Tag: 4.0 Reviews

Review: Shield-Maiden: Under the Howling Moon by Melanie Karsak

Posted April 14, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Shield-Maiden: Under the Howling Moon by Melanie KarsakReviewer: Holly
Shield Maiden Under the Howling Moon by Melanie Karsak
Series: The Road to Valhalla #1
Also in this series: Shield Maiden Under the Hunter's Moon
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 272
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Chosen by Odin. Destined for Valhalla.
In my dreams, Odin whispers to me.
He tells me I’m destined to wield a legendary sword.
He tells me my road will bring me to Valhalla.

But when I wake, I’m only Hervor. Fatherless. Unloved. Unwanted. Jarl Bjartmar, my grandfather, calls me cursed. My mother, her memories stolen by the gods, has forgotten me. Everyone tells me I should have been left to the wolves, but no one will tell me why.

None but Eydis, a thrall with völva magic, believes I’m meant for a greater destiny. Yet who can believe a devotee of Loki?

When the king and his son arrive for the holy blót, the runes begin to fall in my favor. A way forward may lie in the handsome Viking set on winning my heart, but only if I unravel the mystery hanging over me first.

Fans of Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and The Mists of Avalon will relish Shield Maiden: Under the Howling Moon. This sweeping Viking Historical Fantasy retells the Norse Hervarar Saga, depicting the life of the shieldmaiden Hervor, the inspiration for J. R. R. Tolkien’s Éowyn.

I fell in love with Lagertha, a character in the History Channel’s show Vikings. The description of this book made it sound like the MC was a young Lagertha, which really appealed to me. I found that to be pretty accurate.

Hervor is an outcast, unwanted and unloved by almost all. In her dreams Odin tells her she is destined for great things, but she can’t believe it. Not when things are so bleak while she’s awake. When the King and his son come to their village, Hervor wants more than anything to accept the destiny she’s always dreamed of, but her grandfather the jarl has other plans for her.

I’ve read a few of Karsak’s steampunk novellas and enjoyed them, but not as much as this full-length novel. The writing is engaging and I really came to love Hervor, her companion Eydis, and others from her clan. Hervor is a fierce warrior, loyal and protective. Karsak really brought her to life. I also enjoyed the world-building and mythology. It did drag a bit in the middle, but overall it was a lovely read. I’m looking forward to continuing the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Road to Valhalla

four-stars


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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
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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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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
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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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Review: The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

Posted March 15, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia QuinnReviewer: Casee
The Viscount who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
Series: The Bridgertons #2
Also in this series: The Duke and I
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: December 5, 2000
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 391
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Casee's 2021 Historical Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

1814 promises to be another eventful season, but not, This Author believes, for Anthony Bridgerton, London's most elusive bachelor, who has shown no indication that he plans to marry. And in all truth, why should he? When it comes to playing the consummate rake, nobody does it better...

--Lady Whistledown's Society Papers, April 1814

But this time the gossip columnists have it wrong. Anthony Bridgerton hasn't just decided to marry--he's even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended's older sister, Kate Sheffield--the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate's the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams...

Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes to not make the best husbands--and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate's determined to protect her sister--but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony's lips touch hers, she's suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself...

Anthony Bridgerton has decided it’s time to do his duty. He is going to get married and produce an heir before he dies. He even has his future bride picked out. Anthony doesn’t intend to love his bride, but he will care for her. Unfortunately for him, his intended’s sister is putting a major crimp in his plans. It’s well known through the ton that Kate Sheffield has to approve of the man her sister will marry.

Kate is determined that Edwina won’t end up with someone like Anthony Bridgerton. She’s also determined to dislike him no matter how charming he is. Kate’s (almost) hatred of him was hard to read. She had such a low opinion of herself. She always compared herself to her sister, though it hasn’t ever effected their relationship. She’s also not bitter about the fact that Edwina is beautiful and Kate herself is not (or so she thinks). Kate loves Edwina dearly and she wants her to marry for love and nothing less.

As Anthony starts to court Edwina, he gets to know Kate much better. He likes what he sees. While Edwina seems like she will make a perfectly suitable wife, it’s Kate he wants. Which is exactly why he can’t have her. He knows that he could fall in love with her and there is no way he’s going to take that chance. Anthony’s father died when he was just becoming a man and it affected him deeply. He’s convinced that he’s not going to live past the age his father was when he died.

I’m hooked. Anthony & Kate have hooked me on the series. After the cluster that was The Duke and I, I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue reading the series. What Daphne did was so fucked up that I had a hard time getting past it. I decided to ignore what she did and move onto Anthony’s book. I am so glad that I did. This book was wonderful. Although, as I mentioned above, Kate didn’t think she was as important as her sister. She was very strong willed, but lacking self-confidence. Or so it seemed.

I’m really looking forward to reading the next book in this series. And I can’t wait for Colin’s book.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Bridgertons

four-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Suspect by Jasmine Cresswell

Posted March 4, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 5 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Suspect by Jasmine CresswellReviewer: Casee
Suspect by Jasmine Cresswell
Series: Raven #2
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: October 1, 2007
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: No
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

For twenty-five years, multimillionaire businessman Ron Raven played the loving husband and father--to two very different households. But when Ron disappears, his deception is revealed. Faced with the ultimate betrayal, both families are left questioning who can be trusted... and who remains SUSPECT.

Cynical attorney Liam Raven hid his father's bigamy... until it was too late. Ironically, Liam specializes in divorce cases. But when Chloe Hamilton is charged with murdering her husband, a popular Denver mayor, he makes an exception.

Liam's relationship to Chloe quickly surpasses client and attorney. Her former husband had many secrets--including a connection to Ron Raven's other family. And aquitting Chloe means uncovering a string of lies and treachery that leads back to Liam's father.

This review was originally posted on October 4, 2007.

Suspect is the second book in the Raven Trilogy. You can find my review of the first book, Missing, here.

Liam Raven went into family law as a divorce attorney as a way of thumbing his nose at his bigamist father. Having discovered years prior to his father’s death that he was married to another woman, Liam kept quiet. I thought it was strange that he wouldn’t tell his mother. What kind of son wouldn’t tell their mom that her husband is married to another woman? I’m sure it makes for awkward dinner conversation, but come on. Well, it seems that Daddy Dearest was blackmailing Liam. Daddy told Liam that if he ratted him out, he would choose wife #2 over Liam’s mom. Obviously Liam cared a great deal about his mother and couldn’t risk his mom having the heartache not only of finding out her husband is a bigamist, but being thrown over for the “other woman”.

Before his days as Denver’s most prominent divorce lawyer, Liam was a criminal lawyer. When the Mayor of Denver is murdered, Liam is more than surprised when his widow shows up at his office begging him to defend her. Having started divorce proceedings for her months earlier, he hadn’t talked to her since she told him she was stopping the divorce. Chloe Hamilton drops a bombshell on him (and me) right from the get-go. Liam fathered Chloe’s daughter, Sophie. Liam argues with her until she reminds him the exact when and where of their encounter. After that, his arguments went out the window.

Even though Liam agrees to help her, he’s leery. Having successfully defended a woman charged with murdering her husband, Liam didn’t find out she was guilty until the verdict came back as Not Guilty. Oh and that was after he fell in love with the murdering bee-yotch. So while he wants to believe that the mother of his daughter isn’t capable of murder, experience has taught him to be not so trusting.

As in Missing, the plot in Suspect circles back around to the mysterious disappearance of Ron Raven. It seems that Ron’s business partner and the brother of his 2nd (and not legal) wife was doing business with the Mayor before his death. Rational that he is, Paul Fairfax wants to make Liam’s life as painful as possible when sees that Liam is involved with the late Mayor’s wife. He does this by leaking DNA of Liam and Chloe’s daughter given to him by the Mayor’s Chief of Staff. Though not willing to take the risk, he’s blackmailed into it. He either does it or the project that will refill his financial coffers will be axed permanently.

Though Chloe obviously played a substantial role in the book, I was more fascinated by Liam’s character. Chloe had been in a sham marriage from Day 1. Not knowing that she was marrying a gay man (yes, the Mayor was gay), Chloe had high hopes for the life and family she would make with her husband. That was a mistake. When she tried to get a divorce, Jason blackmailed her into staying married by threatening to out her father’s gambling habit. As a public figure, her father would have lost his job and his livelihood. On the night of his murder, her and Jason got into a spectacular fight where she vowed that she would be leaving no matter what his political aspirations were. Having encouraged him for years to come out of the closet, Chloe was sorely disappointed in his decision not to.

So together Liam and Chloe try to figure out who Jason’s lover was. What they don’t realize is that finding out the identity of his lover will also lead them to the identity of his murderer.

4 out of 5

Raven

four-stars


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