Forecast is the second book in Rinda Elliott’s Sisters of Fate series. This is a series that follows three sisters, each ‘gifted’ with a Norse goddess’ soul. It is not a happy relationship, the sisters not wanting anything to do with these souls trapped inside them. But these souls are there for a reason: to take over the sisters’ bodies and minds and fulfill their destinies when the end of the world arrives.
Or is that really the case?…
Well, the end of the world is here…and it’s brutal. Rinda does not hold back here folks. If this is really how the end of the world is going to be, I want no part. But it does make for one hell of a ride! I found this book to be less action-driven than the last book but that does not mean it was quiet. There were still obstacles to overcome while running away from giant waves and crazy snow storms. In Florida.
On top of that, each sister has the ability to see the past, present or future in visions they can’t control. Very cool…but difficult to explain. The whole idea of the triplets and their abilities and connection to Norse mythology is all very fascinating. Rinda does a good job there.
Other than dealing with the end of the world, going into time-freezing trances in order to predict a time and the goddess trapped in their psyche, the sisters must each find a boy who has a god’s soul living inside them. You see, mom has gone a little crazy and thanks to a prophesy, thinks one of her daughters will get killed by one of these boys and has disappeared in order to find them…and kill them before they get to the girls. *insert dooms day music here*
Will the girls find the right boys? Are the boys murderous crazy-guys? Is the mom going to get to them before the girls? Will the end of the world keep happening putting the entire world in trouble? Will one of the sisters indeed get murdered? So many questions and getting the answers is proving to be ton of fun.
Where Fortold, book one, tells the story of Raven finding Vanir, Forecast follows Coral as she tracks down Taran. Taran holds the soul of Tor. Very interesting to see how the personalities mesh – the god and the boy. I love how the god or goddess’ personalities shine through the personalities of the person who is holding it. That’s a neat detail I appreciate. And I like how the god’s companions are there but underwent new twists. All very interesting details Rinda included in this series that I look forward to discovering.
Coral was a very good character. She inherited her mother’s witch powers and is learning how to use them. I liked seeing her grow more confident as the story progressed. The romance between Coral and Taran is very sweet and I find they balance each other very well.
In book one, Raven calls Coral and Kat (sister number three). We get glimpses of what is going on with Coral and Kat during those phone calls. It was neat to get the whole story behind the calls to Coral while reading this book and it will be equally neat to read exactly what is going on with Kat during the calls to her when Forsworn releases December 2nd 2014. I like that all three books take place at the same time and that the sisters will come together in the next book for the final battle. At least that’s what I’m expecting…
I love how different this series is. I really enjoy Rinda’s voice and her pacing is excellent. These are very quick moving stories and even with a little bit resolved at the end of each book so far, there is much left to discover and learn.
Forecast is an excellent continuation of the series and I am counting down the days until the third and final book comes out....more
Searching for Perfect is the second book in Jennifer Probst’s Searching For… series. I have to say that in no means do I find this author’s writing to be flawless. There are quite a few thing that sort of make me scratch my head in her books. But there is something about her stories that keeps me coming back. Her characters, although not incredible, are strong enough that I always find myself thinking of them after I put the book down and want the best for them. So for those reasons, I keep reading.
This book tell the story of Kennedy and Ned. Kennedy works for Kinnections, a matchmaking agency, along with the heroines from books one and three. Ned…well Ned is a rocket scientist. An actual rocket scientists. Girls who turn to goo over extra geeky characters, proceed to do so now.
Ned is the ultimate geek but is he ever captivating! He had me shaking my head, giggling like crazy and wanting to hug him all in one scene. And man, when he and Ken get it on…he is h.o.t! I completely enjoyed him.
Kennedy is also a strong character. I liked her in the first book and that certainly has not changed in this second one. I found she possessed many of the characteristics that I look for in a contemporary romance heroine. She is damaged but not so much so that is became daunting to read her.
The main issue I had with this book was that nearing the end, it was almost a carbon copy of the first book in the series. Ned is tired of being alone at the end of his long days and is looking for someone to be serious about. He decides to try out a speed dating event that Kinnections is hosting. That is where he meets Kennedy, who is organizing it. She spots him and sees that he needs desperate help. They spend lots of time together and grow closer until sex happens and love follows. But Kennedy does not feel worthy. Those of you who have read the first book see the pattern here. The only difference is that book one has the hero feeling unworthy and this time around it’s the heroine. But, when sh*t hits the fan, the heroines keep working, looking for the perfect woman for the men they are in love with. Yum…yeah… Great that they are professional and all but does it really have to be the same in both books?! Will it be the same in the next one too? And that part, the part where the heroine is miserable while the hero goes out on tons of dates, dragged a bit too much for me in this installment. Thinking back, I found that there were quite a few similarities between the author’s Marriage books. Maybe writing similar plots from book to book is the way she writes a series… But it was a little frustrating for me to read.
Fans of Jennifer’s Marriage to a Billionaire series will rejoice as there are cameos from pretty much every major character in that series. And we see quite a bit of Gen and Wolfe! I am dying for their book and hope upon hope it comes soon. To be teased about them in two series…not fair but very effective lol.
Overall, I did enjoy Searching for Perfect. I actually found this to be Jennifer’s strongest book (of the ones that I read) to date. As I said, I can’t put my finger on why but there is something about these books that keep me coming back for more…even though they almost all read the same. I really liked Ned and I found he and Kennedy together was fantastic. Great chemistry. I can’t find any info about book three but when I do, I will certainly add it to my to-read pile. This series is a good weekend/beach read. Something you don’t have to invest much time or effort in but that will leave you smiling in the end.
I have no idea what to rate this book. In order to decide, I am doing something I don’t think I’ve done before while rating a book from a long-running series: I am going to Goodreads and looking at how I rated past books. While looking at each book’s rating, I am asking myself “Did I like this one more or less than that one?” Hopefully with that, by the end of this review I will have a rating I feel comfortable sharing.
The King is the twelfth book in JR Ward’s hugely popular Black Dagger Brotherhood. This series has been called ‘crack’ because of it’s addictive qualities but I am left to wonder if many will ‘get clean’ after this book and settle on a non-BDB life. I am telling you now, I am not one of them. I will read the next book, but I may skip some scenes because there are a few characters that I really don’t care about. They are unlikable and flat in my opinion and I just…don’t care. This is also one of those series that people either love with a passion hotter than the summer sun or hate with the same passion. A good example of this: I once asked Jason to read the first book, Dark Lover, to review it for the blog. I thought it would be amazing to get his point of view on it. Well, he never made it past the first 6 pages! Couldn’t get into the slang and found it too violent. *snort* But I, after discovering this series shortly after the release of Lover Avenged (book 7), stocked up on boxed meals for my family the day a new BDB book came out so I could just read read read. The butterflies the morning of a new release were intense!
And because there is tons to talk about in this latest book, this review will be long. Just a heads up lol.
The tone of the book. Let’s start here. This is a very different book for this series. There is some fighting, yes, but it’s minimal and not extra exciting. That means the tone is not as ‘high-octane’ as most of the other books. I actually didn’t mind that. I was starting to feel like the fighting was getting the same from book to book.
“Advertising”/name-dropping. I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to fancy brand/designer name things so most of Ward’s ‘product placement’ went way over my head. But it was there and it was abundant. I know the reason is to make us see that a) these guys are wealthy and can get whatever they want and b) to make the World even more vivid and real. Easier to relate to and envision. But there is a limit and Ward pretty much reached it by the 50% mark of this book.
Plotlines. This time we have the Warth and Beth and the kingship thing, we have the Trez and Selena and the Shadow queen’s daughter thing, we have the Xcor and Layla thing, we have the glymera and Band of Bastards doing annoying things thing, we have the Assail and Sola and her kidnapping continuing from the last book thing, we have JM and the seizures thing, we have the Wrath’s parents thing and to top it off, we have a little bit of iAm and a little bit of Lassiter. *takes deep breath* So yeah…just a few things going on. (see 573 pages)
The slang. I didn’t find it as annoying this time which is a good thing. Except for ‘abso’. Do people actually say that instead of ‘absolutely’? I don’t think I’ve ever heard it. Maybe it’s a U.S. thing…
The prologue. I was quite confused at first but then the twist is revealed and bam! I found it quite smart.
Now, let’s get into characters. Let’s start with one that actually surprised me -
Wrath. I have always liked him but I can’t say I ever absolutely adored him. But after this book, he has grown on me a lot and the reason is that he has finally matured as a character and grown up. I loved watching him evolve. Were some of these scenes a bit boring? Yup. But the end result was great. I am actually looking forward to seeing if he sticks to this ‘new Wrath’ in the next book because this is a good guy and a great king.
Beth. She’s cool. I like her. She is a good match for Wrath – I have always found this.
JM. What. The. Heck? He is in quite a few scenes and something is happening to him but it is never revealed WHY! Why not? Why have him go through all this only to drop it completely by the end of the book. Didn’t get that. At all.
Saxton. I really like him. A lot. I wasn’t even a huge fan of his in past books (I was indifferent I suppose) and I even thought he was being mounded into a problem-guy but all thoughts along those lines are gone. I like him.
Layla. I like how she has grown balls but she still has a way to go for me. Not sure how I feel about her and Xcor (still) but by the end of this book, I like how he is with her. I’m curious to see if he will continue to soften and if she will continue to un-soften. Maybe then I’ll actually picture them as a match.
Xcor. He is actually the subject of my ‘giggle worthy quote’! Who would have thought?! Also, he makes a decision at the end of this book that I’m happy with because really, it was getting tired. Hopefully he will stick to his decision and that it won’t just become someone else’s thing. Someone such as…
Throe. *sigh* Not sure I’m liking where his character is going. This worries me.
s’Ex. Yup. She went there. He’s…nothing new for this series. All sex and evil but is he really…you know the drill. He is undoubtedly be in the next book and I can’t seem to care either way. But ‘s’Ex’. Really?!
Assail. I just don’t care about this guy. He interested me a bit in the last book but in this one, not at all. I don’t understand why people are so in awe of him. And I don’t understand why Ward has him snorting up the coke. It cheapens him as a characters, if that is even possible. I like that he goes all macho alpha when around Sola, that is one thing about this series that makes me giggle in a good way, but after two seconds I’m over it and I’m back to ‘I don’t care’.
Sola. Same really. I don’t dislike her but I don’t enjoy her either. Can’t seem to find the love here. All I am curious about here is how Ward will make her and Assail able to have a HEA. I don’t care how they will get there, just how she will become immortal seeing that she is human now. And I like her grandmother. She’s fun.
Trez. I do like that he is maturing by the end of the book but…*sigh* I have always liked him in past books but in this book I didn’t feel much for him. Maybe the next book will change my opinion seeing that it’s about him and his brother.
Selena. Very curious about this one. I was wondering how Ward would make her different from Layla and we see how in The King. I find it very interesting and I’m glad that in the next book we’ll see it all play out.
iAm. OMGILOVEDHIMINTHISBOOK!!! There wasn’t much of him but when he was on the page, I paid attention. I smiled more for him than I think any other character in this book. And his scenes with Beth, aww….
“Goddamn Cat”. LMAO! Love it!!!
Lassiter. As usual, his scenes are memorable and hilarious. I didn’t like him much originally when first meeting him in this series because I found him to be just another character who was too full of himself but he has grown on me.
The scene which involves Lassiter. I can’t say much else without giving anything away, but let me tell you, this is the scene that made me both remember why I used to love these books so much and why I don’t seem to be feeling them as much anymore. The answer for both is the same: the Brother’s camaraderie. The Brothers and how they interact with each other, their loyalty and respect for each other, is what made the first few books in this series go great. That chemistry is hard to beat. In this scene with Lassiter, you see that friendship and bond again and it totally made my day. But it also reminded me how we don’t really have that anymore in this series. In order for this series to grow and keep going, Ward had to, of course, introduce new characters. Some, such as Qhuinn and Blay, fit it perfectly where others, such as Assail and the Band of Bastards, not so much. And the reason in my opinion is that these new characters – and their sidekicks – don’t have the same chemistry as the Brothers do. So that magic is missing from the characters that are carrying this series forward and that means from the books themselves.
So there you have it. My looooong review of The King. I didn’t dislike the book. I was not as cranky as some after reading it – but I didn’t love it either. I had to put it down once in a while, you know to eat and sleep and such, and found it was quite easy to put down. I remember reading Lover Mine and refusing to stop reading for anything. And I remember going to see Jason after I was done with it sobbing because the book was so great and I just couldn’t get it out of my head. Not so much this time around.
I will read the next book, The Shadows, but I will be honest with you: if I read a scene or two with Assail and Sola and find them as meh as in this book, I am skimming their scenes. And when I skim a book, it’s an automatic ‘less than 3 star rating’ from me. And I really hope it does not come to that because it would make me sad and I would miss this series if it gets to the point of feeling like work to read it and I’d have to give it up....more
What an adorable story! Falling for Max is the ninth book in Shannon Stacey’s cute Kowalski Family series. These books are filled with a very strong family and friends unit. You feel welcome into their fold every time you crack open a book. We have followed each and every Kowalski fall in love and with the past few books we are witnessing close family friends doing the same. This time around we follow the mysterious Max as he meets his ultimate mate in Tori.
At this point in the series, the mystery of ‘who and what is Max’ is a little less of a mystery since we find out what he does for a living in a previous book. It’s not nearly as malevolent as people of Whitford imagined it to be. Up until that moment, the joke was he was a serial killer since he works in his basement which is equipped with a security system and mostly keeps to himself. But not all of the small town residence know his job by the beginning of this installment so the jokes and speculations are still flying when this books starts off. I loved how, even though he’s shy and awkward, Max is able to go with the flow and even show a strong sense of humor when it comes to the rumors about him and his life.
That is one thing that surprised me about Max – his humor! What a wonderful sense of humor he has. And when he gets together with Tori, their banter is awesome. Tori is funny in her own right so they really do match up well there.
The premise of this book is a simple one: Max is feeling lonely and decides he needs to find a wife. He tries his hardest but he really is a bit gauche. He is so cute! Tori notices Max’s failure at talking to the opposite sex one day while working at the diner. She offers to help Max to feel more at ease talking to women. I have to say, I love this type of story. I love the shy and awkward man seeking the help of a friend. I love when they grow closer and then even closer only to eventually find out that they are perfect for each other and not for anyone else. It’s not a new idea but it’s one I enjoy when done well. And Shannon does it well in this book.
Max and Tori really are well suited and the chemistry is instant. I love how Max was a bit of a geek but not a computer geek like we see more and more in books these days. He was lovable and kind and very smart. If not a little stupid when it came to women. And Tori, watching her ‘get’ Max completely. Loved that.
We see all of your usual suspects from past books in this latest installment which is always nice. The way Shannon writes all of the residents of this small town makes you hope you see them all in each and every book and when you do, it’s like icing on the cake.
This is a book nine but you could get away with jumping right in with this one. Of course you won’t feel any excitement over seeing past characters but the main story is strong enough to stand without the past books. But if you like sweet contemporary romance books with light humor and wonderful happy endings then be sure to read the entire series. Books three, six and nine are my favorites.
All in all, Falling for Max was exactly what I hope a book by Shannon Stacey will be: sweet, light and fun. I really enjoyed watching Max grow more comfortable in his own skin. Tori doesn’t change him but she makes that he feels good and that was a great point for me. No one should have to change too much of themselves in order to find love and that that was the moral-of-sorts of this story made it all the better for me. I will be re-reading this book in the near future, I’m sure as it put a big smile on my face over and over.
Black Widow is the twelfth book in Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series. Yes, we are already at twelve books! What is really great is that even after that many installments, this series has not gone flat. Gin is still as awesome as ever, her friends are still characters you wish existed in real life and hung out with and her adventures are still entertaining and exciting.
I have to admit that I was a tad worried at the end of the last book that this book would be a repeat of what happened in the fifth book. But it wasn’t at all. In fact, it was pretty darn great.
Gin…I usually don’t have a beef with her but this time, I sort of did. But it’s not with her exactly, it’s more that her reactions to things that usually wouldn’t shake her surprised me. She usually prides herself on her patience and her ability to wait something out until it’s the perfect time to act. Well, in this latest book, she has trouble doing that. And that worried me. I mean, what happened to the Gin we knew?! Thank goodness that doesn’t last too long though and, as expected, Gin goes back to being fully awesome.
The villain this time around, the elusive MMM, is cunning and wicked and nuts. She messed with all of Gin’s friends and that really bothered me. I have come to care quite a bit for these characters and seeing them have to deal with bullshit REALLY bothered me. I mean, I had to put the book down for a while to calm myself because I was finding myself really getting worked up over what was happening! No surprise I was Gin’s cheerleader when she went after the b*tch. *grin*
Speaking of Gin’s friends, I am always so happy when I see them on the page. They truly are great to read. And her circle of friends continues to grow with each addition adding so much to the dynamic. Each and every character has grown throughout this series – not just Gin – and that is quite remarkable.
Oh, and there is one HUGE jaw dropping surprise that pops up near the end. Will it play a role in the next book? I suppose we’ll just have to wait until Spider’s Trap comes out July 28th 2015. I know! July 2015! I don’t think we’ve ever had to wait so long for a Gin book!
Black Widow is proof positive that Jennifer is a truly talented writer. Even after twelve books, she still delivers interesting stories, fascinating villains and absolutely lovable characters. It’s always a treat to see what she has in store for Gin, even though it’s not always pretty. But one thing you know when you pick up an Elemental Assassin book, you will without a doubt, enjoy the ride.
Foretold is the first book in Rinda Elliott’s new Sisters of Fate young adult series. I am quite the fan of Rinda’s Beri O’Dell urban fantasy series. I find that series to be gripping and unique. I also love the depth with which she writes her characters. When I found out she was writing a YA series I thought I should check into it even though young adult isn’t one of my go-to genres anymore. And once I read the blurb, I wanted to read it. I knew that if Rinda put just half of what she puts into her UF series into this new one, Sisters of Fate and Foretold would be good.
And it was.
The Sisters of Fate series follows triplets who were each born with the soul of a Norse goddess inside them. This has given them the ability to see into the past, present and future. Their biggest fear is that once the end of the world begins, the goddess will take over their bodies and free will and they will essentially cease to exist as themselves. If that’s not enough, there is a prophecy stating that one of the girls will be killed by a warrior during the end of the world. Fun all around. Well, Foretold begins when the end of the world does. In this series, Raven, Coral and Kat are not only attempting to not be taken over by crazy goddesses but they are also trying to figure out what is up with their mother, who has vanished, on top of trying to find this warrior who could be wanting to kill them. They have three suspects where the warrior is concerned so they branch off, each sister searching one boy out. The sisters feel that, as they were born with a goddess’ soul, these men may have been born with a god’s soul.
Foretold follows Raven as she tries to find her ‘possible warrior’ Vanir, a boy with two wolves. There is an instant connection between Raven and Vanir. Their chemistry is intense. There is no sex in this book (because it’s YA after all) but the level of chemistry rivals many adult books that I have read. It is incredibly well written.
I really enjoyed Raven. Yes, she is a ‘teenager’ but she’s smart and knows what needs doing. She does not whine or annoy, which I really appreciated. Not once did I want to smack her and that is important to me while reading a YA heroine.
Vanir was good to read too. Yummy (for a teenager) and, as with Raven, not over the top. I also loved the relationship he had with this brothers. And the wolves, too cute.
The story is non-stop! A truly exciting ride. Made me hope that if there ever truly was an ‘end of the world’ that it does not go as it does in this book. It is not fun, people. Not fun at all. And to see how Vanir, Raven and her sisters cope with it all is great. And even though this is only book one, there is one hell of a twist (or five) and there is a bit of closure at the end of this one. I liked that. A bit of a breather before continuing on with the madness in the next book.
As you can tell, I was quite impressed with this book as a whole but the part that excites me the most is how this entire series will come together. Each sister will have her own book and much of each book takes place during the same timeline. So some of the phone conversations we see in Foretold, we will also relive in Forecast (the next book due out August 2014) and pieces of the first two books will appear in Foresworn when it releases, but we’ll see them from different points of view. That, to me, is really cool. So for that, and because this book was really good, I will definitely be checking out the next installment.
Overall, I truly enjoyed Foretold. I had a feeling Rinda would give us wonderful and thorough characters along with unique and interesting storylines and I was right. That is exactly what she did. I am thoroughly intrigued by this series and I look forward to reading more....more
Ever After is the fourth book in the absolutely awesome Transplanted Tales series by Kate SeRine. I have never read anything like this series. Fairy Tale and literary characters come to life and live among us, blending in the best they can and taking on career paths you would not expect. At all. So fresh and entertaining, these books never cease to both surprise and amaze me.
Ever After follows an intriguing character we’ve met previously but don’t know much about. We know him as Gideon, aid/guard/muscle to the Seelie fairy king, but who he ‘really’ is surprised me greatly. It’s so fun and completely unexpected! I won’t tell you specifics but I will tell you that it has to do with Robin Hood. That is his HEA after all.
Robin Hood, in Kate’s world, is Arabella (Bella) Locksley. As in Miss Arabella. As in, a woman. And her story is way more intricate than you would imagine. She was well written and you feel her and Gideon’s chemistry right away. She and Gideon made a good match.
Gideon is, as always, awesome. Kate did a good job writing how torn he is between doing what part of his heart is telling him and what the other part of this heart is telling him. I felt he and Bella made a good match and I liked how his story, while sad, wasn’t too over-the-top. Well, I suppose if it were real like it would be considered insane but where book heroes are concerned, it wasn’t too extreme.
I loved the twists the fairy court presented and I adored the Merlin and Arthur aspects to the story. Yup, Merlin and Arthur! Merlin was such a fun character! (Yes, we meet him and you can’t not smile when he’s on the page)
The fairy king surprised me in this book. In a good way. And man I hate the queen! Also, not at the very end but close enough, there is one scene…yeah… Just when you think you know how everything is going to go down, shock. Not world-changing but my jaw hit the floor nonetheless.
Kate is now working on two, yes two, new series. That means that this is the last book in the Transplanted Tales series…for now. And you can tell while reading it. It’s written somewhat like a final book, featuring heroes and heroines from past books in some pretty fun and impressive scenes. Like a reunion of sorts, wetting our need to know how these characters are doing and giving us a bit of closure at the same time.
I love how this series takes me by surprise. How Kate imagines her characters, their path from their ‘stories’ to their new realities, is always fun and unexpected. Her imagination never ceases to blow me away. The fact that the stories are well written, well paced as well as entertaining makes the Transplanted Tales a must read series.
Ever After leaves the series is a very nice spot, ready to pick up again or not. I am definitely on the ‘please write more of these books someday’ team. Ever After reminded me how well these books are done and I don’t want to see it come to an end quite yet....more
Red Blooded is the fourth book in Amanda Carlson’s Jessica McClain series. If one of your favorite parts of this series is that you are dumped right in the middle of the action the moment you crack open the book and it doesn’t let you down until the very end then you will not be disappointed in this one. There is no settling into these books, let me tell you. And there is nothing wrong with that.
I can’t say that I noticed much growth in Jessica this time around but we do see her powers grow and change. That is one of my favorite parts of reading this character – where Amanda is leading her is fun to guess and discover. All of the characters that we have come to like make appearances in this book. Roarke, of course, and Jessica’s brother are focuses. The book is about how Jessica is preparing to go into the Underworld to rescue her brother so it’s no surprise that he plays a big role in this book. What did surprise me was how much of the story took place with just Jessica on the page.
Ray, not usually one of my favorite characters, was actually decent in this installment. Selene (yes, she makes an appearance again) took his place as the character that drove me nuts this time. She committed some pretty insane crimes in the last book and she is being punished for them…but she’s acting like the victim and that was the part that made me shake my head. SHE is the one who sold her soul and now she’s complaining that she doesn’t belong there and blah blah blah. Puh-lease and cry me a river. But there is a new character that made up for my frustration towards Selene. She keeps you guessing and I feel you will all like her.
I really liked Amanda’s take on the Underworld. The creatures are creepy and the different areas are well thought out and very cool…in a yuck sort of way. We are talking about Hell after all. I also liked how the Prince of Darkness is well groomed and pristine and demands his demons be that way as well. Another little twist that made Amanda’s Hell stand out to me.
With barely a moment to breathe, Red Blooded keeps you entertained by keeping you on the edge of your seat from the very beginning to the very end. My only wish is that maybe the action chill out a little bit for the next installment so we can focus more on Roarke and Jessica’s relationship. They have great chemistry and you can tell they care for each other but there really hasn’t been much page time with just the two of them in any of the books of this series and I feel it would be nice to get more of that. If the ending to this book is any indication (yes, this book ends with a moment that leaves you demanding the next book now), Pure Blooded should be another fun and high octane read when it releases in 2015....more
Julie: He’s so fine is the eleventh book in Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbor series. If you follow this blog, you know that Anne and I love this series and this author.
Anne: Anything by Jill Shalvis and I’ll be reading it. Her characters always make me feel and laugh and worry. There is a warmth and real feel to them, and humour that I love. And we’ve mentioned before how the town itself is a character as well. There is the excitement of seeing old favorites. And the relationships between the gal pals and the bromances are what we wish we all had.
Julie: Love the gal pals and love the bromances!
This time around we read about Cole and Olivia. Olivia is a former child-star who is trying to live a normal life – something she’s always wanted. I found her a little hard to relate to because of her background. I can’t say I have experienced anything that she has in her life. Good for me, not so good for Olivia.
Anne: Olivia’s past and family are over the top. But I guess this is FICTION. I get Olivia, although her past is not such a realistic thing to happen to most people. But I can relate to her feelings. Her reactions to her past life are realistic. I like her and the life she is making for herself.
Julie: I agree. I think she is doing very well for herself seeing where she once was. I get that her privacy is extra important because she is trying this new life of hers in secrecy, but I didn’t love the lies and cover stories. Sort of understand where they came from but still didn’t like them. She is not a bad character – the opposite really – I just didn’t click with her like I do most of the other heroines in this series.
Anne: We know a bit of Cole from the previous book, as well as his family. He has some awesome people in his life; it’s fun to see more of them in this book. His angst is sad, based on some misconceptions and ego and a few truths. He has a code of integrity and it helps him get closer to Olivia.
I LOVE Cole. He’s HOT and loyal and a handyman and funny. O_ooo! Guys who are smart enough to figure out how things work are awesome and he’s amazing with his sisters’ children, too. Melt me.
Julie: I really enjoyed Cole too and I’m with you about a guy who is smart and good with his hands. He was well written and I adored the scenes with his family. Loved his sense of humor and found it added a lot to this book.
Anne: The humor here is great! The teasing in the family situations and the bromance just makes some really funny parts. I can just see Cole with a scowl on his face, saying shit, when he realizes some things. That made me laugh too.
Julie: Yes! That’s how well the banter and humor was written. I can totally see Cole’s face in those moments clearly.
Anne: I do wish the town wasn’t quite as involved at the end. I grew up in a very small town, so everyone does know too much about everyone else’s business. But I wish Cole and Olivia had some of their declarations in private. That felt a little too much.
Julie: That felt a bit much for me as well. I would have liked to see that done a tad differently too.
Anne: The personal struggles Olivia and Cole had to face dragged my heart around. I guess all those feelings make me more connected to their story. Is there only one more Lucky Harbor story to come? One in a Million is out Oct 14th. Say it isn’t the end!.
4.5 stars from me.
Julie: It’s hard to think that the series’ end is just around the corner. But what a ride it has been. He’s So Fine was a good addition to the series even though not my favorite. Olivia and Cole do make a good match and I can’t wait to see them in the next book.
Archangel’s Shadows is the seventh book in Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series. This series is a paranormal romance series with a twist. The first three books focus on the Archangel Raphael and Elena so in that respect, the beginning of the series is almost urban fantasy. The fourth book is Dmitri’s story, the vampire who is Raphael’s right hand man. Then we read about Jason only to go back to Raphael and Elena in the sixth book. But to be fair, the sixth book was really more of a ‘let’s get you up to date on all the non-couple things the books have been focusing on’ sort of book. Finally, we have this, book seven. This one mostly focuses on Janvier, a vampire, and Ashwini, a Hunter, but there is also some side-story stuff that is taken care of.
This isn’t the first time Janvier and Ash are together in on the page. We first see them together in the short story Angel’s Pawn, which can be found alone in eBook form or in Nalini’s Guild Hunter antology, Angel’s Flight. I don’t think it’s necessary to read this story before diving into Archangel’s Shadows but if you have a chance, do it. You see this couple’s very beginnings and even then, upon their first meeting, their chemistry was explosive.
Holy cow…the chemistry! It’s palpable and some of the strongest I have read. Ash is a Hunter (she goes after rogue vampires who are trying to skip out of their century long contract after they are Made and other such things) so she’s tough and snarky. Then enter a smooth-mouthed Cajun vampire who is as tough as her but with a velvet tongue to boot and you can imagine how the sparks fly. I have loved Janvier and Ash together since I read their novella and even mentioned in my review that I would love to see their story told further. I was over the moon when I heard that this book would be theirs.
I absolutely love how Janvier treasures Ash. Yes, he’s a relentless flirt and when you first meet him in the short story you wonder if he is ever sincere but there is no questioning that anymore when you see him with Ash in this book. He is lethal and smart, loyal and amazing. I really love Janvier’s character.
Ashwini is the type of kick ass heroine I love to read. Like Janvier, she’s smart and loyal and snarky but she’s also soft and vulnerable when she feels she can be. In the blurb, ‘Ash’s secret’ is mentioned and let me tell you, her secret is heart wrenching! I have to admit that I did cry a little bit at one scene in particular. It’s a very sad scene but so touching. And how Janvier was with Ash after this scene made me love him even more.
The women in this series are in no way weak – I like that about the series – but Nalini is not afraid to show them as utterly human. The characters are certainly one of the best parts of this series.
The world is pretty phenomenal too. How archangels rule and vampires are actually created by these angels. Very unique and still, after seven books, manages to impress me.
While reading, I was surprised to find myself thinking ‘JR Ward’ from time to time and what I mean by that is just when things were getting good with the main couple, bam the next chapter was about someone or something else. At first that sort of bugged me but then I noticed that these chapters did in fact benefit the story and they also brought some of our favorite characters to light or some newer ones to focus on. Once I noticed that, I quickly forgave the writing.
One such ‘new-ish’ character is Naasir. OMG I LOVE him! He’s like a child and a cat and a predator all rolled into one. A vampire but not like any of the others. Such an interesting character. I’m looking forward to learning more about him because there are MANY questions when it comes to him. I wonder if the next book will be his because there was a lot of focus on him in this latest book.
Some new questions came to mind about Illium too. He’s a favorite character who is yet to have his full story told. I know that when it’s his turn for his story to be shared that it will be heart-wrenching and awesome all at once. There is a new sadness to Illium in this book that makes me sad. He’s usually such a happy-go-lucky angel! But much has happened and it’s weighing on him. I do hope we either continue to see him in each future book or that his book comes very soon because I want his story.
I enjoyed the mystery aspect of this book. Ash and Janvier are looking into a series of gruesome murders that point to vampires yet not. The ‘whodunit’ is very well done. You think you figured it out then you find out you did not but then you question that too… Very interesting.
Overall, I really enjoyed Archangel’s Shadows. It is actually my favorite installment in some time. It tells the story of Ash and Janvier well and keeps us up to date to various smaller storylines and to characters from past books. No title yet for book eight but we know there that it’s slated for a September 2015 release. So that, for now, is enough to keep me happy.
Seventh Grave and No Body is the, you guessed it, seventh book in Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson series. This series is sold under the ‘mystery’ heading at my local bookstores but it could also easily to called an urban fantasy series as it is set in modern day with a twist and there are strong paranormal aspects to the books. For example, Charley is the grim reaper and her man Reyes is the son of Satan. So yeah…paranormal elements. This is definitely a series you need to read in order of release.
This series is among my mostest favorite series EVER. It is simply outstanding. Charley / Darynda’s voice is so strong, the humor is perfect and the characters are unforgettable. This is the seventh book and in no way is this series on its way to becoming stale. Each book follows one or two new mysteries yet there is a continuing storyline that is just as gripping. The endings of the books are always ‘Wow, I need the next book NOW’ worthy too.
Charley is one of my favorite female characters. I love her snark, her loyalty and her heart. Reyes is also amazing, his loyalty to Charley and his drive for contentment are remarkable. I love them separately and I love them together. They are a perfect match.
As usual, the plethora of side characters impresses almost as much as the main two. Cookie and Ubie are so cute! Osh is a new-ish character and I really like him. I can’t wait to see what his role really is in the continuing story because you just know he’s meant for more. Garrett, Angel, Mr. Wong…everyone! There is not one character I dislike in this book. They all serve a purpose and add to the many layers that is this series.
One of my most favorite parts of this series, and you see it very well in this book, is the dialogue. It’s so natural and flows perfectly. Darynda has a real talent for writing it.
The mystery this time around focuses on missing people and odd suicide notes. I have to say that I did manage to figure out who was behind it early on in the story but I had no idea why so I did still enjoy reading it. (The why was messed up, by the way, and I think you will all enjoy it) On top of that first mystery, there is the ‘why are there bodies missing from the graveyard’ plotline. Didn’t really get the point of that one honestly but still, interesting enough.
There are a few new discoveries that definitely make you wonder WTF in the very best of ways. First, there is Charley’s father’s ‘activities’ and the ‘why’ behind them. ‘Whoa’ and ‘Ew’ are perfect words to describe that one. And then there are still the hellhounds that have been summoned by who knows who and the prophecies going round and round hinting at more fun to come. And we can’t forget the whole ‘Swopes and the kid’ thing. And we really can’t forget Charley’s abilities that are continuing to grow and get more and more interesting. They get crazy interesting in this book and I can’t wait to see what she ultimately becomes. I’m also curious to see if Reyes’ fear of losing her once she gains all of her powers is true. I’m guessing not and thinking ‘better not’.
Overall, I truly enjoyed Seventh Grave and No Body. I can’t get enough of these books. I own them in print and in audiobook formats, they are that good. This series is one of my favorites for a reason – the books and the author are brilliant. I am already counting down to May 19th 2015, when Eighth Grave After Dark is due to hit shelves....more
Just One Night is the third book in Lauren Layne’s Sex, Love & Stiletto series. When I requested this title from NetGalley, it did not state that this was a book three. When I started reading it, I immediately noticed that there was some backstory to a few couples and thought to myself “it seems like these guys have already had their stories told”. I went to Goodreads to check and yup, the friends who are said to be madly in love had already had their books published. But finding this out didn’t make me feel lost or upset, it made me curious about how these friends’ HEA happened because I was drawn to the secondary characters in this book. They seem genuinely friendly, sassy, loyal and happy. And other than the ‘happy’ part, I felt the same way about Sam and Riley, the hero and heroine of this latest book.
When I started reading, I instantly liked Lauren’s voice. It really suits the genre and it held the fun and light quality – without coming across as flighty or silly – that I enjoy in a contemporary romance. I also liked the idea of this book because who doesn’t like a friends-to-lovers romance story. I think we’ve all been there, either as teenagers or as adults. Close friends with a boy and daydreaming about him one day seeing you in a new light and wanting to profess his undying love for you right then and there because he’s not sure how he held off this long… *dreamy sigh* Er… *shakes head*
But back to the book.
Riley is a writer for Stiletto magazine. She is their sex columnist and is good at her job yet she feels a bit like a fraud. You see, she’s only had sex once in her life and it was years ago. Why has she not been going at it with tons of guys? She is smart and beautiful, so what is the issue? Well, the issue is Sam. Riley has had a crush on her brother’s best friend for over a decade and just can’t seem to want to be with anyone but him. The issue is Sam has yet to notice Riley in ‘that way’. Or has he?… Riley finds out she is to write a story about the ‘real’ her and it sort of freaks her out. She decides to go after what she wants and asks Sam to give her one night so she can write about something real and not about something she made up, which she does not want to do. Of course, Sam says no, then yes, then no, then yes, then… You get the idea.
The idea, even though it is not something new to this genre, is fun. And watching Sam torture himself over whether or not to take Riley up on her offer makes for entertaining reading. Their chemistry is hot and their smexy scenes are really well written. I liked this book very much but…certain plot points did start rubbing me the wrong way after a while.
There is one thing in any book that drives me bonkers is when someone is hiding something from the other person that really does not need to be hidden. And if said thing would not be hidden, if they would just fess up and get on with things, it would make everything better for everyone. Riley hides from Sam that she is practically a virgin and lets him believe that she is essentially a woman who sleeps around a lot. Why? Why why why? This assumption of his hurts her. I didn’t get the secrecy and, for me, it caused unnecessary stress and sadness for Riley.
Sam also has something that confused me a bit and it’s primarily because there wasn’t enough information about him for this to make sense. At least, that’s my thinking. He is starting is own brewery and is afraid of actually getting it off the ground. Why? He’s afraid of failure and his mother is horrible and makes him feel like a nothing but still, why? I feel I needed a bit more elaboration about his decisions for them to make sense to me. And he was doing the whole ‘I promised Riley’s brother, my BFF, that I wouldn’t touch his sister so I have to avoid my true feelings’ thing. A lot. Also frustrating.
Other than that, I did enjoy Just One Night. It was a quick and fun read even with the issues I had with the story. I am very picky when it comes to my contemporary romance books and the issues I had with this book are issues I would have if written by any author in any book. Not just this one. So if the issues I had with this latest installment are things that don’t usually bother you in a romance story, check this book out. The author’s voice makes it worth it.
Night Owls is the first book in a shiny new urban fantasy series by Lauren M. Roy. It can’t be easy writing a new urban fantasy series these days because really, most things have been done. Crazy blood sucking vampires – done. Werewolves who are…wolfish – done. Witches, hunters, fighter, protectors – done. So where authors can’t really find new stuff to include in their books anymore, they do have to find a way to present it in a new and interesting way. I feel Lauren did that in her debut. Nothing is so farfetched that you are left wondering why she went there but they are just unique enough to keep you captivated.
Night Owls is a college area bookstore owned by a vampire, Val. I actually really liked Val and I really enjoyed her Renfield (daytime human helper) Chaz. They have been friends for five years and have grown to depend on each other. There is nothing romantic there (‘yet’ I’m hoping) but their friendship-chemistry is really well written. Val has decided to redefine herself not long ago but what she is not wanting to face may be coming back to find her. She is a strong character, very loyal and with tons of integrity, as is Chaz, and I look forward to reading more about them in future installments.
Elly is the other main lady in this series. She is a Hunter of sorts and in possession of a book that the bad guys, the Creeps, really want. The Creeps are pretty much werewolves and they are not nice. At all. I did feel for Elly and her circumstance but I can’t say I felt much for her as a character. Not sure why, honestly. It’s not that we didn’t get enough back info about her and she wasn’t annoying or anything of the sort. I just didn’t click with her. But I am not against reading more of her so I guess that is a good sign.
Cavale was a very interesting character as well as Lia and Sunny. A warlock and two succubi. They are strong supporting characters that really bring something special to the story. Justin is another supporting character who goes through a whole lot in this book and who I found was well written. In fact, there is a pretty impressive twist or ten that involve him.
As for the story, it was very well paced and interesting. The book Elly has is finally given to the Creeps but there is one thing wrong – something is missing from it. So basically, where did it go and how to get to it once it’s found… You meet people here and there, bad guys and good guys, to keep things interesting as you are brought along from one twist to another. I liked the story, a lot. I thought I was well planned out and felt just different enough to keep me engrossed.
All in all, I was very pleased with Night Owls. An impressive debut that promises at more exciting things to come. The way it ended was not expected and left me even more curious about what will happen in the next book. Hoping it’s release date isn’t too far away.
Wickedly Dangerous is the first book in a new paranormal romance series by Deborah Blake. The Baba Yaga series puts a new spin on the Russian tales about the witch who stalks children and has an interesting choice of transportation.
I feel the best way to write this review is to separate is into what I liked and what I didn’t so much like. So here goes.
What I enjoyed -
I liked Barbara (Baba). She is a strong character and I enjoyed watching her grow through the book. She’s all tough on the outside but seeing glimpses of her inner mushy side made me smile.
I loved the new twist on the classic Baba Yaga folklore. How there are many witches taking on the title and each help where they are called is very well done. The next book, Wickedly Wonderful, will focus on a different North American Baba Yaga witch and show us how she finds her HEA.
I found the mystery, which is the base of this story, to be well written. And once you find out who is responsible for the things that are going bump in the night, there is still more to learn. Well done.
I liked Baba’s dog/dragon and I liked the dragon/bikers. They were fun to read.
There is quite a depth to the characters and was impressed with how much we learn and feel for them by the end of the book.
What I didn’t enjoy. (“Didn’t enjoy” is not really the right way of putting this, I suppose. ” My biggest and really only beef” might be better. And it’s not even a ‘beef’. It’s a ‘well, that’s too bad’. So let’s call this the “Well, it really is too bad felt this way” portion of this review -
*sigh* I felt absolutely no chemistry between Liam and Baba. None. I know I’m like the only person out there feeling this way but there it is. For me, there was no spark. And every time I read a scene with the two of them, I felt sad that I didn’t feel something. And my not feeling anything put a real damper on my level of enjoyment for this book. Liam is a good character and his story is awful. He and Baba are good together. But for me, I felt they made good friends or cousins but not necessarily good life partners.
So there you have it. Sucks for me to feel this way when the book has so many great things going for it. Wickedly Dangerous is getting some very strong reviews so if you like the idea of folkloric tales being re-invented, give this one a try. I’m weary about continuing with the series because of how I felt towards the whole romance in this book but who knows, maybe someone’s review somewhere will convince me to give it a try. The bones are there, it’s just missing the spark.
Nightmare Ink is the first book in a new urban fantasy series by Marcella Burnard. I wish I could say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book but unfortunately, I didn’t. I enjoyed the idea of living tattoos but the execution of the story just made it hard for me to connect with the book or the characters.
Isa is a talented tattoo artist and is capable of inking living tattoos but chooses not too after an unfortunate incident that happened years ago. Isa has not had an easy life. At all. Add to that what happens to her in this book and whoa…she is strong of character because I don’t know of anyone who could survive it all. Isa doesn’t just survive it, she uses it to kick some ass in her own way. I did find I was rooting for her once in a while because of what she went through. But overall, I had trouble clicking with her, and I’ll get into ‘why’ in a moment.
Patty is an interesting character but again, I was not able to click with her. In fact, there isn’t really a single character in this book that I was able to connect with. The reason for that is the information we were given about the characters and their situations, as well as explanations of why they were doing what they were doing, came about just too slowly. I feel the author’s intention was to create some suspense and speculation about the characters but for me, that backfired. I felt more lost than anything when information was shared because only little tidbits were said at a time. Instead of making me want more it left me frustrated. For me all of that attempted suspense caused more of a block than anything and made it almost impossible for me to create a real bond with the characters.
Daniel is yet another character that I was confused about. He is a major character yet his motives were impossible to guess and when we know why he is doing what he is doing, it seemed to come out of nowhere and didn’t seem to mesh with the story. I felt he was flat and not really interesting, which is a quality I think a good villain needs.
In the book, Isa is kidnapped and tattooed with a living tattoo against her will. (That is not a spoiler by the way, it says so in the blurb ;)) How long she was kept and how she was treated was absolutely horrible. I would not wish that on anyone. But once she escapes, the focus was on her recovery and how she was dealing with what happened. As to be expected. But again, not enough was explained so I was left feeling sorry for her without even knowing the whole story. So my feeling sorry didn’t last very long as it was replaced with more frustration. It was past the 50% mark of the book that things started to pick up and the story started moving but by then, it was too late for me.
The living tattoo, Murmur, both interested me and drove me bonkers. Sometimes he was just a bit much. Too over the top. Then suddenly, he’s not. I did like how the tattoo becomes a part of the person on which he is drawn and that he is a living being himself. He also enhances part of the person’s character, for good or bad. Like a permanent drug. Pretty neat idea.
Overall, I wish I clicked with Nightmare Ink more but I just didn’t. There were too many things that I didn’t like, too many things that just didn’t quite fit and too much time between vital information being shared about the characters in this story. For me, characters are the most important thing in an urban fantasy series and since I didn’t grow to care enough for the people in this book, I will not be reading the next installment.
Before I even tell you why, go to the store (or a bookstore website) and pre-order this book. Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop. NOW. I’ll be here when you get back. If you have not read the first book, Written in Red, buy that one NOW then pre-order this second one. I will wait while you do that. Go. *hums Jeopardy anthem*
Okay. Let’s get to it then.
Anne Bishop is primarily known for her straight up fantasy. Fantasy writers, in order to be successful, need to be able to build a world that is just as captivating as their characters and their stories. Anne definitely accomplishes that in her The Others series. It’s based on how the Europeans came to North America and captured the Native’s land. But what if the Natives were shifters of the most terrifying sort and didn’t relinquish their lands and resources so easily? What if they controlled everything we needed to make what we need to survive? Some pretty interesting questions come up while you are reading these books. Many times I thank goodness that our reality isn’t the one in these stories. That is the impact this world has on its readers.
The stories are also quite gripping. In Written in Red, we meet Meg and all of the scary and intriguing members of the Courtyard, a place where Others (paranormal creatures) live and handle trades with humans. Meg is a blood prophet, which means she can see the future when she cuts herself. You just have to ask her a question before she does so and you’ll get an answer. A cryptic and weird answer but an answer none the less. We watched as the Others took Meg under their wing and started seeing her as one of their own.
In Murder of Crows, humans are starting to get gutsier, or stupider -however you decide to look at it, and are starting to attack Others. Why anyone would want to purposely incite a war with creatures that see you only as meat is beyond me. Others are vicious. They are animals. Animals who know they are the top of the food chain. There are also Elementals mixed in there. I love these characters. They control the wind, air, fog…name it. If it’s natural, weather related and outside, there is an Elemental that controls it. And don’t tick them off because they are unapologetic in their attacks. You get to see their sheer power in this book and it will for sure make you shudder. You also have sub-plots of how the ‘human pack’ is forming in the Courtyard, the Controller wants Meg back and someone is making drugs that can turn humans and Others alike into either blubbery balls of goo who don’t care what is happening to them or angry rage-filled beings. All of these make up the story in Murder of Crows and all of these plotlines will keep you interested while keeping you guessing until the very last moment.
There is one more little side story line of sorts in this book and it’s one we romance/chemistry lovers are excited about and that is Simon and Meg. I know, there isn’t really a ‘Simon and Meg’ but we ‘love-junkies’ are hoping there will be someday. And we are also hoping that it won’t cause too much trouble for them because they deserve happiness and each other.
Simon is one of the most feared Other. He is a wolf shifter and leader of this particular Courtyard and in the first book, it was very easy to see how people tended to pee themselves at the mere sight of him. He’s vicious and unrepentant. He is wolf, animal, and he has no desire to be anything else. We watch him transform a wee bit by being around Meg in the first book and his transformation continues a bit in this latest book. I love watching his growth. Anne writes it perfectly. He is nowhere near ‘human’ but there are moments here and there, endearing scenes with Meg, where you almost swear there is a little bit of ‘man’ in him. I love watching his struggles to understand human women, and Meg in particular. She has been locked up in an institution before her escape in book one so she is also just learning about herself. Watching the two of them trying to figure things out together really warms the heart.
We meet a new sort of human/Other in this book. Intuits are humans who have a ‘feeling’ when something is going to go wrong. Very interesting people and I like how Anne added them to her world. We also have Monty and the human police force. They play a very important role in this book. I liked how Anne managed to even add character growth to these side characters. There are many characters in this book and some of them seem to come out of nowhere then drop off for a while only to come back in later chapters bringing with them a pivotal line or scene that just brings everything together. Anne weaves such an intricate story it really is impossible to put the book down once you start it.
Meg has many opportunities to prophet in this book, and thank goodness she does as she manages to thwart many nasty things. Watching Meg and her friends trying to decipher and read a prophet was so interesting. This is just another example of how Anne writes her world with incredible detail.
The side characters, as I mentioned, are abundant but each memorable. Vlad, Henry, Sam…I can go on and on, but I won’t. I’m sure you all don’t want to read a 72 page review ;)
One BIG revelation occurs in this book: we finally learn what Tess is! All I’m going to say is *shudder*
Overall, I absolutely adored Murder of Crows. It is, in my opinion, a near perfect urban fantasy read. It is the perfect mix of endearing moments that make you smile and giggle and moments that scare the poop out of you on a psychological level. It has some of the best written characters I have ever found in Urban Fantasy and storylines that suck you in so completely you try to convince your bladder that no, it does not have to pee right at that moment. The pace is perfect and Anne’s voice is stunning.
Leave it to Sierra to leave me in a blubbery snotty mess…and nobody ‘special’ even died! *grabs Kleenex, wipes eyes, blows nose*
Where to start?!
Cold Hard Secret is the seventh book in Sierra Dean’s Secret McQueen series and the title suits is perfectly. Our Secret, our snarky sassy Secret, has changed. What happened to her in the last book has pretty much crushed her spirit and who can blame her? No one would be able to survive what she did and escape unscathed. Sierra did a fantastic job writing the ‘new’ Secret but I have to admit that she was very hard to read. I felt so bad for her and just wanted to give her a hug!
The book starts with Secret with Desmond in Paris. They are hunting one of the big-baddies from this series, Peyton. I knew from the blurb that this would be the book where Secret would have her showdown with Peyton but I never expected it to go quite the way it did. Or that it would not take up more of the book! But ultimately, it was done well with all the twists and wtf moments you expect. And that is just the beginning of those kids of moments in this installment.
Secret does not get any downtime after meeting Peyton in Paris. The story takes on directions I never expected! There is a lot of killing in this book. Now I don’t usually cheer when murder occurs – that just seems wrong – but I must say that the two main deaths in this book were freaking fantastic.
As I mentioned, Secret definitely has some stuff to work out and I don’t feel she’ll ever be fully healed from her ordeal. She’s harder and so is her wolf. But as the book progresses, I felt a little of the ‘old’ Secret peeks through which made me realize that no, she’s not the same and she is very damaged but yes, she will ultimately be okay.
One of the most gripping aspects about this series is the relationship between Secret and her men. Yes, men. As in plural. There was a love square for a while then a love triangle. I have said this before and I say it again: I’m not a fan of love triangles but the way Sierra writes it in these books is really good. You don’t find any whining or other petty and annoying romance-book-love-triangle clichés. We are dealing with adults here after all.
You may have heard rumors about Secret and how she says “yes” to one of her men. Well, it’s true. Secret turns her love triangle into a perfect circle. I can’t wait to see what you guys thing of her choice! I have been torn between Des and Holden for the last couple of books and I honestly can’t tell you what I think of her choice. I actually saw her with both men, each having something to offer Secret. So I was surprised when I was a little disappointed when she said ‘yes’. But really, I think that I would have been a little sad with a ‘yes’ to either one. That is just how well Sierra has written these characters. Speaking of the men, I love them both in this book. They both have moments where they shine but I think Holden wins in this book where that is concerned. He has a speech-moment and OMG! It will make you swoon! And ball. And think your man at home is inadequate. If you were not a Holden fan before, after his little speech, you will be. And that is all I’m going to say about that. But Desmond fans, do not fret. There is a lot of Desmond and Secret alone time in this book so you’ll be happy.
There is another man that is somewhat prominent in this series, but not in a romantic way and this man has one hell of a scene in this book. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I am talking about Sig. All there is to say really about him and this scene is ‘whoaaaaa’.
Sierra Dean should be obligated to stick around twitter and not go anywhere when people are reading her books. You can’t read and not want to either ream her out or ask her “why? Why? WHY?!”. She has the ability to get her readers emotionally involved in her books at a level that not many authors manage to achieve. I am not overly excited that the next book, A Secret to Die For, is the last in the series but I can’t wait to see what happens.
Cold Hard Secret was a great read. It continued the series perfectly and answered some questions with answers I did not expect. If you have not taken the time to read these books, I urge you to do so. It really is a fantastic series.
And now I’m off to read that Holden soliloquy again. *sigh*...more
Anne: So usually Julie and I have similar views on books, but not always. I LOVED this one. I can’t give all concrete reasons why. Feelings aren’t exactly logical. But it was so good for me.
Julie: And unfortunately, it was not so good for me. We’ll get into the ‘whys’ in a bit but first, let me tell you about the book.
Ghost Seer is the first book in a new series by Robin D Owens. These books will tell the story of Clare Cermak and how she inherited the ability to see and help ghosts move on to where they are supposed to be. She is not a Reaper – her job is to help the ghosts she encounters settle their biggest regret. Some are easier than others and that is what makes the premise of this series and the story in this first installment very interesting.
There was quite a bit I enjoyed about the book. Unfortunately, more irked me than not. I’m going to start with Clare. I can completely understand where she comes from in the book. She is an accountant and therefore loves order and logic. Suddenly having a ghost dog follow you around and ‘talk’ to you defies all logic and therefore Clare comes to the only conclusion she can think of: she is going insane. She remembers her aunt trying to tell her about a ‘gift’ but assumed her aunt was nuts. So now that her aunt has passed away and suddenly Clare sees ghosts, it’s a stretch for her mind to accept that her aunt was actually sane and telling the truth all these years.
I can understand being reluctant at accepting her new reality, but by page 200 Clare was STILL wondering if she was truly seeing spirits or if she was perhaps nuts. Even after she accepted that she saw ghosts, she went back from time to time to question it. That drove me bonkers. Okay. 100 pages would be a decent time to accept things, especially with all she goes through in those first pages, but after a while, enough is enough. You can see ghosts. Deal with it.
Anne: Yes I can understand your irritation. I found it annoying as well. But Clare had more to deal with than just seeing a ghost dog and other ghosts. It isn’t just her education in accounting which gives her a love of logic and order. It’s her defense mechanism to the chaos her parents made her life. Children all love the comfort of a routine, knowing what to expect and she didn’t get that at all. Plus she has the aunt’s estate to settle, the change in her life without a job, and her guilt over not spending more time with Aunt Sandra. Plus the whole book takes place over a week or so, not really all that much time to adjust to many things.
I loved Clare’s analyzing of things, her integrity and caring for others, and her ability to make a plan and adapt to the changing circumstances. I loved her relationship with Zach, because I loved him, even though he hadn’t accepted his own reality months after the fact. But I didn’t like it when Clare expected Zach to accept hers all at once, just because she finally did.
Julie: You’re right. It’s not much time for her but it’s a lot of time for the reader lol. I did like Clare’s character. I loved how she left her job not only because she didn’t need to work anymore but also because she thought someone else who needs a job could get one now because of the vacancy she left. Little things like that made me like her. I just wish she would get out of the denial a bit sooner.
I liked how she was with Zach and I completely understand how she needed to feel a connection to someone after what she was going through. Zach needed that too. But unfortunately their ‘relationship’ is something else that irked me. To me, it didn’t feel natural. I wouldn’t quite say it was rushed but I definitely felt a little bit awkward. I did feel Zach was a good match for Clare and I found they made a great team when doing the ‘investigating’ thing but where the romantic stuff is involved, it was just off. But I am excited to see how their romance develops because I really do believe they make a great match.
Anne: I loved Zach because he is hot and such a guy. He doesn’t want to show any weakness. He is protective. He doesn’t want to open up about his seeing crows or even when he can see ghosts with Clare. He doesn’t want to commit to anything but he doesn’t want her with anyone else. Such a classic guy. Now for some reason, it’s a stereotype which makes me laugh instead of making me annoyed. And really, they have been together such a short time; he shouldn’t be moving in or asking her to marry him just yet anyway.
So, one of the things I love the most about this book is the fact there is a romance. A really hot, satisfying and developing romance. We don’t always get that or so quickly in an urban fantasy.
I can see how you might feel it was too fast. It was fast but they were both alone and it was so right. It felt realistic because of their flaws. Neither one of them was perfect; the situation wasn’t perfect. I think what you felt was off endeared them to me. Real life isn’t always on. I suppose the romance could have been slowed down with more sexual tension. But then would he have been with her when things happened or compelled to work with her as much?
I do love the way Clare and Zach work together. I always love the smart and these two are both very smart, capable and competent. And I enjoy the fact they both want to be useful in their lives even when they don’t need the money. But it’s especially great how they both want to be smart and logical and their world is not. They use the skills they have to do well, in spite of it not being believable to them and so many things not in their control. Their frustration with things out of their control might even have been a further push to get release through their chemistry. Both Clare and Zach and the reader needed it.
Julie: I just don’t see how two people who have been facing such crazy and difficult circumstances would even be open to that intense of a beginning-relationship. That is what felt off for me. It felt too “oh, we’re alone and we need each other so lets”. But what you liked about them I liked too. As I said, I am looking forward to watching their relationship progress. Maybe in the next book it will feel more real to me.
Anne: I think another reason the book appeals to me so much is because it is a mental powers sort of thing and that is my favorite thing in urban fantasy or supernatural world. They both have some, whether they want to admit it or not. The development of those powers and their relationship and the work they do together, with their integrity, makes me so excited for the next book! I don’t expect everything to be smooth or easy, or hearts and rainbows. That wouldn’t be realistic. I expect their struggles with it all to be fascinating, and an emotional ride for me.
Julie: I strongly feel that this is a ‘first book not too strong but the second book will be better’ series for me. I love the bones of the book and the bones of the characters. It’s all in the way it was all introduced to me that felt strange. I think after all of that is done, which it is after this book, the rest will be more solid. I absolutely love where I think this series is going. I agree Clare and Zach will most likely not have all rainbows in their future but I feel they can stand together and face anything.
How I envision this series going is like this: Clare encounters a ghost that needs help. Clare and Zach go about solving the riddles that solve what needs to be done. I really hope the series takes that turn because that is part of what happens in Ghost Seer and that was such fun to read.
Anne: Yes, I think the solving puzzles, with the interest of historical bits against the background of the warm security of a solid relationship will be great. I hope it will be a solid relationship with the gradual sharing of more of their personal issues with each other. Their acceptance and development of their abilities will be trying for them but fun – a great story – for us. And I want them to face it together.
Julie: Loved the historical bits! You can tell Robin knows her Wild West history. I was drawn to the idea that each Seer sees different ghosts, some from the 1900’s and others, like Clare, from the pioneer days and the Old West. I thought that was totally cool. The author’s notes in her acknowledgments were really interesting. Like a mini history lesson.
Anne: So I just loved this, the plot, the historical references, the characters (many we didn’t discuss), the romance against the disturbing changes in the main characters lives, and the promise of more growth in the characters, their capabilities and the relationship, and more historical tales. I look forward to the next book, Ghost Layer, coming out September 2nd this year.
This one is 5 stars for me.
Julie: Oh how I wish I could give it a strong rating too but because I just didn’t feel the same ‘click’ as you did with the characters or how their circumstances were presented, I am not. There were just too many things that made me cringe. Even how the chapters finish mid-thought threw me off. But I do believe I will read Ghost Layer because the bones of this first book were solid. As you said, Clare and Zach show promise for growth and the history and mysteries are great. Ghost Seer is an interesting start to a series with potential that has not quite been reached yet.
Banishing the Dark is the fourth book in Jenn Bennett’s absolutely amazing Arcadia Bell series. This is easily one of my favorite urban fantasy series. The storylines are so interesting and the characters are simply outstanding.
This installment follows Arcadia (Cady) and Lon, her boyfriend who happens to be quite a bit older than her, an Earthbound demon and sexy as hell, as they try to keep Cady’s mother in the Æther, where she belongs because, as we learned in the first book, she is a special kind of crazy. Yeah…imagine completely nuts and you have Enola, Cady’s mom. Cady battled an equally crazy man in the last book and this one starts off with Cady waking up from a long coma. She is dealing with some soreness and some fuzzy memories. Lon is by her side *dreamy sigh* and is helping her recover as quickly as possible. Because, you know, crazy mom wants to find her and take over her body. See?… batshit crazy.
Cady really comes into her own in this latest installment. She is continuing to learn about her abilities and is figuring out how to use them when she needs them. There are some pretty impressive examples of how far she’s come in this book. I have always liked Cady and seeing who she becomes by the end of this installment makes me very happy. It works perfectly with her character and makes me feel that she is going to be okay.
Jupe is Lon’s teenaged son. I can’t say this enough: I am not usually a fan of teenagers in books – I find they tend to either be whiny or annoying – but Jupe is written in a way where it is impossible not to find him completely delightful. He has such a big heart and the fact that he can’t seem to stop talking even when he knows he really should is both funny and endearing.
The book is told from Cady’s point of view but we get a few chapters that are told in the third person from Jupe’s point of view. Jupe is the type of boy who follows his heart now and thinks that maybe it wasn’t the best idea later. So every time a chapter would start and it was Jupe doing…something, I found myself saying “No Jupe. Oh no Jupe. Don’t do it!” even though it was not necessarily a bad thing that he was doing. I just tend to assume that where Jupe’s intentions are very honorable and everything he does is with a deep seated passion, most of the time they don’t quite turn out as he wished. Now, whether or not his actions helped in this book or hindered Lon and Cady’s quest is something you will have to read the book to find out.
And finally we have Lon. I think I’ve mentioned this in every review that I’ve written for this series but it’s true: he really is absolutely perfect for Cady. And there is just something about him that is beyond sexy! Maybe it’s that he’s mature or maybe it’s that he’s smart and totally captured by Cady. Maybe it’s that he’s normal and isn’t perfect, that he admits to having trouble being a single dad to his energetic teenaged son. Maybe it’s all of the above. Whatever it is, just seeing his name on the page makes me smile. And same as with Cady, he’s changed in the series but not so much that he’s unrecognizable. He’s still quiet and intense yet is now able to open up a bit to Cady, showing her how he really feels. Overall, he’s a wonderfully created character, as are all of the characters in this series.
At the end of the book, you will find Jenn’s Acknowledgements. I read these and boy, did I find a surprise in there. Jenn basically tells us that Banishing the Dark will be the last Arcadia Bell novel. Yes folks, for now and maybe even for always, this is the end of this brilliant series. When I read that I started crying. Yes, I may have been pms-ing but that is not the point. The point is that I have grown so attached to these characters over the last four books that the mere idea of not seeing them through new adventures brought such an overwhelming sadness, one I had much trouble understanding. I mean, it’s only been four books! But in these four books, Jenn manages to bring Cady, Lon, Jupe and the rest of the gang to life in such a way that you think of them as real. You know better, of course, and you can pick up an Arcadia Bell book at any time to re-read it but it’s just not quite the same. The last couple of lines in the acknowledgement passage is “It’s never easy to say goodbye, but Cady, Lon, Jupe and Tabby now belong to you. Please take good care of them.” and she’s right. They do belong to us, thanks to her. Seeing this line made me realize what power authors truly hold over their readers. Jenn created these fictional people in her head and wrote down stories about them. And we ate them up, welcoming these ideas into our lives. Kind of freaky when you think about it…
All in all, Banishing the Dark was the perfect continuation to the series and, essentially, ending to it as well. There is a wonderful epilogue that takes place three and a half years after the book ends and it really makes everything right in the world. I am so happy that I read these books and I urge you all to do the same. These are superb urban fantasy reads.
Primal Temptation is the fourth book in Sydney Somers Pendragon Gargoyles series. This is a solid series with good story telling mixed in with very interesting twists on mythology. It also has a very interesting mix of paranormal creatures – some you don’t tend to see in paranormal romance books.
This installment focuses on Briana and Lucan (Luke). Briana is a cat/gargoyle shifter and Luke is a wraith. Both have been cursed by Rhiannon after Arthur died. Yes, Arthur and the Knights of the round table…that Arthur. Like I said, the twist on mythology in this series is incredible. All the Knights have been cursed because they failed to protect Arthur. Others were also cursed pretty much for the same reason. And some characters who were cursed led some pretty interesting lives ‘before’…such as Merlin and Lancelot! But you don’t know who they were before until all is revealed! So cool! Sydney does a fantastic job with the world in these books.
To break the curse that has been set upon them, Pendragon’s must find their mate. Briana actually found her mate ages ago but didn’t want to share that information with her overly protective brothers (the heroes from the previous books) because of who her mate is. He is not well liked by pretty much everyone in this paranormal community and not because he isn’t a decent guy but because he can’t help the hunter he is cursed to be and he pretty much scared the bejeebus out of everyone. Except for Briana. Even Luke does not know he is her mate, and let me tell you, that scene is good. :)
Briana and Luke have a more complex history than I imagined and the way Sydney wrote their time together and blended it with flashback was great. It really shows you just how long Briana’s journey to ‘happiness’ has been and how right these two are for each other. Of course, Luke has been fighting his attraction to Briana for centuries and sometimes watching him struggle with his feelings was a bit frustrating (meaning you may find yourself yelling : “just take her already!”) but seeing what he is, it is all mostly understandable.
Briana has spunk and I like that and Luke is quite yummy and I like that too. *grin*
There is much more to the story than just Briana and Luke. War is coming and a tradition of sorts before war begins is that there is some version of immortal Games. These are called the Gauntlet. Well, Briana and Luke have been chosen to compete. The Games themselves were very interesting and I enjoyed reading the different tasks the players had to overcome. Sydney’s imagination really works here. The Games were fast paced and really fun to read. You will definitely sit a little bit on the edge of your seat while reading the Game scenes.
There are some side characters that were interesting and who have chemistry that rivaled Briana’s and Lucan’s. Nessa, Mac, Vaughn and Elena are all characters to watch in this book.
Overall, I was very happy with Primal Temptation. It was nice to finally get Briana and Luke’s story as well as catch up with heroes and heroines from the past installments. Sydney had created such an interesting world, it’s difficult not to be in awe as you read these books. I know that the ‘original’ siblings have all found their HEA but I’m hoping that the new and interesting characters will provide enough inspiration for Sydney to continue the series....more
Julie: It’s in His Kiss is the tenth book in Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbor series. If you are a fan of contemporary romance books and have yet to try this series, you absolutely must.
Anne: I’m always happy to read a book by Jill Shalvis because it’s always great characters, relatable issues and funny. This was no exception. This is the story of Sam, the boat builder with a charter boat business, and Becca, the jingle writer musician. I don’t find their instant attraction unbelievable, but the speed with which they act on it is. Not Sam so much, since let’s face it, hot guys are used to being horn dogs. But with Becca’s background, I’m not sure I think she would get involved so fast.
Julie: I agree that the speed at which Becca invited Sam into her bed was a bit odd. But for me it did not dampen the story as far as the believability of the couple. I found their chemistry was wonderful and that they made a really great pairing.
Anne: Sam had a tough time growing up and it would have been worse without his friend, Cole and Cole’s mom, Amelia. Cole and Tanner are his business partners; they also worked oil rigs together for years previously. These are his trusted people; it’s a short list. His father, has been an irresponsible mooch, well, FOREVER.
Julie: Huge fan of Cole and Tanner! I absolutely adored reading their relationship with Sam. These guys are so close! Can’t wait for Cole and Tanner to get their own books so we can find out even more about these awesome characters. And of course, as with any awesome character, I already feel they completely deserve their own happily ever afters.
Sam…I loved finding out what makes him tick. We get teased about him in the last book and I have to say his story is not actually as bad as I feared. He’s messed up but he’s not too damaged. He’s a strong personality and has learned from an early age what he needs and how to get it. I did melt a bit here and there when his trust and ‘love’ issues came up and I’m glad he was not overly pigheaded about letting love in.
Amelia was the perfect mother for Sam. Not too mushy but not a pushover, how she loves him as though he were her own son was easy to see. Sam’s dad…I feel like adding some colorful words about him but I will control myself. Irresponsible mooch is a nice way of saying what he is. I was not a fan of his, which I understand is the point, but I feel like he’s written in a way where readers are eventually supposed to feel sorry for him. I didn’t feel there was enough of an attempt on his part to change for me to give him my sympathy. If that was the point of his character, I feel he needed to be written a little differently. Written as he was, I just feel he was an irresponsible child with no real remorse for what he did to his family. *deep breath* Oh man, I can go on…but I won’t. As you can tell, not a fan. And Becca and how he is towards Sam’s dad…wtf?! That is really my biggest beef with this book. Sam’s dad as a whole, frustrating. But how Becca treated him even after knowing how he was with Sam for most of his boyhood…big beef! Didn’t get that, at all.
Anne: I didn’t feel sorry for Sam’s dad. AT ALL. He created his own issues. The jerk. I can’t believe how great Becca was to him. I would have thought she would be more protective of Sam.
Becca has left her family to deal with her issues on her own. She reached the point where she had to stop dealing with their problems and take care of herself. She is looking for a new life and possibly new career. In the meantime, she needs a job, so she works as an office manager of sorts for the charter business. She’s good at it and it gives her a confidence boost, income and time to build friendships with all three owners.
Julie: Beef aside, I really liked Becca. I liked her spunk and how she dealt with her own issues. Her family ticked me off too but she stayed strong, knowing what she needed. Good for her. The scene with her parents seems to come out of nowhere but what can you do?..
Anne: The town of Lucky Harbor continues to play a role in this series. I was happy to see a brief glimpse, very brief, of residents I love. Lance was there. Lucille has discovered Pinterest (since she kept going to Facebook jail)! And I was overjoyed to see Ben, Pink and Kendra. I melt into a puddle every time Jax appears. (And oddly, I don’t even picture him as Charlie Hunnam!)
Julie: After loving Lucille’s role in the previous book, I’m back to finding her a little too ‘in your business’ in this one. But she still makes me smile when she appears on the page. I also loved seeing Ben and Pink with Kendra.
And your comment about melting over Jax even though you don’t picture him as Charlie…hilarious! I was happy to see Jax too. He’s still one of my most favorite heroes from this series…and he’s from the first book!
Anne: OK I have to say I love little bits of “Jill” I recognized in this story. There’s her love of cookies. And her fear of spiders. These things woven into the story tickle me now.
Julie: I love that too! It’s fun to read little things like that about Jill and it makes me wonder if there are bits of her friends and family in the stories here and there as well. I think being able to personalize a story while keeping it suitable for the masses is one of Jill’s talents with her writing. I also like how she adds many elements of pop-culture yet I don’t feel it would ‘date’ the story too much if someone were to pick up a Lucky Harbor book in 15 years or so. I think it would make the book fun for them and not ‘old’.
Anne: It’s in His Kiss is a solid installment in the amazing Lucky Harbor series.
4 stars from me
Julie: Even with my not so warm and fuzzy feeling over Sam’s dad and my ‘huh’ with Becca’s family scene and my ‘wtf’ over Becca’s treatment of Sam’s father, I really did enjoy It’s in His Kiss. I smiled when I picked it up to continue reading and I dreaded having to put it down to get back to real life. In fact, I always look forward to an installment in the Lucky Harbor series and don’t love the idea that it will soon be coming to an end. I can’t wait to read He’s So Fine, Cole story, when it releases September 30, 2014. Jill writes circles of friends exceptionally well and so far, this new trio seems to be no exception.