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Touch of Smoke, Karissa Laurel

Touch of Smoke, Karissa Laurel

Touch of Smoke by [Laurel, Karissa]

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy.

I loved Karissa’s Norse Chronicles, a really unusual supernatural series in a genre that’s dominated by vampires and werewolves. I was hoping she’d put that same unique spin on this book, and wasn’t disappointed.

This story is told in a past/present format, with a three year gap between the two time periods. I really enjoyed the way the tension is built, that we know something supernatural is happening, but not what or why.
I could see how Rikki felt that events were strange and yet like most of us, she dismissed her feelings as wrong. Well, who really believes in a supernatural answer, we’re creatures who believe in the obvious answer, and not the spooky one that we can’t really believe in.
I loved the characters, from Rikki and Mina, Owen and Luke, diner owner Rose, and Rikki’s mum who’s the town sheriff. Rikki wasn’t expecting to fall for Owen, being focused on escaping the town, but her friend Luke returns bringing Owen with him and they both seem set to settle in the town. That poses a problem for Rikki, who wants to do her training in a place four hours away….
And then the big mystery, huge events, Mina dies, Rikki can’t quite believe what she saw, what terrified her, what gives her nightmares still. She finds it hard to believe Owen could do what she remembers, but now three years later she’s ready – maybe – to face up to what she ran from, to seek answers.

I love the way it all slowly falls into place, how once more Karissa has turned to a more unusual form of supernatural entity for her story.
I loved Owen from the start, but could see how the secrets were wearing on Rikki, how she was struggling to convince herself about what she’d seen, whether it was real or her imagination, but those nightmares and Mina’s death were certainly real. And scary!
I enjoyed the way it wrapped up, it was a very satisfying ending. I hate when there are unanswered questions or solutions that come too easily and with supernatural stories I feel too often a slip of magic is used as answer and it feels too slick. I want my solutions to be hard won, to require energy, effort, sacrifice, not just a metaphorical wave of a hand. This ending was perfect.

Stars: Five, another fabulous read from Karissa.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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Dancer’s Flame, Grace Bloods: Book 2, Jasmine Silvera

Dancer’s Flame, Grace Bloods: Book 2, Jasmine Silvera

Dancer's Flame (Grace Bloods Book 2) by [Silvera, Jasmine]

Genre: General Fiction (adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy
I loved the first book in this series, but found it a little harder to connect with this one. There is so much going on, so many new characters and its such an unusual world. I feel its one of those stories where once all parts are out and I do a back to back reading session I’ll get so much more from it, having learned more about the world setting. This has Gods ( definitely plural) who aren’t necessarily benign or even easy to understand, Necromancers who can live thousands of years, the retinue of assorted supernaturals each necromancer has accrued over time, witches, werewolves, no doubt other supernaturals yet to be seen. Oh, and plain old humans….In this story there area couple of new supernaturals, Golems, fitting as its set in Prague and someone that poses a huge threat to everyone even if he doesn’t mean to, who of course Isela wants to save and others are keen to kill.
We see more of Isela and Azreal, which is great, I love those two, Gregor, in his usual taciturn protective self, along with some new folk from Azreal’s team. Of course nothings going smoothly, and once more supernaturals are threatening Azrael’s city, and it culminates in a huge, and at times to me confusing, climax. What’s next for the team.
I love that Jasmine has created such a fabulously different world, but it has the downside that its quite intense to read and follow, to understand who is whom, and how they fit into the story. I know though, that once I’ve fully got to grips this will be a solid five star series.

Stars: Four and a half. The half off is simply because at times the whole story and characters did get a bit confusing, however I know a second read will give me so much more, and I expect I’ll pick up on things I missed first reading.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Bad Moon, (Bad Duology Book 2), Shyla Colt

Bad Moon, (Bad Duology Book 2), Shyla Colt

Bad Moon (Bad Duology  Book 2) by [Colt, Shyla]

Genre: general fiction (Adult), Sci-fi and fantasy

Well, where to start? I guess with the fact that I persevered and got to 30% but simply couldn’t finish this book. I hadn’t a clue what was happening, didn’t really like or empathise with any of the characters. I missed that it was book two so in an attempt to understand I read the sample of book one when I finally tracked it down but that doesn’t seem to relate at all to this one? Confused? I was….
It wasn’t helped by the bad grammar and spelling issues that made it hard to understand what was happening, or the swapping of characters speaking without telling the reader, and the verging from third view to first which was weird. No book is perfect, we’re human, we make mistakes but there were so many here that combined with a story that confused me I just gave up. Its surprising as Shyla is a very prolific author so I’d have expected proofreading to be more accurate. Errors such as “soil yielded monster talks yearly” “The silky a lot of her best friend Kennedy” Chapter two starts with “….stepped into the masculine space.” Then talks about vampires, so I assume its a vampires room but next paragraph she’s walking into her own bathroom…talking about hair colour, her father apparently has bright right locks ( red?) then there were words and phrases added that just felt wrong or overdone. “small pumpkin Spice shaped latte purse” “she sensed an ellipsis behind the sentence, letting her know that could change” “the danger within lied him” these and more were within the first 15% and added to the fact I just didn’t like the characters or really feel any story development I pushed myself to 30% and then gave up.
As I said Shyla is a prolific writer and I’m sure has many fans who will love this book but for me her writing style and my reading tastes just don’t mesh. Make your own judgment, it could be a story you love if you can get past the issues I had.

Stars: Two, one to pass for me. I just didn’t ever really understand what it was about but I DNF it.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Enchantée, Gita Trelease

Enchantée, Gita Trelease

Enchantée by [Trelease, Gita]

Genre: Teens & YA, Sci Fi & Fantasy

I really enjoyed this, its a fabulous debut read, with a very polished writing style. I was absorbed into the story very quickly and felt as if I was there with the characters.

The magic part of the story felt genuine, as if it could be real. I liked that magic has a cost, the user needs to pay. I was really sympathetic to Camille and Sophie, they found themselves without parents, without money, without employment and with a drunkard brother, through no fault of their own. In real life, things like that do happen, and Camille reluctantly employs her small magic skills to buy them food and pay the rent.
Its not enough though, and faced with losing their home Camille uses a darker magic to create a persona who can gamble ( and use her magic to win) in the court of Versailles.

There were some wonderfully descriptive scenes there, and characters who were sometimes more than they seemed. Along the way there’s the puzzle of Lazare. He too may be more than a simple balloonist. Camille has a scary, dangerous path to follow. Will they have a romance or won’t it happen?

Its all set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, making a perfect setting.
There are more books planned but this one ends well, no cliffhangers but a neat closure. I don’t know it he next book will be about Camille, Sophie or possibly some of the other characters we’ve met but I’ll be keen to read it.

Stars: Five, Romance, mystery, history and Magic, all in one cleverly written story.

Arc via Netgalley

Heart of Ice (Alice Worth Book 3) Kindle Edition by Lisa Edmond

Heart of Ice (Alice Worth Book 3) Kindle Edition
by Lisa Edmond

Heart of Ice (Alice Worth Book 3) by [Edmonds, Lisa]

Genre:Fantasy and sci-fi, romance

I was lucky enough to get a copy of heart of Malice via Netgalley and loved it. Found Heart of fire on KU, and now this one. Its a fantasy read with a solid strand of romance, and which also delivered an exiting plot, ongoing over the series but with each book being complete in itself. You could read this without the earlier ones but you’ll get far more if you know the back story, the characters and the motivations. So many fantasy romance are just an OTT romance, with a thinly veiled fantasy backing it, so I love to find gems like this, books that are solid five star reads.

The stories revolve around Alice and her past, and her job as a PI. She’s in a romance with Sean, alpha of the local Werewolves, and as she isn’t a shifter, that’s not gone down well with all of them. In addition there’s local vampire Charles. He’s pretty high in Vampire structures and has made no secret of his attraction to Alice. He seems to think her being with Sean will wear off, and of course Vampires have the luxury of time. And are masters of manipulation – but so is Alice, her past has taught her to watch for all catches. Thinking in 12D she calls it at one point, and that sums it up perfectly.

There’s a section towards the end of the book when I was afraid of what was going to happen, really got drawn in to the story and wasn’t certain how Alice could sort things to everyone’s satisfaction. The route she took – wow, what a risk, but I understood perfectly why she didn’t take the easier way, and oddly I also understood Sean’s seemingly ungrateful reaction. Sometimes when we have a big scare it does make us react in what seems an odd way, does throw up all sorts of odd feelings. That unpredictability is what makes this series a must read for me, Lisa really keeps me thinking, working out what may or may not happen, where the story is going, what Alice is going to do and how….and all that I love to read. Its a story to get lost in, lose the real world for a few hours, and one I’ll re-read right through when all the books are out.

There’s secrets all round here, with characters knowing bits about each other but not the whole story, links to past events and books, and a whole new investigation for Alice which of course brings her into danger, and adds to the overall story arc. Its another tautly written adventure for readers who want more than thin plots and grunting alpha males who spend the greater part of the book having sex…..there’s sex here but it fits the story, doesn’t dominate it as in so many fantasy reads.

Stars: Five, a fantastic read, a great addition to the series and a welcome change from so much fantasy romance dross that dominates the best sellers.

Copy via KU.

Lionheart, Thea Harrison

Lionheart, Thea Harrison

Lionheart (Moonshadow Book 3) by [Harrison, Thea]

Genre: Romance,

I was wondering what to read next recently, I love to re-read good novels and this trilogy flicked in my mind as one I’d really enjoyed, and then only a couple of days later the final book appeared on Netgalley 😉 Yay!
Sadly though I loved the first two books in this series this one, well, not so much 😦 and just have to say here, I hate that cover. That guy just doesn’t do it for me. I get that Oberon is tough and growly, not a slight, pretty boy type, but that guy just looks hairy and – dare I say it – a little chubby rather than muscly……and that ‘tache!! Still, I’m sure he’s a hit for others 😉

Where books one and two were very people orientated and we had lots of action, drawing in so many different characters, it felt like the bulk of this book was just Oberon and Katherine, and I didn’t really enjoy that part. I’m glad he wasn’t a sap when he saw Katherine, that he was his own abrupt, arrogant, imperious self, even when they did fall for each other. Equally I love that Thea has strong women as heroines, no simpering misses, no-one that can be described as “his little….” that always infuriates me. Just strong, confident ladies. They often have issues, but that’s a world away from being weak and easily impressed. I did enjoy their battles, where neither backed down.

I love Puck, and I’m glad we saw more of him, he’s a strange character, I so feel for his past and the effects it had on him, and that makes him very unpredictable. His heart is for Oberon ( and Sophie) and he’s ultra protective, giving nothing for convention, politeness, politics, just takes the course of action that feels right to him. That gives Thea a freedom to introduce all sorts of events….

I missed seeing the characters we’d met in the earlier books, they were there but so briefly considering the size of the book, and that affected how I enjoyed it. It just didn’t feel properly connected to those earlier ones. I do like the link with the elder Races but you don’t need to have read them to enjoy this trilogy.
The battle with Isabeau, when it finally came, felt anti-climatic, there had been so much build up through previous books and then it seemed to be over in a trice. It made it feel a bit of a non event for me. I’d guessed a way back what was going to happen, not quite how but the seeds for the event were pretty generously sown.

Stars:Three and a half, fabulously written as always with Thea – that parts a solid five stars, but the rest just didn’t live up to books one and two for me. I really missed meeting all the others, missed the actual world connections, Lyonesse v the world we know, the magic that connects it, and they way Oberon’s people have been fighting so hard for Lyonesse and him on both sides of the divide. I felt so much of this book was just Katherine and Oberon and they took over too much of the story for me. I also felt the ending was a little anti-climatic somehow, all that build up and then…..

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Daughter of Light and Shadows, Anna McKerrow

Daughter of Light and Shadows,  Anna McKerrow

Daughter of Light and Shadows: A gorgeous fantasy page turner of witchcraft and magic by [McKerrow, Anna]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy

I’ve just finished a reread of the amazing Sarah J Maas Court of….and another favourite trilogy, Jeffe Kennedy’s Covenant of Thorns, and was expecting something along those lines. I love novels that have a fae story-line.
Sadly I was disappointed, this never really got going for me, I felt a disconnect between me and the characters, I didn’t really feel the sensuality between Faye and either of the two contenders, and didn’t really understand the whole plot. It seemed very light, very small to base a whole book around it and maybe if some of the side issues had been fleshed out, provided more drama it may have worked better for me. But, I did skim read from about the half way mark, it wasn’t working for me ad I wanted to finish, so possibly I missed something.
As always though the reminder reading is very subjective, and what suits one reader is awful for another and vice versa. This book could be exactly what you want, especially of you found the two trilogies I named and loved to be too intense for you.

Stars:Two, a book that just didn’t suit me, and for me is nothing like the Sarah Maas trilogy. Could be perfect for you though.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Crossroads of Bones, A Katie Bishop Novel Book 1, Luanne Bennett

Crossroads of Bones, A Katie Bishop Novel Book 1,  Luanne Bennett

Crossroads of Bones (A Katie Bishop Novel Book 1) by [Bennett, Luanne]

Genre:, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, Luanne is a new-to-me author, but its a story I really enjoyed.

There are some terrific characters here, and that’s really important for me. I loved Katie, a strong and independent lady, not a whiny TSSL heroine. She’s got a mysterious past, is making a new life for herself in her tattoo shop. Her employees are a mixed bunch but really interesting, and as the story unfolds some of them have valuable info for her. I loved her friend Sugar too, a great secondary character who proved very important and was such a treat to read. I really enjoy reading about people who are different in some way, individuals in the fullest sense and Sugar was perfect.
The adventure, the story, the bit that’s the focus of the book was cleverly done, and kept me reading avidly and this book set me up to look forward for the next. I like that there are characters other than the usual vampire/shooters, I love those but I love stories which take things a bit further too. This one was very vivid in the way it played out and even though we’re talking about fiction, specifically fantasy, it all felt so very real to me. The touches of root/voodoo/voudun magic were good and added so much to the atmosphere, and blended perfectly with the setting.
That ending, not a cliffhanger but a terrific, tantalising glimpse of what’s in story for Katie next. I look forward to reading that.

Stars: Four and a half, almost the magic five, and a terrific series opener.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

 

 

Legendary,  Stephanie Garber

Legendary,  Stephanie Garber

Legendary (Caraval 2) by [Garber, Stephanie]

Genre:  Sci fi and fantasy

I was so looking forward to this, I adored Caraval, and amazingly I think Legendary is even better. It’s another magical book, full of secrets, of things that are not as they seem, of twists and turns that predicting who is who and what will happen just isn’t possible. And the “is it a game or are things real this time “ conundrum. Poor Tella, she has a series of really difficult choices to make and she doesn’t know, and the consequences are so very different if its real this time.

As with Caraval its has that YA feel to it, and yet its one that will appeal to all ages, there’s nothing childish about the story, and its so full of changing consequences, riddles, pure magic or possibly illusion – how can Tella know whats real. As an adult I certainly couldn’t!
This story is told from Tella’s POV, I liked seeing Scarlett and the mysterious Julian again, along with of course Dante and some of the other minor characters. There’s some fabulous new people too, and as before knowing if what they say is true or not is important but incredibly hard to tell. Tella has struck a bargain with Jacks, but as she gets closer the consequences become more clear and she doesn’t know whats the best thing to do, whichever way she jumps people will be hurt but doing nothing isn’t an option either.

I’m still full of questions, who, how, why and what about….I could go on for ages, it seems like when one question gets answered there’s always the chance that it may not be the Correct Answer, just An Answer 😉 and trying to work it out is like herding cats, simply impossible. Just let it flow and enjoy the magic.

Stars: Five, a read to take you away for a few hours, though That ending was incredibly frustrating for me. I understand more of Caraval having read this, and would up my rate for that to a five now

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Away, Book 1 of the Folk Trilogy, Meg Benjamin

Away, Book 1 of the Folk Trilogy,  Meg Benjamin

Away (The Folk Trilogy Book 1) by [Benjamin, Meg]

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy.

I’ve never read any of Meg’s books before so I didn’t know what to expect. I really enjoyed this story, and look forward to reading more in the series.
I did get a little confused in the beginning by who was who and how they fitted into the story, there are a lot of different supernatural groups, and they integrate differently. It took me a while to work out just how they all fit together. Maybe a glossary of characters would be helpful? Explaining things like the difference between the Ward and the Guard when at first they both seemed to me to be doing the same thing. I certainly didn’t guess who was behind things, and I love a story that catches me out like that.
I found the characters pretty realistic, even fantasy folk have to feel real to me. I liked Grim, liked his determination to do what was right, when it was needed, to find out the truth, not just do a supernatural cover-up from the humans thing. Annie was great too, and her story very plausible.
First books in a series have a difficult task, introducing a new world and characters while delivering an interesting story. This book does that pretty well I feel, could have had a little more depth and drama but that’s me…I love drama. Its not heart stopping romance, nor edge of seat scariness, but a fun read, and a world I want to read more from.

Stars: Four, an excellent start and I’ll look out for book two.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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