Guest Review – Blood Prince Series

review iconSo, thanks once again to Doug Meeks, who sent over a review for the Blood Prince series from author Jennifer Blackstream. From what Doug has said, the final book was recently released, and it did a great job of wrapping everything up. He also recommended starting from the beginning and reading in order to get the full enjoyment of the story.

unnamedWhat Doug said…

The Blood prince series is a series that is a collection of 5 stories (1 for each of 5 princes) and an overarching story that you really don’t know where it is going or even what it really is until the last book and it was wonderful.

The stories use a familiar fairy tale is a basis for the plot but even though they are titled as a “retelling” they are very unlike the fairy tale except as the most basic framework.

They all were exceptional I thought but the collection of the 5 books taken as a whole and the resolution of the overarching storyline made this one of my All Time Top 10 completed series as far as being entertained but 5 original stories that never quite went where I thought they would go and surprised me at every turn.

I wrote this little review just to let people know that for about $16 (book 1 is free on Amazon) you can get what I consider one of the best reading experiences of the last 12-14 months for me. (NOTE:  That statement applies only if you read the whole series in order, each novel builds a bit on the last one).  Let me just say I HIGHLY recommend this series, quick reading and I should note that a couple of the books started slow and I thought they were going to be duds and then it would take off and become “can’t put it down” so don’t give up on any of these books if you buy them and start reading.  Book 1 is free so you can get a taste of it.

The Blood Prince series (prices shown are from Amazon):

Before Midnight: A Romantic Retelling of Cinderella (Blood Prince Series Book 1) FREE
One Bite: A Romantic Retelling of Snow White (Blood Prince Series Book 2) $3.99
Golden Stair: A Romantic Retelling of Rapunzel (Blood Prince Series Book 3) $3.99
Divine Scales: A Romantic Retelling of The Little Mermaid (Blood Prince Series Book 4) $3.99
Beautiful Salvation: A Romantic Retelling of Sleeping Beauty (Blood Prince Series Book 5) $3.99

Any other fans of this one? I haven’t heard of it myself, but it does sound interesting.

November Wrap Up…

This might be a couple of days early, but since things have been so quiet around lately I thought maybe we could take a look back at the month that was.

Personally, November was a truly meh month. There were a couple of highlights, but I spent a good portion of it trying to drag myself through one book. I was too stubborn to give up on it, and too uninterested to keep going. Tricky.

Haunted – This fifth book in the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong wasn’t bad. Not really. I just found myself unable to get into it. I don’t think I am  big on the whole ghost thing, I guess, since I found it rather dull. Maybe part of it was because there was so little interaction with the other characters that it read like a stand alone, too. It didn’t have the same feel as the other books for me, and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just didn’t work for me here. Now it is time to dive back in and get caught up on the novellas.

Night Shift – To be fair, I am judging this one based on only reading half of the stories (yet), but I thought the Ilona Andrews and Nalini Singh novellas in the Night Shift anthology were awesome. I don’t think I could pick a favorite between the two, but secretly I will admit that I was thrilled to finally see a softer side of Jim. This collection ended up being the highlight of my month.

And, other than a couple of random e-books that I don’t even remember the titles of, that was pretty much my pathetic reading for November. I am still waiting for my copy of Gena Showalter‘s The Darkest Touch and G.A. Aiken‘s new one, Light My Fire, but hopefully they will could towards a great December.

How did your November reading fare? Any standouts, either good or bad, surprises or excitements?

 

October Wrap Up…

Well October was a big, big month for some great books, both existing and new series. I thought since we probably all managed to tear through them, we could maybe give our impressions.

Archangel’s Shadows: Nalini Singh‘s latest Guild Hunter novel featured Ashwini and Janvier, with a big helping of Elena and Raphael. I actually was lucky enough to have Nalini send me an ARC, which was awesome, but I still loved the book. Ash and Janvier were long-time favorites, so to finally get their story was a real treat. But not only did I like their arc, but the developments for several other characters, as well. Just when I think I have a favorite of the seven a new one pops up and steals the show, and this time around it was the mysterious Naasir. I can honestly say that at this point, I just can’t choose who I like more. Another great installment of a favorite series.

Seventh Grave and No Body: Darynda Jones‘ latest was a bit different for me. I liked it, but can’t say I loved it. There was a lot going on, a lot of development for the characters, and a ton of action, but there were times Charley just didn’t do it for me. I think it is like Doug said in his review – she skimmed the border of TSTL in a few cases. As always, her heart was in the right place, but she still needed to calm down a bit in a few cases. I do have to say that it is a pivotal book, and definitely not one to miss if you are a fan of the series, but it isn’t one I will grab for a re-read.

Burn For Me: What can I say? This new series from Ilona Andrews‘ was one I have been anticipating for months and months, and I was starting to worry that maybe I had built it up too much in my head and it couldn’t live up to my expectations. Totally wrong – I really, truly loved it. Great characters, lots of action, very cool world-building that wasn’t bogged down like I found the first Kate Daniels book. It hit the ground running, and didn’t need a ton of set up to make you understand what was going on. I am notoriously hard on female characters, but Nevada became an instant favorite. Ditto Mad Rogan. I know I sound gushy, but it was one of my top reads of the year, and I am stoked for the next one (whenever it may be). I have already read it twice, actually, and it was just as good the second time around.

What did you think of your big reads this month? Anything stand out for you, good or bad? Did October’s releases live up to the hype, or leave you wanting more?

Review: Seventh Grave and No Body

Thanks once again to Doug Meeks, who sent over his review of another much anticipated October release – Seventh Grave and No Body by Darynda Jones. Now, anyone who has read Sixth Grave On The Edge knows that it ended with quite the unexpected development. To those who have not read it yet…PROCEED NO FURTHER! Warning!

spoiler bannerseventh graveWhat Doug said…

WARNING!!!!! If you have NOT read Sixth Grave on the Edge then STOP reading, this will be a spoiler that you don’t want to read.

Now that I have your attention I should mention that you do not want to read the synopsis of book 8 either until you finish this book

OK, on the last page of Sixth Grave on the Edge we find out that our favorite Grim Reaper Charley is pregnant (which kinda came as a surprise to everyone), in this book keep herself and the baby alive have become a primary mission for Reyes(and Charley to a somewhat lesser extent it seems at times). 12 hellhounds have been released from Hell and they want Charley, Reyes does not know how to kill them (and neither does anyone else), add to this plot, Charley’s Dad is missing, add to that people who are writing suicide notes but leaving no body (hence the title). It is a real party for Charley and crew.

While Reyes would like nothing better than to lock her in her apartment with him as 24 hour guard, Charley is having none of it because she will go crazy if she even tries. Unfortunately, it does lead to some moments of TSTL for Charley which does not really help her cause.

A newswoman is getting a bit too close to Reyes for her comfort and jealously looks bad on almost anyone, Charley is no exception. Reyes wants her to stay away from the newswoman because he feels something is “not right” about her but when it comes to scummy reporters how do you tell.

I can tell you that I laugh more at this book than the last one which I thought was hilarious, the beauty is that Darynda Jones manages to do this without taking the edge off of the serious parts of this book, takes a clever touch to accomplish that piece of writing.

There are several surprises in this book, a couple are held to the last chapter, you will have a few questions that obviously are not going to get answered until next book.

The overarching story is for all practical purposes being serialized and while i have no problem with that it DOES mean that you cannot even read the synopsis for future books or you WILL get some spoilers that should be discovered while reading the book.

Bottom Line: This is a 5 Star novel, I will subtract a half a star just because I already knew a big spoiler just from reading the synopsis for the next book Eighth Grave After Dark. Still you gotta get this but again, books 6-7-8 look like they HAVE to be read in order or you will not be able to appreciate them as much as previous novels (which still should be read in order but was not a 100% requirement). There are a couple of quick plots that Charley takes care of that add to the entertainment level of this book. So 4.5 Stars and highly recommended.

I just ordered my copy, so I have a bit of a wait…and I just remembered that I still need to update the character guide for the previous book, too. Crap.

Burn For Me Review

I don’t think anyone who stumbles across this blog has missed the fact that I am super looking forward to Ilona AndrewsBurn For Me. Ever since I heard that there was a new series in the works from them, I have been excited, and the brief teasers and snippets that have been released have justified that excitement. Well, while we have just under two weeks to wait, Doug Meeks got his hands on an early copy and was kind enough to share his review.

burn for meWhat Doug said…

Ok, let me start by just saying it was freaking awesome, if you are surprised by this this must be your first novel by Ilona Andrews (or you are terribly slow)

This is a world similar to our own but different due to magical powers being discovered during the 1700/1800 period which has changed the course of the world drastically in places and less so in others. The magical world is broken up into “Houses” which kind of divide up almost any chunk of real estate (in this case it is Houston).

Nevada Baylor runs her own private investigations company and prides herself on having some honor and client loyalty, a trait not as in demand as you might think which is part of the reason her company is mortgaged to the hilt to one of the “houses” which plays into the plot in them being able to assign her a case she is most likely to fail if not die in the process. The person they want her to bring in is a magical person with pyromaniac tendencies and he is powerful.

Enter Mad Rogan, scourge of Mexico (they will tell you why) and arrogant and self centered as they come because he is one of the most powerful magical beings on the planet, I won’t bore you with how they get together (read the book) but they are NOT a match made in heaven or any place else but their evolving relationship is entertaining beyond belief. I wondered several times if I should go back and read book 1 of Kate Daniels and see if Curran was this bad when they first met.

The crux of the plot (outside of any romance or lack thereof between Nevada and Mad Rogan) is that her assigned target for capture can set almost anything on fire and has plans to do exactly that a LOT more and they have to stop him somehow. Throw in some near death experiences (USUALLY a good ice breaker for a romance) and some magical discoveries, this is an exciting story that never really allows you to get bored other than possibly the reader being more forgiving of Mad Rogan than Nevada is, although it should be mentioned she has valid reasons. (Suspecting him of government sanctioned mass murder ranks high on the list)

This is a story you are never quite sure where it is going and trying to guess will only make your head hurt. Excellent job of hiding some things until the epilogue, imagine my surprise, very nice touch. Never saw it coming at all.

Bottom Line: Exceptional story, multi-layered plot, intriguing characters that you really want to see more of, add all that to some nice little perks for veterans and you have a story that is hard to beat with enough similarity to our own world to make you feel at home just a bit (well a small bit minus the magic). 5 Stars, highly recommended which is actually more than I think I gave the first Kate Daniels book (but to be fair she had a horrible job of building a totally new world we had never seen). So go buy this book as soon as you can, no cliffhangers either I should mention.

Who else is on board for this one? It is my most anticipated read for the rest of the year, and most of the reviews I am allowing myself to peek at are overwhelmingly positive. Did I mention less than two weeks now?

Reading Roundup…

Time again to bore everyone with what I have been reading, and what I thought of it. I have been a bit more eclectic than usual, even branching out into non paranormal (god, been a while since I can say that).

the beautiful ashesThe Beautiful Ashes – Might as well start with the hard one. I picked up the first book of Jeanine Frost‘s new Broken Destiny series as soon as it was released, but I didn’t really have any burning desire to dive right in. As I took a non-spoilery peek at some reviews, I found they veered wildly from “OMG Awesome!!!!” to “DNF”. I fall somewhere in the middle.  Well, it was…ok. I should say up front that I was not one of those looking for another Cat and Bones, either – it didn’t have to “live up” to the Night Huntress books, for me. I didn’t hate it, I made it through to the end, but I finished more out of duty than desire to see how it all ended. I guess the easiest way to say it is that I didn’t connect to it – characters, world-building, none of it drew me in. Will I pick up the next book? Probably, just because I already have the first one. If I had read it on my i-pad and didn’t have the physical copy of the first one? Probably not. Unless the reviews were stellar. All in all, a disappointment. On a ratings scale, I would say…2 out of 5.

the iron trialThe Iron Trial – This one is the first book of a new middle grade series from authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare called The Magisterium. The most common thing I have heard about this one is “Harry Potter rip-off”. In fact, some were quite up in arms about that. Well, since I am about the last person in the world who hasn’t read Harry Potter, I can’t comment on that. Personally, I liked it. It was a fast, fun read with quite a bit of action and a few twists and turns that should lead to some very interesting storylines in coming books. Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Rock Addiction coverRock AddictionNalini Singh is my favorite author, and I have never made a secret of that (along with Ilona Andrews, but that is a debate for another day). That said, however, I still really wasn’t driven to pick up Rock Addiction for one strange reason…I have never liked books where one of the characters is supposed to be famous. Models, actors, athletes, race car drivers…rock stars…they have never done it for me. And the strange reason is that I find them unrealistic. Yep, I said it. A chick who reads pretty much all PNR and UF finds a book about famous people more unrealistic than vampires and dragon shifters. If it was written by anyone other than Nalini I wouldn’t have given it a second look even if it was free. But because it is Nalini, I did take the plunge – and I liked it. I know that a lot of people didn’t like the insta-love or the abundance of sex scenes, but neither bothered me. I think, for me, there was enough story to balance that out. I didn’t even mind the rock star angle, which for me was a big hurdle. I do have to admit, though, that I thought Gabriel and Charlie completely stole the show, and I cannot wait to get my hands on their story. That one is going to be fun. So, I can say I am glad I overcame my bias against famous characters and tried this one, and I am first in line for Charlotte and Gabriel’s turn. Rating: 4 out of 5.

How has your reading been stacking up? Any standouts, good or bad? What was your take on any of these relatively new releases?

Guest Review – Into Darkness

review iconLast week, Morgan was kind enough to offer a copy of the final book in the J.T. Geissinger Night Prowler series, Into Darkness, for a giveaway at Wicked Scribes (I feel like I am talking about myself in the third person). Well, while Monika didn’t win that one, she also got her hands on an early copy and sent over a review (which is doubly great because I was just hunting for something to post, and I am lazy tonight).

into darknessWhat Monika said…

Dark, intense, heart-wrenching, sweet, tragic and poignant are just some of the adjectives to describe the roller coaster ride of feelings this book will take you on. The latest (and unfortunately last) installment of the Night Prowler series provides a gripping and emotional finale to this outstanding shapeshifter saga. Geissinger’s voice is both, lyrical and distinctive, and imbues her writing with a special quality.

The story takes place roughly twenty-four years after the cataclysmic events in Darkness Bound. The world has changed, become a dark and dreary place. People live in perpetual fear of the Phoenix corporation and the Imperial Federation, its military arm. This is the world that Lumina Bohn has grown up in with her father as her only family. All her life she has tried to be normal, to fit in and not to stand out, but when she gets angry or upset her powers manifest in strange and disturbing ways. On top of that she hears a female voice in her head that tells her to wake up and embrace her powers before it is too late and her dreams are haunted by a gorgeous man with yearning in his beautiful chocolate eyes. In this dreamworld they are lovers but he calls her by another name.

After another incident at the hospice where she works the Grand Minister (a type of inquisitor) is coming to discover whether there are any Aberrants hiding there. When Lumina is unmasked she finally lets go of the control she has over her inner beast and manages to flee. After she literally escapes down the rabbit hole she awakens again in the presence of the man of her dreams, only he seems strangely aloof. Lumina has to discover she is not who (or even what) she thought she was. To save her family and her people she has to trust in the powers that she has supressed for so long and in the man who seems almost a stranger…

I’ve loved this series from the start and Into Darkness is a fitting end. If possible, it is even darker than the previous books, set in a bleak, post-apocalyptic world in which the sun is hidden by toxic clouds. It’s great to meet the characters from previous books again, but in a way also sad to see how some of them have suffered over the years. The love-story is in turn sweet and heart-wrenching as the love between the hero and the heroine seems doomed almost before they have a chance to acknowledge their feelings for each other. But after all the suffering there finally is a happy ending not only for the main protagonists, but also for two other pairs of lovers and the Ikati.

Another fan of the series, and another series I have started on Mount TBR. I know, I know…it is a crowded, crowded place. But one day. I swear. What was your take on this one? A good ending, or are you still wanting more?

Reading Roundup…

It has been a while since I did a reading roundup post, so I thought maybe we could go over what we thought of the good, the bad and the ugly of some recent releases. Spoilers are possible, so proceed with caution if you haven’t read any of these.

night's honorNight’s HonorThea Harrison‘s latest Elder Races book almost read like a stand-alone title to me. We have only briefly seen Xavier in the past, and next to nothing about the Nightkind demense has been featured in previous books, so it was interesting to see inside another branch of the Elder Races. I liked the world-building, but I found myself a bit underwhelmed by the romance side of things, and dare I say it, but I found the characters a bit on the dull side. I didn’t really connect with them, especially with Tess, who was just too bland to hold my interest. Final Thoughts: Here’s hoping that things pick up again for the next one, Midnight’s Kiss.

dark bloodDark Blood – Hm, this one is a bit tricky. Christine Feehan is one of my guilty pleasures, but you go into her books knowing exactly what you are going to get (and this one was no different). I am glad to see this Lycan angle wrap up. I didn’t enjoy is the whole Carpathian language thingy (which grates on my nerves every book now), but it was especially distracting here. I don’t mind a small phrase or two in the Carpathian, but whole sentences followed by their translations gets awkward and takes me out of the flow of the story. Also, believe it or not, I found myself thinking a time or two that things were, well, unrealistic (ha!). I rolled my eyes at the Xavier/Xavion/Xav-something triplets angle, and the whole climactic battle scene actually struck me as funny. But I did like the characters, the acceptance of their mating early on, and I liked seeing so many old favorites, no matter how briefly. Plus – no flower scene! Bonus. Final Thoughts: Ok, not bad, not great. Hopefully on to another angle for the Carpathians.

shifting shadowsShifting Shadows – This collection of short stories from the world of Mercy Thompson is actually turning out to be quite interesting. Not all, or even most, feature our well known leads of Mercy, Adam, Charles or Anna, but they are set within the same world and have the same tone. I am enjoying reading one here and there before bed when I don’t want to get too involved in a full book and then stay up all night reading. The short story Alpha and Omega is what got me reading Patricia Briggs in the first place, and I loved reading it again in Shifting Shadows (for something like the 5th time, I’m sure). Final Thoughts: A nice collection, which looks great on the shelf with its pretty cover. Now, if only we could get a Kate Daniels world collection like this, I would be extra happy.

visionsVisions – The second book in Kelley Armstrong‘s Cainsville series was one of my most anticipated reads, and it lived up to my excitement. Book one read like a mystery with some paranormal aspects, but book two has much more of a supernatural feel to it. I liked the slow progression of the story, the development of the characters, the growing bond between Olivia and Gabriel (and, well, I like Gabriel). Final Thoughts: Great book. Great series. Looking forward to the re-read, and can’t wait for the next one.

We are now heading into the last few months of 2014, but there are some much-anticipated books that should keep me warm this winter. The absolute top pick for me is Ilona AndrewsBurn for Me (since I already read Archangel’s Shadows, that is). Seventh Grave and No Body from Darynda Jones should be intense, and Gena Showalter‘s long-awaited Torin story, The Darkest Touch, is also on the list. And while anthologies are not usually much to get excited about for me, the Ilona Andrews and Nalini Singh entries in Night Shift make this a biggie, too. Add in a few young adult titles that I am eying, and the rest of the year isn’t shaping up too badly at all.

Which of these have you read, and what was your take on them? Did you come across anything exciting (or disappointing, for that matter) recently, and what are you most looking forward to for the last quarter of the year?

Doug’s Review of Darkly Dreaming

review iconSo, I am trying to get back into things, but to be honest there just hasn’t been that much going on. I thought I would do a catch-up post covering everything that I missed over the five days I was gone, but really I didn’t miss anything at all.

Thankfully, Doug Meeks sent over a book recommendation/review of an upcoming release called Darkly Dreaming, which is a great deal at only 99 cents. It is due out next week, and it features stories from Elizabeth Hunter, Grace Draven, Danielle Monsch, Kristen Painter, and Cate Rowan.

darkly dreamingWhat Doug said…

I would usually go through and rate each of these fine novels individually but the review would get much too lengthy and you can research each of these books for yourself if you wish BUT I can say that ALL of these books are pretty much 4.5-5 Star reading. None are boring at least one might leave you emotionally drained.

I had read 3 of these books and decided that for 99 cents to get two full novels it was a steal …. and it was truly a bargain for quality reading.

Possibly the best 99 cent deal I have seen in months (years?) Darkly Dreaming: A Five Book Fantasy Romance Anthology since the following 5 full novels are included, I assume they thought it was a good way to introduce people to their writings, for 99 cents I bought it just for the two novels I had not read

​ and now that I have read all 5 novels I can say that they are ALL 4.5+ novels with no hesitation:​

Feared by a priesthood. Coveted by a god. Tempted by a slave. In Grace Draven’s Master of Crows, a renegade mage must battle a god for his soul and decide if his fate-and the fate of nations-is worth the life of the spy he has come to love.

Experience sword, sorcery, and mythical beings as never before in Stone Guardian (Entwined Realms Book 1), the first book of the Entwined Realms by Danielle Monsch. Larissa’s sheltered world is destroyed when she is targeted by Necromancers. With nowhere else to turn, Larissa forms an uneasy alliance with Terak, leader of the Gargoyles. Will Terak be Larissa’s salvation, or her downfall?

Sometimes love is the most dangerous magic of all. In Heart Of Fire: A fantasy romance by Kristen Painter, Jessalyne leaves a sheltered life to tame her dangerous magic by becoming apprentice to a powerful sorceress, but she’ll need the deadliest man in the realm to get her there safely. If they don’t kill each other first.

Be swept away in Kismet’s Kiss: A Fantasy Romance (Alaia Chronicles) by Cate Rowan. In the desert realm of Kad, a deadly epidemic strikes the palace of Sultan Kuramos. Only a mystical healer from an enemy land may have the skill to save his household. But he never imagined that healer would be a woman.

Hidden at the crossroads of the world, an ancient race battles to protect humanity, even as it dies from within. Ava comes to modern day Istanbul in The Scribe: Irin Chronicles Book One, the first book in the Irin Chronicles by Elizabeth Hunter. One woman searching for answers finds a reluctant guardian in a warrior whose magic is written on his skin. But does Ava have magic of her own?

Reader Reaction – Dark Skye

dark skyeAs we get ready to pick the book of the month for September, I thought we might take a look back at this month’s book, Dark Skye. Kresley Cole‘s 14th Immortals After Dark book was released on August 5th, and I figure we have all dove in already.

I didn’t make any secret of the fact that I was underwhelmed by it, but I still can’t figure out why. I didn’t dislike it, nothing like that, but I just couldn’t get into it. I didn’t like the backstory of Thronos and Lanthe – well, I liked when they were children together, but I didn’t like how Thronos suffered in the centuries after. That really took me out of the story, and I ended up not liking Lanthe much because of it.

If I am going to be completely honest, I didn’t have much excitement going into it. I don’t know if I was having a premonition that I wasn’t going to be too excited by the book, or my lack of interest made me not enjoy the book as much, but it wasn’t meant to be. I had no problem putting the book down, and it ended up taking me almost a week to read. Unheard of for me.

What did you think of the long-awaited Thronos and Lanthe book? Were you happy with it, or did it leave you wanting more?