Tag: 3.0 Reviews

Throwback Thursday Review: Shadow Woman by Linda Howard

Posted September 10, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Shadow Woman by Linda HowardReviewer: Rowena
Shadow Woman by Linda Howard
Publisher: Ballantine
Publication Date: December 26, 2012
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
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three-stars

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
From Linda Howard comes a thrilling and sensual new novel of romance, suspense, intrigue . . . and memories that can kill. SHADOW WOMAN  Lizette Henry wakes up one morning and makes a terrifying discovery: She doesn’t recognize the face she sees in the mirror. She remembers what she looks like, but her reflection is someone else’s. To add to the shock, two years seem to have disappeared from her life. Someone has gone to great and inexplicable lengths to keep those missing years hidden forever. But the past always finds a way to return.   Strange memories soon begin to surface and, along with them, some unusual skills and talents that Lizette hasn’t a clue about acquiring. Sensing that she’s being monitored, Lizette suddenly knows how to search for bugs in her house and tracking devices in her car. What’s more, she can elude surveillance—like a trained agent.   Enter a mysterious and seductive stranger named Xavier, who claims he wants to help—but who triggers disturbing images of an unspeakable crime of which Lizette may or may not be the perpetrator. With memories returning, she suddenly becomes a target of anonymous assassins. On the run with nowhere to hide, Lizette has no choice but to rely on Xavier, a strong and magnetic man she doesn’t trust, with a powerful attraction she cannot resist. As murky waters become clear, Lizette confronts a conspiracy that is treacherous and far-reaching and a truth that, once revealed, may silence her and Xavier once and for all.
BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Linda Howard's Running Wild.
Praise for Shadow Woman  “Dazzling . . . From the opening line, [Shadow Woman] will grab readers and take them on an exhilarating and terrifying adventure!”—RT Book Reviews   “Fast-paced, intricately detailed romantic suspense . . . Readers won’t want to put it down until the extraordinary conclusion. . . . Highly recommended.”—Fresh Fiction   “An intriguing plot and captivating characters [with] lots of drama, tension, intrigue and suspense.”—The Star-Ledger

This review was originally posted on January 23, 2013.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book by Linda Howard.  I don’t even remember the last book that I read by Howard but whatever it was, I read it a while ago.  I was kind of wary going into this read because I read online that a chunk of readers were disappointed in this book and I also read that the hero and heroine don’t even come together (like talk to each other) until more than halfway through the book.  So yeah, I was scared to start this one.

Having read it from cover to cover now, I can say that the readers were right that the hero and heroine talk to each other (as love interests) for the first time at about the 70% mark on my Kindle copy.  But I wasn’t too mad about that, I was actually very interested in what was going on in the story that I didn’t mind too much.

This story takes place in DC and follows Lizette Henry as she tries to remember the life that brought her to where she is today.  She wakes up one morning and doesn’t recognize the face that is looking back at her in the mirror.  Things aren’t adding up to what she knows and she starts to remember how to do things that she can’t remember learning so a huge chunk of this book is trying to find out what happened to Lizette that brought her here and so on and so forth.

Lizette is known as Subject C to the people that are monitoring her.  Her entire life is bugged.  There isn’t a part of her life that isn’t carefully monitored and Lizette doesn’t have any idea why.  When flashbacks start coming in, Lizette starts relying on old habits that she doesn’t remember but knows how to do anyway.  When the bullets start flying, Liz is on her own until the guy that she’s been dreaming about, X shows up and at first she doesn’t trust him because he shows up with guns and he’s chasing her and blah blah blah but that changes after they finally talk.

I enjoyed this story but I will admit that it was really slow in the beginning.  It took me a while to really get into the story but by about the fifth or sixth chapter, things picked up and things got interesting.  I enjoyed the characters and I enjoyed the putting the puzzle pieces together.  This book was kind of like The Hangover, the Secret Service edition.  Lots of action, not a lot of romance but still an enjoyable read.  I would have liked to get to know Xavier a bit more but aside from that, this was a good read.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

three-stars


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Review: Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge

Posted August 12, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana DoidgeReviewer: Holly
Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge
Series: The Dowser #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: June 18, 2013
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 266
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

If you’d asked me a week ago, I would have told you that the best cupcakes were dark chocolate with chocolate cream cheese icing, that dancing in a crowd of magic wielders — the Adept — was better than sex, and that my life was peaceful and uneventful. Just the way I liked it.

That’s what twenty-three years in the magical backwater of Vancouver will get you — a completely skewed sense of reality. Because when the dead werewolves started showing up, it all unraveled … except for the cupcake part. That’s a universal truth.

I asked for recommendations for Paranormal/UF Romances on Twitter and this was one of the titles I received. Cupcakes, Trinkets and Other Deadly Magic is the first book in the Dowser series by Meghan Ciana Doidge.

Jade is a witch with very little power, who owns/runs a bakery and makes trinkets that her sister sells. Her life is quiet and that’s just how she likes it. Until a vampire turns up in town, followed shortly by a Shifter Pack, thinking Jade is responsible for the murder of one of their own. Between an inconvenient crush on one of the Shifters, issues with her sister and her MIA grandma, things go from quiet to crazy in no time at all.

I really enjoyed the world Doidge created. It was easy to fall into, and the mystery of why the vampire was in town and what was up with the Shifters kept me reading. But I have to say, I wasn’t a fan of Jade or her family. Jade’s “head in the sand” mentality grated on me. She was happy to just skip through life without thinking too much about things, and that was fine. Until her life was in danger and things started going crazy. Then her refusal to face things or look into what was going on around her frustrated me. I figured out who the baddie was right from the beginning, but I hoped I’d be proven wrong. I wasn’t. I really wanted some layers there, or for something better to come of it.

There is no romance in this novel, but I liked the interpersonal relationships and I look forward to learning more about the Shifters and Vampires.

This was an interesting start to a new series. Parts of it were predictable, I figured out the villain very early on and I didn’t love the main character, but the bones of the novel were good and I’m curious enough to continue on. Plus, Lillie recommended the series and I trust her judgment.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Dowser

three-stars


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Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Seducing A Scottish Bride by Sue-Ellen Welfonder

Posted July 30, 2020 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Features, Reviews | 5 Comments

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Seducing A Scottish Bride by Sue-Ellen WelfonderReviewer: Tracy
Seducing a Scottish Bride by Sue-Ellen Welfonder
Series: MacKenzie #6
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: March 1, 2009
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 366
Add It: Goodreads
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three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

Gelis MacKenzie is one of the most desirable heiresses in all the Western Highlands. She is the youngest and much adored daughter of the indomitable Black Stag of Kintail, Duncan MacKenzie, who was the hero of Welfonder's novel DEVIL IN A KILT. Unfortunately, Gelis has been branded unmarriageable, but not for lack of masculine interest. No matter how lofty the ancestry, how deep the purse, or how mighty the sword arm, nary a one of her suitors is good enough for her father. Although he loves Gelis fiercely and knows he must someday see her settled and wed, Duncan isn't quite ready to let her go.

But now Duncan has received an offer for Gelis's hand in marriage that he is honor-bound to accept-and it comes from the worst possible quarter. The suitor, Ronan MacRuari of Castle Dare, is the last man Duncan MacKenzie would wish for a son-in-law. Known as the Raven, Ronan is the scion of a dark clan that has been marked by a deadly curse.

Ronan and Gelis are instantly attracted to one another, but they are immediately estranged. Ronan's last two wives have died abruptly and he doesn't want to see his vivacious newly-wed Gelis suffer the same fate, so he distances himself from her as much as possible. In the meantime, Ronan searches for the Raven Stone, a fabled treasure that he believes holds the power of the curse over his clan. But Gelis has fallen in love with her new husband, and she's determined to help him. Though Ronan doesn't know it, Gelis also has the gift of second-sight, and she has seen a future in which she is destined to help redeem her cursed husband.

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on March 5, 2009.

After Gelis’s vision of the man she is to marry she is very excited about the match. She knows nothing about the curse on the MacRuari clan at first but when she hears of it is bound and determined that she call aid in the breaking of it.

Ronan MacRuari is dead set against this arranged marriage – arranged by his grandfather. He is certain that he is cursed to the point of thinking bad things and having them come true. He doesn’t want to have yet another wife, his 3rd, die as the other two have.

This book was a little confusing for me. The curse was explained but until the end you didn’t know exactly what the curse was and even then it was sketchy. The Holders, who were the ancient Druids that were the ones who cursed the MacRuari clan were talked about but it was never definitely stated exactly who they were or where they came from. Now, this appears to be the 6th book in the series so these items may have been spoken about previously but as a newcomer to Ms. Welfonder’s work I was a tad baffled by things occasionally.

It was a cute book though. I normally like my romances to have a little more depth in them when it comes to the relationship between the hero and heroine but for a historical book with an arranged marriage it was nice. I also thought the book had a good mixture of reality and magic so if you like a tad bit of paranormal in your historical this would be a great book for you.

And can I just say I love the cover of this book! There’s just something about it. Maybe because we see so many “fronts” of people these days that it’s a nice change to see the back! lol

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Joint Review: Crush the King by Jennifer Estep

Posted July 23, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Joint Review: Crush the King by Jennifer EstepReviewer: Holly and Amy
Crush the King by Jennifer Estep
Series: Crown of Shards #3
Also in this series: Kill the Queen, Protect the Prince
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 416
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A fierce gladiator queen must face off against her enemies in an epic battle in this next thrilling installment of New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Estep’s Crown of Shards series—an action-packed adventure full of magic, murderous machinations, courtly intrigue, and pulse-pounding romance.
Queen Everleigh Blair of Bellona has survived the mass murder of the royal family, become a fearsome warrior trained by an elite gladiator troupe, and unleashed her ability to destroy magic. After surviving yet another assassination attempt orchestrated by the conniving king of Morta, Evie has had enough. It’s time to turn the tables and take the fight to her enemies. 
There is no better opportunity to strike than during the Regalia Games, a time when warriors, nobles, and royals from all the kingdoms come together to compete in various sporting events. With the help of her loyal friends, Evie goes on the attack at the Regalia, but things don’t turn out the way she hopes. Soon, she is facing a terrifying new threat, and she will have to dig deep and learn even more about her growing magic if she has any chance of defeating her foes.
Because to secure her throne and ensure her kingdom’s survival, Evie must think like a true Bellonan: she must outsmart and outwit her enemies . . . and crush the king.

In the previous book, Protect the Prince, Everleigh secured her crown as Queen of Bellona by securing a treaty with the Andvari. But she knows this isn’t enough. She can’t become complacent and that fact is immediately brought home by another assassination attempt. This time from a different foe, but the one pulling the strings is the Mortan King. Evie is sick of always being on the defense so she decides she’ll go on the offense at the upcoming Regalia Games.

Ames: All right. June was a weird reading month for us so unfortunately we lost Wena for this review.

Holly, what did you think of Crush the King?

Holly: I really like the world Estep has created. The court intrigue and games interested me, and I definitely admire Evie’s strength. I didn’t like how isolated Evie seemed, even amidst her friends from the Troupe. I was also very disappointed in the romance. You?

Ames: I agree, she came across as very isolated from her people and the romance was definitely on the back-burner. I feel like Sullivan could have had a bigger role without undermining her. All her people were in the backseat.

Holly: One of the things I loved best in the first book was the way her relationship with Sully developed and how her friendships with those in the Black Swan troupe grew and deepened. I feel like we saw less and less of them as the series wore on. By the end of this book, I felt like they added nothing to the story, other than some background noise. I wish we’d see more of them growing as a “family”, which is what it felt like they were becoming in the first book.

Ames: Ok, I liked the world Estep created, but I found the world-building in this book hard to get through. The introduction of the Games and Fortuna just dragged on for me. But once the action started I enjoyed the story more. I love the court games she played with Maximus – not showing her fear, one-upping him any chance she could, thwarting his plans. I like that she had learned enough and was confident enough with herself to pull all that off. The overall arch of her own scheme was very well-done.

Holly: You’re not wrong about the early part of the book being hard to get through. I also didn’t love how she decided she was going to handle the King of Morta at first. I liked how she came to accept that her initial plan wasn’t the best one and went with something that worked better for the person she wanted to be.

Ames: I like how she changed her plan for dealing with the King as well. It played to her strength – she observes and she learns and then she adapts. She doesn’t act until she looks at a problem from all sides.

But once the action started with the games, I enjoyed the story more. I also liked those flashbacks for how she got away after the assassination of her family, when she was a child.

Holly: I enjoyed the story more once the action picked up, too. The flashbacks were great and gave us a lot of insight into how and why she did what she did. I enjoyed that aspect of it.

Ames : Do you think she’s going to write more in this world? I liked the introduction of Leo and how he’s torn by loyalty to his family.

Holly: I swear I remember seeing mention of more from this world, but I can’t remember where I read it. I hope she does. I’d like to see more from Gemma, too.

Ames: I’d love to see Gemma again. And Grimley.

Holly: GRIMLEY! I need a Grimley in my life.

Ames: Ok, what are you grading this book? I have to give it a 3 out of 5. Although I was pleased with Evie’s long game plan when it came to Maeven and how she set out to get the King of Morta, the beginning was hard to get into and I was disappointed in how the secondary characters were side-lined.

Holly: I think I’m going to give it a 3.5 out of 5. I really liked Evie’s strength and the games, but it moved slow in the beginning and I definitely didn’t like how little we saw of the secondary characters. I do hope she continues to write in this world, though.

Final Grades

Ames: 3 out of 5
Holly: 3.5 out of 5

Crown of Shards

three-half-stars


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Joint Review: The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy

Posted April 28, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: The Orchid Throne by Jeffe KennedyReviewer: Ames, Holly, and Rowena
The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy
Series: Forgotten Empires #1
Also in this series: The Orchid Throne
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Welcome to the world of Forgotten Empires from award winning author Jeffe Kennedy that begins with The Orchid Throne.

A PRISONER OF FATEAs Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Euthalia will do anything to keep her people free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…

A PRINCE AMONG MENConrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Euthalia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?

The Orchid Throne (Forgotten Empires #1) first came on my radar last year. I thought the cover was gorgeous and the premise intrigued me. It fell by the wayside until I saw the second book was going to be published soon. I asked Rowena and Amy if they wanted to read the first book with me, and they agreed.

Queen Euthalia was promised in marriage to the evil emperor of the realm in order to keep their island – and secrets – safe. For years she’s lived under the threat of their engagement, but she’s managed to keep him at bay by projecting a carefree, vapid image and playing a very delicate game of politics behind the scenes.

Now, a new threat has come to the shores of Calanthe….a changed wolf of a man, who is determined to avenge his family by murdering the Emperor. Conri needs Lia to agree to marry him….because prophecy says in order to defeat the emperor, he’s going to need her help.

Holly: This was different than I expected. It started really slow for me, and it took almost half the book before it picked up. What did you two think?

Ames: I agree, the beginning was slow for me too. But I was sucked into it when I realized Con had to go to Calanthe for magical reasons and that would make him and Lia meet. They were two strong characters and I liked them together.

Rowena: This one started off a bit slow for me too and even, in the end, I thought the world was interesting but I don’t know, in the end, I still didn’t completely connect with any of the characters and what was going on. I also wasn’t a fan of the jumping first-person POV business. In the beginning, it took me out of every chapter and I played catch up a lot.

strong>Ames: Lia is a true queen, worrying about her land and her people. This puts her at odds with Conri’s path of revenge because she sees his way as putting Calanthe in danger. And Conri wants revenge against the evil emperor Anure, who is responsible for his father’s death. And Conri’s own enslavement.

Holly: I do wonder how things are going to work out for them in the future. Lia’s sole focus is protecting Calanthe, and at times I wondered if her loyalty to the Island itself would put her at odds with Con. Even though they seemed to come to an understanding, I doubt it’s going to be smooth sailing going forward.

Holly: What did you think of Lia’s best friend, Tertulyn? She was obviously up to some shady stuff. Do you think she’s loyal or do you think she’s conspiring against Lia?

Ames: I don’t want Tertulyn to be a betrayer. But the way she was acting was so shady! I honestly thought she was there for Lia.

Rowena: I definitely think that Tertulyn is doing some shady shit right now. She’s too mad about Con and his men overtaking her family’s home and she thinks they’ve killed her family. I bet you she’s gone to Anure to betray Euthalia. I’m Enter ominous music here I’m not a fan of the way that Tertulyn acts and treats Euthalia, it doesn’t feel sincere to me so I’m thinking she’s definitely going to betray her.

Holly: I want Tertulyn to be loyal, but she’s definitely acting shady right now and I’m pretty sure she isn’t going to come out looking good in this.

Rowena: I agree with you, Holly. I just don’t have a good feeling about her so I’m counting on the betrayal. She’s gonna try and make a run of it as Anure’s wife, watch.

Ames: Also, how hilarious was Ambrose and his bird? That scene in the garden and then afterwards with the guards? I was cracking up!

Holly: I loved Ambrose and his bird. That scene in the garden was hilarious.

Rowena: I really liked Ambrose and his bird (and the staff) as well. He definitely marches to his own tune and seeing him annoy the snot out of Conri and then, later on, Euthalila, it was great.

Rowena: I am curious to see where their story takes them in the next book so I’m definitely interested in continuing the series. What about you guys?

Holly: I’m definitely interested to see where the story goes. I do wonder if the second book will also end in a cliffhanger. I haven’t heard how many books are planned for this series.

Ames: I’m definitely interested in reading more from this series. Lia and Con are going to argue over every step they take going forward. But I think they’ll make a good team when it comes time to fight Anure.

I know there’s a third book coming out next year – but I’m not sure how many books are planned in the series overall though.

Rowena: I do plan on reading the other books in this series but I have to say, I wasn’t all that jazzed about the ending of this book. I’m hoping that there won’t be any more of that nonsense.

Overall, this was an interesting start to a new series and I’m curious enough to want to continue so I’ll definitely be reading but I wasn’t a huge fan of the pacing of this story, the constant whiplash I got from the changing POV and that ending wasn’t my favorite either. I’d give this one 3 stars, what about you guys?

Holly: I agree, the premise was interesting and I like the world, but the pacing was off and the ending frustrated me. I’m going to read the next book, but I think I’ll wait until we know how many are planned before I pick it up.

I’d give it 3.5 out of 5.

Ames: I agree with you guys – the pacing was a bit off and the beginning was very slow. However once things picked up I was into it right to the end. Yes the ending was abrupt and if I had read this book when it came out, I would have been super frustrated to wait a year to read the next one. LOL So knowing that’s how this book ended, I kind of want to wait until book 3 is released before reading book 2.

I really enjoyed the characters and once we got into the world-building, I liked that too. I’m giving The Orchid Throne 3.75 out of 5.

Final Grades

Ames: 3.75 out of 5
Holly: 3.5 out of 5
Rowena: 3 out of 5

Forgotten Empire

three-half-stars


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