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The Black Lily, Juliette Cross

The Black Lily,  Juliette Cross

The Black Lily (Tales of the Black Lily) by [Cross, Juliette]

Genre: Romance,

I’ve read a few of Juliette’s stories, and liked the sound of this. Vampires? Romance? yep, two of my tick boxes 😉
What did make me hesitate was the Cinderella connection. I’m not a fan of fairy-tale rewrites generally, I’ve read too many that mirror the original so closely there’s nothing fresh in the story, but this one is fine.
The storyline is only very loosely followed, in fact most of the story is pure Juliette original, maybe 5-10% follows Cinderella and that’s fine by me!

We meet Arabelle, AKA the Black Lily, with her friend Deek, the blacksmith,  planning an audacious assassination of the vampire Prince Marius at a ball later that evening.
She and her band of followers have been planning this carefully, she has the gown, the jewels, the mask, a fairy-tale carriage, albeit borrowed as are the gown and jewels, and most important, a gold edged knife to kill him. Vampires in this series are killed by gold, though royals have to be stabbed in the heart for it to be fatal. No pressure there then Arabelle.
Why are they out to kill him? Well, seems vampires aren’t sticking to the laws, and the peasants arte being drained, first an odd few but more and more recently. Arabelle’s mother died this way and she’s determined to stop the slaughter.

I love the way the planning was explained, there wasn’t a magic wand ( well unless you call a certain part of Deek’s anatomy that, he uses it well to “persuade” people to lend things for the cause…. There’s lots of planning, they’ve spent months on this, even down to Arabelle swapping her outdoor chores for one of the staff’s indoor ones, so her skin gets a chance to lighten, helped also by her own cosmetic preparations. She doesn’t just dress up and hope for the best, but plans, works to make it a success.
I need that in a story, need to understand the how and the why, when something just falls into place at the right time without any effort it just doesn’t work for me.

Of course she doesn’t manage to kill him, it’d be a short book if she did…but he gets close to her and is entranced, enamoured by her even though she wanted him dead.
As it happens she was surprised by her attraction to him, surprised by their conversation. He wasn’t what she expected.
Marius is determined to find her, find out why she tried to kill him, to just get to know her better. He wants her, and not as a prisoner for an attempt on his life. Of course his royal parents aren’t quite of the same mind.
There follows captures and escapes, plans and plots, deals and steals, barters and betrayals…its a fun read, especially when we meet the Hart Wolves, and Sienna.

I really liked Marius, he was a Vampire, but one of the good guys, they’re not all heartless, blood-thirsty killers and he has no idea what’s been going on. His one failing is assuming everyone is happy, what will he do now he knows otherwise?
I really wanted him and Arabelle to find a way together but when they’re on such opposing sides its a hard ask.

There’s some great characters here, some fun adventure and it adds up to an enjoyable read, when the final denouement is revealed I could have kicked myself ( metaphorically – its hard to do that when you’ve only one leg, I’d just fall over!)
Its so obvious and yet…like I suspect most readers, I simply didn’t see that coming, followed the trail led before me very obligingly.

Its not deep, dark, drama but light and fun, with some real excitement at times, some plots that were very realistic and no quick instant, unbelievable fixes, but ones where people worked for them.
Arabelle wasn’t a sweet, helpless female, not yet a kiss ar$e heroine, but someone who felt real, who was a natural leader and worked hard for what she wanted to achieve. There were some excellent support characters too, that fitted the storyline very well.
I love the descriptions of the gowns, the fabulous Glass Palace, and the minutiae of everyday life brought in that made things feel real.

Its ends on a good spot but leaving the way open for more and I’ll be happy to read the next story.

Stars: five, a great relaxing read, fun story, light drama and adventure.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Every Little Thing, Samantha Young. Souljacker, Yasmine Galenorn

Today I’m planning to read the latest Mercy Thompson novel,  Silence Fallen, Patricia Briggshttp://amzn.to/2mkqZJd That’s my all time favourite series, and author, and I’ve got another great book to read from a couple of days back, Jeanine Frost’s Into the fire, the final Night Prince novel

http://amzn.to/2mWvZoW I loved this series when it started, but unlike the Briggs one its an ongoing story rather than each book having one main theme that’s part of an ongoing story. TBH its taken so long I’ve kind of lost the impetus that made me love it. Maybe I’ll start from first book and pick it up that way. Then I log in to netgalley and see I’ve been approved for three more reads, among them one from the Queen of rock band reads, Kylie Scott for Twist, the latest Dive Bar novel, a spin off from the wonderful Stage Dive books

http://amzn.to/2m10cin So, housework? Tidying ready for selling house? Gardening – well that’s an easy out, its raining….

And a couple of reviews today

Every Little Thing,  Samantha Young

Every Little Thing (Hart's Boardwalk Book 2) by [Young, Samantha]

Genre:  romance, erotica

Like thousands of readers I got sucked in to the magic of Samantha’s romances by way of the wonderful Joss and Braden, in On Dublin street, and their book is still one of my all time favourites.
I’ve read several from that series and enjoyed them and have been looking forward to this new series. Tjis one is tagged Erotica, but to me its more eotic romance, a great romance but withsome hot and steamy sex rather than just erotica,

I enjoyed the first book, The One real Thing, but wasn’t blown away by it. First books do have  a hard job though, and few achieve the great start that Dublin Street did.
The couple that intrigued me the most in book one were Bailey and Vaughn – the ST between those two jumps of the page! They had sparks jumping between them at every meeting, and the caustic wit the two share had me smiling widely.

Bailey is so bright and bubbly, always out to help others, see that everyone is happy, so running her Inn is perfect for her. Still, the awful Devlin family are trying to find a way to oust her, they want to own as much of the town as they can and have used some very dirty tricks in the past. I love the way Bailey not only stands up to them but uses her sharp wit against them.
She’s been with boyfriend Tom now for ten years, hoping that they will marry and have a family soon. She’s in for a big shock though….and it changes things between her and Vaughn.
They’ve always hate a hate hate relationship, but underneath that everyone feels that its defensive on both sides, and it really seems to have started with Vaughn rebuffing the open friendship Bailey offered him when he arrived, the same as she does to everyone. He wasn’t impressed at her initial opposition to his plans for his new hotel, and things went downhill from there.

Its clear Vaughn is attracted to her, and just as clear he doesn’t want to be. He’s always been Mr No Commitment and it suits him, but he knows that Bailey spells danger to that, and seems to use his acerbic wit as a defence even as he cringes inside at what he’s saying. Bailey responds likewise, they both bring out the worst in each other, but that gives some terrific scenes for the reader.

Its a real romance here, but a long time coming, with many forward and back journeys that had me inwardly screaming at them! Of course that’s perfect for me as it brings bucket loads of angst and emotion.

As with all Samantha’s romances its not just a two person story, but brings in many others, some from book one, some who look set to become future books. Story seeds, those hints of what/who might be next. Its always fun to try to spot them, and I think I’ve got a couple here, there are some individuals who really intrigue me. Quiet, shy Emory, what’s her story? Why is she so reserved, so closed off? Dahlia, she seems to have lots of things to reveal, and we’ve only seen her as a very secondary character. Jack Devlin, met him in book one, and he’s here too, and still as much a puzzle as ever. I can’t believe he’s really such a bad guy, and yet the things he’s done, and does here too seem to point in that direction, then he does a couple that point the other way. Even Vaughn’s dad has potential, not as a main character IMO, but maybe a secondary romance thread in a book? He’s certainly got the heart and character for it.

Its a great read, I loved it, was entranced by Bailey and Vaughn, loved the puzzle of their relationship. I did wonder about a few characters in here, Vanessa, will she make a return later, Jack, how can Cooper’s former best friend change so much, do what he does, and of course Vaughn’s awful friend Oliver. What on earth did those two ever have in common?
There’s a couple of surprises towards the end that I didn’t see coming ( and one I did!) and it makes me wonder if they’re future plots in later books?
.
Stars: Five, a great read, perfect blend of sensual romance and solid story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Souljacker, A Lily Bound Novel,  Yasmine Galenorn

Souljacker: A Lily Bound Novel by [Galenorn, Yasmine]

Genre:  paranormal and fantasy

Hmnnn, succubus – they’re not characters that really feel empathetic are they? I put off reading Richelle Mead’s wonderful Georgia Kinkaid series for ages simply because I could not see how an author could make a succubus into a person I’d understand, feel I want them to be happy, and yet I was so, so wrong. Add in Jill Myles terrific Succubus reads and you can see just how very wrong my first thoughts were.
So if you’re like me, take a deep breath and prepare to be surprised.
I’ve enjoyed some of Yasmine’s other reads, so I was familiar with her writing style. the story jumps right in with a death at Lily’s house, one of her top clients has been murdered. Not good for business, nor is the fact her clients wife is on the warpath and as a powerful and influential were she can – and does – do immense damage to Lily’s business. So far its worked giving her an income, keeping her alive through sex with Supernaturals, she’s found in the past humans are just far too fragile, and wants to avoid killing people.

In this society Vampires aren’t the Romance kind, but irrational, dangerous killers. Once turned little of the human remains, and they simply lust for blood, sex and power, and have become so dangerous that vampire kills aren’t even investigated by the police any more. That leaves Lily and her friends on their own, as a Vampire Execution the police simple pass on the murder, but she does get given the name of a chaos demon who might help. And Lily and her friends need that help when they learn the killer wants them dead too….

I like Lily, she’s just trying to live, trying to keep her friends safe, enjoy life and she’s found a way that avoids killing humans, something that happened in the past to her and hurts her conscience.
She has some good friends, witch Dani, human Nate, Marsh the…Ghost? spirit? whatever, he’s someone from Lily’s past who’s returned out of the blue, and of course Whiskas the cat – who’s more than a cat, though decidedly not a shifter.
Lily herself belong to the dark Fae court, and we meet the Queen, Wynter in this book. Scary woman, and she’s very powerful. You don’t live for thousands of years without learning a few things.
Archer the chaos demon turns out to be not the type Lily feared, Demons don’t get great press, but in fact he’s a true gentleman, luckily attracted to Lily, and they’re in the throes of him helping her with sex feeding, and maybe they’re developing something more. I didn’t get a great feeling of romance here, its pretty clear one is meant to be starting but I wasn’t really convinced of anything more than a bit of lust between them. Maybe that just takes time, sometimes its better that way.

Its a fun read, a story with elements of many types of creatures thrown in, Vampires, demons, ghosts,witches,  Fae and of course Lily and Whiskas.
In a way that kind of affected the story for me, there were so many different types of character, so much going on that the murders almost took second place. When the climax (Hah!!) came it was almost missing for me, they’d had so many scrapes already that it seemed like it was just one more.

I enjoyed this but I’m waiting for book two to see how the series develops, it didn’t keep me gripped as I’d expected. At times it just felt a little muddled as there was so much happening in a relatively short space of time and pages (GR has it at 292 pages) or 3552 kindle locations.

Stars: Three. Maybe as this continues I’ll feel more for it, its tough for first books in a new series.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Witchfinder’s Sister, Beth Underdown

The Witchfinder’s Sister,  Beth Underdown

The Witchfinder's  Sister by [Underdown, Beth]

Genre:  General Fiction, Mystery and Thrillers

I can’t find any info about previous books so I think this must be Beth’s debut novel – and what an intense and complex read for a first story!

Its so well written I was pulled back into that time, back to the seventeenth century. I’m a UK reader, living in Norfolk, so reading about Matthew and Alice living in the Eastern region of UK, I had a mental image of places I know now as they would have been back then. My house was build in 1682 – strange to think of it still standing ( and for a long while yet I hope!!) when it was built such a short time after these events. Mix of the old and the current…

So, Matthew Hopkins- I recall learning about him at school, along with the US Salem witch trials. The Crucible was one of our set text English reads.
He’s cropped up as a side character in a few books since then, but I’ve never really thought much more about him. Here Beth’s given him a fictional sister, though he may have had a real one Alice is purely invented for this story. It works well, she’s a foil to him, shared upbringing, and a way to let us see his actions from someone who loved him as a child but grew scared and confused of the man he became.

He’s a strange person, and as we learn about his upbringing there are elements slowly revealed that could have impacted upon his actions now. Others have had far worse happen though, and don’t turn into people like him, so its part explanation but not as simple as the whole cause.
He really was a enigmatic character, phlegmatic about what he needed to do, unemotional, even when it means tearing apart, condemning to death, people he’s known since childhood. I can’t decide whether he’s just cruel, vindictive, out for revenge, totally mad or whether he really believes in what he’s doing.
From a small start his witch hunt takes on a life of its own and snowballs, and maybe the power pushed him to go further and further, made him feel righteous, invincible? Who knows, and after finishing the story I still don’t know.
Beth offers lots to speculate about but the reality? He was real, he did what we now see as horrific things, but which at the time were backed by other important people, landowners, local politicians – well, what passed for them in those days, the Church even. It was as if nothing could stop him from this path he’s set on, and the longer he was “successful” the more righteous he got. Success bred more of the same methods, even when the causes of it were wrong.
Its a bit like that sink or swim test, he was pushing people to their limits physically and mentally and when they “confessed” through exhaustion, pain, thirst, would say anything to get some tiny relief he seized upon it as evidence his path was right, and went even further.

Alice, poor Alice. Her mother died when she was very young, father remarried and had Matthew, but his birth left his mother frail and Alice really took over his upbringing, loving and looking after him.
Even then the public face, showing the happy family outside, the father who was a priest, a good man, the mother who simply tired easily, was hiding things, secrets that kept slipping quietly out, and building background to the current events.
I so felt for Alice, she’s a good woman, widowed from her beloved Joseph, a servant’s son, whom Matthew did not approve of, she’s still young, in her twenties I think, and forced to come back and live off Matthews charity.
She can see events unfolding, sees at first hand what’s going on but is powerless to stop anything. She tries though, tries to do what she can but Matthew is an unmovable force. Her small brother has grown into a confident and powerful man.
He takes little note of her, and at times seems to really dislike her. she becomes just another tool for him to use in his never ending quest for witches. Too much pressure or intervention and she risks her own place in his home at best, risks getting caught up in the hunt at worst.
Its a tough line, being brought up to help people and then forced to stand aside as those you’ve known since childhood are tested for what seems like petty grievances, revenges, spurious accusations…

Witch hunts, back then not knowing the cause of events, accidents, tragedies, people looked for someone to blame, and it was easy to pick on one person a little on the outside of society, and call witchcraft and the intervention of the Devil the cause.
Now we look back and think how could they really believe that, but its a poor, uneducated society, and its human to want to blame someone or something.
Not every thing has an explanation though, and there are a couple of events here that gave me the shivers, defied rational thinking.

Sometimes I think we haven’t moved on that much, we still look to blame others, though not as witches but in some 21st century way.
In the UK we’ve just voted to leave Europe, mainly because of the hype and untruths certain media factions told about immigration, and it brought up the same kind of feelings as in this book, where people want to blame someone for misfortune. In the UK lack of money for NHS and other public services was blamed on immigration – scaremongering, but a spark that when fanned turned into a fire.
Hitler did that back in the 1940’s with his attempts to stamp out minority groups, terrible things happened as those who could have stopped it turned a blind eye, much as those in power when Matthew Hopkins let him get away with his crimes.
Then there’s the US and the political system there, where another modern witch hunt has let a racist, sexist, xenophobic bigot race to the top place for power. Scary stuff but proves that witch hunts aren’t just confined to history – but have their own modern day version 😦 “The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing” Edmund Burke et al.

A fabulous book, uncomfortable reading at times, which felt so very real, took me back in time, made me understand a little more about the awful events that took place back then.
The characters were wonderful, felt so real, I was scared for and of them, depending on which ones of course.
I loved the way secrets were teased before the reader, parts revealed slowly, hints of what may have been relevant or may be just superstition taunted through, making me second guess my thoughts. In fact its not until writing this that I’ve connected a couple of major points that could have been the catalyst for Matthew’s quest.
Its a fascinating first book, well researched, marrying real events and people with fictional ones to create an amazing story. I’m not sure its one I’d reread but its certainly one I’m glad to have read.

Stars: Five, incredible book, uncomfortable at times but so very, very real feeling.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and publisher

Midnight Curse, Disrupted Magic: Book 1, Melissa F. Olson

Midnight Curse, Disrupted Magic: Book 1,  Melissa F. Olson

Midnight Curse (Disrupted Magic Book 1) by [Olson, Melissa F.]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, general fiction (adult).

I found Melissa’s books by way of the Boundary Magic reads on KU – I love KU!! Risk free way of trying books for a small sum each month. Melissa’s novels tend to be in trilogies with some side ones in novella form.
I think if I’d come to this one without having read any of the others maybe I’d have struggled a bit more, as it is I missed the last Scarlett novel – it’s on my kindle for reading now 🙂 – and there were things I didn’t wholly follow.
Its a stand alone read though, even though part of a trilogy. this particular story wraps up but its clear there’s more to come.

I love the characters in this series, vampires and werewolves, witches – with a very, very few boundary witches who specialise in death magic, and Scarlett, a null – someone who temporarily wipes out paranormal elements whenshe is close to them, so vampires and werewolves are human when next to her, and witches unable to use their powers. Evens out the field a bit!

Scarlett has been involved with the supernatural world for sometime, and lives with werewolf Eli. She gets a strange message from Molly, a good friend some time ago but they’ve not seen each other for years. She takes Shadow, her Bargest ( sort of supernatural dog) and goes to see what’s wrong. Scarlett is like that, when someone needs help she wants to give it if she can. She gets a horrible surprise though when she finds Molly blood soaked and her 12 housemates dead….

Of course the Vampire Trials are coming up next day, a two day event held every three years where the three supernatural leaders gather with their members and decide over grievances. Scarlett knows the punishment for killing like this is death, but Molly doesn’t know why she did it, its not her nature, nor really any vampire, to kill and feed this way.
She wants to prove Molly was set up, but time is short. the other leaders aren’t looking beyond the obvious, and the perpetrator behind events seems determined to get Molly killed at the trials.

Its another riveting, exciting read. Scarlett has changed a lot from last time I read about her, and she’s grown in confidence and ability.
She likes her job, feels she’s doing something useful, and even though it brings her into danger again and again, she thrives in the planning and doing of making things right. Eli isn’t so happy, they love each other but he can’t understand why she persists in doing this job that risks her life again and again, and she can’t seem to make him understand its what makes her happy. Rock and hard place, and I felt for them both.

Jesse is back in a big way in this book. I love Jesse, but the poor guy is in a rough place, taken for a ride by his ex wife, who wanted his fame and money more than him. Tough stuff. When Scarlett seeks his help he’s not keen at first but soon the deadly duo are back in action. They really do work well together, trusting each other and knowing what each can and can’t do.
With Shadow’s help they’ve a huge task ahead, find the perpetrators and bring them in quickly or Molly dies. Vampires – actually all Supernaturals, have a harsh but much needed rule, risking humans knowing about them means death. Its too big a thing to do half measures, there are rarely excuses accepted, so Scarlett and Jesse need to find out what’s going on ASAP.

Once more I loved the story, loved the characters and the way it all played out. There are no hated “quick fix” solutions here, those where someone gets a new, unheard of so unpractised power just at the crucial moment. I hate those, I want what happens here, where the solutions come from attributes we already know about, from skills practiced, from accepted traits of the characters.
Its got a kind of bittersweet ending, one that made me sad but also made me think maybe what I wanted from very early in these books might finally happen…..

Stars: Five, a great start to another trilogy 🙂 I’m looking forward to more.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Turn, The Hollows Begins with Death, Kim Harrison

The Turn, The Hollows Begins with Death,  Kim Harrison

The Turn: The Hollows Begins with Death (Hollows Prequel) by [Harrison, Kim]

Genre:  Sci-fi and fantasy

I’d just been thinking it was maybe time for a reread of Kim’s Hollows, a fab series, one of the first I bought when I got Kindle number 1.
Its not a light, fluffy, romance + alpha hero tale, but one with some dark moments, demons that aren’t all romantic underneath, vampires who’re out only for themselves, and will kill without a second thought if they think they need to, werewolves, witches, pixies and fairies, and ley line magic, lots of that. And yet wrapped up in that IS a romance, the story isn’t some dark, macabre horror as it sounds, and there’s so much fun, so much mystery as to what can and will happen. Great characters and it’s a series you can read over and over.

So seeing a prequel I was excited, its several years since I first read it but I can remember feeling confused about parts of The Turn, what exactly happened, and how and why, so this is just perfect for both folk new to the Hollows, and for those of us who’ve read it but got questions.
We meet mainly Trent’s parents, see how they got together and I’m ashamed to say I can barely remember anything of them from the main series. They’re both clever scientists, leaders in their field and have a fierce rivalry.
Trent’s dad Kal is a total jerk, viciously cruel, totally amoral, made me see a bit where Trent got his initial prejudice from. He’s always done his best to knock down Trisk from when they were kids, his jealousy knowing no bounds. I did feel for him a bit when we read about how much of his childhood was spent in pain, knew about the constant surgeries and tweaks to his genetic code he’d had. That’s tough on any child.
Doesn’t excuse the way he was so cruel to Trisk though, always reminding her she was an upstart Dark Elf, not like the Kalamacks with their long heritage keeping them pure. Trouble is though those Pure Elves, the bloodlines they were so proud of, was what was helping them die out, they were having huge issues reproducing.
Poor Trisk is hampered too by the 60’s view of females, little women that should be chained to the kitchen popping out babies, certainly not leading scientific advancements, that should be left to the men. If by chance they did make a break through, well they should be pleased a man would take over and get it published and maybe let their name be credited as one of many helpers….Gah! that was so spot on, I was just a kid then but is so how life was! I love Trisk, one of the good people, who wants to do what’s right, regardless of personal cost.
Her human colleague Daniel is another like her, and he was a terrific addition. Made it easy to see how the whole coming out to humans part was decided. There were people for and against, but with Daniel in front of them, the way he’d dealt with such a lot in a short time and still helped those not human as well as the humans helped sway the decision.
Along with Orchid of course, who was a great character and help fill the missing shoes of Jenks. I can’t write his name without thinking “Tink’s little red panties” – he had a phrase for every occasion, and Orchid has a similar curse ridden mouth!
We meet Quen too, a young Quen and maybe an explanation for why he’s always been so loyal to Trent. I love Quen, always the man in the background, always there protecting, overseeing and yet unseen much of the time.
Alongside that there’s Al the demon of course, Piscary, Rhynn, and a few others from the main series.
Another reviewer mentioned Rachel’s dad, and I can’t recall much about him, and missed that – I need to go back and look…I’m sure there’s other nods to the main series I’ve missed.

Stars: Five, a fabulous story, well worth reading before or after the main series.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Devil’s Russian Beauty, Book two of the Werewolves of Rebellion Series, Ana Lee Kennedy

The Devil’s Russian Beauty, Book two of the Werewolves of Rebellion Series,  Ana Lee Kennedy

The Devil's Russian Beauty: Book two  of the Werewolves of Rebellion Series by [Kennedy, Ana Lee]

Genre:  romance, sci-fi and fantasy

I really enjoyed the first in this series and was looking forward to this one. First books in a series have a tough job and I usually find I like succeeding ones better, as the setting is in place and the story can concentrate on events and characters and not just world building and intros.
I found this book to be a bit under-whelming though, and in fact didn’t enjoy it as much as the first.

I didn’t feel the chemistry that Bernadette and Frank had, that I loved, between Phil and Daffi, they felt like good friends more than potenital mates/lovers. Apart from the werewolf pheromones making them sexually attracted I didn’t feel there was a real relationship in the making here. I liked them both, just didn’t feel that magic connection with them.
In book one I commented on Scary Mary and mentioned my pet hate of where people have some unused/unknown supernatural talent which comes in just at the right moment. Sadly that crops up once more here, and it just doesn’t work for me, I want them to use skills I know about, and that have been learned solidly. Its a quick fix solution I really dislike, and I felt it let the story down. We had all that build up, then its done and dusted quickly, and I don’t really know how it happened except “its magic”.
I never did go for the non explanation, whether real life or in my fiction reads….

I love this idea of a werewolf MC, that succeeds through hard work, friendship and trust. I’m not a great MC reader, usually as the heroes seem to think speaking in words of not more than two syllables is conversation, and sex is two or three thrusts, an orgasm for him and the female should be happy he chose her. Oh and a few obligatory beatings…
Yeah, I know, they’re not all quite like that but the few I read gave me that impression and I avoid them.
Here though Anna has created a club I love, one where everyone deserves and gets respect, where they all work together, and its a great setting, especially with the werewolf connection.
If only the magic side could be sorted, no more quick fixes, and a bit more connection between characters so the chemistry steams, as it did with Frank and Bernadette, then I’d love it.
Sadly this book was more of an OK read than one I couldn’t put down, though I’d still be happy to give the next book a chance.
Could just be this story, this couple that didn’t fit so well with me, there’s such potential in the world Anna has created IMO.

Stars: Three, less quick fixes and more long term skills for me please.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Curse Mandate, (The Dark Choir 3), Book THREE of The Dark Choir, J.P. Sloan

The Curse Mandate, (The Dark Choir 3), Book THREE of The Dark Choir,  J.P. Sloan

The Curse Mandate (The Dark Choir Book 3) by [Sloan, J.P.]

Genre:  Horror, Sci-fi and fantasy

Currently on KU

I NEVER read horror, and if I’d seen that I wouldn’t have come to this series. Its not a gory, blood-fest read though, and for me the horror is more of the “could this happen” type and I can deal with that. I really enjoyed books one and two, and was keen to get on to this.

Poor Dorian, you really can’t help but like him. He’s a very moral person in so many ways, just wants to live his life, earn a living and have fun, but he’s a magnet for trouble and sometimes his sense of morality leads him to tread very close to the permitted lines in magic.
He’s still searching for his soul, lost in book one, well – more he was tricked out of it than he lost it. Once more his need to help others got him into danger.
Alongside that though he’s got other problems, he’s got a new pupil, her brother needs help as he’s been cursed, there’s some wierd Chaos magic targeting people and places, and he’s trying to get to the root of that, trying to stop more people being hurt, and on top of that he’s a bar to run as part owner! Just another day for Dorian then..He feels like he’s always trying to catch up, and the next huge crisis is just aroubnd the corner.

As before the story is packed with magical terms, spells, curses, hexes and explanations of how different historic (genuine – they did/do exist) factions fit into this story. He’s an amazing man with incredible knowledge of his craft and its history, and I found myself constantly flicking the paperwhite Look-up function 🙂
The fact there is so much of this book based on genuine societies gives it a very realistic feel.
I love the detective (Hunter?), assigned to help him, a sceptic who by the end had changed his tune and looks to become a future ally.
One issue I did have is the cast of characters has grown huge, and I found it hard to recall who connected where, why, to which group, which section of magic they practiced or whether they were of the innocent of magic group, normal humans who’ve no idea what really goes on in their world. Lots of backtracking for me, and I’d have appreciated an index to keep them straight.

As always the plots are fast and furious, Dorian is racing against time, chasing clues and help, trying to sort out who are the good guys and what the others are up to, and still trying to help his friends and track down his soul.
There some really sad parts here too, both in his personal life and for me having grown fond of a certain person 😦 but sometimes that just makes it all the more real, when the unexpected happens, when the good guys don’t always come out on top.

Its a great read once more and the reason its four and not five is that I spent so long looking back at who did what, and how they fitted in to the story, plus checking out the many different terms and groups that it affected the flow of the story.
Actually that’s a bit unfair to drop a whole star, maybe just a half, as the idea and plots are excellent.
I loved the way the little side issues ended connected to the larger picture, and the detailed explanations of what the curses and spells could do, how they were constructed and at what cost. I enjoyed being completely off course in who was behind things, I like the unpredictable!

Stars: Four and a half, another action packed adventure, spell binding (!) saga, full of  power filled plots.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Fire and Flame, Anya Breton. Thunder Moon, Joanne Mallory

Fire and Flame,  Anya Breton

Fire and Flame by [Breton, Anya]

Genre:  romance, Sci-fi and fantasy

I loved the sound of this, and it started well, but then for me went downhill pretty quickly.

I found the two main characters hard to like, Sara even more so than Brent.
The misunderstandings went on too long, it was believable at first but soon felt tired and they annoyed me.
I didn’t understand why Sara seemed to be an only child, when as the High Priest her father would have been expected to breed with several women. Maybe they were there but just not mentioned, but given the emphasis on Sara “doing her duty” and having a full blood witch child it seemed a bit odd.
That phrase too “doing her duty” was repeated time and time again, and I soon got irritated by it.

The whole novel has to me a very YA feel but with some added sex. It felt as if the author had tried to make it appeal to a wider audience by adding some spicy sex scenes in, but for me the writing style still very very Teen and YA.
There were some phrases I simply couldn’t understand, or that just felt odd – “clean shaven skin of his cheeks no longer de-emphasized the bubbled scars beneath his chin” I think she means without his beard his scars were showing, but it seems a torturous way of writing it.
Then “Did you do your duty with someone else to avoid doing it with me?” again, a long winded way of saying have you had sex with someone else 😉
This one had me totally amazed, just can’t get that scene out of my head 😉 “her breasts bounced for his attention and her legs scissored opened and closed at regular intervals signally that though the massaging was becoming too much for her, she didn’t want him to stop.” ( That’s exactly as its written BTW – not my typos for once!) I have to say that sounds like very active but odd sex, kind of sex semaphore!!
Later when she’s describing his penis(or rod as its referred to quite often,) she says though he’s above average size when erect, when its not it’s smaller in length and girth than even human men. I felt a bit sorry for poor Brent there!

There’s lots of action, it’s an interesting idea but TBH it just felt too YA for me. I’ve read some great YA novels where the stories appeal to all ages, but for me this wasn’t one. If I was a teen I expect I’d love it but I’m not and sadly I didn’t take to the characters and it was just too unbelievable for me.

Stars: Two and a half, a fun idea that for me just didn’t work out. Others love it though, so that’s fine.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Thunder Moon, Joanne Mallory

Thunder Moon - a beautiful tale of magic and love by [Mallory, Joanne]

Genre:  Sci Fi & Fantasy, General Fiction (Adult)

Reading ARCs means that often there’s little information available – and when choosing this I didn’t know this was a novella, just 100 pages, 1970 kindle locations. Novellas rarely work for me as they just don’t let me get to know the characters or plots in any detail and that’s what happened here.

Its a good story, part romance, part looking back to times past, part supernatural.
Its just that I never really felt I knew the characters more than just superficially. There just wasn’t the space – it works for many readers and that’s great, but I want the nitty gritty, want to feel all the emotions, wallow in sadness when things are wrong, fill my heart with joy when things go right and in such a short read I can’t.

Its a good mix of people, a fun story, once I understood what was happening.
The beginning had me floundering a little as compressing a story into a novella means details are short, and I wasn’t always quite sure what was going on. It comes clearer though and turns into a pleasant light fantasy romance.
It was an OK read but just a bit on the short and light side for me.

Stars: Two and a half, an OK read that I’d have enjoyed more of it was longer.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Steele City Blues, Book 3 in the Hell’s Belle Series, Karen Greco

Steele City Blues, Book 3 in the Hell’s Belle Series,  Karen Greco 

Steele City Blues: The Third Book in the Hell's Belle Series (Hell's Belle 3) by [Greco, Karen]

Genre:  Sci Fi & Fantasy, General Fiction (Adult)

I’ve read books one and two in this series/trilogy (I’m unsure which it is) and loved them so its on to book three to see what’s going to befall Nina and co next.
We pick up where book two left off. Although there have been a couple of novellas between, I haven’t read them and they don’t feel necessary to read to follow the story ( though might be fun to see what else is going on!).

Leila can’t be allowed to continue her actions, she’s destruction in person form and a complete nutter power freak. She’s creating what seems to be a supernatural army. Who needs her running the world?
Who can stop her though? Blood Ops doesn’t exist now, Max seems to have thrown in with Mary Jane and  the Gov but they don’t have the skills and knowledge to fight supernaturals. Bertrand the demon is untrustworthy, he seems to be on their side but who knows, he’s totally unpredictable and what’s best for him only is what drives him. He’ll help so longs as he benefits, and when it doesn’t he’ll swap sides easily and seamlessly. Dr O can’t help, he’s in Steele city, the prison for those of a supernatural bent, and the team miss him and his advice and magical talents.
With Babe gone and Dr O locked up its really down to just Frankie, Nina and friends to save the day..and the world. Tough times eh?

Its a fun read once more, full of humour and snark, puzzles to unravel, sides to take and wondering just where Nina is going next, what’s going to happen and how.
I love the core group of friends, Frankie, Nina, Matty and Darcie, and Caspar…a great group, very diverse, and at times it seems like herding cats trying to get them to agree. Max is kind of in the group but not, he’s very allied to Mary Jane, and TBH I was disappointed in some of his actions and decisions. He’s very pro helping people, saving lives and yet seems to have no issues with Mary Jane’s announcements about what she’ll do if Nina and co don’t succeed in stopping Leila very quickly…it just didn’t feel right to me him being OK with that.
There’s a new player to the game too, someone who may – or may not – be a help and who comes from a very unexpected place.

There some great humour too tucked in with the drama, and its the kind of quirky snark that pervades Kim Harrison’s Hollows series and made that such a must read for me. I do like some fun in among my dark and dramatic, the end of the world is nigh…but there’s time for a coffee first sort of stuff!
Nina seems to have curbed her anger a little in this book, it was beginning to grate on me that she had a shoot first policy, so for me that’s a real improvement. After all there are only so many times you can get away with it!
I said Max was a bity of a disappointment, but that’s made up for by Frankie – I Love that guy, he’s so perfect, humorous when the situation needs it, but ready to defend Nina to the death. I love the thought of him in the 70’s in gold lame and roller skates!! He and Nina are getting closer, its clear he wants her and she’s attracted but will she ever take that final step?

Its fun and games, drama and deception, snark and sensuality and another hit read for me.
I’m not sure if this is a trilogy or a series, can’t find out from author site or anywhere on net. It ends…kind of..so it could be a wrap, but there’s so much left open that I think there’s room for more books, and am hoping they are coming.

Stars: Five, a fabulous read once more, packed with magic and mayhem and fantastic characters.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

mixed bunch of KU reads

https://jeanniezelos.wordpress.com/2016/12/31/soul-breaker-and-shade-chaser-city-of-crows-books-1-2-clara-coulson/

Soul Breaker (City of Crows Book 1) by [Coulson, Clara]

I’ve had a reply back from author Clara Clouson, I’d asked whether this was a trilogy or a series – here’s what she says 🙂 I’m very happy to hear it!!

Per your question: City of Crows is not a trilogy. It’s planned as a 15-book series, not including any side stories I may decide to write at a later time.

Book 3, Wraith Hunter, has a release date of mid- to late March, and Book 4, Doom Sayer, will be released in the summer.
I’ve got a few quick KU reviews too
 Fall Into Me (A British Rockstar Romance) by [Wild, Nikki]
hmnn, I don’t often read novellas, but this is advertised as 338 pages so sounded perfect. Its not, it stops at 17% 2659 kindle locations, making it a short quick read.
The reason I don’t like these is they just don’t have the time to go in depth with the story, don’t let me get to know the characters, and plots just feel very superficial. That’s how this was for me.
The rest of the pages are ads for other books and another story Illicit Behavior. That actually takes up more of the book than Fall into Me so really ought to be the leading title.
I got this on KU so wasn’t too disappointed, but even though its only 99p to buy its still irritating that what you get is not what you thought you were buying – 300+ pages of Fall into me, but less than 100 of that and more of another story altogether.
Lost Girl: Hidden Book One by [Vanderlinden, Colleen]
I enjoyed this whole series, not a five star favorite but a solid four star fun read, with supernaturals that really run the gamut of types, werewolves, vampires, demons and gods and goddesses…its full of adventure and action, and reels from one tale to another, keeping the reader engrossed and of course what I love – a strong side of romance. Its on KU right now so for me a free (ish) read 🙂
Ink Witch (Kat Dubois Chronicles Book 1) by [Fairleigh, Lindsey]
I loved Lindsey’s Echo Trilogy, and this is a kind of side-runner to that series, having many of the same characters and being set in the same world, but with one of the secondary characters from that taking the lead. Its another fabulous adventure that had me gripped, and I’ve just downloaded book to, book three is out end of Feb _ hurrah, not too long to wait.
I hate long gaps between books, I lose the connection.
I can’t really recall much about Kat from Echo, but she’s a terrific lead here, and I was stuck reading right to the end, couldn’t put it down. It was good too to catch up with some of the characters from Echo and see who things had moved on for them.
Its a great adventure, with very real plots and characters. for me that’s important as even in fantasy I have to feel that if X was real then Y could happen. Oddly I was reading about tech stuff recently and something called IFTT, If This Then That, and its exactly how I feel about fiction, If this was real Then That could happen 🙂
This is a series that’s definitely a re-reader for me.
This and the Echo trilogy are on KU right now
The Echo Trilogy Collection (Books 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, & 3) by [Fairleigh, Lindsey]
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