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Jocelyn Adams - Living life one word at a time

I'm an author and lover of dark fantasy and romance books.

The Immortal Highlander - Karen Marie Moning Adam Black. I could leave the review right there and say all I needed to, only add a little whispery sigh when you say his name, and there you have it. The delicious fae blacksmith has appeared through out the series as somewhat of an antagonist, a wild card, and damn sexy in every last one with his shining black locks and body to die for. He’s arrogant and full of himself, so sure of his effect on women and sexual prowess.

KMM really ripped him a new one in this book, starting right off with a bang right after the last book ended. He’s not the same, having suffered a punishment by the fae queen for defying her yet again. He meets his match in Gabrielle, a Sidhe-Seer who is the only one anywhere who can see him, and the only one who doesn’t want to.

The way the relationship progresses from two stubborn heads butting together, to sexual tension almost unbearable to take is so natural and believable, I was nearly shouting at the characters to shut it and get naked already! There were sweet moments, too, and misunderstandings between them that made the story all the more interesting. There are some seriously hot scenes in this one, even hotter than in book one with Hawk.

Loved. Every. Page.

Five stars, as usual. I’m not a sappy romance kind of person, yet this one really lit my fire. Hard won relationship, hot alpha male who is far from perfect, and a heroine who I could identify with put this book in a class above the rest.
Kiss the Dead - Laurell K. Hamilton Well, that was great up until the ending. Anti-climactic. Full Review to come soon.
Oracle - J.C.  Martin The first thing I noticed was the author really knows how to throw down a scene. Well written, constructed perfectly, and boy howdy does she know how to leave the reader hanging at the end of every chapter. Being a fan of British television and movies, I enjoyed the tone of the book and the Britishisms that give the read oodles of personality and charm.

Kurt was great, the main detective in the novel. His struggle with loss, being a single dad to a young girl with special needs, and the balance needed between family hardships and career made for a complicated and heart-touching character. I really pulled for him and his daughter, even for his wayward brother, to make it through okay in the end.

The villain in this was deliciously creepy, just how I like them. He truly believed in what he was doing, making me feel sorry for him while loathing him at the same time. Bravo.

I had a couple of small sticking points with Oracle. The first is more of a personal preference and no reflection on the writer or the work, and that’s the changing POV. It moves back and forth from first person to third person, and the latter took me into many heads. Having said that, there was only once or twice I had to flip back pages to try and figure out whose head I was in, so although I’d prefer not hop around that way, the shifts were were fairly well done with distinct enough voices to make it work.

The second is that small parts of the ending were predictable, a certain scene making it too obvious how the fight at the ending would go down between the good guy and the bad guy.

Other parts seemed to be unfinished, like the budding relationship between Blaise and Kurt. With hints dropped throughout the book with a frequency that it seemed important to the author, I took notice and hoped it might lead to something good for Kurt and his family, but that story arc was never resolved. I’m not sure if this is intended to be a series, and if it is, then that makes sense. It could just be the romantic in me projecting, too. :) I'm also left wondering if a certain injury will lead to a permanent disability.

Still, I really enjoyed the read. Four cupcakes!

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good crime thriller with a great author "voice" that'll mess with your head a bit.
Tidal Whispers - Jocelyn Adams Four and a half stars!

Heart's Desire, by Julie Reece

Like everything else of this author's that I've had the pleasure to read, the writing is vivid and poetic, painting the underwater world like a dream for me to walk through as I read the story. Passages like this always have me re-reading just so I can savor the flow of words through my thoughts:

In her bliss, she twirled, forcing yards of fabric to shoot away from her body. She spun from the mirror, halting against a form both firm and yielding. One strong hand enveloped hers, while the other slipped around her middle, pulling her close. On cue, soft music from an unseen orchestra filled the hall. Strings first, low and haunting, followed by wind instruments. Eerie and intoxicating, the sounds worked like a potion to further muddle her already altered state.

The emotion in this one is quite raw and touching in places, and the connection between Tess and Cam is magnetic. I was shouting inside my head as I followed Tess through the obstacles preventing her from being with Cam, saying, Come on, just throw caution to the wind and get with that man! The ending gave me pause for a moment, that Cam should have known to offer the other option than the one he presented, but it was a small thing and did little to detract from my overall enjoyment.

The Sweetest Song by Claire Gillian

I love the ebb and flow of this one, and the emotion when Circe's quandary surfaces: to save herself and destroy Otis, or save him and suffer the consequences. The imagery is beautiful and the interactions between the two are light with an air of humor. Check out this taste:

Circe spied the tall, dark-haired man clutching his trench coat fronts together, his head ducked down. Frigid rain fell in cascading sheets, and few souls ventured out that morning. The scents of dead fish and seawater infused even the raindrops. Bruised skies gave no indication they planned to take pity on the inhabitants of Homer or allow any respite for the sun.

Bruised skies - I love that! Claire Gillian never ceases to make me stop and think why didn't I think of that awesome line! The love that bloomed came on rather quickly, but given that this is a short story, it kind of has to be that way to fit in all the plot elements within the word allowance. Goodness knows, I struggled with the same issue in my story.

Pearl of Pau’maa by Kelly Said

This is the sweetest of the stories and very well written. Although the pace is a bit slower than my usual hundred-mile-an-hour personal preference, I appreciated the depth of character-building that took place and the subtle world-building through the characters' thoughts. Here's a nice tease:

Miki’s lean body slowly undulated, bubbles streaming down from her nose. Her empty hands pointed up, stretching for the refracted beams of sunlight just beyond her reach. Her graceful swaying switched to frantic kicking and arms flailing as she fought to break free of the water and pull in a desperate breath of air.

I can totally see this scene in my head. So well done. The story of the pearl was interesting, letting me suspend my disbelief at the insta-love between Miki and Harmon. It ended a little too neat and tidy for me, but again, that's no reflection on the author or the story itself, just my personal preference, that I like to see characters suffer lots before the happily ever after comes. I know, I'm a big meanie! :)

Still, I really enjoyed the read and look forward to more of Kelly Said's tales.
Crux - Julie Reece Cover

Isn't this cover amazing? I loved having this image of Birdie in my mind's eye as I read, and I could totally see this cover girl throughout the story, surviving through what the author put her through. Whatever artist created this is incredible. I bow to you, whoever you are. Your talent is mind-blowing.
What I loved about the book:

In one word: Birdie. Her character is so simple, yet so complex it just about blew my mind. She's hilarious and wounded deeply, a survivor I couldn't help but pull for. As an author, I'm always looking for what works and what doesn't, and the characters and world Ms. Reece creates are colorful and believable, working to paint a complex tapestry for me to admire and even learn a thing or two from.

I've read scarce few present tense books that I enjoyed. It has to be spot on, and this one is, and how. I was IN the story as I was reading, right there with Birdie.

There are subtle lines throughout the book like these that are extremely creative and awe-inspiring:

“Uh hmm. That’s why you be sittin’ here in someone else’s piss? Girl, you gonna have to come up with somethin’ better than that.” Shondra shakes her head. She looks younger than me, but, like, a hundred years old, too. I can’t explain the quick bond between us, but I like her, and I don’t like many people. “They’s places you can go. Some churches, a day shelter on Ethel Street, Hosea House on Donnelly Avenue, and the Guthrie Shelter, but you ain’t got no kids, right?”
She scoots closer on her butt cheeks until our shoulders touch. “Then you can’t go there. You stick with Shondra, honey. I’ll help you.”
Seeing as how Shondra is sitting in the same pee I am, I don’t know what she thinks she can do for me, but at least I’m not alone.

That simple line, that Shondra is sitting in the same pee struck me when I read it. Simple, vivid, tells a story within the story in only a few words. Birdie's "voice" is just perfect.

Here's another bit that makes me love Birdie in all her blunt glory:

My trip to the corner market was fun. When you’re homeless, you don’t dream of Perrier, or the surf and turf special at the local steakhouse that you pay for with plastic from your new Coach purse. You dream of bologna and cheese sandwiches, bottled water, and a grocery bag to keep your crap in.

This is a wonderful story that young adult fans everywhere are going to gobble up and rave about.
Drink Deep - Chloe Neill Wow, where to start. After reading the first book, I wasn't sure this would be a series that would suck me in like the Fever series did. It was quirky and almost a little juvenile, always talking about "boys" and the such, sounding more like a bunch of teenagers than adults.

After book two, though, I was hopelessly ensnared in this series. As the characters developed more, Chloe's Neill's unparalleled wit came through. Brilliant dialogue, chemistry between Merit and Ethan that could melt my face, a fantastic world that stole me out of reality and settled me firmly into the story with no interruptions.

I have to say the end of book 4 made me curse and swear and just about throw my kindle through the picture window, but I grieved and cried and carried on, just like Merit did. Book 5 was intense, and heart-wrenching, and the ending was magnificent. I'd have liked to have a little more time with the two reunited lovers, but that's what book 6 will be for, right?

Brilliant. Loved it.
Magic Slays -  Ilona Andrews Ilona Andrews, her and her husband more accurately, are a talent I'll follow for as long as they are pumping out works. Amazing characters, intense, believable stories, and a world that makes me wish I could come up with something half as good.

Excellent, enjoyable book. Read it. You won't be disappointed.
Dead Witch Walking - Kim Harrison This had lots of tense moments in it and some wing-nut characters. It took me a while to warm up to them, especially the pixie, but I came to like them by the end. I like the setup of lots of conflict to come and I'll definitely be reading on in the series.
Cry Wolf - Patricia Briggs I really enjoyed this book. The heroine was an unusual one, abused and submissive, yet had steel under it all. It really made me pull for her and feel her joy when Charles began bringing her out of her shell. I also liked seeing Bran vulnerable for once, and to learn more about how he came to be. If you like the Mercy Thompson series, then you'll definitely like this one, too.
Speak of the Devil - Jenna Black Lots of great emotion in this one. I'm liking Morgan a heck of a lot better.
The Devil's Due - Jenna Black I'm liking Morgan a little more now that she's finally loosening up a fraction. Unique premise for these books, and I'm quite enjoying the story and characters.
Dark Descendant - Jenna Black Yeah, that was a worthwhile read. I liked this much better than the opener of this author's other series. Great pace, believable MC, hot guys. What's not to like?
Touch the Dark - Karen Chance By the middle of this book I wanted to stab my eyes out, but it got a little better by the end.

What I liked: Mercea, once I figured out who, exactly he was and his relationship to Cassie. I mean, what's not to like about a hot vampire, right? The premise is interesting enough, and I mostly like the MC.

What I didn't like: Too many characters, names and races thrown in all at once. Most of the book I was flipping pages to find out who everyone was and why I was supposed to care.

The pace was brutal. I think there might have been a total of ten scenes in the entire book. I'd get one line of dialogue, then pages of explanation before the next line would come. I found it extremely hard to follow the scenes because of it and I grew bored, skipping pages and pages at a time to find the next bit of dialogue so I could keep up.

Also, the time travel thing opens up a whole can of issues that prevented me from suspending my disbelief. Like, for example, why would the mages go back in time to prevent a vampire being made when they could just prevent Cassie from being born and solve all of the issues? A lot of it requires the reader to not think beyond the story, and I'm too much of a scientist for that.

If you don't mind slow, detailed books, you might like this one a lot, but it wasn't for me.
The Devil Inside - Jenna Black This book got a little better by the end, but I still don't like the main character very much. She's is very self serving and almost juvenile in her responses to everything which made me want to smack her half the time. I wanted to connect with her, I just couldn't find anything to like about her. Even when she was trying to be noble, I found her annoying.

The author spent too much time on going for the "shock value" of the content, which I suppose would shock some readers, but being a fan of Laurell K. Hamilton, I've BTDT. I would have liked to see more actual plot, investigative work, instead of so much whipping and screaming. The murder frame-up came up, and was exciting, then fell off the map and was never mentioned again. Quite disappointing.

I did, however, like Lugh and Adam, which might just be enough to make me read on in the series. Not sure, though. I'll think on it a bit.
Beyond the Highland Mist (The Highlander Series, Book 1) - Karen Marie Moning So, although I didn't enjoy this QUITE as much as I did the Fever series, the sexual tension kept me reading until I was done.

I'm not a fan of floating, omniscient POV, so I struggled with that part of the writing, but still, KMM has a talent for relationships that make me flip pages just to find out how it ends.

I loved Hawk ... mostly. We never truly got an explanation as to how he so quickly switched between an aloof ladies man who didn't want to get married to OMG, I love this woman! Adrienne was great, though I had difficulty believing she could just put on an accent after the ordeal she'd been through. Once I suspended disbelief on those thoughts and carried on, the story was quite enjoyable.
Shadowfever - Karen Marie Moning I started reading book one of this series last week. Within a few chapters, I put it down again for one reason: I hated the writing style. I didn't like that the author told so much. She'd tell me what was about to happen, jump ahead a few scenes, then tell what had happened during the action-packed bits we'd skipped over instead of showing us those scenes. I wanted those scenes.

Having said that, I kept picking the book back up. Suddenly I was devouring the second. Then the third, and didn't stop until I reached the end of this one. What the hell? What was it about the books, with a writing style I hated, that kept drawing me back in like the Sinsaur Duhb itself?

Just the story? The characters? The incredible heat between Mac and Jericoh? The intrigue of what he was, what she was? The sex-by-death fae? The silvers? The mystery of the king and his concubine? The depth of thought that came out of the dialogue and interactions? The answer is, all of the above.

I loved Jericoh, a total wild card. Hot. Mysterious. He had me guessing until the very end as to his motives and how he felt about Mac. She, too, is a mystery up until the very end and it's rare I haven't figured out the plot before it plays out. This is a clever series that taught me a lot about layers of writing, some surface, some middle, and some so deep I had to stop and consider the meaning before going on.

All in all, this series is imaginative and thought provoking. I still missed my scenes, but it wasn't enough to hinder my enjoyment. This is a series I'll probably read multiple times and find more hidden gems each time through.