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review 2017-10-16 01:41
ARC Review: Off The Beaten Path by Cari Z.
Off the Beaten Path - Cari Z.

Ever since I read my first shifter book, I've been hooked. For some reason, Off The Beaten Path escaped my notice at first, but when it kept popping up in friend reviews on Goodreads, I requested a review copy from the publisher.

I was not disappointed.

This is not some fluffy wolf shifter meets human and they live happily ever after shifter book. No, as the title indicates, this shifter universe is off the beaten path, set in an alternate reality where shifters exists, after a government experiment gone terribly wrong, but are controlled by the human government, living in remote areas away from human cities, within confined compounds, with the pack Alphas required to serve as ultimate soldiers whenever the military requires them to utilize their extra strength and abilities to carry out the military's dirty work. 

Additionally, some children are born as shifters to human parents, and when their true nature is revealed, they are removed from their human parents, severing the relationship, and relocated to a shifter compound, where they either can shift back to human or, if they can't, are destroyed. 

Thus, we meet Ward Johannsen whose young daughter Ava shifted into a wolf during a stressful situation and was immediately taken by the feds to the nearest shifter camp. Unwilling to give up his daughter, Ward does everything he can to obtain her location, which just happens to be in the Colorado mountains. And it's winter. 

Ward is rescued, nearly frozen to death, at the perimeter of the pack compound. Once inside, he's faced with the pack's Alpah, Henry Dormer, who only recently returned from his last mission and hopes to have a bit of time to recuperate before he's sent out again.

Both men are really strong-willed and not inclined to give up. Ward is unwilling to let go of Ava, even if the law says he has to, and he does everything in his power to get back to her, even if that means willingly walking into a werewolf compound and standing his ground. Henry too fights every day to ensure the security and well-being of his pack, even if that means that he himself suffers abuse and faces possible death.

See, the government doesn't really care about the werewolves it created, considering them dangerous and thus in need of being kept separated and hidden, but is perfectly willing to use the wolves' Alphas for its Black Ops missions. Henry's CO especially is a sack of shit, vengeful and vile, but Henry knows he has to follow the rules so his pack can get what it needs to survive. 

Relationships between wolves and humans are strongly discouraged, though not forbidden. 

Obviously, Ward's presence in the camp, and his having found the compound, breaks all kinds of security rules, and Henry has to take the blame. Still, Henry realizes that Ward's presence will likely help Ava shift back to human, so he is willing to give it a try. 

The attraction they both feel to each other is neither expected nor necessarily wanted, but Ward's persistence and courage seems to calm Henry in the face of the multiple pressures he's facing not only from his CO but also his pack. 

This isn't some fluffy shifter tale. It's gritty, it's dark, and there are oh so many obstacles Henry and Ward face before they can find even a modicum of happiness. Though, I think the point here is that the happiness you have to fight for so hard is worth more in the end - simply because you have to fight for it. 

At the end of this book, there's hope. Not only for Ward and Henry to have a happy ending, but for the shifters in the compound, and all shifters under the thumb of the feds. In fact, there are forces at work to better the lives of the werewolves and give them a chance to actually live

I do hope that the author has more books planned, and that this will turn into a full-blown series. Because Tennyson and David surely need their own book.

This book is full of tension, passion, and courage in the face of nearly insurmountable odds. A true "edge-of-your-seat" read, this comes highly recommended. 



** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. **

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review 2017-10-16 01:23
And this...this is how you do dragons!
Burn the Sky - Jaye McKenna

Now if it's not already clear let me start by saying..."I LOVE DRAGONS!!! Unashamedly, unapologetically love them." to me they are the most fierce, majestic, powerful and yes scary because...hey, big fire breathing creatures here, in all of mythology. 

 

I've had this series on my wishlist for ages and was fortunate enough to have been gifted with the first three books in this series as part of a gift exchange last Christmas and while it's taken me until now to find the time to start reading this series...all I can say to that is good things come to he, or she as the case may be, who waits.

 

Gerrick is the heir presumptive to the throne of Altan (next in line for the throne)...except there's one teensy little problem in order to become the Wytch King he needs to come into his wytch power...he's 20 it should have happened by now and Altan has never had a king who didn't possess a wytch power...ask his Uncle. He's only to happy to explain this  to anyone who will listen...bitter much? Oh yeah. 

 

For Gerrick this isn't about being king though it's about keeping a promise. A promise to protect his younger brother, Jaire from the pressures of ruling a kingdom. Something that even Jaire willing admits he has absolutely no desire or ability to do. Regardless of everything else Jaire, Gerrick and their father are all of a like mind on this issue...neither the kingdom nor Jaire would survive should he be made king as the Wytch Council would have happen.

 

It's in a last ditch effort to have Gerrick declared his rightful heir by the council that the king demands that Gerrick's wytch powers be forced to awaken defying the councils decree that forcing wytch powers or even attempting to do so is a punishable offense. Desperate to protect his brother Gerrick agrees to allow this. 

 

Some wytch powers are not meant to be awakened and when Gerrick's awakened powers end in disaster. Kian, Gerrick's friend, lover and an apprentice healer flees to the Wytch's College in search of the Wytch Master Ilya in a last ditch effort to save not just Gerrick, but his brother Jaire and ultimately the kingdom of Altan. 

 

Ilya's tasked with teaching Gerrick to control his powers but things get complicated when Ilya and Gerrick are drawn to each other and time starts to run out when the machinations of others put both the king and Jaire at risk. 

 

'Burn the Sky' is definitely one of the most enjoyable dragon stories I've read in a very long time. I loved the characters of Gerrick and Ilya. Their relationship started out with definite touch of antagonism as both men came into the relationship with some pre-conceived ideas about the other, but with Gerrick needing Ilya's help to learn how to control his powers and Ilya determined to avoid being the one to deliver the deathblow that will be Gerrick's fate should he fail they find themselves forced to find a way to work together for their own good and the good of a kingdom. 

 

Along with Gerrick and Ilya we are given some secondary characters who beg for their own story and fortunately the author has seen this. In 'Blackfrost' the second book in this series we are given the story of Kian and what becomes of him after he leave the college, in the third book 'Shadowspire' we find out more about Jaire, the sweet and sensitive brother of Garrick whom we met in this story and who proved that while he may not have what it takes to rule a kingdom he had the courage he needed to help save it.  Dragonwatch is the fourth book currently released in this series and while we haven't met either of the MCs in it I'm so looking forward to what comes next in this series. 

 

For me the 'Wytch King' series is everything that I want in a fantasy series...there are dragons, magic, adventure, romance, characters that are both intriguing and compelling and a story that while it feels complete leaves me both wanting and knowing that there is yet more to come.

 

 

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review 2017-10-16 00:47
Release Day ARC review: The Fireman's Pole by Sue Brown
The Fireman's Pole - Sue Brown

This book is pure fluff. Which, let's be honest, fits perfectly within the Dreamspun Desires titles. And the cheeky title - hahahaha!

Here we have Dale, a firefighter who recently moved into the little village of Calminster, still smarting from a bad break-up with his closeted, cheating ex, hoping to lick his wounds and put his hopes and dreams for that relationship behind him. Unwilling to be in the closet himself, he's open about his sexuality, but has no aspirations to find himself another boyfriend.

Called out for a fire on his first shift, he manages to rescue the homeowner, a sweet elderly woman, and draw the ire of his Lordship at the same time. Shortly thereafter, he backs the big fire engine into the maypole, which was originally erected by his Lordship's great-great-grandfather. So, having blown his opportunity for making a good first impression, Dale offers to fix the pole in hopes to calm down Ben, Lord Calminster, who is behaving like an ass both during the fire and after Dale's unfortunate mishap with the big fire truck and the maypole. 

Don't expect any kind of realistic or believable relationship development - there's none. 

Ben, the lord of the manor, has kept his own sexuality hidden to the point where he's got a girlfriend/beard. Of course, he takes one look at our hunky firefighter, feels the stirring in his loins and finds the backbone to break things off with the woman he's been dating. 

Dale was a nice guy, and I liked him. Ben, once he removed the stick from his ass, was a nice guy too. I liked him fine as well. 

It's just that nothing here between Ben and Dale felt anything close to realistic. Dale states that he's still hurting from the break-up and doesn't want to fall in bed with yet another closeted man, but then shortly thereafter dismisses that notion and jumps right in with Ben. 

Ben apparently, after meeting and tongue-lashing Dale twice, is willing to risk a whole lot for the possibility of being with Dale. Perhaps exchanging angry words with the firefighter turns him on. 

There's a bit of mystery here with someone unknown setting fires all over the village, a subplot that culminates in an edge of your seat sequence of events that not only casts Dale as a hero again but also firmly pulls Ben right out of that closet for good. 

Since I usually suspend disbelief whenever I read one of the Dreamspun Desires titles and don't expect anything realistic, I didn't mind the rapid development of the romantic relationship. What I did mind however is that we're merely told these two men have the hots for each other - we're not actually shown that they do - so this book ended up in three star territory. Sure, there are sexy times within, but I didn't really feel their passion - I was only told about it.

Still an enjoyable read that fits perfectly within this harlequin-esque series. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. **

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review 2017-10-15 22:17
Have I ever mentioned that I love...I mean seriously love dragons?
Enter the Dragon - Jamie Sullivan

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I have so you can imagine my heartbreak when I realized that this was a case of 'dragon fail'.

 

So here's the thing overall this story might have worked it there had been more depth in the characters, the plot and the story development. I mean really what's not to like it's dragons and it's bit of a different idea on how this dragon thing works. I really didn't find that the story was in depth about anything it was a bit like a butterfly flitting from one flower to the next touching on each but never really landing long enough to get a good look and while I admit that by virtue of the fact that there were less than 50 pages from start to finish, it doesn't surprise. What does is the fact that this was not the biggest obstacle to me liking this story.

 

Unfortunately my biggest obstacles were largely due to the reasons that this story was a different spin on the dragon myth and in the actual execution of those things. Things that aren't mentioned in the blurb and are the reason that this is me not going there because spoiling things for others is so not my thing which is why I'm just going to call it a day and say that this one didn't work for me. It's not so much about good or bad...just not my taste.

 

'Enter the Dragon' is a story from the multi-authored series entitled 'The Beastiary' and while it wasn't my thing there are a lot of good reviews out there, that just go to show we all have different taste and what's not for me may be just what someone else is looking for.

 

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A copy of 'Enter the Dragon' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-10-15 21:15
No dragons here but there was a pretty awesome unicorn!
The Last Grand Master - Andrew Q. Gordon,Joel Leslie

And some pretty amazing peregrines! 'The Last Grandmaster' is the first book in Andrew Q. Gordon's series 'Champion of the Gods' and for me if it's not Urban Fantasy when it comes to fantasy this is my crack. I loved it wizards and noble warriors, magic, unicorns, peregrines, dark magic, good vs evil at its best!

 

Farrell is both a Grand Master and the crowned Prince of Haven a hidden sanctuary for refugees. He's the linchpin in the war against Meglar the wizard king of Zargon and a user of dark magic.  It's during a battle against Meglar that Farrell meets Miceral an immortal warrior chosen by the Six to be Farrell's mate. 

 

Along with Farrell and Miceral the author introduces us to Nerti, Queen of the unicorns and a large cast of secondary characters who all have a role to play in the battle against Meglar. 

 

Overall I really enjoyed this story. It's been quite a while since I've listened to or read a fantasy novel on this epic of a scale and to be honest I'd forgotten the amount of world building that it takes to make a story like this work. Fortunately for me the author chose to incorporate most of his world building into the  story which for me works a whole lot better than info dumps. While there were occasionally times that my interest waned they were far and few between. 

 

'The Last Grandmaster' is as story that has a lot going on...not only is Farrell's personal life in a bit of upheaval but he's working hard to save his world and defeat the evil known as Meglar and of course like any good story our hero has secrets...secrets that dog him at every turn and may even prove to be his undoing.

 

I have to admit I've been poking around this series for a while now and couldn't quite make up my mind but when the opportunity to listen to this on audio book came up, I sat down and took a serious look at things. I know I've said on more than one occasion that fantasy is one of my absolute favorite genres, so needless to say this had 'The Last Grandmaster' ticking yes in more than a few boxes for me. My dilemma came when I got to the narrator. Joel Leslie is the narrator for this book and this created a bit of a dilemma for me, I haven't had the best of luck with this narrator. It's not a case of good or bad, it's truly just personal preference and for me this narrator's voice tends to be more miss than hit...so what to do, what to do?

 

Well I went back and took a look at the audio books that I've listened to by Joel Leslie and came to the realization that while some didn't work and some were just ok. Out of them all while the audio was for me only 3 stars...I would have to say that 'Lord Mouse' is probably the one I liked the best and while that book bares no resemblance to this one in terms of the storyline or plot there is a similarity to the overall feel of them...sorry, I wish I had better words to explain this with but hopefully you get my drift here...anyways, bottom line after pondering this aspect of things I decided this was worth taking a chance on and happily for me I was right. Joel Leslie's narration for 'The Last Grandmaster' worked just fine for me and I genuinely enjoyed the audio experience. So much so that I'm truly hoping that the remainder of this series will be produced on audio book and I certainly won't have any reservations about listening if it's the same narrator for those books.

 

Although 'The Last Grandmaster' is the first book in this series the author hasn't left us standing at the edge of any cliffs wondering about the well being of our heroes, it would appear that each book in this series is for the most part a self-contained adventure that is part of a larger journey...a quest if you will, that our heroes are on in their battle against evil. There are currently four books in this series with a fifth book slated for release in 2018. For me the question isn't whether or not I'll continue the journey it's more a case of e-book or wait for it on audio? What to do? What to do?

 

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An audio book of 'The Last Grandmaster' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

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