Magic Breaks Review…

review iconIt won’t be long now until we get our hands on the next Kate Daniels book from Ilona Andrews, Magic Breaks. It was by far the most anticipated book of July for most people, and seeing the series make the jump to hardcover makes it even better. Doug Meeks got his hands on an early review copy, and sent over his thoughts. From everything I have heard, it is a pivotal book in the series, and I am just left hoping that all of my favorites survive it.

magicbreaksWhat Doug said…

OK, I am tired of typing “The best one yet” on every one of these Kate Daniels reviews so just act like I never said that …… again.

I loved this book, it starts out with a bit of a character guide including a bit of info on who they are and what part they play/played.  Then there is a bit of a “the story up until now” in a narrated Chapter 1 and combined with the detailed character guide which is written in such a manner as to be part of the story it is a unique and exceptional way to catch us all up without the chore of rereading past books, wonderfully done and make me wonder “why doesn’t everybody do this?”.

OK, assuming you read Magic Rises (and if you have not then you need to stop and read it before you go any farther) you know that a ton of stuff hit the fan last book and there are debts to be paid and blood to be shed and my revenge junkie is almost in a coma from all this drug of choice.

Roland is coming but first she has to head off Hugh (who really needs killing) who is now trying to start a war with The Pack and that is just not going to happen if Kate has anything to say about it.  Curran is off on a mission and not here to advise her so Kate tried to handle things in her own unique fashion, start the fun-o-meter.

The thing about these novels is that there is always a main plot and several very interesting secondary plots going, all of which lead to a great reading experience, the same applies to this book, we know Roland is coming (yes we will get to meet him), we know Kate has to do something about Hugh, let us not forget a date she has promised Hibla (revenge junkie is really cheering about this one), the wolf Alpha needs to be replaced and is causing problems, throw in a couple more small plots and you have a very busy book.  I was really too sick to be reading during this time but once I started it was impossible to put it down.

The fact that with all the plots and violence going around, one of the things I will always remember and reread is Kate purchasing a donkey, no way I can explain it to you, it actually caused me physical pain to read it since I was laughing so hard.

That is why these books are always auto-buys for so many of us, there is no other Kate/Curran clone to read.  There are other great stories and other great authors but there is only 1 Kate Daniels and she is just another heroine without Curran to balance her out, together they are always exceptional and unstoppable.

Bottom Line:  Exceptional as always, plots that never go exactly the way you thought, stories that bring it home to the reader in emotional ways that only great writing can do, no 2 dimensional characters you love them all.  This is a series many of us had to struggle through the first two books because there was so much there but almost all of us were hooked for life by the end of book 3, this is another breaking point in the series, not really sure where it goes from here but I can already see it will never be dull or lackluster, 5 Stars only because they don’t allow more, well done once again Ilona and Gordon.  I can’t wait to see where this goes.

NOTICE:  There is a very good short story about Julie at the end of the book, it is exceptional and I think may contain some future characters for this series or maybe a new one.

It sounds like we won’t be disappointed at all (not that I was expecting to be, but you know how it goes). Let the countdown begin…

Doug’s Review…Poison Promise

review iconDoug Meeks is getting back into the swing of things, and he sent over a second review to tide us over for this week. This time around, he tackles Poison Promise, the 11th book of Jennifer Estep‘s very popular Elemental Assassin series. Doug got his hands on this one a bit early, but the rest of us have to wait until July 22nd. On a truly shallow note, I do love the covers on this series – they have stayed consistently great from the first book right on through, and not a lot of series can make that claim.

poison promiseWhat Doug said…

Poison Promise

Jennifer Estep

Well this is the 11th book in the Elemental Assassin series and they show no signs of getting stale.  This installment is more of a warm-up for the next one I fear though since we actually get to meet MM Monroe for a few pages but that is not the villain for this novel but it does give you an idea of what Gin is going to be up against.

Let us get back to what THIS book is about, Gin through a series of somewhat seemingly random events runs afoul of a local drug lord named Benson and while he is a vampire and commands a large criminal army it is a special power of his that make him a dangerous foe for Gin.

This book we see a bit of family strife between Bria and Gin, a new friend and what looks to be a new permanent addition to Gin’s entourage.  I can’t say too much more than that without being spoilerish and I stay away from spoilers.

There is a new drug on the streets called Burn and it is making Benson a lot of money, Gin and Bria are both looking to put an end to him and his business.  The job is easier said than done, trust me, it is not going to be neither easy nor painless.

This may be the first novel in awhile that her love life seem to be actually approaching something normal and steady which I think is long overdue since her love life has been in shambles in most of the novels in this series.

Bottom Line:  It is the Elemental Assassin, bad guy shows up, threatens somebody she cares for; little blood on both sides and bad guy has a really, really bad day.  This novel is saved from reading like a formula from other books by some interesting side interests and the addition of a couple of interesting new characters.  The manner of the culminating conflict is a bit new also, I liked it; hope to see more of it.  I have to give it 4.5 Stars and almost want to lower it to 4 because I suspect the next one is going to be really great and I am running out of stars but that would not really be fair to this book.

Purchase at Amazon.com

What is your take on the Elemental Assassin series? STill holding strong, or are you ready to see things wrap up for Gin and company?

Doug’s Review…Goddess Awakened

Doug Meeks has been under the weather, but he did do up a review for Goddess Awakened by Cate Masters. This is the first book of her new Goddess Connection series, and it just came out on July 7th.

goddess awakenedWhat Doug said…

Goddess Awakened

I almost gave this 4 Stars since it IS a great story, but the addition of what seems to be pages of useless verbiage just about killed my enjoyment of this novel. Both of the central couple seemed to be unable to cope with a relationship to the point to where I got tired of their internal and external excuses.

The book is saved from complete disaster by a decent cast of secondary characters who should have been flashed out a bit more and some evil characters that come across very clearly, wish the good ones had been as well written.

At the end on the day there is a big battle that seems to get really glossed over and should have been the climax of the book but instead it limps along for several more chapters before finally ending with a thump.

Bottom Line: I wanted to love this book, I was sick and I kept reading it hoping to get to the really “good” parts but other than the battle and a few accompanying scenes the 80% of the rest of the book was a snoozefest. The author tried so hard to make the heroine a “strong” woman she pretty much emasculated the hero. The rules for her “powers” are so convoluted I still have no clue exactly what she can and can’t do. It was a great story told in poor fashion I fear, maybe somebody will come along behind me and prove me wrong, I do acknowledge I was ill and possibly not in the best of moods while reading this but I am pretty sure I was not brain dead.

Purchase at Amazon.com

Did anyone else give this new book a shot, and if you did, what did you think?

New Series Review – Deadly Curiosities

review iconDoug Meeks was kind enough to send over his review for one of the books featured in the New Series Alerts post below. He had gotten his hands on an early copy of Gail Z. Martin‘s Deadly Curiosities, the first book in the Deadly Curiosities series, and really liked what he found. It is always a bonus when the first book of a new world starts out strong…

What Doug said…

This is a very multilayered plot and I loved it. Characters that you will like but a couple could have stood to have been fleshed out a wee bit more.

The synopsis is woefully inadequate to describe this book, it is filled with action, intrigue, drama but surprisingly almost no romance (at least not yet, this is book 1).

The villains are delightfully evil, the crimes are horrific and you get pulled into the motivation to find and stop this paranormal killer before things get even worse.

Oddly, even though the vampire Sorren is the big hunk of a hero, his actual participation in this novel is limited a bit, the larger part of this story revolves around Cassidy and her partner Teag. Obviously, when the “big guns” are required Sorren is there along with a couple of other interesting characters pulled in along the way.

So we have haunted objects creating havoc, we have a long thought dead evil sorcerer, throw in a demon and some minions and a good time is to be had by all.

The other thing is that Carrie and Teag both grow in understanding and power by the end of the novel, authors tend to keep their characters as clueless as they started in many books, I like to see normal development.

I am giving this 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5 for Amazon/Goodreads) even though I thought our plucky heroine veered very close to TSTL territory a couple of times. Great reading and can’t wait for more (same as with her Ascending Kingdoms fantasy, I need more books Gail Martin!)

So, there you have it. Looks like Gail Martin is starting things out right.

Review – The Lycan Hunter

review iconAuthor Kelsey Jordan has just released The Lycan Hunter on May 29th, which is the first book from The Gardinian World series. Doug Meeks was sent a copy for review, and he found himself very pleasantly surprised. It is always a treat to find yourself with an unexpected gem, and it is even better when it is the first book of a new series.

the lycan hunterWhat Doug said…

Once again I was not sure what to expect when I started this novel, the synopsis was a bit vague on what it was which was a bit disappointing, there were 11 reviews at the time I started this and all were 5 Star (which always makes me suspicious).

The start of this book pulls you in rapidly and by the 20% mark I was already hooked, the story of Alexis and Kyran was wonderful and original (something I see less and less of these days).

She is a Hunter, a group dedicated to pretty much killing all Lycans but due to constraints have been limiting themselves mainly to dangerous rogues.

He is the God chosen leader of his pack and determined to end the Forever War between the two groups but the prophecy reads “When the Lycan and the Hunter come to an accord …..”  and you can see where things are going to go.

There is a lot of action, drama, tragedy and surprisingly a nice bit of humor which all worked together to make a very entertaining book, throw in several Gods that show up regularly and things get chaotic.

The love/hate romance coupled with a “I am going to leave you to save you” mentality which I normally HATE was done with a talented touch which I actually enjoyed, all things considered it was great.  Their relationship  evolved into an epic romance  and I can’t wait to see the next one since there are many more stories to be told and with the Gods showing up and changing things it won’t get boring (especially the God of Destruction who loves violent video games).  This being that book 1 was such a homerun I hope she can repeat it.

4.5 Stars which will be round to 5 on most places I might post this review later.

Reader Reaction – Shield of Winter

shield of winterI know it has only been a couple of days since Nalini Singh‘s Shield of Winter was released, but I am pretty sure everyone has dived in by now. I read this one about a month ago, since Nalini was kind enough to send me my very first ARC (advanced reader copy). I was actually going to do a giveaway for the ARC, but I got greedy and kept it (it has its own shelf). And thank god she did, because my hardcover copy is still in the mail. THAT might’ve gotten ugly. Very ugly. I do not wait well. So, without further ado…

“What did you think of Shield of Winter? Vasic has been an intriguing character right from the start, so did you think the story did him justice? How does Ivy rank among your Psy/Changeling heroines?”

 

This one packed a punch. There is a lot going on, but the tone is a bit different than other books. They are all intense, but the stakes in the last couple of books have risen significantly. And while I am notoriously fickle when it comes to the female leads, I loved Ivy. She never gave me a Psy vibe, no hiding behind a cold mask, even though she struggles just as much (or more) as any other of the Psy race does. One of the bonuses for me was because it was Vasic, there was of course more Aden. Following the amazing Heart of Obsidian wasn’t easy, but Nalini pulled it off. Again.

Thoughts? Feelings? Spoiler zone in the comments section, so beware if you haven’t finished it yet…or are still waiting for your copy (like me).

Sixth Grave on the Edge Blog Tour…

blog tourWicked Scribes is one stop on the Darynda Jones Sixth Grave on the Edge Blog Tour. Since it was chosen as May’s Book of the Month, it has already been done as a giveaway, so Doug Meeks kindly offered to do up a spoiler-free review. And, as an added bonus, there is an excerpt, too.

sixth graveWhat Doug said…

“What can you say about these books, they are high on entertainment in all aspects. The mix of humor and action is amazing coupled with a host of characters you love to see, what’s not to love.

Once again Charley is messing in places she probably should not be messing, she is playing matchmaker, researching Reyes background, trying to get a prophesy interpreted (not to mention a well endowed ghost of a dead guy who does not talk in her car). All in a day’s work for Charley the reaper.

While this installment in the series has a LOT of very serious things happening, it may be the one I laughed the most while reading (including those little tidbits at the start of each chapter).

We find out a lot more about Reyes background and we add yet another recurring character to the series it looks like. Can’t be sure about his motives but he does come in handy and lest I forget, the last 2-3 pages will throw you for a loop. Enjoy reading, this is gonna be a bumpy ride.

The romance with Reyes is stepping up a notch, people breaking into her apartment (she really needs a security system by now), people threatening her life, this book has a bit of everything. I loved it so I have to give it 5 Stars for chaotic entertainment at its best.”

I already have my shelf-space cleared out for this one, and have my eye on Seventh Grave and No Body, which is due out on October 21st. And now, for an extra treat, an excerpt from the first chapter was included in the media kit I was sent. And since I like to share…

Chapter One

A blank is the only thing I draw well.

T-shirt

          “A girl, a mocha latte, and a naked dead man walk into a bar,” I said, turning to the naked dead man sitting in my passenger’s seat. The elderly naked dead man who’d been riding shotgun in my cherry red Jeep Wrangler, aka Misery, for two days now. We were on a stakeout. Sort of. I was staking out a Mr. and Mrs. Foster, so I was definitely on a stakeout. No idea what Naked Dead Man was on. Considering the fact that he looked about 112, probably blood thinners. Cholesterol medication. And, judging from the state of his manhood, which I couldn’t stop seeing every single time I turned toward him, Viagra. If I were to hash-tag that moment, my status would read something like #impressed.

I gave him two thumbs up, then looked back at the house again, happy to be sitting in Misery. The Jeep, not the emotion. I’d just picked her up from the car hospital two days earlier. She’d had several surgeries to fix her broken girlie bits because a raving lunatic rammed into her. He’d knocked her into a state of mangled disrepair and me, as I was in the driver’s seat at the time, into a state of oblivion. I stayed in that state long enough for Mr. Raving Lunatic to cart me off to a deserted bridge to kill me. He failed and died in the process, but Misery had paid a high price for his nefarious machinations. Why did bad guys always try to hurt the ones I loved?

And this one had succeeded. Misery was hurt. Bad. No one wanted to work on her. Said she couldn’t be saved. Said to give her over to the scrap yard. Thankfully, a family friend with a body shop and a few incriminating photos, which just happened to have found their way into my possession, agreed with great reluctance to try.

Noni kept her for two long weeks before calling to tell me that he’d almost lost her a couple of times, but she’d pulled through with flying colors. When I got the green light to go pick her up, I tore out of my apartment so fast, I left a dust trail behind me, along with a flummoxed best friend, who’d been telling me about the couple in 3C. They were apparently newlyweds, if their energy to do it—her words—all night every night was any indication. I hurried back to her, however, because I didn’t have a car and I needed a ride.

When we picked up Misery, Noni tried to tell me everything he’d had to do to her to get her up and running, but I held up a hand to stop him, unable to bear it. This was Misery he was talking about. Not some random Wrangler off the streets. This was my Wrangler. My best friend. My baby.

Holy cow, I needed a life.

I had to hand it to Noni, though. Misery was good as new. Better than I was, anyway. Ever since that night, I’d been having problems sleeping. I suffered from debilitating nightmares that left me screaming into my pillow, and I jumped every time someone dropped a feather.

But at least Misery was okay. Like, really okay. It was weird. Her cough was gone. Her sluggish response time was no longer an issue. Her reluctance to wake up in the mornings as she sputtered in protest every time I tried to fire all engines was nonexistent. Now she started on the first try, no groaning or whining, and she purred like a newborn kitten. How Noni had managed to fix her insides as well as her outsides I’d never know, but the guy was good. And Noni was my new best friend. Well, after Misery. And Cookie, my real best friend. And Garrett, my kind of, sort of best friend. And Reyes, my. . . my . . .

What was Reyes? Besides the dark and sultry son of evil? My boy toy? My love slave? My 24/7 booty call?

No.

Well, yes.

He was all those things, but he was also my almost-fiancé. All I had to do was say yes to the proposal he’d written on a sticky note, and he would be my fiancé for reals. Until then, however, he was my almost fiancé.

No, my soon-to-be fiancé.

No! My nigh fiancé.

Yeah, that’d work.

I turned back to the naked dead man, stuffed a couple of Cheez-Its into my mouth, and confessed my latest sin.

“I’m just kidding,” I said through the crackers, regretting the fact that I’d tempted him and now had no follow-up. No punch line. “I don’t know any ‘girl, mocha latte, dead man’ jokes. Sorry to get your hopes up like that.” He didn’t seem to mind, however. He sat staring straight ahead as always, his gray eyes clouded and watery with age, oblivious of my charm, my clever repartee, and my intellectual wit. He was ignoring me!

It happened.

“Cheez-It?” I offered him.

Shield of Winter Review…

review iconNalini Singh can do no wrong, of that I am sure. Of course, that is my personal opinion, but I am going with it. Nalini kindly sent me my very first ARC, which I devoured it in a day. Usually, I am hard on liking the heroines in a story, but Ivy jumps to the top of my favorites list, and the mysterious Vasic was already there. Doug Meeks recently got his ARC, and did up a review for the much-anticipated 13th Psy/Changeling novel, Shield of Winter.

shield of winterWhat Doug said…

Shield of Winter

Release date 3 Jun 2014

Nalini Singh is seriously messing with my head. This is not the first time I thought that the last book I read of hers was the best until I read the next one and then I feel kinda stupid.

In Shield of Winter she takes Vasic who is a stone cold killer from all appearances in previous books and pairs him up with Ivy an empath and carves a story of romance and sacrifice that defies description (that will be my excuse for this review).

In the early chapters I could not get past the feeling that I was reading something that could best be described as “The Love Life of Mr. Spock” and that mental image stuck with me for a good portion of the first half of the novel but at about 450 pages you know there is some serious changes coming. It was funny and touching before it got really serious and somewhat sad and frustrating.

The novel morphs into a “save the world” plot with the romance being an integral part of the story and add in a couple of very stressful subplots that add exceptional depth to this story and you have a formula for another masterpiece (no I don’t use that word much).

The fact that with the fate of the world hanging in the balance the romance never lets go and the emotional feelings that is imparted to the reader just all make me wonder why all authors can’t be this good instead of the mere handful writing today.

The loyalty of friends, the romance of people that never doubt their mates, the multi-layered plot all make this yet another of the better things I have read in the last year. She inserts most of the characters from previous books into this story in various places which I love. So, if you love a great romance, great action and a story you can’t forget, this is it (I also said a similar thing about Heart of Obsidian which was true). This is a true 5 Star novel and anyone that can’t appreciate this story really needs to schedule time with a professional therapist (yes it IS that good).

I know anticipation is high for this one, and it is rightly deserved. The next story is a novella in the Night Shift anthology, and it will be a return to DarkRiver and feature Bastien Smith.

Reader Reaction – The King

the kingWell, we have all had a couple of weeks to process J.R. Ward‘s latest Black Dagger Brotherhood novel, The King. None of the books in this series are something that I find you can breeze through, and I think I spent pretty much a solid week on it. As usual, there was a lot going on, but personally I thought it was a much easier read than the last book, Lover at Last. I did enjoy LaL, but by the time you kept everything that was going on straight it was a bit of a workout.

“What did you think of The King? I had some hesitation about going back to Wrath and Beth’s story, but I thought it worked. What do you think it contributed to the series overall? Are you hoping for a second book for the rest of the Brothers, as well?”

 

Instead of the something like 10 storylines and tangents that were going on in LaL, The King had a much more manageable 3 major arcs…which was great. Wrath and Beth’s personal and royal issues was one, Assail and Sola was a very strong second, and the developing Trez and iAm situations leading into the next book, The Shadows, was the third. Layla didn’t annoy my face off this time, and I am intrigued where things are going with her and Xcor again. Saxton moved way up in my estimation, and it was really nice to meet a Chosen (Selena) that didn’t aggravate me. Bonus.

What are your thoughts? Spoiler zone is wide open in the comments, so be warned going in. Rave, vent, whichever works for you.

Release Day Review…The Kraken King

review iconDonna Grant is doing it. So is A.C. Arthur. Lynn Viehl. And Cassandra Clare. It seems like a new trend is developing, and that is to serialize a new release over the course of a few weeks (or months) before the print release. Meljean Brook has entered the fray with her new Iron Seas story, The Kraken King, which has been divided into eight separate parts to be released over the next eight weeks. Doug Meeks got his hands on the first three installments, and did up a quick review.

the kraken king part 1What Doug said…

Meljean Brook sent me the first 7 parts of her new serialized novel The Kraken King and it may be the best thing i have read in a very long time and I am only through part 3.  Thought I would send this along since it releases tomorrow and she will release another book each week at $1.99, this isn’t my best work but writing a review on what seems to the reader to be a work in progress is difficult at best :)

dcm

——————————————————————–

The Kraken King Part 1

I am giving this 5 Stars because I loved the story and this first installment just gives you the basics of a great story and several mysteries.

The heroine has many secrets and you the reader will only know a few of them, the Kraken King (one of his many titles) is more of a mayor of a town that kills a lot of the krakens.

There is the beginning touches of a good romance but this short story only gives us the very basics, these stories being serialized and released about a week apart might prove to be a source of frustration because this has all the earmarks of a really great story and romance.

I will have to see who I can beg/bribe/threaten to get the rest of these as soon as possible :)

NOTE: Maybe it was just me but the first few chapters brought up memories of Romancing the Stone (the movie) but now that I have finished I think that was a misconception on my part since our heroine has a LOT of secrets.

The Kraken King Part 2

Well there is only so much I can write about this continuing story without injecting spoilers but this second part moves the story along nicely and some unforeseen problem.

Ariq is determined to stay close to Zenobia for reasons that he does not allow himself to believe at times. They are a perfect couple as far as a opposites attract couple. The secrets they both are holding start to come out just a small bit but it muddies the water more than provides clarity plus the story takes a sudden turn towards the end of this part that sends us off the intended track a bit.

The romance is still not moving along as hoped but I am sure it will eventually but some misconceptions need to be cleared up and of course that constant threat of death always messes up a good romance :)

Still 5 Star addiction and so I will be grabbing Part 3 soon and continuing on in this addicting story. If you can’t enjoy this you need to get counseling :)

The Kraken King Part 3

So many of my favorite series seem to have a third book that stands above the rest and this is no exception, of the three books so far this one knocks my socks off as far as progress, action, romance, and a bit more info for the reader,

Zenobia and Ariq (the Kraken King) end up in a smuggler’s den due to circumstance in the last book and as you might think there is danger everywhere.

Our heroine manages to find trouble as you might expect but things will happen that will leave you smiling and a good place for me to take a break before moving on with book #4 since I have other reviews to write :)

I haven’t really gotten into the whole steampunk genre, myself. I have read precisely one story…which was the first novella from this series…but I found I very much enjoyed it. Not sure actually why I didn’t continue, but now I just might have to give it another shot.

What do you think of the serial idea? Do you read them as they come out, or do you hold off and wait for the entire release in print form? I think the idea of the serialized story is actually quite brilliant – and profitable. At only $1.99 per entry, you are still getting almost $16.00 for that one story before it ever makes its print debut. Not bad at all.