Genre: Urban Fantasy

Sunday Spotlight: Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs

Posted April 25, 2021 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 1 Comment

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

I absolutely adore Anna and Charles. I’m so excited to have another book featuring them. Wild Sign was really good, and that ending! Ahhh. I can’t wait for you guys to read it.

Sunday Spotlight: Wild Sign by Patricia BriggsWild Sign by Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha & Omega
Also in this series: Burn Bright, Burn Bright, Alpha & Omega, Cry Wolf, Burn Bright, Dead Heat, Hunting Ground, Fair Game
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: March 16, 2021
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
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Mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham must discover what could make an entire community disappear — before it's too late — in this thrilling entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling Alpha and Omega series.

In the wilds of the Northern California mountains, all the inhabitants of a small town have gone missing. It's as if the people picked up and left everything they owned behind. Fearing something supernatural might be going on, the FBI taps a source they've consulted in the past: the werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham. But Charles and Anna soon find a deserted town is the least of the mysteries they face.

Death sings in the forest, and when it calls, Charles and Anna must answer. Something has awakened in the heart of the California mountains, something old and dangerous — and it has met werewolves before.

Excerpt

WILD SIGN by Patricia Briggs

Chapter 1

Autumn: Aspen Creek, Montana

Anna let her hands press the ivory keys of the old upright piano in a few preparatory chords, enjoying the rich sound. Music, for her, was not just an auditory experience-she loved the feel of the vibrations running through her fingers. The bass notes resonated in her core, leaving her energized and ready to play.

In all senses of the word.

She glanced over her shoulder and up at her husband’s face. She wasn’t sure anyone else had ever played with him. No one in their pack, for certain, including Bran. Oh, they played music with him, but they didn’t play games.

The piano wasn’t her instrument, but like most people who had ever attended college with the aim of majoring in music, she was reasonably competent. For this game, the piano was more flexible than her preferred cello, which was limited to two notes at a time, a few more with harmonics.

“Ready?” she asked him, then launched into the song without waiting for his response.

She hummed where the melody came in-it was his job to figure out the words. It didn’t take him long this time. Charles, his warmth against her back, though he didn’t touch her, began singing the lyrics to “Walk on the Ocean” with her two beats after she’d started humming.

The game had originated when Anna found out Charles hadn’t heard of P. D. Q. Bach, who had been a favorite of one of her music teachers. A lack she had remedied with the help of the Internet. In return, Charles had shared a few singers he liked. Some of them left her cold. Some of them had been unexpectedly awesome. Of course, she had heard Johnny Cash before she’d met Charles. But Charles had turned her into an unabashed Johnny Cash fan-though she liked Cash’s songs even better if Charles sang them. They suited his voice.

She would have loved Charles if he hadn’t been able to carry a tune in a bucket, but Charles’s facility for and love of music had been one of many unexpected gifts her mate had brought to their union. She had been so lucky to find him.

Gradually they had begun challenging each other, finding singers, groups, or songs that the other didn’t know. It was the best kind of game: one with no losers. Either they figured out the song the other pulled out of their store of obscure or favorite songs (or obscure and favorite songs) or they didn’t.

Sometimes they kept score-the loser to do dishes or cook or something more fun. But mostly they just enjoyed making music together-the game giving the activity more variety than it might otherwise have had.

Toad the Wet Sprocket, evidently, had not been a challenge at all.

Anna laughed in surrender, then sang the rest of “Walk on the Ocean” with Charles, letting him anchor the melody while she worked out a descant an octave above him-pushing her alto into a register mostly reserved for sopranos. Sometimes crafting harmonies on the fly could go terribly wrong, but this time it sounded good. Their voices complemented each other, which, even with good singers, wasn’t always true.

“That’s one of Samuel’s favorites,” Charles told her when they were finished.

Anna hadn’t spent much time with Charles’s brother; he’d left his father’s pack by the time she’d joined, but she knew he was a musician, too. Listening to Charles, Samuel, and their father perform the old Shaker song “Simple Gifts” at a funeral had been the first indication Anna’d had that she’d married into a very musical family.

She’d thought her music lost the night she’d been attacked and turned into a werewolf. Charles had given it back. In return, she hoped, she had given him playfulness.

He bent down, put his mouth against her ear, and said, in a mock-villain growl, “You’ll have to do better than that to defeat me.”

The rumble of his voice sent chills up her spine. She loved it when he was happy. She was so easy-at least as far as Charles was concerned. She leaned back against him, then tilted her head up. He bent over and kissed her lips.

He started to pull away, hesitated, and came down for a second round. His lips were softer than they looked, sweeping from the corner of her mouth in a gentle caress before pressing her lips open.

His breath became ragged. His muscles, still warming her back, tightened until she might have been leaning against a wall instead of a living being. If there was anything sexier than being desired, she didn’t know what it could be.

Her body became liquid as their lips lingered together, taking the gift of desire and returning it to him. His hand pressed briefly on her breastbone, just above her breast, his touch gentle. Then he slid his hand up until it covered the arch of her throat, fingertips spread to span her jawline, encouraging her to keep her head tilted for his kiss. As if she needed encouragement.

When he finished with her mouth for the moment, his lips brushed her cheekbone and over to her ear, which he nipped. The sharpness after the soft and light touch sent a shock reverberating up her spine.

“Mmm,” she said.

He stepped away from her, breathing hard. His smile was sheepish. “That was a little more than I intended,” he said.

She shrugged, knowing the dismissive gesture would be given the lie by her reddened lips and the arousal he probably would not have to be a werewolf to sense. “I am not taking any of the fault for that, sir.”

He laughed, the sound low and soft. Hot. But he still took another step away-backward, as if he couldn’t quite make himself turn his back on her.

“I have a song for you,” he said. “I’ve been working on this for a while.”

He grabbed one of the cases stacked along the wall of their music room and took out a flute. He gave Anna an assessing look and then pulled her guitar off the wall where it hung with several of his.

She had come to him with nothing, but she had the feeling, given the pleasure he took in giving her things, that her collection of instruments might outpace his in time. She took the guitar when he handed it to her.

“Just what am I supposed to do with this?” she asked archly, but she reversed her position on the piano bench so the piano was at her back and gave the guitar strings an experimental strum, adjusting the high E until the pitch was true. They were new strings, and the E liked to slip.

He didn’t answer her, just pulled up a chair so he would face her when he sat in it. He dragged a low table over beside his chair and set the flute on it. Then he searched the cases and pulled out an instrument she hadn’t seen him use-a viola.

“Oooo,” she said. “Can I see?”

He raised an eyebrow but handed it over. “It’s Da’s,” he told her.

She glanced in the f-hole and found a maker’s ink signature and the date 1872. It didn’t tell her much. She reached out blindly and he gave her the bow. She tested it, tightened a peg an eighth of a turn, and stroked the bow across the strings, smiling at the rich tone.

“Bran has good taste,” she said, handing the viola and bow back to him.

He took more care in tuning it than she had with the guitar-as one does, she thought with amusement. Violas-like their little sister, the violin-were temperamental. When he was satisfied, he sat down, the viola held like a cello, instead of the more usual under-the-chin method.

“Ready?” he asked.

Alpha & Omega

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: April 2021

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Patricia Briggs

Patricia is the #1 New York Times best selling author of the Mercy Thompson series and has written twenty four novels to date; she is currently writing novel number twenty five. She has short stories in several anthologies, as well as a series of comic books and graphic novels based on her Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series. Patty began her career writing traditional high fantasy novels in 1993, and shifted gears in 2006 to write urban fantasy. Moon Called was the first of her signature series about Mercy; the non-stop adventure left readers wanting more and word of this exciting new urban fantasy series about a shape-shifting mechanic spread quickly. The series has continued to grow in popularity with the release of each book. Patty also writes the Alpha and Omega series, which are set in the same world as the Mercy Thompson novels; what began as a novella expanded into a full new series, all of which debuted on the NY Times bestsellers list as well.


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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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Review: One Fine Fae by Molly Harper

Posted March 31, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: One Fine Fae by Molly HarperReviewer: Holly
One Fine Fae by Molly Harper
Narrator: Jonathan Davis, Amanda Ronconi
Series: Mystic Bayou #4.5
Also in this series: How to Date Your Dragon (Mystic Bayou, #1), Even Tree Nymphs Get the Blues, How to Date Your Dragon, How to Date Your Dragon, Selkies are a Girl's Best Friend
Publisher: Audible Originals
Publication Date: December 8, 2020
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Plus
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Length: 3 hours, 10 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Publisher's Summary

Take a trip to the beloved supernatural town of Mystic Bayou in this brilliantly funny new stand-alone novella - written for audio-first!

Charlotte McBee knows she’s in for a challenge when she accepts a job as midwife for a dragon and a phoenix shifter. Being a fairy herself, it isn’t the supernatural world that scares her. It’s the thought of delivering a giant metal dragon’s egg, which has her gritting her teeth in pain for poor Jillian, the anxious mother-to-be.

While preparing for the big event, a handsome town resident catches her eye. Leonard is kind, charming, and a little bit mysterious. He’s also suffering from a highly unusual condition brought on by an ancient fairy curse, and he’s too wary of Charlotte to allow her to get close.

Will love overcome fear before the end of her assignment?

©2020 Molly Harper (P)2020 Audible Originals, LLC.

Charlotte is a midwife to magical creatures. Mystic Bayou has been home to magi for years, but thanks to a rift that opened due to a magical artifact, humans and magi alike have been gaining strong magical powers. Charlotte is hired to help the residents with their pregnancies, a prospect she’s pretty thrilled with. Leonard is Fairy-Cursed. Any time he gets stressed, he turns clumsy, which causes all kinds of calamites to happen in his presence. Charlotte and Leo are attracted to each other, but her magic makes him nervous, which means his curse kicks in even more when she’s around than normal.

This was a cute short story. I don’t believe it stands alone well, since it heavily features characters from previous books. The new romance was sweet and I liked seeing some of my favorite characters pop up again. I don’t love the male narrator, Jonathan Davis, but the female narrator, Amanda Ronconni, is a favorite. I definitely recommend this for fans of Molly Harper and Mystic Bayou.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Mystic Bayou

three-half-stars


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Joint Review: Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews

Posted March 18, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Joint Review: Magic Triumphs by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Casee & Holly
Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews
Narrator: Renee Raudman
Series: Kate Daniels #10
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds, Magic Bites, Magic Strikes, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites, Magic Bleeds , Magic Burns, Magic Strikes , Magic Slays , Gunmetal Magic , Magic Rises , Magic Strikes, Magic Mourns, Magic Bleeds, Magic Dreams, Magic Slays, Gunmetal Magic, Magic Gifts, Magic Rises, Magic Tests, Magic Stars, Magic Shifts, Magic Steals, Magic Breaks, Magic Breaks, Iron and Magic, Magic Binds, Magic Triumphs
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 327
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-half-stars

Mercenary Kate Daniels must risk all to protect everything she holds dear in this epic, can't-miss entry in the thrilling #1 New York Times bestselling urban-fantasy series.

Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She's made friends and enemies. She's found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate's doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows her time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

For her child.

For Atlanta.

For the world.

Magic Triumphs is the conclusion to the Kate Daniels series. It’s been a wild ride from start to finish. Ilona Andrews resolved just about everything while showing us a softer side of Kate. Kate as a mother is something to behold. Although she is softer because she is now a mother, she’s also even more protective of her family. Both Holly & I were very satisfied with the conclusion of the series (Holly after a re-read). The great thing is that we get to revisit Kate and Curran in the new Aurelia Ryder series which follows Kate’s ward, Julie.

Casee: I don’t know why I haven’t reviewed this book yet. It’s easily one of the best books I read in 2020. I adore Kate and Curran and now Conlan. I have so many feels that I don’t know where to start. What I can say is that I was very satisfied with the ending (though not the end of the KD world) of this series.

What did you think when you first read it? Does it get better when you re-read?

Holly: I’m not going to lie, I was disappointed the first time I read it. There were several loose ends left open, and I didn’t love the pacing. Of course, a “disappointing” read from Ilona Andrews is still better than a stellar book from some other authors. It did get better when I reread. I still feel like a lot of threads were left open, which isn’t like IA at all, but it was a satisfying end to Kate’s story.

Casee: I’m not going to lie either, I was pretty disappointed with how the whole Roland thing was wrapped up. He was such a badass for most of the series. Kate defeated him in, like, five minutes. I really enjoyed their father/daughter relationship even though it was extremely dysfunctional. When Roland finally made his move against Kate, at one of her most vulnerable moments, it made me pretty emotional. I was kind of hoping for a truce by the end of the series.

Holly: I think they came to as much of a truce as they could, considering they were coming from such different places. I am actually more satisfied with the way it ended now that the series is continuing and we’re learning additional details.

Casee: I was really satisfied when I finished the book. Although there are a few things that bothered me, overall I thought that it was a fitting ending to a great series. It’s even better now that we get Aurelia Ryder.

Holly: I agree, it’s better now that we’re getting a continuation story with Aurelia Ryder. I loved the scenes with Conlan. He was adorable.

I really hate how Kate and Curran hide things from each other. I know why they do it, but I wish they wouldn’t. Why can’t they just communicate like two adults?

Casee: I agree about Kate and Curran hiding things from each other. I know they both are coming from what they think is a good place, but the fact is that they lie to each other. Or if not exactly lying, they omit pertinent detail all for the sake of protecting the other one.

I loved Conlin! He was the cutest little thing. When he shifted, I just went “awwwww”.

Holly: This book was problematic for me the first time I read it because it was the end of the series and so many things were left unanswered. Now that Iron and Magic and the Aurelia Ryder series’ are being written I don’t feel quite the same way. I love Kate, Curran and the entire cast of characters from the series. I loved Kate’s personal progression, the way their romance grew, and the other relationships she formed. I’m really looking forward to seeing more in this world and I’m glad things ended the way they did with Kate.

I would say this is a pretty solid conclusion to the series, now that I have a little distance from it. 4.25 out of 5.

Casee: As I mentioned above, I was a little disappointed with how quickly the Roland situation was resolved but in retrospect I believe that it had to be written the way it was. It was a great conclusion to the series. I give it a 4.5 out of 5.

Casee: 4.5 out of 5
Holly: 4.25 out of 5

Kate Daniels


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Review: Make Mine Magic by Shanna Swendson

Posted March 10, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Make Mine Magic by Shanna SwendsonReviewer: Holly
Make Mine Magic by Shanna Swendson
Narrator: Karissa Vacker
Publisher: Audible Original
Publication Date: January 9, 2020
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Plus
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Length: 7 hours, 28 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-half-stars

Jilted at the altar, small-town librarian Claire is forced to go on her romantic honeymoon in New York City alone. After enduring one too many meals for two as one, Claire invites a seemingly harmless little old lady to join her for afternoon tea at the Plaza. Unbeknownst to Claire, said little old lady is actually a grand wizard, who bestows Claire with a magical amulet that makes her the sitting queen of the magical community. Claire is swept into the gilded world of New York City wizards - and a bitter power struggle for the throne. With the help of a cursed former prince, Claire must untangle this web of deception and find the magical community's rightful leader before her "honeymoon" is over.

Claire’s fiancé dumped her right before their wedding. Instead of getting a refund on their New York honeymoon, she decides to go on the trip herself. Sadly, by the second day of her trip she’s already tired of doing things alone. This is why she invites an old woman she saves from robbers to have tea with her. She walks the old woman home afterward and then strange things start happening to her. It turns out the woman bestowed a magical artifact on Claire, which now makes her the leader of the magical community in New York. A magical community Claire didn’t even know existed. When different factions start trying to butter her up, Claire realizes there’s more going on than she’s aware.

I found this while browsing Audible Plus and decided to give it a try based on the reviews. It was a cute story. There were times I thought the MC made some questionable choices (running off to a party with a guy she just met in a hotel bar, in a city she’s never visited before, without getting the address so she can tell a friend?), but I was interested in how things would play out and I enjoyed the story and characters as a whole. I also really liked the narrator. I will definitely look for other books by Swendson in the future.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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