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review 2017-07-12 18:30
On These Ashen Wings by sinestrated
On These Ashen Wings - sinestrated

An entertaining fanfic in which dragon shifter Jared encounters 'sealed' dragon Jensen. Jensen can no longer shift to his dragon form and is shunned by all dragonkind.

Source: archiveofourown.org/works/858063?view_full_work=true
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review 2017-06-15 07:51
Silver Silence by Nalini Singh
Silver Silence - Nalini Singh

Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater bear clan, has found Silver Mercant fascinating since their first meeting. She’s also his mate, so is it any wonder man and bear has been trying to get a proverbial foot in the door for months...To no avail. Until, one day, he finally steps foot into her apartment, but not under auspicious circumstances, since the woman is convulsing in his arms. Reason: fast-acting poison.

With the help of the famous Mercant Grandmother, Valentin finally gets Silver under his own roof (the next best thing for a bear wanting to court his mate, the best being kidnapping), and he’s determined to pull out all the stops to claim the woman who holds his heart.

Surprisingly, after a few initial hurdles, Silver is more than willing to experiment life beyond her Silence, but she does have her reasons. Her time is running out, her brain a ticking bomb. But Valentin is willing to do anything to save his Starlight. He’s willing to bear it all if only she remains breathing. Even if it means that saving her life might destroy them both.

There are books that make you reevaluate your opinion of a certain author (in a good or a bad way) and there are books that simply reiterate the talent of the author in creating memorable characters and stories while never letting down their “guard” when it comes to world-building. This book falls in the latter category.

Silver Silence is the first installment in the so-called second season (I’ll just call it chapter) of the Psy-Changeling series, and, like the first installment in the first chapter, Slave to Sensation it’s more of an introduction in future story arcs and villains as far as the suspense plotlines go, but, as the aforementioned book, it packed quite a punch in the terms of romance and romance-related drama and angst.

But, as soon as we came accustomed to the formula or template Ms Singh uses to write her romances (loads of drama and angst before the requisite HEA), she went and turned it all around, putting the drama and heartache after it all looked to be going nicely. Of course, the main couple found happiness too soon in the story and leaving it at it would’ve ended up in cheese and sap, the complete opposite of what we’ve come to expect from this masterful author. So, she dangled the carrot and promptly snatched it away.
And this what I love most about her writing. She keeps us on our toes. We know everything will turn out fine (it’s a romance, after all), but she succeeds in spreading little seeds of doubt with all those, sometimes seemingly insurmountable, obstacles she throws into her characters’s paths.
This story was no different. Predictable (in the sense of it being a romance with the requisite HEA in the end), while not being predictable at all.

The romance between Valentin and Silver was absolutely beautiful. I hoped, I laughed, I cried, and I suffered right alongside them. Their “star-crossed” romance was right alongside that of Hawke and Sienna in Kiss of Snow (with the latter still being my favorite, because, you know, Hawke), both in beauty and in the suffering.

Valentin was your typical NS Changeling alpha, but unlike his “predecessors”, Lucas and Hawke (cat and wolf) this bear was, despite his huge body, a true teddy bear, a romantic, love-struck and love-sick, lovable idiot carrying his heart on his sleeve for the whole world to see. He took his punches like a man, refusing to back down or crumble when his heart got bruised by his clan, his mother or the woman who was his other half. And I loved him for it. Here he was, an alpha with a heart of gold, unabashedly unembarrassed about showing it. He was who he was, completely comfortable in his skin and in his emotions. And don’t get me started on his stubborn refusal to back down (twice in one single book) in front of the majestic obstacle that was Silver Fucking Mercant and her Silence. The way he figured was, if he’s worn her down once, he’d do it the second time...Or die trying.
What to say about Silver, but the fact she paled a little in contrast with her bear. I’m sure that wasn’t Ms Singh’s intention, I’m betting these two were paired especially for the contrasts between their personas, both inside and out. And although I found her interesting from the first book she appeared in, she didn’t strike me as heroine material. I was proved wrong in her book, once we actually got to know the real Silver, what made her tick, why she was the way she was, but still, put side by side with her bear, said bear wins every time. Maybe because he had the more “tragic” role in their star-crossed love story, because he endured much more during the later chapters...I don’t know. However, she was a force to be reckoned with, especially when she went into full-on mama bear mode.
But yes, they were the perfect together, equals no matter their background or race, a perfect pairing to bring us into the future of the Trinity Accord and the future of all three races.

As in all “first books”, the world-building is key. But since we already know this particular world, this aspect of story-telling could’ve lagged behind. Yet it didn’t. There’s much about this futuristic “alternative reality” we’re not yet privy to, and Ms Singh decided to expand on some aspect of it we’ve only heard of in passing—the bear society offers a completely new part of this universe, similar yet different from the cat and wolf packs we’ve come to know and love. They’re also a unit, but with a different “personality” and “feel”, deceptively laid-back, their mostly good-natured behavior hiding cunningly sharp intelligence. Compared to the other two predatory changeling “species”, the bears don’t flaunt their superior strength, obviously using their bonhomie to lull their opponent into a false sense of security.
Which is just what Valentin did when it came to Silver. The girl never knew what hit her. And yes, once more, I loved them to bits.

You know what else the “first books” don’t have in spades? Suspense or sense of imminent danger. This one had its share of villain-y, but it had more of an ominous feel to it, despite some of it being pretty darn close to the center of all the action. It felt as if true danger is still lurking in the background, waiting in the sidelines for the optimum time of attack, which is the perfect way to go while writing a series. You don’t show all your cards at once, building the suspense, maintaining the intensity, keeping the reader (and the characters) guessing.
It worked in the “first season”, it should work in the second.

This book, for me, had it all. Old (some only in mention) and new characters, old (some only in mention) and new parts and aspects of the Psy-Changeling universe, a stunningly beautiful romance with the right amount of heartbreak thrown in to keep us on our toes, unpredictable predictability, drama, action, suspense, and the promise of danger to whet our appetites for more.

For the next installment, can we maybe have another human-Psy pairing? Maybe a cardinal M-Psy capable of repairing both damage from a gunshot wound and human brain? *hint hint*

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review 2017-03-01 08:25
The Fervor by Xandrie Kovak
The Fervor - Xandrie Kovak

***copy provided via InstaFreebie***

No, just no.

It started off rather well, but quickly descended into chaos. And not the organized kind of chaos. The story was all over the place, the heroine was an idiot...And when the hero turned out to be sixteen, it all ended.
I like my shifters, especially if they're Alphas, much older than sixteen, thank you very much.

Combined with the first-person POV, which I dislike on principle, the rather idiotic plot and over-flowing world-building, and bland characters, this freebie will remain a DNF.

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review 2017-01-30 14:08
Savage Sacrifice by Ellis Leigh
Savage Sacrifice: A Dire Wolves Mission ... Savage Sacrifice: A Dire Wolves Mission (Devil's Dires) - Ellis Leigh

A few months after their mating, Thaus has to leave Ariel for an important mission, and the only one he trusts to protect his mate and their unborn child, is his Dire "brother", Phego. Phego who, despite his trust issues, accepts, since he owes Thaus his life...And Ariel is the only Dire mate he's taken quickly and easily, his best friend.

The problem is, the woman is close to birth, and he'd be damned if he helped deliver the baby, so he has no choice but to accept Ariel calling her friend and midwife, Michaela, for help. Michaela who happens to be an Omega, Michaela who travels with an unwanted bodyguard, Michaela who is Phego's mate.

But Phego has too many trust issues to accept being mated easily...And even if he wanted to push those issues aside, there's something stalking them in the woods. So now Phego has to protect his brother's mate and unborn child, all the while fighting his most basic instincts of taking what is rightfully his.

But is Michaela really a dream come true, something he never expected of having for himself, a gift from Fate...or is Fate playing a cruel joke on him, determined to ruin him once and for all?

Compared to the rest of the series, this book left me wanting. There was the requisite attraction-at-first-sight, reluctance to get close to the woman until the passion got out of control, the remote setting, a woman in need of protection, something dark and deadly stalking in the woods...But somehow it all failed to deliver.

I didn't feel the connection to the leading couple (probably because Phego only appeared in one book before his own, and didn't get the time to really "know" him, which makes me leery of the next book in the series about Deus, who also only made his appearance in this one), the whole mating thing left much to be desired, there was too much going on to actually make the two of them connect together as a couple, and the danger left me cold. There was no ominous feel, no sense of urgency as the danger lurked closer and closer, and the big reveal didn't pack a punch, didn't bring the shock and surprise it was probably supposed to.
Also the whole revelation that maybe, just maybe, the Dires weren't alone came across as a cheap and easy plot device, that hopefully won't be used to perpetuate the series.

I was glad for Thaus and Ariel, and although the epilogue offered a cute little insight into Phego and Michaela's relationship post mating, I felt the story was definitely too short as far as their "romance" was concerned.

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review 2016-10-13 18:27
Sugar, Spice, and Shifers by Elianne Adams, Calle Jaye Brooks, Rinelle Grey, J.K. Harper et al

Her Gingerbread Dragon by Elianne Adams (2 stars)
This one started really promising, then lost its way a little by slowing down (a lot), then got interesting again with the hole dragon-hating thing...That unfortunately didn't lead anywhere.
I guess that's for the full-length novels in the series (which I won't be reading anytime soon).

God of Nightmares by Calle J. Brookes (DNF)
I cringed at the blurb...And threw in the towel at the end of the first chapter. I guess I wasn't in the mood for so much "world-building".

Bringing Christmas to the Dragons by Rinelle Grey (DNF)
There's a limited amount of time to grab a reader's attention in a novella. For me, that's one chapter. If the first chapter leaves me cold, the rest won't be any better.
The first chapter in this one, was the equivalent of the Ice Age. Next!

Solstice Wolf by J.K. Harper (1 star)
Rather iffy, but manageable with a slightly PWP-ish "love" scene (no context and rather "cold" characters), and a heroine that didn't know what she wanted until she lost it, and didn't realize that what she thought she wanted turned out to be too good to be true. Lesson learned.

Mated By Christmas by Loribelle Hunt (DNF)

Claiming Their Christmas by Ellis Leigh (3 stars)
It was a little heartbreaking reading about Beast and his lingering feelings about Amber and her death. One one hand he felt guilty, because the witch died instead of him, on the other he still felt rage toward her for having manipulated him, and on the third a complete inability to comprehend just what Amber was supposed to mean to him.
It was a little heartbreaking, and a little angering, really, because I just didn't understand the reasoning behind everything. Why didn't he simply talk to his mate, talk it through with her, when he knew it was hurting her, when he knew he was hurting her. Why did it take him so long to just talk to her, why did it take everybody and their aunt to drum some sense into the guy? I loved his story so much, I loved the ending of Claiming His Desire, and he ruined everything, he even ruined Amber's sacrifice, in this short story.


Desert Yule by Anna Lowe (DNF)
An obvious collection of Christmas-themed epilogues to previous stories in the series. Since I'm not familiar with either the series (the context) or the author, these snippets did nothing for me.

Claimed by Heart by Eris Sage (DNF)
Something was off with this one. Maybe the "older" h/H, maybe the fact they has children from previous relationships, maybe the very slow and uneventful start...Or maybe the bland character and zero chemistry between them.

A Beary Merry Christmas by Vivienne Savage (DNF)
It was rather disappointing that even such a short story didn't really grab my attention. There was just something off, maybe even the fact we're thrown into the story in the middle or after it already happened. The two already got their HEA, what's there more to tell?

Healing Christmas by Bethany Shaw (DNF)
Another one that didn't register on the radar. I didn't care what was the heroine's problem with Christmas, I didn't care how h/H might have gotten together (I didn't get to that part), I didn't care how the plot with the robbers would end...I simply didn't care.

Celebrate Me by Kristen Strassel (DNF)
I know it's a novella, but still, pacing is key. Even knowing when to slow down the story. If you rush things, you'll blow it. And insta-love is rushing things, simple as that. Add to it the fact I didn't understand nor feel the insta-love, and the Romeo-and-Juliet vibe with everybody trying to keep the two apart...I couldn't finish it.

Fascination by Elle Thorne (2 star)
It started well, but then went astray with the main conflict and the slightly silly attempts at arresting the burglar. Also, the connection between h/H didn't really click for me...And the whole panther-polar bear combo was a tad odd.

Maker by Holley Trent (DNF)
The narrative was juvenile, making the characters more young adult than new adult (or whatever the new category is). The style and voice made my teeth ache, the MCs left absolutely no impression and somewhere close to the middle, I stopped caring...And reading.

Furever Yours by Catherine Vale (DNF)
The surprise bun in the oven screamed Harlequin for me, and the fact it happened in a novella wasn't encouraging. To top it off, the narrative style and voice didn't work for me.

Snowbound at Solstice by Lori Whyte (DNF)
I don't share and don't really understand those that do. Fictional or not. Pass!

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