Monday, 31 October 2016

The Retribution by Val McDermid (#7 Tony Hill & Carol Jordan)

Title: The Retribution
Series: Tony Hill & Carol Jordan (#7)
Author: Val McDermid
From: Amazon
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Release Date: 1st September 2011
Challenges: 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): There is one serial killer who has shaped and defined police profiler Tony Hill's life. One serial killer whose evil surpasses all others. One serial killer who has the power to chill him to the bone: Jacko Vance. And now Jacko is back in Tony's life. Even more twisted and cunning than ever before, he is focused on wreaking revenge on Tony - and DCI Carol Jordan - for the years he has spent in prison. Tony doesn't know when Jacko will strike, or where. All he knows is that Jacko will cause him to feel fear like he has never known before - and devastate his life in ways he cannot imagine...

While The Retribution, the 7th book in the Tony Hill & Carol Jordan series could theoretically be read as a standalone I would highly recommend reading the other books first, most notably book 2, Wire in the Blood, as that deals with the same criminal and the events that led up to The Retribution. This review is spoiler free for books 1 and 3-6 but contains spoilers for book 2 (it is impossible to write this review without them I'm afraid). 

My feelings on The Retribution are very very mixed. As a thriller it works fantastically, and I imagine if you hadn't read the previous 6 books then there would be very little mixed feelings, however I also kind of felt that it was a little unnecessary. Carol and Tony have suffered enough in past books, the events of this one just seemed a little cruel. 

As normal there are two main crime arcs, a string of murdered prostitutes in Bradfield (the resolution of which was a little "what?!?" but worked at the end of the day) and the revenge of the newly escaped Jacko Vance (who was imprisoned at the end of Wire in the Blood, which I'm guessing is set about a dozen years before this one). 

Now...Vance's storyline is where I have the kind of issue. I bought into his plot for revenge, and the way he took revenge worked well with his character and how he wanted payback. My issue was actually just why it had to happen at all. I was on a bit of a high with this series after Fever of the Bone, and now I feel a little more wary and like no one is safe. Though definitely not enough to put me off. 

I liked seeing Carol's more human side. Normally she's quite closed off to anyone but Tony, but in this book things happened that meant she just couldn't hold it in like normal and it definitely made her seem more human. Tony on the other hand...I get that he's different and doesn't think "normally" but actually he seemed to lack a little empathy.

The Retribution was good if I look at it away from the rest of the series, but it does have me slightly worried about multiple characters going forward it must be said. 

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Bookish Resolutions Link Up (October)

2016 Bookish Resolutions



Bookish Resolutions is a challenge I co-host with Michelle @ becausereading.com! Yet another month has passed! It's October, like seriously October, I think that's freaking me out just a little bit! Anyway, let us know how you did this month!

My Bookish Resolutions Progress (which is way behind where I should be!)

Blogging Goals 
  1. Schedule posts before the day they are 'due' (especially for challenge updates!)
    I'm about 10 reviews ahead, haven't come close to missing a day in a while and it feels good!
  2. Post a detailed update on everything on the first Sunday of each month (previously Reintroduce non-review content)
    I've started my Sunday Posts again! Hopefully I can keep this up...but this is me so it may be a vain hope!
  3. Cross post Blog Posts regularly, preferably in under a week since post date
    I've been managing to cross post every couple of days (at least!) which considering everything going on in real life really isn't bad!
  4. Tidy up the Trips Down Imagination Road Facebook & Twitter Pages
    This one is going, mostly because I decided I was pretty happy with where I'm at with it. 
  5. Visit other blogs regularly (I used to but this dropped off the radar a bit)
    I've not done quite as much as I would like, but I have managed to comment a bit and read some great reviews!
Reading Goals 
  1. COMPLETED: Improve Netgalley ratio by at least 10% (if this is achieved by the half way mark then it will be upped to 20%). I did succeed in improving my ratio in 2015 and was actually quite surprised to find I'd improved it by 7% (at the time of writing).
    Up to 12% added now! Not too sure I can make 20%, but that was an additional goal!
  2. COMPLETED: Finish 10 series this year. (I get distracted a little easy! I can have already started the series previously)
    So far I've finished 20 series this year;
    The Reckoners by Brandon Sanderson, Circle of Evil by Kylie Brant, Trevor's Harem by Aubrey Parker, Rook & Ronin
     by JA Huss, The Seduction by Roxy Sloane, City of Legends by Cheyanne Young, The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski, Galaxy Playmates by Michelle M Pillow, Dark Dirty & Deadly by JA Huss, The Dukes of War by Erica Ridley, Everealm by JD Wright, I Am Just Junco by JA Huss, Things to Do Before you Die by Nina Croft, Sisters of the Moon by Nina Croft, Coded for Love by Lynne Silver, Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter by Nikki Jefford, Midnight Masquerade by Kate Harper, Scoundrels & Secrets by Erica Ridley, Avry of Kazan by Maria V Snyder, Sisters of the Craft by Lori Handeland
  3. COMPLETED: Complete 3 year long challenges (may change the number depending on how many I sign up for). Bookish Resolutions does not count for this sub-goal.
    I've completed 4 so far!
    2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge, 2016 New Release Challenge, 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2016 Blogger Shame
    My others are all on track too, but can't actually be finished until the year ends!
  4. Read 3 books a month that were already on my kindle at the start of 2016 (can be from Netgalley, Amazon etc.)
    I think I've read 9!
Personal Goal

  1. COMPLETED: Finish Cloaked (the sequel to my published Novella)
    Cloaked is not only finished, but it is now Published! (Here's the link to prove it!) 
Now let us know how you did! 

Aberrant by Ruth Silver (#1 Aberrant)

Title: Aberrant
Series: Aberrant (#1)
Author: Ruth Silver
From: Netgalley
Genre: Dystopia
Release Date: 16th April 2013
Challenges:  2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2016 Reading Assignment 2016 Blogger Shame
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): In the future Dystopian society of Cabal, the government instills equality for all and offers its citizens the perfect system. There is food, shelter and jobs for everyone. The one requirement is to follow the rules without question, including the government's match in marriage and "The Day of the Chosen", a lottery that randomly selects families to conceive children as natural means hasn't existed in generations. Following her eighteenth birthday, Olivia Parker accepts her requirement to marry her childhood best friend, Joshua Warren, and is eager to start her work assignment and new life when it all comes abruptly to an end as she's arrested and thrown in prison. The only crime committed, her existence. Olivia is unlike the rest of the world born not from "The Day of the Chosen." The truth haunts the government and puts her life in grave danger as one simple fact would destroy the perfect system. With Joshua's help, Olivia breaks free of prison and is forced on the run. Together they set out to find the promised rebel town in search of a new home and new life together. Their situation seems less than promising as they reach the town of Haven. New rules and customs must be adhered to in order to stay. Leaving would mean most certain death in the large expanse of the Gravelands. Time is running out as the government mounts an attack to destroy Olivia and bury her secret with her. Thrown into a world unlike their own, they must quickly adapt to survive.

This is one of those books where I end up questioning why it took me so long to get around to reading it! I've thought about picking it up a couple of times but until now I just hadn't and I've been missing out by not! After a little bit of a slow start this one drew me in and made me part of the world, and in some ways I think that it breaks some of the YA dystopian mould which is definitely a good thing! 

The main thing that broke the mould for me is that the couple was pretty much established before the book started. While they didn't quite realise how the felt about each other they were both well on the way to it, and as best friends they were well placed for that. There were a couple of touch and go moments where one of them said the wrong thing but that just made them more realistic as a couple. Basically I really bought into Olivia and Joshua, they worked well together. 

I loved the fact that the rebels in this situation were almost as bad as the dystopia itself in some ways, and I liked it that Olive and Josh actually figured that out. Even when things were set against them they worked together and found a way, though I am unsure about how a certain surprising character is going to affect the future. 

There were definite twists and turns in the book and it kept me turning pages. The characters were mature enough to feel real but naive enough to be believably 18. The settings were interesting and the dystopia complex, especially with what's been revealed so far! 

I'm looking forward to continueing this series!

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Circle of Fire by Keri Arthur (#1 Damask Circle)

Title: Circle of Fire
Series: Damask Circle (#1)
Author: Keri Arthur
From: Netgalley
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 20th August 2001
Challenges: 2016 Blogger Shame2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss ChallengeMy TBR List Meme
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Sixteen teenagers taken from their homes. Eleven bodies recovered, each completely drained of blood. Some believe vampires are responsible, but Jon Barnett knows it's something far worse. To stop the killers in Taurin Bay, he becomes enmeshed in a web of black magic and realizes he needs help. But fate gives him only one choice in the form of recluse Madeline Smith. Madeline Smith has retreated to an isolated farmhouse, afraid of the psychic abilities she can't control-abilities that have killed. But when "ghost" Jon Barnett brings a warning of danger and her nephew disappears, Maddie has to leave her haven. She also has to learn to control the abilities she fears and place her trust in Jon Barnett, a man who is neither human nor ghost. But as the search for the teenagers becomes a race against time, and the noose of sorcery threatens to kill Maddie and Jon, the greatest danger to them both could be the feelings they have for each other-feelings that they refuse to acknowledge.

I'm a little bit apprehensive about writing this review. Circle of Fire took me a long time to read (something like 4 days which is virtually unheard of for me unless it's a 600 page book). For whatever reason the book just wasn't sticking and I didn't have the "I need to find out what happens next" vibe I normally get from books. Especially with a lot of bloggers whose opinions I trust saying that they love the author I feel kind of like I've let them down. 

What I don't want to do though is give off the impression that this is a bad book because it's not. It has everything in it that should have worked; magic, romance, drama, suspense. This one is definitely on me and not the book! 

I liked that Maddie was determined, she didn't just give up even if she had done in the past, and that made her a good character. She learnt from her mistakes and grew with them. She also spent time talking to her sister and trying to ensure that their parents mistakes weren't repeated which gave her a bit more depth. 

The romance was subtle, which worked well with the plot as it didn't steal attention from what was going on. There was a good connection between Jon and Maddie and even though the events only really took place over a week, the connection between them didn't feel rushed. 

I'm really not sure what didn't click between me and this book, and I'm disappointed that that was the case, but it does have all the ingredients for something great. 

Friday, 28 October 2016

Blitz: Desert of Destiny by Debbie Cassidy (#2 Sleeping Gods)

Title: Desert of Destiny (Sleeping Gods book 2)
Author: Debbi Cassidy
Genre: High Fantasy
Cover Artist: DC Creations
Editor: Read Head Editing
Blurb:
...Priya was overcome by a longing to know him, to understand him, this man who had given her life. But her life was soon to end and she would never know anything ever again. Her vision blurred and she wiped at her eyes.
“Do not be afraid, Priya,” he said.
“I’m just a girl, in the face of death I don’t know how else to feel”
The answers dwell beneath...
The capital has been taken and the streets run crimson with the blood of the innocent. The only hope to end the butchery lies in finding the Fist, a duty which rests heavily on Priya’s delicate shoulders. A responsibility that she believes will be shared by her allies, until the moment the illusion is shattered...
Suddenly Priya is on the run.  With the shadow of betrayal over her heart, Priya must step onto a perilous road. One that will test her limits, and throw her into the path of a danger from which there may be no return. As alliances are tested and secrets are revealed, Priya must decide whether the bonds of blood will serve to define her, or whether her destiny can be hers to forge alone.
To save the Isle, Priya must first save herself...
Debbie Cassidy lives in England, Bedfordshire, with her three kids and very supportive husband. Coffee and chocolate biscuits are her writing fuels of choice, and she is still working on getting that perfect tower of solitude built in her back garden. Debbie has been writing for eight years under the pen name Amos Cassidy with her best friend, Richard Amos, but the Sleeping Gods Series is her first solo venture, and Desert of Destiny the second book in a four book high fantasy saga.
You can connect with Debbie via her website at amoscassidyauthor.com. Check out her personal page and her other books under the pen name Amos Cassidy. You won't be left without a great read while you wait for the next installment in the series.
Sign up to Debbie's newsletter to get updates on her new releases: http://amoscassidyauthor.us10.list-manage2.com/subscribe?u=f76c8c798d67fc89872bcd9bd&id=23d1a8a76e
Buy Links:
Forest of Demons: http://amzn.to/2dQiz4R
Blood Blade (Novella): http://amzn.to/2dQg0zD
Desert of Destiny: http://amzn.to/2e1OVNe
ARYAN
He was wide awake and on his feet before he knew why. The interior of the barn was warm and humid from the exhalations of the five men and cattle, yet he knew what had awoken him lay outside.
“What is it chief?” Bojan whispered.
“I’m not sure. Maybe nothing.”
Bojan’s lips turned down. “You don’t believe that.”
“No. No I don’t. Wake the others, quietly.”
Bojan snorted. “And Fen?”
“A swift kick up the ass and a hand over his mouth to staunch his yelp should suffice.”
The two men exchanged a conspiratorial look. Fen was, and always had been, a heavy sleeper. Aryan recalled a time they had dressed him in female robes and painted his face with rouge and kohl, all while he slept. The horror on his face when he had realized what they had done still brought a chuckle to his throat. Right now the chuckle was ominously absent. Fen, more than the rest of them, was struggling with what they had become, and Valesea’s position as the source of all evil didn’t aid him in coping. She was the woman Fen had loved.
Aryan strapped on his weapons belt, shrugged on his furs, and moved on stealthy feet toward the barn doors. The gaps in the planks that made up the entrance were wide enough to gain a good view of the outside.
He scanned the yard; the tall tree in the center standing majestically, its naked arms a dark map against the moonlit sky; the small farmhouse, silent and sleeping. It was strange, the darkness, the moonlight. It made everything seem so . . . peaceful. His brows met; maybe he had dreamt the disturbance. He made to turn away, preparing his apology to his tired men when a figure broke from the shadows surrounding the farmhouse and moved low and fast toward the barn. More shadows came to life, breaking away from the mass one by one and stealing across the open stretch of ground.
Aryan stepped back, reaching for his sword and grasping air. Crud! He’d forgotten he’d lost his sword to a possessed tree.
“Chief?”
Aryan looked up as Bojan drew his sword and handed it over. Aryan hesitated a moment but Bojan simply grinned, reaching over his shoulder to draw his mace.
Aryan matched his grin, taking the proffered sword. Around him the barn had come to life. His men were ready and if they went down they would do it fighting.
“How many?” Fen asked rubbing his backside absently, all sleep chased away by the imminent threat.
“Seven, maybe more,” Aryan said.
“Crud!”
“We can take them,” Cadoc said with a conviction that made Aryan’s chest swell with pride.
“Guru. Climb up to the loft and hide. Do not come out until one of us comes for you,” Bojan instructed.
Guru’s face had drained of color, yet he swallowed and held his ground. “Give me a weapon, I want to help.”
He was no coward this one, but his valor would serve no purpose in this fight. His slight body would be mere kindling to their attackers.
Aryan offered a smile to soften the rejection. “Thank you friend, we respect your courage, but we need you alive if we are to find our destination.”
Guru’s jaw jutted in defiance. Aryan stared him down. Guru’s shoulders slumped and Aryan turned back to the doors knowing at least one battle had been won.
There was only one way in or out, no windows except the one high in the loft.
“Brace yourselves,” Aryan said.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Radar Deception by Mandy M Roth (#3 Immortal Ops)

Title: Radar Deception
Series: Immortal Ops (#3)
Author: Mandy M Roth
From: Review Copy
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 11th October 2016 (Re-release)
Challenges: 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Dr. Thaddeus Green survived a werepanther attack long ago, leaving him immortal and a member of the I-Ops team. He’s dedicated his life to genetics and to serving his country. After his mutated DNA led to the death of his loved one, he vowed to never let anyone close to his heart again. Try as he might, Green is unable to stop the mystical pull to the tall, leggy blonde with a sharp tongue and an even worse bite. Thinking Melanie is suffering from mating withdrawal, Green is prepared to do what he must to assure her survival, even if it means claiming her for himself, regardless of his need to protect his heart. Little does Green know that fate has been preparing him for Melanie Daly all his unnaturally long life. When ghosts from the past resurface, in ways he never dreamt possible, the normally mild-mannered scientist finds himself drawing on his inner beast and rage to assure his mate and their future are protected. But even Green can’t fight all of Melanie’s battles for her. Some she has no choice but to face on her own. Can their bond stand the test of time?

Radar Deception centres around a standalone romance, and could be read as a standalone bond. However there have been hints about what was building between Green and Melanie in both the previous books. This is an updated and extended anniversary edition, though I had not read the old edition so can't comment on any changes. This review is spoiler free. 

Something had been building between Green and Melanie from the moment they met and it was definitely interesting discovering their story! The two of them were both strong and determined characters which made it an interesting match, plus there were things that they hadn't told the others around them meaning that their story brought more of that to light too! 

There was definite chemistry between Green and Melanie, and I felt that that definitely extended beyond the physical. They intereacted with each other well on other levels and their personalities complimented each other well. 

I loved that Melanie, and to some extent the heroines from the previous books, Missy and Perin, formed a friendship with Wilson! He kind of works as the runt of the litter for the men and having the friendship with the women meant that he could come into his own more, I enjoyed learning more about him and am looking forward to his book! 

I was slightly worried about the role that Green's late wife was going to play in this book, and if he'd just suddenly get over her. It didn't work out anything like that and the twist in that regard definitely took me by surprise! I thought that it was resolved well and worked with the rest of the story. 

I enjoyed this one, as I am guaranteed to with all Roth's books anyway!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Concealed by Christina Bauer (#2 Beholder)

Title: Concealed
Series: Beholder (#2)
Author: Christina Bauer
From: Netgalley
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 25th October 2016
Challenges: 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge,2016 New Release Challenge2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): As a Grand Mistress Necromancer, Elea’s a witch who commands the ultimate power over spirit and bone. It’s magic that she’ll need in order to stop the Vicomte Gaspard from killing her Sisters by draining their magic along with their life force. To find and free her fellow witches, Elea must venture into some of the most dangerous places in the realm. What starts off as a rescue quest could easily turn into a suicide mission. And with the handsome warlock Rowan along to help, Elea may be risking more than her life. Her growing feelings for Rowan might put her heart on the line, too.  

Concealed is the second book in the Beholder series, and while it follows on from Cursed, you could possibly read it as a standalone. However I do think that it is better to read the series from the beginning as it introduces several of the characters and gives a background to why Elea was doing what she was doing. This review may contain minor spoilers for Cursed.

I like Elea, though she doesn't quite have Myla's (Bauer's heroine from Angelbound Origins) pizazz in my eyes, she was strong and determined. She also had a more fallable side that made her human and the book more interesting. I liked how she tried to cling onto the necromancer way and how she was trained, and yet she accepted that it might not be the right way.

The ending...well my heart broke for Elea. I saw the twist coming from quite early on, well kind of, I saw the heartbreaking bit coming, but it was still well done. Part of me worries more about Elea's future with her friend Amelia than with the other person involved though (I'm sure they'll work it out). I liked seeing Elea form friendships other than with Ada (her motivation throughout the book).

Now Philippe...not all too sure how I feel about him. He wasn't a bad character, in fact he was interesting and intrigueing, it was more what him being a character could end up meaning for Elea. I think the issue could be that there is already a love interest firmly cemented from the previous book, and I like Rowan, so I don't want someone coming in and messing it up for Elea.

I'm super intrigued about what is to come next, especially now that certain things are resolved!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Glitter by Aprilynne Pike

Title: Glitter
Author: Aprilynne Pike
From: Netgalley
Genre: Dystopia, Sci-Fi
Release Date: 25th October 2016
Challenges: 2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2016 New Release Challenge, Summer COYER 2016
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Breaking Bad meets Marie Antoinette in a near-future world where the residents of Versailles live like it’s the eighteenth century and an almost-queen turns to drug dealing to save her own life. Outside the palace of Versailles, it’s modern day. Inside, the people dress, eat, and act like it’s the eighteenth century—with the added bonus of technology to make court life lavish, privileged, and frivolous. The palace has every indulgence, but for one pretty young thing, it’s about to become a very beautiful prison. When Danica witnesses an act of murder by the young king, her mother makes a cruel power play . . . blackmailing the king into making Dani his queen. When she turns eighteen, Dani will marry the most ruthless and dangerous man of the court. She has six months to escape her terrifying destiny. Six months to raise enough money to disappear into the real world beyond the palace gates.
Her ticket out? Glitter. A drug so powerful that a tiny pinch mixed into a pot of rouge or lip gloss can make the wearer hopelessly addicted. Addicted to a drug Dani can sell for more money than she ever dreamed. But in Versailles, secrets are impossible to keep. And the most dangerous secret—falling for a drug dealer outside the palace walls—is one risk she has to take.

This book had me hooked from the moment I read the blurb, which is why I read it three months before its release (aka in July!) and then as soon as I started reading it really drew me in. I lost track of time while reading, I dreamt about it, and after I finished I just wanted to keep reading (and I really hope there is a second book after that ending!) 

However, this book isn't for everyone and I fully recognise that some people won't like it. This is especially true because the main character is morally grey verging on all out bad. Danica also had some downright selfish moments which were balanced out a bit by her naivety and her growing sense of what was right. 

While Danica didn't always do the right thing I found that I liked her characterisation. At the beginning of Glitter she was incrediably naive, but events in the book did change her outlook, particularly when Saber was around and pointing out exactly what she was doing. Towards the end of the book as well she started growing up in other ways too. 

The romance between Danica and Saber was subtle. It was clear that they were attracted to each other, but it took them a while to actually get past that stage, mainly because there were things standing in the way. The subtlty worked really well with it. 

Now the Baroque-ness. I absolutely loved it. It was a blend of modern technology and Baroque culture, both in the dress style and some of the concept. There was court politics as well as hints at the company that runs things. It was intriguing and well constructed. 

I loved every minute of reading this book, it was a genuinely fantastic read (but maybe not for everyone!)

Monday, 24 October 2016

Flame by Michelle M Pillow (#2 Intergalatic Dating Agency)

Title: Flame
Series: Intergalatic Dating Agency (#2)
Author: Michelle M Pillow
From: Review Copy
Genre: Sci-fi, Romance 
Release Date: 24th October 2016
Challenges: 2016 New Release Challenge2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Vin (aka Flame) can't believe he's in yet another holding cell. Stupid Earthlings wouldn't know fun if it bit them in the hindquarters. Speaking of fun, the hot little number who claims she's a guard at the jail has been making his body respond in ways he's very happy about. If only she'd get on board with the plan and help him escape back to his ship. First she'd have to believe he's an alien. Right now she's taken to thinking he's crazy.

Flame is the second book in the Intergalatic Dating Agency series which follows the (mis)adventures of two brothers and their cousin in their search for love. The romance, between Vin and Angela, is standalone though there are references to the events in the previous books. This review is spoiler free.

What I love about Pillow's books, especially those where aliens visit other cultures, is that I also end up reading them with a smile on my face! Their naivety and misunderstandings create highly lovable characters who also come across as believable simply because they don't quite fit in as well as they should! This also adds more background to the Galaxy Brides company that plays such a large part in the Dragon Lords universe!

I loved Angela's response to discovering that there are aliens. While she didn't freak out freak out, it still took her time to come to terms with it, and even once she had there was still a natural curiousity, especially surrounding her budding romance with Vin.

Their romance worked well, it had an unconventional start (I love the fact that Vin suffered a sugar high from eating too much ice cream!) but they communicated with each other as well as having a good chemistry when it came to the physical side of their relationship.

The ending was so sweet as well, it was absolutely perfect and summed up Vin as a character. This series is fun and light hearted, and completely enjoyable when that's what you need!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Heat of the Moment by Lori Handeland (#2 Sisters of the Craft)

Title: Heat of the Moment
Series: Sisters of the Craft (#2)
Author: Lori Handeland
From: Netgalley
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 30th June 2015
Challenges: 2016 Blogger Shame2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge 2016 Reading Assignment2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads):  A spell that tore three sisters apart is broken four hundred years later, when the magic in their blood reunites them. Now, one of them will discover her gift—and reignite a love long thought lost…Flame-haired Becca Carstairs was born to be a veterinarian. Since childhood, her affinity for animals has been special, and her healing touch nothing short of magic. But only Becca knows the truth—that she alone can hear the creatures’ voices. She’s always trusted her sixth sense… until a string of missing pets, an attempted murder, and a face from her past converge into one explosive mystery, with her at its center. Is haunted Owen McAllister, the boy who broke her heart ten years ago, related to the sinister crimes that have peaceful Three Harbors, Wisconsin, on its guard? Or is his reappearance part of the answer to questions that have troubled her all her life? As Becca delves into her strange heritage, she’ll have to fight for her life… and the man she will always love.

While Heat of the Moment contains a standalone couple, there were links to the previous book (In the Air Tonight) and important information linked the two books. However it has been a long time since I read In the Air Tonight but it was easy to remember what happened once I'd started Heat of the Moment. This review may contain minor spoilers. 

I really liked Becca, she was a strong female character who didn't take her life for granted. She had an affinity for animals which meant that she heard their thoughts, and while she learnt as a child not to express that, it didn't stop it happening. As a qualified vet, she's well known and respected in the community, which made her interactions with other characters seem natural. 

Her relationship with Owen was complicated by history, and the more was revealed about that the more I felt sorry for the young couple they'd been. While they'd both been hurt by the seperation, at first it seemed like completely Owen's fault, though when the truth was revealed it showed that that wasn't quite the case. 

I liked that characters from the previous book, including Raye, Bobby, Pru and Henry, were included in the story, and not just on the periphary. They were an integral part of the book and the plot. It was good seeing Raye again and seeing how she and Bobby had progressed in their relationships. 

There were a couple of mysteries in Heat of the Moment, one was who sacrificed the animals and set off the chain of events for the whole book, and one was who attempted murder. I had the latter right by the time the reveal came along, but was somewhat surprised when the former was revealed. 

The only thing that made me stumble on this book was the first time the POV shifted. Other than a break in the text there wasn't really anything that signified it had happened (it was first person POV for Becca and third person for Owen) but once I was used to it it was really only a minor thing. 

This was an enjoyable read and I'm looking forward to finding out how it all ends in the final book.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Fever of the Bone by Val McDermid (#6 Fever of the Bone)

Title: Fever of the Bone
Series: Tony Hill & Carol Jordan (#6)
Author: Val McDermid
From: Amazon
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Release Date: 2009
Challenges:  2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads)Meet Tony Hill's most twisted adversary - a killer with a shopping list of victims, a killer unmoved by youth and innocence, a killer driven by the most perverted desires ...When teenager Jennifer Maidment's murdered and mutilated body is discovered, it is clear that there is a dangerous psychopath on the loose. But it's not long before Tony and DCI Carol Jordan realise it's just the start of a brutal and ruthless campaign targeting an apparently unconnected group of young people. Their chameleon-like killer is chatting with them online, pretending to share their interests and beliefs - and then luring them to their deaths. But just when Tony should be at the heart of the hunt, he's pushed to the margins by Carol's cost-cutting boss and replaced by a dangerously inexperienced profiler. Struggling with the newly awakened ghosts of his own past and desperate for distraction in his work, Tony battles to find the answers that will give him personal and professional satisfaction in his most nerve-shattering investigation yet.

Fever of the Bone is the sixth in the Tony Hill & Carol Jordan series. The crime and the solving of it are completely standalone, however the previous books (I've read all 5) help to create the background for the various characters and their relationships. This goes for characters other than Tony & Carol themselves too. I would suggest reading the previous books, not only are they good, but it gives a sense of whatever it is that is going on between Tony and Carol too (even they don't know what it is!) 

I first want to say that this book has really bitten me with the bug for reading the series. Despite being in the middle of a book that I'm really enjoying, by one of my favourite authors, I just want too dive back into Tony and Carol's world (and I may have lined up The Retribution on my kindle for when I've finished Concealed!) The pace, the plot and the characters all have that slightly addictive quality (plus I peeked ahead at the synopsis for The Retribution and Jacko Vance is back...that is going to be good! Well for the reader at least!) 

What I like about this series is that even without the interesting crimes and the fast paced solving of them, the characters in these books really give the reader something to enjoy. I found myself cheering for Paula going on a good date, and warming to Sam when he started being less selfminded, I liked some of the new characters, and that's without even touching on Tony and Carol! 

The main crime itself was intrigueing, though I had figured out the connection between the victims quite early on (there were some hints dropped) and I may have had a fist pump moment when it turned out that I was actually right! However it wasn't quite so easy to figure out who was behind it, and that all unravelled in a highly satisfying way. 

I really enjoyed Fever of the Bone, its up there with The Mermaids Singing as my favourite in the series I think!

Friday, 21 October 2016

Werewolves of New York: Darik by Faleena Hopkins (#3 Werewolves of New York)

Title: Werewolves of New York: Darik
Series: Werewolves of New York (#3)
Author: Faleena Hopkins
From: Amazon (Werewolves of New York Box Set)
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 13th July 2015
Challenges:  2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Darik Greyson was born merely human. But something horribly painful happened to him that ignited a spark in his soul at the age of thirteen, and his wolf was born... from tragedy. Now that he's part of a pack, he keeps having these dreams - nightmares, more like it - that tell him something is coming. Why does he feel a test is on the way... and if he doesn't pass he'll lose the woman whose face is never more than a blur. Talia Irizarry works the nightshift at Manhattan General. She's a nurse, and a good one. But the men in New York seem to prefer actresses and models over real women, and she's not holding her hopes high that this loneliness will ever go away. Seeking solace in a much needed vat of ice cream, she walks to the nearest bodega to buy one. What she finds is two gunmen with a different plan...

While Werewolves of New York: Darik is part of the Werewolves of New York series it could be read as a standalone, however reading the previous books in the series gives a good back story to the other characters and rounds out the story. This book also adds more to the werewolve lore of the universe. 

I loved seeing more the pack's architecture business in this one, it's been constant since book one, but this fleshed it out a bit more, with a particular emphasis on how they would make buildings green. It completely fits with what readers already knew about the pack. I also liked how the architecture thing tied into Darik's past a little bit. 

Whereas most of the wolves seem to be very against finding their mate, Darik seemed very determined to find her. There was very little fighting what Talia was to him and that was definitely a refreshing take on the mating thing. 

I liked Talia, she was calm in the face of danger, but she also stood up for herself. While her budding relationship with Darik was sweet, it was her banter with Dontae and giving him as good as he gave that really endeared me to her! 

I must say I am very intrigued about Dontae and the hints that came about his story in this book! 

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Blood Blade by Debbie Cassidy (Sleeping Gods Prequel)

Title: Blood Blade: Forest of Demons Novella
Series: Sleeping Gods (Prequel)
Author: Debbie Cassidy
From: Instafreebie
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 13th February 2016
Challenges: 2016 New Release Challenge2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (1 point)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): You can’t run from destiny...Malika wants nothing more than to be ordinary, to forget her horrific past and live safely under a mountain with her adoptive father. But fate is not so kind, and destiny will not be denied. A single revelation can change everything...There is power in Malika’s blood, power that comes with a responsibility she would rather run from. With a mentor who pushes her to the limit and sets her blood on fire, she must allow herself to become the very best version of herself without losing her heart in the process. For there is no room for love on the battlefield.

Blood Blade is a prequel to Forest of Demons, and while I spent my time reading looking for links between the stories (and I think I worked it out though it remains to be seen if I'm right!) The two books can be read as standalones though they are both fantastic so I would recommend reading them both!

The main character, Malika, really went on a journey. While she started the book naive in some ways (but definitely not in others) and the journey she went on changed her into the woman she needed to be. She had to think in a political way as well as as a commander and that made her a complex and interesting character. 

There was a subtle romantic story in Blood Blade, though it wasn't a driving factor behind Malika's story. What started as mere attraction grew into more as the characters got to know each other and came to feel more. It did lead to Malika making certain decisions, but not necessarily the ones you would expect. 

There was a fairly small cast of characters, and that meant that the time in the book could really focus on Malika and the action surrounding her. I wasn't sure about some of the characters, and others made me dislike them intensly, though I do have a slight feeling that we may not quite be fnished with several of the characters!

This was a great read, I would greatly recommend it!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Critical Intelligence by Mandy M Roth (#2 Immortal Ops)

Title: Critical Intelligence
Series: Immortal Ops (#2)
Author: Mandy M Roth
From: Review Copy
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Release Date: 6th October 2016 (Re Release)
Challenges: 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): When loyalties are questioned and bonds forged, the Immortal Ops find themselves fighting a war to guard not only their secrets, but their lives as well.  Missy Carter leads a rather boring, overworked life as a system analyst for the State Department or rather, that’s what she lets everyone believe. In reality her life is anything but boring. As a Shadow Agent with the Paranormal Security and Intelligence, she’s seen and done it all. Intelligence is her specialty, assassination is her hobby. The only problem is that the things she spies on don’t die easily. In fact, some of them were dead to begin with. She’s learned to handle anything life can throw at her. That is until the biggest paramilitary pain her backside shows up again. Lucky for him, he’s good looking.  Roi Majors, wolf-shifter and second in command of the I-Ops, is having a hard time believing that Intel can only get half the information needed to bring down an underground ring of vampires with big-spending backers who are hell-bent on creating a race of supernaturals with multiple strands of DNA in them. When he finds himself paired with the one woman in the world who seems immune to his self-proclaimed charms, he can’t wait to see her to safety and then bid her good riddance. He never counted on falling in love with her. And he sure in the hell never counted on her claiming to be an agent with a branch of the government no human should know about. 

Critical Intelligence is the 2nd book in the I-Ops or Immortal Ops series. While it refers to events in the previous book a lot, and includes characters that were introduced in the previous book, it could be read as a standalone. However for the full effect, I would recommend reading the books in order. This review should be spoiler free. 

I loved Missy in the previous book, she was fiesty and didn't mind telling Roi what she really thought. Though at the time I was reading I was also thinking that there was some good chemistry going on between them, and that definitely continued into this book. The two of them sparred with words at each other and I loved that they didn't back down. 

Missy was a seriously tough woman too! She was strong and independent and wasn't about to let Roi, or anyone else tell her what to do. As other things came out about her it became more and more clear that she'd always been like that and I thought that that made her true character ring true with the reader. 

I love the comaraderie between the men in these books too, and that doesn't just go for Roth's I-Ops series but the other interelated worlds that she's created. Each has their own feel to it, and each reveals something else about the world, but each is also unique. The bonds and banter between the characters is definitely something I love reading though. 

This book came at just the right time for me; I was finishing reading something else and just wanted something like this. As with Roth's previous books I enjoyed reading every minute and I can't wait t read more from this series!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The Dragon Shifter's Duty by Mandy M Roth (#2 PSI Ops Shadow Agents)

Title: The Dragon Shifter's Duty
Series: PSI Ops/Shadow Agents (#2)
Author: Mandy M Roth
From: Review Copy
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal
Release Date: 18th October 2016
Challenges: 2016 New Release Challenge2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): He's locked away...
She's being hunted...
Undercover special operative and dragon-shifter Ezra has fallen into enemy hands. He knew better than to stray from the mission, but he couldn't fight his natural need to protect the innocent. When he senses the desperate call of his mate, there is no stopping this wild, fire-breathing, alpha male. He won't go down without a fight and he'll destroy anyone and anything that stands in his way of happiness and love.

The Dragon Shifter's Duty is book 2 of the Shadow Agents series (part of the Immortal Ops & PSI Ops universe) but can be read as a standalone. The couple, Ezra and Holland, are completely standalone and there are only minor links to previous books (some of which Ezra has briefly appeared in). This review is spoiler free. 

I get excited before reading any Roth book, particularly those that are set in her main universe. It's one of those where I know that everything will turn out alright (because this is a universe where true mates exist) but also that things may not go quite the way that anyone could think, and The Dragon Shifter's Duty was definitely that! 

There was great chemistry between Holland and Ezra once they're both adults (more about that in a minute) and I didn't doubt for a minute that they belonged together. They were both determined and a bit stubborn but loyal to a fault. They complimented each other and I loved that Ezra didn't just want Holland to just bow down to him. 

Now the first chapter! It was definitely one of the highlights of the book for me! 5 year old Holland was super cute and the interactions between her and Ezra (who was already mature - trust me it's not creepy but he's a dragon shifter so way old!) made me smile. It was a great start to the book and the nicknames they gave each other were even cuter. 

Thisi book added to the over all story arc through all of the series and books, fleshing out things that the reader already knew and bring the PSI Ops and Immortal Ops closer to the real bad guys!

Monday, 17 October 2016

Smoke on the Water by Lori Handeland (#3 Sisters of the Craft)

Title: Smoke on the Water
Series: Sisters of the Craft (#3)
Author: Lori Handeland
From: Netgalley
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: 4th August 2015
Challenges:  2016 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2016 Reading Assignment 2016 Blogger Shame2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (12 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon 
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Abandoned beneath a black willow tree on the banks of a northern Wisconsin creek, Willow Black spent her entire childhood in foster care. Her entire life she's had terrifying visions, and it is these visions that eventually land her in a psychiatric facility. And so Willow takes her meds and believes she is getting better. Until she meets a fellow patient who doesn't think she is crazy at all. She thinks Willow is a witch.  Willow's psychiatrist, Dr. Sebastian Crane, works hard to resist his feeling that he and Willow are destined to be together while also working to convince her that strange occurrences aren't the result of witchcraft… until he is thrown into the middle of a storm of supernatural events that can't be explained any other way…

Smoke on the Water is the third book in the Sisters of the Craft trilogy and the previous books should really be read before this one. While there were enough differences between books 1 and 2 for them to potentially be read as standalone, events in Smoke on the Water make more sense having read the first two books as events in the book are more tightly linked to Heat of the Moment (book 2). This review may contain minor spoilers for the previous book. 

Willow was a little bit more complicated than her two sisters, partly because she'd never had a family to ground her. Instead, due to her seeing visions in water and talking about it as a child (among other things) she ended up in a mental institute. I liked that Willow never actually seemed to doubt her sanity though, she accepted who she was though she did try to hide her visions from others. This also proved the setting for interactions between Willow and Owen's (from Heat of the Moment) mother, Mary, which was interesting and made her less of questionable character after the events of the previous books. 

I liked Sebastian too, he seemed like a well rounded character and even though he was attracted to Willow, and this universe uses the idea of soul mates, he tried to avoid anything that could be deemed inappropriate because of his position of power. Even with everything going on, and an escaped patient, he looked out for Willow's best interests. 

In the later parts of the book the bond between the three sisters was explored more (not a spoiler, this is the last book, they had to meet up) and I liked that they each naturally fit into their role in the triplet and they clicked but were clearly different people. The men (Bobby, Owen and Sebastian) also interacted in a believable way and I felt that they could be brother-in-laws. 

This book tied up the series nicely, with the action and the individual stories came together well, including that of Pru and Henry, and it was just a super satisfying read!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Beneath the Bleeding by Val McDermid (#5 Tony Hill & Carol Jordan)

Title: Beneath the Bleeding
Series: Tony Hill & Carol Jordan (#5)
Author: Val McDermid
From: Amazon
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Release Date: 2007
Challenges: 2016 Read the Books You Buy, 2016 Prequel & Sequel Challenge (2 points)
Links: Goodreads - Amazon
Synopsis (from Goodreads): The residents of Bradfield are devastated when their star midfielder dies, the victim of a bizarre, seemingly motiveless murder. In a hospital, recovering from injuries, criminal profiler and psychologist Dr. Tony Hill struggles to make sense of the fragments of information he can gather in order to help his ally, Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan, bring a killer to justice. Then an explosion rips through a soccer stadium, leaving dozens dead and many more injured, and Jordan finds herself pushed to the margins of the investigation by the intelligence services. Despite the dark places in their relationship, Tony and Carol remain the best hope for uncovering the truth about an ever-increasing series of unspeakable crimes. Are they terrorist attacks, a personal vendetta . . . or something even more sinister? 

While my previous reviews of the books in the Tony Hill & Carol Jordan series have been rereads, this is the first time that I have read Beneath the Bleeding (or any of the other books in the series going forward - I have the others on my kindle already). While this revolves around standalone crimes, I do believe that it is advantageous to have read the previous books in order to know the background and complexity of Carol and Tony's relationship. Reading The Torment of Others (book 4) also introduces Carol's team and gives background on them. This review should be spoiler free. 

Some of the characters, most notably Carol, Tony and Paula, are recovering from traumatic incidents in their pasts still and I liked the way in which McDermid treats this. There is no quick fix and each of them suffers the lasting effects of their traumas. However at the same time it doesn't clog up the book, and there is plenty going on that keeps the plot moving. 

I love Tony and Carol's relationship, I have done since the very beginning. They're basically in an odd place between being friends and being a couple, but they've been stuck there for years. It means that while their relationship does seem to progress, it isn't always in expected ways and that gives it a realistic edge. Plus they're too great characters individually too. 

I'm really glad I reread The Torment of Others earlier this year though or I think I would have lost something in the 7 or 8 years since I read it the first time. A lot of the characters introduced as a part of Carol's team in the previous book returned in this one, and they worked well together. I liked having the secondary characters with a bit more to them too, and seeing Carol and Tony from a different perspective. 

There were two main crimes going through this book. The first was the murder of a high profile athlete, and the seconf was an incident whose perpetrater was followed around by the narrative but it wasn't always clear what he was planning or why. Both plots unravelled towards the later part of the book and the resolutions worked well and were interesting. 

This was a great read, and like normal I've ended up feeling a bit sad that its over now!