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Vampire Fight Club, Larissa Ione

Vampire Fight Club, Larissa Ione

Vampire Fight Club by [Ione, Larissa]

Genre:  Romance

I love Larissa’s writing, but somehow lost track of the series after reading the first few Demonica books. Still, I’d read enough to follow this story, I think possibly if you haven’t read any you could still enjoy it 😉 Its a short, hot paranormal, set in the Demonica world.
Its not a complex story, that’s good as its so short…I don’t often read novellas for that reason, they don’t have space to let me really get to know the worlds and characters in the story, but when its part of an existing series it works for me.

I liked Lena, she’s had a tough upbringing and is now facing death but before that she’s determined to get revenge on whoever killed her brother, the one that understood her, protected her, not the two that have made it their work to torment her. With her loving father dead and now Vaughn gone she’s alone, and for her last weeks she’s going to find the killer.
That brings her in the sphere of Nate, manager of Thirst, and the cruel vicious Demon, Fade….and maybe death too soon. Of course Larissa throws in events that change what’s going to happen very rapidly, and of course there’s sex…lots of it, hot and sensual.

It’s a series that features sex demons as main characters, so its no surprise the main books have that angle, but even this short does -however it fits the general story line, and is not the more-sex-than-story issue I so hate. There needs to be a balance, and Larissa always seems to find it 😉

Stars: four, a fun addition to the series.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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A Murder at Alcott Manor Book 2, The Alcott Manor Trilogy, Alyssa Richards

A Murder at Alcott ManorBook 2 The Alcott Manor Trilogy,  Alyssa Richards

A Murder at Alcott Manor: A Thrilling Romantic Suspense Series, Book 2, The Alcott Manor Trilogy by [Richards, Alyssa]

Genre: Romance, suspense, sci-fi and fantasy

Second book in a trilogy but each are complete and can be read alone, though knowing the house history and events will make it easier to follow.

I love Layla, she was married to an awful man, pushed into it really by a combination of guilt and her awful mother. Asher never loved her, but wanted her share and her voting rights in the Manor, with ambitious plans to make himself rich. Now he’s dead, and Layla finds out she’s penniless, and discovers he had unsavoury plans for her too. She knew he didn’t love her, his treatment was clear of that, but this new development comes as a shock. Still, she’s got kids to feed and a home to find.
Mason’s finally back, guilt after leaving Layla all those years ago. I liked him, and then again I didn’t. I got so cross with his intransigence about his mothers experiences with the supernatural, its as if he knows its real, but after they were hounded because of it when he was young he just won’t accept anything other than science. So when Layla tells him whats been going on he just doesn’t want to acknowledge it just at the time when she really needs his support.
Its a gentle romance, a pick up from the past but the suspense is seriously action packed, lots of ghostly goings on…but thankfully not the sort that gives me nightmares. I have to avoid anything that could even loosely be described as horror, I’m a real wimp, couldn’t even manage some of the kids films without getting nightmares. This was fine though, intriguing, thought provoking – the “what if” scenario, just because we cant prove it does that mean it can’t exist. When billions believe in God – or a God, or multiple gods that can’t be proved we accept it but mention haunting and its tagged crackpot. Is it really so hard to think some people don’t quite want t leave, that places and buildings could soak up strong emotions? Lots to make me ponder there even though its a fiction read, and that was fun.
And I’ve rambled, but if you want a suspense of the supernatural type with a rewarding romance this is perfect.

Stars: Four, a great second story from Alcott Manor, and book three sounds another fun read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by author

Heart on Fire, Amanda Bouchet

Heart on Fire, Amanda Bouchet

Heart on Fire (The Kingmaker Trilogy Book 3) by [Bouchet, Amanda]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

The final stretch, and what a fantastic trilogy this has been. A mesh of traditional legends, Gods, Goddesses, fantastical creatures and imagined kingdoms. Amanda has taken bits of stories we all grew up with and shaped them into an amazing story that had me gripped right from the start.

The characters, a real mix, and finding out some of the ones Cat has known for years were actually more then just magical humans came as a shock to her. Griffins family, she wishes she’d been brought up that way, secure in her parents love, but her upbringing was very far from that. Griffin and his siblings and parents support each other at every turn, Cat’s siblings were forced to fight each other and their mother for their lives, and killing her sister scarred Cat’s psyche in unimaginable ways.
When she ran, aided by Thanos, and found the circus they became her family for many years, but she kept secret inside her talents, her magical skills. Then Griffin came into her life.

Griffin has been incredible, he’s ambitious, but not for power, for peace. He wants to reunite the fractured kindoms and stop all the fighting, the abouse by those in power, the cruelty and murders, but he’s happy to stand behind Cat, to take second place as he knows she’s meant to be the figurehead.
Turns out much of what he feels is real, that he and Cat were shaped for each other, given the skills to get this done but that doesn’t mean its plain sailing. They’ve come so far but still have a big battle in store, Cat’s mother won’t give up her kingdom easily, and Cat knows just how powerful she is.

I love the way this plays out, as with the other two books there are battles, both on a large scale, and small with just Cat, Griffin and sometimes some of the others from Elpis team.
There’s a backstabbing betrayal that comes as a shock, there are multiple times they face death and scrape by aided by one of the Gods, or by a talent they’ve gifted them in the past – nothing was ever free though, they had to prove they had the skills, they were right to hold that gift.

I love the way Amanda has dealt with my pet hate, when characters are right on the edge of losing and one of them gets a new power and miraculously is skilled and wins the day. Mostly she has them use powers we already know they have, having worked hard to refine the use of them. There are times when they are almost in the situation I’ve described, but they have to really think about, understand the consequences of using what they have, and often it doesn’t go right first time, or even fourth time, and they need a quick Godly rescue 😉
I want my characters to have to work to win, to have to make tough choices, to really understand what it is their asking, doing, wanting.
I need them to practice to get the skills they need, not just whip them out of a hat at the tough moment, and Griffin ensures Cat and the rest of the team do all that.
There’s lots to understand to about him and Cat, why and how they are who they are, the consequences of their actions, their pasts and how that has affected them.

Of course it culminates in an amazing battle bringing in so much of whats gone down earlier in this book, and in the previous two.
I love stories that do that, build on events and characters, let them play a full role in how the story ends, not just a bit part along the way.

Way back when I read the first part of Charlie N. Holmberg’s  Magician trilogy, I wrote that I thought it would make a fantastic family film – and a couple of years later Disney picked it up.
I really think this trilogy would be a terrific film too, but more for new adults upwards. There are scenes between Cat and Griffin that are very sensual, which belong to the story, show their connection, but which would probably get toned down too much or disappear if this became a family film, and that would be a real loss IMO.

Stars: five, a fantastic trilogy, gripping, entertaining and one to keep.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Water Viper ,(Jesse Alexander 1), R.J. Blain

Water Viper ,(Jesse Alexander 1), R.J. Blain

Water Viper: A Jesse Alexander Novel by [Blain, RJ]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

My first novel by this author, got it as part of some free book offer, I’d read the amazon sample and wanted to read more. Sadly I didn’t note exactly how I came by this book, just found I’d filed it in the review collection….

Its a long book at almost 500 pages, and usually I love long books but TBH at times this felt a bit Padded, a little too much Filler and – heresy for me saying this – I think if it had been a little more succinct it would have been better for me.
There were story-lines which looking back the day after finishing I can’t recall what was their purpose, nor what the resolution was in some of them. I’m thinking here of who was behind the second bounty/kidnapping attempt, the one where Henry and Anatoly find her? There are other parts too which were funny the first and second times but after a while….they got old. Its frustrating reading plots and then finding they don’t actually add anything to the story.
I didn’t see how on earth, even cleverly disguised, she thought she was still getting away with fooling everyone about who she really is/was when she was day to day living with people who she classed as friends, who knew her very well.

Set against those moans though was some subtle humour, some terrific characters, and a really interesting new world post Starfall, with a good mix of paranormal creatures. Sometimes the shifter/magic types stories feel like I’m reading the same ones but with minor plot changes and new names. This was very unusual and I really liked it.
Overall, even with my caveats, I really enjoyed the story, and would be happy to read more Jesse Alexander stories, or other characters set in this world. I think it has a lot of potential, and is an interesting take on a genre that can get tired from all the stories set in it.

Stars: Four, an interesting read, one I really enjoyed but which dragged at times, losing it a star.

 

The Silenced Tale, Book 3 of the Accidental Turn Series, J.M. Frey

The Silenced Tale, Book 3 of the Accidental Turn Series, J.M. Frey

The Silenced Tale (The Accidental Turn Series Book 3) by [Frey, J.M.]

Genre: LGBTQIA , Sci Fi & Fantasy

I’ve loved this trilogy, fresh and unusual, it hinges round the characters in a series Elgar read wrote. By some quirk of fate he wrote magic so perfectly that it – and the actual characters, places and events, became real. As a Reader, Pip was pulled into the world and met Forsyth. Now they both live in the Overrealm, our world, with their daughter Alis.
They had issues with Hain and certain people in the last book, where events there were affecting the Overrealm, and now they fear that things weren’t as safe as they left them, that maybe, just maybe, someone else has come through to the Overrealm.

There’s another fantastic adventure, Syth being his spymaster self here in the real world, master of the PC and Internet. I love how he’s adapted to it, his careful turn of phrase, his planning, always looking ten steps ahead and of course his love for Pip and Alis.
Pip is wonderful, such an intelligent girl and I love how she breaks out the writing jargon, explaining to Syth ( and readers like me!) about tropes, genres, and how books are plotted. I read, I had no idea of the structure of a story but it makes sense, and makes my author admiration even greater! She’s having a bad time in this book, due to the events of the past that connect her to magic through the carvings.
To begin its just a series of odd events that could be explained away, but Syth being the cautious type he sets his programme up to look for anything that might be connected. I love when he says he thought Pip’s Poster “its not paranoia if they’re out to get you” was a warning not an irony. That sums him up in a way, written to protect, its in his very marrow to do just that.
Of course what he and Pip don’t know is that Elgar is having issues too, with what the police think is a stalker, but what Elgar fears is Hain stuff, and vengeance from there. He had no way of knowing what he wrote created a real world, and he feels so guilty for the casual way he wrote torture and death in his stories. There’s a top secret TV series based around his books being planned and the police agree its a good idea for him to go there for a couple of weeks. Syth’s programme tells him what Elgar didn’t though, so he’s beginning to piece together events and he now knows he, Pip and Elgar are facing real danger that the police can’t help with. How can they fight magic and fictional people that have become real. If they tried to tell them they’d be taken to the nearest Psych centre!

It all comes together in a nail biting, climatic finish, and I was gutted at some of the events and yet – it was the perfect way to end the trilogy.
I read the Magician trilogy when that was first out, back in Oct 2014, and thought it would make a great family film, Disney agreed some time later. I think this too would make a great film, has that magic (hah!) content that will appeal to kids and adults alike and is so very unusual.

Stars: Five, a perfect ending to a terrific, exciting and fresh trilogy.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Haunted, Shari Nichols

Haunted,  Shari Nichols

Haunted by [Nichols, Shari]

Genre: Romance, Sci Fi & Fantasy

A stand alone story, which sounded fun. I enjoyed it, didn’t love it but was a quick escape from the real world.

I felt for Karly, and her sister after the recent issues they face. Their shop is struggling after a recent reading led to lots of bad publicity….I could see that happening exactly as it went down!
Then on a night out she meets Thayne. Nothing happens except for some very heated kisses and an offer to go back to his room. Karly says yes, but ducks out so when she goes to a new job next day, one arranged very quickly they’re both shocked to see each other.

Thayne is a bit of a skeptic but the events that have frightened his staff can’t easily be explained away, and when Karly and her sister get to work he cant deny the Inn is being haunted by a young lady called Emily – and She Is Angry. That’s the last thing he needs with the opening just a few weeks away.
The sizzle between Karly and Thayne can be felt, its scorching and they have some incredibly heated, erotic encounters. Nether seem able to leave the other alone.
She made me so cross though, blaming Thayne for his past, letting hers dictate her actions. She was all over him one moment and pushing him away the next. Over and over again, no wonder he was getting whiplash.
He can’t change his past, its the now and the future that count, and he shouldn’t be blamed for things others in Karly’s past have done. She was too ready to believe the worst of him even when he’d done nothing or had a good explanation.

I was really hoping more would be made of the Jennifer angle, it was good, but for me could have been deeper,better, more satifying. I love a “good” bad person, a jealous man or woman, they really make a story sometimes.

The suspense, the haunting angle was interesting but like the romance I felt that the issues raised, the problems caused by Emily treated almost lightly , sort of “wow, she’s created a heck of a storm. Look at that tree, look at that damage…Ah well, who’s for coffee?” Well, it wasn’t quite like that 😉 but that’s how it felt to me.
Then there’s the problems Thayne has with his family, his father, his angst over his brother, not to mention someone else with a grudge against him playing a part in the story.
There was so much going on, so many different story lines that I felt none of them really got treated with the respect they deserved, didn’t get the expansion they needed, just a light fluffy kind of treatment.
That’s a shame as they were some terrific ideas. If the book had been twice the length ( its just over 3500 kindle locations so pretty short) then those plots could really have been made the most of, and this would have been a five star read for me, but as it is I felt I liked it but nothing really stood out about the book, nothing special.

Stars: three and a half, so much potential if either less plots used, with a deeper treatment for them, or longer book that let them really get made the most of.
Still, others will love it as it is, that’s the nature of reading, everyone wants something different.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Curious Affair of the Witch of Wayside Cross, Lisa Tuttle

The Curious Affair of the Witch of Wayside Cross, Lisa Tuttle

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers,Sci Fi & Fantasy

This caught my eye as its set in Norfolk, my home county. I love a dip into a historical novel sometimes so asked for this.
It proved to be a fun read, fascinating mystery involving local legends.
What surprised me further was the main action takes place in a little village just outside Cromer, called Aylmerton.
Why the surprise? Well, I live in that village and so much of it is exactly as it is now, the shrieking pit legends, the Lions Mouth, the local church. It’s clearly an area the author is familiar with and that reality made it really fun to read.
There are lots of local legends here, the village is set on an area when the Romans used to stay – called of course – Roman Camp, and the whole Holt – Cromer ridge was formed during the ice age, so fascinating fossils and artifacts frequently turn up in fields and on the beaches. The West Runton mammoth was found here a few years back, its the largest almost complete skeleton found.
I’ve often wondered about the Shrieking pits, I’ve a few old books about Norfolk and they’re mentioned. I love Lisa’s explanation.
I love too the Jesperson and Lane duo, a great pair who complement each other well. I do think that maybe Miss Lane might have found life a tad more restrictive though….and I so wish the trains run as well now as they did then. Post too. I’ve a few old family letters and postcards, one always fascinated me, its from a great aunt telling my gran she’ll visit that afternoon. Can you imagine doing that now 🙂
On the whole though the historical setting worked really well, made me feel as though I was with them back in time. The little details really make a difference to the feeling of history found in novels.
I enjoyed the way what seem like disparate plots end up being linked, tied up neatly in an ending I didn’t foresee. I love being surprised like that! Its a gentle read, but very cleverly done, very accurate historically and well researched. The plants and poisons section was very interesting, I’m very interested in plants and natural remedies, and again this showed that Lisa had done her homework.
I think that’s what give novels an edge, when its clear that the details have been checked, not simply invented or left to chance as to accuracy.

It’s a story I really enjoyed, not a heart stopping suspense but a more gentle meander through history with a fascinating couple.

Stars: four, an interesting and fun read, with a special connection for me with where I live.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Maid of Ice, Shona Husk plus black friday audible offers.

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Maid of Ice, Shona Husk

Maid of Ice (Blood & Silver) by [Husk, Shona]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy

I hate the title of this book, its horribly “twee”, sounds more like a 70’s M&B title than a contemporary fantasy.
Don’t let that put you off though becuase under that awful title is the third novel in a fun and unusual fantasy world.

Each book is slowly building on this world, where supernaturals who can do magic live unnoticed among humans. Barely noticed actually, though there’s a group called Guardians who want to rid the world of all of them.
The battle between Albah and Guardians has been one from centuries back, and currently there’s supposedly a truce, though its looking more and more that the Guardians have been killing off Alba in what were first thought of as accidents.
The Guardians main grump is that the Albah can make vampires, Albanex, and those can create mayhem in their search for human blood.

There’s more to the story, the Albah are concerned that their race is dying out. They’ve kept themselves isolated and hidden for so long, but the threat of the Guardians has made many of them drop out of the group, go their own way. The fracturing of the group like this, and the actions of the Guardians have made them a weakened society, and there are those that think its time to be proactive, make changes.
Its a tough time for them right now, Finlay’s dad is the Albah King, leader of all, and that’s part of why Finlay doesn’t join in, share with the group. He was conceived as a kind of duty baby in his eyes, brought up by his father when his mother left to go on to have another family with the man she loved, and to do her job protecting Keepers.

Keepers, they’re a third arm – centuries in sleep, they’re the people who hold all the old secrets, and people like Archie, Findlay’s mother, protect their hidden sleep places. Finlay has always felt abandoned by her, his stepmum died when he was young, and he’s regarded her as his mum. He just doesn’t want to join in on Albah stuff, wants to stay alive and live his life, believing that maybe it is time they died out as a society. Then he meets Alina, and gets a taste of what that could be like and its not the way he envisaged.

Alina has no idea what she is, her mother has kept them on the move, away from her family and done her best to keep Alina’s water magic hidden. When she meets Finlay circumstances bring her heritage to light, and place both of them in extreme danger.

Its an entertaining read, not as good IMO as the last story but still very interesting. I wasn’t quite convinced of the love between Alina and Finlay, that’s the main issue for me. Their romance seemed to go from nothing to full pelt with little in between. What did work well here though was the story-line that advanced the overall novel arc, leading up to what looks to be at some point a gripping fight involving all of the factions, and before that happens Finlay and those like him need to decide what they want from the group. Do they see a future for them or not, will they fight or give in?
Finlay makes his choice here, but with others having broken off from the main group, tracing them is going to be a hard challenge and time is running out fast.

Stars: four, not quite the five star read of the last novel for me, but an excellent installment moving forward the overall story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

 

Council of Souls Fated Eternals 2 by Jen Printy

Council of Souls, Fated Eternals 2, Jen Printy

Council of Souls (Fated Eternals Book 2) by [Printy, Jen]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance

Well, I loved book one and was keen to crack on with the story but….its so different from other fantasy books, so many new immortals with different talents that I was lost. I went back and read last five or so chapters of book one to refresh my mind and fell back into the story.
Having finished this book I really think it would benefit from an index or something, so that we know how each person is connected, and the difference between the supernatural types. Now we’ve Souless, Timeless, Endless, Immortals, Soul Immortals, Death, the Fates, Shadow Death….you get the idea. I just kept forgetting who fitted where and the difference between them all.
Its a great read once more. The love between Jack and Leah is so perfect, and the lengths each will go to to save the other really emphasises that. I love Artagan too, he seems to know a lot more than he lets on. Kemsi, a puzzle that one. What does she really feel about Artagan and he her? Death? What’s his end game and why does he seem to let Domitilla get away with so much. How are people chosen for Gathering and why? So many questions and the end of this book sets things up nicely for the next.
Its a five star read, though I really would have benefited from an index of types and hope that maybe for the next book Jen does one. I did have to put this aside sometimes as I just got so lost between characters and connections. I needed to sit back from the story a bit and think about how that worked before I could continue and it spoiled the flow a bit for me. These kind of very different supernatural reads work best for me when all books are out and its one that I’ll definitely do a back to back read when that happens, immerse myself in the story and be able to read through remembering who’s who and where they fit in things. Currently with them being different from the fiction norms, and with a gap between books it means I need to refresh my mind on all that before starting next book.

Stars: five, a fabulous, fresh take on the supernatural world.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Beneath the Skin, Lauren Dane

Beneath the Skin, Lauren Dane

Beneath the Skin (de La Vega Cats) by [Dane, Lauren]

Genre: sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

A reworking of an earlier series, this is book three.
I hadn’t read first two books, and they’re not on netgalley or available to buy, and that’s a shame as it would have helped the story a bit. There are characters and events from those that crop up here, and would have made understanding motives etc easier.
There are terms too – The Bringer, and the Jambouree – that I kind of worked out as I went along, but which would have been good to know early on exactly what they were.

Anyway, its a pretty fast flowing story, succinct and yet packed with action. I loved Mia, a strong lady, she’s no Baby to be tucked in a corner….and she’s a perfect foil for Gibson, tough guy, charged with overseeing justice for the pack.
He’s a real ladies man, but he’s also a true gentleman. He’s secure enough in his own skills to enjoy Mia’s strength, knows he wants to protect her but has to let her do so much for herself. Its who she is, and he has to let her be that person if they are to be happy together.

I enjoyed meeting the rest of the family, seeing how the Cats all connected, and working out what was going on, who the bad guys were. Its not a brain taxing thriller, but a fun and sexy suspense, and a perfect HEA sensual read.

I have to finish with a bit that made me snort. On my review blog i have a post called bad sex terms – and this has to go in, it’s perfect. “he nudged at her gate, pushing in very slowly. thick and meaty he filled her up…..” WTF? Her gate? Thick and meaty?? Oh that had me sniggering like a twelve year old….

Stars: five, bad sex terms aside 😉 its a fun short, a sexy and sensual quick escape into the supernatural world.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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