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The Stone Warriors: Kato, Book 2, Stone Warriors Series, D.B. Reynolds. Warrior of Fire, Shona Husk.

The Stone Warriors: Kato, Book Two of the Stone Warriors Series, D.B. Reynolds

The Stone Warriors: Kato by [Reynolds, D. B.]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, Wow. I think now I understand the overall plot and world building I really need to go back to book one, as I’m sure I’d rate it higher than I did on first read.
Some series are like that, it takes another book or two before the overall theme falls in to place for me, and this clearly is one such.
I think part of it too was over-expectation, I so love ViA, and was hooked from book one and expected this to be the same.

Its is the same great writing though, full of people who feel real, who I have strong mental images of, ladies who aren’t simpering kittens waiting for a big strong man to save them 😉
Grace is anything but one of those, though our and Kato’s first impressions could be forgiven for thinking that, because that’s the image she tries to project. she’s more than that though and a perfect lady for Kato.

He’s the second stone warrior, and I kept thinking how awful, to be trapped like that for thousands of years, seeing and hearing everything but unable to interact.
Sometimes books have things happening and I think “ how very convenient that he/she does that riiigght at this point”, and you could feel that about Kato coming out of imprisonment just in time to save grace from the Demon. D.B has the answer though, she’s made it so there’s a very real explanation why things are happening just now, and weaves every small thing into part of the larger overall plot that threads though the series.

Its another great read, a race against time to stop demons from being unleashed and creating mayhem. Another, well..brush with danger feels too subtle, its more than that, another solid drama where the characters face a horrible death over and over, but manage to scrape through, and without using any of that New Skills Gained Just at the Optimum Moment that I so hate. You know the sort, he or she has just learned of their place in the supernatural world, takes it in their stride, and by  the fourth page or so they’re killing the bad guys the others have been fighting and losing against for centuries, using some new skill that showed up just as the Demon or whatever is about to kill them! Gah, that really annoys me.
D.B doesn’t ever do that, and though here Grace saves the day a few times, it works because she’s the skills needed already, the training to keep calm and deal comes from her background. She gained her gun skills as a child, and as an adult she’s been involved in some dangerous and scary dramas. Add in how clever and analytical her mind is and she’s perfect for Kato.

I loved catching up with Damian and Cass, and yep, now want to re-read their story.
Two more warriors to go yet, and of course there’s also Nick, Nico, Nicademus…what a guy he is. When we first met him back in the early, the first book I think of the ViA series he was almost a throwaway guy, Cyn’s friend with benefits hot guy, but he grew in importance in later books, and then we learned he’s a powerful sorcerer.
I love how these two series interact, how we get snippets of other characters, even if only in conversation or thoughts.
I can’t help but wonder if there’s someone special in Nico’s life planned? The mysterious talented Lili maybe – or perhaps someone from the Via series? Loads of possibilities to pick from, and I look forward to D.B.s next book(s) of either series.

Stars: Five, a cracking, riveting, engrossing read and a great addition to D.B’s series.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Warrior of Fire, Shona Husk

Warrior of Fire (Blood & Silver) by [Husk, Shona]

Genre:  Sci-fi and Fantasy

I really enjoyed Lady of Silver, the intro book to this series. that featured Saba, an Albah lady and Dale a human cop.
This book is about Liera. Saba’s sister, who we met in book one as a secondary character, and Julian who’s a son of cop Quinn, who is also the Albah’s “King”. Its a title that’s really name only, they don’t meet or live closely as its too dangerous.

There’s a faction called Guardians, who are out to kill Albah, though supposedly there’s been a truce for the last 200 years. Strange though how so many Albah die in accidents. That’s what happened to Julian’s mum, she died in a car crash when he and his younger brother were in the car. Its affected them both, as traumatic events do to young children, and they’re not a close family. In fact Julian has been away for the last 12 years and only returned six months ago.

He’s been working at a local hospital, somewhere he can put his healing skills to use without creating attention.
See that’s the thing the Guardians won’t recognize, that most Albah just want to be responsible, to do good and work in fields where their talents are best use to humankind. As far as Guardians are concerned the only good Albah is a dead one.
Its that potential to turn into an immortal blood sucking murdering Alabanex that worries them so they think killing all Albah means humans are safe. Shame they don’t focus on how humans can become murdering vicious killers too, or even look at their own behaviour, murdering parents, children, wiping out whole families proudly and bringing up their kids to believe in the same.
Hate rhetoric is so pervasive when instilled from a young age and that’s what’s happened here.

Julian has been having a “casual” relationship with a woman for the last few months. He doesn’t know much about her, that’s what he likes, physical only stuff, no need for pleasantries and socialsing, not knowing she’s a Guardian and a killer.
She’s come to do a job, make her first kill and become a real Guardian, a role she’s trained hard for, encouraged by her Guardian mother and family.
She’s finding it hard though, she’s become attracted to Julian even though both agreed upfront this was simply a casual fling, and now she’s becoming clingy Julian is thinking the time has come to part ways. she won’t like that!

Liera has always known she’s meet the love of her life on a train, she and Saba are very good at seeing into the future, though its not fixed but depends on paths taken by individuals.
She doesn’t know who her future is with though, and so is astonished when she feels a visceral reaction to Julian at a meeting of the local Albah. It’s where they connect via the internet with others to discuss recent events. Julian feels the attraction too but its a kind of muted pull for them both, not a huge insta-lust kind of thing. Jut that feeling of rightness when they connect with each other.
Liera is puzzled. What about the future she and Saba had seen?
Julian isn’t sure he’s ready yet either, he’s always felt he would marry an Albah. His people need the males that come from only Alabah pairings, but he thought that was way in the future, loads of time yet. Until now he’s been content with simple casual relationships, like the current one with Emily. This has thrown him though,made him question that, and he decides Emily’s been getting clingy lately, not what they agreed and its time to let go.

She is Not Happy though. Pressure from home about why she hasn’t killed him yet and the excuse she’s given, he could lead her to more is wearing thin. Now he’s dumped her, and as she’s been spying on him she sees him meet Leira and just knows it’s all down to her. the knives come out, Liera is in the way, time to move her. She knows now Leira is an Albah so has no worries about killing her, she’s been brought up to beleive thats the right thing to do.

It all leads to a cracking story, brings danger to the Albah, not just here but across the globe, makes them think about the future of the race, brings the Guardians into the series in a big way and is a hugely entertaining read. One that flows easily, has that element of suspense I love, the wondering what if, and how will they…?
The romance too, I enjoyed that, the doubts both had, it makes a change from the one-look-and-they-are-in-love scenario we see so often. Instead they both talk, tread carefully, think about how they feel inside.

There’s no simply quick fix solution for the future of the Albah. It needs some decision if they aren’t to die out, and the way they’ve lived for the past few hundred years needs to change. Using the internet they can conference, avoiding the dangers when large groups get together, and hhopefully make changes to their lifestyles the majority agree to while keeping safe.
Maybe the time for Quinn as king has become the era for change, for the role to become more than the lip-service one its been. He’s certainly a decisive enough character to generate momentum for change.

I really enjoyed this installment, loved meeting Dale and Saba again, was intrigued as to how things were going to work between Julian and Liera, whether the change of place of their first meeting meant their future had changes in a big way, and of course the drama with Emily was pretty solid and full on.

I found it easy to believe in Emily, that she’d been brought up and trained to kill Albah, but in her greed to kill more by finding Julian’s family she actually came to like him, to see the good he did. Somewhere deep in her psyche she had to rationalise why she hadn’t killed him yet, rather than admit she was falling for him. She was a twisted individual but also a product of a very dark upbringing, brainwashed that Albah were all bad, potential killers.

Its an easy read, well paced, solid writing. Its not as in depth as many fantasy reads, but a fun story that made me look at the characters as individual, see them as real people, and wonder just where the story is going next.
I’m really hoping Quinn gets some happy, right now he gets all the flak and doesn’t really seem to have anyone close to support him when it goes bad.

Stars: five, a great story, building on the first one and expanding the world.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

New Moon, Lisa Kessler. Chief’s Mess, L.A. Witt

New Moon, Lisa Kessler

New Moon (Moon Series Book 8) by [Kessler, Lisa]

Genre:  Romance, sci-fi and fantasy

We’ve reaches the end and I’m always feeling conflicted when that happens. In part because I love a good series and its hard to say goodbye, but set against that is the feeling of satisfaction when the little clues throughout the series are finally wrapped up, when we know who was behind things and why, how it all worked out.
With a good series we’re left feeling hope for the future, that these people we’ve got to know so well are facing a time when they can finally relax, live a normal life, enjoy their friends and family. Still, I love rereading series so from me its not really Goodbye but See you later 😉

The back to back reads through a whole series work best for me too, when each book is still fresh in my mind, so its easier to follow the story, recall which character fits in where. Sometimes after months and lots of other reads its hard to recall exactly who belongs with whom, and how they fit in the overall story.

I remember Sebastian from the first book, and he’s changed. Or has he? Maybe its just my perception of him, as looking back the seeds of his discontent were clear even back then, but i just didn’t see it.
Its a great author who can turn around a character so the callous, murdering, immoral man we met becomes someone we love, who we want to have that HEA…but Lisa does it for Sebastian.
I found he was a terrific man, that he had been trying to put things right as much as he could for a long time, and with a father like his no wonder he grew up to be the man he was. Thank god for his mother’s influence, its whats kept that core of humanity in him.
Sebastian and Isabelle don’t have the best start, with her trying to kill him….well, until her wolf tells her she Just Can’t Kill Him! That’s a bit of an eye opener and changes everything. Isabelle is shocked.

Its another fabulous adventure, when plans get made, and changed and remade all the time. Nero has really hit bottom in its actions here, kidnapping a child for Antonio Severino’s cruel crusade, but it proves the catalyst for some unheard of co-operation.
Things quickly change in the story as the plots unfold, and this final book brings in many of the characters we’ve met in the preceding books. It opens up the Packs even more than they have been. It was a struggle getting Lana accepted into the pack, as she was a jaguar shifter back in the early books but since then they’ve become more accepting, less Wolf only insular and that’s given them an edge they needed for this final battle.
They’re not just a wolf pack now but have Jaguars, Psychics and humans among them and that’s given them strength, and maybe what Fate intended, that supernaturals work together, find power in collectivety.

I’ve enjoyed the series as a whole, and love this last book. Looking back to some of the books that weren’t quite top whack I can see the gaps that bothered me back then filled in now and I understand why things played out certain ways.
Despite not all the books being five star reads for me, the series as a whole deserves a solid five stars, it all adds up now.

Stars: five,a great read to finish a fantastic series

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Chief’s Mess, L.A. Witt

Chief's Mess (Anchor Point) by [Witt, L.A.]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I loved the first book in this series, but the second did nothing for me.
Still,  LA Witt is one of my favourite m/m authors so I thought I’d try book three.

It wasn’t a great read for me, I just didn’t feel I Knew the characters, just a surface opinion of them, and I really want to feel book characters can be people I know. I need them to feel real for me to get invested in what happens to them.
Here I just didn’t, they were just two anonymous guying hooking up for hot sex.

They were very alike in many way, and TBH I kept getting confused, right up to the end, about which was which.
Not a good thing, and when characters are well fleshed and distinct not something that happens. I think maybe there could have been – for me, not for everyone of course, a little less sex in the first half and a bit more character and plot building.

I mention the plot, and that really is pretty simple, Noah ( and see? I almost wrote Anthony there – had to check it) is a functioning alcoholic, and like many others doesn’t recognise he has a problem.
Of course for Anthony that’s a bigger trigger than it maybe would be for others, his ex brother-in-law was an alcoholic, and that caused great distress for his sister and their kids.
I liked the build up, though it was pretty muted and did make Noah come over as judgmental rather than sympathetic, but the way things played out felt very simplistic, and its rarely as easy as that.
I guess there wasn’t space to go into any depth, but in reality it would have been far, far harder.

Stars: three, it was just an OK read for me, and maybe I need to look carefully before accepting any more Anchor Point novels.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

In Her Blood, (The Dagger Chronicles 1), Janice Jones

In Her Blood, (The Dagger Chronicles 1), Janice Jones

In Her Blood by [Jones, Janice]

Genre:  Romance, New Adult
Edit: Its priced at over £10, $13 for an unknown author…Seriously?? I’m all about supporting writers but that price is way to much. I think twice about paying that for one of my favourite, well established authors.

Well, its termed Romance so I expected there to be some in the book, but apart from some heated action between Jason and Alex towards the end, that’s it for Romance.
Even that feels more like scratching an itch, sex for the sake of it, there’s no real closeness, nothing other than lust between them though there are hints Jason might be feeling more.

I felt there were too many people, too many plots, and there I’m saying that when I hate the simplified, one plot book that pervades the best seller list.
This though feels like Janice has taken every supernatural concept she ever could come up with, every possible connection and thrown it all together. the Blunderbuss effect, throw it all and hope some sticks. It makes for a messy novel though IMO.

I didn’t really like Alex, didn’t dislike her, but there’s nothing special that I can say I like about her personality. I felt for her, but I didn’t understand how she went from A, working as the Dagger for her “father” to B, famous successful business owner. That just doesn’t happen without an awful lot of clout.
Then there’s all her very useful contacts and people owing her favours. how did that happen, so many powerful people knowing her, owing her?
She spent from 13 to 21 as far as I can see locked away underground unless out on a mission with the rest of the team. After that she’s building a base in the human world for her clothing line I assume, so how did she become so close to all these powerful supernaturals. What did she use for funding to build her business?
There’s too many unanswered questions for me to believe this could happen that way.

Jason seemed intriguing when I read the synopsis but I’ve a horrible feeling he’s going to be one of those soft in love types, that become almost emasculated vampires when it comes to their lover ( Think JC from Anita Blake…)
I do wonder how these centuries old vampires survive when a pretty face can make them lose all sense.

There are irritations too, at one point Jason and Coop are talking and “Jason sat back with a grin and took Amy’s water…” Who’s Amy? Its only the two of them meeting.
Then later we’re told Jason was born 115 years ago. OK – so how come later he’s talking to himself “after three centuries of being what I am” – is he 115 or over 300.
The bit about Someone – won’t mention a name ( though if you’re as confused as me it probably wouldn’t matter!) who’s recovering and needs…how shall i put it…a certain type of blood, was a step too far for me, really made me feel uncomfortable.
I just don’t like reading things like that and it wasn’t necessary. shock value writing and not good IMO.

I’ve got all the way through and I’m still confused, so many double deals, blackmails, bait and switch, so many hidden agendas, and those playing both sides that I really aren’t any wiser now I’ve finished.
I really, really wanted to like this book but for me its a fail.

Stars: Two, sorry one that I won’t be continuing with. I tried, I did finish it but am still lost as to whats actually going on.

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

Muse, Marie Martine. Cougar Bait, Evangeline Anderson

Muse, Marie Martine

Muse by [Marie Martine]

Genre:  Romance, New Adult.

Well, this was a fun read. an  author, writing about an erotic reads author, whose writing a new romance, but in a historical setting….
Its an enjoyable romp, a fun sneak of history and what might have been going on under all those straight laced appearances. Don’t expect historical accuracy, though there’s a few fun snippets tucked in, just take it in the spirit its written, fun and a little bit frivolous.

There’s a sweet love story going on, with Alaric really being in love with the idea of his latest heroine Erica. He can’t seem to find a muse though, the person who’s just right to play her character out in front of him with his long time best friend and fellow writer Sim. His “research assistants” play a very hands on – and clothes off- role, acting out scenes with sim, while he watches, studies, takes notes and is inspired into the next scenes.
Behind that is part of the reason he writes romances…his cold, philandering father. He’s one full sister and a host, an unnamed number, of half brothers and sisters spawned from his dad’s days of cheating on his mother.
Finally she had enough and committed suicide and Alaric blames his dad, she was heart broken at his actions and couldn’t take any more. Their relationship has been cold ever since and rather than work in the family firm Alaric writes sexy stories. Brings him a very good living too.
Then life takes a very unexpected turn involving his latest find, his Erica, Caterine.

Caterine a cute girl, innocent but not a virgin, alone after her beloved mum died, except for her best freind Zoe. When she meets Alaric after another failed job interview he’s entranced. here out of the blue is the woman he’s looking for!
He Has to persuade her to work for him, he Needs her. No won’t be accepted.
Luckily for him she needs a job, the money’s excellent and Zoe is always telling her more sex is good, and she’s got the chance to dip out of her comfort zone, in a big way. hot sex with two gorgeous men….

I liked both her and Alaric ( and Sim, unreprentantly sex obsessed).
OK so its an unrealistic novel, (unless erotic authors really do use hands on research!!) but its got enough of a tale to tie together the steamy sex scenes, both in real time and the acted out historical ones, and lets the story flow through.
I can’t take books where its all sex and no story, even in an erotic read I need enough story to hold things together and this book does it.

Its not a huge pull at your emotions drama, though in fact it could have been, but a lightish, very sensual and tantalising read.
Its not one I’d reread, but I did enjoy it and I’d be interested in reading the next book, Sim and Zoe. There’s a sample of that and the end of this and having got to know both characters it looks another fun read.

Stars: Four, a fun and sensual read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Cougar Bait, Evangeline Anderson

Cougar Bait (Cougarville) by [Anderson, Evangeline]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I was intrigued by this, hadn’t read book one but each seem to be stand alone reads within the same world. I didn’t really enjoy it though, found the premise a bit odd, the rejuvenation gene stuff was…strange.
Its not unknown, a kind of variant on how in some readers shifters and vampires etc. when turned revert to their prime age, usually mid twenties/thirties but this was just a female only thing and felt a little weird to me.

I hadn’t read the first book but I don’t think that mattered. I found it strange that Keller kidnapped Sammie and her sister mainly for her sister, to get her to be his mate, bear his children (book one).
Now in a matter of days ( I think – could be weeks, but I’m going by the battle between him and the deer shifter) he’s transferred that feeling to Sammie…nothing like making a lady feel second choice. It wouldn’t endear me to him.
Sammie’s having none of it, she’s had a world change in her views and accepts that things she thought weren’t real are, but Keller. Nope, he’s deluded, he’s too young, he wanted her sister first and she’s not interested. I’d feel like that too.
However he’s not deterred especially when she puts herself in the cross-hairs of some evil shifters.

There’s a lot of sex here and I’m always OK with that in a book if it fits the story. For me it doesn’t in this one, its just there to spice things up, add some heat and just felt wrong, not integral to the novel but an addition.
I just can’t see Sammie doing such an about change in view, and the further into the story I got the more detached I felt.
The events at the end were just the final; straw for me, so unreal, even for the supernatural where usual timelines don’t apply.

It’s one I thought would be great for me but which I just couldn’t get along with.
It’s very similar though to many of the current best sellers in the way the story plays out, so for many readers it will be perfect.
Sadly I don’t like most of those and didn’t enjoy this one ;-(

Stars: Two, not one for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Heart of Malice, Alice Worth Book 1, Lisa Edmonds

Heart of Malice, Alice Worth Book 1, Lisa Edmonds

Heart of Malice (Alice Worth Book 1) by [Edmonds, Lisa]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and fantasy

What a cracking read this is, and it seems to be Lisa’s debut book!
I love when I find an author who can write books like this, with so many multi layers of plots, with interesting and varied characters that it keeps me gripped to the end.

There are so many paranormal reads out right now, and it seems 90% are one plot romances; those where its a meets b, and there’s just one plot making – or preventing – that happening. Clearly that’s what many readers want, they sell really well, but some of us want that bit more. A story where it isn’t obvious which way its going from the first chapter, and Heart of Malice delivers that.

There’s a clear and solid story-line in this first book that wraps up, but there is so much more going on in tandem with that, that its easy to see its going to make a fabulous and gripping series.
My favourite Fantasy authors are Patricia Briggs, Jeanine Frost, Kelley Armstrong, Kim Harrison, Rachelle Mead, Debbie Reynolds and of course Sookie’s creator Charmaine Harris. Those reads are what I love, ones where the world settings are clear, the plots multi layered and always imaginative, and there’s so much more going on underneath the main plot in each book.
I read and reread them finding more each time I devour the content. They kind of build up an over-arcing story-line, while delivering individual ones, and the Alice Worth series feels that way.

Clearly Alice has a gruesome and terrifying history, she’s escaped for now but the dangers are ever present. We get glimpses of her past from her memories and nightmares.
Then there’s the world as it is, where supernaturals are open and out, mixing with humans, but as ever there are some vigilant, at times over vigilant, official organisations policing them.
We’ve ghosts, shifters, vampires, mages, in the supernatural types, SPEMA and SPERA gov orgs and I’m sure more will come out in future reads.

Alice is a Mage PI, working alone, always trying to keep her head down, avoid any hint of her past being exposed. That means she tends to be very self contained, doesn’t have freinds, and when Malcolm the ghost comes into her life he’s kind of the first person I feel she really talks to.
She’s careful with him too though, but his help in this current investigation is invaluable as it gets ever more complex and brings her into real danger.
Natalie, her client was a great girl, and I felt a real rapport between her and Malcolm. Will anything come of that in later books? Who knows…
Then Alpha wolf shifter Sean comes in. Alice meets him in a bar, and he tries to persuade her they can be more than just a one night stand. The chemistry they have is incredible, but is he really trustworthy? Its far too soon for Alice to let down her defences, however beguiling and persuasive he seems, and she keeps him at arms length. Except for those scorching times when he’s not 😉
And what about Vampire Charles, over 200 years old, suave, good looking, perfect charm and manners, very well respected by the Vampire Alliance, and full of his own vampire intrigues…what’s his interest in Alice?
He’s held back so far, keeping her in a kind of loose acquaintance field which suits her. She trusts him, just a little bit, a very, very little bit, but she isn’t letting her defences down for a pretty face and a few vampire wiles. She’s wary as to what his end game is, vampires aren’t known for altruism…He’s never yet hinted at wanting more from her but it feels like there’s an unspoken text whenever they meet.
Of course we can’t forget Agent Lake either, comes into the book early and turns up again at the end. I get the feeling he’s got an interest in Alice, but why? What sort? What does he want from her?

Its a cracking read, ages since I read a new fantasy story that’s gripped me like this, that I so enjoyed.
Its up there with my favourite reads and I hope Lisa is hard at work with the next book.

Stars: five, a fabulous read, fast paced, solid plots great characters, and will join my favourites.

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

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

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