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Booke of the Hidden, Jeri Westerson. Hardheaded, Deep in the Heart Book 1, Kim Law

Booke of the Hidden, Jeri Westerson

Booke of the Hidden by [Westerson, Jeri]

Genre: Sci Fi & Fantasy

I really wanted to like this book, sounded a fun read, and to start I thought it was going to be OK…and parts of it were, its just that there were also some strange parts ( and I don’t mean her name), too many convenient co-incidences, people who she needed to know who just appeared at the right time, too many mysteries and unexplained things that didn’t really seem to lead to much.As for the bikers…the least scary scary people I’ve ever read I think. I’m not sure whether we’re meant to be afraid of them or whether they really are meant to come off as ridiculous as they seem to be.
Its got potential as a series, but for me this isn’t a good start. The characters seemed very stereotypical, rather than genuine, Kylie an odd person – who does that, just ups and starts a tea and herb shop without checking to see if you can actually make a living from it, that there is call for it, there isn’t another already there who do it bigger and better….It was a struggle to finish, and I really wasn’t invested in the story despite really looking forward to it.

Stars: two, sounded good, may get better but a bad start for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Hardheaded, Deep in the Heart Book 1, Kim Law

Hardheaded (Deep in the Heart Book 1) by [Law, Kim]

Genre: General fiction (adult), Romance

I usually love Montlake books, so it came as a bit of a shock that though I liked this book, that was all 😦

Its a good story, has some terrific characters ( I especially liked Little and Big Red!), and the premise of the show added a different edge.
Its just that somehow for me the whole thing failed to really gel, I didn’t really ever feel the settings of the characters were real. That’s so important to me, I read to get lose in another world, to lose this life for a while and immerse myself in another.
Here though I just always felt like an onlooker, so though I enjoyed the story, when I reached the end I didn’t feel sad, didn’t miss characters I’d come to love, and I know its a story that’s a one time read only for me.

I can’t really explain why I feel this way. Its possibly that all the characters were so nice, and I use that word deliberately. There wasn’t any nastiness, jealousies, the closest it got was Marci ( I think that was her name ) calling Jill a two-bit orphan, or something along those lines.
With all these “good” characters there wasn’t any friction, and for me that  makes a book.

I love it when sparks fly, I love some genuine temper. Though Jill flipped a couple of times it wasn’t as if she didn’t have provocation, and that’s the only hint of any real drama I felt.
The issues between Jill and Cal were really storm-in-a-teacup, and I just couldn’t see how they were so at odds about what the other wanted, how the other felt when they were supposed to be so close, so in love. Yes they were young when they married but did they ever actually talk to each other?
I just couldn’t see things would play out as they did and it didn’t feel right.

Stars: Three, a decent read, but lacked real emotion and drama for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Nocturne, (Hours of the Night 2), Irene Preston, Liv Rancourt

Nocturne, (Hours of the Night 2), Irene Preston, Liv Rancourt

Nocturne (Hours of the Night Book 2) by [Preston, Irene, Rancourt, Liv]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

Vampires, supernatural suspense, M/M romance – what’s not to love? This is a great series but don’t start here, read books 1 and 1.5 or you’ll be lost.

Even though I’ve done that there are times when i needed to do a mental backtrack just to recall who fits where and how…There are some great characters here but the cast gets larger, with each book building on both short and long term story arcs, and that makes the whole thing pretty complex.

Sara: I love him, open, cheerful, confident in his sexuality and very much in love with Thad. He’s 23 and has a wonderful joy about him that makes him feel young, but not immature. He’s on the fence about the Monks, but respects Thad’s devotion to them, his quest for redemption.
I’m with him about them, not so sure they are the good guys they appear to be, and irritated at the way they use Thad’s guilt over what he is for their own ends. They withhold information to suit themselves and don’t worry about danger to Thad, seem to see him as dispensable.
There’s one bit where they are meeting with Brother Michael – I think it was him – and Sara remarks on the surrounds, very luxurious and Michael says that the monks give up all material wealth when they join. As Sara thinks you’d imagine that would mean they live frugally, but somehow they make it so they’re living in the lap of luxury. Pretty much like real life religion for many…..
Thad: He’s young in age, about 30ish I think but actually 115, and he’s got that historical mindset in many ways.
He was going to become a monk- or was one – when he was changed, and carries such guilt about what he is, calls the vampire part Le Monstre, and his work with the Monks is to atone for that. Like Sara, I think they use his guilt for their own ends.
It must be hard when so long has been spent suppressing his sexuality, thinking it a sin, and then finding Sara and falling in love. I love the way we get the closeness, the tenderness between them without need for overt sexuality. Some books it fits to read about characters sex lives in detail, in this one it would just feel wrong, the way its handled discreetly is exactly the way Thad would be. Anything more just wouldn’t fit his personality.

There are new and old characters here, Mardi Gras festival celebrations, Demons and Witches and lots of supernatural issues. They still need to track down the missing book, and Michael also tasks them with finding out who killed a relative of his and protecting his young twin relatives, Jo and Sep.
Its a tangled tale, and of course Nohea, Thad’s awesome kick – a$$ assistant is still angry about her missing baby niece, and they’re trying to track her down.

A busy book for the trio, full of the usual suspense, dangers, twisted clues and the Monks machinations. another great read.

Stars: four and a half, it didn’t quite rivet me as the first two, I found parts a little confusing, but still an excellent read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by authors.

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

Hooked on a Witch, Zoe Forward

Hooked on a Witch, Zoe Forward

Hooked On A Witch (Keepers of the Veil) by [Forward, Zoe]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

I loved book one in this series, somehow missed books two and three, but saw this and wanted to read it, expecting I’d love it as much as book one.
I didn’t 😦 Its still a good story but for me didn’t feel genuine, the characters were a bit meh.
Maybe if I’d read the missing middle two? Who knows?

I was a bit confused at times over the Pleiades witches, who was dead, who was living which i think reading the missing books would have clarified. I seemed to be reading that Shannon was last in the line, but then reading others existed…not sure how that worked, clearly there’s more to them than i understand. My bad for missing those two middle ones.

Anyway Shannon and Merck, instant lust, but they have a tiny shared history. I don’t really get why her dad is so against him nor why she is so, well, obedient. I know she loves him, I know he’s grieving the lose of his wife, her mum, but she seems to have always done what daddy says and yet she’s not some teen, she’s a grown woman with skills of her own. that just irritated me.

The drama too is a bit wham, bam, bad guys killed, good guys injured and close to death but hey- a bit of magic sorts that out just in time.
I can take that once, maybe twice in a story but it seems to crop up every time here and I need a bit more of a solution than simply magic, whether potions or spells or healing waters etc.

Merck, yep he’s a witch hunter but…only the bad guys, not all witches. I found his history and the various Gods and Demi-Gods a bit confusing too.
I did read to the end but TBH much of the story just passed me by, I either didn’t like the way solutions were found, or didn’t really understand the connections.It just felt too muddled for me. Maybe if I read books 2 and 3 at some point I’ll come back to this one, but I doubt it because it contains too many insta-fix solutions and they’re one of my pet peeves.

Stars: hard to rate, it’s loved by others but for me it just didn’t work so I’m going two. As ever though this is just my view, you may love it.

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

The Dark Interest ,(The Dark Choir 4), Book FOUR of The Dark Choir, J.P. Sloan

The Dark Interest ,(The Dark Choir 4), Book FOUR of The Dark Choir, J.P. Sloan

The Dark Interest (The Dark Choir Book 4) by [Sloan, J.P.]

Genre:general fiction (adult), sci-fy and fantasy

I’ve been with this since book one, and TBH its such a complex series you need to do that. It’s full of difficult characters, real world and Old World, and demons of course, charms, hexes, curses, murders, mayhem and magic and without knowing the backstory you’ll get lost. I do know the events that have passed and yet at times I’m lost ;-), but always manage to work it out somehow.  It’s a sereis outside my comfort zone, that I fell into by accident but that I’ve come to love.

What I love is that the author mixes up fiction with Fact, with magics that had a real following at one time – probably still do in certain circles. So each time I see an unusual word I think – aha, this time he’s made this up – and then check and find its some ancient language, or shade of magic, or a weapon that’s used for certain purposes or something like that. I’ve learned so much about magic since starting this, that its not a one-size-fits-all, but that in the past (and present) it took many different shapes, evolved through some very different practices.
And I’m talking as if it’s all real, but reading this it feels real. There are some well respected people in the world who still believe in these practices, and then I think – how come, all over the world each different group through the ages had had the same belief, but taken different routes to it? Or maybe its just human need to believe in something greater than us, something beyond this world..
It’s not really a big stretch considering billions believe in a book written centuries ago, believe in a God who’s really only a word of mouth figure.We don’t have empirical proof, we  can’t Know for certain he exists, that Heaven is real, but yet billions believe it.

Well, I guess that’s why I enjoy these books, they’re complex and yet readable, they have a solid story-line, some very real characters, both pleasant and horribly dangerous, those who just want to live and love their families and get on with life, and those hungry for power, magical, political, they don’t care. In the middle is Dorian.

I’ve always felt he’s on the side of good, not a particular do-gooder, but someone with his own morals and beliefs that he lives by, who tries to do the Right thing, not just the easy thing.
Along the way he’s had so many issues, starting with his lost soul, and its taken him on a very strange and complex journey.
He’s always worked alone, had his few good friends, been respected and never sought Power for its own sake, and yet he’s become embroiled in some dodgy and dark magical practices, got involved in politics against his wishes, gets pulled into different groups and is still searching for his soul.

Its another deep and dark, and at times complex read. Dorian is tempted hard in this story, confused, trying in his usual way to protect humanity and his friends, but all the while his soul is missing and he’s struggling to get it back.
I love that his magic isn’t a wave of a hand and a few muttered words, quick fix solution, but takes work, real work, if he wants to avoid the Dark side, the world of sacrifices. Yet his new lady, Annarose does just that, and how is he to mix her and how he feels about her, with his morals and how he feels about that?
Is the Utilitarian excuse, for the Greater Good, sacrifice one for many really a good reason, or a cop out?

Its a novel full of danger for Dorian, more than we’ve seen so far, and he’s had some tight escapes. Once more he’s in the centre of some dark forces but who or what is pushing them?
It takes time before he can see the bigger picture and he makes some very dangerous enemies along the way. And that ending….I hate it when that happens 😉

Stars: five, classic Dorian, anther rivetting adventure and complicated read. A real change from so much Light and Twee Magic reads.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Catching a Witch: Heidi Eljarbo, Touch of Night, Carin Rafferty

 

Catching a Witch: A Novel of Loyalty, Deception, and Superstition, Heidi Eljarbo

Catching a Witch: A Novel of Loyalty, Deception, and Superstition by [Eljarbo, Heidi]

Genre: Historical

I take a dip into historical novels every now and then and this one, covering the period when Witch-hunters were very active caught my eye. I’m very intrigued by the way the mass hysteria took hold so easily. seems weird to us now but I guess superstition abounded then when people had so little control over their lives, when animals sickened and died, crops failed, people were dogged by what seems like bad luck – and of course they wanted someone to blame. It was a way too of seeking vengeance for imagines or petty insults. Throw in the misogynistic men and its a recipe for disaster.
Disaster is just what happens when a student of the famed Matther Hopkin arrives in the sleepy little village where Clara lives. We see at first hand just how easy it is to whip up hatred, for innocent gestures to take on insidious meanings, for those who used herbs to heal others to be accuses of using witchcraft. Over it all is the witch-hunter and his self important acolytes in the village men. Not all of them, some stay fast but of course no-one dare speak out for fear of being the next accused. All except Clara, who does her best to stop the awful “trials” where in reality ladies stood no chance, once accused it was like a death sentence.
Its a scary thought but I could see people acting in a very similar way if this were to take place now. some people seem so full of bitterness, jealousy, a need to blame everyone but themselves and I’ve no doubt they would happily convince themsleves they were doing the right thing. we see so much hatred every day to anyone the slightest bit different from their peers and that would easily translate into a story like this today. 😦
I felt the historical aspect of the novel was well done, it was very realistic and genuine. I did feel the pacing was very slow for me though. some books need that but with this one I found it dragged in parts. I expected Clara’s friend to be accused sooner, but its almost halfway through before that happens. I didn’t feel “in” the story much of the time, but an observer, and found myself losing interest in sections. Overall I enjoyed it but it’s not a story I’d re-read.
Stars: three and a half. I enjoyed parts of it a lot, but other sections seemed very slow paced.

Touch of Night, The Sanctuary Series Book 1, Carin Rafferty

Touch of Night (The Sanctuary Series Book 1) by [Rafferty, Carin]

Genre: sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

Well, the description sounded interesting, but sadly this wasn’t one for me.

Lucien isn’t anyone to aspire to IMO, he cares about the coven, even though he’s been cast out, but his attitudes to mortals…well, he’s pretty scathing and rude.
Ariel wants to find her twin, the police won’t help and Lucien at first won’t either. Then he will…and that sets the tone for the book.

Both characters constantly change their minds, decide one thing and do another, don’t talk, focus on irrelevant issues, and disrespect the other. The same things are explained over and over, in case the reader just can’t quite grasp it.

I think the biggest issue for me though was the sex.
No matter what the problem sex in some form was the answer, even though Ariel says she doesn’t like Lucien, doesn’t trust him, just wants to find her brother. Lucien would never take a mortal for a mate, doesn’t like her, doesn’t find her attractive yet wants/has to have sex with her all the while. Reading minds, yep he needs to read her mind but they have to connect with sex, connecting with Armand, more sex, finding out who the strange warlock is, yep sex again….you’ve got it, sex is the answer to everything.

I like sex in a story, but it needs to fit, the story and reasons need to be strong enough and for me this just didn’t feel right.
Even the end I still felt they didn’t like each other and suddenly – bam- everything is perfect.

I won’t be continuing with the series, but as ever this is just my opinion, you may feel very differently. Others have 5 star loved it, so you chose.

Stars: Two, a miss for me.

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
 

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

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