Monday, June 4, 2018

The Minotaur's Kiss by Erin St Charles

Gods and Concubines, Book 1

There are a few authors I'm lucky enough to regularly converse with on FB and Erin is one of them. She's also one of the few that is not running around shoving her book in people's faces. So when she told me she had one, I didn't mind reading it.

Minotaur's Kiss is about Diana and Mac. Mac is a minotaur shifter with an eye for Diana, a biracial social worker (of sorts). Her work involves checking up on sex workers and making sure everyone is accounted for and ok. The two meet at a party that her boss threw, had a night of good sex, and then Diana kicked him out.

I kind of love her.

Mac, however, was bummed, but at least got the chance to see her again for work. Mac served as security and would be tailing Diana while she performed her usual duties AND while she handled a prestigious assignment.

A working girl goes missing and we find later that those who took her mistook her for someone else. As Diana is investigating, she is attacked and Mac comes to her rescue. Of course, that doesn't solve the immediate relationship problem. Diana, at least, tries to pretend that she doesn't want him, but she finds that it gets even more difficult as time goes on.

This book gives us an HEA and is a bit cliche but is definitely enjoyable. I enjoy Diana's commitment to her job and her future (initially). I really liked the issue with the changeling. I love that this is set in Dallas, where I'm from, and I really love how St Charles gave us paranormal creatures in a whole new way. St Charles talks genes and DNA when it comes to the paranormal elements, when that usually isn't the case. The world building was decent but I don't need much since I'm living around the same area that Diana is, lol. This is a bit erotic, but you can push through it if it isn't something you're used to. I skip a lot. There are trigger words that I despise, but I skimmed it slowly enough to not miss anything important.

I'm going to cross my fingers that the next book will involve Vanessa (Diana's twin sister) and Bubba as I have a soft spot for him.

3 Stars.
Thanks, Erin!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Kingmaker Chronicles, Book 3 - Final

This is the final installment of the Kingmaker Chronicles and I'm a little torn.


This book is entirely Cat finally learning herself. My one main problem with Catalia (and I think I'm going to name my next child that if I have one ... God willing) is that she asks too many questions, not realizing that no one wants to give her answers yet. If a group of people are constantly being vague with answers to big questions, you gotta know there's a reason why. So she keeps bumbling around in this gray area (pun intended), fighting herself, and falling short because she won't just chill. The sad part is, the answer was there the entire time but she simply hadn't though about it yet. So even though I complain about this, it still works in her favor because it does push her development along. If she weren't so dense, more than half of book 3 would not be there.

Book 3 picks up after the fight with Galen Tarva. If you remember in book 2, after the Agon Games, Elpis is asked to visit with Galen Tarva, the king there. Even though Elpis was not ready to fight at that moment, they had a lot of help beating him and winning that throne. So now, in the start of book 3, Piers and Kaia show up at Tarva city and then something happens that I'd been waiting on since book 1. If you know Piers, like I do, then you would have been waiting on his betrayal or deceit of some kind since the beginning. And what we got was (highlight line for spoiler) a half-assed attempt to get rid of Cat. I really want to say that this could have been done differently or better, but after reading the entire book, this was needed to push Cat along.

When Piers' attempt fails and (spoiler ahead) ultimately is the end of Piers, we move into more emotion. This book is sooooo emotional that my eyes were watering more than half the book. My heart was really on fire. I ride the public bus to work in the mornings and afternoons and I know those people think I'm crazy for crying like I do every single day while reading this. Anywho ... Piers fails, we learn more stuff about people in her life who happen to end up being super important. 

By now, the middle of the book isn't super important. There's a sex scene thrown in there somewhere. And I'm really pleased because the number of sex scenes was cut down drastically in this book compared to book 2. God is real. I can't just say that the middle isn't super important but there's a lot of Cat dealing with family and Cat finding out about herself and Griffin as a unit. Emotion.

Later in the book, the thing that doesn't need to happen, happens. Someone important dies. And it honestly rips my heart out because this is the last person that needed to lose their life, but it also makes sense that they do. This death pushes Cat further along her journey of discovery and into that gray area I joked about earlier.

Despite the fact that this book is all about Cat figuring herself and her powers out, she still has to deal with her Mother. Up until the end, Mother doesn't disappoint. I just don't like the way things ended with her. I understand why it did. So to deal with Mother with hope and mercy in mind works with the theme. There is a theme in the Kingmaker Chronicles, and that theme is Elpis (hope). When I think back on book 1, Griffin was moving on sheer hope that Cat was what he thought she was, a Kingmaker. Book 2, hope resurfaces as she and Griffin's relationship progresses and they talk of taking over Tarva City. And now in book 3, hope is every where and right up until the very end. 

The ending that was rushed.

We have to deal with this Titan. We don't know about the important death although we can assume this person ended up in the Elysian Fields. Apparently, (spoiler ahead) anyone who fought for Elpis would get direct passage there so at least we MIGHT be able to rest easily even though the exact answer was still vague. Little Bean is still just ... a little bean. And i feel wholly unsatisfied with the open ending. I like closure and I didn't get closure. I mean technically, you get closure. Mother is out of the picture so we know that means peace for everyone but I just want to know how they progress really. An Epilogue would have been great.

I still love the book and the series. The author is talented. There's no diversity ANYWHERE unless you count hair color and eye color changes. The ending was lackluster. But overall, Cat, Griffin, and Beta Team are worth the read. Even though I loved Cat the first 2 books and she worked my nerves in this one, it's still worth it. I'm interested in finding out what the author has up her sleeve next and I'll be following her closely in the future.

4 Stars

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Flame in the Dark by Faith Hunter

Soulwood, Book 3

I will admit that I haven't been a big fan of Nell. Despite the fact that I liked books 1 and 2, I didn't LOVE books 1 and 2. I kind of feel like the story carries Nell, not the other way around. New series' are tricky for me, especially when they come from an established author that I'm a fan of and will cut you over.

That's neither here nor there. Anyway ... I've read books 1 and 2 two more times since their release (and my initial review) and my opinion has changed just a bit. I realize now that I wasn't a big fan of Nell in books 1 or 2. She's just this adorable little woman trying to get her life together while everyone is doing the big girl work. Book 2 changed my opinion yet again when the whole Paka betrayal happened (and well she's still my queen ... do you know people actually try to take me to task over my love for Paka and my hate for Rick?) and Nell grew on me a little. But I realized that that one moment saved book 2 for me.

On to book 3. A book that I didn't think I was going to read. I read it and I loved it.

It seems like with Nell, there is always 1 huge thing that happens that makes everything else worth it and I'm wondering if that will be the one thing I remember and nothing else. But I will say that Nell has grown exponentially. I see her as her own person now and not just that willowy figure in the corner. I feel like Nell really carries and drives the story in book 3, and I don't feel ... Sorry for her? It's almost as if she's grown up in front of me and I like the woman she's becoming. 

In book 3, Nell is on a case with the rest of Unit 18. They're trying to find out who is starting fires at political figures' homes. When we do find out who/what is starting them, Soul loses her shit. No joking. She completely loses her shit. A.Ma.Zing. Anyway, it should be no surprise that Faith Hunter is a master at concocting a case for us to solve (yes, US). And when shit hits the fan at the end, Nell almost sacrifices herself to save everyone (especially Occam). And when she does ... What happens to her is something I didn't realize I was waiting to happen since book 1. Thank you, Faith Hunter, for giving me what I didn't know I needed in my life. I feel like this series is really taking shape and I'm excited to be a part of if moving foward.

5 Stars

By the way ... I love 'Yummy.'

Wanted and Wired by Vivien Jackson

I held onto this book for far too long. Months went by. I kept on seeing it on my shelf. I started it at one point and liked it but life got in the way. Once I finally got the opportunity to finish it, I can ONLy talk about this book now.

Since this book has been out a while, there are a lot of reviews on it so I'll just give my take without the summary.

It's perfect.

The end.

No, really ok hold on ... For one thing, there are lot of Texas references. This is set in an alternate sci fi type future where Texas is a seceded republic and it's dangerous as hell to go into. Our heroine, Marisa Vallejo (Mari, for short), is an assassin that kills the wrong 'person' due to bad information. She has a partner who sets up her jobs and runs the job aside from Mari's trigger finger, and I don't understand how but I fell in love with him even before I met him. Heron has tons of tech all through his body and not a lot of him is human aside from some skin and parts that matter *eyebrow wiggle*. He's our tech guy, smart as hell, IS a computer and is straight up badass and amazing.

I intiially asked for this book on Netgally because I thought that just maybe the heroine would be latina and I was right ... ? Maybe? It's never stated but ... The name says a lot (to me), plus she has dark hair and that means a lot more to me. If you know who my favorite heroines are, none of them are blonde. But I'm also going to go out on a limb and say that none of the bigger heroines out there are blonde. Are they? Who am I missing in my mental tally? No one? Ok. 

Heron, we find out is at least some parts Arab. And then we learn that The Queen, who is actually a robot super computer with a womans figure, is wearing dark brown skin (or black, can't remember how it was stated but I fist pumped). And even though you don't see her much, this trio means a lot to me in terms of diversity. 

I've been SO discouraged lately. I hadn't found any books I wanted to read that were diverse and even the ones that I found and wanted to read (and sometimes liked) were not diverse at all. Ack! But luckily, I came up on a few good ones that I'll be reviewing soon.

If you can't figure out from my half-baked review, this book is great. The sexual tension between Mari and Heron is INSANE and written RIGHT. I generally skip over sex scenes so I can't really tell you how those were. I would have given it a go but I saw the word 'cock' and was already turned off. 

This book is jam packed adventure from start to finish. There is no slowing down. I love ALL of the tech talk. Every single bit of it. The world building is incredible and all of the characters are solid. There is a nice Mari reveal at the end that I particularly enjoyed because I really didn't see it coming. Usually there are clues throughout the book that tell you what the deal is with this person. When I thought about the reveal, I realized there were some very small clues there that were small enough to overlook but not forget. Perfect.

4 1/2 Stars 

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Hunting Town by Elizabeth Stephens

Brothers, Book 1

The Hunting Town is about a group of brothers involved in a fight ring but are also much more than that. You end up dealing with a Cartel and Russian Mafia, so you have to know this book would be incredibly action packed. The action didn't disappoint. Elizabeth Stephens has always been great at crafting violence. I really think that's her specialty but I also think sometimes it can be too much. How is that possible? I know right ... How could I even say that? I don't mind the violence, but there's a brutality to it. Couple the brutality with how well written it is and you're almost cringing at times.

As far as the brothers go, I think they're over the top. They're well written, character development is awesome, and each have a distinct personality as well as 'look' but something happens when they meet a woman that reminds me of an Alpha wolf. If this were a shifter series, it would be completely understandable, but since these are human males, I don't understand the strong sense of mating that came over them in a split second.

Plumeria, the first lady we're introduced to, is paired with Knox. He's a badass. She's a badass. Sort of. I love her one minute and then don't care about her the next. I don't think it's anything that she did in particular, but I'm kind of over the damsel in distress. All the women in this book are a damsel in their own way and it makes me not even think twice about them. I don't even remember the other two women's names.

This book shifts POVs with each passing chapter so it may be easy to get lost in one persons head, and then have trouble switching over. I know I had trouble, but then again, my ADD is pretty severe.

If I remember correctly, Dixon is black and Plumeria is mexican, but outside of that, I don't see much more diversity being added unless one of the brothers gets a WOC in a later installment. I kind of doubt it.

Overall, this book is extremely well written, the world building is good but I think the overall feel of the book is what transports you there. I often felt like I was standing in the middle of the bloodbath or at the fight club and had to press myself out of the way so I won't get killed. This book is not for me but I already know it's going be a lot of people's favorites.

3 Stars
Thank you, Elizabeth Stephens, for the ARC!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

White Trash Zombie - Books 1 & 2 - By Diana Rowland


I'd seen the cover a million times and thought it was divine. I was in Half Priced Books last week and found books 1 and 2, so I bought them, read them, and I'm hooked. But I don't know why.

Angel Crawford calls herself white trash. She's a pill popping drunk loser who is on probation, has an abusive father, lives in a crappy house, and has a crappy boyfriend. The first book begins with her waking up in a hospital and finding out she'd overdosed on prescription meds. The next thing you know, she's drinking some secret concoction left by a mystery person that we find out later is like a brain slushie. Now that Angel is a zombie, she's mysteriously been given the best job she's ever had, as a van driver for the coroner's office. Working there will give her access to the brains she needs to survive. While navigating her new found life, she has to deal with her old life and how it will fit in with her new one while keeping being a zombie a secret. Meanwhile, somebody is killing zombies left and right and now she has to watch her back, and the back of the other zombie she's found out about.

In book 2, more plot from book 1 unfolds. At the end of book 1, we find out who was chopping off heads and have a roundabout reason why. In book 2, we get the real reason why and boy is it not good. A zombie, who had his head chopped off in book 1, resurfaces in book 2 ... But old. Of course, our ever inquisitive Angel starts asking questions in all the wrong places and gets herself kidnapped in the process. She manages to free herself, but after we find out what the heck is going on.

I have no idea why I like this series so much. It's a fast easy read (I'm listening to book 3 now) that doesn't make you think too hard about what's going on. I guess the main reason I like it is Angel Crawford. She's just a damn likable character that a lot of people can relate to, and therefore is the biggest draw for me. The action in the series isn't great but it's just enough to get you through the scenarios where Angel has to use her Zombie Super Senses (her words, not mine). I actually bought the audio for book 3 and the narrator is spot on. I think the narrator makes me like Angel even more. Her tone, inflections, and delivery are just perfect for this character. The downside to this series? All the other characters around her. Angel is a gem and her father is convincing. Everyone else is a little bit of a bore, especially Marcus. He's a cop, and Angel's ... Boyfriend? He's a goody goody who lives by his uncle's word and I don't like either of the one bit. Despite the fact that the others around her are not stellar, Angel is amazing on her own.

The more you read the series, the more you'll get to see how Angel develops into a person who finally loves herself. Being a zombie left her no choice but to get her life together, and even though some crap has been thrown in her lap, she still manages to claw her way out and up a little higher than before. I'm going to continue binging the series and will be back with another review when I finish books 3 and 4.

Diverse characters ... Angel has a death investigator partner who is black, a probation officer who is hispanic, and a colleague who is Asian.

3.5 Stars

Friday, June 23, 2017

Drawing Dead by SM Reine

I'm going to be honest. I wasn't enthused when I found out a book was being written with Dana as the lead. Although I'm familiar with her, I just didn't see her as protag material but of course SM Reine proved me wrong.

Dana is basically female Arnold Schwarzenegger. She's a tank and a complete badass. This series even FEELS different from the other series' by this author. This one feels like straight up action movie beauty. Not only is the cover of this book amazing, but I could have seen this on the big screen as well.

Dana is turning into a vampire but she's trying to stop it. And if you know anything about Dana, you know she is not here for that vamp mess. It's a short read but well worth your time. I'm actually looking forward to future installments.

I give this book 4 stars because the ending was lackluster and Nissa is just the worst. I get it. I know how the opposites attract thing is supposed to but ... She's almost insufferable. Then again, I still think Riley is insufferable despite being the alpha.

Overall, I really can't believe how well this turned out and I'm excited for the next one.

4 Stars

Preview of book 2 cover ... God, I love this model.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

White Hot by Ilona Andrews

Book 2 of Hidden Legacy Series

I'm in love with Ilona Andrews. Although I haven't been posting about it, I've read (or listened to) their entire stock. It's quite possible that Kate Daniels has overtaken Jane Yellowrock as my favorite heroine. That freaks me out but it is what it is. With all that said, I'm still not a hundred percent sure about the Hidden Legacy series but there is so much about it I love that I will just remain unsure until I can come out of hiding about it.

If you have not read book 1, this will be full of spoilers for you.

Nevada Baylor is a Truthseeker Prime who is coming into her powers. In book 1, we had to deal with Adam Pierce, a Prime level Pyrokinetic, who was looking for a trinket to turn his Prime level powers into God level powers. Nevada, at the time, had no idea that she really had any power, and was tasked to bring this Prime in alive or her business and home will be forfeit to the company that owns it. A company owned by a Prime Illusionist, Augustine Montgomery. During the course of tracking down Adam, she meets and is kidnapped by Mad Rogan, a Prime Telekinetic, who has a horrible reputation and is most feared among all Primes.

In book 2, Nevada and her family of PIs take on a case to solve the murder of Nari Harrison, the wife of a Significant Animal Mage, Cornelius Harrison. Working this case finds her in the middle of several houses trying to bring down a system, or so they thought. This also leads her right back into the arms of Mad Rogan and more danger than she faced in book 1. If you can tell by the cover, this series is 'hot' which isn't my thing, but the sex didn't last long and I skipped over it. Thankfully, Ilona Andrews doesn't sacrifice a page count for sex, there is still way too much story to be told to hang onto a sex scene for too long. Despite the fact that I do like Rogan, Augustine, and Cornelius, I find myself liking Nevada now. I didn't really like her in book 1. I thought she was boring and bland, but now she's getting some BadAssery and I tend to like that. The end of book 2 has us wondering about her family and how they stack up to other Houses. Spoilers if I give details so I won't but I will say that the young family members are so cool that I salivate at the thought of what we'll get to see from them in book 3. The action scenes are really well thought out. If I were watching them as a movie, I would literally be turning my head every which way to catch everything because it's so descriptive.

As always with Ilona Andrews, the world building and character development are top notch. I always love the family that is created around the protag. I originally wanted to say the diversity is lacking but I think, judging by what I've seen so far, we'll get more in the coming books. Right now, we have a few latino and asian background characters surrounding Mad Rogan. We have a decent black power character that is on the neutral side of things, and possibly a dangerous black House to look forward to in the future. And then again ... I don't remember any diversity in The Edge series or The Innkeeper Chronicles. Although it's been a little bit since I've read either of them, which is a shame because I actually like Innkeeper. I think maybe the cop in Innkeeper or a neighbor is ethnic.

Overall, I give this book 4 stars just because I'm not completely sold on it yet. Most of that is due to the fact that I'm too hooked on a Kate Daniels, Damali Richards, Jane Yellowrock type of heroine that one that has no combat skills kinda kills me a little. Still ... I'm waiting anxiously for book 3 to come out next month that I will definitely be purchasing the Audio.

I add this picture at the bottom because it's cute. If anyone knows who the artist is, let me know. I love this cover because I thought the original book cover (above) had Mad Rogan as a naked jaybird.

4 Stars