Entertainment Winners and Losers

I have been on vacation for a couple of weeks, and to go from all work to no work is weird. Lovely, but weird. When I am working, I don’t really get to watch tv or movies, and my reading gets behind, too. Now I am in catch up mode, and having varying degrees of success.

  • I have been getting caught up on the character guides, and right now I am re-reading Bound Together from Christine Feehan‘s Sisters of the Heart series. I am strangely excited for the next spin-off, Torpedo Ink, but the introduction of the 17 (SEVENTEEN!) new characters was…interesting. I got 6 full pages of notes from the first two chapters alone. So, so many biography info dumps for so many characters at once is a bit of a challenge to keep straight, but things smooth out a bit as it goes on. But really? Seventeen?
  • It has been forever since I have been to the movies, but I did decide that on my vacation time I would watch the Star Wars movies. I have seen a few minutes of them here and there, and I have read about them over the years, but I haven’t really sat down and ever watched one. I started out with Rogue One and The Force Awakens, both of which I liked. Then I went back to Episodes I-III and…yeah. Wow. I rolled my eyes a bit through the first one, but the second one was on a whole new level of cheesy acting. Every time Anakin and Padme are onscreen, I find myself literally cringing. Is it just me being picky, or are they a painful pairing?
  • On the TV side of things, I have been enjoying The Gifted, and I finally got caught up on The 100 and Stranger Things. Next up is the Marvel stuff – Punisher, Defenders, maybe Iron Fist. But I have been secretly binging Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Yep, I admitted it. I have sneered and mocked them and their show for a while now, but it might be my guilty pleasure. I don’t always like them, but they are definitely not boring.

What do you do with your time off? Have you been watching anything interesting, or have any guilty pleasure shows?

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A Few Things That Have Caught My Eye

There are a couple of new series starting up this year that I am really anticipating – well, mostly they are spin-offs of old favorites – like Chloe Neill‘s Heirs of Chicagoland, Shelly Laurenston‘s The Honey Badgers, Christine Feehan‘s Torpedo Ink. And I can’t forget Jeaniene Frost‘s The Night Rebel (Ian! Yes!). But as I was taking a browse at what is coming up, a couple of new-to-me authors showed up and caught my eye.

My first newbie comes from Maria Vale. The Last Wolf is the first book of The Legend of All Wolves series, and it has a release date of February 6th.

the last wolfSynopsis…

For three days out of thirty, when the moon is full and her law is iron, the Great North Pack must be wild. Silver Nilsdottir is a lone runt with a crippled leg, facing a life of endless submission in the Pack.

Then Tiberius Leveraux stumbles wounded into their territory with a plea for protection. If Silver is to make a real place for herself, she must fight for Tiberius—her only chance at ever having a mate. And in the end, she is forced to shield all of them—the Pack, the land, and the man she loves—from ancient enemies.

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This next one is from Rhenna Morgan. Guardian’s Bond is the first book of the Ancient Ink series, and it will be released on March 12th.

guardian's bondSynopsis…

For decades, he’s been alone.
Now, she’s here. His fated mate.
His to win. To protect.
To provide for and pleasure.

Priest Rahandras has lived with the darkness trapped inside himself for years. Betrayed by his own brother and forced to watch his clan’s brutal annihilation, the only thing Priest wants more than to escape the curse that haunts him—as both man and beast—is to rebuild.

Until the mate he’s longed for walks into his life with an elder from his past. She’s everything he’s wished for, and the key to the clan’s very survival.

Kateri Falsen is a woman of logic and facts. While Priest’s cat can sense her arousal, telling her they’re fated won’t be enough. He’ll have to show her his love: with his words, with his actions, and with his body.

Protecting Kateri from the evil trapped inside him is paramount. But when lost clan members are systematically murdered, he’ll have to choose between exposing his mate to his black magic, or risking her as the next victim.

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And this last one is from Grace Draven. I have heard only good things about her, but I haven’t read anything from her myself. Phoenix Unbound is the first book of The Fallen Empire series, and it will be out on September 25th.

phoenix unboundSynopsis…

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire’s capital–her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village’s tithe has been the same woman. Gilene’s sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire’s most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion–and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. And unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will risk everything to return to the Empire–and burn once more.

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Have you found any new (or new-to-you) series that have randomly caught your eye lately? What spin-off series are you most excited for?

 

Reading Wrap Up

origin in deathI have been steadily chugging though some pretty great books the last few days – some of which I liked more than I expected to, honestly. After a bit of a break, I got back into J.D. Robb‘s In Death series, picking up book #21, Origin in Death. It has been well over a month since I read the last one, and I missed it (which sounds weird, but there it is). This was another great installment, but at this point I expect nothing less.

blood furyNext up was Blood Fury from J.R. Ward. I was on the meh side of things heading into this one, but it was a very pleasant surprise. I ended up really liking both story lines (and all four main characters, which is rare). Wrath stole every scene he was in, there was enough Rhage to make me happy, no Layla (yes!) and only had to suffer through a glimpse of Qhuinn (I have not forgiven that turd yet, and may never. Bastard). This one was a winner for me all the way around.

ritualsAnd on the re-read front, I am about half-way through Rituals, the final full Cainsville book from Kelley Armstrong. I loved this series with an undying, unexplainable passion, so having it wrap up is bittersweet. On one hand, it was great to get to the Olivia and Gabriel coupledom, but on the other hand, who likes to say goodbye to a favorite? It is a great end to a great series, though, and I am loving the re-read even more than the original.

There you have it. What have you been reading lately? Any big winners (or losers) to share? How do the Black Dagger Legacy books stack up to the Brotherhood stories for you?

New Series Alerts

Just a quick note to start to mention a couple of scheduling changes. First off, Alyssa Day‘s January in Atlantis has been pushed back a couple of weeks from tomorrow’s original release date to January 30th. And Magic Triumphs from Ilona Andrews will also be a bit later than originally planned. Originally scheduled for a May 8th release, it will now be available on August 28th.

On to the new series starting up this week, which comes from author Thea Atkinson. Rune Thief is the first book of the Isabella Hush series.

rune thiefSynopsis…

What she steals may be priceless, but what she can’t see will cost her.

Isabella Hush may be a talented thief, but her past is about to creep up on her.

In need of quick funds to escape a nasty ex and his henchmen, she takes a chance on a rumored cache of Incan gold. But the heist goes terribly wrong and she ends up inebriated in a dark alley with a strange man dying at her feet.

Against her better judgement, she pauses to help, and out of habit, picks his pockets. Then the man disappears without a trace, leaving nothing behind but filthy cobblestones, and she begins to think she imagined it all.

That is, until the next morning when she finds the pilfered items in her apartment and a strange mark on her arm. Before long, she discovers there’s a supernatural realm seething unknown beneath her feet. And she just might long for the simple days of a heist gone bad…

Because now she’s not just being hunted by dangerous men, she’s being hunted by dangerous immortals.

 

This and That

I don’t really have much to mention, but there are a couple of little things I found on a recent scouting party, and I thought I might share.

  • Ilona Andrews has finished writing the final Kate Daniels book, Magic Triumphs. They have been on a big push to get this one finished, and I am happy for them. But on the other hand, I am a bit bummed, too. I don’t believe that they are finished with the Kate Daniels world, but to see “final” in regards to a favorite series is always bitter-sweet. Although I am happy that they can concentrate on maybe more Hidden Legacy, or Innkeeper Chronicles. And I got the vibe a while back that they were plotting a new series, too. They have never written anything that I haven’t loved – nothing – so I am pretty much happy with whatever comes.
  • Speaking of something new, I noticed that J.R. Ward is apparently starting up another contemporary series since her Bourbon King trilogy recently wrapped up. I haven’t seen much in the way of detail yet, only that it will focus on Firefighters. The first as-yet-unnamed book will be released on September 27th.
  • And Gena Showalter also has something new in the works. Shadow and Ice is the first book of the adult Gods of War series, and it will be released on October 30th.
  • Jennifer L. Armentrout will start a spin-off of her Lux series that focuses on Luc. The Darkest Star is the first book of the Origin series, and it too will be released on October 30th.
  • And this next one is a bad news/good news situation. Chloe Neill has had to push back the release of Wild Hunger – but only by a month. Not too horrible, and the new release date is August 14th. The good news? She uploaded a small snippet from the prologue over on her Facebook page, which can be found HERE.

Have you heard any news on upcoming releases? Any changes or pushbacks or new series?

Pick of the Week

My pick of the week is more like one I am trying to get excited for, but not being completely successful. I have really enjoyed J.R. Ward‘s BDB spin-off Black Dagger Legacy series so far, since I feel like it was a return to the style that made her early books so good. But what is throwing me off is that I can’t quite warm up to Peyton. Novo didn’t make much of an impression either way on me so far, so I have no judgment on her, but Peyton rubbed me wrong. I think I am more interested in finding out more about Ruhn than either of the main characters, so there is that to look forward to. So, my sorta pick of the week is Blood Fury.

blood furySynopsis…

A tough vampire warrior in training and her fellow aristocratic trainee struggle to deny the attraction they feel for one another as they prepare for the looming war ahead. The latest in a new paranormal romance series set in the world of the #1 New York Times bestselling Black Dagger Brotherhood.

Brothers at the Black Dagger Brotherhood training center push recruits to the limit to become faster and stronger than ever before as they continue preparing for the fight against the lessening society. Novo, a resilient survivor and a bit rough around the edges, has overcome a great deal, including her intense attraction to suave, aristocratic Peyton. The two fighters shared a passionate physical connection. But when Peyton finally comes to terms with and admits his true feelings for Novo she rejects him for a more stable male. Now they must train in close quarters and eventually confront the feelings they still undoubtedly harbor for one another.

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Anyone else a bit wishy washy on Peyton, or is it just me? I have been pleasantly surprised before when I haven’t been that interested in a main character, so hopefully that will hold true here.

 

Sponsored Content?

Amazon-Logo-frownAm I the only one that gotten kinda annoyed by Amazon slipping in a bunch of “sponsored content” books into every search? I use Amazon a lot to keep track of new release dates, and having as many as four random titles show up in each list is bugging me. And from the little I have seen, all of the books are Amazon-published titles. I understand the importance of publicity for there own in-house pubbed works, but this is a bit much. If you click on an individual title, you still get a whole side-scrolling list of “sponsored products related to this title” (a full 250 of them, no less), but it is at least out of the way. This added onto a search thing just gets in the way. Or is it just me?

Reading Wrap Up

tangled threadsHey all. It’s time to take a look at what we all have been reading lately. I am continuing on my Jennifer Estep Elemental Assassin mini-marathon, and I seem to be settling in. The repetition thing that bugged me so much in the first two books seems to be working itself out. I finished up both Venom and Tangled Threads, and it is chugging along pretty well. It isn’t jumping on my favorite series list yet, but it isn’t bad, either. I like the world-building and pretty much all of the supporting cast, but I’m not so sure how I feel about Gin. It isn’t that I dislike her character, I just can’t seem to warm up to her for some reason. Sometimes she comes off as a bit smug and superior, and it throws me off. Not enough to make me stop reading, but enough to get on my nerves once in a while.

something to howl aboutI also dove back into Christine Warren (in a small way). She used to be a must-read for me, and some of the books from her The Others series are among my all-time favorites. But during the course of the series, it seemed like I went from loving them, to being a bit bored, to actively disliking some of the characters, so I stopped reading her a few years back. Fast forward to this week, and I decided to pick up the novella from her new Alphaville series, Something to Howl About. It is sort of a spin-off of The Others, and it seemed to go back to what I enjoyed about the original series. I didn’t expect much, but I was pleasantly surprised.

And I did a re-read of all three Innkeeper Chronicles books from Ilona Andrews. It was a treat to get back into the world, and it was fun to pull a mini-marathon. It had been a while since I read them, and it made me realize all over again that I don’t think Ilona could ever write anything that I wouldn’t love. It sounds gushy to say that everything they write becomes an instant favorite, but it is true.

wicked abyssIt was also time to do a re-read of Wicked Abyss from Kresley Cole to update the Immortals After Dark character guide. I think I enjoyed this one more on my second read, honestly. I have found my IAD love really taking a down-turn the last couple of years, and for a while that made me sad. I don’t actively count down the days until the next release, I don’t get disappointed if the release date is pushed back, and I don’t actively hunt down any and all tidbits I can find about upcoming stories. It has settled into a solid, mid-range series for me, I guess – I enjoy it for what it is.

So, that’s me. What about you? What have you been reading and enjoying so far in 2018? Anything great (or not so great) to share?

Heart of Fire Review

Heart of Fire by Amanda Bouchet was my pick of the week for this week. I enjoyed most of the first book, and I remember liking the second one well enough, too. Maybe not as much as the first, but sometimes there is a bit of a lull in the middle book in a trilogy. Unfortunately, according to Doug Meeks (who was kind enough to send over his review), things don’t end on a high note.

heart on fireWhat Doug said…

Plot in 4 Words “I am a failure”

Well I must be one of the few people in the world that did not think this was some great literacy achievement, coming in at 418 pages for a story that could have been told in 250 and probably better unless you are addicted to pages and pages and pages of self-introspection and did not succumb to terminal boredom.

While the above may be a bit over the top it does represent where I spent a LOT of my time reading this book and was finally forced to scan a few pages to stay awake.  After you have read so many pages of “I am a failure” … ad nauseam you want some action.  Seems the action usually follows some TSTL moment and more “I am a failure” laments.

I can say at least this one did not have the feel of any domestic abuse I found in the other 2 books but this was IMHO an overwritten novel with pages and pages of near nothing happening.  Throw in a few VERY frustrating action scenes and battles with her mother, followed by   ….. you guessed it “I am a failure” I am beginning to think I did not read the same book as everyone and after dragging us through pages and pages of nothing we wrap the whole thing up in a few pages (now she wants to conserve pages WTF?)

Taken as a whole this trilogy gets 3 Stars from me, it has made me mad, bored me and frustrated me with a whiny heroine, an overbearing alpha male (who along with his heroine seemed to have done a Jekyll and Hyde do-over for this last book) I guess I am missing whatever made this such an addicting reading experience for so many people.

3 Stars and really I am confused why anyone thinks it deserves more ….

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Welp, that is unfortunate. I was hoping that maybe the author would branch out and tell more stories set in this world, but I guess we will have to see. Did you check out Heart of Fire? What did you think?

Pick of the Week

Well, it is time for my very first pick of the week for 2018 – which seems so very weird. My inaugural pick comes from Amanda Bouchet‘s Kingmaker Chronicles series. Heart of Fire is the third (and apparently final) book in the trilogy, but I do hope that the author will branch out and explore some other characters in a spin-off or two. The world is quite interesting, and it would be a shame to see it wrap up so soon.

heart on fireSynopsis…

Who is Catalia Fisa?

With the help of pivotal figures from her past, Cat begins to understand the root of her exceptional magic, her fated union with Griffin Sinta, and Griffin’s role in shaping her destiny.

Only Cat holds the key to unlocking her own power, and that means finally accepting herself, her past, and her future in order to protect her loved ones, confront her murderous mother, and taking a final, terrifying step—reuniting all three realms and taking her place as the Queen of Thalyria.

What doesn’t kill her will only make her stronger…we hope.

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I also picked up the re-release of Lora Leigh‘s Elizabeth’s Wolf (which I swore I wasn’t going to do), and a Christine Warren novella (who I swore I was done reading a couple of years back). So far, 2018 doesn’t look like it will be the year where I showcase my awesome willpower, does it?