Anna Bobs Her Hair - Silent Reader, Talking Books

 

 If you like reading books at midnight in a chair out of shape

Then you're the friend that I've looked for, read with me and escape. ;o)

 

 

 

Round Characters, Dark, & Tense

Animus: A Sinful Supes Story - Xandrie Kovak

My reading buddy selected this author as part of the January Pick It for Me challenge. The Fevor is not available in ebook format but after signing up for the author's newsletters I was able to attain a free copy Animus, which is a prequel featuring a character from the book The Fervor.

 

(About the size of Kovak's werewolves) 

The Story
Lucas Masters seeks vengeance. The Red Crescent wolf pack slaughtered Lucas' family and entire pack leaving Lucas the only surviving member. Infiltrating this brutal pack requires that he hides his wolf and act like an 'omega,' the lowest in hierarchy. Lucas must bide his time, seek alliances, and witness depravities. Lucas will kill his enemies or die trying.

 
My Thoughts
A lot of dimension was packed into the characters for such a short story (110 pages on Adobe Digital Editions). The action is steady. Lucas and the secondary characters gain layers as the story progresses. As for the setting, I found it vague but not a detractions since the author focused more on the plot and characters. I was invested in Lucas and others as well. Don't let the age of the protagonist fool you. Lucas falls into Young Adult territory but this book is dark. While there is not a rape scene it is in the story, along with other gruesome acts. Luckily, this author didn't shove my face into how gory she could write but placed Lucas in a place for transformation. Hopefully, The Fervor will release in ebook format soon because I want to read it!

Beta than an Alpha or just as good!

Promise the Moon - Hailey Edwards
”Daddy didn’t come home.” One plump hand gripped the bark. “Did you eat him?” “What?” I pushed to my feet. “No. I would never hurt your daddy.” The girl recoiled, disappearing for a moment before her voice drifted to me. “He said the magic wolves eat bad fae.”

[This quote is from the advanced reader’s copy and may have been deleted or altered.]

 

The Lorimar Pack, exiles from a dysfunctional pack, establishes a new territory for themselves located near a fissure between realms. Some of the Faery’s citizens are the bogeymen Earthborn Fae children are warned about in bedtime stories. Cord Graeson and Camille Ellis, the alphas of the pack, volunteer their pack to patrol the fissure but Earthen Conclave business temporarily takes the alphas away leaving Lorimar Pack’s Beta Dell Preston in charge.

 

Dell survived her previous pack by acting opposite to her nature. Establishing her dominance and engendering the respect amongst the warg pack is a step toward leaving personal ghosts in the past. There’s also a broken heart with which to contend.

 

Establishing a new structure, training recruits for patrol and managing a flirtatious witch seem all in a day’s work. Riiiiight. Kidnappings and strange happenings disrupt their progress. Interspecies politics and relationships are at risk. Dell is feeling the pressure and things are about to get worse.

 

“Promise the Moon,” a Gemini spin-off, lives up to its promise with snappy dialogue, a tangled plot, and an engaging heroine with droll humor. The mystery and heroine affectively unravel from beginning to end. Dell’s snarky voice may be excessive at times but the mystery sucks the reader back into the story. The romantic elements link to Dell’s complicated past (to which there is possibility for another mystery) and to her duality. This heroine has choices. What is easy for the warg is not easy for the woman!

 

Dell proves to be worthy of her own series. She’s a nice blend of strong, tender, stubborn, and brave. The ending of “Promise the Moon” will leave you anxious for “Wolf at the Door,” book 2 in the Lorimar Pack series!

 

This digital ARC is courtesy of CrushStar Multimedia LLC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Read this trilogy!

The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy) - Marie Rutkoski

From A Winner's Kiss "Author's Note"

"I'm grateful to the following books, among others, for their inspiration and guidance: Edward Said's Orientalism, Saidiya V. Hartman's Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America, Linda Colley's Captives: Britain, Empire, and the World, 1600-1850,Herodotus's The Histories, Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Susan Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others, Elaine Scarry's The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World, Sun Tzu's The Art of War, Arrian's The Campaigns of Alexander,Jacob de Gheyn's The Renaissance Drill Book, and Bert S. Hall's Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe."

- Marie Rutkoski



After completing "The Winner's Trilogy" and reading "The Author's Note" I can see why Marie Rutkoski's fantasy fiction is so different than all the other fiction I've read, including adult fiction, that involve war and slavery. This is a Young Adult romance too! The trilogy is remarkably researched and inconspicuously integrated into the plot, characters, and setting. It's affective.

The romance between the protagonist doesn't feel like angst. The love between father, daughter, slave, and country justifies each characters' means to an end while twisting the readers insides. They question whether their choices are the suggestions of Gods or the psyche, as the hero's conquered country worships one hundred gods and heroine's country is atheist. "The Winner's Trilogy" has so many exquisite details. It's skillfully written. Read it!

Love! Love! Love!

The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy) - Marie Rutkoski

Right after completing this book I immediately read the final book in the trilogy.  I am not entertained by watching players at chess, yet the hero and heroine hold pieces that contain their heart and soul.  The Winner's Crime is a thrilling high peak in this trilogy!  

Love and War

The Winner's Curse - Marie Rutkoski

"The Winner's Curse" surprised me. It was more than angst and bloody battles. Psychological warfare techniques are strengths for characters in this book. The heroine is not a superb fighter. She has a sharp mind for strategy. Her father, a General, is not one-dimensional either. He feels like a real military leader with many shades of gray.

The relationship between slave (who wants to be free) and owner (who's ashamed of owning slaves) has its complications from the perspective of both sides and wreaks havoc, yet despite their backgrounds they find a delicate balance. It made me wonder how they will things work out if they became a couple. How will it all end? What will it look like? Since this is book 1 of a trilogy the answers have yet to be answered. I won't go into detail about "The Winner's Curse" but between the cover is a meaty story that is very hard to put down.

I want more Harlow!

Fish Out of Water - Hailey Edwards



After being possessed by a serial killer Harlow has been committed to a mental institution for Fae and supernaturals. After months of staring at the walls an engaging young man and a new murder mystery spark Harlow to rejoin the living. She must face her past and in finding forgiveness for others maybe she can forgive herself.

 

"Fish Out of Water" is totally dedicated to the young mermaid Changling introduced in Hailey Edwards Gemini series. Harlow was once upbeat and fearless. In the last Gemini book, Hell or High Water, she was a shell of the vibrant woman she's been. Watching her regathering her inner strength was as rewarding as one could hope. Hopefully, this isn't the last we've seen of Harlow and her new friend.

 

 

Steamy UF/Fantasy Romance

Fighting Destiny - Amelia Hutchins


This Kindle Freebie was not a let-down.

 

 

This series reminded me of KMM's Fever Series. Like Mac, there is something more to Synthia. Like Barron, Ryder has a carnal beast inside. Synthia also reminded me of Jenn Bennett's heroine, Arcadia Bell, with her witchy ways.

 

 

There was repetition throughout the book, such as, repeated internal dialogue. This book could have been tighter. Overall, I'll continue the series because of the characters, world, and unresolved storylines ... cliffhanger! And it was worth the hype. There was just too much unresolved and a little too much repetitiveness to give this book 4 stars.

A Polished YA Fantasy

Elfhame (Skeleton Key) - Anthea Sharp, Skeleton Key

4 solid stars

 

A YA fantasy stand-alone perfect for middle school to Adult. A young Fae prince has felt the weight of a prophecy since childhood. He must we'd a mortal from the human realm in order to save his world. A young mortal woman dreams of adventure but never dreamed of anything so perilous as crossing realms to the legendary dark elve world.

The heroine is brave. She displays maturity in her decision-making. She's reserved in her emotions and doesn't fall instantly in love with man. His world and people are 'alien' to her.

The romance is very light. There's moments of peril, violence during fights but not graphic, and no sex (not even behind the scenes). There are one or two chaste kisses, so parents concerned this may be a world YA may be at ease.

4 Stars – Wargs and Family and Fae, oh my!

Hell or High Water (Gemini) (Volume 3) - Hailey Edwards

 

Camille Ellis’ search for a missing friend and diabolical killer continues. She may not have a badge but she’s not alone, which causes a new sense of commitment and responsibility on Cam’s part. The changes in her life also fill a need she’s had since her twin sister drowned as a child.

Cord Graeson is now the alpha of a new warg pack with Cam as his alpha mate. Understanding warg pack structure and social behavior is a “learn as you go” process for this Fae. As always, Camille faces her fears. Her fear of water has been confronted through several murder cases. This time it’s deeper and darker than anyone expects.

“Hell or High Water" effectively concludes the Gemini series in this third book. Camille’s journey from self-punishing Conclave agent and exiled family member to rogue agent and warg mate includes poignant trials and tribulations. The overarching storyline that began with Dead in the Waterwraps up with a strong finish with the exception of the epilogue, which I wish had continued with Cam’s point-of-view.

This series is the first I’ve read by Ms. Edwards. Camille Ellis’ character and the premise of her story intrigued me. As the Gemini series is set in the same world as the author’s Black Dog series I found it easy to navigate through this world despite my ignorance. (This has not always been the case for me in reading other authors’ spin-off series.) For the most part, the other series’ characters popping in from time to time didn’t bother me or throw me out of the story. For fans of the Black Dog series, Thierry’s appearance may be satisfying. Her role makes sense given Cam’s investigation yet I felt ‘out of the loop’ even though more of Thierry’s backstory is revealed in “Hell or High Water.” This is only for a moment and near the end. Black Dog series fans please feel free to share your opinion.

Now, let’s get back to the main characters. Cord Graeson – What a man! What a warg alpha too! He’s an alpha that knows how to give a woman space. He’s protective of Cam yet he’s not toxic to her well-being. Cam can take risks! The reader knows it’s not always the hero that saves the day, which adds nail-biting variables to Cam’s perilous investigation. Yes! Yes! Yesss! Male or female – each character has a good balance of strengths and vulnerabilities. And Camille…her character development felt rewarding. All the pieces of her puzzle fit perfectly! This urban fantasy book brought tears to my eyes, which made me realize my emotional investment into her character. I look forward to more books set in this world!


This ARC was provided by CrushStar Multimedia LLC via Netgalley.

So good! (Pretty sure this is spoiler-free for ACoTaR readers.)

A Court of Mist and Fury - Sarah J. Maas

 

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses, book 1, had a "and they lived happily ever after" ending to a Beauty and the Beast-themed YA fantasy. The hero in the first book felt weak to this reader with a much better fleshed out anti-hero. In A Court of Mist and Fury, we see what ever after looks like for the heroine Feyre. Her former 'Beast' hero Tamlin, High Lord of the Spring Court, is just as broken as Feyre after events that occurred at Under the Mountain in ACoTaR. We learn more about Tamlin and Spring Court Politics. Feyre's pact with Rhysand, High Lord of the Night Court, we learn more about Rhysand. The most interesting character remains Feyre - her nightmares, her shame, and her untapped gifts that set her as a future force to be reckoned with.

 

How the story unfolds felt natural and true to the characters. This book is loaded with tension, internal and external conflicts, so much character development, and it moves at a rapid pace despite the length of the ACoMaF (624 pages)! (I bought this hardback book at Target for the 'Exclusive' short "Wings and Embers" about two secondary characters, which adds 15 more pages of yummy goodness!) I highly anticipate the next book in this series and despair at another year of waiting.

 

One last thing - this book did not feel like a YA, which is unlike the A Court of Thorn and Roses. The themes are mature as well as the characters.

 

Poorly Structured

Assassin's Touch - Laurie London

Assassin's Touch was a strange mash of paranormal romance set in a two worlds. It was the hero's world that was odd. His world is like a medieval period with Special Op warriors. The romance felt forced. The goals and motivations of the bad guys their purpose didn't make any sense.

There had been a kernal of a good story here. The potential! The potential! But this sadly unstructured novella is an example of poor execution, amongst other things.

3.25 – Character Development But Story Needs a Compass

Head Above Water (Gemini: A Black Dog Series Book 2) - Hailey Edwards



Despite her suspension from the Earthen Conclave, Camille ‘Cam’ Davis is determined to find a missing friend and the killer whose motivation remains a mystery. Without the conclave’s backing she accepts warg Cord Graeson’s offer of help, but his pack’s animosity toward fae makes Cord’s offer debatable, as there’s conflict within the Chandler Pack. Cord is at the center of the rift in the pack. As Cam realizes Cord may be healing the part of her that fractured long ago they both feel the threat from his pack mates. Things are about to get personal!

As the second installment in the Gemini series, Head Above Water doesn’t have the focused storyline that Dead in the Water had. In the first book, the mystery was very strong and the author created a compelling heroine. Head Above Water introduces new characters, new storylines, and reveals the intricacies of warg pack structure that comes attached with a lot of dysfunction. Old characters from two other series make an appearance, which wasn’t too distracting and may feel like a bonus to fans of the Black Dog and Mai Hayashi series.

There is a lot going on in this book and it seemed to lack direction. The best part in this story is the character development. Not only do readers learn more about Cord but they will also see Cam strengthen and evolve. It’s also rewarding to see Cam and Cord’s relationship gain shape…and not via sex! Emotional intimacy and trust are involved, and it was worthwhile! The heroine does have a goal in this story, but the overall book may leave readers wondering where the spotlight should be shining and where the big investment is. Head Above Water does end with a cliffhanger, yet there are interesting developments which may compel readers to continue to the next book, Hell or High Water.

ARC courtesy of author via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

A Focused Paranormal Romance...AT LAST!!!

Blood Kiss - J.R. Ward

 

 

Marissa and Butch are back and still in love. They just have a couple of areas to iron out. It was nice finally seeing Marissa as a woman with dimension. She's honest, demanding, and loving. What was once a boring couple (to me) became a very interesting, especially the use of Butch's police background.

 

The main couple, Craeg and Paradise, had the romantic and sexy feels that had been missing in so many BDB books. Paradise is different from the heroines in past Ward books. (At least, I think so.) she's not the fierce warrior like Xhex. Paradise uses her wits and training. Most of the angst came from Craeg; mainly his problem with the gylmera, but his class issues are handled very well.

 

One thing I do wish is that the mystery plot line would have been more substantial. It's initiated; then, it fades to the background for a long while. I wanted to see if Ward would create something new in the BDB world with Butch's skill set.

 

There are other trainees with potential storylines, such as Peyton and Novo (who reminded me a little of Xhex). These secondary characters were not intrusive in "Blood Kiss." They served their purpose to tantalize.

 

Conclusion:  I'm drinking the Kool Aid again!





Confident Shifter Alpha Female Finds Love & Sexy Times in Imperfect World

Spiral of Need (Mercury Pack) - Suzanne  Wright
”Derren is a very dominant, forceful, intrusive male who thinks my business is his and who is determined to have his own way all the time. But even though he pushes me to tell hi things, he never pushes too hard—he shares with me so that I’ll share with him. Even though he doesn’t like any distance between us, he lets me have my space andprivacy when I need it. And even though he very rarely gets a peaceful night’s sleep because of me, he never complains or sleeps anywhere but beside me. How can I not care about the fucker?”


Ally Marshall had beeb close to imprinting with a shifter in her pack until he found his true mate. Despite having graciously stepped aside and wishing her ex happiness his mate is determined to destroy Ally, turning the whole pack against Ally. Luckily, a surviving member of her childhood pack sends help in the form of Derren, the Mercury Pack’s Beta. Ally will bear anything, even the simmering hatred his pack has for shifters with the gift of foresight, if it will offer an exit from her current pack.
Surviving in a juvenile detention required alliances, and years later Derren has to honor a debt despite his loathing of Seers. Seers are duplicitous creatures; they have caused friends considerable pain. Yet he craves Ally. His wolf wants to ‘mark’ her. He would think she was his mate if didn’t know she already had one although Ally’s true mate hasn’t claimed her.

Ally and Derren have battles ahead. An ex’s mate wants to break Ally. Unknown enemies attack Derren’s pack. Despite their secrets and personal prejudices these two shifters are about to combust if they can survive the people trying to destroy them.

I can see the appeal of Ms. Wright’s storytelling. It’s steamy and borderline erotic, similar to the steam level in Lora Leigh’s Breed series. Her heroine is a warrior. Ally talks the talk and walks the walk. Simpering? Passive? Can kick butt yet the hero has to save her? NOT. AT. ALL! Ally is one tough Alpha shifter and she can see the future AND she actually tries to do something to prevent horrible things from happening. Ally is a survivor and a warrior all rolled into one!

What stopped me from loving this book are a few things. First, there were inconsistencies in the characterizations. The Collingwood Pack, the pack causing hell for Ally, seemed an illogical fit for Ally and the world-building seemed manipulated to suit the plot. (The CP’s Alpha was a weak-kneed alpha. The fated mate rules glided past Ally’s ex. ) Next, the shift in narrative when the characters were in their wolf form was lacking in emotion and knocked me out of the story when they occurred. For example, while fighting the characters lost their names and were identified by the color of their fur. It led me to question whether there was some sort of inner turmoil regarding the characters’ dual nature. There wasn’t, so why the disconnect in the narrative? Finally, despite Spiral of Need being the first book in a spin-off series, this book does not stand-alone very well. A story arc from the Phoenix Pack series seemed to pick up where it left off. I did not know the couple very well but I felt as though I should; their presence was very strong for secondary characters.

I rated this book with 3.5 stars, but I think longtime fans for Wright’s other series will have greater enjoyment. For those who have never read Ms. Wright, I suggest starting with her Phoenix Pack series, which is what I will do before continuing the Mercury Pack series. Despite the issues I had I am eager for the next book and hoping Cain or Dominic get their own story.

ARC courtesy of Montlake via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Clichéd

Wolf Trouble - Paige Tyler

2 - 2.5 stars

I'm in the minority regarding my feelings about this book. If you want to read "Wolf Trouble" please do not let this personal review stop you and please do try it for yourself. For me, this book is riddled with clichés. For a cop Khaki, the heroine, makes TSTL decisions. The overwhelming lust the hero and heroine feel for one another and their physiological responses did not make an engaging story. Then, throw in a stalker ex-boyfriend, incompetent FBI agents, overly-communicative alpha male teammates, and angsty obstacles effortlessly resolved. "Wolf Trouble" left me one cranky reader because 1) I really enjoyed SWAT Team book 1 Hungry Like the Wolf  2) I wanted to DNF this book halfway through reading but thought there might be a tie-in to the next book and 3) I'm still interested in reading the upcoming release In the Company of Wolves, which will be borrowed from the library. 

 

Rant over. :(

Kate rides again!

Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels) - Ilona Andrews
”Your father will kill you, . . . . Perhaps not today, but certainly soon. If he doesn’t kill you in the near future, then whatever power tries to overrun the city next will. When this happens, everyone who ever supported you will become a victim of a purge. You are a leper. Everyone you touch is tainted.”

“Being your ally is a death warrant. I gain nothing by supporting you. I run the risk of angering you by refusing service, but you left the Pack, so you are no longer in a position to wield it against me, and you won’t take any actions to punish me directly, because you are shackled by your own morals.”



It’s a bumpy ride for Kate. It seems she and Curran never get the peace and quiet they long for. I know Kate still hasn’t reached her happily ever after, ride into the sunset moment yet in this series. The question each time I begin reading the newest release is: How will Ilona Andrews maintain the energy in the Kate Daniels series? The answer is simple. The same way they always do, by crafting personal high-stakes and meaningful character growth as the story arc progresses. And from the hints in Magic Shifts it looks like it’ll be a doozy of a ending for Kate and Curran!

Just about everything fit in this book. At the end of “Magic Breaks” I tried to picture Curran new direction. How would team Andrews make it work? Curran as Kate’s sidekick wasn’t working for me. What they did with his character now makes total sense and is in total keeping with his character. I really look forward to how Curran will shake things up and make them better. He is a born leader no longer burdened by the BS Pack politics he loathed.

As Kate and Curran endeavor to rescue Eduardo, a werebuffalo, we learn more about Kate’s power and see a vision of what may come at the end of the series. The interactions with Roland are revealing. The mystery in this novel is fresh. (I loved Islamic and Arabian mythology!) There’s humor, action, and a heart-wrenching moment that reminded me so much of a scene in J.R. Ward’s Lover Mine. It was all so, so good. I did have a couple of issues. First, the info-dumping was distracting. For example, restating as Raphael’s good looks seemed unnecessary. There are other examples of info-dumping in this novel, but I didn’t mark them. My second and last problem was the lack of sacrifice at the end. It was too pat, almost as if a sadness quota was met in the last book. I’m thinking this might be my problem. There’s only two books remaining and I want them, but not the hardback prices; although, I may break and pay for the last book rather than wait for a library loan.

[Note: not edited; only basic speck/grammar check]