Review: Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Reviewed by Jen

A Promise of Fire was one of my favorite books of last year. I have been anxiously awaiting this sequel, and I’m happy to report that it absolutely lived up to my expectations. It is not exactly like its predecessor. The core of what makes it so good is still there. The heroine is still feisty and loyal, powerful yet vulnerable. The hero is fierce and sexy and completely in love with her. The world building is fascinating and the secondary characters are rich and interesting.

So what’s different? Sex. Lots and lots of sex. In fact, the first 20% or so felt like it was entirely about the hero and heroine getting it on. That’s not the worst thing in the world. The scenes were hot and satisfying. But it was definitely a departure. And I’m not sure everyone will love the change in equal measure. [Read more…]

Review: Dragonbane by Sherrilyn Kenyon

dragonbaneReviewed by Jen

When you develop a long history with a series you have loved the way I’ve loved this one, it’s hard to let go. But sometimes, it’s the best choice. I feel like I’ve said, “this is the last one” to myself a fair number of times, only to get sucked back in by my memories of stories past. (Dance With the Devil, anyone?) But the thing is, even when one kind of brings back the glory days the way The Guardian did, I’m getting to the point where it all feels recycled. Even the good stuff, done so many times, doesn’t shine the way it used to. [Read more…]

Review: Illusion by Sherrilyn Kenyon

illusionReviewed by Jen

I honestly wasn’t looking forward to this book.  Based on the set-up, I thought it was going to be all filler, set in some kind of alternative reality that would have no bearing on the bigger picture in the Chronicles of Nick series. Not only was I wrong about that, it ended up being the best installment in the series to date.

There is, indeed, an alternate reality in play. (There seems to be a few of them floating around in this series.)  But what’s happening there is not filler[Read more…]

Review: Killer Frost by Jennifer Estep

killer frostReviewed by Jen

Jennifer Estep delivers a fitting farewell with this series finale to her Mythos Academy series. It’s the big face off between Gwen and Loki. I wasn’t sure how our heroine was going to pull it off, but in the end, I thought it was a resolution that satisfies. [Read more…]

Review: The Immortal Game

immortal gameReviewed by Janell

This fantasy romance stars Ruby, a college student who wants to become a doctor like her father, and Ash, a sexy guy who seems to do nothing but sit in a coffee shop all day playing chess. Ruby takes a break from studying one day and plays chess with Ash, beating him with a strategy that her father taught to her. This throws Ash for quite a loop, because he’s never lost before.

Intrigued, Ash starts pestering Ruby at the coffee shop, and soon he’s got her bungee jumping and rock climbing when she should be studying. When Ruby finally decides that she doesn’t have time for boys and needs to get back to the books, Ash walks out on her. Then he shows up at her house in the middle of the night bleeding from a bullet in his chest. [Read more…]

Review: Styxx

styxxReviewed by Jen

Some people really loved this book. They gave it 5 star reviews. Some even called it the best thing Sherrilyn Kenyon has ever written.  I am not one of those people.  In fact, I was barely able to make myself finish Styxx.  Not because it was 800-and something pages… but because it was one of the most miserable books I have ever read.  It is filled from cover to cover with rape, incest, abuse, torture, and unrelenting suffering for our hero.  Before you tell me that Kenyon is Queen of the Tortured Hero, don’t waste your breath.  There is no balance in this story between darkness and light.  It’s 95% horrible and 5% …well, not horrible for Styxx.  And in case you’re wondering, “It can’t be worse than Acheron, can it?” Well, yes it can. And yes, it is. [Read more…]

Review: Midnight Frost

midnight frostReviewed by Jen

Gwen Frost is back and still fighting the good fight.  She’s been through hell –and is still recovering from near-death at the hands of her boyfriend.  It’s not easy. She can’t sleep without having nightmares; she can’t walk around without people staring and whispering. But she won’t curl up and quit.  When one of the Reapers poisons her boss at the library, there’s no doubt the search for a cure will lead to a trap.  That doesn’t stop Gwen from gathering her friends and hitting the road to do what’s necessary.

The gang takes a road trip. Of course, there are fights with Reapers, as well as a host of mythological entities [Read more…]

Review: Crimson Frost

Reviewed by Jen

I think this is the strongest installment so far in Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy series. It’s also the second book of hers this year that has left me feeling emotionally fragile.

The story starts off in a good place for Gwen, despite the fact that Loki is now free and ready start a Chaos War. That’s because she and Logan are finally together. After much angst and a great deal of waiting, they have both admitted their feelings to one another and are going on their first date. From there, though, everything starts to go downhill… fast.

Before the date even ends, members of the Mythos governing body –the Protectorate—place Gwen under arrest. She is accused of freeing Loki intentionally and a trial date is set. The student body turns against her; a guilty verdict seems a foregone conclusion. Making the situation worse, Gwen knows that the Reapers have something even worse on the horizon. But how can she beat them when her own future hangs in the balance?

I liked the whole Protectorate storyline. The leader, Linus, is such a dick. His righteous rhetoric is played to perfection. I love how he’s all tied in with Logan and how that plays into Gwen’s life even more. I enjoyed the new character Alexi and his surprising link to Gwen’s band of friends. The action was great. Gwen’s emotional turmoil was great. The bigger picture is advanced. And the end… well, let’s not linger too much on the end. Suffice it to say that Jennifer Estep likes making us work for our happy moments. I guess we’re not done working yet.

I had a pretty good inkling who things were going to go south for about halfway through the book, but didn’t find the other elements of the climax to be very predictable. I just wish we could get a little more of a mature dynamic in the relationship department. It doesn’t have to be dirty or anything, but it feels very innocent for 17. (Maybe this would be less bothersome for folks who are bigger YA fans. I read these because I love Estep… not necessarily the genre.)

Gwen is getting stronger and stronger. While in some of the past books that has played out with her magical gifts, here it’s a different kind of strength, the internal kind. I hope she wipes the floor with those Reapers in Midnight Frost.

Rating: B

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon 
  Crimson Frost
by Jennifer Estep
Release Date: December 24, 2012
Publisher: Kensington

Review: Pure and Sinful

Reviewed by Allison

Riona Dade is a witch and a Pure Soul. Marc (the Catholic priest) and Dee (aka Dionysus, demigod of Olympus) are Pure Souls as well.  The trio begins the book with Riona’s very first demon vanquishing – that of her sexy demon ex-boyfriend, Jerry. Little does she know that as the Keystone, she harnesses great power, a power that makes her Lucifer’s number one target. Since Jerry ended up actually falling for Riona (as much as a demon can), it’s up to Lucifer to convert her, himself. Too bad she never saw him coming…

The story has multiple POVs that switch between Riona, Dee, Marc and occasionally Lucifer or Jerry. It is definitely a character driven book and I liked that they showed solid development, but I can’t say the same for the relationships. Ree was in love with one guy, but hops into bed with her new neighbor? It just doesn’t add up. But Marc was adorable with his whole tortured and tempted priest gig while Dee was cool because, well, he’s Dionysus!

I didn’t understand the organization behind the Pure Souls or the purpose behind the assignments the team was given (aside from vanquishing demons) so I suppose the world building left me with questions that I hope the next book will do a better job of answering. I did enjoy the humor. It was very clever – I loved how she worded things. It reminded me of J.R. Ward in that she was always looking for a different way to phrase words or sentences.

So, even though the story had some problem areas, the ending was a fantastic twist and cliffhanger, and I’m definitely looking forward to what McRae brings us in the next chapter of Riona and the Pure Souls saga!

Rating: B-

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Pure and Sinful
by Killain McRae
Release Date: September 20, 2012
Publisher: Tulipe Noire Press

Review: Chosen

Reviewed by Jen

The Dark Breeds series has changed a lot over the course of three books.  Or maybe it’s just that the main character has utterly transformed –from a maligned mixed breed to a goddess of the Greek pantheon.

This third installment begins with Kyana ensconced in Olympus as the new goddess of the hunt.  She is happy with Ryker and learning more about her new abilities.  Her best friend Haven is recovering from her possession by Cronus. And all seems well until Haven begins having prophetic dreams about Cronus coming back to punish his enemies and regain his power.  It turns out that Cronus is resurrecting the dead to become his minions and it’s a race to see if Kyana and the other gods can stop him before he achieves his goals.

Honestly, I think I preferred the Kyana of old. She was so damaged and gritty and angry.  The first half of this book, I just wasn’t feeling the pull.  I remember thinking to myself as I read that it just wasn’t dark anymore. Then, I swear to you, about two pages later, horrors unfold for Kyana that I never dreamed of. Things picked up at that point.  The action was fast and the team takes at least one brutal emotional hit. And yet I just didn’t love this one.  I was, indeed, shocked by the gruesome attack on Kyana and suitably saddened by the Really Bad Thing that happened, but overall, I was kind of meh on the book.

The ending felt like a series finale, but there are threads left hanging. Like how did Cronus escape the island?  (This is pretty significant, as it’s kind of the whole starting point for the book.)  Why was Henry with the bad souls? (He seemed like a good man.) And while I’m talking about Henry, I felt like there should have been more in that reunion. There could have been more emotional resonance there –and with the Bad Thing that happened.  I felt like the Haven resolution was abrupt. Poor Silas was just left hanging. I felt like there was untapped potential across the board.  And except in a couple of powerful moments, it all felt kind of superficial.

Eh. I wanted to like it more than I did.  I just don’t feel like the series ended with the same feel in which it began.  Even the romance lacked oomph, despite the fact that it finds a HEA. It’s a shame, because I liked the first two books.

Rating: C

*ARC Provided by Avon

Click to purchase: Amazon
Chosen
by Sable Grace
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Avon