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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-01-20 22:01
Blood Moon by Graeme Reynolds
High Moor 3: Blood Moon - Graeme Reynolds

Blood Moon by Graeme Reynolds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Top Read 2017 * * * * *

Atrocities committed in the name of war. In this incredibly brutal finale, the world attempts to deal with the fact that werewolves are real, and oh-so-dangerous. Security measures are taken and, on both sides, death is dealt to those undeserving. As the body count increases exponentially, difficult decisions have to be made, and extreme action has to be taken.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

It's no secret that I absolutely adore this bloodstained trilogy with all my heart - each instalment elicited an abundance of excitement, thrilling me with every character and their often perilous ventures. Blood Moon proved to be one hell of an epic conclusion, even if it left me saddened because I just didn't want it to end. It's extremely rare that I consistently rate so high - usually I find highs as well as lows, my overall enjoyment changing, sometimes drastically, throughout a series, but with Graeme's wolf-tastic world, each addition kept me entranced. Not only did it maintain its strong quality of descriptive writing, it continued to surprise, delight and disturb me. There's actually something I feel I need to state, because it's been in my mind and, for me, it holds a lot of significance:

An author doesn't need to be a best-seller, or have a great deal of recognition to be a great writer. I believe it's our job, as readers, to discover the hidden gems out there, to bring acknowledgement to the stories that bring us joy.

It pains me to think of deserving authors going unnoticed, and not even given a chance by the wider community, but I digress. Let's get back to the review, shall we?

There's a lot of characters to keep track of and, I admit, returning after a year since reading Moonstruck was confusing at first. I found myself trying to remember who was who, but it swiftly returned to me the further I went. I daresay these novels are meant to be read in order; context plays a big part in understanding how the war came to be, not to mention the journey each character had to traverse to reach that point. Marie and John were undoubtedly my favourites, as despite being apart for most of the book, they had time to shine in their own individual ways. Marie had to step-up, become what she never thought she'd become, and John had to endure and overcome a great deal.

Of course, amongst the large cast, others stood out as well - Phil and his desperation to return to his beloved wife, and Daniel, who just wanted the best for the pack. Every single one had their own unique personality, and their own agenda that added a considerable amount of substance.

To tell you the truth, it was at times hard to root for either side. Both the human force and the werewolf pack did terrible, terrible things. Just who was the lesser evil? Well, I'm not sure, both were neck-deep in murky waters - the pack just wanted to survive, but in retaliation of their species being killed and imprisoned, they set upon a whole town of human civilians, either savagely butchering them, or turning them into moonstruck. This included children, so I can't quite say the pack was at all innocent in the situation. I felt a whole lot of dread right before that High Moor slaughter; I knew it was coming and the anticipation nearly killed me.

The ending I considered to be bittersweet. I understood why it needed to be so, but I still felt rather bad about it. It was, after all, a last resort, and I couldn't stop thinking about what all those people would lose. I almost had tears it my eyes, and that's another oddity, as most of the time nothing I read renders me so emotional, and if it does, that in itself makes it special.

One more thing, before this review comes to an end. A paragraph in chapter eighteen piqued my interest, specifically, this one:

On occasion, the she-wolf picked up the scent of fresh death in the air, and when the two of them happened across an old stone mausoleum, the air crackled with an atmosphere of malevolence that raised both wolves' hackles and forced them to back track to find another path around the place.

Is it possible that was a hint of another monster? Perhaps it was just me, but I got a vampiric vibe that I just couldn't shake! It's a little - a mere hint - but it certainly stuck out. Since it was confirmed that other creatures did exist, I kept it in mind to pay extra attention for any teasers, and I believe I may have found one.

In conclusion - I was lucky to discover this trilogy, and honoured to read it. Werewolf horror at its finest, and I hope Reynolds one day returns to this world. I'm sure it has much more to offer.

Notable Scene:

Where Amy's pretty face had been, there was only a bloodstained skull. The bone had deep gouges carved into it and Amy's beautiful blue eyes stared out of the gore at nothing. Her friend's body stood on its own for a second, then fell to the floor in a crumpled heap. Anna couldn't help herself. She turned to Matty and was met by a visage from the depths of hell. The boy's eyes were flat, reflective disks in the flicking candlelight. His face is distorted - the bone stretched into a snout filled with row upon row of razor sharp fangs. A mass of bloody flesh and muscle dangled from between those terrible jaws. They crunched once, then swallowed. Matty brought up a clawed hand and wiped his mouth. "Aye, she wasnae wrong. She did have a tasty face."

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© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/20/blood-moon-by-graeme-reynolds
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review 2018-01-05 19:25
The Lunatic Cafe / Laurell K. Hamilton
The Lunatic Cafe - Laurell K. Hamilton

You don't volunteer for slugfests with vampires. It shortens your life expectancy. And you don't fall in love with a werewolf. It interferes with your work. Especially when you're a preternatural expert, like me. My business brings me up close and personal with all shapes and sizes of monsters. And not all of them want to kill me.

Take, for instance, the local pack of lycanthropes - that's werewolves to you. A number of them are missing, and they've come to me for help. Maybe because I'm dating the leader of the pack. I've survived a lot - from jealous vampires to killer zombies - but this love thing may kill me yet...

 

What a treat, to find out you have a cousin who shares your reading habits! My public library has this book on order and I’ve been waiting for it for months! While visiting over New Year’s, my cousin & I got discussing this series, and she sent me home with a suitcase full of reading material—a happy New Year indeed.

Although some aspects of the series are silly, I’m enjoying it despite that. I mean Anita accepts a marriage proposal from a man (well, a werewolf) she really barely knows—and that becomes more and more obvious as the book progresses—and even though she has serious misgivings, they keep on as if they were actually going to go through with a wedding. Then her vampiric nemesis, Jean-Claude objects, stating that if she has feelings for him too, he should get equal time to press his suit. And Anita takes this bit of sophistry seriously. I mean, last time I checked, women were allowed to marry as they chose and didn’t have to give anybody equal time to make an impression! (Besides, I’m usually of the opinion that if a woman really does have feelings for two men, she shouldn’t have to make a decision between them!)

I will also confess to a bout of severe eye-rolling when I read Anita’s reasons for not sleeping with either of them. Betrayed by her first fiancée? OMG. But, as a plot device to keep the love triangle stretched out, it works beautifully. Will I continue to read? Of course! Especially since I now have a suitcase full of Anita Blake books to keep me supplied.

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text 2018-01-05 10:00
Cover Reveal! Precedents (Loup-Garou #4) by Sheritta Bitikofer

 

 

 

 

Katey Keith never expected to marry so young. She also never expected to be pregnant, or the first female loup-garou—werewolf—to give birth in thousands of years. As the embodiment of a Spirit of Peace, Katey’s carrying more than just her precious babies. She’s also carrying the future of her race. Her husband is doing what he can to help, but he has his own troubles.

What does Logan Keith know about being a father? He’s never had a good example in his life. And babies cost a lot of money. Logan’s doing whatever it takes to support his family, even if his sometimes dangerous jobs ignite clashes with Katey.

Then Katey and Logan, along with their pack, are summoned to an ancient castle carved into the snowy mountains in Switzerland. The council is meeting for the first time since the great Arnathian civilization fell apart due to the feud between werewolves and vampires. Can these two races make peace after spending centuries at war with one another? Katey’s supposed to be a great figurehead for the proceedings, but what does she know about politics or negotiating peace? But after an assassination attempt, one thing is clear. Someone is determined to unleash a great evil and make sure that Katey and her loup-garou family have no future at all.

 

 

Precedents is the 4th book in the Loup-Garou series!

 

It will be available January 17, 2018 in ebook at:

Amazon

 

The author Sheritta Bitikofer can be found at:

Website    Goodreads    BookBub   Facebook   Twitter

 

 

 

The neon sign that was normally bright against the red-brick warehouse in London was off, barely visible in the dark alley. Below it, the double doors had a note tacked to them.

Closed for a private function.

Through those heavy steel doors, Hartt could feel the vibrations of the music, could hear it clearly and knew if he dared to open them, the volume would hurt his sensitive ears.

How could she live in this place?

How could any of the immortals who called the nightclub their home, or frequented it, bear the noise?

Hartt shifted foot to foot, his eyes on those twin doors, the nerves he had managed to wrangle into submission threatening to rise again as he fought with himself, torn between leaving now and braving stepping into the building.

One where he wasn’t welcome.

Gods, he wanted to see her again though.

Seeing her a few months ago had delivered a blow he had never quite recovered from, one that had left him off balance.

Now, with Fuery reunited with Shaia, Hartt was finding it impossible to keep his mind off the female elf.

One he had been engaged to once, many centuries ago.

Iolanthe.

He had done his best to push her out of his mind, to go on with his life as he had been since she had left him, but work running the assassin’s guild in the free realm of Hell wasn’t holding his attention, and with Shaia taking care of Fuery now, he had even more time on his hands.

Time his mind seemed intent on using to think about Iolanthe.

Fuck, how many centuries or millennia had it been since she had run away and left him without a bride on their wedding day?

Back then, he had been besotted with her, overjoyed that her parents had chosen him out of all her potential suitors, and crushed when she had fled and disappeared.

Over the centuries that had passed since then, he had gotten over her. Hadn’t he?

Seeing her again had sparked something inside him back to life, and he needed to set eyes on her again so he could understand what that feeling was before it destroyed him.

Hartt tugged the hem of his obsidian dress shirt up, slipped his hand into the pocket of his black fatigues and palmed the box, a small wooden one that had been in his possession for longer than he could remember now. He took a deep breath, using the feel of it to bolster his courage as the sound coming from the nightclub grew in volume, voices rising as the music quietened.

It was now or never.

He used a fraction of his telekinetic power to open the doors before him and slipped inside just as the fifty-plus occupants of the room finished counting down.

A cheer went up.

Hartt stood in the shadows, frozen in place as his gaze zeroed in on the slender, tall female near the bar as she was swept up into the arms of a muscled sandy-haired male. He couldn’t tear his eyes away as she wrapped her arms around his neck, tilted her head and captured his lips in a kiss that sent a cold sort of fire sweeping through Hartt. Pain followed it, a fierce prickling that skittered across every nerve-ending and burrowed deep into his heart.

His chest grew uncomfortably tight as the black-haired beauty pulled back from the male.

Her mate.

Happiness swam in her violet eyes as she gazed down at the jaguar shifter, her black leather corset and trousers a contrast against the male’s white shirt that stretched tight over his arms and shoulders as he clutched her to him, holding her as if she were precious and he didn’t want to let her go.

Would she have ever grown to look at him that way—as if he was her whole world?

Could she have ever come to love him the way he had loved her?

Hartt palmed the box again, a gift he had wanted to give to her to celebrate the dawning of a new year. It was an event many species celebrated, but one that was special to elves like them. It was the biggest day of the year, marking the turning point in the seasons, when life began anew.

Only he was no longer sure why he had come.

To torture himself with the one thing he could never have?

There was nothing for him here, and if she noticed him, things wouldn’t go the way he desired in the very depths of his heart. He was being a fool all over again. She had shown him the last time he had come here that she would always choose her mate over him, and who was he really to expect anything different?

He wasn’t her fated one.

He meant nothing to her.

She had proven that by running away when she had been given the chance.

Still, he couldn’t convince his feet to move, or his portal to awaken and whisk him away from her. He couldn’t bring himself to leave. He stared at her, lost and a little broken, yearning for her to notice him even when he knew he needed to leave before she did.

Before the jaguar did.

The male would kill him if he saw him, and gods, Hartt might just let him do it, wouldn’t have the heart to fight him in earnest while Iolanthe was cheering her mate on.

He managed to take a step back towards the exit, deeper into the shadows.

Where he belonged.

He didn’t belong here, in this bright mortal world, filled with life and laughter.

He belonged in the shadows, wrapped in darkness, in his world of death and devastation.

He willed his portal, calling the power to the surface, and silvery light rippled over his body, chasing back the shadows. As the darkness swallowed him, sweeping him away from her, she glanced his way, her eyes landing on him for the briefest fragment of time before he disappeared.

His boots hit cobbles, not the black ones that formed the road that curved across the front of the guild, but brown and beige ones interspersed with pale grey. Ones belonging to the square of a bustling fae town in a cavern beneath mountains and a mortal town in the heart of Scotland. People packed the square, knocking against him as they sang and celebrated.

Hartt stood in the middle of them, unmoving, silent, his mind hundreds of miles south. He pulled the small box from his pocket, brushed his thumb over the delicately carved wood, feeling the swirls and leaves, and then flicked it open. He stared at the silver ring nestled in the black velvet, and the bright amethyst clasped in tiny claws and wings of the dragon that formed the band.

A ring that had been in his family for generations.

One that should have adorned her hand.

He huffed, snapped the box closed and used his powers to send it back to his apartment in the guild.

He was being weak. A fool.

He hadn’t thought about her for centuries, hadn’t felt the familiar pain in his heart for millennia, and it was time he pushed her back out of his thoughts and his heart, and moved on once and for all.

It was the dawning of a new year.

A chance to walk a new path, to lead a new life, one free of her.

This contract would be the start of that new life.

Fuery hated it when he took on a job, but he needed this. He needed something to focus on, to consume his time and his mind in order to purge Iolanthe from his life again, so he had picked the most challenging, most dangerous contract they had on their books and he would see it through to the end.

Alone.

He scanned the crowd as they jostled and jeered, pewter mugs clacking as they toasted the new year, a mixture of fae, witches, demons and other immortals.

His violet gaze settled on a lone female standing still and silent on a raised path at the other end of the square opposite him, her wicked curves wrapped in burgundy leather that complemented her flame-red hair and golden eyes.

Something in the region of his stomach sank slowly towards his boots even as fire ignited in his veins.

Hartt had the feeling that taking this contract had been both a good and a terrible idea.

She was a beautiful distraction.

But he was going to have to kill her.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-11-27 13:00
Blood Song by Cat Adams
Blood Song - Cat Adams
Blood Song by Cat Adams
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Celia Graves, bodyguard for hire, takes on a job to protect the Prince of Rusland (which in this world is a small kingdom located in western Ukraine), but little does she know the chaos about to befall her and change her life forever. Nothing could prepare her for a group of rampaging vampires, especially when one attempts to turn her, yet is interrupted. Thus Celia is stuck - an abomination - neither belonging, nor accepted, in human society, or amongst the shadows with the monsters.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I never thought I'd question my love of this genre (UF is what, after all, got me into reading at a relatively young age), but lo and behold, it actually happened throughout this excruciatingly long drag of a book. It wasn't even the typical cliches that bothered me; you know the type, the not-so-special protagonist turned special, the not-so-attractive woman that every man just happened to want. I can deal with the common urban fantasy tropes, because in the end it's ultimately how it's executed that deems how much enjoyment I get out of it. However, this one just didn't miss the mark, the mark was nowhere to be seen. I don't particularly like getting such a bad impression of the first in a series (Blood Singer is seven instalments long), but I can't exactly force myself to like it, either.

So, let's get into why I thought this book was rather poor. For starters, the blurb of the book gives reason to believe that the plot is centred around Celia's transformation, yet whilst it played a prominent role in the beginning - be it the looming threat of the mysterious vampire that semi-turned her - it's utterly dismissed when he's killed in the background by a character that has very little time on-page. As a result of this, not only was it misleading, but the story itself jumped all over the place and didn't seem to settle down.

I mean, for the love of God, don't intermingle plotlines if you can't do it well.

Next, there's the characters; the individuals we're supposed to connect with and therefore get attached to. There's nothing worse than feeling nothing for them, but sadly that happens when each and every one are written without depth. Sure, there were quite a few; the ex-boyfriend that was sort of the current boyfriend(?), the other male friend that sent tingles to her loins, the one heterosexual female friend, the older mentor-type that died within a few pages and the best friend that held a significant presence, yet wasn't even in it to begin with. Character death should be impactful, it should elicit an emotional response, but these people were lifeless; we weren't given time to even remotely acquaint ourselves with them before they hit the bucket. It's why I believe this to be a weak series debut - it's as if it was already several books ahead, and I'd somehow missed out on prior instalments.

Characters also had a tendency to disappear and offer no further relevance. There were multiple hints at a love triangle, however Kevin (the werewolf), played such a minor part, I quickly forgot about him. "John Jones" also could've been interesting, but he vanished early on and was never seen again.

Another thing that didn't sit quite right with me, was the whole Siren revelation. Why it needed to even be a thing, I have no clue. It added very little - basically, straight women will automatically dislike Celia, whilst men will want her and be inclined to do things for her. It's almost laughable. I'm not saying that Celia was a terrible heroine; in fact she didn't do much at all to either endear me to her, or to incur my disapproval. She had the normal attitude the majority of women have in these types of books, and moaned often about her situation - again, the usual traits.

There was one thing I appreciated, however. The dysfunctional family dynamic added an aspect I could grasp onto. It was nice, and true enough is a quote from a brief note at the beginning of the book:

"... for the most part, happy families do not make for interesting reading."

Anyway, in conclusion - I didn't enjoy this one. A part of me wants to give the series a second chance, that maybe it gets better over time, and that other part of me just wants to forget its existence. Initially I rated this two stars, because I wanted to be generous, but after a lot of thought, I'm subtracting one and leaving it at what I feel is appropriate.

Siren Song is the second instalment of this series, and was first published in 2010.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/01/01/blood-song-by-cat-adams
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review 2017-11-21 16:37
awesome start to a new series!
Forged Alliances - Katherine McIntyre
Independent reviewer for Archaeolibrarian, I was gifted my copy of this book. Sierra worked hard, fought hard to get her position of Alpha of Red Rock pack, so when Dax tells her why he needs her help, she can't say no. The fact that he is a cat to her wolf, and that the mating bond flares bright between them, she can't see his pack fractured they way it has been. Then the Tribe arrive to oversee the dispute, and Dax finds himself in a fight for his life. I read McIntyre's Philadelphia Coven Chronicles and I loved them but this one way surpasses those and there were two 5 star reads in that series!! Sierra is a true Alpha female and she has the support of her pack when she comes to Dax and his pack's aid. Dax is impressed, not only with her skill and wisdom as Alpha, but in Sierra, the woman. Their chemistry is hot and heavy and it burns brighter once the mating bond kicks in. It's sexy, it's bloody, it's full of kitty/dog jokes. With some laugh out loud moments, some OMG moments, some heart breaking moments and some bone breaking moments, this book was just what I needed!! It's extremely well written, from both Dax and Sierra's point of view. There is no massive info dump you sometimes get with first books in new series, and I love that. Makes it easy to keep up! A few secrets thrown in that I didn't see coming either. All in all, a super sexy, super needed 5 stars **same worded review will appear elsewhere**

 

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