are some great characters here but the cast gets larger, with each book building on both short and long term story arcs, and that makes the whole thing pretty complex.

Sara: I love him, open, cheerful, confident in his sexuality and very much in love with Thad. He’s 23 and has a wonderful joy about him that makes him feel young, but not immature. He’s on the fence about the Monks, but respects Thad’s devotion to them, his quest for redemption.
I’m with him about them, not so sure they are the good guys they appear to be, and irritated at the way they use Thad’s guilt over what he is for their own ends. They withhold information to suit themselves and don’t worry about danger to Thad, seem to see him as dispensable.
There’s one bit where they are meeting with Brother Michael – I think it was him – and Sara remarks on the surrounds, very luxurious and Michael says that the monks give up all material wealth when they join. As Sara thinks you’d imagine that would mean they live frugally, but somehow they make it so they’re living in the lap of luxury. Pretty much like real life religion for many…..
Thad: He’s young in age, about 30ish I think but actually 115, and he’s got that historical mindset in many ways.
He was going to become a monk- or was one – when he was changed, and carries such guilt about what he is, calls the vampire part Le Monstre, and his work with the Monks is to atone for that. Like Sara, I think they use his guilt for their own ends.
It must be hard when so long has been spent suppressing his sexuality, thinking it a sin, and then finding Sara and falling in love. I love the way we get the closeness, the tenderness between them without need for overt sexuality. Some books it fits to read about characters sex lives in detail, in this one it would just feel wrong, the way its handled discreetly is exactly the way Thad would be. Anything more just wouldn’t fit his personality.

There are new and old characters here, Mardi Gras festival celebrations, Demons and Witches and lots of supernatural issues. They still need to track down the missing book, and Michael also tasks them with finding out who killed a relative of his and protecting his young twin relatives, Jo and Sep.
Its a tangled tale, and of course Nohea, Thad’s awesome kick – a$$ assistant is still angry about her missing baby niece, and they’re trying to track her down.

A busy book for the trio, full of the usual suspense, dangers, twisted clues and the Monks machinations. another great read.

Stars: four and a half, it didn’t quite rivet me as the first two, I found parts a little confusing, but still an excellent read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by authors.

A Vampire’s Dream Carla Susan Smith

A Vampire’s Dream Carla Susan Smith
A Vampire's Dream by [Carla Susan Smith]
Genre: fantasy and paranormal, Romance
Longish novella at around 170 pages, and I’m always rambling on about how for me novellas rarely work – too short to deliver enough in depth characters and plots.
When they’re like this though, part of a world I already am familiar with through existing novels they’re perfect.

I loved this insight into Aleksei and Anasztaizia’s early years, how they first met, and of course Gabriel pre Rowan. It was interesting seeing Katja again too, and seeing how she feels about Gabriel.
I loved the main series, exciting and entertaining world and this peek into the years before those books was perfect. I’ve always had a soft spot for Aleksei, now after reading this even more so.

You could read this before, during – or as I have – after the existing books, and its a perfect read to add that additional character info.
I do love when existing series run these side books about individuals, it makes me feel more understanding of their actions. Its a great read, and as with the main books, really excellently priced.

If you like vampires, romance, suspense and action read this series, it delivers all that and more, though this novella is shorter on the suspense angle, that’s really the prerogative of the main books.
Might be time for a back-to-back read through them once more.
Stars: five, a great story to read pre,post or during the existing novels. Made me feel even more for Aleksei!

ENTHRALL ME, Tamara Hogan

ENTHRALL ME, Tamara Hogan

Enthrall Me (Underbelly Chronicles Book 4) by [Hogan, Tamara]

Genre: sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

Stupidly I just looked at description, thought it sounded fun and requested…so it wasn’t until I started to read I realised it was 4th in a series…doh. My bad, again.

Still, I did find it relatively easy to keep up, though I needed to back track a few times to check on who people were and how they fit the story.
I’d rather do that though, its my fault, than have authors bore established followers of a series with info they already know. I’ve found that in a few series I follow and to be frank its irritating. I always feel valuable story telling time is taken up that way, and if readers don’t know then they need to go back and read earlier books, or at least the samples so they get that info.

Its a fun story, one where the supernatural world is still hidden from humans but where they all interact, sometimes reluctantly, with each other, and where modern technology has meant they have to embrace it to keep themsleves hidden.
Its very sensual at times but sex that doesn’t dominate, fits the story-line. for me many promising books are let down when the sex overtakes the story, becomes the main them and I want story first, sex second.

I liked Tia, though she was very self confident at times, especially in the way she pushed Wyland. Its clear there’s a strong attraction between them, but they move in different circles and are hundreds of years apart. I found it a bit odd that she was never awed by what he’d seen and done, but just very interested in learning more. I don’t think I could help being a bit awed by him, but then Val and Thane are older than Wyland, and she’s the same with them.
Its that freshness, that taking them at face value that makes her so likable, and makes her fit in so well. That’s a good job because owing to the current danger surrounding her she’s had to move in to their household for a bit…..Wyland, watch out, she’s determined to open what you have – and she does. Poor guy doesn’t stand a chance.
There’s one bit I book marked that made me snigger ( there were a few but this one deserves retelling.) Tia has just got out a condom, “…. he smelled latex, and chemicals – odd but not off-putting, especially compared to sheep intestine….” That really sums up his age to me.

Its a fun story, plenty of action, lots of viewpoints, which I love, makes me understand characters better.
Its got a solid story-line too, and brings in characters from earlier books, which made me want to read their stories too.
I could see the differing arguments between the modernisers and the purists as being very real, there are always people with opposing views, and with a supernatural society there is plenty of space for revel/stay hidden, mix with others, stay within own species arguments and I really want to read further books in this series.

Stars: 4.5, a story I enjoyed even though I didn’t know the background having missed first three books ( bad Jeannie!)

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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