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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!

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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

Blood Guard, A Mission Novel, Megan Erickson

Blood Guard, A Mission Novel, Megan Erickson

Blood Guard: A Mission Novel by [Erickson, Megan]

Genre:  Romance,Sci-fi and Fantasy

Sounded a great start to a new series. It was OK, though, nothing exciting. I found it hard the way Tendra(Ten) accepted the whole vampires/Sanguinata thing so easily “oh, mum moved us around a lot, we never really had friends, that must have been why…” Plus – she left a note….I’d still have been a bit more shocked, stunned, doubting.
Then the insta-lust that turned to love – well its that sort of book but I still found it a little quick. The sex scenes were a little OTT for me, I love sex in a story if it fits, but this felt a bit put there just to spice things up rather than as an essential part of the story.
It also felt a little bit of a One Plot type of read  i.e. Athan and Tendra have to fight to get back to his home and the others, but then there was a turn about at the end that lifted it for me. Overall its was a bit underwhelming though. I did find it hard to believe no one else in the vampires guard or family had picked up what was happening, that something planned for years was hidden so well.
I might give book two a go, maybe there will be more overall story than just a sexy vampire romance read – I hope so but…

Stars: Two and a half to three. Its got potential for me if it picks up a bit but of course it’ll be perfect for others as it is.That’s reading, very subjective 😉

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Dark Interest ,(The Dark Choir 4), Book FOUR of The Dark Choir, J.P. Sloan

The Dark Interest ,(The Dark Choir 4), Book FOUR of The Dark Choir, J.P. Sloan

The Dark Interest (The Dark Choir Book 4) by [Sloan, J.P.]

Genre:general fiction (adult), sci-fy and fantasy

I’ve been with this since book one, and TBH its such a complex series you need to do that. It’s full of difficult characters, real world and Old World, and demons of course, charms, hexes, curses, murders, mayhem and magic and without knowing the backstory you’ll get lost. I do know the events that have passed and yet at times I’m lost ;-), but always manage to work it out somehow.  It’s a sereis outside my comfort zone, that I fell into by accident but that I’ve come to love.

What I love is that the author mixes up fiction with Fact, with magics that had a real following at one time – probably still do in certain circles. So each time I see an unusual word I think – aha, this time he’s made this up – and then check and find its some ancient language, or shade of magic, or a weapon that’s used for certain purposes or something like that. I’ve learned so much about magic since starting this, that its not a one-size-fits-all, but that in the past (and present) it took many different shapes, evolved through some very different practices.
And I’m talking as if it’s all real, but reading this it feels real. There are some well respected people in the world who still believe in these practices, and then I think – how come, all over the world each different group through the ages had had the same belief, but taken different routes to it? Or maybe its just human need to believe in something greater than us, something beyond this world..
It’s not really a big stretch considering billions believe in a book written centuries ago, believe in a God who’s really only a word of mouth figure.We don’t have empirical proof, we  can’t Know for certain he exists, that Heaven is real, but yet billions believe it.

Well, I guess that’s why I enjoy these books, they’re complex and yet readable, they have a solid story-line, some very real characters, both pleasant and horribly dangerous, those who just want to live and love their families and get on with life, and those hungry for power, magical, political, they don’t care. In the middle is Dorian.

I’ve always felt he’s on the side of good, not a particular do-gooder, but someone with his own morals and beliefs that he lives by, who tries to do the Right thing, not just the easy thing.
Along the way he’s had so many issues, starting with his lost soul, and its taken him on a very strange and complex journey.
He’s always worked alone, had his few good friends, been respected and never sought Power for its own sake, and yet he’s become embroiled in some dodgy and dark magical practices, got involved in politics against his wishes, gets pulled into different groups and is still searching for his soul.

Its another deep and dark, and at times complex read. Dorian is tempted hard in this story, confused, trying in his usual way to protect humanity and his friends, but all the while his soul is missing and he’s struggling to get it back.
I love that his magic isn’t a wave of a hand and a few muttered words, quick fix solution, but takes work, real work, if he wants to avoid the Dark side, the world of sacrifices. Yet his new lady, Annarose does just that, and how is he to mix her and how he feels about her, with his morals and how he feels about that?
Is the Utilitarian excuse, for the Greater Good, sacrifice one for many really a good reason, or a cop out?

Its a novel full of danger for Dorian, more than we’ve seen so far, and he’s had some tight escapes. Once more he’s in the centre of some dark forces but who or what is pushing them?
It takes time before he can see the bigger picture and he makes some very dangerous enemies along the way. And that ending….I hate it when that happens 😉

Stars: five, classic Dorian, anther rivetting adventure and complicated read. A real change from so much Light and Twee Magic reads.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Dream Snatcher, Clara Coulson

Dream Snatcher, Clara Coulson

Dream Snatcher (Tales from the City of Crows Book 1) by [Coulson, Clara]

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Sci-fi and Fantasy

City of Crows is an amazing series, one for readers who want more than most of the paranormal offerings around, don’t want the thin story wrapped around a “he-of-some-type meets she-of-some-type” plot.
I’ve loved the books out so far, and I love when authors do this, give us a novel centred around one ( or two in this case!) characters, so we see their backstory and understand them better.

Ella in the series is dedicated, clever, talented and its clear she’s been with the team a long time. Just how young she was when she joined we can now find out.
Its was great seeing teen Ella, seeing her on the track of a dangerous man, and especially as its set back in time and kept to the low tech, no mobiles, and fledgling DSI, when they’re first set up. Well, they exist when Ella gets caught up, but they are clearly new-ish, and the bottom end of financial priorities.

Ella is an ordinary kid, albeit one devoted to her music, when tragedy strikes, rips her mum away and sets her on a very different course.
I loved the way the story played out, the way it felt so real, especially as I look back to my teens, no mobiles, tech stuff etc and she does things the way I would back then. disposable camera and 24 hr photo shops, no mobiles and digital pics back then, and its trains and buses for transport, with the odd taxi.
Its not just Young Ella but a real story too, a typical exciting, well planned suspense, and I enjoyed it very much.

The other person we meet at a younger age is terrific too and it spread a new light on what I’d read. I really hope Clara writes more of these how-they-joined-DSI stories.

Stars: Five, terrific read whether you’re new to city of Crows, or like me already a fan. A great intro to a new world.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Reckoning, Shana Figueroa

Reckoning, Shana Figueroa

Reckoning (Valentine Shepherd Book 3) by [Figueroa, Shana]

Genre:  Romance

I missed book one, but loved book two, a supernatural romance/suspense novel thats not the oh-so-popular dumbed down type.
I like a book that makes me work, not too hard, I want the story to flow, but not the sort that spoon feeds the reader every little bit of info.
I want to see the clues and try to work out for myself where the stoy is going, who’s good and loyal, who’s doing the dirty, and ultimately how its all going to meld togeher into an ending.

This trilogy does all that and more, fab characters, not flawless impering types, but gritty and real, prone to bias, to making mistakes and yet at the heart Love plays such a strong part.
Its definately a re-reading trilgoy for me and then I really must get book one so I can see the beginning of how it all started, maybe understand a bit more of some of the characters. Sten especially is one who I didn’t like at first, but have come to love, and wonder if maybe book one has more about him there.

Its another great adventure, with murders stacking up quickly and Valentine on the warpath. How dare Northwalk threaten her family? She adores Max and their twins, but has always felt the threat of Northwalk is near, and yet now she thinks they’re on the track of them again she can’t seem to convince Max.

I love Val, she’s not an easy person to get along with but she’d give her life in a heartbeat for the small circle she considers family and freinds.
She’s not one to run from danger, Max seems to think she’s over-reacting to her suspicions but willing to pick up and move if that will help her, but she knows moving = running and Northwalk will still follow. She wants to stand up to them, take preemptive action, Max isn’t so convinced.
In a way that’s understandable, he’s been through so much and just wants to enjoy his life now, with his adored Val and their twins.

Northwalk play a long game though, and once more its a cracking paced drama, with me wondering who was on which side, and why, and how and looking at people and events trying to work out motives.
Max made me so cross at one point…and yet I understood where he was coming from. Likewise Val, she really does run headlong into danger at times.

Its a perfect wrap up….for now 😉 Ending works really well, and then…there’s that hint that Northwalk may be down but not dead, and that they aren’t the only players in the game. It finished off this section of Val and Max’ life perfectly, but leaves the way open for more.
I know its a trilogy I’ll want to re-read, and at some point when I’m ready to do that I’ll get book one and start in the proper place, get a better understanding of the characters and events.

Its a supernatural read with an unusual twist, and it was refreshing to read something so different to most books offered. The Seer part, the visions and predictions reminded me a little of the Seers in JC Andrijeski’s Allie’s War and Quentin Black series. Most supernatural reads follow the more usual vampire/shifter/fae structure while this is really humans with a supernatural extra – humans-plus maybe 😉 and it was interesting and easy to believe for me.

Stars: Five, perfect wrap up for this trilogy leaving the door ajar for more books later as the family grow.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Wraith Hunter, City of Crows 3, Clara Coulson

Wraith Hunter, City of Crows 3, Clara Coulson

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

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, sci-fi and Fantasy

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Spectacle, Rachel Vincent

Spectacle, Rachel Vincent

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

Genre:  General Fiction (adult)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Surrender the Dark, Tibby Armstrong

Surrender the Dark, Tibby Armstrong

Surrender the Dark by [Armstrong, Tibby]

Genre: Romance

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Fallen, P.J. Fox

Fallen, P.J. Fox

Fallen by [Fox, P.J.]

Genre:  Romance, General Fiction

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

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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