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Blade Bound, A Chicagoland Vampires Novel, Chloe Neill. Eternal Reign, Melody Johnson

Blade Bound, A Chicagoland Vampires Novel, Chloe Neill

Blade Bound: A Chicagoland Vampires Novel (Chicagoland Vampires Series) by [Neill, Chloe]

Genre:  Romance,

It seems aaages since i read the first in this series, pre-kindle when I could still read text. I loved it and reread it and the other very early ones several times. Then That happened, the Ethan Disaster which spoiled it for me, I didn’t think I’d continue but saw from reviews of a later book that he was back! So I picked it up once more and continued.

I’ve always had an issue though with this and similar books where the main character is a new supernatural of some sort and yet manages to do all the things that the old, hundreds of years old, others can’t. How? Why are they so different? How come they never have all the stumbling blocks new vampires, werewolves, dragons et al do?
And that’s what got me a bit irritated, that it seemed like each story was Merit Saves The Day Yet Again * Sigh * and I stopped. Then saw this on netgalley, wondered how the series would end, got approved and needed to play catch up and buy the previous four books I’d not read #slappedwrist

Reading the last five back to back it felt very much as if I was reading the same story, just tinkered with…and that brought back memories of Sookie S when I felt the same 😦 that perhaps the series would have been better cut back a few books. There’s only so many new discoveries two new supernaturals like Merit and Mallory can make. I guess its down to two sides, group A wants more about Ethan Merit and the crew whatever the issues, they just want to read more and don’t care about the feeling of repetition. That’s lots of readers, I know from other series some just don’t want to let go of a group and will read anything connected to them. then there’s group B, where I fall, that wants stories that are believable and different, even though its fantasy it has to feel that if a happened B could result. the early books were exactly that for me, and maybe f there’d been a longer story timeline rather than the just over a year between book one and the last things may have felt that way for me.

So here we are, full circle in a way with Gabriel’s prophecy still hanging in Ethan and Merit’s minds. Actually the way that got explained/came about was well done IMO, something that made sense in the way that magic and fantasy can make a kind of sense. That bit of fantasy-reality that has you thinking “oh yes, so that happened, and therefore this was able to come about”.

We start this book with pre wedding celebrations, and from there its yet again another magical puzzle to solve, Chicago under threat, calls for supernaturals to take all the blame, humans decrying it’s Not Their Fault, let the supes take the blame. They’ve short memories when it comes to recalling that many of the past problems came about through human greed, and the supernaturals risked much to save human lives.
So much felt like I’d read it all before in those last few books. It was well written, tightly plotted and made sense in the way it played out but….it didn’t feel fresh, unique, the way those first ones did.

There’s lots of drama once more, some of Mallory’s on-the-fly magic combined with lots of theory and Catcher’s voice of reason – I love his character.
We haven’t seen much of Gabriel these last few books, he’s here but in very minor position, and I’d really have liked all the supernaturals to have pulled together for the Big Battle.
Finally the RG get more involved but once more looking back to the beginning I always thought they’d play a greater part.
I guess I’d just have a better chance of believing things will work in the future for everyone if they’d all been working on the solution, rather than Cadogan house, Mallory, Catcher and the Ombuddies.
A year of manic mayhem, scary deaths, tragedies, violence, disaster and suddenly everyone will live peacefully? What happens when the next issue arises? Will Ethan and Merit pick up their Katanas once more and wade in or claim other responsibilities, let someone else sort it?
If all forces had joined in this last book and been part of the solution I’d have believed they’d have a better chance of peace. Still, its fiction, the series has ended and it’ll be perfect for many readers 🙂

Overall the series starts off a five for me, with later books dropping drastically and I guess comes out a 3 to 4. This final book assessed alone though is a four for me, maybe a four and a half, pretty good but could have been better.

Stars: Four, pretty good but at times felt a little repetitive, and the final solution could have been better IMO.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Eternal Reign,  Melody Johnson

Eternal Reign (The Night Blood Series) by [Johnson, Melody]

Genre:  Sci-fi and Fantasy

Cassidy has come such a long way since the first book, yet its only been a few weeks. From knowing nothing about Vampires, she’s now gained so much first hand knowledge and yet still I get the sense she’s far more to learn.
Dominic is facing his levelling, a vulnerable time when usually his second would be there for him but Gillian isn’t, she betrayed him recently and she’s looking set to take over from him.
She’s amassing an army of Damned vampires, fierce, blood thirsty creatures that have little reasoning, just an instinct to kill and feed.
People are dying each night, the police have no idea what they are facing, Cassidy can’t reveal all through her reporter job, much though she’d love to, and if it continues the city will face an onslaught of deaths that makes the current ones look like nothing.
Dominic is losing his powers fast, but having to hide it from the coven, vampires gravitate to the strongest and he needs as much support as he can against Gillian, Cassidy isn’t a night blood anymore after her last injuries, and the battle is looming up.

Its another fast paced story, death, blood and gore, but with enough strength in the characters to lift it for me from a horror to something I enjoyed. I can’t take blood and gore if there’s not some way of lightening the story, some romance to balance all the hate.
Dominic clearly has feelings for Cassidy but she’s not admitting hers to him, or even to herself.
Now in this novel she needs to make some hard choices, about her job, her friends, her feelings for Dominic. I love the way Dominic treats her with respect even when he must find her incredibly frustrating – I know I would, with her insistence on “the people’s right to know”….knowing what faces his people if knowledge comes out.
Historically humans have sought to destroy any one, any group they feel aren’t human, looking at what we’ve done to witches in the past, and of course even those of a different religious persuasion and yet she seems to think that nothing bad will happen if vampires are exposed. I can’t decide if she’s deluded, naive or just plain stupid 🙂

Dominic has a typical vampire regard for humans, they’re just not important compared to his coven, he’s out to protect them at any cost even if it means killing people.
He doesn’t kill indiscriminately, doesn’t kill to feed for example, but thinks nothing of killing to protect his people if he feels there’s no other option.

There’s so much going on here, the story of the Levelling, the quest for Master of the city, the Damned vampires and now the Daywalker involvement, and among all that there’s the romance that’s slowly developing between Cassidy and Dominic.
Its another story I was glued to, really enjoyed and damn it, that ending…arrgghh…I hate when authors do that. #nocliffhangers

Stars: Five, another terrific read and c’mon, after that ending, I really hope the next book is soon!

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Dark Moon Wolf, Calling the Moon, Sarah E. Stevens. Once Bitten, Heather McCorkle

Once Bitten, Heather McCorkle

Once Bitten (The Wolves of Hemlock Hollow) by [McCorkle, Heather]

Genre:  Romance,

My first read of Heather’s novels, but I love the werewolf genre and this sounded fun.
I found it a little – well – bland I guess? It was well written, the characters were all clearly set out and the take of the werewolf genre had some fresh additions. Sounds good doesn’t it?
However I just found the story dragged, with nothing much happening until the last 20% or so. Even then I found that for a group so set in rules and hierarchy the story-line went well off track.

I couldn’t see how all these things, all these anarchist actions wouldn’t have been seen coming, if those in charge had been taking note. Its hard to see a rigid, supposedly strong and well run system fall down so badly by the actions of such inept characters.
There didn’t seem to have been much thought or planning of what would happen,  and the ones creating the mayhem were strangely lacking in intelligence and strategy.
The story-line is sound, and things like this do happen but it needed to have characters that were capable of planning and executing such a strategy for me to believe it.

Its kind of a one plot book too, in that Sonya’s transforming was a part of that overall plot. I liked Ty, apart from his manner of speaking which proved irritating after a time, but he was so laid back he was almost horizontal, which didn’t fit so well with his thoughts on throwing everything, disregarding all the rules, because he was so attracted to Sonya. I anted to say “get a grip man, its only for a couple of weeks!!” The man I thought he was would have done just that, not been mulling constantly about giving in to temptation.
Its one of those reads that feels very simplistic, not complex drama but a quick easy read. Depends what you want – and its different for everyone, for me its more often the complex drama that does it.

First books in a series have a hard task and for me this one doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the description. I’m undecided as to whether I want to continue with it. I’ll see nearer the time I guess, how much other things I’ve got on and whether I’m pulled in by the description. I’m not saying I would read more, not saying its a no go for me but I am on the fence over it.

Stars: two and a half, a good premise but it needs a bit more action and drama, a little more speed for me. Maybe in the later books?

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Dark Moon Wolf, Calling the Moon, Sarah E. Stevens

Dark Moon Wolf (Calling the Moon Book 1) by [Stevens, Sarah E.]

Genre:  General Fiction, Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, I love paranormal/Fantasy, and wolf shifters in particular appeal to me. I was keen to read this, a first in what hopefully would turn out to be a new and fun series.
I’d made the mistake of thinking this was romance, isn’t not classed as that, simply my error and not looking carefully enough. That’s not a game-changer though, I read books other than romance too 🙂 Just that it came as a surprise to find out some things early in the story.

Its an interesting read, Sarah has put a slightly different slant on shifter practicalities and categories which was good, kept that part fresh.
The story though didn’t really work totally for me. There was just so much in it, the search for Carson’s dad, meeting the new people, finding out about werewolves and witches…Julie was incredibly blase about all the new things she was learning.
Then the murders. there was a lot of action, lots going on and I just had a hard time believing things would play out as easily as they did.
Don’t get me wrong – there was struggle, lots of it but given Julie is human and new to all this supernatural stuff she did really well. the other werewolves too has a very hard task solving the murders, they’d been cleverly done by someone who was clever and had lots of backing, and I just couldn’t see things playing out quite the way they did without Huge, Massive repercussions.
I didn’t guess who was involved til quite far on when there’s a really – to the reader- obvious clue but Julie completely misses it.

It looks like a debut novel, I can’t find any more books. Its well written but I just felt there was a little too much packed tightly into a novel that was just a bit too short for it. If the story was a bit longer so the action could have been made more realistic, and not have “Clue, and wow – here’s the Perpetrator” plots that these shorter novels need I think its one I’d love.

A first in series has a hard ask too, setting the scene, introducing new characters, and in the case of fantasy/paranormal, other types of people, and all the while leading a story to keep the readers interest. This one does OK for me, but of course will be perfect for others. That’s how it goes, we don’t all want the same thing thankfully!

Stars: Three, a good start to fiction writing, and a new series, but for me needed a little more reality and practicalities.

BTW Full/Lily: does she remind anyone else of Dolly Parton? For some reason she’s all I see each time Full comes into the story

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Muddy Waters (Otherwhere 1), Book ONE of the Otherwhere, Sara O. Thompson

Muddy Waters (Otherwhere 1), Book ONE of the Otherwhere, Sara O. Thompson

Muddy Waters (Otherwhere Book 1) by [Thompson, Sara O.]

Genre:  General Fiction (adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy

I was really intrigued by the description, i do like these “crossover world ” reads, where our world and the supernatural exist together but in a kind of parallel spacing. And Magic, I love that!
Its kind of a muddled read though 😦 some things I liked, but sadly a lot that was just plain confusing and had me backtracking trying to work it out.

When we first meet Tessa she’s been incarcerated in a tough prison for five years, much of that doped up and then – wham- the FBI flexes its muscle and she’s out. No detox issues given she’s gone from one extreme to nothing and no support!
Somehow given she’s still assumed to be guilty of killing her family, and also a very dangerous witch I thought she’d be under more supervision.
I like her and of course we know she didn’t do it, but others in the book will still see the conviction and think she’s guilty.

The whole FBI thing seems like a device used to get her – and other characters at different times – in a certain place in the story. There’s little that connects to real policing, no training, no office meetings and direction, no reports to make. She’s more or less left alone to run her shop, except for this one thing they need her for right now.

Her FBI partner Qyll is a Dark Elf. Other than being told he’s hot, and picking up that he’s a man who uses few words, and has a sort of old fashioned speech style we don’t really know much about him.
They don’t really spend a great deal of time together, don’t act as partners, and I found that hard to believe in. Tessa is just a short while away from maximum imprisonment, regarded as dangerous to a deadly extent, drugged up to a comatose state for much of that, and now she’s let loose on the world to track down a murderer, or murderers, without any real guidance, training, directions or input from the FBI and Qyll.
He was a potentially great opportunity that seems wasted. His character has the potential to be so much more. Maybe, hopefully, as the series continues….

Of course the murders stack up, everyone except Qyll seems to have a down on Tessa, and despite having no real experience she’s more or less left alone to track down the perpetrator(s).
There’s lots of action and drama, but it got very confusing at times, and I found one of my pet hates being used too much, where the lead character gets new/unexplained powers just when they’re needed most, and when the reader thinks there’s no way out for them.
I needed to know more about Tessa, more about what she could do, before I could believe she escaped almost injury free from the multiple conflicts she gets caught up in.
There’s so many characters too that I had to keep backtracking to find out who they were, how they connected, and where they belonged in the story.
The timing is sometimes a bit strange. There’ll be an action packed, drama filled few hours, and then next paragraph we’re days or weeks later, without any indication of what had happened in the interval.
Its sounds as if all I have are criticisms and that’s not true, these are real issues for me, but the potential for things to work out into a great series is there IMO.
It just needs tidying a bit, better pacing and use of characters and constructs ( the FBI for example).
Set secondary characters in plots that fix them in the readers minds, instead of leaving them wondering “who was that again? Where do they fit it?” when they suddenly crop up.

Its not only a debut story, but a first in series and that’s always tough to get right.
I do feel though that there’s some unique ideas in this story, a series with a good future here.
I like Tessa’s spells, the way they’re explained, the way she uses ones developed in childhood – that kind of things works well for me, and I feel then that as they are so ingrained its believable when she pulls them out just when she needs them without barely thinking about them. Kind of how they’ve become second nature.
More of that kind of thinking for other events would help IMO.

Its not billed as Romance, but I get the impression that possibly in the future Qyll and Tessa will get closer to that. and a s a romance lover of course that appeals to me too!

Stars:Three, a story that for me has a great future but which I feel needs some series tidying and attention to get there.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Black Lily, Juliette Cross

The Black Lily,  Juliette Cross

The Black Lily (Tales of the Black Lily) by [Cross, Juliette]

Genre: Romance,

I’ve read a few of Juliette’s stories, and liked the sound of this. Vampires? Romance? yep, two of my tick boxes 😉
What did make me hesitate was the Cinderella connection. I’m not a fan of fairy-tale rewrites generally, I’ve read too many that mirror the original so closely there’s nothing fresh in the story, but this one is fine.
The storyline is only very loosely followed, in fact most of the story is pure Juliette original, maybe 5-10% follows Cinderella and that’s fine by me!

We meet Arabelle, AKA the Black Lily, with her friend Deek, the blacksmith,  planning an audacious assassination of the vampire Prince Marius at a ball later that evening.
She and her band of followers have been planning this carefully, she has the gown, the jewels, the mask, a fairy-tale carriage, albeit borrowed as are the gown and jewels, and most important, a gold edged knife to kill him. Vampires in this series are killed by gold, though royals have to be stabbed in the heart for it to be fatal. No pressure there then Arabelle.
Why are they out to kill him? Well, seems vampires aren’t sticking to the laws, and the peasants arte being drained, first an odd few but more and more recently. Arabelle’s mother died this way and she’s determined to stop the slaughter.

I love the way the planning was explained, there wasn’t a magic wand ( well unless you call a certain part of Deek’s anatomy that, he uses it well to “persuade” people to lend things for the cause…. There’s lots of planning, they’ve spent months on this, even down to Arabelle swapping her outdoor chores for one of the staff’s indoor ones, so her skin gets a chance to lighten, helped also by her own cosmetic preparations. She doesn’t just dress up and hope for the best, but plans, works to make it a success.
I need that in a story, need to understand the how and the why, when something just falls into place at the right time without any effort it just doesn’t work for me.

Of course she doesn’t manage to kill him, it’d be a short book if she did…but he gets close to her and is entranced, enamoured by her even though she wanted him dead.
As it happens she was surprised by her attraction to him, surprised by their conversation. He wasn’t what she expected.
Marius is determined to find her, find out why she tried to kill him, to just get to know her better. He wants her, and not as a prisoner for an attempt on his life. Of course his royal parents aren’t quite of the same mind.
There follows captures and escapes, plans and plots, deals and steals, barters and betrayals…its a fun read, especially when we meet the Hart Wolves, and Sienna.

I really liked Marius, he was a Vampire, but one of the good guys, they’re not all heartless, blood-thirsty killers and he has no idea what’s been going on. His one failing is assuming everyone is happy, what will he do now he knows otherwise?
I really wanted him and Arabelle to find a way together but when they’re on such opposing sides its a hard ask.

There’s some great characters here, some fun adventure and it adds up to an enjoyable read, when the final denouement is revealed I could have kicked myself ( metaphorically – its hard to do that when you’ve only one leg, I’d just fall over!)
Its so obvious and yet…like I suspect most readers, I simply didn’t see that coming, followed the trail led before me very obligingly.

Its not deep, dark, drama but light and fun, with some real excitement at times, some plots that were very realistic and no quick instant, unbelievable fixes, but ones where people worked for them.
Arabelle wasn’t a sweet, helpless female, not yet a kiss ar$e heroine, but someone who felt real, who was a natural leader and worked hard for what she wanted to achieve. There were some excellent support characters too, that fitted the storyline very well.
I love the descriptions of the gowns, the fabulous Glass Palace, and the minutiae of everyday life brought in that made things feel real.

Its ends on a good spot but leaving the way open for more and I’ll be happy to read the next story.

Stars: five, a great relaxing read, fun story, light drama and adventure.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Every Little Thing, Samantha Young. Souljacker, Yasmine Galenorn

Today I’m planning to read the latest Mercy Thompson novel,  Silence Fallen, Patricia Briggshttp://amzn.to/2mkqZJd That’s my all time favourite series, and author, and I’ve got another great book to read from a couple of days back, Jeanine Frost’s Into the fire, the final Night Prince novel

http://amzn.to/2mWvZoW I loved this series when it started, but unlike the Briggs one its an ongoing story rather than each book having one main theme that’s part of an ongoing story. TBH its taken so long I’ve kind of lost the impetus that made me love it. Maybe I’ll start from first book and pick it up that way. Then I log in to netgalley and see I’ve been approved for three more reads, among them one from the Queen of rock band reads, Kylie Scott for Twist, the latest Dive Bar novel, a spin off from the wonderful Stage Dive books

http://amzn.to/2m10cin So, housework? Tidying ready for selling house? Gardening – well that’s an easy out, its raining….

And a couple of reviews today

Every Little Thing,  Samantha Young

Every Little Thing (Hart's Boardwalk Book 2) by [Young, Samantha]

Genre:  romance, erotica

Like thousands of readers I got sucked in to the magic of Samantha’s romances by way of the wonderful Joss and Braden, in On Dublin street, and their book is still one of my all time favourites.
I’ve read several from that series and enjoyed them and have been looking forward to this new series. Tjis one is tagged Erotica, but to me its more eotic romance, a great romance but withsome hot and steamy sex rather than just erotica,

I enjoyed the first book, The One real Thing, but wasn’t blown away by it. First books do have  a hard job though, and few achieve the great start that Dublin Street did.
The couple that intrigued me the most in book one were Bailey and Vaughn – the ST between those two jumps of the page! They had sparks jumping between them at every meeting, and the caustic wit the two share had me smiling widely.

Bailey is so bright and bubbly, always out to help others, see that everyone is happy, so running her Inn is perfect for her. Still, the awful Devlin family are trying to find a way to oust her, they want to own as much of the town as they can and have used some very dirty tricks in the past. I love the way Bailey not only stands up to them but uses her sharp wit against them.
She’s been with boyfriend Tom now for ten years, hoping that they will marry and have a family soon. She’s in for a big shock though….and it changes things between her and Vaughn.
They’ve always hate a hate hate relationship, but underneath that everyone feels that its defensive on both sides, and it really seems to have started with Vaughn rebuffing the open friendship Bailey offered him when he arrived, the same as she does to everyone. He wasn’t impressed at her initial opposition to his plans for his new hotel, and things went downhill from there.

Its clear Vaughn is attracted to her, and just as clear he doesn’t want to be. He’s always been Mr No Commitment and it suits him, but he knows that Bailey spells danger to that, and seems to use his acerbic wit as a defence even as he cringes inside at what he’s saying. Bailey responds likewise, they both bring out the worst in each other, but that gives some terrific scenes for the reader.

Its a real romance here, but a long time coming, with many forward and back journeys that had me inwardly screaming at them! Of course that’s perfect for me as it brings bucket loads of angst and emotion.

As with all Samantha’s romances its not just a two person story, but brings in many others, some from book one, some who look set to become future books. Story seeds, those hints of what/who might be next. Its always fun to try to spot them, and I think I’ve got a couple here, there are some individuals who really intrigue me. Quiet, shy Emory, what’s her story? Why is she so reserved, so closed off? Dahlia, she seems to have lots of things to reveal, and we’ve only seen her as a very secondary character. Jack Devlin, met him in book one, and he’s here too, and still as much a puzzle as ever. I can’t believe he’s really such a bad guy, and yet the things he’s done, and does here too seem to point in that direction, then he does a couple that point the other way. Even Vaughn’s dad has potential, not as a main character IMO, but maybe a secondary romance thread in a book? He’s certainly got the heart and character for it.

Its a great read, I loved it, was entranced by Bailey and Vaughn, loved the puzzle of their relationship. I did wonder about a few characters in here, Vanessa, will she make a return later, Jack, how can Cooper’s former best friend change so much, do what he does, and of course Vaughn’s awful friend Oliver. What on earth did those two ever have in common?
There’s a couple of surprises towards the end that I didn’t see coming ( and one I did!) and it makes me wonder if they’re future plots in later books?
.
Stars: Five, a great read, perfect blend of sensual romance and solid story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Souljacker, A Lily Bound Novel,  Yasmine Galenorn

Souljacker: A Lily Bound Novel by [Galenorn, Yasmine]

Genre:  paranormal and fantasy

Hmnnn, succubus – they’re not characters that really feel empathetic are they? I put off reading Richelle Mead’s wonderful Georgia Kinkaid series for ages simply because I could not see how an author could make a succubus into a person I’d understand, feel I want them to be happy, and yet I was so, so wrong. Add in Jill Myles terrific Succubus reads and you can see just how very wrong my first thoughts were.
So if you’re like me, take a deep breath and prepare to be surprised.
I’ve enjoyed some of Yasmine’s other reads, so I was familiar with her writing style. the story jumps right in with a death at Lily’s house, one of her top clients has been murdered. Not good for business, nor is the fact her clients wife is on the warpath and as a powerful and influential were she can – and does – do immense damage to Lily’s business. So far its worked giving her an income, keeping her alive through sex with Supernaturals, she’s found in the past humans are just far too fragile, and wants to avoid killing people.

In this society Vampires aren’t the Romance kind, but irrational, dangerous killers. Once turned little of the human remains, and they simply lust for blood, sex and power, and have become so dangerous that vampire kills aren’t even investigated by the police any more. That leaves Lily and her friends on their own, as a Vampire Execution the police simple pass on the murder, but she does get given the name of a chaos demon who might help. And Lily and her friends need that help when they learn the killer wants them dead too….

I like Lily, she’s just trying to live, trying to keep her friends safe, enjoy life and she’s found a way that avoids killing humans, something that happened in the past to her and hurts her conscience.
She has some good friends, witch Dani, human Nate, Marsh the…Ghost? spirit? whatever, he’s someone from Lily’s past who’s returned out of the blue, and of course Whiskas the cat – who’s more than a cat, though decidedly not a shifter.
Lily herself belong to the dark Fae court, and we meet the Queen, Wynter in this book. Scary woman, and she’s very powerful. You don’t live for thousands of years without learning a few things.
Archer the chaos demon turns out to be not the type Lily feared, Demons don’t get great press, but in fact he’s a true gentleman, luckily attracted to Lily, and they’re in the throes of him helping her with sex feeding, and maybe they’re developing something more. I didn’t get a great feeling of romance here, its pretty clear one is meant to be starting but I wasn’t really convinced of anything more than a bit of lust between them. Maybe that just takes time, sometimes its better that way.

Its a fun read, a story with elements of many types of creatures thrown in, Vampires, demons, ghosts,witches,  Fae and of course Lily and Whiskas.
In a way that kind of affected the story for me, there were so many different types of character, so much going on that the murders almost took second place. When the climax (Hah!!) came it was almost missing for me, they’d had so many scrapes already that it seemed like it was just one more.

I enjoyed this but I’m waiting for book two to see how the series develops, it didn’t keep me gripped as I’d expected. At times it just felt a little muddled as there was so much happening in a relatively short space of time and pages (GR has it at 292 pages) or 3552 kindle locations.

Stars: Three. Maybe as this continues I’ll feel more for it, its tough for first books in a new series.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Midnight Curse, Disrupted Magic: Book 1, Melissa F. Olson

Midnight Curse, Disrupted Magic: Book 1,  Melissa F. Olson

Midnight Curse (Disrupted Magic Book 1) by [Olson, Melissa F.]

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

I found Melissa’s books by way of the Boundary Magic reads on KU – I love KU!! Risk free way of trying books for a small sum each month. Melissa’s novels tend to be in trilogies with some side ones in novella form.
I think if I’d come to this one without having read any of the others maybe I’d have struggled a bit more, as it is I missed the last Scarlett novel – it’s on my kindle for reading now 🙂 – and there were things I didn’t wholly follow.
Its a stand alone read though, even though part of a trilogy. this particular story wraps up but its clear there’s more to come.

I love the characters in this series, vampires and werewolves, witches – with a very, very few boundary witches who specialise in death magic, and Scarlett, a null – someone who temporarily wipes out paranormal elements whenshe is close to them, so vampires and werewolves are human when next to her, and witches unable to use their powers. Evens out the field a bit!

Scarlett has been involved with the supernatural world for sometime, and lives with werewolf Eli. She gets a strange message from Molly, a good friend some time ago but they’ve not seen each other for years. She takes Shadow, her Bargest ( sort of supernatural dog) and goes to see what’s wrong. Scarlett is like that, when someone needs help she wants to give it if she can. She gets a horrible surprise though when she finds Molly blood soaked and her 12 housemates dead….

Of course the Vampire Trials are coming up next day, a two day event held every three years where the three supernatural leaders gather with their members and decide over grievances. Scarlett knows the punishment for killing like this is death, but Molly doesn’t know why she did it, its not her nature, nor really any vampire, to kill and feed this way.
She wants to prove Molly was set up, but time is short. the other leaders aren’t looking beyond the obvious, and the perpetrator behind events seems determined to get Molly killed at the trials.

Its another riveting, exciting read. Scarlett has changed a lot from last time I read about her, and she’s grown in confidence and ability.
She likes her job, feels she’s doing something useful, and even though it brings her into danger again and again, she thrives in the planning and doing of making things right. Eli isn’t so happy, they love each other but he can’t understand why she persists in doing this job that risks her life again and again, and she can’t seem to make him understand its what makes her happy. Rock and hard place, and I felt for them both.

Jesse is back in a big way in this book. I love Jesse, but the poor guy is in a rough place, taken for a ride by his ex wife, who wanted his fame and money more than him. Tough stuff. When Scarlett seeks his help he’s not keen at first but soon the deadly duo are back in action. They really do work well together, trusting each other and knowing what each can and can’t do.
With Shadow’s help they’ve a huge task ahead, find the perpetrators and bring them in quickly or Molly dies. Vampires – actually all Supernaturals, have a harsh but much needed rule, risking humans knowing about them means death. Its too big a thing to do half measures, there are rarely excuses accepted, so Scarlett and Jesse need to find out what’s going on ASAP.

Once more I loved the story, loved the characters and the way it all played out. There are no hated “quick fix” solutions here, those where someone gets a new, unheard of so unpractised power just at the crucial moment. I hate those, I want what happens here, where the solutions come from attributes we already know about, from skills practiced, from accepted traits of the characters.
Its got a kind of bittersweet ending, one that made me sad but also made me think maybe what I wanted from very early in these books might finally happen…..

Stars: Five, a great start to another trilogy 🙂 I’m looking forward to more.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Turn, The Hollows Begins with Death, Kim Harrison

The Turn, The Hollows Begins with Death,  Kim Harrison

The Turn: The Hollows Begins with Death (Hollows Prequel) by [Harrison, Kim]

Genre:  Sci-fi and fantasy

I’d just been thinking it was maybe time for a reread of Kim’s Hollows, a fab series, one of the first I bought when I got Kindle number 1.
Its not a light, fluffy, romance + alpha hero tale, but one with some dark moments, demons that aren’t all romantic underneath, vampires who’re out only for themselves, and will kill without a second thought if they think they need to, werewolves, witches, pixies and fairies, and ley line magic, lots of that. And yet wrapped up in that IS a romance, the story isn’t some dark, macabre horror as it sounds, and there’s so much fun, so much mystery as to what can and will happen. Great characters and it’s a series you can read over and over.

So seeing a prequel I was excited, its several years since I first read it but I can remember feeling confused about parts of The Turn, what exactly happened, and how and why, so this is just perfect for both folk new to the Hollows, and for those of us who’ve read it but got questions.
We meet mainly Trent’s parents, see how they got together and I’m ashamed to say I can barely remember anything of them from the main series. They’re both clever scientists, leaders in their field and have a fierce rivalry.
Trent’s dad Kal is a total jerk, viciously cruel, totally amoral, made me see a bit where Trent got his initial prejudice from. He’s always done his best to knock down Trisk from when they were kids, his jealousy knowing no bounds. I did feel for him a bit when we read about how much of his childhood was spent in pain, knew about the constant surgeries and tweaks to his genetic code he’d had. That’s tough on any child.
Doesn’t excuse the way he was so cruel to Trisk though, always reminding her she was an upstart Dark Elf, not like the Kalamacks with their long heritage keeping them pure. Trouble is though those Pure Elves, the bloodlines they were so proud of, was what was helping them die out, they were having huge issues reproducing.
Poor Trisk is hampered too by the 60’s view of females, little women that should be chained to the kitchen popping out babies, certainly not leading scientific advancements, that should be left to the men. If by chance they did make a break through, well they should be pleased a man would take over and get it published and maybe let their name be credited as one of many helpers….Gah! that was so spot on, I was just a kid then but is so how life was! I love Trisk, one of the good people, who wants to do what’s right, regardless of personal cost.
Her human colleague Daniel is another like her, and he was a terrific addition. Made it easy to see how the whole coming out to humans part was decided. There were people for and against, but with Daniel in front of them, the way he’d dealt with such a lot in a short time and still helped those not human as well as the humans helped sway the decision.
Along with Orchid of course, who was a great character and help fill the missing shoes of Jenks. I can’t write his name without thinking “Tink’s little red panties” – he had a phrase for every occasion, and Orchid has a similar curse ridden mouth!
We meet Quen too, a young Quen and maybe an explanation for why he’s always been so loyal to Trent. I love Quen, always the man in the background, always there protecting, overseeing and yet unseen much of the time.
Alongside that there’s Al the demon of course, Piscary, Rhynn, and a few others from the main series.
Another reviewer mentioned Rachel’s dad, and I can’t recall much about him, and missed that – I need to go back and look…I’m sure there’s other nods to the main series I’ve missed.

Stars: Five, a fabulous story, well worth reading before or after the main series.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Mark of the Moon, Beth Dranoff, Wolf Moon, Lisa Kessler, The Demigod’s Legacy, Masters of Maria – Book 1, Holley Trent

Mark of the Moon, Beth Dranoff

Mark of the Moon by [Dranoff, Beth]

Genre:  romance, Sci-fi and fantasy

Looks as if this is a debut book, I can’t find anything else Beth has written and its a really good start.

I loved the idea of this series, and from the beginning I was quickly brought into the action.
There’s a few issues though that stopped it being a five star read for me, though I think it has that potential. Maybe if it is a debut book, and Beth learns more as she writes –practice makes perfect and all that – hopefully later books will grow and evolve into the kind of reads they could be.
Think of some of the early books of now well known authors, some have really polished their craft as they get more used to the world of creating stories from nothing, and making us readers believe in them.

The biggest issue for me is that Dana spends so much time “in her head” mulling things over, rambling to herself, that the story becomes tell-not-show and that format really doesn’t work for me.
There’s also a lot of action, so much so that at times it becomes hard to sort out who’s doing what and why, what’s really going on, and I ended up seeing Dana escape yet again but uncertain of how, or why it happened. That’s possibly because I found myself skimming some of her meanderings, and some of the what felt like repeated attacks.
I’m the kind of reader that needs answers, needs to know that the protagonist gets free using skills I know she or someone else already has. I don’t like new-skills-discovered-at-the-critical-time kind of read, the quick fix answer where they are in a scrape that looks inescapable and then someone comes in, does something hitherto unknown, and everything is perfect once more.

That said I love the characters, the mystery of the seven moon pack – or whatever they were called, wondering who Ansell is, the triangle (or quad?) of Jon, Dana and Sam, with jealous Claude making up an unwilling fourth!! I’m kind of confused over that, as Jon tells her after the first crisis she finds herself in that Claude is an ex, that there’s nothing between them. However Claude doesn’t seem to feel he’s an ex, more a current, and the interaction between him and Jon seems to back that up – so what is the truth?
I like Jon, can feel he genuinely cares for and about Dana, but his relationship with Claude is odd, and i didn’t see how he could let go the things Claude did and said when he cares so much for Dana.
I liked Sam too, but he’s more complex that he first appeared, and did things that made me feel somewhat differently about him.

There’s some serious heat in the scenes in this, with some very sensual sex going on but…I could have done with a bit more attraction between them, not just sexual, lust, physical but emotional, actually liking each other, wanting to support and help.
Jon seems to do a bit of that, but in an understated way, and it’s really hard to tell if he’s doing it because he likes Dana, or whether he just feels its the right thing to do, kind of old school traditional behaviour that many vamps show.

I think – and I really hate to say this as usually I’m banging on about stories being too simplified – this series will work better as it grows, as Beth works out what she wants her characters to be, where she wants them to go and how. Once they know who they are, then maybe their actions will become more simpler, more understandable instead of the random we see curretntly,, and we won’t need this constant rescue from unnamed sources with untold skills.

Its a great idea, and by the end I can see that its going to get more complex, so something needs to go, or to get more slick and polished or the plot(s) along with non stop, over-complex and over-explained action is going to spoil what could be for me a terrific 5* series.

Stars: Three and a half. A really good start to a series that has the potential to become a favourite for me, but still needs some fine-tuning IMO.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Wolf Moon,  Lisa Kessler

Wolf Moon by [Kessler, Lisa]

Genre:  romance,

I’d read and enjoyed the first five books in this series, but somehow missed book six…still, these can be read as standalone stories so that didn’t matter.

There is an overall story arc to the series with the Nero connection, but that seems to have taken a real backseat in this book.There are references to Nero and the people within it, but its a very minor part of the book. I’d have liked to see more Nero involvement, without it this becomes just a shifter romance, and there’s a deluge of them on the market.
Lisa’s writing is always very good, but the Nero connection gave this series the edge IMO.

So we meet Luke and Raven. We do hear from others in his pack, but in this book they’re very much in name only, its mainly just Luke and Raven and the Sedona Pack.
Poor Raven, turned against her will and against werewolf rules, is trapped in the Sedona pack. I really felt for her and her sister, stuck there with her.
The pack Alpha is in league with Nero, and is growing his pack quickly, against werewolf law and tradition, mating the females up with whoever he wants to reward to breed more werewolves. He wants a strong and loyal pack, and is searching out and turning people with abilities to help him achieve that, if they don’t have close family and won’t be missed.
Forget the fated Mate connection, he’s not interested in that, just in rewarding those men loyal to him with females, and the ladies don’t have any say in the matter.

What an awful life. Raven is determined to escape with her sister, and when she meets Luke and they touch, the need grows stronger and they discover they are mates.
Luke hates the thought of her going back to the pack, but she must, to save her sister and to prevent war on Luke’s pack. That looks inevitable though when they learn of the Sedona Alpha’s plans and the Nero connection.

I loved Luke and Raven, but the story felt a little slick, everything fell into place too well, even when there were issues they were dealt with quickly.
Compared to earlier reads this one did feel very simplistic, maybe I just needed more Nero connection, a bit more angst and anger.
I’m kind of confused about the Nero crew too, as to which way the major players are swinging, what side are they really one, are they playing bluff or double bluff? I like that kind of thing, trying to work out what people really have in mind.
Compared to that intrigue the Sedona stuff just seemed to flip by too easily, issues sorted too simply.

Its still a fun read, still a great addition to the series but looking back at my past reviews the ones I’ve enjoyed the most have been the ones where Nero takes a stronger part.

Stars: Four, a good read, but I needed a bit more Nero to make it a five.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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The Demigod’s Legacy, Masters of Maria – Book 1,  Holley Trent

The Demigod's Legacy by [Trent, Holley]

Genre:  romance, paranormal and fantasy

I didn’t realise this was a spin off series, and of course I’d not read the Desert Guards. Didn’t matter though, there’s enough info given for me to follow the story, but I do want to read the other books at some point, they sound fun.

I’ve read a few of Holley’s contemporary romance reads a while back, but none of her very very many paranormals….she has an easy to follow writing style, with some sharp humour which keeps the feeling of light-heartedness in the story.
Its a kind of easy, relaxing read rather than deep dark drama. I like both, very much depends on my mood which I want to read.

So this book – a fun read, made me smile at some of the things that happened. I loved the main characters of Dee, Cruz and Tito, and they all felt very real. Cruz especially – five going on fifteen. she was a real sweetie kid.

I really felt for poor Dee, dumped like that, Tito promising he’ll be back and then she’s stuck, pregnant and alone, with only her sister for support. That must have made the early days very tough, especially as she’s no way of contacting Tito, other than trying many times to send a message via his cousin.
She never hears back but now she’s found out where he is and has driven her and Cruz to see him. I’d have been pretty riled at him too.

I started off really disliking Tito, hated what he’d done, and his reaction when he first sees Dee isn’t great, nor did he take the news he’s a father very well. If I’d been Dee I think I’d have got in the car and gone…but somehow his family and friends sort of bamboozle Dee into staying, and his Godess mother tells him to pull himself together basically.
Of course once I knew his past I understood why he’d left Dee, and really felt for him, he was just trying to do the right thing even though it hurt him.
He’s still allowing that to impact the current situation though, and Dee just isn’t sure whether he really wants her now, or just wants his daughter,Cruz, and her by default as Cruz’ mother, as he can’t really explain what he is without sounding crazy…

Of course the tale gets more tangled with endless Foley friends and cousins in every corner it seems, and poor Dee was as confused as i was, especially before she knew the truth about them.
They were trying to make excuses for Tito’s behaviour, and persuade her to stay without being able to explain so much of what was going on.

Where I struggled was the ending, it got to a point where I felt it was kind of rushed, overly complicated at times and at other it was just Problem, wham – problem gone, far too quick and simplistic. I needed something between the two, to be able to see what was going to happen, how it was resolved and how they kept humans from finding out what they’d done.
It seemed to me a magical clean sweep was done very quickly every time there was a fight and/or a death, but it wouldn’t really have been as simple as that surely? There would have been times when other eyes were around, when they didn’t clean up quick enough?

I wasn’t really sure why her parents and other relatives were involved, that wasn’t really needed IMO and the way that plotline played out was certainly unreal and felt unnecessary.
I couldn’t see they could have covered things up so slickly, that everyone would have been so accepting of what had been happening and the consequences. I’d rather things there were left as we first knew them.
Though I’d really enjoyed the novel til the end section, those issues were what made it a four star not a five. Again had I read Desert Guards maybe I’d have followed it better – who knows?

One thing I did like was the historic references, Aztec names etc – I kept looking them up each time I came across one and learned a little more interesting facts about ancient Aztec culture and Gods. That was fun and gave an edge of reality to the story.

Stars: four, a fun supernatural read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Breath of Fire, by Amanda Bouchet

Breath of Fire, by Amanda Bouchet

Breath of Fire (The Kingmaker Trilogy Book 2) by [Bouchet, Amanda]

Genre:  romance, paranormal and fantasy

Back when reviewing book one I wrote “This is one of those fantasy reads that can cross age limits, being suitable for teens and YAs, as well as those like me long, long past that. Its a fascinating story with enough romance to keep me hooked, for me that gives a story something special, and some cracking magic.
Its not a historical LotR type fantasy, but one that brings in Olympus and the Greek Gods and Goddesses.”
Book two has all that and more.

The story continues with the main characters facing death and disaster from humans and magical creatures alike, in their Quest to bring peace and end the reign or terror and raise up the standard of living for all the citizens, not just a favoured few living off the backs of the rest.
Its easy when faced with the kind of destiny they’re looking at and the sucess they’ve had so far to let the power go to their heads.
Cat, Griffin and friends aren’t like that though, Cat’s background gets revealed and we know already just how much she’s been through in her short life.
Griffin comes from the other side, the non-magical folk, ones that do the hard manual work and are always subject to the whims of their rulers. He has a vision though and its aligned with that of higher powers who seem to favour his ideas. Cat is central to his and their quest for a new regime, for peace, for fairness for all. They want a world with a hopeful, peaceful future for all the citizens, a world free of torture, slavery, all the things imposed on the non magical folk that currently provide enjoyment for a favoured few.

I love the relationship progression, Griffin is so protective of Cat and yet doesn’t try to stop her from doing what she needs, encouraging her when she faces her very natural fears.
Once more they face Gods and Goddesses, (and Kato gets to find that you can have too much of a good thing!) fierce, deadly magical creatures, as they take the next step in their journey.

Its a fabulous book, that touch of romance lifts in from just a fantasy read and beings in the personal side, and yet sensual though it is it never overtakes the story, never overshadows the magic that’s happening around them.
They’re learning a lot about each other too, becoming a tight knit team, learning to trust each other fully. Griffin has had their trust and pledge for a long while but now Cat’s in the team and they look to her as a leader too. She and Griffin both have their own specialities, and when needed they’re happy to let the other take point, lead, make the tough decisions.

Back in 2014 I read a YA story that I felt would be perfect for film. The Paper Magician trilogy has since been snapped up by Disney, and I think this trilogy too would be perfect for the big screen. Its got so much in it, the romance thread  which I love is just enough for those like me who enjoy that angle, but won’t put those off who profess not to enjoy “romance”, the magic is fabulous, gripping, exciting, almost bloodthirsty at times but without too much horrific descriptions  ( they made me queasy, I’m a wimp, I know) and welded throughout is the message of fairness, of taking into account the effects of things all all members of society, of morality, kindness, and there’s a very clear Right and Wrong barrier in behaviour.

This read follows book one quite closely in release time, which is great, the story is still fresh, sadly though part three isn’t due out til Jan 18 😦 Still, it’s definitely one for my keepers file for re-reading right through all three books.

Stars: Five, terrific read, more magic and mayhem, with romance and Right on Cat and Griffin’s side.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Steele City Blues, Book 3 in the Hell’s Belle Series, Karen Greco

Steele City Blues, Book 3 in the Hell’s Belle Series,  Karen Greco 

Steele City Blues: The Third Book in the Hell's Belle Series (Hell's Belle 3) by [Greco, Karen]

Genre:  Sci Fi & Fantasy, General Fiction (Adult)

I’ve read books one and two in this series/trilogy (I’m unsure which it is) and loved them so its on to book three to see what’s going to befall Nina and co next.
We pick up where book two left off. Although there have been a couple of novellas between, I haven’t read them and they don’t feel necessary to read to follow the story ( though might be fun to see what else is going on!).

Leila can’t be allowed to continue her actions, she’s destruction in person form and a complete nutter power freak. She’s creating what seems to be a supernatural army. Who needs her running the world?
Who can stop her though? Blood Ops doesn’t exist now, Max seems to have thrown in with Mary Jane and  the Gov but they don’t have the skills and knowledge to fight supernaturals. Bertrand the demon is untrustworthy, he seems to be on their side but who knows, he’s totally unpredictable and what’s best for him only is what drives him. He’ll help so longs as he benefits, and when it doesn’t he’ll swap sides easily and seamlessly. Dr O can’t help, he’s in Steele city, the prison for those of a supernatural bent, and the team miss him and his advice and magical talents.
With Babe gone and Dr O locked up its really down to just Frankie, Nina and friends to save the day..and the world. Tough times eh?

Its a fun read once more, full of humour and snark, puzzles to unravel, sides to take and wondering just where Nina is going next, what’s going to happen and how.
I love the core group of friends, Frankie, Nina, Matty and Darcie, and Caspar…a great group, very diverse, and at times it seems like herding cats trying to get them to agree. Max is kind of in the group but not, he’s very allied to Mary Jane, and TBH I was disappointed in some of his actions and decisions. He’s very pro helping people, saving lives and yet seems to have no issues with Mary Jane’s announcements about what she’ll do if Nina and co don’t succeed in stopping Leila very quickly…it just didn’t feel right to me him being OK with that.
There’s a new player to the game too, someone who may – or may not – be a help and who comes from a very unexpected place.

There some great humour too tucked in with the drama, and its the kind of quirky snark that pervades Kim Harrison’s Hollows series and made that such a must read for me. I do like some fun in among my dark and dramatic, the end of the world is nigh…but there’s time for a coffee first sort of stuff!
Nina seems to have curbed her anger a little in this book, it was beginning to grate on me that she had a shoot first policy, so for me that’s a real improvement. After all there are only so many times you can get away with it!
I said Max was a bity of a disappointment, but that’s made up for by Frankie – I Love that guy, he’s so perfect, humorous when the situation needs it, but ready to defend Nina to the death. I love the thought of him in the 70’s in gold lame and roller skates!! He and Nina are getting closer, its clear he wants her and she’s attracted but will she ever take that final step?

Its fun and games, drama and deception, snark and sensuality and another hit read for me.
I’m not sure if this is a trilogy or a series, can’t find out from author site or anywhere on net. It ends…kind of..so it could be a wrap, but there’s so much left open that I think there’s room for more books, and am hoping they are coming.

Stars: Five, a fabulous read once more, packed with magic and mayhem and fantastic characters.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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