Wolf’s Bane (Moon Marked Book 1) Aimee Easterling
Genre:Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance.
I love fantasy/romance reads, but so may of these seem to be all grunting, monosyllabic alphas, reverse harems or ones where the romance is all the book, no side/sub plots, no overall story line. Still, it means when I do find a read I enjoy then its like a sweet victory!
I added this one last week, it was free at the time, so nothing to lose and I’d enjoyed the sample. I’ve just bought books two and three, as it was an intriguing read, and I’ll be looking at what else Aimee has written.
Mai is great, she’s a Kitsune, Japanese fox shifter. I’ve come across these occasionally – I think the last one was in a Hailey Edwards read as a secondary character, and the Kitsune premise fascinates me. They’re not just shape shifters, but have a kind of fox nature in the way they think and behave, and usually they have some form of magic. Aimee has added a touch here where that magic is connected closely to Mai, and allows her to create real items, her sword for example, within a split second, but it needs to stay physically connected to her or she weakens. I’m still getting my head around the star ball that Kitsunes in this book have, that allows the magic.
Mai is guardian to her younger sister, and struggling. She doesn’t know any other Kitsunes, they live in a city controlled by werewolves, and she needs to tread carefully, as they see Kitsunes as something to be killed.
Its an interesting story, full of some very real characters, sub plots that add up to the whole, the star ball connection to magic, and of course poor Mai doesn’t have anyone she can ask for help to learn more about what they are. She’s never met another Kitsune. Her dead mother offers some cryptic comments at times in Mai’s head, but they’re beyond my understanding, and mostly Mai doesn’t see the logic til too late either. I do like that connection though, and trying to puzzle out what the heck she means by her strange phrases.
There’s a developing romance but its still early days, and apart from a couple of stolen kisses hasn’t gone further. So many fantasy romance reads make the romance all the story, held up by the tiniest of plots, and for me I want all the mystery, the magic, the struggles, with the romance being there but as part of the story, not all of it.
Stars: Four, a fun read, and a good start to the trilogy.
Book purchase – I do buy books in addition to receiving ARCs and having KU!
Heart of Stone, (Alice Worth Book 4), Lisa Edmonds
Genre:Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance.
Another terrific installment to the series. Its my favourite sort, where there’s an overall story arc, but each episode is complete and wraps up this story neatly, not leaving great cliffhanger endings, but just hints of things to come.
Review of books one and three below
I love Alice, she’s come such a long way from the solitary woman we first met. She’s strongly independent and yet happy to make allies now, trusting in a few friends, Sean and Malcolm having the most trust. They’re’ two great characters too.
Malcolm works so well with Alice, his issues mean he’s a real asset to Alice, and she respects him, does everything she can to keep him safe.
Sean, Pack alpha whose Pack aren’t all happy about Alice, and in the past a couple of people have brought serious danger to them both with their actions to replace alice with someone they feel more suitable.
Then there’s the vampires, some of whom Alice has reluctantly accepted as allies, helped and accepted help. Charles seems to have some kind of feelings for Alice, that’s been clear since day one. Its not so much a kind of romantic interest, as he sees her as a challenge, a puzzle, and for a centuries old vampire things like that are important. Life must get a little bland after so many years, an intellectual challenge of working out who and what she is, keeps life interesting for him. Like all vampires though, that doesn’t mean he’s trustworthy. They’ve got a kind of understanding currently, where both have helped the other and feel…well…a sort of friendship even if on Alice’ side, that’s kind of guarded.
Once more we’ve a tightly woven adventure, bringing in issues from the past and setting up more for the future.
Alice is hired to find a missing child, an unregistered one, with rare talents that would make him a target for unscrupulous cabals. She can’t just abandon a child, even though finding and rescuing him once more puts her life in danger, and this time maybe her long hidden secrets too.
If they come out how will those around her react? What will it mean for her relationship with Sean? And will it make her an even bigger target to the supernatural world than she currently is?
Stars: Five, another cracking read, and i’m keen for more. Some series tire as they continue, I can see Alice has lots of adventures to go before that happens 😉 hurrah. If you like fantasy with a side of romance that doesn’t dominate, just supports the story this read is one for you.
Book via KU. The whole series is currently available on KU and its one worth reading
The Talon & the Blade, Grace Bloods: Book 3, Jasmine Silvera
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 the second, and again with this one. That’s not to say its not an excellent read though, just one of those where I think I’ll get more from it on second ( or more ) readings. I love to go back to back through a series when all books are complete, really immerse myself and this series is one that will work well for that.
Gregor, he’s been an enigma since the first book, and I really enjoyed seeing his backstory, and seeing the attraction between him and Ana. It was interesting too being in another necromancers realm, Raymond is very different to Azreal, seems very distant from his Aegis, where Azreal and his people feel like there are respectful but friends, that he supports them in their actions. Raymond sends Ana off to deal with issues in this book with the minimum of information, which brings her into great danger. Gregor knows Azreal would never do that, and its interesting comparing two such distinct styles of rule.
I love that Jasmine has created such a fabulously different world, but it does take a bit of understanding. Fortunately the books have been released fairly close so the stories, settings and characters are still pretty fresh in my head.
Stars: Four. I enjoyed this story very much, just not as much as the first tow books. At times I was a little lost about what was actually happening, the story behind the story so to speak. I think re-reading will sort that though.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
American Witch, American Witch: Book 1, Thea Harrison
Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy
I love Thea’s writing, have read many ( but not all) of the Elder Races series, and I loved the tie in here. Its very subtle, not a direct link, more a reference to the world setting.
I enjoyed the story, had me hooked very quickly and loved Molly and Josiah separately, but I wasn’t so convinced about them as a couple. There was certainly intense lust, but they seemed to flow from that to a full fledged relationship very quickly, and it just didn’t feel right. I felt cheated of the relationship growth, especially as for much of the time they were separated, for Molly’s safety.
The dangers facing Molly were twofold, first externally via her cheating husband and his machinations and secondly from her newly emerged and totally unexpected witch power. I loved Molly as a person, and cheered her on when she announced at the party just what Austin had been doing. He really was a typical selfish cheating husband. I had my thoughts early on about who the other party ( this time) was, and really felt for Molly when she discovered who it was.
Josiah seemed pretty cold, single minded about his quest when we first meet him, and he doesn’t realise Molly is unaware of her Powers. There are some terrific scenes between them, and TBH he was a character I thought I’d dislike. Sometimes its more interesting that way, than having the main leads be wonderful, likable characters right from the start. When I discovered his history, the reasons behind his quest I understood it. Its bring him and those around him into danger though, and I was full of respect for Molly when she said – for specific reasons) that she couldn’t be around that danger, and removed herself temporarily until he’d sorted it, even though it was heartbreaking for both of them. That brings me back to the turnaround in feelings though, where they’ve gone from 0-60, from disliking each other intensely to full on togetherness. It was just too quick, and I felt a bit cheated.
Its an interesting story, with some great characters. I couldn’t recall if it was a standalone or the start of new series as I was reading, but am so pleased it is a series. This book ends completely but leaves lots of threads open for more stories, and I’ll be lining up to read them.
Stars: four, a great start, just a few small reservations that stopped it from being a five.
Arc via Netgalley
Touch of Smoke, Karissa Laurel
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
Dancer’s Flame, Grace Bloods: Book 2, Jasmine Silvera
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
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
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
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
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