Throwback Thursday Review: Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward (spoilers abound)

Posted April 8, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 7 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward (spoilers abound)Reviewer: Casee
Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #9
Also in this series: Lover Unbound, Lover Avenged, Lover at Last, Lover at Last, The King, The Shadows, The Beast, Lover Enshrined, The Chosen, Lover Mine, The Thief, The Savior, Where Winter Finds You, The Sinner
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: March 29th 2011
Point-of-View: Third Person
Pages: 512
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

Payne, twin sister of Vishous, is cut from the same dark, warrior cloth as her brother: A fighter by nature, and a maverick when it comes to the traditional role of Chosen females, there is no place for her on the Far Side... and no role for her on the front lines of the war, either.

When she suffers a paralyzing injury, human surgeon Dr. Manuel Manello is called in to treat her as only he can—and he soon gets sucked into her dangerous, secret world. Although he never before believed in things that go bump in the night—like vampires—he finds himself more than willing to be seduced by the powerful female who marks both his body and his soul.

As the two find so much more than an erotic connection, the human and vampire worlds collide... just as a centuries old score catches up with Payne and puts both her love and her life in deadly jeopardy.

This review was originally posted on April 14, 2011.

It’s really hard for me to review JRW’s books because I’m so opposed to what I see is her manufactured persona. My opinion isn’t humble, yo. She’s not writing what is “downloaded” in her head by the characters. She’s obviously writing what her readers want to read. Let me preface this review by saying this was as much Vishous’ book as it was Payne’s. Which might have worked (the twin thing and all) if Vishous hadn’t already had his book, hello. To me, a halfwaysortakinda fan that hasn’t quite given up, it was an obvious way of saying “I’m sorry I screwed the pooch and made Jane a G.D. ghost in Lover Unbound”. Pul-lease. Most of us are over that. If you’re not, you’re obsessed and need help. Bottom line, although I like V I wanted more Payne. Heh.

Dr. Manny Manello’s life has pretty much gone to hell since Jane died. When she resurfaces from the dead and tells him that she needs him to operate on someone, he really has no choice. He’s a doctor and his instinct is to heal. When his memories are released of the day that Jane’s husband came in the hospital, he is furious. Then he’s entranced by his patient. All he can think is that he has to save her. After he does that, his memory is wiped. He doesn’t know that of course. All he knows is that he’s drawn to a room in the hospital for a reason he doesn’t know. Day is night. He has big chunks missing in his memory. It must be a tumor.

It was actually painful to watch Manny go through what a mind wipe can do to a human. It’s obviously understandable why they need to wipe their presence from a human’s mind, but this was the first time that the consequences were apparent and very noticeable. Manny literally thought that he was going crazy. A man that ran a hospital and could basically operate with his eyes closed questioned his sanity because someone else decided what was best for him to know.

Then the BDB needs Manny again because although he operated flawlessly on Payne’s spine, she still isn’t walking. There is no progress at all. They once again return Manny’s memories and ask for demand his help. There was a key to healing Payne and only Manny could trigger it. That was well crafted and thought out. I thought it was perfect.

It might sound like I didn’t like this book, but I actually did. The romance between Manny and Payne was actually sweet. Manny saw Payne as delicate and a woman that needed protecting when Payne was a warrior in her own right. I really thought it was wonderful the way that Manny accepted Payne as she was and didn’t try to stifle who she was.

There was also another set of characters introduced, vampires from the Old Country. So I suppose there will be yet another spinoff. There was a lot of Qhinn self-reflection. At this point, I don’t care what happens with Qhuinn. Just get it done already.

On that note, I WANT TOHR’S BOOK.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Black Dagger Brotherhood

four-stars


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Lightning Review: The Prince and the Troll by Rainbow Rowell

Posted April 7, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Lightning Review: The Prince and the Troll by Rainbow RowellReviewer: Holly
The Prince and the Troll by Rainbow Rowell
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman
Series: Faraway #1
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: December 15, 2020
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Plus
Point-of-View: Narrated
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Fairytale
Length: 46 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

A charming everyman and a mysterious something-under-the-bridge cross paths in a short fairy tale by the #1 'New York Times' bestselling author of 'Eleanor & Park' and the 'Simon Snow' series.

It’s fate when a man accidentally drops his phone off the bridge. It’s a fortune when it’s retrieved by a friendly shape sloshing in the muck underneath. From that day forward, as they share a coffee every morning, an unlikely friendship blooms. Considering the reality for the man above, where life seems perfect, and that of the sharp-witted creature below, how forever after can a happy ending be?

'THE PRINCE AND THE TROLL' is part of Faraway, a collection of retold fairy tales that take happily-ever-after in daring new directions. Whether read or listened to in one sitting, prepare to be charmed, moved, enlightened and frightened all over again.

This was a well-written short story that really seemed to serve no purpose. I enjoyed how the friendship between Adam and the Bridge Troll developed, and there was a lot of witty dialogue, but the story lacked any kind of cohesion or conclusion. The Road (aka Climate Change and Development) were bad, but there’s nothing we can do about it so let’s just wait until the rains come and wash it all away? Meh.

For a quick listen, I didn’t hate it, but I did finish it kind of scratching my head about the point of it all.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Faraway

three-stars


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Monthly Reads: March 2021

Posted April 6, 2021 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 5 Comments

It’s a new month so we’re back with a list of our Monthly Reads to share with each of you. This is where you’ll see what each of us has read and what our favorite books and our least favorite books of the month are. Check it out.

Casee

I didn’t finish a single book until March 18th. I ended up reading eight books. I sure surprised myself.

Come to Me Quietly by A.L. Jackson | 4.25 out of 5
Shadow Storm by Christine Feehan | 4.25 out of 5
Knight by Kristen Ashley (re-read) | 4 out of 5
Come to Me Softly by A.L. Jackson | 4 out of 5
Come to Me Recklessly by A.L. Jackson | 4.5 out of 5
Tattered by Devney Perry | 3.75 out of 5
Wild Fire by Kristen Ashley (audiobook) | 4 out of 5
Lethal by Cassandra Robbins | 3.5 out of 5

My absolute favorite of the month was Come to Me Recklessly by A.L. Jackson. My heart could barely hold all my feels for this book. I was actually surprised because I didn’t really care for the hero in the first two books of the series. I should never have doubted A.L. Jackson. I didn’t read a bad book in March, but there were a few that I liked less than others.

Holly

March was a better reading month for me, partly because I listened to some old favorites during my commute. I finished 20 books.

Sweet Dreams (Colorado Mountains #2) by Kristen Ashley (reread) | 4 out of 5
The Last Warrior (Shifters Unbound #13) by Jennifer Ashley | 3.75 out of 5
Shield-Maiden: Under the Howling Moon (The Road to Valhalla #1) by Melanie Karsak | 4 out of 5
One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #3) by Ilona Andrews (audio) (reread) | 4.5 out of 5
Sweep of the Blade (Innkeeper Chronicles #4) by Ilona Andrews (audio) (reread) | 4.5 out of 5
Tiger Magic (Shifters Unbound #5) by Jennifer Ashley (reread) | 4.25 out of 5
Tiger Striped (Shifters Unbound #11.5) by Jennifer Ashley (reread) | 3.75 out of 5
When He’s an Alpha (The Olympus Pride #2) by Suzanne Wright | 3.25 out of 5
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (audio) (reread) | 4.5 out of 5
The Wedding (Lairds’ Fiancées} by Julie Garwood (audio) (reread) | 4.5 out of 5
Saving Grace by Julie Garwood (audio) (reread) | 5 out of 5
The Secret (Highlands’ Lairds #1) by Julie Garwood (audio) (reread) | 5 out of 5
Stone-Cold Fox (Mai Hayashi #1) by Hailey Edwards | 3.75 out of 5
The Switch by Beth O’Leary | 3.5 out of 5
The Hook Up (Game On #1) by Kristen Callihan (reread) | 4.5 out of 5
Complicated by Kristen Ashley (reread) | 4 out of 5
Night of the Living Deed (A Haunted Guesthouse Mystery #1) by E.J. Cooperman (audio) | 3.25 out of 5
Dragons Don’t Eat Meat (Valkyrie Bestiary #1) by Kim McDougall | 4 out of 5
Dervishes Don’t Dance (Valkyrie Bestiary #2) by Kim McDougall | 3.25 out of 5
Murder on Cold Street (Lady Sherlock #5) by Sherry Thomas (audio) | 4.5 out of 5

My favorite read of the month was Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas, with an honorable mention to Dragons Don’t Eat Meat by Kim McDougall. My least favorite was Dervishes Don’t Dance by Kim McDougall. I didn’t dislike it, necessarily, but it didn’t compare to the first book in the series, which was a major disappointment.

Giveaway Alert

Three lucky winners will choose their prize (one book) from any of the books we logged this month. If you want to be entered to win, leave a comment on this post telling us what your favorite – and least favorite – reads of the month were.

Monthly Reads: March 2021

So…what was your favorite read of the month? And your least favorite? Use the Gleam Widget to enter! Good luck!


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Books to Binge On: April 2021

Posted April 5, 2021 by Holly in Features | 2 Comments

Books to Binge On

Our Books to Binge On feature is pretty simple in its purpose. Every month, we put together a monthly new releases list of books that we’re all looking forward to. These are the books that we can’t wait to read and want everyone to add to their monthly binge-reading lists. Here are the books that we plan to binge on in April of 2021.


Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle

Can you find real love when you’ve always got your head in the clouds?

Maybell Parish has always been a dreamer and a hopeless romantic. But living in her own world has long been preferable to dealing with the disappointments of real life. So when Maybell inherits a charming house in the Smokies from her Great-Aunt Violet, she seizes the opportunity to make a fresh start.

Yet when she arrives, it seems her troubles have only just begun. Not only is the house falling apart around her, but she isn’t the only inheritor: she has to share everything with Wesley Koehler, the groundskeeper who’s as grouchy as he is gorgeous—and it turns out he has very different vision for the property’s future.

Convincing the taciturn Wesley to stop avoiding her and compromise is a task more formidable than the other dying wishes Great-Aunt Violet left behind. But when Maybell uncovers something unexpectedly sweet beneath Wesley’s scowls, and as the two slowly begin to let their guard down, they might learn that sometimes the smallest steps outside one’s comfort zone can lead to the greatest rewards.

Holly: I haven’t read this author before, but it sounds like my kind of story. I can’t wait to try it.

Rowena: I’ve been hearing such great things about this book and like Holly, it sounds like my kind of story so on my list it goes!


The Devil Comes Courting (The Worth Saga #3) by Courtney Milan

Captain Grayson Hunter knows the battle to complete the first worldwide telegraphic network will be fierce, and he intends to win it by any means necessary. When he hears about a reclusive genius who has figured out how to slash the cost of telegraphic transmissions, he vows to do whatever it takes to get the man in his employ.

Except the reclusive genius is not a man, and she’s not looking for employment.

Amelia Smith was born in Shanghai, and taken in by English missionaries. She’s not interested in Captain Hunter’s promises or his ambitions. But the harder he tries to convince her, the more she realizes that there is something she wants from him: She wants everything. And she’ll have to crack the frozen shell he’s made of his heart to get it.

Holly: I need this book already!


Heart on a Leash (Hearts of Alaska #1) by Alanna Martin

A pack of rescue huskies inspires love and romance in a coastal Alaskan town fractured by feuding families—but can young pups really teach frozen hearts new tricks?

Taylor Lipin has made it her life’s mission to leave her hometown and its ridiculous, century-old feud with the Porters behind. But when her sister needs help running the family inn, Taylor agrees to return to Helen, Alaska on a temporary, definitely not longer than two weeks, basis. Or so she thinks, until she’s quite literally swept off her feet and into enemy territory by three happy huskies and their drool-worthy owner, Dr. Josh Krane.

Though Josh didn’t grow up in Helen with the rest of his Porter cousins, he’s heard the stories: Porters rescue huskies. The Lipins are cat people. Keep to your pack. But Taylor is too tempting to give up—plus, his dogs love her.

As Taylor and Josh grow closer, tensions in the town escalate and the need for secrecy starts taking a toll. Soon they’ll need to decide whether their newfound love is just a summer fling or if they’ve found their forever home.

Holly: I’m going toing to lie, I’m only interested in this book because of the huskies. 🙂


Gilded Serpent (Dark Shores #3) by Danielle L. Jensen

From bestselling author Danielle L. Jensen comes a thrilling new novel in the Dark Shores world, a series that Sarah J. Maas called “everything I look for in a fantasy novel.”

THEIR BATTLES ENDED IN VICTORY

Lydia returns to Mudaire to enter training at the healing temple. But instead of fighting to save lives, she’s convinced she is doing more harm than good. She delves into the history of the gods only to discover a truth that will change her life forever.

His birthright as commander of the Royal Army is finally in his grasp, but Killian feels anything but victorious. Burdened by his past, he embraces the darker side of his mark—and in doing so, risks starting a war.

BUT THE WAR HAS ONLY JUST BEGUN

Having defeated the tyrant Urcon, Marcus struggles to form a lasting alliance with the Arinoquians. But he is plagued by the knowledge that there is a traitor among his friends, and it could cost him everything that he’s fought for.

Torn between her growing allegiance to the Thirty-Seventh legion and her need to liberate her people, Teriana finds herself mired in a web of secrets. She embarks upon a path that will either save everyone she loves—or put them all in their graves.

Readers may read either Dark Shores or Dark Skies first!
Suggested series reading order:

1. Dark Skies or Dark Shores
2. Dark Shores or Dark Skies
3. Gilded Serpent (coming spring 2021)

Rowena: Ever since finishing The Bridge Kingdom and The Traitor Queen, I’ve been curious about trying other stuff by Danielle L. Jensen so when I saw this one, I’ve been curious about it. It’s definitely on my list, even though it’s the third book in the series.


Bombshells (Brooklyn Bruisers #8) by Sarina Bowen

The women’s league is in the house! And Brooklyn will never be the same again for Anton Bayer and the team…

This is my last chance to ditch my playboy reputation and finally fulfill my potential. So I’ve made three rules for our biggest season yet: no boozing, no women, and no scandals.

Especially that last thing.

So who do I befriend on the very first day back at the rink? An amazing female hockey player. I want Sylvie in a way that’s more than just friendly. I crave her. But I have a championship to win, and so does she.

Then she gets her heart broken by my teammate, and I make the foolish mistake of comforting her in the best way I know how. Our night together sets off a string of sins.

Nobody can know about our affair, especially my overprotective teammate. I can’t let anyone see into my greedy little heart. Not even her.

The things I want from her, and the things we’ve already done? If anyone knew, there’d be bombshells.

Contains: a defenseman with dreamy blue eyes, a female goalie with bad ideas, a major battle of the sexes and a swimming pool scene…

Rowena: There’s a new Brooklyn Bruiser book and of course it’s on my list of books to binge for the month.


The Intimacy Experiment (The Roommate #2) by Rosie Danan

Naomi and Ethan will test the boundaries of love in this provocative romance from the author of the ground-breaking debut, The Roommate.

Naomi Grant has built her life around going against the grain. After the sex-positive start-up she cofounded becomes an international sensation, she wants to extend her educational platform to live lecturing. Unfortunately, despite her long list of qualifications, higher ed won’t hire her.

Ethan Cohen has recently received two honors: LA Mag named him one of the city’s hottest bachelors and he became rabbi of his own synagogue. Taking a gamble in an effort to attract more millennials to the faith, the executive board hired Ethan because of his nontraditional background. Unfortunately, his shul is low on both funds and congregants. The board gives him three months to turn things around or else they’ll close the doors of his synagogue for good.

Naomi and Ethan join forces to host a buzzy seminar series on Modern Intimacy, the perfect solution to their problems–until they discover a new one–their growing attraction to each other. They’ve built the syllabus for love’s latest experiment, but neither of them expected they’d be the ones putting it to the test.

Rowena: After reading and enjoying The Roommate, I knew that I was going to read and enjoy this book as well. I did, so this listing is for you guys, not me. You guys should definitely add this to your lists for this month. It’s good!

What books are you looking forward to reading this month? Share in the comments!


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Review: Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

Posted April 5, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Sapphire Flames by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Casee
Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #4
Also in this series: Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire, White Hot, White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1), Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3), Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacy, #3.5), Sapphire Flames, Diamond Fire, Wildfire, Emerald Blaze
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 359
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrew comes an enthralling new trilogy set in the Hidden Legacy world, where magic means power, and family bloodlines are the new currency of society…

In a world where magic is the key to power and wealth, Catalina Baylor is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, and the Head of her House. Catalina has always been afraid to use her unique powers, but when her friend’s mother and sister are murdered, Catalina risks her reputation and safety to unravel the mystery.

But behind the scenes powerful forces are at work, and one of them is Alessandro Sagredo, the Italian Prime who was once Catalina’s teenage crush. Dangerous and unpredictable, Alessandro’s true motives are unclear, but he’s drawn to Catalina like a moth to a flame.

To help her friend, Catalina must test the limits of her extraordinary powers, but doing so may cost her both her House–and her heart.

Catalina Baylor is the head of House Baylor. When her sister married Rogan, the mantle of running the house passed down to Catalina. She doesn’t feel qualified enough to run a House, especially a relatively new one. When Runa Etterson, a Prime and ally of House Baylor comes to her asking for help. Runa’s mother and sister have been murdered. Runa wants to know who killed her loved ones so she can exact her revenge. Runa begs Catalina to take the case and Catalina can’t turn her down. She knows that if it was her sister and mother murdered, she would stop at nothing to find out who was responsible.

The case is suspicious from the beginning. The DNA of Runa’s sister doesn’t match the burnt corpse that was at the scene. It appears that her sister is alive, but has been kidnapped. Now that Runa and Catalina know this, they know it’s only a matter of time before they kill her. Catalina’s plans to find the killer all go to hell when Alessandro Sagredo shows up on the scene. Before he jumps out of the building of the morgue that Catalina has gone for answers, he tells her to stop looking for the killer or she will get hurt. Of course Catalina doesn’t listen to Alessandro and it’s not long before he pops back into her life.

I didn’t think I would enjoy Catalina as much as I did in this book. I liked her in the first three books of the series, but Diamond Fire was just not very impressive. It’s clear that in the time between Diamond Fire and Sapphire Flames, Catalina has grown up. She is strong enough to run House Baylor, she just questions herself constantly. That was pretty annoying. I really enjoyed the character growth in this book.

Catalina and Alessandro have a contentious relationship. They are very attracted to each other but they are from different Houses. That’s only one reason it will never work. Another is because Catalina is a Siren. She can lure men to her with just her voice and Alessandro is no exception. Catalina has had several mishaps with people that she accidentally used her voice on. Her life hasn’t been easy, but now she controls it and she can use it as a defensive weapon. An offensive one too.

I just adore the Baylor family. I love Penelope and Leon and Arabella. I love everyone in this series. It was nice that Nevada popped back in though it was just via a brief phone call. This book really focused on Catalina. I thought it was very well written.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Hidden Legacy

four-stars


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