Hell & High Water: THIRDS, Book 1

Hell & High WaterAuthor: Charlie Cochet
Book Name: Hell & High Water
Series: THIRDS
Order: #1
Genre: SciFi/Fantasy/LGBT
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  When homicide detective Dexter J. Daley’s testimony helps send his partner away for murder, the consequences—and the media frenzy—aren’t far behind. He soon finds himself sans boyfriend, sans friends, and, after an unpleasant encounter in a parking garage after the trial, he’s lucky he doesn’t find himself sans teeth. Dex fears he’ll get transferred from the Human Police Force’s Sixth Precinct, or worse, get dismissed. Instead, his adoptive father—a sergeant at the Therian-Human Intelligence Recon Defense Squadron otherwise known as the THIRDS—pulls a few strings, and Dex gets recruited as a Defense Agent.

Dex is determined to get his life back on track and eager to get started in his new job. But his first meeting with Team Leader Sloane Brodie, who also happens to be his new jaguar Therian partner, turns disastrous. When the team is called to investigate the murders of three HumaniTherian activists, it soon becomes clear to Dex that getting his partner and the rest of the tightknit team to accept him will be a lot harder than catching the killer—and every bit as dangerous.

Review:  This is one of those books that has a lot going for it that is really pretty good, but has a handful of things that just rubbed me wrong and kind of threw it off.

Overall, the story line is pretty good and kept things interesting, though I picked up the bad guy and a lot of details right off the bat, so it fell more into the predictable range after that.  Where things got weird and kept yanking me out of the story is with the characters.  Don’t get me wrong, I really kind of liked them, but they just didn’t quite work for me.

Both of the main guys, Dex and Sloane, are these supposed tough guy cops with lots of experience, Sloane even being more badass as he is a shifter.  Yet… their general personalities and several situations contradict those facts.  Dex is constantly getting his ass handed to him, whether by several people at a time or sparring with Sloane.  This happens several times throughout the book, even towards the end when it is up against only one guy.  Compound that with some of Dex’s personality and antics that gets thrown around in what is supposed to make him funny, but it makes him seem kind of weak and cowardly (the funny usually worked, but in a really weird way).  Sloane didn’t bug me quite as much as Dex, but we hardly saw any of what should have been his potential strengths.

There are certain job types or rolls that really do take a certain kind of personality to fit those rolls.  That may seem a bit stereotypical, it is still something of an expectation people have.  In what is darn near a SWAT like team or even a kind of military group, the personalities of both Dex and Sloane just don’t quite always work.  Dex especially as there are times that he just really kind of comes across as the nerdy guy everyone beat up on rather than as a tough cop.  Sloane’s was more in how his thoughts and emotions were presented along with his more “off duty” personality.  Enough that it was hard for me to stay immersed in the story and that ended up overshadowing what could have been a really good story.

Throw into that mix a story that doesn’t really have any clean resolutions by the end of the book and this was a mostly good, but frustrating read.

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Criminal: Will Trent, Book 7

UnseenAuthor: Karin Slaughter
Book Name: Unseen
Series: Will Trent
Order: #7
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  Will Trent is a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent whose latest case has him posing as Bill Black, a scary ex-con who rides a motorcycle around Macon, Georgia, and trails an air of violence wherever he goes. The cover has worked and he has caught the eye of a wiry little drug dealer who thinks he might be a useful ally. But undercover and cut off from the support of the woman he loves, Sara Linton, Will finds his demons catching up with him.

Although she has no idea where Will has gone, or why, Sara herself has come to Macon because of a cop shooting: Her stepson, Jared, has been gunned down in his own home. Sara holds Lena, Jared’s wife, responsible: Lena, a detective, has been a magnet for trouble all her life, and Jared’s shooting is not the first time someone Sara loved got caught in the crossfire. Furious, Sara finds herself involved in the same case that Will is working without even knowing it, and soon danger is swirling around both of them.

Review:  I think I kind of hit a wall with this one.  While the story itself is good, there is just only so much of the seriously dark, ugly and nearly unforgiving hopelessness that these stories tend to exude that I can stomach.  The cops are almost always bad.  Even the supposed good guys in the stories are really kind of nasty and horrible to each other.  The bad guys are so horrifically bad and on all kinds of levels that it can’t help but poison everyone around them.

I don’t mind reading the darker stuff.  I’ve found a few that I’ve really enjoyed, but that was because they were pretty well balanced by the time I reached the end with a level of positive that made the darker more interesting.  These books, and this addition to the series is no exception, are just so excessively depressing with little to no relief that there just isn’t a whole lot to recommend when you can’t pull yourself out of the dark hole these tend to drop you in.

A book kind of loses something for me when I feel relieved that I finally reached the end.  I don’t enjoy a story that doesn’t let up on all the negativity so I think I might need to be done with this author for a while.

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Quietly Reading

While I have still been reading, I’ve just kind of been off to the side, doing it quietly.  Partly because there have been quite a lot of things going on that have kept me too busy and partly because I just haven’t had much to say about what I’ve read recently, no matter if it was really good or not so good.  I have still been updating my reading list on Goodreads with ratings, but I haven’t written any reviews recently.

I’m in kind of a reading funk lately.  It isn’t that I haven’t read anything good, but I want to find something new that really grabs me and I haven’t found that yet.  I have my handful of very favorite authors that I anxiously await anything new they put out because I know, without a doubt, that I’m going to love it.  Sadly, that is only a very small handful of authors that fall into that category.  I’d made it something of a goal last year to find a new one, but it didn’t happen, which I thought was really surprising as I figured it couldn’t be too hard with as much as I like to read.

Kind of like having a food craving, but not having the right food around to satisfy it, I’ve been reading all kinds of things to try and figure out what I feel I’m missing, even doing a bit of rereading a few books here and there.  There have been a few times I thought I’d touched on it, but it never really quite hit the mark.  Not sure if it is the sheer volume of books I read and I’m just getting bored or if it is that I genuinely want something I haven’t run across yet, but most of my reading hasn’t been all that satisfying lately, even if I have read some good ones.

I’ve even been shuffling books to the bottom of my reading list, or having to recheck them out later because I didn’t get to them in time, because even though I do want to read them, I’m just not in the mood at the moment for most of what is on my list.  Not a fan of the current slump, but it isn’t like it will be much of hardship getting over it, because… books, reading… yeah, not like you’ll have to twist my arm or anything.

Elemental Arcane: The Eldritch Files, Book 1

Elemental ArcaneAuthor: Phaedra Weldon
Book Name: Elemental Arcane
Series: The Eldritch Files
Order: #1
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


Blurb:  Samantha Hawthorne lives a rather curious life in New Orleans running a magic and herb shop. As an Elemental Witch in the Big Easy and owner of a wolf Familiar as well as the head of a former Faerie Queen, curious is as quiet as it gets for Sam.

Until children start turning into blood-thirsty Changelings and attack their parents.

When one of these children shows up in front of her shop, Sam and her friends are determined to find out where they’re coming from and where the exchanged children are being kept and put a stop to it. But will they succeed when they find themselves pitted against ninja ghouls, one of the oldest and darkest enemies of the mortal world, and a secret from Sam’s childhood that could unravel her magic?

Review:  Since this is a new author for me, I really wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.  Though on the shorter side, I did end up liking this quite a bit.

There were enough twists and turns in the plot to keep it interesting and is apparently not one of those stories where the main character is this can do not wrong, perfect, mega-magic user that just happens to be able to easily solve everything with the awesomeness of her powers.  Instead, she has lots of potential balanced out by normal, human imperfections.  So far I’m liking many of the supporting cast of characters as well.

I’m left feeling cautiously optimistic about this author.  Sadly, these aren’t carried at my local library, so I may only be able to grab additional books occasionally between my “must have” purchase budget.

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Dragon Storm: Black Dragons, Book 2

Dragon StormAuthor: Katie MacAlister
Book Name: Dragon Storm
Series: Black Dragons
Order: #2
Genre: Romance/Fantasy
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  TURN ON THE CHARM
According to some (including himself), Constantine is one of the greatest heroes of dragonkin who ever lived. Too bad he’s now lonelier than ever and his biggest adventure involves a blow-up sheep-until he has an opportunity to save his kind once again. All Constantine has to do is break into a demon’s dungeon, steal an ancient artifact, and reverse a deadly curse. The plan certainly does not involve rescuing a woman . . .
TURN UP THE HEAT
Bee isn’t sure whether to be infuriated or relieved when Constantine pops up in her prison. The broody, brawny shifter lights her fire in a way no one ever has before, yet how far can she really trust him? Their chemistry may be off the charts, but when push comes to shove, Constantine will have to make a crucial choice: to save the dragons or the woman he’s grown to love with fierce intensity.

Review:  Not sure if I just wasn’t much in the mood for this one, if it was that it just wasn’t  as interesting, but I just didn’t like this one as much as I have many of the other books in this world.  Constantine’s demeanor is supposed to be funny, but it just kind of felt more pompous and it all sort of fell flat for me.  Bee’s personality didn’t grab me either.

The story wasn’t bad, I just didn’t really get as into it as I had hoped, so I think I may have to go with mood more than anything.

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Sebring: Unfinished Hero, Book 5

SebringAuthor: Kristen Ashley
Book Name: Sebring
Series: Unfinished Hero
Order: #5
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


Blurb:  Nick Sebring has issues. Born feeling like an outsider in his own family, growing up under the shadow of a brother who could do anything, Nick isn’t that great of a guy. But when this culminates with Nick lashing out to hurt his brother through the woman he loves, Nick turns inward and makes some decisions about the man he intends to be.

And as he does this, he falls in love and truly learns the man that he’s grown to be.

When his love is murdered right before Nick’s eyes, Nick knows he has to avenge her. He knows how he’s going to avenge her. And he has no qualms using Olivia Shade to exact that vengeance.

Olivia Shade has grown up on the outside of her family too. Her problem is that they don’t want her outside. They want her all the way in, right under their thumbs. She pays the price for seeking escape and learns her lesson—she’ll never see a dawn where she wakes up free.

Then she meets Nick Sebring, and even as she fights it, the hope that died years ago starts to blossom. She can find love. She can have a man of her own. She can be happy. She can be free.

Olivia hopes while Nick schemes.

However, as Nick peels back the layers of all that is Olivia Shade, he finds something surprising. He understands its fragility. He falls in love with its beauty. He seeks to protect it.

But he forgets to protect his Livvie from one thing: Nick Sebring.

Review:  This was definitely one of KA’s sweeter books, which seems odd as this entire series falls on the darker side as far as her characters go.  I enjoyed it mostly because it was a sweeter romance than many of the other KA books I’ve read recently.

Livvie isn’t one of my favorite characters, but she isn’t a cotton candy character that melts in light drizzle.  She has something of a quiet strength, but she isn’t bold and does tend towards doormat status, at least within her family.

I really enjoyed Nick’s character in that he isn’t over the top bossy and the softer side he does have is pretty awesome.  He still had his quirks, but nothing that was overt enough to take away from the rest.

It was nice seeing the other characters from this series pop up, and I was overjoyed with the fact that they were just sort of pop up notes rather than whole additions that weren’t necessary.  There was just enough page time with most of them to get that taste, but we weren’t forced to overindulge in them as this was Nick and Livvie’s story, not theirs.  It was a nice, clean finish to this series.

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Sing the Four Quarters: Quarters, Book 1

Sing the Four QuartersAuthor: Tanya Huff
Book Name: Sing the Four Quarters
Series: Quarters
Order: 1
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


Blurb:  The Bards of Shkoder hold the country together. They, and the elemental spirits they Sing – earth, air, fire, and water – bring the news of the sea to the mountains, news of the mountains to the plains. They give their people, from peasant to king, a song in common.

Annice is a rare talent, able to Sing all four quarters, but her brother, the newly enthroned King Theron, sees her request to study at the Bardic Hall as a betrayal. To his surprise, Annice accepts his conditions, renouncing her royal blood and swearing to remain childless so as not to jeopardize the line of succession. She walks away from political responsibilities, royal privilege and her family.

Ten years later, Annice has become the Princess Bard and her real life is about to become the exact opposite of the overwrought ballad her fellow students at the Bardic Hall wrote about her. Now, she’s on the run from the Royal Guards with the Duc of Ohrid, the father of her unborn child, both of them guilty of treason – one of them unjustly accused. To save the Duc’s life, they’ll have to cross the country, manage to keep from strangling each other, and defeat an enemy too damaged for even a Bard’s song to reach.

Review:  Not really sure how I felt about this one.  It was an okay story, but I had a really hard time getting pulled into it or having any kind of an emotional connection with the characters.  Not that they were bad or anything, but there was just so much that seemed to be missing that I never really got to understand them or even the world this was set in.

There were lots of concepts and ideas that were tossed around that you could only ever make some very general assumptions about because they were never explained.  I think a huge portion of this was based on the world’s belief system, but with little to no details provided to help the reader understand what that was made it incredibly difficult to grasp a character’s behavior or how those beliefs either enhanced or limited their abilities, if it did at all.

I guess it just felt like there were a lot of important details missing or that they were never fully fleshed out.

 

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Mind Magic: World of the Lupi, Book 12

Mind MagicAuthor: Eileen Wilks
Book Name: Mind Magic
Series: World of the Lupi
Order: 12 (Goodreads listing)
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


Blurb:  Thanks to the mindspeech lessons she’s receiving from the black dragon, Lily is temporarily benched from Unit Twelve—until her brain acclimates and the risk of total burnout passes. At least she has her new husband, lupi Rule Turner, to keep her occupied.

But when her mentor calls in a favor and sends Lily to a murder scene, she’s suddenly back on active status—despite the hallucinations she can’t keep at bay. With one touch, Lily knows the man was killed by magic, but her senses don’t warn her how far the conspiracy goes…

A shadowy force within the government wants to take Unit Twelve down, and they don’t mind killing to achieve their goal. With none of her usual resources, Lily is up against impossible odds—because with her mind in disarray, she can’t trust anything she sees.

Review:  I have always really enjoyed this series and this book is no exception.  I can say that I don’t think that I loved it quite as much as I have previous books.

For me, this seemed to kind of drag on without a whole lot of anything specific going on.  There wasn’t quite the amount of flashy, showy magic in this one as we’ve gotten in many of the other books.  I was also hoping to see a lot more of Lily’s character than we did, especially after reading the blurb, which made it seem like the focus of this book was more on her.

I did still really enjoy this, but it felt kind of like a background set up book, basically putting certain things in place so that they could be brought out in a later book.

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Strawberry Limeade Cake

Since I posted the ordeal of making this whole project in the last post, I won’t go into those details here.  Suffice it to say, this didn’t turn out pretty because of those problems and because of that, I don’t have a great finished product image, but I will share what I have. Continue reading “Strawberry Limeade Cake”

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Cake Day

I’d like to say that I have no clue what went wrong, but in most cases that just isn’t true with this project.  There are a couple that I’m really not sure about, but the others, I really do know what I did wrong.  This whole project ended up being kind of a disaster the minute I started putting all the pieces together.  It is kind of embarrassing how badly this turned out.  I’m not even entirely sure where to start there were so many problems. Continue reading “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Cake Day”

Have You Seen Her? : Karen Rose

Have You Seen Her?Author: Karen Rose
Book Name: Don’t Tell
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance/Suspense
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


Blurb:  Steven dropped to his knees next to the paramedic. “Jenna.” Her eyes opened and in them he saw shock and tears and guilt. “I’m so sorry, Steven. I should have listened to you.” Steven noticed the smears of blood on her worn Duke T-shirt. “Any other wounds?” he asked the paramedic.Only her throat. the blood on her shirt appears to be her own.” “We found bloody handprints on the carpet where she crawled from the bedroom,” said Uniform Two.Steven’s gut seethed as he pictured her scared and hurt and crawling through her own house like a wounded animal. For that alone, whoever did this to her would pay…

Review:  I was really surprised that I didn’t like this one better as I’ve really enjoyed the other Karen Rose books I’ve read in the past.  For this one, I just really wasn’t a fan of the characters at all.  Both of the main characters came across as insanely immature rather than rational, intelligent adults with regards the romantic aspects of the story.  Steven especially.  One or two of his little quirks wouldn’t have been an issue, but it was kind of a never ending thing that made it rather ridiculous.  Jenna wasn’t as bad, but she still had her moments that played off of Steven’s.

Outside of the romantic aspect is how Steven had nearly a complete lack of interaction with his own children.  I get the job takes you away, but there was this lack of concern or action or real emotional tie that never made itself known in the story which made him seem very uncaring about his kids.  It was made even more apparent when he had zero qualms about having Jenna come in and pretty much act like a mom with them when he’d only known her for days.  It just didn’t really add up to caring, involved dad to me.  Especially when you consider the traumatic history with the youngest, Nicky.

The suspenseful aspects of the story were pretty good and were the only parts that kept me reading this because the rest was off just enough for me that it kept me from enjoying the good like I could have.  This was definitely not my favorite.

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Let the Cake Marathon Begin

Since timing and events aren’t working out this year, we have to push BG’s birthday celebration with family to later in the week instead of doing it all on the day.  We will still do birthday stuff with her on her birthday, so that means 2x the cake.  She requested cupcakes for on the day and the big, decorated cake for the family event.  Continue reading “Let the Cake Marathon Begin”

Criminal: Will Trent, Book 6

CriminalAuthor: Karin Slaughter
Book Name: Criminal
Series: Will Trent
Order: 6
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


Blurb:  Will Trent is a brilliant agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Newly in love, he is beginning to put a difficult past behind him. Then a local college student goes missing, and Will is inexplicably kept off the case by his supervisor and mentor, deputy director Amanda Wagner. Will cannot fathom Amanda’s motivation until the two of them literally collide in an abandoned orphanage they have both been drawn to for different reasons. Decades before, when his father was imprisoned for murder, this was Will’s home. It appears that the case that launched Amanda’s career forty years ago has suddenly come back to life—and it involves the long-held mystery of Will’s birth and parentage. Now these two dauntless investigators will each need to face down demons from the past if they are to prevent an even greater terror from being unleashed.

Review:  As another addition to this series, this book is pretty good.  We get quite a bit more about Will’s background, though for the most part, it is stuff that readers mostly already knew.  This just gives a bit more detail and understanding as to how Will is connected to Amanda.

That connection seems exceptionally strange to me, though.  You would think that Amanda would have more of a soft spot for Will rather than act as a tormentor towards him.  It is one of the aspects to this series that I’ve never been much of a fan of, how Will is treated by almost every other character in the series.  I do not understand why Amanda treats him the way she does and why she seems to enjoy causing him emotional pain, which she does several times here.  I never understood it before, but now it seems even more odd and just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I will say that this book left a few loose threads at the end, hinting that there is actually more to this than what we’ve already seen.  It wasn’t a major cliffhanger, but enough to leave me a bit frustrated.

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The Last September: Nina de Gramont

The Last SeptemberAuthor: Nina de Gramont
Book Name: The Last September
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


Blurb:  Set against the desolate autumn beauty of Cape Cod, The Last September is a riveting emotional puzzle that takes readers inside the psyche of a woman facing the meaning of love and loyalty.

Brett has been in love with Charlie ever since he took her skiing on a lovely Colorado night fourteen years ago. And now, living in a seaside cottage on Cape Cod with their young daughter, it looks as if they have settled into the life they desired. However, Brett and Charlie’s marriage has been tenuous for quite some time. When Charlie’s unstable younger brother plans to move in with them, the tension simmering under the surface of their marriage boils over.

But what happened to Charlie next was unfathomable. Charlie was the golden boy so charismatic that he charmed everyone who crossed his path; who never shied away from a challenge; who saw life as one big adventure; who could always rescue his troubled brother, no matter how unpredictable the situation.

So who is to blame for the tragic turn of events? And why does Brett feel responsible?

Review:  There were quite a few things about this book that I honestly didn’t like.  Really, any of the characters and the fact that the biggest drama event of the entire book was revealed in the first paragraph.  It is kind of hard to think that I’d still be willing to rate a book that had so much that I wasn’t a fan of as high as this and it was kind of hard to decide.  What tipped it for me was just the plain and utter humanness of the entire thing.

Brett’s character embodies so many of the characteristics that just drive me crazy.  She is naive and makes incredibly poor choices in her love life, willing to put up with so much for a man that in no way deserves that kind of dedication.  Charlie really doesn’t have a single redeeming quality and Ladd just comes across as cold and unemotional.  Eli is the only character that I even remotely liked, but with his situation you could only feel extreme pity and sadness for him.

It wasn’t until the very end that I realized why it was that I didn’t like the characters, but I was into the book.  It was because they were so very real.  It is that realness that, even though I knew what was coming, it still made me tear up in the end.  There really wasn’t anything particularly special or outstanding about this story other than the extremity of the issues surrounding mental illness.  I think it was the fact that it was just the presentation of ordinary life and struggles and pain touched by that mental illness that made me like this.

There was too much that I wasn’t a fan of to make me love this, but it was still really good.

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Stay With Me: P.I. Guys, Book 1

StayWithMeAuthor: S.E. Harmon
Book Name: Stay With Me
Series: True Destiny
Order: #1
Genre: Romance/LGBT
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars


Blurb:  Private investigator Mackenzie Williams’s newest client is everything he’s looking for in a guy—charming, beautiful, intelligent, and successful. There’s only one itty bitty problem—the guy’s not exactly gay. In fact, Jordan Channing is looking for a PI to follow his fiancée. The smart thing would be to thank Jordan for his time, turn Mr. Perfect away (don’t let the door hit you on the rump, thank you very much), and forget he exists.

Of course, Mackenzie has never been accused of doing the smart thing. Being smart aleck is more his MO. Relationships aren’t up his alley, never have been. So why’s he so inexplicably drawn to his new client?

Jordan has always been the high achiever, a man who lives in a focused, controlled, and carefully constructed manner. But for the first time in his life, he has to admit the impossible—another man is getting his engine running on all cylinders. Despite Jordan’s denial, it’s not long before he can no longer resist the strong undercurrents pulling them together. Now Jordan must decide if he can go against everything he’s ever known to have the only love he’s ever wanted.

Review:  Just sort of fell in love with this one.  It is this beautiful balance between real and sweet and sexy and funny that just came together in a truly wonderful story.

Mac’s utter irreverence to pretty much everything makes him this silly, adorable guy, even when you get peeks at the vulnerability that that irreverence tends to try and hide.  It was so easy to fall for his character right away.  Mac is definitely damaged and has some serious trust issues, but they come across as genuinely being self preservation kinds of issues rather than a “poor, pity me” kind of attitude.  He is damaged, not pitiful, which is a refreshing perspective.

It was a bit harder to find that connection with Jordan, mainly because we don’t get to see anything from his perspective but I ended up liking him a lot as well.  Wasn’t a huge fan of the fact that he was willing to even contemplate stepping into a relationship with Mac while dating someone else, but I think that also stems from his just not knowing what was going on with his attraction.  His lack of communication with Mac when it came to still meeting up with her, was also something of a strike against him, but I guess even our fictional characters can’t be perfect and that is part of this book’s charm is the realism.

This is the first book by this author that I’ve read and after this one, I won’t hesitate to pick up another one.

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Not Broken: True Destiny, Book 5

Not BrokenAuthor: Dana Marie Bell
Book Name: Not Broken
Series: True Destiny
Order: #5
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Didn’t Like
2+stars


Blurb:  Slade Saeter endured centuries of torture, longing for the day he could claim Magnus Tate and Sylvia Grimm as mates. Now freedom is his, but nightmares still plague this son of Loki, and he fears his lovers will believe him too fragile to bond.

Magnus never thought he could have the woman of his dreams, not when she was broken by his own father, her heart shattered by Thor’s infidelities and their ultimate divorce. But Slade’s determination gives him a glimmer of hope.

Never one to let anything keep her down for long, Sylvia has long since healed from her ex-husband’s betrayals. But accepting her own stepson as a bonded mate? While it’s something she can wrap her body around, her heart is another story.

As three war-weary, damaged hearts slowly find balance among them, they form bonds of surprising strength. But with danger descending upon them with the fury of a Valkyrie, time is the one thing they may not have.

Review:  Normally I enjoy Dana Marie Bell’s writing, if for no other reason than it is generally pretty humorous.  This one just didn’t do it for me for some reason.

After having read the whole thing and got to the end, I was still trying to figure out what was supposed to have happened because nothing really did.  Sure, there are lots of sexy times going on in this as is typical of this series, but the story outside of that just really isn’t there.  That and even the sexy times weren’t all that awesome.  They were just kind of there.

Even the characters weren’t that great here.  Both Slade and Syliva were these weepy, pitiful people, at least when they weren’t constantly giggling.  Magnus was decent, but even he didn’t come close to the level of interesting that many other characters from previous books held.

It kind of feels like the author completely gave up on the larger storyline that runs through this series to focus on the steam, but failed to even reach the simmer stage.

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Grave Visions: Alex Craft, Book 4

Grave VisionsAuthor: Kalayna Price
Book Name:
Grave Visions
Series:
Alex Craft
Order:
#4
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


Blurb:  If you want to hear voices from the dead in Nekros City, you call Alex Craft. She’s a grave witch with reasonable rates and extraordinary powers who specializes in revealing the secrets of the dead. But she has her own secrets. She’s not human—and her newly discovered heritage is causing havoc for her both in the human realm and in Faerie.

Fae can’t survive without a tie to Faerie, and now that Alex’s true nature has awoken, she’s no exception. She must align herself to a court, and soon. To retain as much freedom as possible, she makes a deal to track the source of a new glamour-infused street drug which causes hallucinations that kill—and not just the user. Her investigation entangles Alex in a conflict brewing in Faerie, and she must find answers before she’s dragged so deep that she loses not only her freedom, but her life.

Review:  There is always a huge worry when there is a large gap between releases in a series that it just won’t be the same as it was before, even more so when that gap lasts 4 years.  I can say that this had very much the same feel as the previous 3 books, which is and isn’t necessarily a good thing.

It is good because all the elements that I’ve loved about this series are still there.  The world is still rich in both characters and setting.  We get to see plenty of it in this book and is the biggest reason for the rating, along with an interesting main story line.

It is not so good because it seems as though the characters didn’t grow or progress all that much from the previous books.  There was no obvious or significant change in Alex’s powers.  There is still the three-way drama with her sort of relationships with Falin and Death.  The only difference at all doesn’t even take place until the end of the book and even that is apparently just a temporary fix that doesn’t actually solve anything.

On a spoiler note…

While this does resolve the main issue story line, it also doesn’t.  It mostly leaves a whole lot of open ended speculation that there is more going on than what we saw here.  It also felt pretty anti-climactic that the reader never learns why Glitter didn’t burn out Alex like it did every other user.  You can speculate that it is because she is at least part Fae, along with the Winter Queen, but it is never actually addressed.  You would think that with her ability to see through glamours, it wouldn’t have affected her the same way and that there should have been a very different affect on the Queen than there was on Alex.

I do really enjoy this series, but I would love it a whole lot more if we could get past the unnecessary relationship flip flopping and move on to something different now.  Resolve it one way or another and lets explore Alex’s place within the world of Faerie as that seems to be a much more important issue.

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Night Study: Study Series, Book 5

Night StudyAuthor: Maria V. Snyder
Book Name:
Night Study
Series: 
Chronicles of Ixia (Soulfinder #2)
Order:
#8
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Excellent/Favorite
5+stars


Blurb:  Ever since being kidnapped from the Illiais Jungle as a child, Yelena Zaltana’s life has been fraught with peril. But the recent loss of her Soulfinding abilities has endangered her more than ever before. As she desperately searches for a way to reclaim her magic, her enemies are closing in, and neither Ixia nor Sitia are safe for her anymore. Especially since the growing discord between the two countries and the possibility of a war threatens everything Yelena holds dear.

Valek is determined to protect Yelena, but he’s quickly running out of options. The Commander suspects that his loyalties are divided, and he’s been keeping secrets from Valek…secrets that put him, Yelena and all their friends in terrible danger. As they uncover the various layers of the Commander’s mysterious plans, they realize it’s far more sinister than they could have ever imagined.

Review:  As this series moves forward, it just keeps getting more and more intense.

The shifting around and changing of powers, or lack thereof, with Yelena and Valek is only one of the things that ups the intensity.  It is kind of nice to see a fantasy series where the characters have magical powers that don’t just always keep growing and saving the day.  Magic is awesome in fantasy books, but I don’t want it to always be the thing that fixes everything.  All the characters in this book (and the series) need to rely on both their powers and their smarts to get through all the stuff that gets thrown at them.

For a bit during this story, I was a little overwhelmed with the feeling that the characters were in an utterly hopeless situation and that it would always be non-stop struggle, one obstacle hurdle after another, but there were enough nuggets and hints of information that let me know it wasn’t quite as bad as I was thinking.  Which is a good thing because I’d hate to see this series go that direction.

As is typical, I so wasn’t ready for this to be done by the time I got to the last page.  I really loved this addition to the series and where it looks to be going next.  Even though I’ve already read this now, I may have to go back and reread all the rest again, just because.

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