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Wolf Unleashed, Jessica Meats

Wolf Unleashed, Jessica Meats

Wolf Unleashed by [Meats, Jessica]

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

I really wanted to love this book, it sounded so interesting, a unique take on the genre.

It has some excellent characters too, and an interesting plot-line that I can see developing further within future books.

And yet….it was interesting, it was well written, paced to keep the reader engaged and yet somehow I kept putting it to one side.

Possibly it was the sheer unpleasantness of the idea of keep werewolves as pets/slaves, and of breeding them for that purpose, taking away the children and selling them. Its all too reminiscent for me of the human trade in slaves where non whites were considered sub-humans and we used and abused them.

Although it made for a great main plot it did make me feel incredibly uncomfortable and guilty as a human for the past atrocities white people forced onto non-whites.

If you can set that aside and enjoy the story for what it is, fiction and well written, then this is a series you’ll enjoy. I might try later books as they come out, I know once the imbalance starts to get addressed I’ll be happier reading about these people.

Its an excellent look at human nature, how ready we are to believe what “the authorities” tell us, which of course is what benefits a few powerful people the most, but gets dressed as if its helping everyone. Cynic? Me? There’s a quote from Edmund Burke that suits this book really well, it goes something like this… “all that is needed for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing”. Here we’ve a handful of good people, starting with Crystal, doing something which hopefully will grow, but it isn’t going to be easy.

Even then if Crystal’s brother hadn’t been bitten she would still have gone along with the official line that this treatment of werewolves is essential for them and us.
It mirrors what happens so often, as humans we mostly ignore or turn a blind eye to distasteful practices and injustices until we’re forced to confront them personally.

Stars: Three, a really well written story, but which made me feel so guilty for similar human past practices it affected my enjoyment of the story

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers.

 

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Thorne Bay, Jeanine Croft

Thorne Bay, Jeanine Croft

Thorne Bay by [Croft, Jeanine]

Genre: Romance, paranormal and fantasy

I enjoyed this story, its a debut novel for Jeanine and a great start. However there were a couple of issues that hopefully will get fine tuned as later books come out. I can certainly see more books in this series, Dean’s story sounds promising, plus of course there are other pack members and the whole keeping the secret in modern times issue.

Its a fun read though I wanted to slap Evan at times for her stupid decisions. Especially when she decides to return home – that’s something we can all see isn’t a good idea, is very unsafe and yet….I did like the chemistry between her and Tristan, and the way he was hot and cold for her – she doesn’t know of course why he seems all over her one moment and giving her the brush off the next, nor why his family and friends are so strange. I liked Tristan, but wanted to know him ( and the others) in a bit more depth really. Nicole, I love characters like hers, and though she plays a big part in the later end of the novel I’d have like to see more of her early, more of her bitchyness and jealousy over Evan. I love the “bad” guys, they really add to a story for me.
I’d guessed what was going to happen, but not exactly how or how things would play out so that made for some fun reading. Its nicely paced, apart from the stupid decisions Evan makes. I did get tired of all the wolf references that kept cropping up at first, when even doesn’t know what they are, it felt a bit like ramming the point home. Yes they’re werewolves, no she doesn’t yet know that, I could do without references to wolf eyes, behaviours, claws etc, like the language issue it felt jarring, overdone. Hopefully as later books come out Jeanine will find the balance, although it irritated I’d still rather have over use than back to the grunting and two syllable words that predominate in so much paranormal romance.

Its not a deep plot but kept fairly simple, which means its easy to follow given its a whole new world setting, with unknown characters. Its hard in a paranormal story delivering all that with an interesting plot, and sometimes simple and well done is better than a poorly done and complex plot, that leaves the reader with too many unanswered questions. I would have liked to know a little more about the main players in the story, and of course how on earth they manage to keep secret what they are. Usually in books like this is by way of some form of Vampire style wipe or alteration of memories, and/or having witches who can wipe clean scenes when things go wrong. If Evan had died what would they have told her family? How would they have dealt with authorities and the inevitable investigations. I think for later books these questions need to be addressed, maybe bring in some other types, or some humans in the know in certain places, IT, local cops etc who can help keep that believable.

My biggest issue was the language that kept cropping up, overly descriptive, using four words when one would do. Its kind of odd because I’m always banging on about books that seem to use only words of three syllables or less, and repetitive language.

When I’m reading a historical story I love to find words I don’t know, that fit the period I’m reading about but in this book words kept cropping up that I had to look up. I’m an avid reader and it rarely happens, I’m pretty literate as far as knowing language ( using it is something else!) but here I found words that I didn’t know, or was uncertain about it they didn’t really feel right in the context used.

I rarely make notes when I’m reading, but after about the 5th or 6th time I started to note the words, “a momentary pulse of igneous green, like St Elmo’s fire, suddenly flickered in his eyes.” In fact St Elmo’s fire is blue or violet, not green, igneous or otherwise….and

igneous refers to rocks and fire rather than colours. You can get green igneous rock but it doesn’t solely mean green. Using language like this its easy to make errors and for me it detracts from the actual story.

A few more examples, canid, sylvan, attestation, “whatever the myriad of secret thoughts quickening behind those unfathomable variegated eyes” that one is easy to understand but feels clumsy. Asseverated, limbal rings ( in an eye), gibbous moon, “mantled the ripples with bands of silver…an otherworldly moon with its strange halo of diaphanous cloud” cilice, syzygy, abnegate, senescence, declivitous, stygian.

I know many of those words, though not all, and not well but they felt out of place, as if the author was trying a little too hard. Sometimes Less really is More. The story is good enough without this, in facts IMO they bring it down. I did notice that past the halfway mark this issue became far less evident and for me that really made a difference.

Stars: three and a half. The basic story-line was a good start to what I hope will be a series, introducing some promising characters, a pack structure within other packs in the US.

KU read, suggested by author.

The Howling, Erin McCarthy

The Howling,  Erin McCarthy

The Howling by [McCarthy, Erin]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

This is a really short read, novella length barely at just under 1000 kindle locations ( typical books run at 3-5K ) and I rarely enjoy short reads. If I’d known before I wouldn’t have chosen it as all the reasons shorts don’t work for me were here.
I read quickly, but I’ve a friend who reads just a few pages a night. She loves novellas as she can finish them while still remembering how they started. She’d probably like this book.

I found the story a little confusing at times, so much seemed to have already happened with Sebastian and Scarborough and the pack, and we just get a quick recap of events through memories, dreams and dialogue. There simply isn’t the length in the story to let that play out. I hadn’t realised at first that it was so short and spent time looking for earlier books as it felt like I’d jumped into a series and should know what had already happened.

I didn’t really like any of the characters, Scarborough was just two faced and an ambitious, amoral schemer, Sebastian had what felt like weird reasons for not asking Liv to marry – why not just Talk to her? And Liv, she was a bit of a mix, so in love with Sebastian, allegedly, but when he disappears with her money she doesn’t think “oh, this is out of character. I wonder if everything is OK, where he’s gone, why he did this?” Nope, she just falls into Scarborough’s waiting arms and is about to marry him six months later. Some Love she held!

As for that sex scene, where she thinks she’s dreaming – hey, would that all dreams were that lifelike. I don’t think so…..

So a book that was a fail for me, in part because its just too short to allow the story to play out properly, which is why I avoid novellas. Having got to the end I still wasn’t really sure just what it was all about, the dreams/premonitions just felt too slick and weren’t really treated as a plot properly IMO, Liv fell into accepting werewolves – and that she was one – with just an “OK then, werewolves are real. Cool beans” well, along those lines ;-). The big fight was soon over and all was happy…. full length it could have been a story I enjoyed, this length it was a fail.

Stars: Two, if you like shorts and novellas you may love this, I don’t and didn’t 😦

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Shadow Hunt ,(Disrupted Magic 3), Melissa F. Olson

Shadow Hunt ,(Disrupted Magic 3), Melissa F. Olson

Shadow Hunt (Disrupted Magic Book 3) by [Olson, Melissa F.]

Genre: general fiction(adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy.
I love this series, and the sister series set in the same world. It was that one, featuring Quinn and Lex that brought me the the Old World, and let me to buying more and being lucky enough to have some review ARCs too.

I love Scarlett, she’s in a tough and dangerous world, has to do things that her heart really isn’t in, but which are necessary to protect others. It means she’s alone though, having to keep family and human friends at a distance as they can and will be used to get to her.

One of her few human friends from the early days is Jesse, and he’s a human that’s been allowed to know about the Old world because of the way he learned about it via his police job, and because Dasheil, Vampire leader for the city, feels he could be useful. Jesse is retired from the police now, but still very much friends with Scarlett and helps her when she needs assistance.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Jesse, wanted him and Scarlett to be together but through the series its never been the right time for either and they have both been in other relationships, and just remained good, true friends.

Its another exciting adventure, bringing into play characters, enemies Scarlett thought had been neutralised – or at least a truce reached with them. The attack, when it comes, is very unexpected, and once more its Scarlett and Jesse in the thick of things, rescuing those they love, and trying hard to prevent a massive tragedy and loss of life. We meet a few new characters, catch up from some from past stories and Maven, we learn a bit more about her too!
I really enjoyed this, perfect pacing, perfectly balanced and “realistic” within fantasy realms 😉 situations. The why ad hows were the usual puzzle for me, with me thinking “ooohhh…riight” when all was revealed. And the ending, Sob, just perfect.

I’m glad the way is open for more Old World adventures, I’ve grown close to many of these characters, and would love to read more from them. Molly and Wyatt, Maven, Will and Sashi, there’s so much more to learn about all these guys, plus Jesse and Scarlett of course 😉

Stars: Five all the way, fabulous finish to the trilogy. More please Melissa!

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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

Masked, M Greenhill. Silva, J.A. Hazel

I reviewed this story a few weeks back, its now out on amazon UK and Com. a great read. full review here

 

Silva: End of a Rock and Roll Love Story (Indie Rock Star Book 2) , J.A. Hazel

Silva: End of a Rock and Roll Love Story (Indie Rock Star Book 2) by [Hazel, J.A.]

Masked, M Greenhill

Masked by [Greenhill, M]

Genre:  Mystery & Thrillers, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I love Fantasy reads, especially if there’s a romance in the story.
Sadly the best sellers lists are dominated by stories where the romance is all the story, and though clearly others love them I want a bit more substance.
Happily Masked delivers all that 🙂 and I look forward to reading more.

There were a few weak spots though, Daniel is hundreds of years old, Alpha Commander, and yet in this age of technology he’s a total Luddite.
I would have though that with technology now posing such a risk to them he’d have a specialist team. Its not as if he can hire out either, he’s determined to avoid any Human involvement. Fortunately his alphas are more open minded, and through circumstance Parker has become a friend to one of the packs, after her cousin was turned.
Now they need her but she and Daniel have friction between them from an earlier case.

What I struggled with were things like early on in the novel when there are four murders, the wolves just whisk away the bodies, and remove the SD cards from every ones phones? I just kept thinking “How?” you just can’t do that without creating massive attention, and that’s the last thing they needed.
It would have been easier to believe had they their own tech specialists that can hack into networks and delete data that way, change paperwork so that nothing is missing but the true details don’t get out, bodies appear to have died from another cause.
Its a more believable way round things and one I’ve seen in other supernatural reads.

That’s a small criticism though and on the whole I really enjoyed this book. First in a series has a hard job, delivering a new and exciting story while introducing characters for future books. I liked the way this part of the story wrapped up while still leaving the opening for future books connected to what happened here.

I liked too that the author isn’t afraid to kill off key characters. That’s always sad when it happens, but does add to the believability factor when not just weak secondary people die. Keeps the reader on their toes too, never knowing what’s coming.
In some books whatever the dangers you know all the main guys are safe, and it makes me think things like in real life it doesn’t happen that way, that all the good/lead characters survive, and lessens credibility.

There were some great characters here, from Parker and her cousin Bobby, Daniel and his betas, the two tech-geeks-in-training, to Daniel’s sister and characters from other packs. the bad guys were just that – truly awful, and with psychotics like that you can’t predict what their next move would be. I like that 🙂 like to be surprised.  The story too has lots of potential to follow through in later books.

Stars: four, maybe four and a half, tidy up the few weak spots and this is shaping up to be a five star series.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

ENTHRALL ME, Tamara Hogan

ENTHRALL ME, Tamara Hogan

Enthrall Me (Underbelly Chronicles Book 4) by [Hogan, Tamara]

Genre: sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

Stupidly I just looked at description, thought it sounded fun and requested…so it wasn’t until I started to read I realised it was 4th in a series…doh. My bad, again.

Still, I did find it relatively easy to keep up, though I needed to back track a few times to check on who people were and how they fit the story.
I’d rather do that though, its my fault, than have authors bore established followers of a series with info they already know. I’ve found that in a few series I follow and to be frank its irritating. I always feel valuable story telling time is taken up that way, and if readers don’t know then they need to go back and read earlier books, or at least the samples so they get that info.

Its a fun story, one where the supernatural world is still hidden from humans but where they all interact, sometimes reluctantly, with each other, and where modern technology has meant they have to embrace it to keep themsleves hidden.
Its very sensual at times but sex that doesn’t dominate, fits the story-line. for me many promising books are let down when the sex overtakes the story, becomes the main them and I want story first, sex second.

I liked Tia, though she was very self confident at times, especially in the way she pushed Wyland. Its clear there’s a strong attraction between them, but they move in different circles and are hundreds of years apart. I found it a bit odd that she was never awed by what he’d seen and done, but just very interested in learning more. I don’t think I could help being a bit awed by him, but then Val and Thane are older than Wyland, and she’s the same with them.
Its that freshness, that taking them at face value that makes her so likable, and makes her fit in so well. That’s a good job because owing to the current danger surrounding her she’s had to move in to their household for a bit…..Wyland, watch out, she’s determined to open what you have – and she does. Poor guy doesn’t stand a chance.
There’s one bit I book marked that made me snigger ( there were a few but this one deserves retelling.) Tia has just got out a condom, “…. he smelled latex, and chemicals – odd but not off-putting, especially compared to sheep intestine….” That really sums up his age to me.

Its a fun story, plenty of action, lots of viewpoints, which I love, makes me understand characters better.
Its got a solid story-line too, and brings in characters from earlier books, which made me want to read their stories too.
I could see the differing arguments between the modernisers and the purists as being very real, there are always people with opposing views, and with a supernatural society there is plenty of space for revel/stay hidden, mix with others, stay within own species arguments and I really want to read further books in this series.

Stars: 4.5, a story I enjoyed even though I didn’t know the background having missed first three books ( bad Jeannie!)

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Haunted Blade, J.C. Daniels

Haunted Blade, J.C. Daniels

Haunted Blade (Colbana Files Book 6) by [Daniels, J.C.]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

I love this series but somehow I missed the last book…don’t know how that happened? So many books, so little time…
Still, it didn’t affect this installment for me, I was able to keep up, even understood the references to what happened in that one because of the context. I might buy it and read when the series is finished. I love to do a whole back to back read of series, totally immerse myself.

Kit’s come a long way from book one, where she was so alone even though she had a very small group of trusted acquaintences. Now she has Damon, and through him the Cats, though many have become friends with her in her own right.
And she’s well respected and has gained friends and allies that way from different groups of non-humans. No longer the isolated person she was back then, she’s stronger both physically and mentally. That’s good because Fate – or perhaps not Fate but Smeone directing things – has much in store for her.

She’s still recovering from her last brush with death when weird events start stacking up. She’s not one to believe in co-incidences, and somehow all these supposed isolated events seem aimed at her.
Its a time when she really does need her friends and allies. Can she convince the others though that these events are connected, that its not just random crimes, mindless violence, but a concerted, orchestrated string of events with one aim in mind?
Trouble is she’s not certain of what that is, who exactly is the enemy apart from her family, and mostly how on earth she can defeat them, when she begins to understand exactly who and what is pushing the power struggle.

I love Kit, she’s very genuine, has moments when she’s bitchy, though with all the strain she’s under she’s very composed most of the time, a little letting out has to come.
She’s been through so much and her murderous family don’t seem to want to let her go. Its hard to understand who or what exactly they are, though as the books continue more comes out and I’m beginning to grasp it.

Damon, he’s perfect for her. Protective and yet he knows she doesn’t want wrapping in a blanket, tucked away from danger – it’s hard though as an Alpha and an alpha, to let her run into danger when he just wants to keep it from her.
He’s learned though from the past, is a terrific support when she needs it, cheerleader and motivator when she needs it, and of course the closeness they have, not just the erotic sexual connection but that melding of minds, that two becoming one connection they have is getting deeper all the while.
That’s important as she faces something she thought was years away, the release of some-one who she thought she wouldn’t need to see for a long, long while. Sadly all the murders have brought the vampire population into chaos, and to prevent even more bloodshed the powers that be have decided he needs to be released early…..

Its another great read, full of mayhem, murders, dangers, deceptions, plots, plans, it seems non stop at times and yet its inching closer to a kind of grand finale battle between her and her grandmother.
She’s going to need every ally, every favour, every connection she’s made these last few years if she’s to stop a catastrophe.
We catch up with characters from earlier books and meet a few more new ones. The ending is a kind of cliffhanger, but given we’ve been expecting things to move in this direction from an early stage its not totally unexpected.

Stars: Five, great read, fantastic series.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Witch on Parole, Witch on Parole Book 1, Kay Latour

Witch on Parole, Witch on Parole Book 1, Kay Latour

Witch on Parole by [Latour, Kay]

Genre: sci-fi and fantasy

I love fantasy novels, and this sounded fun – and I did like it, just didn’t love it.
I like Bryn, love the idea of the Frithjof, in fact I love the whole world setting Kay has created but where the story fell short for me was in depth, it felt quite light, surface based kind of story.

There would be some pretty serious issues come up for Bryn, but the way of solving them seemed to me to be a bit too convenient. I love magic in books but it needs to be in balance, its too easy to have a spell or potion that fits a solution to what seems like an unsolvable issue and that just doesn’t work for me. I need my characters to have to struggle, to work for solutions and though Bryn does have to work hard here help too often comes this way, albeit from other sources and it just left me feeling a bit kind of cheated ;-).
But that’s just me, could be perfect for you, its certainly something I’ve read in other stories that didn’t work for me but have made best seller lists. We’re all different and want different things from out reading.

Its a fun story, and of course first books in  a new series have a tough task, delivering new characters, new world settings AND a new story. Sometimes the first in a series hasn’t always hit the spot for me, but I’ve gone on to love further books, so I’ll look for book two and read that before deciding this isn’t a series for me.

Stars: three, a good intro to a new world though a little light in parts.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Rescued by the Wolf, Sasha Summers

Rescued by the Wolf, Sasha Summers

Rescued by the Wolf (Blood Moon Brotherhood) by [Summers, Sasha]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance

I love fantasy and shifter novels are a huge draw for me so I was eager to read this, a new series. I enjoyed it, but it was kind of a “shifters lite” novel, one where there’s so much potential in the story but the sex and romance overtakes the drama.

The characters were OK, not great but not bad eiother. I found things a little glossed over though, for example how easily Olivia puts all the weirdness behind her, how she’s so accepting of shifters. Most people would be climbing the walls terrified, she’s all “oh I must be dreaming, yep, Ill carry on dreaming about sex with this guy I’ve just met” Who must have been pretty whiffy and unsavoury to look at!!After all being tortured for all that while, and barely kept alive means his captors were unlikely to have given him regular access to showers, deodorant and toothbrush!!
Then there’s Mal, one moment he’s Mr Angry, all Others are bad, he’ll wreak vengeance on them all, his Pack are bad, they left him, and then he hears Finn’s explanation and becomes Mr Understanding. Logic doesn’t always play in to emotions but he capitulated on that quite quickly.
Finn was right in what he did, and I know Mal would see that, but a little more internal struggle before accepting would have been good.

When it comes to the Others, well I can see how evil they are, how Finn’s pack needed to protect themsleves but the mystery over the connection the Others had with Olivia’s brother wasn’t hard to guess. Soon as the imported items were mentioned I’d guessed what they were, just surprised that none of the pack did.
I did like the explanation of the origins of Finn’s pack, but I’d like to know more about the origins of the Others, how many of them etc. Though looking back I think I read they didn’t know, so maybe that can’t be done yet but is coming later.
I’d like to know what the pack do on a day to day basis, do they work for Finn, elsewhere, spend the time practicing defence or something?
Why were they so trusting of Ellen. Granted she’s useful with Jess but that wouldn’t have been clear when they first met so why did they take her in? And speaking of her why was she so full of animosity to Olivia and then kept being friendly, then cold, then OK again. I found her very changeable.
I’d like to have known so much more about the pack and the people in it – what about their previous freinds and relatives – did they think they were dead or something? How did the pack first find out about Others and vice versa.

Its a series that holds potential but for me there’s a way to go and I need a few more answers to the basics and a little more reality ( in as much as there can be in Fantasy) in the characters and their (re)actions and the story itself.

Stars: Three, it’s hard for first novels in a series, for me this is OK but doesn’t quite cut it yet.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
 

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