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A few more past reads.

Wins

Paris Lights This was free a few weeks back when i got it, its £1.49 now, still a bargain. Its a fun read, with much of the action taking place in Paris of course and I felt a real sense of the city. Claire and Louie make a great couple and the story has something extra from the A meets B and they live happily ever after format. It does have a HEA, but its a fun journey to reach it. I hadn’t realsied but I’d also bought the next book as it was on offer at 99p ( now £2.49) and I haven’t read it – so that’s todays book sorted, after I finish the current review one! New York Nights the third book I also loved, London bound was on KU, its now £1.49. I love this authors style, a fresh slant on romance with the two I’ve read and I’m looking forward to the one I didn’t realise I had!

Under Locke  One of the fabulous Mariana Zapata reads. I’m not usually into MC reads but this one worked for me. I’ve had several of hers now on KU and enjoyed most of them. Wait for it was the first I read, about a lady bringing up her two nephews. That got me hooked on MZ’s stories, though of course I haven’t loved all of them. One that didn’t work for me is below even though others love it. That’s how it works, some you love and others hate and vice versa.   The Wall of Winnipeg and me  was a great read, as was Rhythm, Chord & Malykhin a rare-for-me purchase!!
I loved Poppy Dunne’s Extra Credit, made me laugh and was a fab story full of emotion but another of hers I read yesterday was just a kind of OK/mundane story (see below)

Shape-shifter series that begins with Trigger was a fun read, and I thought it was the start of a good sereis with that something extra, but the next book (below) was just the usual simplistic para romance and disappointing aftet that start

 

Fails (for me – may not be for you!)
Dear Aaron  A Mariana Zapata read. This just didn’t work for me, couldn’t get into it at all, but it was (and still is ) a KU book so nothing lost! another of hers that didn’t fit is Lingus Tried it, didn’t like it.

Dating the billionaire ( OK I’m a sucker for these reads) Though I loved Poppy’s Extra Credit this was just bland and dull for me
Transcend Second in paranormal series after Trigger (above) but was for me a huge disappointment. the promise of the extra arc, the story line that lifted the first book above bog standard shifter romance was more or less gone, sucked under the heavy romance theme. I love romance but I really want reads that offer that bit extra too. I might continue with the next as its on KU, but was very disappointed and have seen others that feel the same way.

Some you win, some you don’t. KU reads mainly

Of course not all books suit all readers, so my thoughts and feeling about these recent reads could differ wildly from yours, and do differ from many review(er)s. Book reading and enjoyment is very subjective, and this is just how I feel about these as always. I don’t like many of the current Best Sellers, and ones that dominate Amazon top 100 lists.
BF/Shade of …. – loved by thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, but is not for me is all I’m saying 😉


Didn’t like.

Princely Passions: A Royal Romance by Alexis Angel.
Didn’t get past 10%, obnoxious, foul mouth lead, with no redeeming features. He might have got better after a while, but was such a selfish, arrogant, misogynistic jerk that I couldn’t bring myslef to continue.
Kings Series Boxed Set
Books 1 – 3: Mated To The Werewolf King, The Warlock’s Nemesis, Heartless by Alena Des
Pretty much as above, less swearing but throw in paranormal. Like a YA trying to be grown up.
Anaconda (Irresistible Bachelors Book 1)by Lauren Landish I thought I’d read others by this author but must have been another Lauren, as after checking I don’t recognise any of her books. This one has another jerk MC as above, plus the addition of a simpering, feeble minded heroine who can’t keep her eyes off his cock. Really people, accidently walk in on someone naked and keep on staring at his dick, not just a peek, but a full fledged stare and cue all the “mouth watering” etc comments that follow…its kind of sexism in reverse, when ladies see men as nothing more than a walking dick. we don’t like it when men talk to our breasts, so why the heck are books were women talk to men’s cocks so popular?
Take Me (Vampire Billionaire Romance Series): The Untouchables 1  T. A. Grey
Read the first half, skimmed the second hoping it would improve. It didn’t ;-(
Out of the Shadows (A Werewolf Wars Novel Book 1) Bethany Shaw
Sounded interesting but just felt too YA for me. I don’t mind a well written YA, some transcend ages, but this felt very aimed at the late teen end of the market.
Obsidian (Mystic Stones Series 1) Kayla Curry
I wanted to like this but…just couldn’t get into it, neither the story or the characters appealed.

Did like/were OK:
Wolfsong,  TJ Klune
This is seriously one of the best reads this year, in fact possibly the last couple of years. a beautiful story, terrific pacing and incredibly emotional. a very unusual read. I’d love to read more by this author.
Idol (VIP Book 1)  Managed (VIP book 2)  Kristen Callihan
I Bought these two, not ARCs not KU, but paid for!! Two great fun reads, I really enjoyed. I’d bought Managed first, (it was cheaper!) and its still my favourite of the two. It reminds me very much of Kylie Scott’s Dive Bar book with Jimmy and Lydia, same strong humour, great lines. Jimmy and Gabriel are very similar types. I’ll look forward to more of this series. 
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander Book 8), Diana Gabaldon
I loved the first books in this series, and my tattered paper backs were read over and over. Charles would say “not Diana Gabaldon again….” and then came Echo in the bone  which was so war orientated, so full of characters and different plots and times it felt messy. and what I really didn’t like about that was it left several plots hanging, first time DG had done that, and given she writes Very Slowly I knew i’d have lost the impetus by the time the next book came out.  I was right, I’m wading slowly through Written IMOHB and having to keep looking up exactly what happened, where we left certain characters. Echo was published Jan 2010 and Written in June 2014 so you can see what a long gap. In fact book one I read in hospital in 1995…..
I’m finding its war heavy, that there are whole chapters covering a half hour or so and the minutiae which i so love about her writing has become details on speed, even too much info for me, a details lover. I’m really tired or reading peach fuzz of Jamie’s balls, musky smell/male musk of ( insert character here ) etc.
Its taken me three years to actually get on and buy this when I ordered echo from US in hardback as it was out a month sooner than in UK. Part of that was waiting for price drop but I was so disappointed by echo that I thought long and hard before continuing with the series. I’m halfway through this one and already skipping parts to get to the action.
Absinthe, by Winter Rens An ok/good read, I loved Winters Country Nights  and was hoping for more like that
Bucking Wild, by Maggie Monroe Enjoyed the first book about Ben and Chelsea, but not enough to continue with their next books. Kind of OK but slowish for me.

 

 

Hunger, The Energy Vampires Book Two, Jacquelyn Frank

Hunger, The Energy Vampires Book Two, Jacquelyn Frank

Hunger: The Energy Vampires Book Two by [Frank, Jacquelyn]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and fantasy.

I really wanted to like this, I love the vampire romance genre but…it wasn’t to be.

I found it really dragged, with the first half covering Halo and Felice in captivity. Just the two of them talking, arguing, bickering with occasional voice overs from the captors, that’s all it was. Halo wants to know why he and Felice were taken, thinks he can guess at who’s behind it but has no idea where Felice fits in.
Frankly by the time I’d got to halfway and they’d finally managed to escape ( I think its about 55% they make it out) I didn’t care who took them and why, I was tired of the plot, tired of the characters and just wanted it to go somewhere. At 25% I was amazed they were still improisoned and started flicking forward to see if that was going to be the whole story or if they would ever breakout…
When they finally escaped and met back with the others I still didn’t really feel the story was going anywhere. I wasn’t convinced of the love between him and Felice, and had lost heart for the whole story.

It felt unreal to me, I know its fantasy but for me the plots and characters have to feel as if they could happen if the setting was real life. It didn’t.
I just didn’t feel anything for either Halo or Felice, we knew so little about them really, and what did come out didn’t make me like them. I think that first half with all its eternal talking everything to death, bickering and Felice’s constant changing her mind spoiled it for me. Then would anyone really get the hots for a total stranger when you’ve been captured, stripped and imprisoned with him? Surely panic and anger would be more likely, not steamy make out sessions knowing the cameras are watching…

Ah well, you win some you lose some, and this was in the lose column for me. Doesn’t mean you wont like it, I’ve loved stories others have 1 and 2 starred, we all want different things to read, have different triggers and things we enjoy in a story.

Stars: Two, novel that just didn’t work for me, that I felt was going nowhere for far too long.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Wolfsong, TJ Klune A story I bought!!

Wolfsong, TJ Klune

Wolfsong by [Klune, TJ]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

I’ve been seeing recommendations for this story for a while now but you know what its like, there’s ARCs and KU, free books so actually buying one by an author whose work you don’t know if you like….well, for me it rarely happens even though I was very intrigued.
Then a few weeks back it was on sale at £1.49 so I bought it. Only got round to reading it last week and wow – what a book. Its kind of hard to review, one of those that defies categories.

It is Romance, but its a very slow burn and TBH though we know the two are going to get together they’re kids when we first meet them and have such a lot of growing to do, meeting others, just maturing. someone wrote criticising the sex, but I’m wracking my mind and all I can recall is one scene right at the very end.
Its M/M but the characters are so good that you don’t think of any of them specifally in terms of what sex they are, just that they are right for each other.
Its werewolf/Supernatural but again so much more. The werewolf/witch angle is just a part of who they are it doesn’t define any of them.

I adored Joe, been through so much and what a wonderful family. I got so angry at him at one point though I understood what he did but my heart broke for Ox.
And Ox, what a star he is, so truly good, loyal, despite the things that had happened to him, despite his awful father.
There’s lots more characters here, who fit the story so well, and I’d really like to read more about them – but seems they don’t have books. Yet – TJ Klune 😉

Its one of those books that are bittersweet when they end, where part of you is glad things worked out finally, and the other part just isn’t ready t leave the characters. Its a slow paced book, not an all action racey sex fest, but one where things develop over several years, where the story slowly expands, brings in more and more people and where Ox really grows into himself, becomes confident, where others see the strength and goodness that’s in him.

A wonderful story, one I’ll definitely re-read and I’ll be trying more from this author.

Stars: five, a fabulous, slow sensual read, with a great story building theme.

Blood Gamble, Disrupted Magic Book 2, Melissa F. Olson

Blood Gamble, Disrupted Magic Book 2, Melissa F. Olson

Blood Gamble (Disrupted Magic Book 2) by [Olson, Melissa F.]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, General Fiction.

I love this extended series, first got into it via Lex’ book, and then found the Scarlett novels and have eagerly devoured them ever since. Its got for me the perfect blend of story, paranormal issues and drama. It feels real, so very real.

Scarlett’s in Las Vegas, Dashiell having used his usual devious means to get his way. She hates it, had a bad experience there in the past and didn’t want to return ever. Vampires are disappearing though, and the new show, run by two vampire celebrities seems to be at the centre of it.
As usual Scarlett gets right in the heart of danger, scrambling from one danger straight into the next. It would be easier to just do the bare bones of what she was tasked with, and in fact she has done what Dashiell asked so could leave.
This is Scarlett though, she can’t leave when those she’s come to care for are in dangers, when there could be something she can do to stop more disappearances, more murders.

Its a great story, fast paced, very real and cleverly done. I didn’t see how it was going to play out and certain revelations really caught me by surprise.
Its a great follow on from the last novel and given the ending ( what!!) I’m keen to crack on with the next novel.
What I didn’t feel so much was the relationship between her and Jameson. I can’t really recall them back in NY, so maybe if I had this would feel more organic, more a natural development. as it was I could have believed in insta-lust but Love? Err…nope, wasn’t feeling that. and maybe I just didn’t want to, I’ve always hoped Jesse would prove to be the one for Scarlett…maybe one day?

I missed the regulars too, Dashiell, Kirsty, Will, Molly, and of course Jesse and Shadow. Though I enjoyed this story I would have enjoyed reading about them even more.
Not sure how the whole crew could have been in Las Vegas though, in fact they couldn’t. Paranormal constraints against most of them, supernaturals having fairly rigid rules and protocols for many events. And that would have made for a totally different story.

I do hope Scarlett’s back on home turf next time, with the characters we’re used to meeting.

Stars: five, another drama ridden suspenseful story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
 

Betrayed by Blood, Beth Dranoff. Cutie and the Beast, Fae Out of Water 1, E.J. Russell


Betrayed by Blood, Beth Dranoff

Betrayed by Blood (Mark of the Moon) by [Dranoff, Beth]

Genre:  Sci-fi and Fantasy

I enjoyed the first book in this series, but had a few reservations. I still think Dana does a bit too much introspection, but its far less than in book one and the story feels as if it flows better to me. A bit more Show going on, less Tell 😉

Dana’s still working out how to live as a shape shifter, how to adapt to her new life. She’s still working at the bar, still having the occasional fling with Jon, and he’s still close to Claude. Clearly he isn’t an ex….

Sam, he’s around too. He would like it to be just him and Dana, but accepts Jon, while not liking it. He can see that commitment scares Dana so for now he’ll go with the flow. He’s not so happy though when an ex comes back on the scene, the guy who really let Dana down.

Seems the organisation she left has a job for her…but they need to get in line because a group of supernaturals also have a job for her. She’s kind of in a rock and hard place though, these are the kind of offers that don’t accept sorry, no can do as an answer….

Dana’s learning more about herself, about her heritage, her father, the strange tatts on her back, and of course her new life as a shape-shifter.

Busy time for her and means there’s a lot going on. she grows a lot over the course of this novel. She adapts to what she learns, grows to trust others and there’s less sex for the sake of it and more feeling comes across, though she still struggles with commitment. It made me wonder how she’d feel if she found Sam with someone else….

I found the action flowed better in this novel, that things fell into place easier, more naturally. It makes me want to know more, what’s really the secret, what do the tatts mean, and who wants the info? We know some of those answers now, but there’s still a whole lots we don’t know.

There’s less Pack stuff here, more emphasis on Dana herself and the secrets that surround her, the things she needs to know but doesn’t. I felt that made for an easier to follow book. I do like the Pack side and hope they feature in later books but for now keeping them as a minor side story felt right. I don’t mind complex, actually I love complex, but sometimes there’s a point when too much just spoils the story, just makes things confusing and that’s a bit how book one was for me.

The things I didn’t like? Well, pretty short list, mainly the “silly” stuff that I felt dragged the story down, the names and descriptions -Squid D’Le for example, felt too YA, too juvenile.

Can you imagine Mercy Thomson dealing with a weird tentacled crew, headed by a Squid D’Le? Kate Daniels slinging back Bloody Marys garnished with oil demon eyeballs, toenail clippings and frost nymph snot? Nope, nor can I…
The descriptions of some of the demons feels pretty much like that too. Can they be just frost demons, tentacled land evolved sea creatures? Nope they’re all kind of “pink, with blue spots, green horns, purple suckers, and six eyes, drooling acid yellow venomous slime..” kind of thing. Ditto the drinks and food. That really detracted from the story for me.

Its a good story, shaping up really well IMO but those silly bits let it down and make it hard to take seriously. Stories usually have either serious drama or comedy angles, but this feels like Beth has tried to incorporate both, and for me it doesn’t work.

It can be done, but its not easy, and doesn’t work here. Thankfully that’s only a small part of the story!

Stars: Four. Maybe four and a half, I can’t quite get past the silliness side…but yes, four and a half, its a real step up from book one and I do want to see what happens next.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Cutie and the Beast, Fae Out of Water 1, E.J. Russell

Cutie and the Beast (Fae Out of Water Book 1) by [Russell, E.J.]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

I’ve enjoyed some of EJ’s stories before and love tales around Fae so was eager to read this.

Just didn’t work for me though, felt a little too “fluffy” and the characters too stereotyped. I couldn’t really get into it, didn’t care much about what happened to the people and it all just fell a bit flat for me.

A series that’s clearly not for me. won’t put me off reading different books by this author though. not all books suit all readers, even if we usually enjoy someone’s wring style.

 

Stars: Two, I’ll pass on the rest of this series but still look out for E.J Russell’s other stories.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Spellbinder, A Moonshadow Novel, Thea Harrison

Spellbinder, A Moonshadow Novel, Thea Harrison

Spellbinder (Moonshadow Book 2) by [Harrison, Thea]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance

I loved Moonshadow, the first novel in this trilogy. Thea is one of those authors who can make fantasy and magic feel real, who has me completely wrapped in the story. This time round we see the other side to Morgan, Queen Isabeau’s magician enforcer, leader of her Hounds.

We met him mainly by reputation in the last book, knew him as a conscienceless killer, and now we see that its not him, he has to act as the Queen commands, has no free will. She took control of him centuries ago by magical means, and he is forced to obey her every command. He hates it, hates her, she killed his beloved Arthur, and he’s been waiting for her to slip, make a mistake all these long years, and then he’s going all out for freedom, even if it means his death.
Then she does, she makes this tiny error in what she says and he takes advantage.
He’s not free, not yet but her words allow him freedom for a short time to research the magical knife at the heart of her control over him. He has to stay away from any of the Light Court, they can tell him her wishes, and it acts like a command. While he’s researching and avoiding everyone he hears Sidonie play, is entranced and that leads to a string of events ending with her the Queen’s prisoner.
If we didn’t know Robin, the Puck, and all he suffered from the last book, I’d think he was an awful person. He knows full well what will happen to Sid when the Queen gets her claws in, but he hates Morgan, hates that he was the instrument of his centuries of torture, as commanded by the Queen. He doesn’t know the full circumstances, thinks Morgan betrayed the Dark court he was part of, thinks he is the Queen’s lover and had a free hand in the atrocities he does.
He sees Morgan is enjoying Sid’s music, and thinks to use her as a trap for him, use her to break up his relationship with the Queen.
Its kind of a long logic thinking that because he’s following her tour, enraptured by her music that he will seek revenge on Isabeau for the atrocities she will inflict on Sid, but I guess Robin’s kind of flawed in his thinking anyhow. He doesn’t see Sid as a person, only a tool, and doesn’t care what happens to her. His plan will work – or it won’t. Either way he loses nothing by trying. I have to think of it the way he would, the way the Fae see humans, disregard them mostly as people, don’t really care what befalls them unless, as with Sophie from Moonshine, there’s some kind of personal connection. He’s devoted to Sophie, determined to protect her despite the fact she’s (mostly) human. He doesn’t know Sid so he’s not concerned about her. That changes though when he gets to know her.
Poor Sidonie, she’s horrified, powerless, distraught at what’s happened and feels so alone. She does what anyone would do, demands she be released, give the queen the sharp side of her tongue and…suffers the results.
As Robin planned Morgan soon gets to know of what’s happened but of course Robin doesn’t know of the restrictions surrounding Morgan, so his plans from there go wrong.
Its another fabulous magical read, making me really feel for Morgan despite the awful things he’s done.
In Moonshadow I hated him, here I see him as another of the Queens victim’s now I know the whole story, and likewise I felt so sad for Robin in Moonshadow, and had to keep reminding myself of what he’d been through when he was so casual about Sidonie’s welfare.
Its like we’ve two sides to the story now, the Dark Fae and the Light Fae, centuries of history, of Isabeau’s horrific reign now look to come to a head, with the key players having a change of situation. I can’t wait for the final novel bringing everything together.
Stars: Five, great second book, roll on the final one 😉

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Dream Snatcher, Clara Coulson

Dream Snatcher, Clara Coulson

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

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Sci-fi and Fantasy

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

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Drakon’s Plunder, N.J. Walters

Drakon’s Plunder, N.J. Walters

Drakon's Plunder (Blood of the Drakon) by [Walters, N.J.]

Genre:  Romance,

First thing to say is that I didn’t realise this was the third book in a series.
I was still able to follow the story, and the characters from the earlier books are referred to here, but not having read them didn’t mean I lost the plot so to speak! They look interesting though so maybe a future read?

Anyway, Sam. I liked her. She’d had a tough time as an only child losing both parenst and regarded her mentor highly. He was killed, and having discovered it was a group called Knights of the Dragon, she wants vengeance.
They think she’s a simple archaeologist, don’t know of her talent for sensing powerful objects and she’s keeping it that way. She’s under no illusions about what type of people they are and what they plan for her, but she’s out to stop them getting their hands on whatever is on the wreck. If they want it then its too powerful for them to have it is her thought, and she’s out to stop them any way she can.
She’s a great lead, strong and determined with a definite sense of whats morally right.

Then things go wrong, and she finds herself with a strange man, in a place that’s unfamiliar. Slowly what happened comes back to her, but she doesn’t know if she can trust him or if he belongs to the Knights group.
He’s being very cagey which doesn’t help, but that’s because he doesn’t know whether he can trust her. He’s got a lot to hide, and a lot to lose if he gets it wrong.
I liked Ezra, hiding in plain sight, very close to his brothers and their mates, he’s surprised at the possessiveness he feels for Sam. The Drakon’s Tears…I loved that tough.
Between all that there’s this sensual thread of arousal spinning between them….

Its a good read, a step up from the Human meets Shifter/Vampire/Supernatural of some sort that dominates the best sellers. Clearly readers love them, but I need a bit more story to my romance and this book delivers.
Its not as solid a story as a Mercy Thompson or Kate Daniels read, but it’s an entertaining novel, in a series that sounds to build on each book with a stronger overall story. I do like those.

Stars: four, interesting and absorbing read with an unusual shifter type. Lots of sensual heat and spice too.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Ashes of the Phoenix, Jess Haines

Ashes of the Phoenix, Jess Haines

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

I’ve enjoyed a few of Jess’ novels so I know I like her writing style, so was pleased to see a new book out.

I didn’t realise it was so short, just 109 pages, and it feels like a novella prequel type read, where author sets out what’s to come.
We’ve vampires (air, water, fire,earth, the good, the bad and the ugly – every version you can imagine, and weres’ of all types, a few ghosts, zombies ( though I avoid them) but I can only rememeber reading one novel set around a phoenix. Seen them as secondary characters before but here Lyra is the lead, and she’s also the phoenix. This is the tale of how she became that way.

Its a fun read, kind of plot light, its really just an intro to characters we’ll hopefully meet later. I can’t find anything for definite but it feels like the opening to a sereis and I do hope I’m right.

Stars: four, a good intro to a new world.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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