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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Too Hard to Handle: Black Knights Inc, Book 8

Too Hard to HandleAuthor: Julie Ann Walker
Book Name: Too Hard to Handle
Series: Black Knights Inc
Order: 8
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  “The Man” is back

Dan “The Man” Currington is back in fighting form with a mission that takes him four thousand miles south of BKI headquarters, high in the Andes Mountains of Peru. He’s hot on the trail of a rogue CIA agent selling classified government secrets to the highest bidder, when Penni DePaul arrives on the scene. Suddenly the stakes are higher, and keeping Penni safe becomes Dan’s number one priority.

And this time she’s ready

A lot has changed since former Secret Service Agent Penni DePaul last saw Dan. Now a civilian, she’s excited about what the future might hold. But before she can grab onto that future with both hands, she has to tie up some loose ends—namely, Dan Currington, the man she just can’t forget. And a secret that’s going to change both their lives—if they can stay alive, that is.

Review:  This is a good actiony, steamy romance that had a lot of great going on, even had me laughing my butt off a time or two.  I just wasn’t a huge fan of either of the main characters.

Penni goes from being strong and capable to being uber panicky at times.  The only saving grace is that the majority of the panicky moments are more in her head and don’t actually prevent her from going all stupid girl.  At least until the end.  What little I did like her shriveled up and blew away by the end of the book because her flip out was just out of proportion to the situation and then she just drug it out beyond reason.

Dan was pretty decent as a tough guy covering for a teddy bear underneath, but it wasn’t so smooth at times.  There were a couple of times where the softer emotions just didn’t seem all that genuine to me.  Then we had the absolutely jarring transitions around the intimate scenes where it seems like the guy in those parts of the book were a completely different guy all together and didn’t fit with what we saw all the rest of the time.  It didn’t add up to a really strong, solid whole.

If you can let go of those things and that there are a few incidents that are pretty unbelievable, this is a pretty decent romance book otherwise.

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The Daylight War: Demon Cycle, Book 3

The Daylight WarAuthor: Peter V. Brett
Book Name: The Daylight War
Series: Demon Cycle
Order: 3
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  On the night of the new moon, the demons rise in force, seeking the deaths of two men, both of whom have the potential to become the fabled Deliverer, the man prophesied to reunite the scattered remnants of humanity in a final push to destroy the demon corelings once and for all.

Arlen Bales was once an ordinary man, but now he has become something more–the Warded Man, tattooed with eldritch wards so powerful they make him a match for any demon. Arlen denies he is the Deliverer at every turn, but the more he tries to be one with the common folk, the more fervently they believe. Many would follow him, but Arlen’s path threatens to lead to a dark place he alone can travel to, and from which there may be no returning.

The only one with hope of keeping Arlen in the world of men, or joining him in his descent into the world of demons, is Renna Tanner, a fierce young woman in danger of losing herself to the power of demon magic.

Ahmann Jardir has forged the warlike desert tribes of Krasia into a demon-killing army and proclaimed himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer. He carries ancient weapons–a spear and a crown–that give credence to his claim, and already vast swaths of the green lands bow to his control.

But Jardir did not come to power on his own. His rise was engineered by his First Wife, Inevera, a cunning and powerful priestess whose formidable demon bone magic gives her the ability to glimpse the future. Inevera’s motives and past are shrouded in mystery, and even Jardir does not entirely trust her.

Once Arlen and Jardir were as close as brothers. Now they are the bitterest of rivals. As humanity’s enemies rise, the only two men capable of defeating them are divided against each other by the most deadly demons of all–those lurking in the human heart.

Review:  Again we have a book that has been bloated with redundancies and stuffed with dullness to the point where it does an impressive job of drowning out the rest that is actually pretty great.

It was bad enough when we had a rather large percentage of book 2 being a rehash of many events from book one, but presented from a different character perspective.  Here, we have almost all of those same events getting presented yet again from a third character’s perspective.  It was interesting, but not awesome the first time, as those were my least favorite parts of the book, but to have had them redone now three times in all three books in just stupid.  We didn’t get a single bit more useful information or addition to the story at all by going over it again.  The amount of time it took to even skim through all that to ensure I didn’t miss anything actually important was way more than I wanted to spend and it was surrounded by an awful lot that was just dull.

With the repeat and some truly boring filler, this book probably could have been cut down to about 1/3 of its size and been a stellar book because all the rest is actually pretty awesome, though I think it is pretty official that I cannot stand Leesha’s character.  I was a bit iffy on Reena after the last book and while I liked her better here, she had her stupid girl moments where I wanted to smack her.  Arlen is still the best in this series by far and there just wasn’t nearly enough time spent on him with all the rest going on.

I’m developing a serious love hate relationship with these books and I’m still not sure if they are worth the time it takes to wade through to get to the good stuff.

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Feel the Burn: Dragon Kin, Book 8

Feel the BurnAuthor: G. A. Aiken
Book Name: Feel the Burn
Series: Dragon Kin
Order: 8
Genre: Fantasy/Romance/Humor
Rating:  Excellent/Favorite
5+stars


Blurb:   War makes strange bedfellows.

I, Gaius Domitus, one-eyed rebel dragon king of the Provinces, know that better than most, since I have to fight off half my ungrateful family on a regular basis to keep law and order here in my lands. But I never expected to have to consort with a barbarian human woman.

Kachka is beautiful, if you like them fierce–and of course I do. But she keeps complaining about how spoiled and decadent I am, and how a feared Daughter of the Steppes has no time for foolish dragons. I think she likes my eye patch, though. It is quite dashing. With death always at our tails, we take our passion like we take our allies. As they say, love the barbarian you’re with…

Review:  G.A. Aiken, who also writes as Shelly Laurenston, has suck a knack for writing these crazy, ridiculous and insanely hilarious characters that, no matter how awful they may seem, you can’t help but love them.  I never laugh so much as when I read one of her books.  Feel the Burn is no exception.

Kachka is an absolute riot.  The female dominated culture she comes from, just adds yet another element to her insane personality in the way she and her companions, especially Zoya, view and treat men.  Seriously loved Zoya and a couple of the other new additions to the series.

After reading this one, and getting the reminder of how much I do love these books, I’m adding these to my “must purchase upon release” list.

Fallen: Will Trent, Book 5

FallenAuthor: Karin Slaughter
Book Name: Fallen
Series: Will Trent
Order: 5
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


Blurb:  There’s no police training stronger than a cop’s instinct. Faith Mitchell’s mother isn’t answering her phone. Her front door is open. There’s a bloodstain above the knob. Everything Faith learned in the academy goes out the window when she charges into her mother’s house, gun drawn. She sees a man dead in the laundry room, a hostage situation in the bedroom. What she doesn’t see is her mother. When the hostage situation turns deadly, Faith is left with too many questions. She’ll need the help of her partner, Will Trent, and trauma doctor Sara Linton to get some answers. But Faith isn’t just a cop anymore, she’s a witness–and a suspect. To find her mother, Faith will have to cross the thin blue line and bring the truth to light–or bury it forever.

Review:  This was a much better book than the last couple.  Much!  The issues that were really kind of driving me nuts either weren’t in this one or just weren’t in your face as much.

While this was still very much a crime drama, it was also a very character focused book, with the bigger plot revolving around Faith, her mother and Amanda and the smaller, but just as important aspect of Will and his relationship with Sarah.

This was a huge relief after the last book or so in that it didn’t have that oppressive, hopeless feel permeating the entire thing.  We got to see some real positives happening for a change and that was great.  I don’t exactly have a great feeling that those positive feelings and progress will be allowed to continue through the next books, though, as that just doesn’t seem like the direction this author tends to like to go.  I hope I’m wrong as I really can’t stand books/series that constantly knock the character to their knees and never really let them get up and breathe.

Alex Craft Series Reread and Notes

In preparation for the supposed February 2nd release date of the very, very long awaited book 4, Grave Visions, in the Alex Craft series by Kalayna Price, I took the time to reread the first three books in the series.  I say supposed because the last book in the series to date was released in 2012.  4 years is a really long time to wait for a book and I’m kind of half expecting this to be yanked before it actually releases.  Not for any real reason but that I’m just so excited about his release and can’t believe it is actually finally happening.

Grave Witch – Book 1 Grave Dance – Book 2 Grave Memory – Book 3 Grave Visions- Book 4

If I had to rate the series as a whole, based on the first three books, I’d say this squeaks in around a 4.5.  I don’t use a ½ point rating, but I’m using it here more to indicate that it is just missing a 5 star rating from me.  Honestly, I love this series.  The world and the characters are all pretty vivid and amazing.  But there are just a couple of aspects to the overall story line that I’m just not a huge fan of and that is just enough to keep me from giving these my highest rating.

The world this series is set in is based on a modern society where magic and Fae are real.  The main character, Alex, is a grave witch who deals mostly with shades and ghosts and can see and interact with them on a level that other grave witches normally can’t because she can interact with and see different planes of existence.  There are lots of Fae, other witches with different specialties and soul collectors as some of the other more important characters.  How that is all built and written is done in a really excellent way and are the best parts of this series.

The parts that I’m just not a huge fan of are the romantic parts.  That is because that entire thread in this series has Alex bouncing back and forth between a soul collector that she calls Death and a Fae in the control of the Winter Queen, Falin.  Neither are relationships that she should be in or is even really allowed to have.  I’m not a huge fan of impossible relationships that are really pretty hopeless, but I’m even less of a fan of the triangle theme.  It makes the character in the middle seem really flaky and fickle.  Considering I really love most everything else about Alex’s character, that is frustrating.

Outside of the relationship issues, though, there are tons of great things going on with Alex fighting soul sucking Fae, a crazy witch and soul collector that are in love and a body jumping monster from the depths of the land of the dead.  All that while learning more about her history and becoming more than she ever thought she was, and doing her best not to piss of the Fae royalty.  It make for some awesome storytelling.

Each book does have a single large story arc that is resolved by the end of the book as well as larger ones that spread across the series, never really leaving the reader hanging.  Well, with the exception of book 3.  That one left something of a cliffhanger on the larger relationship story arc.  So not a good place to end a book when there is a 4 year gap between releases.

I do really love this series, even with the not so great relationship story issues.  I’m hoping like crazy that book 4 clears some of that up as it will make it even more frustrating if this is a never ending kind of a back and forth.  That kind of thing can kill a series.  I’m also hoping that whatever happened to force the gap in releases isn’t something that is a regular occurrence.

Baked Mac’N’Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is one of those things that most everyone loves.  One of my grandmothers used to make a baked version that was so different than any other I’ve had, before or since, and was a staple at every big family meal that was one of everyone’s favorite.  Continue reading “Baked Mac’N’Cheese”

Upcoming Project: Ottoman Recover

We recently got new living room furniture.  The original plan was to completely replace all the old, but once we got the new all set up and arranged, I decided that I didn’t want to give up my old ottoman.  It is this big piece on wheels that is perfect for sharing and with all the new furniture being more modular with just a couple of chairs and a love seat, I really wanted to be able to have options.  Sadly, the old one not only didn’t go with the new, but it really looked bad because it was old and getting pretty thread bare in several places. Continue reading “Upcoming Project: Ottoman Recover”

Reap the Wind: Cassandra Palmer, Book 7

Reap the WindAuthor: Karen Chance
Book Name: Reap the Wind
Series: Cassandra Palmer
Order: 7
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Excellent
5+stars


Blurb:  You’d think that being chief seer for the supernatural world would come with a few perks. But as Cassie Palmer has learned, being Pythia doesn’t mean you don’t have to do things the hard way. That’s why she finds herself on a rescue mission skipping through time—even though she doesn’t entirely understand her dimension-bending new power.

Rescuing her friend John Pritkin should have been an in-and-out kind of deal, but with the near-immortal mage’s soul lost in time, Cassie has to hunt for it through the ages—with Pritkin’s demon dad in tow. He’s the only one who can reverse Pritkin’s curse, but with the guardians of the timeline dead set on stopping anyone from mucking about, Cassie will have to figure out how to get her friend back without ruffling too many feathers—or causing a world-ending paradox or two….

Review:  I’d had this book on my wish list for a really long time, or at least it seemed like it.  So much so that when it finally came out, I held off on buying it and chose to nab it from the library instead.  I kind of wish that I’d taken the time to refresh myself on the entire series to remind myself how great it actually is.  While a reread of the whole thing wasn’t necessary, there were a couple of places it took a bit to drag a couple of recollections up.

I had forgotten how much I love this world and the characters in it.  Cassie is pretty badass, but she is still kind of stumbling around and trying to figure out her power.  Getting to see a side of Pritkin before he became his own version of badass was a nice change of pace, especially since he is one of my favorites.

Cassie grew a bunch in this book and is beginning to find a more solid foundation to move forward in her role as Pythia.  It was nice to see her learning not to be everyone else’s tool.  She is still being run ragged and bounced from problem to problem with very little breathing room.

My one, sort of negative is that there were a couple of biggie issues that didn’t get resolved in this book.  It was really kind of a cliffhanger.  In this case, I’m not hugely bothered by that as I love the series and fully intend on reading the next book, but I generally prefer a cleaner ending.

I did cave and go ahead and buy this one, even after reading it at the library because, really, it was kind of a stupid, forgetful thing and obviously I wasn’t thinking straight by night just buying it right away.  Won’t happen the next time, though I do hope it doesn’t take as long to get the next book out (supposedly later this year).

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The Mage’s Daughter: Nine Kingdoms, Book 1

The Mage's DaughterAuthor: Lynn Kurland
Book Name: The Mage’s Daughter
Series: Nine Kingdoms
Order: 2
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Really Good
4+stars


Blurb:  Lynn Kurland’s trilogy of love, intrigue, and fantastic destiny continues as a female mercenary fights for her life, her future, and the one man who can save her…

Darkness in the kingdom…

Neroche is under assault by a magic that has stripped its king of his powers and unleashed nightmarish creatures in a war of evil in which Morgan of Melksham is fighting for her life. Recovering from a near-fatal attack, Morgan realizes that she must decide between two fates: that of being a simple shieldmaiden or accepting her heritage as an elven princess. If only she could ignore that she was the daughter of the perilous black mage of Ceangail…

Magic in the blood…

Duty bound to aid his king, Miach of Neroche is torn between what his responsibilities demand and what his heart desires. He is willing to risk his life to rescue Morgan from the darkness that haunts her, but he must do so at the peril of his realm. Forced to choose between love and the burden of his mantle, Miach sets out on his most deadly quest ever.

Review:  This is kind of a hard one to review.  I really love the world these books are set in and the characters in the first book were rich and interesting.  There is still lots of that in this book but Morgan’s character almost made it like reading a whole other series all together because she is not the same character that we met in book one.

Initially, it was easy to just write off her character differences to the fact that she was recovering from almost dying, but when those things just kept going, even after she recovered it was like the tough, strong, independent woman we got in book one suddenly becomes a spineless, weepy, weak little thing that is more pitiful than not.  There was no purpose for that and I ended up not liking her nearly as much in this book.

We also went nearly half way through the book where she seemed to barely be able to walk, with little to no sign of her strength coming back or really improving at all and then all of the sudden she is running, fighting with her sword again and even shape shifting into a dragon and flying, almost overnight.  It just didn’t make sense the way it was written how her recovery actually took place and progressed.

Those are the hard parts because I really did enjoy all the rest of the book and the introduction of new characters.

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Leveled: Saints of Denver, Book 0.5

LeveledAuthor: Jay Crownover
Book Name: Leveled
Series: Saints of Denver
Order: #0.5
Genre: Romance/LGBT
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  We all need a hero…let the Saints of Denver begin

Orlando Frederick knows what it is to be leveled by pain. Instead of focusing on his own, he’s made it his mission to help others: sports stars, wounded war vets, survivors of all kinds. But when Dom, a rugged, damaged, sinfully attractive cop, makes his way into Lando’s physical therapy practice, he might be the biggest challenge yet. Lando loved one stubborn man before and barely survived the fallout. He’s not sure he can do it again.

Dominic Voss is a protector. The police badge he wears is not only his job, it’s his identity, so when he’s sidelined because of an injury, the only thing he cares about is getting back on the force. He expects Lando to mend his body, he just doesn’t realize the trainer will also have him working toward a hell of a lot more. As attraction simmers and flares, Dom sees that Lando needs repair of his own…if only the man will let him close enough to mend what’s broken.

Review:  According to the intro at the very beginning, this book is sort of a cross over between Ms. Crownover’s Marked Men series and her upcoming Saints of Denver series.  We get to see many of the characters from the Marked Men series, even if briefly and this has much the same emotional feel as the stories in that series.

This was a sweet story that I did enjoy but it was a bit on the predictable side of things.  I had a harder time connecting with Dom’s personality emotionally than I did Lando and that made a few situations feel a little clunky or even a little one sided.

There were also just enough editing errors that I kept getting pulled out of the story to figure out what was actually being said that it was a bit frustrating.  More so because I normally really like Ms. Crownover’s writing.  I think I might have enjoyed this a bit better if their story was given the time and attention that all of her other characters normally get instead of making this a shorter novella.

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Labyrinth of Stars: Hunter Kiss, Book 5

Labyrinth of StarsAuthor: Marjorie M. Liu
Book Name: Labyrinth of Stars
Series: Body Farm
Order: #5
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  DNF/Maybe Later



Blurb:  Tattoos with hearts, minds, and dreams. Created to be the armor that protects my body, these obsidian shadows come alive at night—demons made flesh.

After the Aetar nearly kill Maxine’s unborn child, and a betrayal within her own ranks leaves Maxine’s husband, Grant, poisoned and dying, Maxine is forced to attack a race of beings that possesses almost unlimited power. Doing so will require she make a deal with the devil—the devil that lives inside her—risking both her sanity and her soul as she slowly transforms into something more than human.

But even that might not be enough to save Grant, because the very thing that Maxine is becoming is destined to destroy the world.

Review:  In the past, I have really enjoyed the books in this series.  It has been a while since I read one, so maybe that is the issue, but I just couldn’t get into this one like I have in the past.  It is possible that I just wasn’t in the mood for it.  Whatever it is, I will try to read this one again at some later date because I do love the world and characters in this series and I want more of the boys.  Apparently, just not right now.

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Finally Sinking In?

When you first realize that you are going to become a parent, and for some, long before then even, we start dreaming of what that means, both for us and our children.  We picture going to all their extracurricular activities, be it baseball or dance or piano or karate or any number of things.  Continue reading “Finally Sinking In?”

Everything She Forgot: Lisa Ballantyne

Everything She ForgotAuthor: Lisa Ballantyne
Book Name: Everything She Forgot
Series: *
Order: *
Genre: Suspense
Rating:  Okay
3+stars


Blurb:  Some things aren’t meant to be remembered . . .

They’re calling it the worst pileup in London history. Margaret Holloway is driving home, but her mind is elsewhere—on a troubled student, her daughter’s acting class, the next day’s meeting—when she’s rear-ended and trapped in the wreckage. Just as she begins to panic, a disfigured stranger pulls her from the car seconds before it’s engulfed in flames. Then he simply disappears.

Though she escapes with minor injuries, Margaret feels that something’s wrong. She’s having trouble concentrating. Her emotions are running wild. More than that, flashbacks to the crash are also dredging up lost associations from her childhood, fragments of events that had been wiped from her memory. Whatever happened, she didn’t merely forget—she chose to forget. And somehow, Margaret knows deep down that it has something to do with the man who saved her life.

As Margaret uncovers a mystery with chilling implications for her family and her very identity, Everything She Forgot winds through a riveting dual narrative and asks the question: How far would you go to hide the truth—from yourself?

Review:  Overall, this was an okay story, but it took a really long time to tell it, dragging the reader along on a rather tedious, flip floppy journey on the way.

It is one thing to tell the story from differing perspectives, but to have a handful of those perspectives all along change suddenly to getting a new one tossed at you in the middle or at the 90% mark made absolutely no sense at all and just made it weird and confusing.  There is so much that goes on in this, mostly in the past, that was either just not all the necessary or could have easily been presented to the reader in a much more concise and cohesive manner that it would have made the book quite a bit more interesting and a lot less dry.

I kept thinking that part of the reason for some of the back and forth on the times and perspectives was to set up this big plot twist, but it ended up ending pretty much exactly the way I expected it to from about a 1/4 of the way in which wasn’t anything that made me feel like I’d gotten something really good out of the time it took to read this.  It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great either.

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Brainstorming: BGs Birthday Cake Concept 2016

BG, ie Baby Girl, gave me her initial theme or idea for her birthday cake this year so I’m now beginning my brainstorming mode.  Thankfully I have around a month to come up with a complete concept that I have to actually turn into reality.  Continue reading “Brainstorming: BGs Birthday Cake Concept 2016”

The Bone Thief: Body Farm, Book 5

The Bone ThiefAuthor: Jefferson Bass
Book Name: The Bone Thief
Series: Body Farm
Order: #5
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Rating:  Good
3+stars


Blurb:  Dr. Bill Brockton has been called in on a seemingly routine case, to exhume a body and obtain a bone sample for a DNA paternity test. But when the coffin is opened, Brockton and his colleagues, including his graduate assistant Miranda Lovelady, are stunned to see that the corpse has been horribly violated.

Brockton’s initial shock gives way to astonishment as he uncovers a flourishing and lucrative black market in body parts. At the center of this ghoulish empire is a daring and prosperous grave robber. Soon Brockton finds himself drawn into the dangerous enterprise when the FBI recruits him to bring down the postmortem chop shop–using corpses from the Body Farm as bait in an undercover sting operation.

As Brockton struggles to play the unscrupulous role the FBI asks of him, his friend and colleague medical examiner Eddie Garcia faces a devastating injury that could end his career. Exposed to a near-lethal dose of radioactivity, Dr. Garcia has lost most of his right hand and his entire left hand. Out of options, he embarks on a desperate quest: both of his ravaged hands will be severed at the wrist and replaced with those from a cadaver. But unless suitable ones are found soon, the opportunity will be lost.

As Brockton delves deep into the clandestine trade, he is faced with an agonizing choice: Is he willing to risk an FBI investigation–and his own principles–to help his friend? Will he be able to live with himself if he crosses that line? Will he be able to live with himself if he doesn’t? And as the criminal case and the medical crisis converge, a pair of simpler questions arise: Will Dr. Garcia survive–and will Brockton?

Review:  Not really sure what the difference is, but I’m not loving these books as much as I did when I first started the series.  There is still a lot to like, but there is also a lot that I’ve started having to sort of skim through.

I do love to learn something new when I read a book, but this book, like the last one, seems more like an academic text rather than a fiction novel in a lot of places.  It is one thing to have some specifics included when addressing a new topic, but I don’t need pages and pages of it.  I also don’t need those same pages and pages when it is something you’ve gone over in previous books.  At that point, it is no longer about learning some new fact, but either learning an entire new professional field or taking a full on refresher course with each book.  There is such a thing as overkill.

The parts that are interesting, the science and investigative aspects are even seeming to push the boundaries for me as some of the scenarios are really not all that believable for Bill’s character.  Sure, they may be possible, but really one man is truly only capable of being excellent at so many things.  You can’t be that good or that in demand in every single aspect.

I do still like these, just not as much and I’ll be less likely to grab the next book unless I don’t have much else to draw my interest.

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