Genre: Urban Fantasy

Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Posted January 10, 2022 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: First Grave on the Right by Darynda JonesReviewer: Holly
First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
Narrator: Lorelei King
Series: Charley Davidson #1
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: February 1, 2011
Format: eBook
Point-of-View: First Person
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 310
Length: 8 hours and 58 minutes
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two-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

This whole grim reaper thing should have come with a manual.Or a diagram of some kind.A flow chart would have been nice.
Charley Davidson is a part-time private investigator and full-time grim reaper. Meaning, she sees dead people. Really. And it's her job to convince them to "go into the light." But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (like murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she's been having about an entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely. But what does he want with Charley? And why can't she seem to resist him? And what does she have to lose by giving in?
With scorching-hot tension and high-octane humor, First Grave on the Right is your signpost to paranormal suspense of the highest order.

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones is the first book in the Charley Davidson series. I’ve seen this series over the years and considered reading it a number of times, but the comparisons to the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich turned me off. While I liked the first few Plum books, her constant ineptitude and the love-triangle got old fast. When my book club chose this I figured it was an opportunity to see for myself how “Plum-like” the series really is.

The writing was really great. I easily fell into the story, though the “sassy” and “sarcastic” quips of the main character were kind of annoying. That only got worse as the book went on. She had a zinger for everything, and it felt really forced. I didn’t find her charming or cute, but annoying. Did she take nothing seriously? Also, the obsession she had with a boy from her past – after a single brief encounter where he was a total bastard – didn’t make sense. Why was she so interested in him? It had shades of a “fated-mates” type thing, but it didn’t work very well in context.

I enjoyed the investigative parts of the story, but they were few and far between. The majority of this book was her either lusting after a shadowy figure from her dreams or obsessing over this boy she met once as a younger girl.

There were shades of a good story here, but most of it got lost behind the dumb sarcasm and crazy amount of lust/obsession she felt for this total stranger/creepy being. I may try another book in the series to see if it gets better.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Charley Davidson

two-half-stars


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Joint Review: Archangel’s Light by Nalini Singh

Posted October 25, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: Archangel’s Light by Nalini SinghReviewer: Casee & Holly
Archangel's Light by Nalini Singh
Narrator: Justine Eyre
Series: Guild Hunter #14
Also in this series: Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Consort, Archangel's Blade, Archangel's Consort, Archangel's Storm, Archangel's Storm (Guild Hunter #5), Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Legion (Guild Hunter #6), Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Enigma (Guild Hunter, #8), Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter #1), Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter, #9), Archangel's Kiss, Angels' Blood, Archangel's Viper (Guild Hunter, #10), Archangel's Viper, Archangel's Prophecy, Archangel's Consort (Guild Hunter, #3), Archangel's Prophecy, Archangel's War, Archangel's War , Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Sun
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: October 26, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 400
Length: 11 hours and 23 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Nalini Singh returns to the world of the Guild Hunters for the most highly anticipated novel of the beloved series—a love story so epic it’s been half a millennia in the making…
Illium and Aodhan. Aodhan and Illium. For centuries they’ve been inseparable: the best of friends, closer than brothers, companions of the heart. But that was before—before darkness befell Aodhan and shattered him, body, mind, and soul. Now, at long last, Aodhan is healing, but his new-found strength and independence may come at a devastating cost—his relationship with Illium.
As they serve side by side in China, a territory yet marked by the evil of its former archangel, the secret it holds nightmarish beyond imagining, things come to an explosive decision point. Illium and Aodhan must either walk away from the relationship that has defined them—or step forward into a future that promises a bond infinitely precious in the life of an immortal…but that demands a terrifying vulnerability from two badly bruised hearts.

We finally get Bluebell & Sparkle’s story! Well, part of it anyway.

Casee: First thing is first. Is this title appropriate since Ilium isn’t an archangel yet?

Holly: I think it’s a play on Aodhan and Illium being Raphael’s light, and a glimpse of what’s to come when Illium ascends.

Casee: One thing that is so special about this book is the glimpses into Aodhan and Illium’s past with Raphael. It’s hard to reconcile the Raphael in the Yesterday chapters to the Raphael in Angels’ Blood. It definitely makes me want to go back and read Angels’ Blood. Actually, I want to reread the whole series. I always feel that way after a book comes out in this series. We also got a bit of Raphael and Elena, whom I always adore reading about.

Holly: I loved the Yesterday chapters, too. It was great seeing glimpses of Aodhan and Illium growing up together. My heart hurt for them at their various trials and tribulations. I always wondered exactly what happened to Aodhan. It was so hard reading about it, but I’m so glad we found out what happened. You’re right, they are each other’s person, and that came out in so many ways.

Casee: I did feel so bad for Illium. When Aodhan realized that everyone but Raphael had abandoned Illium in some way, I think my eyes might have teared up a little. I loved how Caliane’s words made Aodhan think beyond his pain & think about Illium. The closeness of their friendship and changing relationship is what I loved most about this book. I liked the sexy parts. The admitabbly short sexy parts.

I also laughed like no one’s business when I read this:

“Literally throwing up his hands, Illium said, “Fine. I’m going over there”. He pointed to the far side of the site. “Nowhere near your sparklehole vicinity”

Hahaha.

Holly: Yes, I really loved seeing Aodhan and Illium with Raphael. I think my favorite interactions were the ones with Nassir, though. I just loved how he was with them. And when he found Aodhan? Oh, my heart broke.

Casee: What about the sexy times between Aodhan & Illium? Were you satisfied? Did you expect more?

Holly: I was super angry when I finished the book, because it felt like we got nothing in the romance department from then. But then I saw that their story will be continued in another book and I was okay with it.

Casee: Samesies. I felt so disappointed at the end of the book. It felt like Nalini kind of copped out on the romance, but now we know that is not true. I’m so excited to see these two in future books.

I had no idea that Illium and his father (Aegoan?) were so close when he was young. I just can’t imagine how devastating it would be to lose a parent like that. And what he did to Sharine? Unforgivable. Bastard. I’m giving this book a 4 out of 5. What about you?

Holly: I was really glad to learn more about both Illium’s and Sharine’s relationships with his father. It was interesting to learn more of their backstory, and it explained so much.

I’m going to give this a 4 out of 5. I would have given it 3.5 if not for the promise of more in the future. I love Bluebell and Sparkle and I can’t wait for more from them.

Ratings

Casee: 4 out of 5.
Holly: 4 out of 5.

Guild Hunter Series

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Archangel’s Light by Nalini Singh

Posted October 24, 2021 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 3 Comments

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. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight: Archangel’s Light by Nalini SinghArchangel's Light by Nalini Singh
Series: Guild Hunter #14
Also in this series: Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Consort, Archangel's Blade, Archangel's Consort, Archangel's Storm, Archangel's Storm (Guild Hunter #5), Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Legion (Guild Hunter #6), Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Shadows, Archangel's Enigma (Guild Hunter, #8), Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter #1), Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart, Archangel's Heart (Guild Hunter, #9), Archangel's Kiss, Angels' Blood, Archangel's Viper (Guild Hunter, #10), Archangel's Viper, Archangel's Prophecy, Archangel's Consort (Guild Hunter, #3), Archangel's Prophecy, Archangel's War, Archangel's War , Archangel's Kiss, Archangel's Sun, Archangel's Light
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: October 26, 2021
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 397
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

Nalini Singh returns to the world of the Guild Hunters for the most highly anticipated novel of the beloved series—a love story so epic it’s been half a millennia in the making…

Illium and Aodhan. Aodhan and Illium. For centuries they’ve been inseparable: the best of friends, closer than brothers, companions of the heart. But that was before—before darkness befell Aodhan and shattered him, body, mind, and soul. Now, at long last, Aodhan is healing, but his new-found strength and independence may come at a devastating cost—his relationship with Illium.

As they serve side by side in China, a territory yet marked by the evil of its former archangel, the secret it holds nightmarish beyond imagining, things come to an explosive decision point. Illium and Aodhan must either walk away from the relationship that has defined them—or step forward into a future that promises a bond infinitely precious in the life of an immortal…but that demands a terrifying vulnerability from two badly bruised hearts.

Excerpt

Excerpt from Archangel’s Light by Nalini Singh

 

They walked in silence. It should’ve been comfortable, just two warriors heading down to speak to their archangel, but it was like prickles on his skin. Illium was never like this with him. So charming and lighthearted without giving away the smallest piece of himself.

Pretty and amiable and so false that Aodhan wanted to yell at him, have it out in a knock-down, drag-out fight to end all fights. And Aodhan didn’t yell or pick fights. Except it appeared, with everyone’s favorite Bluebell.

“Nice décor.” Illium pointed at a painting of a masked ball manic in its use of color, the brushstrokes going in countless serrated directions. “Good thing I didn’t see that before turning in. Imagine my dreams.”

“We haven’t had the time to worry about aesthetics,” Aodhan muttered, sounding like one of the stiff-assed old angels even to himself.

Illium didn’t roll his eyes and tease him about his abrupt descent into crotchety old age. He didn’t even scowl or make an annoyed face. He just carried on.

As if nothing Aodhan did or said mattered.

Aodhan’s hand fisted at his side, his lips parting before he clamped them shut. This wasn’t the time to confront Illium about his behavior.

Having reached the edge of the railingless mezzanine, he dropped down to the lower floor of the stronghold. As with most angelic residences, the central core of the place was open, giving him plenty of room to spread his wings to slow his descent.

He caught Illium coming down next to him—plenty far enough away that their wings didn’t as much as brush at the tips. Polite, so damn polite when Illium was never polite to Aodhan. He was affectionate, irritating at times, wicked always. Polite between them was a calculated rudeness.

Teeth gritted, he led Illium through a side door and into the untamed garden that flourished despite the biting cold that foretold bitter snows. According to Suyin’s scholars, this region wasn’t one for severe winters, but no one knew what Lijuan’s death fog had done to the land.

They wouldn’t know the whole of it for years, decades even.

Aodhan had advised Suyin to prepare her people for a hard winter when she first chose the stronghold as her interim base, and she’d immediately put a survival plan into action. No one would freeze or starve even if the entire landscape became a sea of endless white.

Illium whistled, the sound low and musical. “Now this is more like it.”

Having glanced at him in the split second before he breathed out that statement, Aodhan saw his first true glimpse of his friend. Illium’s eyes sparked with unconcealed wonder as he reached out toward a lush white flower so big and heavy that it drooped from its own weight.

Aodhan instinctively shot out his arm, blocking Illium from making contact with the flower—without ever touching the other man. Illium had made it clear that such contact was unwanted. “It has a narcotic-like liquid on its petals,” he explained. “Does actually affect angels if we forget we’ve touched it then rub our eyes or get it into our mouth. Visions, distortions of reality for an hour or so.”

Illium sighed, his expression morose. “Why did I think Her Evilness would have a normal garden?”

Aodhan’s lips wanted to twitch, the words were so Illium—though the moniker had come from Elena. “All of the plants in this garden are both lovely and peculiar.”

When Illium said nothing further, Aodhan took him down a path bordered by trees that had been swamped by sweetly fragrant vines with shiny leaves of dark green and tiny white blooms. At the feet of the trees grew mushrooms in an array of colors unnatural and striking.

“We don’t know the effects of all the plants, just the ones where an unfortunate member of the court has unintentionally made themselves a guinea pig.” The subject held no emotional weight for Aodhan, was an easy one to use to fill the painful silence between them. “There’s a pond deeper inside, the water a clear and cool green that’s now filmed by ice in the mornings.”

“Is it infested with flesh-eating fish?” Illium said sourly.

Aodhan did laugh then; it burst out of him without warning. He hadn’t laughed since he’d come to this land, the sadness of it overwhelming. But Illium . . . Illium had always known how to make him laugh, make him remember what it was to be happy.

 

From ARCHANGEL’S LIGHT published by arrangement with Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2021 by Nalini Singh.

Guild Hunter Series

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: October 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 Nalini Singh

I've been writing as long as I can remember and all of my stories always held a thread of romance (even when I was writing about a prince who could shoot lasers out of his eyes). I love creating unique characters, love giving them happy endings and I even love the voices in my head. There's no other job I would rather be doing. In September 2002, when I got the call that Silhouette Desire wanted to buy my first book, Desert Warrior, it was a dream come true. I hope to continue living the dream until I keel over of old age on my keyboard.

I was born in Fiji and raised in New Zealand. I also spent three years living and working in Japan, during which time I took the chance to travel around Asia. I’m back in New Zealand now, but I’m always plotting new trips. If you’d like to see some of my travel snapshots, have a look at the Travel Diary page (updated every month).

So far, I've worked as a lawyer, a librarian, a candy factory general hand, a bank temp and an English teacher and not necessarily in that order. Some might call that inconsistency but I call it grist for the writer's mill.


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Review: Wicked Wish by Veronica Douglas & Linsey Hall

Posted September 1, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Wicked Wish by Veronica Douglas & Linsey HallReviewer: Holly
Wicked Wish by Veronica Douglas, Linsey Hall
Series: Dragon's Gift: The Storm #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 22, 2021
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

I’m at the mercy of a fallen angel.

I work for the Order of Magica, the supernatural version of the FBI. Sounds fun, right? Except I spend my days chained to my desk, writing reports, and wishing that I was out solving crimes.

Well, be careful what you wish for.

When my best friend is abducted, my life in Chicago turns upside down.

I’ll do anything to get her back—even work with Damian Malek, a wanted criminal, notorious crime lord, and dangerous fallen angel. He’s hot, lethal, and he's the only one who can help me master my dangerous powers. I don't want anyone to know about my magic, but I have no choice if I want to save my friend.

Here's the catch: if the Order finds out that I’m working with Damian, I’ll get canned. Maybe even hunted for what I am. But if I don’t give him what he wants, he’ll reveal my secret to the world.

It appears this is a spin-off of another series, but it’s the first book by the authors I’ve read. I enjoyed it and didn’t feel like I missed anything by starting here.

Neveah Cross works for the Order as a researcher, but she’s trying to get promoted to investigator. When her best friend, Rhiannon, (who is an investigator) calls to say she’s needed in the field, she rushes out to help contain two demons, thinking this may be her chance. The problem? She’s half-djinn and if the Order finds out there’s a good chance she’ll never be seen or heard from again. So she has to keep her power hidden.

When Damian Malek, a crime boss and fallen angel, contacts her and asks for her help containing an evil djinn who keeps kidnapping Supernaturals, Neve has to decline. She can’t risk being found out…Until Rhiannon goes missing. Then Neve will do whatever it takes to get her back, even work with Damian. Neve has spent her whole life hiding her power, but now she has to learn to master it – and quick – if she’s going to save Rhia and contain the Djinn.

I enjoyed Neve as the MC. She’s smart and capable, though unschooled in her powers. She did feel kind of young to me at times. Not sheltered, exactly, but lacking in maturity about some things in the world. I really loved her friendship with Rhiannon, and how she would do anything for her.

Damian was an enigma, dark and mysterious, but also caring and protective. A bad boy with a heart of gold, or someone with his own agenda who is using Neve? I enjoyed getting to know him through Neve, and I’m curious to see where things go in the next book. I didn’t love the way this ended – cliffhanger, ugh – but the world, action, adventure and characters kept me glued to the pages. I’m looking forward to learning more about the world and discovering what’s really going on with Damian.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Dragon’s Gift: The Storm

four-stars


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Review: Shifters in the Night by Molly Harper

Posted August 25, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Shifters in the Night by Molly HarperReviewer: Holly
Shifters in the Night by Molly Harper
Narrator: Amanda Ronconi, Jonathan Davis
Series: Mystic Bayou #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, One Fine Fae
Publisher: Audible Studios on Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: September 21, 2021
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Plus
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Length: 6 hours, 43 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A chance meeting leads to a wild ride in this irresistible audio-first romance by Audie Award-nominated author Molly Harper! 

Lia Doe came to Mystic Bayou for one simple reason: to get her job done. Namely, to build a housing complex for all the new residents flocking to town since word of its supernatural population got out. But from the moment Lia arrives, it's clear that nothing about the job is going to be simple.

First, there's the mysterious guy she meets in the middle of the night while they're both cavorting in their alternate forms. Spending time with shape-shifters is nothing new to Lia, but there's something special about Jon Carmody…and the magical pull she feels whenever he's near. There's also a sense of homecoming and belonging in Mystic Bayou that makes her want to stick around - despite the dangers brewing from mysterious forces.

Will Lia complete her project with her heart unscathed, or will her life shift forever?

Shifters in the Night (Mystic Bayou #5) by Molly Harper brings us back to the magically eclectic town of Mystic Bayou, where magie (magical beings of all kinds) have lived in harmony for centuries. Thanks to the recent outing of magie in the world, people are flocking to Mystic Bayou in droves. As a result, there’s a housing shortage. Lia Doe is the project manager in charge of building a housing complex in town. She’s surprised at how at home she feels in town, considering she’s always been a big-city girl. Meeting local Jon Carmody is just the icing on the cake. Amid weirdness from her boss and putting out fires he creates, she really settles into life in Mystic Bayou.

Ever since a kraken attack left him scarred, Jon has mostly turned into a curmudgeon. His brother, Will, has been trying to get him out and about more, which is how he realizes the beautiful creature he swam with late at night in his lake, and whom he thought was a figment of his imagination, is really the new construction project manager. Determined to get to know her better, she attempts to get outside his comfort zone.

This is such a fun series, I always love returning to Mystic Bayou. I really love the entire town and the cast of characters from previous books. I didn’t love the story as much this time around. I really liked Jon and Lia separately, but I didn’t love the conflict that keeps them apart, or their romance. I really wish they would have just communicated with each other instead of jumping to conclusions. That was a minor part of the story, however, and didn’t run my enjoyment as a whole.

While this wasn’t my favorite book of the series, it was a good listen and I’m always glad to return to Mystic Bayou.

Rating 3.75 out of 5

Mystic Bayou

three-half-stars


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