Joint Review: The Lady is Daring by Megan Frampton

Reviewed by Jen & Sara

Jen: I have a hit and miss relationship with books from Megan Frampton. Sometimes I like them a lot, while some of them have just been OK. This third installment in the Duke’s Daughters series, I thought, was one of her better ones.

The heroine is intelligent, yet socially awkward sister, Ida. She is not exactly a darling of the ton as she would rather wax on about interesting facts she has learned, than titter about the weather or bonnets and fripperies. She has essentially resigned herself to a life without a husband. After all, who would welcome her eccentricities? All she wants is a little bit of freedom. That, and to find her older sister, Della, who ran away with the wrong man to elope. Ida’s timetable is pushed into high gear when her mother decides to marry her off to a man who is both dull and a little bit dumb. So at her first chance, she swipes a convenient carriage and runs away. Too bad Lord Carson is passed out in the back. [Read more…]

Joint Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

Reviewed by Jen & Ronelle

Jen: I first fell in love with Grace Draven’s writing when I read Radiance a few years back, and though I have liked some of her books better than others, I can say that she consistently creates worlds that are interesting, unique, and completely immersive. That is certainly the case here. From the lands, to the cultures, to the religions and rulers, everything comes together seamlessly in Phoenix Unbound. And each of those elements are a vital part of the whole.

Our heroine, Gilene, is a fire witch. She is able to manipulate fire and illusions to her will, but she doesn’t use them for her own benefit. She uses them for her village. Every year, the Empire forces all of the towns to give up a portion of their women as tributes and sacrifices. The so-called Flowers of Spring are first given to the gladiators to be used, then sacrificed on the pyre to gain the favor of the gods. For years now, Gilene has been changing her appearance to serve as one of the tributes. The fire won’t kill her, after all, but she suffers plenty… first being raped, then enduring burns and scars for using her gifts. [Read more…]

Review: Dog With a Bone by Hailey Edwards

Reviewed by Jen

You may have noticed that I have been tearing through Hailey Edwards’ backlist lately. I love her Foundling series and Necromancer books too, but this first installment in the Black Dog series left me a bit lukewarm.

An author’s note at the end tipped me off that this is something of a prequel more so than really the first book in the series, and that gives me hope that the next installment will be more satisfying. This is a novella and it lacked the — I don’t know — oomph that I am used to from this author. In her other books, she made me care about the heroine. She made me have longing and lots of feels for her love interest. Less so here. It’s not a bad book at all. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just a bit superficial, both from a character perspective as well as a world building one… Or even much of a mystery. [Read more…]

Review: How to Dance an Undead Waltz by Hailey Edwards

Reviewed by Jen

I’m not sure I have the words to tell you how much I adored this book. Hailey Edwards has skyrocketed to one of the top spots in my favorite author list and I’m now at the point where I will read anything she writes. Because it’s gold, guys. And as much as I love her Foundling books—and believe me, I do—this book has put the Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy series as my new favorite from her. One of my favorite urban fantasy series, period.

Spoilers from book three ahead. If you haven’t read the previous books already, stop and go read them now. They are best enjoyed in order and they are all fantastic.

So as this book begins, Grier is reeling from an awful betrayal from her boyfriend and her best friend. Boaz is engaged to another woman and Amelie knew he was doing it. These are garbage people and I want to set them on fire. But at the same time, I’m so very glad to have Boaz out of the picture as a love interest because it clears the way for the man Grier SHOULD be with… Linus. [Read more…]

Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Reviewed by Jen

I don’t read very much YA, but I was in the mood for something different and I figured I could not go wrong with a book that has more than 81,000 ratings on Goodreads with an average that’s above four stars. Not to mention, Maggie Stiefvater is one of those authors I have heard people gush about for many years. I liked the blurb. Especially the part about the main male character being a young man of few words who keeps any fears he has buried deep. Still, with all of those things going for it, this book did not exactly rock my world.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t dislike anything about it. And I am probably not going to change anyone’s stellar perception with my lukewarm response. My biggest issue, I just didn’t feel very much from –or for– these characters. And though the world building was like nothing I have read before, and the writing clearly well done, I just could not get very excited. [Read more…]

Review: How to Break an Undead Heart by Hailey Edwards

Reviewed by Jen

Oh Hailey Edwards, you crafty crafty lady. You make me feel things.

This book kept me so riveted, I read it in one sitting. The kind of book that made me stay up way past my bedtime on a work night so that as I write this the next morning, my eyes are bleary but my insides are still squeezing tight over the events that transpired.

Read any reviews about this series and you’ll find how often people say the heroine, Grier, can’t catch a break. And it’s so true. It is a crappy, crappy world that she lives in. No one can be trusted. And I mean no one. The climax in the last book should’ve tipped me off. The title of this book should’ve tipped me off. And yet when everything came crashing down, I felt sideswiped. And that’s good writing, people.

You know what else is good writing? Subtly laying the groundwork for all of this, so that when it came together, it made complete and total sense. The downside I had about a particular character or the interest I had an another. Expertly played. [Read more…]

Review: Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire

Reviewed by Jen

I never felt completely ok with the resolution of Toby’s relationship with her daughter. A few books back, Gillian made the Changeling’s Choice and she opted to become fully human. Toby honored those wishes and stepped out of her child’s life. But now, Gillie has been kidnapped again, and human or not, she will never be someone who Toby could turn her back on. So our heroine must put past hurts aside to help her ex-fiance and his current wife find the girl they’d raised as their own.

Right away, we know this kidnapping has a connection to the Fae. There are hex bags in Gillie’s room and someone is leaving clues that count on Toby’s special skills to track her through false trails and traps. The story follows her efforts to figure out who snatched her daughter and bring the girl home, all while mending the relationship with Tybalt so badly damaged by his kidnapping in the last book. [Read more…]

Review: Exile of the Seas by Jeffe Kennedy

Reviewed by Jen

When I tackled the first installment of this trilogy, I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about it. All of the other books I’d read from Jeffe Kennedy were fantasy romance and Prisoner of the Crown was… not. It chronicled the Princess Jenna’s early life and descent into an hellacious marriage to a sadist who reveled in abusing her. Then it followed her as she made her escape and sailed away from the only life she ever knew. It was the first act of her story and it was very difficult to read.

This second act is something different altogether. It is Jenna’s journey as she reinvents herself and becomes stronger. It was extremely well-done and perhaps the best thing I have ever read by this author.

The book picks up right where the last one stopped, with Jenna on the ship, a bundle of fear and ignorance. Women in Dasnaria are purposely uneducated about the world, forced to stay in the little boxes where they’re kept. But then Jenna meets Kaja, a priestess of Danu, who changes everything. She teaches Jenna the most basic skills… how to understand the Common Tongue, how to count, and how to hold a knife. And she helps her adopt a new identity, a priestess with a new name –Iveriel— with vows of both silence and celibacy. [Read more…]

Review: An Earl Like You by Caroline Linden

Reviewed by Jen

Generally, the Big Secret trope is one of my least favorites, but I like Caroline Linden and I enjoyed the first book in this series, so I decided to give this book a try. I’m glad I did, because while the secret was, indeed, the driving plot device of the story, I thought it was well done and it didn’t prevent me from rooting for this couple to make things work.

Eliza is the daughter of a successful businessman. Her father is ruthless in his dealings, and as a result, he has more money than Croesus. But that money can’t buy his daughter’s way into the ton. Not that such a thing really matters to her. At the end of the day, she is happy with her friends, her home, and her beloved dog. She has no idea that her father has a plan in place to blackmail an earl into becoming her husband. [Read more…]

Review: How to Claim an Undead Soul by Hailey Edwards

Reviewed by Jen

This second installment in the Beginners Guide to Necromancy solidifies this series and as another winner from Hailey Edwards. If you haven’t read book one, stop now and go back to the beginning. This book would be best enjoyed after reading that one.

Our heroine, Grier, is facing all new challenges now that her place in society has been restored. She has money again–and the possibility of a relationship with her childhood crush, Boaz, but she is far from comfortable in her skin. She is still suffering from serious PTSD from her time in supernatural prison and she is waiting for the rug to get ripped out from under her at any moment, either by losing everything she just regained or by becoming a target again for the vampires who would use her for their own purposes.

She can’t get her old job back, seeing as how she disappeared for five weeks due to a pesky kidnapping. But there is a potential place for her on what will be a haunted cruise ship. As she helps renovate the ship, she stumbles upon a sentient ghost and learns of a new big bad in town, a devourer who is eating specters. And now, she may be a target as well. [Read more…]