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review 2017-06-22 21:16
Review: Warrior of Fire (Blood & Silver #2) by Shona Husk 4 out of 5 stars
Warrior of Fire - Shona Husk

This is the second installment in the Blood and Silver series. I honestly feel that this story cannot be read as a stand alone to be fully enjoyed as there are many aspects that would be missed if the first story is not read, well, first.

Leira and Julian are both part of an ancient yet almost extinct magical race called Albah. Because of prejudice and misconceptions about magic, their race has been hunted for as long as they can remember and now Julian is a target of those that want to end the Albah.

Fate plays an important role here but it’s not the focal point. The author manages to dance around it by making the characters think there is an already established path for everyone but also plays with the outcome by giving them infinite options depending on the choices people make.
In the case of Leira, and because of her magic, she knew she and Julian were supposed to meet but as the story progressed she wasn’t so sure anymore if that meant if they were supposed to be lovers or if he was just supposed to be in her life as something else. Julian knew there had to be more than magic and fate involved in their relationship because of the chemistry between them, and it was not just physical attraction but something deeper. And I definitely thanked the author for that because she didn’t go for the insta-lust here.
In the end, in spite of magic, fate, and crazy people going after them, they decided that risking it all for an uncertain but happy future was worth the risk.

The pace was a little slow for my taste but I’m willing to overlook it because I really liked this fantasy world, the complex characters and I thought this was a well-developed story.

*** I received this book from the author at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.***

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review 2017-06-22 19:09
One + One = Three by Jane Blythe @jblytheauthor
Three (Count to Ten) (Volume 3) - Jane Blythe

Jayne Blythe is a fabulous author who writes some chillin’ and thrillin’ serial killer novels.

Three by Jane Blythe has a cover that blends with the others creating a brand. Scroll to the bottom to see what I mean.

 

Check this beauty out, done by Amy Queau, and let me know what ya think.

 

Three (Count to Ten #3)

Amazon  /  Goodreads

 

MY REVIEW

 

Warning:  ** All Jane’s books contain issues of sexual assault **.

 

I love when I am hooked early, anticipating the worst with each ‘turn of the page.’

 

Excited to bring together vicious killers from One and Two, culminating in a big fat delicious Three.

 

HE loves the thrill of killing newlyweds, couples, leaving one alive to tell the tale. The more vicious the attack, the better. Brutal, savage killing. Blood and body parts flying every which way.

 

SHE is a teenage virgin, but uses sex to lure in her victims. How sick is that? Killing is her purpose in life. Kill the cheaters, thinks Isabella Everette.

 

Sofia is recovering from Isabella’s attack and loving on her hunky Detective boyfriend, Ryan Xander. They each have their baggage, but have found they are stronger together.

 

The two serial killers have left a trail of bodies in their wake, but now they are home…

I know one thing. If I were Sofia or Annabelle, Ricky’s significant other, I would not be alone. I have read enough horror, of one kind or another, to know I’d at least have me some fierce looking dogs at my side. Some trained, mean and deadly ones.

 

The women are severely damaged, emotionally and physically and I like having the thought they will rise to the occasion when cornered. I look forward to finding out.

 

I am trying to ‘see’ where Jane Blythe is going with these deadly serial killers. I know certain things will have to happen…and no, I’m not telling you what.

 

And then…Sofia’s stalker returns. That is a story in itself. That is the bigger mystery to me. I have yet to figure out who it is!

 

Each character share their point of view, and I like seeing events unfold through each person’s eyes. And…as the characters come together…so do the serial killers. The action rises to a white knuckled ending that had me racing through the pages. I knew a lot of bodies would fall, but I never saw it going down the way it did.

 

I love delving into a killer’s mind and there’s something extra interesting about serial killers. Their thoughts and actions, even when fiction, fascinate me. I love when the author takes me to a dark, brutal and savage place, and Jane surely does that in the twisted series, of which I have read One, Two, and Three.

 

WOW! Action packed thrills and chills, blood and guts fly, and the killers carry their acts to the extreme. No one is safe, yet I am happy to be here.

 

I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of Three by Jane Blythe

 

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos 5 Stars

 

GOODREADS

 

He targets couples, attacking them in their bed, killing one and leaving the other alive.

 

She targets wealthy businessmen, luring them to a hotel and drowning them.

 

When the two killers meet up a wild killing spree erupts.

 

** All my books contain issues of sexual assault **

 

ABOUT JANE BLYTHE

 

Jane Blythe

Jane has loved reading and writing since she can remember. She writes dark and disturbing crime/mystery/suspense with some romance thrown in because, well, who doesn’t love romance? She has one completed series, Detective Parker Bell, and one new series, Count to Ten.

 

When she’s not writing Jane loves to read, bake, go to the beach, ski, horse ride, and watch Disney movies. She has a black belt in Taekwondo, and a 200+ collection of teddy bears. She has the world’s two most sweet and pretty Dalmatians, Ivory and Pearl. Oh, and she also enjoys spending time with family and friends!

 

Website  /  Twitter  /  Facebook

 

MY REVIEWS FOR JANE BLYTHE’S BOOKS

 

 

 

  • You can see my Giveaways HERE.
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Source: www.fundinmental.com/one-one-three-by-jane-blythe-jblytheauthor
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review 2017-06-22 14:30
A Squee and a Ramble: The Suffragette Scandal
The Suffragette Scandal - Courtney Milan

The Suffragette Scandal

by Courtney Milan

Book 4 (final) of Brothers Sinister

 

 

An idealistic suffragette...

Miss Frederica "Free" Marshall has put her heart and soul into her newspaper, known for its outspoken support of women's rights.  Naturally, her enemies are intent on destroying her business and silencing her for good.  Free refuses to be at the end of her rope... but she needs more rope, and she needs it now.

...a jaded scoundrel...

Edward Clark's aristocratic family abandoned him to die in a war-torn land, so he survived the only way he could: by becoming a rogue and a first-class forger.  When the same family that left him for dead vows to ruin Miss Marshall, he offers his help.  So what if he has to lie to her?  She's only a pawn to use in his revenge.

...and a scandal seven years in the making.

But the irrepressible Miss Marshall soon enchants Edward.  By the time he realizes that his cynical heart is hers, it's too late.  The only way to thwart her enemies is to reveal his scandalous past... and once the woman he loves realizes how much he's lied to her, he'll lose her forever.

 

 

*** 

"Look at the tasks you listed, the ones you think are impossible.  You want men to give women the right to vote.  You want men to think of women as equals, rather than as lesser animals who go around spewing illogic between our menstrual cycles."

He still wasn't saying anything.

"All your tasks are about men," she told him.  "And if you haven't noticed, this is a newspaper for women."


Do you know that giddy feeling you get when you realize you've found yet another gem in your reading life?  Another set of characters so lovely that you can't seem to stop following their plight?  And you bemoan the ending of the book because you wish there were so much more?

When The Suffragette Scandal's ending came around, I kept hoping there would be a few more pages left.  And then when the epilogue finished... well, it suddenly struck me that the entire series was now at it's end.  Sure, there's one more novella that I have yet to finish, but if history is any indication, the novellas in this series aren't exactly as squee-worthy as the main novels have been.

Meanwhile, I'm suffering a bout of 'Book Hangover' as well as a case of, "I don't know which book I liked more:  One or Four."  Because as much as I squee-ed about the first book, and as much as I loved our main male character from The Duchess War, I maybe love Free and The Suffragette Scandal even more.  Except that this last book in the four-book series does one better and gives us another dose of the humble and wonderful Duke of Clermont near the end, and I recall all the reasons I loved him so much from the first book.

So, despite this being a completely moot point, I don't know which book I love more, and I don't know which character I love more, and I don't know which couple I love more.

Free and Edward were stupendous together!  I loved all their witty banter... though I DO have to admit that a lot of it was Free's round-about logic, her blunt personality, and her heck-care attitude.  This is a woman who truly doesn't care what people think of her, and even dares the world to challenge her beliefs and her life's work.  She doesn't bat an eye at any type of impropriety and even walks into it all head on.

 

"You should read more of my newspaper.  I published an excellent essay by Josephine Butler on this very subject.  Men use sexuality as a tool to shut up women.  We are not allowed to speak on matters that touch on sexual intercourse--even if they concern our own bodies and our own freedom--for fear of being labeled indelicate.  Any time a man wishes to scare a women into submission, he need only add the question of sexual attraction, leaving the virtuous woman with no choice but to blush and fall silent.  You should know, Mr. Clark, that I don't intend to fall silent.  I have already been labeled indelicate; there is nothing you can add to that chorus."

His mouth had dropped open on sexuality; it opened wider on intercourse, and wider still on attraction.


I can't really express how much I loved Free and her care-free spirit since the first time she was introduced in the second book of this series.  The Suffragette Scandal pretty much cemented my love for her.  It also helps that she has a distinctly endearing personality that comes off both cutesy and snarky at the same time.  This ongoing "punctuation" joke has been delightful, and made me smile a lot:

 

"Suffragette," she said, "is pronounced with an exclamation point at the end. Like this: 'Huzzah! Suffragettes!'"

 "I don't pronounce anything with exclamation points."

"No? Then there's no time like the present to start. Repeat after me: 'Let's hear three cheers for the women's vote!'"

"Cheering is entirely beyond my capabilities."

"Oh, too bad."  Her tone was sympathetic, but her eyes were mocking.  "I see now.  You're a womanthrope."

"No.  I am a realist.  Likely you've never met my sort before."

"Oh, I'm sure I have."  She rolled her eyes.  "I've heard everything.  Let me see.  You believe that women will vote for the handsomest candidate without using their faculties of reason.  Is that the size of your realism?"

He met her accusing gaze with an annoyed look of his own.  "Do I look like a fool?  I don't see any reason for women not to vote; you're no stupider, on average, than the typical man.  If there were any fairness in the world, suffragettes would succeed in all their political aims.  But the world is not fair.  You're going to spend your entire life fighting for gains that will be lost in political bickering ten years after they've been achieved.  That's why I won't spare you three cheers.  They'll serve no purpose but to waste my breath."

"Good heavens.  You're right.  I haven't met anyone like you."

And then she smiled at him.  "Well, Monsieur le Realist.  Call on me if you ever find yourself in need of an exclamation point.  I have an entire box of them."

***

 

"That's ridiculous!" Mr. Clark growled.  "You're extremely reasonable."

"Mr. Clark, did you just use an exclamation point?  I could have sworn I heard one."

He didn't even blink.  "Of course not," he scoffed.  "I borrowed one of yours.  It's allowed, when I'm talking of you."

***

 

"I heard it most distinctly," he told her.  "You might have said 'It's you,' but there was a distinct exclamation mark at the end.  In fact, I think there were two."

"Oh, dear," Free looked down, fluttering her eyelashes demurely.  "Is my punctuation showing once more?"


And now I'm just filling the space with quotes and passages I've been highlighting throughout the book...

So here's another one I liked:

 

"I'm tired," Free told her brother.  "Thank you for everything.  I'd never have been able to rid myself of Delacy without you."  She leaned up and kissed his cheek.  "You're my favorite brother."

"I'm your only brother," he said in dark amusement.

"You see?" Free spread her arms.  "I can't count on any of the others to even exist when I need them."


But there was just so much fun, humorous, witty quips and exchanges.  Even some one-liners that made me laugh out loud!  And then, in the middle of it all, a lot of thoughtful insight that really DID make it so easy to love this book, and Free, and even Edward (for all his flaws).  The rest of the characters might have been a tad boring (except for Robert, never Robert!), or frustrating, but following Free and Edward through their conflicts and their love story really just made every other quibble and disagreement I found dim out into insignificance.

In a word, I just loved this book.  Free is wonderful!  And she and Edward are so amazing fun together, even if they didn't really have super great romantic chemistry.

Oh the FEELS!

And then there's this little gem:

 

May 28, 1877

As I don't believe in sending letters filled with treacle-like sentiment, I feel as if I should... send you a puppy or something.

Alas.  I don't know if puppies keep when sent through the mails--and I doubt they'd pass through customs these days.

It's too bad you aren't a pirate, as you'd once planned.  That would make puppy delivery far more efficient.  I'd bring up my own ship next to you and send you an entire broadside of puppies.  You'd be buried in very small dogs.  You'd be far too busy with puppy care to worry about anything else.  This is now sounding more and more invasive, and less and less cheering--and nonetheless I have yet to meet anyone who was not delighted by a wriggling mass of puppies.  If I ever did meet such a person, he would deserve misery.

Do not doubt the power of the puppy-cannon.

Edward

P.S.  If there is no puppy attached to this message, it is because it was confiscated at customs.  Bah.  Customs is terrible.



In spite of the fact that I had no idea what Edward was babbling on about, and how so out of character his entire letter seemed... well... PUPPY-CANNON.  =D


Overall, I'm really going to miss this series and the characters.  That Book Hangover is probably going to be here to stay for some time...


***

 


Free Friday Read #1

Page Count = 322
Cash Award = $6.00

Updated Bank Balance = $85.00

 

 

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/06/a-squee-and-ramble-suffragette-scandal.html
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review 2017-06-22 01:46
The Highland Commander by Amy Jarecki
The Highland Commander (The Highland Lords) - Amy Jarecki

***Full Review***

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Lady Magdalen's father has been imprisoned in the Tower and charged with treason against Queen Anne. Magdalen's step-mother is pregnant and even though she's shunned Magdalen for being a bastard, she begs her to go to London and plead for her father's case. Magdalen would do anything for her father so she takes off with her maid Agnes.
Commander Lord Aiden has leave from his ship for the first time in two years and plans to finally live life to the fullest at Whitehall. However, on his way there he comes across a Lady and her maid needing help.
Magdalen and Aiden have met before but court intrigues and war may keep them from their true destinies.
 
Second in the Lords of the Highlands series, The Highland Commander can be read as a standalone. When we are first introduced to Magdalen and Aiden they came off as gently sweet characters; they were a bit Garwood-esqu in their feel. Magdalen was the slightly outcast heroine because of her label as bastard but she had cultivated a role with the people of her town by running a hospital for battered women. Aiden is a second son of a duke and in the Royal Navy, is very young (early twenties), and the exact opposite of a rake. While we've seen the essence of Magdalen many times in romance, Aiden was sweetly different.
 
As the story went on I thought it lost some of its focus on Magdalen and Aiden together and instead kept hammering on Aiden's virginity. I wished the focus hadn't been on Aiden simply wanting to lose it and instead his growing attraction and affection for Magdalen for the sake of herself; missed more of an emotional bond. Don’t let Aiden’s lack of experience fool you though, towards the middle and end, sexual escapades are had. The court intrigue and Magdalen trying to find a way to free her father and later trying to work for her father lacked some details and progression that could have kept it from feeling like Magdalen only bemoaning her circumstances instead of making moves to change it.
 
There's a plethora of secondary characters, real and historical, that the author did a good job of incorporating that helped shaped the world and setting. The ending did seem extremely rushed and the fate and revealing of some characters lacked the emotional punch it was supposed to have because of the lack of previously laid groundwork. The first half was a bit slow while the ending was rushed as a jumble of ideas and story plots got thrown at the reader and wrapped up with perfect bows. Magdalen and Aiden were two very sweet characters but their story was lacking support.

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review 2017-06-22 01:32
Duology Review: Once a Thief, Always a Thief
Once a Thief - Kay Hooper
Always a Thief - Kay Hooper

Quinn/Thief by Kay Hooper
Book #1:  Once a Thief | Rating: 2.5 Stars
Book #2:  Always a Thief | Rating: 2.5 Stars

Overall Series Average Rating: 2.5 Stars

 


I'm going to be totally honest and say that this series caught my attention, mainly because of the book titles.  I imagined throwing a series review together like this, because it somehow felt aesthetically pleasing (see review post title above).  I suppose it also helps that Kay Hooper's an author I like, and truth, I find a lot of her earlier work more enjoyable than some of the boring drivel she's been putting out lately.

Don't get me wrong: I'm still holding out hope that the Bishop/SCU series will find its former glory.

But this review is about Quinn/Thief duology, so let's get back on track.

Unfortunately, partway through the first book, I had a niggling feeling that I was missing something--that there was a whole world of Quinn/Thief out there that might belong in a different story, or even in prior books written by Kay Hooper, connecting to this world.  So I did a search and found a four book series from Harlequin Loveswept called Men of Mysteries Past, which involved such titles pointing to the four main alpha male characters who all appear in the two books, Max Bannister, Wolfe Nickerson, Jared Chavalier, and the master thief Quinn.

There's also a very blatantly obvious connection between them that doesn't present itself until the very end of the duology; and while I hadn't really thought about it while reading the two books, it didn't strike me as surprising when revealed either.

Still, I was... a bit flummoxed and not sure how to continue this duology.  Especially since the book was dragging a whole lot to begin with anyway, what with all the characters sitting around and discussing security, and gangs of thieves, and Quinn's thieving career... with absolutely no action going on.  It reminded me of those last few trilogy arcs of the Bishop/SCU series where the characters simply spend all of the book sitting around and just... well, discussing things.

It got boring fast.

I DID do some backtracking after I finished the first book, and reread Hooper's author's note a bit more carefully, realizing that she had, indeed hinted at previously published works and her love for Quinn the master thief, thus leading to this re-imagined duology, which is supposed to center mostly around Quinn.  She admits that some of the scenes and dialogue is copy and paste, but that the majority of the two books are definitely new material with some different actions and scenes.

I'm not sure how I feel about this.  And yet I HAD to read the second book because of all the loose ends and the mysteries and the secrets yet to be resolved/revealed.  Unfortunately, I can't very well admit that all the loose ends were cleaned up.  The ending of the duology was quite open-ended, both with the criminal thriller parts and the romance parts.

It all felt unsatisfying and unfinished.  Needless to say, while the books were quite easy to read, I'm not entirely certain they were really worth the time put into them, considering how scattered and hop-scotch the progression was, and how unresolved everything felt.  And how deliberately mysterious Hooper was trying to make all the scenes seem, while making all of her characters talk and monologue way too much.

 

 

 

With a priceless collection at stake...

It had taken centuries for Max Bannister's family to acquire their treasures, and now he's been asked to risk his collection as bait for a master criminal.  For his own reasons, Max allows a public exhibition, and to protect the family fortune he must rely on the skills of his half brother--a world-class security expert--and his smart and savvy exhibit director, Morgan West.


Is everything for the taking?

But almost immediately, Morgan comes face-to-face with the mysterious Quinn, Interpol’s most wanted thief for the past decade—and a man who makes it very clear he has an eye on the Bannister collection.  And if that’s not enough, Morgan begins to realize that she’s surrounded by secrets and lies, and that someone very close to Max is moving behind the scenes, intent on murder as well as robbery...someone whose ultimate plan threatens to ruin them all.



Truthfully, there was so much going on in the first book that I really couldn't tell if Ms. Hooper had an actual direction to her story progression.  The main premise was there, though, don't get me wrong.  But I had a hard time following one character after another without wondering if details were being left out, or if I was already supposed to understand the fairly underdeveloped characters in this universe.

And truth, aside from maybe Storm Tremaine and her cat, I really had a hard time liking any of the characters.  Four broody alpha males, two feisty damsels... it's a typical dated romance, though two couples are showcased together in the first book.  And while I DID enjoy the bickering and insta-lust to immediate insta-love between Wolfe and Storm (these names!), I found the romance between Quinn and Morgan completely incredible, starting with the fact that there's a modicum of psychic hinting between the two, as well as Morgan's TSTL actions that make absolutely no sense.  Which is a big disappointment, because I had expected so much more from her.

In terms of storytelling, Once a Thief was definitely what you would call a "set-up" book.  Because nothing really happens except for a maybe last minute villain; this book read like an introductory of sorts.  Which is a lot of pages for setting up the world and the story.

I read this book for Booklikes-opoly in Summer 2017.

Roll #16: (See Also: Roll #16 Activities)

Page Count:  326
Cash Award:  +$3.00

Bank Increased to $73.00 with this read.

 

In a deadly game of skill and deception...

The priceless, rarely displayed Bannister collection is about to be exhibited--and the show's director, Morgan West, can't ignore her growing uneasiness.  She's certain she hasn't seen the last of the infamous cat burglar Quinn.  But she never expected him to turn up at her apartment one dark night in desperate need of her help--help she can't refuse.  The mysterious master thief is playing a dangerous game, and it's a game that just might get him killed.

A master thief is just the first wild card...

With Morgan's help, Quinn sets a trap intended to catch someone far more elusive... and more deadly... than a thief.  But an unseen threat shadows him in the fog-shrouded San Francisco night, an unknown adversary more cunning than any he has yet encountered.  Now, just when the stakes are higher than even Quinn can imagine, no one can be trusted--and everything's at risk.



To my extreme frustration, Always a Thief didn't fare as well either.  Pretty much this entire second book just continues the story line from the first, with all the same quibbles and irritating draggy-ness that I really didn't care for.

Morgan's TSTL characteristics didn't improve, despite all the narrative efforts to make her sound like an intelligent, witty, independent woman.  At least there's a scene wherein she, herself, points out just how TSTL her actions have become since she'd met Quinn, the master thief.  Of course, it still didn't stop her from continuing to rush into danger for no good reason; although, since very little negative came out of her actions, I suppose I don't know why I'm complaining.

Oh, that's right, maybe because we've still got some sort of strange psychic connection being emphasized between Quinn and Morgan that makes absolutely no sense at all.

Meanwhile, the rest of the characters are shuffled into the background.  Truth be told, I would have liked to see more on the development between Quinn and Jared, once we find out what their connection is... but the book sort of just fazed it out and made it seem insignificant in light of all the scattered activity of the main conflict, and the non-romance-romance going on between Quinn and Morgan.

Truthfully, I think I probably reset my outlook on this book after reading Once a Thief, but that still didn't keep me from feeling a twinge of disappointment that things didn't work out the way I'd been hoping.  And when I say "work out the way I'd been hoping," I mean get more exciting and less boring, as well as turn Morgan into a more sensible character who doesn't just accept all of Quinn's lies with a shrug and a "whaddya gonna do?" just because she's somehow fallen in love with him (in spite of all the lies and secrets); or who doesn't just go rushing into danger without a backup plan.

In light of this, I kind of miss having Storm and Wolfe bicker at each other.


Overall, I feel like maybe if I'd known about the previously published four book series that was the jumping board for this duology, I maybe would have given some thought to reading that one first, then maybe coming back to this duology some time later.  Instead, now that I've finished with this two-book series, I'm not entirely sure how I'd feel about going back and picking up Men of Mysteries Past and seeing if it would be more worth my time.

Another last thought... I had a fleeting moment to wonder whether or not Hooper had intended to extend this duology to a trilogy or maybe another foursome.  Though to be fair, I suppose there would  then have to be some more clever wording with the book titles, as Once a Thief, Always a Thief has a nice ring to it already.  Adding more might undermine that aesthetically pleasing review post title I still found I looked forward to presenting...

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2017/06/duology-review-once-thief-always-thief.html
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