3.5 star review

Review – Darkness by Karen Robards

Darkness

New York Times bestselling author Karen Robards continues her penchant for “fantastic storytelling” (RT Book Reviews) with this next heart-pumping romantic suspense novel, the tale of a brilliant ornithologist trapped on the remote Attu Island in Alaska, fighting for her life—and that of a handsome stranger—before they’re swallowed up in darkness forever.

BOOM. That’s the sound that changes everything for Dr. Gina Sullivan, a renowned ornithologist on a group research grant trip on the remote island of Attu, Alaska. When an everyday outing turns sinister at the onset of one of Attu’s infamous storms, Gina expects thunder and lightning—but what she doesn’t see coming is the small jet plane that drops out of the sky and into the water mere feet from her boat. Even more unprecedented: there’s a sole survivor from the crash, and he needs Gina’s help. But it turns out that rescuing the stranger and getting them both out of the oncoming storm is just the beginning. Because the more Gina learns about James “Cal” Callahan, he of brooding eyes and muscled frame, the more she fears—for herself, and for him.

Cal has made a career of trading on government secrets and emerging unscathed—until a routine pickup goes horribly wrong and lands him in ice-cold water. Literally. He knows the plane crash was no accident and that there could very well be an enemy force currently combing the Alaskan island ensuring there were no survivors. Now if only the arrestingly beautiful bird-watcher with the clear-blue gaze would stop watching him, well, like a hawk. Cal convinces Gina to return to base camp and help him covertly get off the island. But when Gina makes it safely back to camp and finds her entire team murdered, all bets are off, and as darkness envelops the island, she must decide: trust a man she barely knows, or go it alone and risk running straight into the arms of a killer?

It looks like after the paranormal crazysauce, we are back to some old skool Karen Robards. And by that I mean that this is very much a modernized retelling of her 1987 classic (and still one of my favorites) Night Magic.

Now don’t think this doesn’t have its own crazy sauce charms, because of course it does. It is just that it is old skool crazysauce rather than paranormal crazy sauce.

So we have a fundamentally broken heroine. The modernization leaves said heroine quite a bit more competent and independent than that older version, but the trade off isn’t a certain intrinsic reticence, it is a complete shattering of her life that leaves her so cut of from the world and from men. And we have a rough, tough, aggressive, world weary hero. He isn’t going to trust the heroine even as far as he can throw her at the start, which is par for the course with this cynic.

They meet, they have undeniable attraction, their mistrusts and different goals seperate them briefly, and then they are brought back together by the suspense/thriller plot arc. Danger, and madness, and smexing, and happily ever love ensues. The End!

And I could leave it at that, because this is the Karen Robards romantic suspense formula. But the devil is in the details, so to speak. For one thing, this is modernized, so if you want some of that sweet, sweet old skool “charm” without the dated feel, this is something of a winner. And consequently, with the updates, I think the heroine may be a little more relate-able, and the hero just ever so slightly less alpha-hole. I don’t know, maybe that is just me and it is a function of not having read Night Magic in a while (maybe an OpenLibrary foray is in my future?). Additionally the tech is much more current, so there isn’t the snickering that you get when you read an older romantic suspense because the technology is so dated.

This one may not be for everyone. Personally, I enjoyed it quite a bit. It was action packed and adventure oriented, the suspense part was relatively plausible, as was the action. The main characters fairly sizzled, and while I don’t know that I necessarily buy the happily ever after, I definitely get the hot for right now feel. It was a good weekend read.

So whether you like this more or less than her most recent stuff is going to be a matter entirely of taste. But, if you had been feeling regretful or resentful of her most recent turn, and missed the old days, then this hearkens right back to the old Robards and you won’t want to wait to pick it up.

Darkness

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5 star review

Review – The Undoing by Shelly Laurenston

The Undoing

A risk worth taking…

No one would ever accuse Jace Berisha of having an easy life—considering her husband…you know…killed her. But that was then! Now she fights for mighty Viking gods with the spectacular and vicious Crows.

But things are turning very bad, very quickly because a vengeful, ancient goddess has come into the world with just one thing on her mind—ending it. And the only way they can hope to stop her is if the Crows join forces with their one-time enemies, the Protectors. A Viking Clan created to do nothing but kill every Crow they see.

Thankfully, Protector Ski Eriksen is a peace loving kind of guy. Because the woman he is desperately trying to get close to is the beautiful and not-very-chatty Jace. Battling Nordic clans? Unkillable goddesses? Jace’s mean-spirited dog? None of these things would ever get in the way of a true Viking!

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, this does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of my review.

Yes, I love this author with an unholy love. And while I was sad that she discontinued her Pack/Pride Series, I figured at least she was doing something when The Unleashing was posted. But admittedly, I was a bit begrudging. But once I got into it, I devoured it, and then re-read it again and again, and again. Unfortunately, this one did plop into my hands in the midst of a horrific reading slump, so it was with both trepidation and hope that I opened The Undoing up and started reading.

I don’t know that this has broken my slump, because Laurenston is on a whole different level, but The Undoing absolutely captivated me. The gang’s all here and back better and more blood thirsty than ever. And Jace was probably the most interesting side character from the last book. A female berserker, a quiet soul, and a dog lover, she’s such a writhing mass of contradictions and mystery that I couldn’t be more pleased that Laurenston went with her next.

And you’ve just got to love Laurenston’s heroes as much as her heroine. They tend to be alpha rather than alpha-hole, and there isn’t much they like more than a dominant and violent woman.

Jace growling at him. Ski smiled. He couldn’t help it She was so cute when she was drenched in the blood of their mutual enemies.

And beyond that sort of dynamic, Laurenston’s books tend to have rather feminist, if bawdy and over the top, sensibilities.”

“Why? Because you’re a pussy?”

“I don’t like that,” Haldor announced. One of the Protectors who wasn’t just quiet-the man could literally go for months without saying a word.

Frieda gawked at him. “You don’t like that? So?”

“I have a daughter and I’m trying to teach her self-respect in a very male centric world. And suggesting someone’s weak by calling them female genitalia bothers me. Viscerally.”

Seriously, it is just nice to have that sort of thing becoming more commonplace in romance. And while I was a little bit sad that we weren’t going to get another really Viking hero, it turns out a hero from a Clan of Protectors who are obsessed with book is just as good. And they provide a nice steady influence to the tone of the characters in this series…in their own OCD way.

Quieter, and perhaps more rational these protectors might be, but that are hilarious. They are laugh out loud hilarious, and I mean that literally. I was literally laughing until I sobbed, and I have’t laughed that hard since I read the Craig’s List llama dog post. Also, there are plot pets, the bestest, most wonderfulest plot pets EVER. Serious, I love a well done plot pet, and these two rock.

Is the mythology potentially dodgy? I personally am going to go with “creative”. Are there plot holes? If you went and looked for them I am sure you would find them. But none of that is important, this story is like the Crows themselves, raucous, and funny, and insane. You just go with it and enjoy the ride. And it is a hell of a ride, I couldn’t put it down and read it in one sitting. Jace and Ski are perfection together, their friends are a riot, and this thing is action packed. I also have no clue who the protagonists will be in the next book, but whoever it is, I can’t wait.

The Undoing (Call of Crows, #2)

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3.5 star review

Review – Wild Things by Jennifer Ashley

Wild Things.jpg

Wolf Shifter Mason McNaughton is tired of the crazy feral living in his house, endangering him, his brothers, and his sweet auntie Cora. Ferals are Shifters who’ve reverted to the wild stage, forgetting all about the joys of pizza and satellite TV. Not to mention, Mason is sick of waking up to the feral’s rampages in the bedroom next to his. The feral has been given sanctuary, so Mason can’t throw him out—the only thing to do is to find a way to cure him.

The problem is, Shifter healers—elusive, Goddess-touched Shifters who have the healing gift—are few and far between. Mason volunteers to go in search of one, and is sent to a psychic in New Orleans who might have an idea of where to start looking.

Mason doesn’t believe in psychics, but Jasmine, the psychic in question, seems to at least put on a good show. Jasmine believes in Shifters all right, but she vowed after her Shifter boyfriend dumped her to never have anything to do with them again.

The easiest way to get rid of the growly Lupine, Mason, is to help him, but Jasmine never dreams what that help will drag her into.

A short novel of the Shifters Unbound series.

This one is a bridge between the previous books and the direction the series is headed. It doesn’t quite have the same punch as Mate Bond, which absolutely gutted me, but I really did enjoy it. The series as a whole has some pretty good world building, the mythology of shifters is unique, there hot shifter sex, and the characters are mostly just flat out nice and often adorable. Seriously, there is a 10 year old polar bear cub, what more can you ask for? And this story nicely ties a few things up, and opens the series up with a brand new integral character, so I figure the story arc is about to heat up.

As for this particular couple Mason hasn’t really featured much so far, and Jasmine is a brand new character, so it was a little hard to get a bead on them at first.  But I adored Mason, he’s more Beta than most of the heroes in this series, in a completely delightful way…he’s just…scrumptious is the word I think I am looking for. Jasmine was almost a little too good to be true, but it didn’t push her into the dislike-able eye rolling category, so it worked in this short format that there weren’t too many thorns to get through. And with her skills it will be interesting to see how she impacts the shifters and their long range goals.

They one thing I guess to warn for readers who aren’t familiar with this series is that this series is filled with fated mates, and this one is no exception. So heads up if that isn’t your things, but in the context of the world building fated mates make sense. And this particular couple are so sweet together I think they didn’t need a longer book. It’s a good quick read, and I am super excited that we get another story next month and then another in September. It looks like it is going to be a hell of a year in the Shifters Unbound series, and I find myself excited. This may be just the thing to get me out of my slump.

Wild Things (Shifters Unbound #7.75)

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News, Thoughts and Opinions

2 Year Blogiversary

Dang, two years already? Where has the time all gone? I think…or at least hope my writing has become better and more interesting. I have gotten into ARC reviewing, I have moved from Blogger over to WordPress (a decision I have not regretted), I’ve communicated with people like I never would have in real life, and I have read books, so many wonderful books! And people actually read what I have to say, which is probably the most amazing thing in the world when you think about it. Here is a list of all the countries who visited by blog in 2015:

United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, France, Ireland, Norway, India, Malaysia, Russia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Czech Republic, Spain, Singapore, Israel, Poland, Italy, South Africa, Mexico, Nepal, Macedonia, Hong Kong SAR China, Finland, Hungary, Portugal, Indonesia, Argentina, Cyprus, Switzerland, Sweden, Trinidad & Tobago, Austria, Belgium, Serbia, Slovakia, Taiwan, Bulgaria, Puerto Rico, Greece, Brazil, Venezuela, Honduras, Lithuania, Denmark, El Salvador, Romania, European Union, Mozambique, Turkey, Jamaica, Thailand, Ethiopia, Croatia, China, Isle of Man, Bangladesh, Colombia, Guam, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Pakistan, Jersey, Belarus, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, Bosnia & Herzegovina, U.S. Virgin Islands, South Korea

Crazy right? Who could have imagined that one day it would be so easy to touch every corner of the world? And some of you even came back again 😉

And here are some of my more popular posts since I have moved over here:

Review – Dark Horse by Michelle Diener

Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews

When reading history, it should be accurate to be worthwhile. Or why Texas has stepped into a steaming pile of stupid.

Review – Linesman by S. K. Dunstall

Review: The Guardians (books 1-5) by Lola St. Vil

Review – Witch, Cat, and Cobb by J.K. Pendragon

Review – Here Be Magic: 8 Magical Tales From The Realm of Paranormal and Fantasy

3 Day Quote Challenge –Day Two

OpenLibrary Review – Julie Garwood’s Crown’s Spies

 

 

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5 star review

Review – Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

Fire Touched

Mercy Thompson has been hailed as “a heroine who continues to grow and yet always remains true to herself.”* Now she’s back, and she’ll soon discover that when the fae stalk the human world, it’s the children who suffer…

Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.

Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched.

This is book 9 in the Mercy Thompson series, a series which features coyote shifter Mercedes (the Volkswagen mechanic) and her adventures being the lone coyote in werewolf territory. There is also a side series, Alpha & Omega, which has 4.5 books. There is some argument as to whether or not you really need to read Alpha & Omega to get the series as a whole (I say that you do), but whichever side of that argument you fall on, one thing is certain, you just can’t start here. Seriously, go and read them all, this blog will still be here when you get back.

Of course my bias for  A&O may be because I came to that series first through an anthology I had picked up for some other author. It captivated me, and once I finished that it made me go back and take a look at Brigg’s other works. I had completely passed over the Mercy series for the very shallow reason that I found the covers rather offputting. I looked at those covers, and with a sneer…I put them back.

Yep, I thought, really? That is a serious mechanic? And I dropped it before starting. I don’t know who they were trying to market to, but I find the covers weird, and not representative of Mercy at all. Not that there is anything wrong with those outfits in and of themselves, it just had to do with the description of the series paired with those images. Like, she was luring us with a description of a kick@ss mechanic and then was going to give us a helpless damsel instead. I couldn’t have been more wrong. But the series, it is actually amazingly good. And Mercy is one of my favorite heroines. She is a tough, no nonsense mechanic who stays true to herself. And honestly, I can’t really imagine her wearing any of those outfits, particularly to work in.

As for this book, it is completely awesome. I can’t promise to to make this spoiler free, because there is a lot going on, but I will try.

Basically, the war between the world as we know it and the fae has been heating up off page. And eventually, chaotic coyote that Mercy is, she has to draw her own line in the sand. This leads to Adam FINALLY tying off the nebulous thread to the plot arc of the pack’s animosity toward Mercy (which was welcome), but also leads to what I consider a surprise move from the Marrok.

But it is exciting. There is fighting, and mystery about the boy Aiden, and favorite characters like Zee and Tad are back. And if you read the short stories, two very interesting characters make quite the appearance, it is absolutely FANTASTIC. (Here’s to hoping the get some more page time in the next book, I think it will be good for all involved …including a conspicuously missing character. And it will be fun to watch too.) I hadn’t made the connection when the one character previously appeared, but a ton of things made better sense from that.

As for the rest of the story arc, I’ve been wondering where things were going, but man-oh-man I did NOT see this coming. You wonder sometimes, at the disparate things that come about as a series develops. Is that some random deus ex machina? Does it have purpose? Does the author know where he or she is going with this? So it was delightful to see that Patricia Briggs knew EXACTLY where she was going, or at least is a good enough story teller to pull things off with great aplomb.

And damned if there wasn’t the absolute strangest thing to be sad about too. When you get to around 96%, come back and talk to me about it, surely I am not the only one who was almost unbearably moved. But don’t be saddened to much, Briggs finishes off on a really, really high note.

So, final thoughts, there was a much higher level of humor in this one than others, the relationship angst and overall angst are at almost negligible levels, and it gives us readers some breathing space after the trauma and drama of past books and also resettles the story in ways that are hard to explain. It was an excellent installment and makes me that much more antsy to see what Charles and Anna, the titular Alpha & Omega, are up to now, since I think one of their stories will be next (see what I mean by needing to read both series to get the full picture?). Unfortunately I guess that will be happening in 2017, which is a long ways to wait, but made slightly bearable by the fact that we leave them in such a good place.

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson, #9)

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