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Book Review: Relinquished Hood

I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of Relinquished Hood in exchange for a review. I’d read the first one and loved it so very much, so when Kendrai Meeks offered me the second, I naturally jumped on that opportunity.

The Blurb

A werewolf and a hood bound by loss, trying not to kill each other. A vampire haunted by his shameful legacy. A mysterious stranger who’s more than he seems. How many monsters and secrets lurk in the halls of the WWL Corporation?

Geri Kline’s attempted estrangement from all things supernatural has her turning her back on her wolfslayer legacy, and worrying about more human things, like how to dress for the first day of your summer internship? Which shoes go best with silver daggers and crossbows? And how do you spy on your vampire bosses without getting caught?

She’s always heard that politics make strange bedfellows. Turns out, corporate espionage makes worse roommates. True, having a werewolf living with her might be the best security system ever, but half of the time, the danger they face is from each other. Both she and Tobias suffer from instincts that could drive them to ruin. Forcing themselves to work together and figure out what the corporate vampires at WWL are doing mixed up in a series of werewolf deaths may end in tragedy. Or worse still, friendship.

The Cover

The Review

This book takes up almost immediately (although not quite) after the first book ends. It’s Geri’s summer-time adventure in Chicago, working with Karmarov the vampire scientist, hosting her reluctant-ish werewolf friend Tobias, and flirting like mad with the sexy slayer Caleb. (Protip: be careful when searching for “sexy slayer” or you’ll end up seeing images of Buffy Summers you weren’t expecting.)

The storyline was intricate and involved without being overwhelming. I had no idea until the end that *mumble spoilers mumble* was *mumble* and that *mumble* was on their side all along! (More or less on Geri’s side…)

The growing friendship between Tobias and Geri is so well-crafted and never loses sight of the fact that he is grieving his mate and his brother, but also still alive, and intricately bound to Geri.

The part that was hardest for me was Geri’s relationship with her mother. I’m so confused about what’s going on with them. On the one hand, I hate mommy dearest with a passion, but on the other? I know she’s working some angle, and I probably still hate her, but maybe not? I don’t know and I hate it!

The plot of the vampire genetic research is so well woven with Geri’s continuing journey towards self-actualization and recociling her place in the world as both a woman and a hood.

I developed so many feels – SO MANY FEELS – about Geri’s path, and if I wasn’t afraid that sharing them with Ms. Meeks would result in me not getting an ARC of book 3, I’d share them all.

I’m even more impressed with the world-building and craftsmanship of this book than the previous, and appreciate the humor sprinkled throughout. A book that elicit the wide range of emotions I felt while reading this one is a rarity.

The Quote(s)

SO MANY FUNNY THINGS! There was more than once that I laughed out loud on the bus.

“Well, then, Geri Kline, the next time I have a package, I’ll expect to see it in your hands.”

I look at a vampire the same way I look at a politician: down, until given a reason to do otherwise.

…Amy wrapped me up in a hug. Maybe she was a supernatural, some sort of preternatural hugging monster heretofore unclassified in the hood annals.

Ugh…I feel you, Geri.

The Verdict

The first book was a fascinating journey into a modern Red Riding Hood. This book continued down that path. I love the mythology that Ms. Meeks has woven into her story – not only the Red Riding Hood fairy tale, but the tale of The Seven Ravens, and the histories of vampires, slayers, and werewolves.

Do yourself a favor and grab this book immediately.

4.5 unreserved stars!

I’m looking at this book the way the wolf looks at Red Hot Riding Hood.

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Book Review: Midnight Labyrinth

As everyone is probably aware by this time, I’m on Elizabeth Hunter’s ARC list. It was not easy to get on this list. I tried bribing her with so many things. (True, most of those things were my first-born son, and yes, most of those offerings were on days he was being particularly trying, but he is adorable, dammit! and that should’ve worked.)

When she offered me a chance to read Midnight Labyrinth ahead of time, I not only jumped at the chance, I asked: “how high?” I’ve been waiting for the first Ben & Tenzin full-length novel for just about as long as I knew that Benzin was going to be a thing.

I was planning on waiting to review this until release date, but I need you guys to be as excited about this as I am. Because this was amazing.

 

The Blurb

He’s one human caught in a tangled maze of theft, politics, magic, and blood.? In other words, it’s just another night.?

Benjamin Vecchio escaped a chaotic childhood and grew to adulthood under the protection and training of one of the Elemental world’s most feared vampire assassins. He’s traveled the world and battled immortal enemies.

But everyone has to go home sometime.

New York means new opportunities and allies for Ben and his vampire partner, Tenzin. It also means new politics and new threats. Their antiquities business is taking off, and their client list is growing. When Ben is challenged to find a painting lost since the second world war, he jumps at the chance. This job will keep him closer to home, but it might just land him in hot water with the insular clan of earth vampires who run Manhattan.

Tenzin knew the painting would be trouble before she laid eyes on it, but she can’t deny the challenge intrigues her. Human laws mean little to a vampire with a few millennia behind her, and Tenzin misses the rush of taking what isn’t hers.

But nothing is more dangerous than a human with half the story, and Ben and Tenzin might end up risking their reputations and their lives before they escape the Midnight Labyrinth.

MIDNIGHT LABYRINTH is the first book in an all new contemporary fantasy series by Elizabeth Hunter, author of the Elemental Mysteries and the Irin Chronicles

The Cover

You can’t tell me this isn’t gorgeous. SO AMAZING! (Click the cover and it will take you to Goodreads)

The Review

This was an amazing book. There’s a mystery for Ben to solve, humans for Tenzin to amuse herself with, secret bad guys, not-so-secret bad guys, and Gavin. There was Gavin.

Now, I’ve always liked Gavin. Overall, I’m extremely fond of Scottish people, and will do just about anything asked if it’s asked in a Scottish accent (don’t you take advantage of that, PSM!), but Gavin had kinda always been the background before.

But this book? *sigh* Gavin.

WAIT! This book is about Ben & Tenzin, not Gavin. (YOU GUYS! Gavin owns a bar in New York, but he’s getting a little bored with immortality, and instead of seeking me out, decides to do crime with Ben, Tenzin, and their human (and Ben’s high school sweetheart) Chloe.)

BACK TO BENZIN!

I adore Tenzin, but I’m also a little afraid of her. This how I prefer all my best girlfriends, though, and I think I’d make an excellent day person for Tenzin, even if I don’t know any awesome tailors. BUT STILL! I would be delighted to be Tenzin’s PA and work part-time at Gavin’s bar. DAMMIT! How did this come back to Gavin again? (I’m sorry Carwyn, but you’re going to have to do some work if you want to remain number one in my heart.)

Sorry. I promise I’ll be good now.

On a more serious note, one of the best things about this book was the way the domestic abuse situation was handled.

Ben to Tenzin: “He’s not going to touch her again.”

“I have no doubt about that, but be smart. Don’t try to order her around for her own good. Don’t be a fool.”

“Sometimes women go back.”

I love that this is acknowledged without shaming the victim of the abuse. You never know the reasons a woman stays with an abuser, and until you’ve walked a few yards in those shoes, you don’t get to judge a woman for staying in a relationship like that. If you need to judge, judge the asshole who’s doing the abusing. That’s the person who’s really in the wrong, here.

I cannot stop going off on tangents. But there’s so much to talk about, and I really, really don’t want to give any spoilers.

This book combines exciting art heists and double-crosses with details of the developing relationship between Ben and Tenzin as well as exploring the fact that whether or not Ben’s a vampire biologically, he is a vampire in every other way, and adds a little bit of romance.

The world-building was, as always with Ms. Hunter, delightful. She creates a world in which vampires mingle with unsuspecting humans and makes it so believable that I definitely double-take whenever I see someone a bit too pale (which, let’s face it, in sunlight- and diversity-impaired Portland happens an awful lot).

The pacing was perfect. She moves you along the story just fast enough to keep you on edge (I read this in one sitting) without bowling you over with too much information too quickly.

One of the things I appreciate most about Elizabeth’s writing is the humor. I love someone that can make me feel, make me cringe, make me gasp, and make me laugh all in one book.

Ben glanced down. “Well, you do have great legs, Gavin. Very shapely.”

“Thank you. I work out.”

“Really?” Ben asked.

“No, you idiot, I’m a vampire.”

*sigh* Gavin

The Quote

…Ben could admit what he couldn’t in the light of day.

She was the darkness he wanted to fall into

The Verdict

This was amazing. My favorite in the Elemental World, for sure. I give it five stars and recommend you click on that cover above to figure out where you can pre-order it.

Midnight Labyrinth will be released on November 7, 2017

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Book Review: The Art of Hiding

I’ve just started reviewing books over at The Lit Buzz and my first review went up this week!

The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse made me choke up on the bus in the first chapter and was an insanely intense contemporary fiction book that left me gut-stabbed yet hopeful.

Head on over for the full review!

Book Review: The Silent

This is so much later than I intended it to be, and I probably owe Elizabeth Hunter an apology and a martini (or three), but here it is!

The Irin Chronicles (specifically The Scribe) were my introduction to Elizabeth Hunter. I’m pretty sure I read it at the insistence of my PSM, who occasionally introduces me to something good (and other times, according to my Facebook memories from today, insists I read shark-shifter romances that turn out to be not so good). She obviously hit the ball out of the park with this one.  Now here we are, 3 years later (I read it in 2014) and I’m reviewing an ARC of The Silent for you. (I’ve reviewed the third and fourth books in the series previously, in case you’re interested.)

The Blurb

They are called kareshta, the silent ones.
But the silent are waking.

Kyra has lived her life in the shadow of a powerful Grigori brother. She’s ignored her own desires for the good of her family, but an unexpected request from Thailand sends her on a mission that could change her life and alter the fate of free Grigori all over the world. Sons of the Fallen hidden in the mountains of Thailand have adapted an ancient human magic for their own purposes. Will this practice bring peace or lead to even greater danger for the Irin race?

A simple diplomatic mission sends Leo to Bangkok, but he didn’t expect to see a familiar face in surveillance photographs. He’s tried everything to drive Kyra from his mind, since he was convinced the gentle kareshta wanted to hide from the world. How did she turn up halfway across the globe, living with Grigori who may or may not be Irin allies?

Leo has bided his time. He’s given Kyra her space.

But this scribe is ready to hear a kareshta sing.

The Cover

 

The Review

Ugh. This was so good. (<—this was literally my entire review for a week.) I’ve never been to Thailand, and haven’t even much cared about the idea of going. There are so many other places on my bucket list that SE Asia doesn’t even register. But now? Now I want to go. So thank you, Ms. Hunter, for costing me future money. (Seriously. Thank you!)

Like all the Irin Chronicles, the world building in this book is just incredible. I’ve long enjoyed Leo but hadn’t much paid attention to Kyra before. I’m disappointed in myself and went back and reread The Secret just to make sure I could properly appreciate her.

I really enjoyed the character development of Kyra throughout this book as she goes from someone who is strong but willing to hide her light (out of necessity) to a commanding presence.

And the sex? Whoa. Elizabeth Hunter brought the goods this time. I wouldn’t have thought a “losing your virginity” sex scene could be so…steamy. *fans self*

The Verdict

I’m never not going to recommend that you head out and buy everything Elizabeth Hunter’s ever written. This series is so amazing, and trust me when I say you want to read every single book in it.

The Disclaimer

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Book Review: Dustwalker

I paid cash money for this book, so this wasn’t one of those free ARC situations. However, I am acquainted with 1/2 of the authors and converse with her via FB chat almost daily.

Neither of the above facts are going to color my review.

THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD.

There. That’s all you need to know. But, if you must have more, keep scrolling.

The Cover

 

The Blurb

A SYNTH SEARCHING FOR PURPOSE…

Walk. Scavenge. Destroy. Trade. A simple cycle that’s suited Ronin for one hundred and eighty-five years. With no clear grasp of his programming, the barren wasteland known as The Dust offers him purpose, a place where his armored undercasing, amped-up processors, and advanced optics can be put to use. The ramshackle towns on the edges of the waste serve merely as resupply stations between increasingly long treks. But one night — one human woman — makes him question everything.

A WOMAN WHO BRINGS HIM TO LIFE…

Lara Brooks struggles to survive under the strict rules imposed by the bots in Cheyenne. With her sister missing, she’s been on her own for weeks, and fears the worst. Her only hope comes from Ronin, a bot she catches spying on her. He promises to provide for Lara and search for her sister. All she has to do is dance. It should be easy; she’s done it before. But the longer she spends with Ronin, the harder it is to see him as just another bot.

A SANCTUARY HIDING DARK SECRETS…

In a city where humans are relegated to live in squalor, Ronin discovers a threat greater than any in the Dust — Warlord, Cheyenne’s tyrannical leader. When Ronin ignores the rules, he unwittingly puts Lara in danger. Warlord is as intolerant of disrespect as he is of mankind.

The Review

I’ll be honest. I might not have picked up this book if it wasn’t by someone I know. More honesty: my life is better because I did. I don’t read a lot of sci-fi romance, but I’m going to be rectifying that IMMEDIATELY.

I was hooked almost immediately. I love me a Romeo and Juliet story (although I prefer they not end with miscommunication and teenage suicide) (this one did not end with teen suicide due to miscommunication), I love rebellions, and I love the whole premise of the post-nuclear apocalypse with no real recollection as to exactly what happened, but a separation between the ‘bots and humans.

It’s a brutal world, and Tiffany Roberts does an amazing job describing that brutality in a way that really grabs at you and doesn’t let go. The world-building is fantastic and completely believable.

I imagine it’s difficult to write a robot (synth – a ‘bot that was programmed to adapt and change like a human) while maintaining their decided non-human characteristics. This book doesn’t have any trouble doing that. Ronin’s thought processes clearly keep him on the bot side of the spectrum, even when he’s becoming more “human” with his emotional reactions. I especially love the precision in which he measures time.

Lara is angry. Very angry. But this makes sense. She’s had a hard life. Human are subsistence farmers. Scrap gatherers. Subject to the bot Warlord who runs everything with cruelty. She’s had a brutal time of it, and most of that can be traced back to the bots of Cheyenne. The fact that she’s able to move past her anger enough to even consider softening to Ronin is amazing.

My only bone of contention with this story is the rape. It’s a flashback rape, but a rape nonetheless (and you all know how I feel about rape scenes – so many better ways, in my opinion, to torture someone and give them PTSD). But, in this case, I’m not going to deduct stars for it. Although I’m knee-jerk sensitive about rape being used as a method of torment, specifically for women, this violation added to the story and the protagonist’s character in a such a way that it’s hard to imagine it not having happened. (I’m still going to call out ever rape in every book I read, but I’ll always admit when I think they’re defensible.)

The Quotes

“I think, I reason, I react to the world around me. I question what I know and see, and I wonder what the future might bring, though I know it won’t likely be different than the past. I hope!”
– Ronin

Many humans viewed robots as tools, more akin to the handheld electronic devices they were so infatuated with than to themselves. Many others, like William, recognized our emergent consciousness, intelligence, and personality, and saw something inherently human in mind, if not in body.

[Lara:] “Smart ass.”
[Ronin:] “My ass is, at best, of average intelligence.”

 

The Verdict – 4.5 stars

This book was smart, funny, emotionally challenging, and all-around fantastic. I laughed out loud at parts (see above quote about the smart ass) and cried out loud (on the bus, damn you Tiffany!). This makes me eager to dive into everything else they’ve written. So do yourself a favor and buy it!