"Kill Without Mercy" by Alexandra Ivy presents readers with a simple sounding premise - a vet helps a woman deal with her past. But in reality, this b"Kill Without Mercy" by Alexandra Ivy presents readers with a simple sounding premise - a vet helps a woman deal with her past. But in reality, this book is anything but simple. The vet, Rafe Vargas, proves to be more than a man with a violent past. He's loyal to death to those who he cares about, but the flip side of that loyalty is a hatred of people who betray others. Rafe prefers to handle any situation alone, but he relies on his team with nary a complaint. He kills when he needs to, but he values life perhaps all the more because of those he had to kill. Rafe arrives in Newton, Iowa to clean out his grandfather's house, with the intention to get out of town as soon as possible.
The woman, Annie White, wants to be invisible. After a horrendous childhood, she wants to be anonymous to the media and to the general public. But she feels drawn to Newton, Iowa to finish... something. Her arrival unfortunately coincides with the start of a serial killer's sick game of kidnapping, torture, and death. Annie intuitively knows she is somehow a part of it all, but she doesn't know how.
Ms. Ivy combines these characters and takes readers on a twisted journey through the past and the present. As I read the novel, the beginning went generally as I expected - meeting the people, learning about what makes Annie and Rafe tick, watching Annie and Rafe circle each other as it becomes clearer and clearer that Annie needs Rafe's help... But then the novel diverges from familiar ground and heads into darker territory. I love when an author manages to take a simple plot and twist it into a complex web - and Ms. Ivy does this magnificently.
If you love a good story and don't mind a bit of darkness thrown in, I strongly recommend reading "Kill without Mercy". ...more
Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
"Desert Wolf" by Heather Long is a rare kind of book.Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
"Desert Wolf" by Heather Long is a rare kind of book. The blurb on the back cover explains quite succinctly the lead up to this book, and also describes what happens in about 85% of the plot. Cassius needs an Omega to unify his pack. He asks Sovvan to come. It took her several months, but she decided to help. Now Cassius is traveling to the New Mexico-Texas border to meet Sovvan and her guardian, Faust.
I love how Ms. Long takes what might have been a page of narration and stretches it across several chapters. As a reader, I learned about the hell Cassius has endured to become alpha and hold the position. I also learn how much he wants to help his pack become better. I also learn what an Omega is, and who Sovvan is. She is gentle and strong, curious and calm, and exactly what Cassius needs.
Ms. Long includes mayhem, betrayal, playfulness, love, hate, and more into this one book than I have seen in a long time. The characters pop out, and you care about what happens to them. From the youngest child to the supposedly unflappable alpha, you want the best for everyone. The action seems real; the pacing of the story almost perfect. Every fight scene had me cringing at the punches, and torn between wanting to read more to find out what happened and wanting to put down the book because I hated when characters I cared about got hurt.
One of my favorite parts of this book is the creation story of Cassius' pack, the Sutter Butte pack. First, you hear it from an outsider's point of view and you wonder what Sovvan is getting herself into. Then you hear it from an insider's point of view, and though it is basically the same story, your heart will go out to the people of Sutter Butte.
For the record, I never read any of the other book in the Wolves of Willow Bend series, but I never felt as if I needed to for this book. That in itself is the sign of an amazing author. Though I must admit, I will be getting the rest of the series now because I want to know what happened before.
I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story, who loves fantasy books, who loves werewolves, and who likes a good old-fashioned love story.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
As the eighth book in the Dragon Kin series, "Feel theDisclaimer: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
As the eighth book in the Dragon Kin series, "Feel the Burn" could easily read as a formula-generated book. But the author, G. A. Aiken, manages to make this book read as well as any standalone, actually better than some. I have only read the first book in this series so far, but I never felt like I missed a thing while reading "Feel the Burn". Of course, I do plan on reading the other books now that I've read this book.
"Feel the Burn" thoroughly introduces us to Gaius, the One-Eyed Rebel Dragon King, and Kacka, a Daughter of the Steppes and a warrior woman who makes the Amazons look like wannabes. Gaius currently travels around, locating and killing treacherous family members. But Kachka is safely ensconced at Annwyl's palace and bored - BORED I tell you - out of her mind. Queen Annwyl solves her boredom by asking Kacka to track down a cult that's running around her territory, torturing and killing people.
The story includes a love story between Gaius and Kacka, but there is so much more than that. Both protagonists learn about themselves and want they truly want, all the while saving the various kingdoms and killing cousins. In fact, I think Gaius and Kacka are apart more than they are together, but it never feels artificial.
The plot, action, and dialogue are up to Ms. Aiken's high standards. She also manages to create fully developed characters, the main characters as well as several secondary characters. And as usual, I ran into no spelling or grammatical errors.
Overall, I recommend this book to everyone who loves dragons, fantasy, and kicking butt.
For anyone who has read and loved the Kate Daniels universe, this book is a must read. "Small Magics" by Ilona Andrews contains five wonderful short sFor anyone who has read and loved the Kate Daniels universe, this book is a must read. "Small Magics" by Ilona Andrews contains five wonderful short stories; three of them are set in the Kate Daniels universe and two are in new magical worlds. This author duo strikes again with stories that draw you in until the last word.
"Questionable Client" marks the beginning of Kate and Saiman's relationship. Saiman needs a bodyguard and Kate needs money. She keep him for getting killed (obvious, since he's in following books) and Saiman becomes fascinated with the woman who politely turns him down.
"Retribution Clause" brings all new characters, starting with Saiman's cousin Adam. If you haven't read "Magic Strikes" (Kate Daniels series book 3), this story contains one significant spoiler. I'll say no more.
"Magic Tests" brings Kate and her adopted daughter, Julie, to a new school in Atlanta. A student is missing and Julie has 24 hours to find her. For those who like to read stories in order, this comes after "Magic Slays".
"Of Swine and Roses" finds a young woman on a horrible date with a neanderthal chasing a pig. It's seriously funny - I almost fell out of my chair laughing. :-)
"Grace of Small Magics" introduces a new magical universe that I keep hoping Ilona Andrews will write more stories in. Magical families, revenge, duels, secret societies, and competitions to the death - this story has it all plus great characters and a new way to approach magic.
Even if you own one of these stories, it is more than work the money to buy this compilation to get all the stories. You won't regret it.
"Grave Illusions" by Lina Gardiner introduces us to an alternate universe with vampires hiding in the shadows, a somewhat vanilla vampire world with n"Grave Illusions" by Lina Gardiner introduces us to an alternate universe with vampires hiding in the shadows, a somewhat vanilla vampire world with no overt magic, no werewolves, and no zombies. Jess Vandermire is a cop who turned into a vampire, learned to cope with her condition, and became a cop again. She now leads a special ops unit that tracks and kills rogue vampires.
When I first read about this book, I was extremely excited. I love vampire books, the various flavors of vampirism, and unusual situations that different authors create to test out vampires. I also like a good romance, and "Grave Illusions" held the potential for an excellent romantic vampire murder mystery.
Alas, but the book doesn't quite measure up. John Britton stands up as a three-dimensional character, with Jess running a close second. But the rest of the people are not well defined; more than two-dimensional but not quite fully formed. The narrative also starts out rather slow, and takes about a third of the book before the pace picks up.
As for the plot, I wouldn't say Ms. Gardiner left plot holes, more like plot gaps. I found places where the narrative missed details that made the flow of the words stutter. For example, at one point John and Jess are talking in an office when Jess hears someone outside. Suddenly, John's taking his jacket out of an SUV without leaving the office. Too much of the intermediate action is implied, leaving plot gaps.
But the story has a lot of potential, and I intend to read the sequel to see if the pacing problems work out now that the universe is established.
"Henchgirl" by Rita Stradling brings to life an alternate world where dragons live and breed with humans to create dracons. Backed by their dragon par"Henchgirl" by Rita Stradling brings to life an alternate world where dragons live and breed with humans to create dracons. Backed by their dragon parents, dracons control over 80% of the world. The protagonist, Dakota Kekoa, is a 16-year-old dracon who works for her grandfather as a type of enforcer. Dakota's mother is a selfish alcoholic who drinks or spends every penny she gets her hands on, so Dakota works to support her mother, her sisters, and herself.
Ms. Stradling immerses her readers in this new world from the beginning. I can feel the heat of the islands where Dakota lives, hear the hate speech from the full-humans, and understand the dread of being accidentally turned into a vampire or werewolf. I want to bitch slap those who are rude to Dakota, and yell at her mother for letting her daughter shoulder the responsibility of taking care of the entire household. If you let it, this story will suck you in and hold you to the edge of your seat as Dakota muddles her way through visiting dignitaries and the vanishing of one of her true friends.
"Henchgirl" is clean in term of no grammatical or spelling errors. But more than that, all the details line up. Not once did I hit an inconsistency that can pull a reader from the narrative. Instead, I lost track of time while reading.
I give this book 5 stars out of 5, and recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy books.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review....more
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
"Nirvana" by J.R. Stewart presents a dystDisclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
"Nirvana" by J.R. Stewart presents a dystopian society with corporate overlords, a secret rebellion, and a planet severely scarred by human activities. Larissa Kenders, call her Kenders, is the protagonist here, struggling at first to define her place in the world, and then to find her supposedly dead lover, Andrew.
This is a good book with aspirations of greatness. The set-up for how the human race managed to screw up the world is plausible enough to be scary. Kenders comes across as a real person as she moves through the story. But the other characters lack that certain depth to make them completely believable. One of the main antagonist sounds as if he's twirling his mustache through some of the scenes. Also, some of the details are either mismatched or just plain missing. For example, Kenders finds some secret information which she hides. Later, she gives the hidden information to someone without ever going to retrieve the information. I found this type of problem throughout the book; nothing that is story shattering but definitely interrupting to the narrative.
If you skip over the details, this is actually a light, fluffy dystopian read.
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I admit, I got excited when I read thDisclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I admit, I got excited when I read the title "Witches Protection Program". All sorts of questions popped into my head. First and foremost, who could threaten witches enough that they need their own protection program? The obvious answer is ... other witches. Okay, it could also be witch-hating zealots or other close-minded people.
That is the premise behind "Witches Protection Program" by Michael Phillip Cash. There are two groups of witches out there, and they have been at odds for a long time. For those who hate spoilers, I'm not going into details here. The author actually covers this information fairly well in the beginning chapters. This story centers around a guy named Wes. He comes from a long line of ridiculously talented and famous people. He father currently runs a division in the police department that was founded by his grandfather. So Wes feels compelled to make a name for himself, and feels all sorts of internal and external pressures to do so.
Only Wes is more of a regularly talented guy, and he's a bit thick. At least that's my first and so far lasting impressions of him. It's also the first problem I had with this book. Despite lots of evidence to the contrary, Wes stubbornly refuses to believe in witches and magic well past the point that makes sense. While I applaud critical thinking and not accepting a situation at face value, Wes goes beyond that into "I don't want to believe this so I just won't" territory before he starts to believe in spite of himself.
The other problem I have with this book is pacing. There is choppiness in the narration and the action. At times, Mr. Cash slows down to explain the situation well, or slows down to capture a scene. Then, Bam! You're thrust somewhere with new characters gaining information you think will be relevant at some point in the future, but uncertain as to the whys or how behind it.
Overall, the characters are good, if a bit stereotypical at times. The plot is interesting enough, and where Mr. Cash might lack in originality he makes up for in good storytelling. But I still give this book only three stars because I am not a fan of his writing style....more