Tag Archives: Review

Review: Final Heir by Faith Hunter

Final Heir (Jane Yellowrock #15) by Faith Hunter
Urban fantasy released by Ace on September 6, 2022

The stakes couldn’t be higher in the newest novel in the New York Times bestselling, pulse-pounding Jane Yellowrock series.

Jane Yellowrock is the queen of the vampires, and that makes her a target as she fights to maintain control and keep peace in the city of New Orleans. She has enemies at every turn, because vampires live forever, and they keep their grudges alive with them. That includes the Heir, the vampire sire of the Pellissier bloodline, which gave rise to Leo Pellissier himself—Jane’s old boss and the former master of the city.

With the Heir and all the forces of darkness he can muster arrayed against her, Jane will need all the help she can get. She’ll find it in her city, her friends, her found family, and, of course, the Beast inside of her.

I’ve been reading this series at least since college, if not earlier. I think, but am not sure, this is the last book in the series, based on how it ends; I could be wrong. If it is the end, I think it does a good job of capping off the series, ending it with Jane in a different place than she was as a character, but just as gritty and powerful as she was in the first book. This is definitely not the book to start reading if this series is new to you, because it wraps up plotlines that have extended through many books, so if you weren’t invested in them previously, this is not the point to try. However, if you’re looking for an urban fantasy series that is complete, this is probably a good bet. Jane is the central character in the story, and her relationship with George, her love interest, doesn’t take up a lot of conflict space, the way it did in previous books; the focus here is on Jane and resolving what the last big bad villain wants. Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: Oak King Holly King by Sebastian Nothwell

Oak King Holly King by Sebastian Nothwell
Fantasy romance released by Sebastian Nothwell on February 14, 2022

Shrike, the Butcher of Blackthorn, is a legendary warrior of the fae realms. When he wins a tournament in the Court of the Silver Wheel, its queen names him her Oak King – a figurehead destined to die in a ritual duel to invoke the change of seasons. Shrike is determined to survive. Even if it means he must put his heart as well as his life into a mere mortal’s hands.

Wren Lofthouse, a London clerk, has long ago resigned himself to a life of tedium and given up his fanciful dreams. When a medieval-looking brute arrives at his office to murmur of destiny, he’s inclined to think his old enemies are playing an elaborate prank. Still, he can’t help feeling intrigued by the bizarre-yet-handsome stranger and his fantastical ramblings, whose presence stirs up emotions Wren has tried to lock away in the withered husk of his heart.

As Shrike whisks Wren away to a world of Wild Hunts and arcane rites, Wren is freed from the repression of Victorian society. But both the fae and mortal realms prove treacherous to their growing bond. Wren and Shrike must fight side-by-side to see who will claim victory – Oak King or Holly King.

It has been so long since I bought this one that I actually don’t remember why I picked it up, other than I am always a sucker for a good shifter romance. (My assigned theme for this month was “animals” and I’m going to say two characters named after birds one of whom IS a bird is, uh. close enough.) Anyway – love a shifter romance, also love a historical romance, historical + shifter + supernatural shenanigans = autobuy, for me. Also the cover is beautiful. Continue reading

Review: Fan the Flames by Katie Ruggle

Fan the Flames by Katie Ruggle
Romantic Suspense published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on June 7, 2016

Fan the Flames by Katie Ruggle book coverHe’s a firefighter. He’s a Motorcycle Club member.
And if a killer has his way…he’ll take the fall for a murder he didn’t commit.

Ian Walsh is used to riding the line between the good guys and the bad. He may owe the club his life, but his heart rests with his fire station brothers…and with the girl he’s loved since they were kids. Ian would do anything for Rory. He’d die for her. Kill for her. Defend her to his last breath?and he may just have to.

Every con in the Rockies knows Rory is the go-to girl for less-than-legal firearms. When she defends herself against a brutal attack, Rory finds herself catapulted into the center of a gang war, with only Ian standing between her and a threat greater than either of them could have imagined.

In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder..

I normally don’t read suspense romance, because I don’t like that kind of conflict/tension in my romance reading, and a lot of romances have the danger boner make an appearance, which is just too much. But I went in search of a suspense romance that didn’t have a cop or other form of law enforcement as the protagonist, and here I am with a review. This is the second book in a series, which you can read without having read the previous book, but it does end on a cliffhanger because there is an overarching mystery that connects all the books, so keep that in mind. There is violence and trauma in this book. I liked both Ian and Rory (who is a woman), but I found Rory’s character a bit more nuanced than Ian’s. Rory is tough because she’s had to be, but also vulnerable, and Ian is great because he mostly understands Rory but isn’t necessarily trying to change her. The mystery is what brings them together, but their relationship exists outside of solving the mystery, even before it really pushes them together. Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: Love Notes by Christina C. Jones

Love Notes by Christina C. Jones
Contemporary Romance released by Christina C. Jones on February 2, 2018

Love Notes by Christina C. Jones Book CoverLove that says something, instead of just looking like it. Love you can always trust to feel like home. For both of them, it’s something that has always been just outside of their peripheral, something to be observed rather than experienced. A depth of feeling reserved for people who were “into” that, those with a different outlook, those more… deserving. Until their paths cross. Lines are crossed. And maybe the stars are crossed too, because the connection and chemistry are so off the charts that they can’t stay away from each other, can’t avoid it… even if they think they should.

I haven’t read blue collar romances in a long time, partly because I realized that a lot of them were about secret rich people and I find that premise less interesting. If you’re going to write about rich people, then write about rich people, don’t try and disguise them. Anyway, I struggled a bit when trying to meet the prompt for this month’s TBR because it was for a blue collar romance and I had been reading entirely outrageous (in the best way) paranormal romances for the last few months. I got this book because Limecello recommended it when it was on sale a few weeks ago. And here we are. This was a fun book, and its warmth and feeling of community balanced out the darker elements. The book talks about child sexual abuse, and it is an important part of one of the love interests’ backstory. Jules is moving back to her old neighborhood and opening up a photography studio when she meets Troy, who manages a barber shop across the street from where her studio will be. Both Troy and Jules go through some character development during the book. Honestly, this is a lovely book to read. And Limecello really likes the audiobook version. Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: Servant Mage by Kate Elliott

Servant Mage by Kate Elliott
Fantasy released by Tor on January 18, 2022.

Servant Mage by Kate Elliott book coverIn Kate Elliott’s Servant Mage, a lowly fire mage finds herself entangled in an empire-spanning conspiracy on her way to discovering her true power.

They choose their laws to secure their power.

Fellion is a Lamplighter, able to provide illumination through magic. A group of rebel Monarchists free her from indentured servitude and take her on a journey to rescue trapped compatriots from an underground complex of mines.

Along the way they get caught up in a conspiracy to kill the latest royal child and wipe out the Monarchist movement for good.

But Fellion has more than just her Lamplighting skills up her sleeve…

This book kept calling to me ever since Limecello assigned me this month’s TBR theme, which is “after the war.” This book is not a romance, but I think it does a wonderful job of exploring the nuances of what comes after a revolution and how it isn’t as clearcut as we might expect. It is set in a fantasy world, where there is magic, and where a revolutionary war recently took place. The main character, Fellion, has magical abilities over fire, and is working at an inn when the book begins. A major issue I had with this book is that while there are clues to Fellion’s background and motivations, we don’t fully understand them until almost the end, so that the tension between the choices she has at the end of the book hadn’t built up enough for me to be fully invested either way. I think you could say this is a coming-of-age story, though Fellion’s age was never entirely clear to me, other than young but not a child, so I hesitate to stick the book with that descriptor. Lest you be misled by the blurb, this is not going to be a rags to riches story. Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: The Storm’s Whisper (The Broken Lands Book 5) by T.A. White

The Storm’s Whisper (The Broken Lands Book 5) by T.A. White
Adult high fantasy romance released by T. A. White on January 22, 2022

The Storm's Whisper by T. A. White book coverThe path to peace is never easy.

As the first Caller in living memory, Eva struggles to find her footing as the bridge between her chosen people and the mythological race known as the Kyren.

When unexpected arrivals threaten to test the newly formed alliance, Eva and her protector, Caden, fight to hold together the fast-fraying bonds before peace unravels and war once again returns. Should she fail, bloodshed the likes the Broken Lands haven’t seen since the cataclysm will stain the ground red.

The mysterious abilities that lie at the heart of Eva’s power will be her salvation or lead to her becoming an evil far worse than anything seen before. Will this land fall or be reborn into a new age?

I’ve really enjoyed the Broken Lands books and was very eager to read more about Eva and Caden. The first three books are about Shea and Fallon, books four and five feature Eva and Caden. To be honest, I’d been slightly reluctant to recommend the series because although the books and stories are very enjoyable, the first three have editing issues, and I know there are people who find it quite off putting. I don’t know if the author has found a new editor, or made other changes, but I didn’t notice that while reading The Storm’s Whisper. I also want to re-read all the books now. It’s been a while since I’ve read the whole series, and I think it’d be really enjoyable to read through as book five has a rather final ending, although there are tendrils to follow. (And I REALLY HOPE THEY ARE FOLLOWED! I’d love to see more in this world.) Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: Evil Twin by Kati Wilde

Evil Twin by Kati Wilde
Released by Kati Wilde on July 31, 2021

Bane should have been king…

But he was born four minutes too late. Though it was Bane who’d led armies to victory against the scourge of the undying, now he must watch as his undeserving twin claims yet another throne through marriage to a princess of a neighboring kingdom. A kingdom that Bane had saved.

That throne should be his. So he’ll take it.

All Bane must do is deceive his twin’s innocent bride. He’ll trick her into his bed, and once he’s planted his seed, the bride—and her kingdom—will be his. With such a prize in hand, he won’t care if she ever forgives him for his deception. It hardly matters if she does, because his evil plan doesn’t include falling in love.

But his bride has a few plans of her own…

If you know anything about my reading tastes you know I love me some adult high fantasy romances. The February theme for the TBR Challenge was “fairy tale” and … close enough. While this is an entirely (as far as I know) new story not based on anything, it does take a number of fairy tale tropes – the [evil] twin, magicked land, who is deserving etc, etc. And a lot of the usual tropes are turned on their heads, as one might expect from Kati Wilde. If you’re interested in reading a sexy good time romp, you should pick up a copy. Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: True Dead by Faith Hunter

True Dead (Jane Yellowrock Series) by Faith Hunter
Urban Fantasy released by Ace on September 14, 2021

True Dead by Faith Hunter book coverJane Yellowrock goes back to the city where it all began in the newest installment of this thrilling New York Times bestselling series.

Jane used to hunt vampires, but now she’s their queen. She’s holed up in the mountains with the Yellowrock Clan, enjoying a little peace, when a surprise attack on her people proves that trouble is brewing. Someone is using very old magic to launch a bid for power, and it’s all tied to the place where Jane was first drawn into the world of Leo Pellissier—the city of New Orleans.

Jane is compelled to return to NOLA because someone is trying to destabilize the paranormal world order. And because she now sits near the top of the vampire world, the assault is her problem. She will do what she must to protect what’s hers. Her city. Her people. Her power. Her crown.

This is, according to Amazon, book number 14 in the Jane Yellowrock series. This is not actually the longest series I’ve stuck with–Nalini Singh currently holds that prize–but I know people have strong feelings about series. This is not the last book in the series, so if you want to wait for that book to come out, I certainly won’t judge you. There is some romance in this book, but not like Ilona Andrews or Jeaniene Frost levels, so I won’t really talk about Jane’s love interest in too much detail. This book would make much more sense to readers who have read the series before, and I don’t recommend starting with this book, because the world Hunter has built and a lot of the main characters, including Jane, have changed over the books. Jane is, like it says in the blurb, still figuring out what it means to be Queen of the vampires, even though she is not a vampire; this is heightened when she uncovers another plot to try and dethrone her (figuratively speaking). Continue reading

Review: A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark

A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark
Steam punk SF released by Tor on May 11, 2021

A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark book coverNebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner P. Djèlí Clark returns to his popular alternate Cairo universe for his fantasy novel debut, A Master of Djinn

Cairo, 1912: Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer.

So, when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world forty years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms, before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His dangerous magical abilities instigate unrest in the streets of Cairo that threaten to spill over onto the global stage.

Alongside her Ministry colleagues and a familiar person from her past, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city—or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems…

I have to thank Nalini Singh and her newsletter, which is where I first learned about this author’s work. I read the two novellas that are prequels to this novel (A Dead Djinn in Cairo and The Haunting of Tram Car 015). I think you could read this novel and enjoy it without reading the novellas before, but the novellas are really good and they also give you context for Fatma’s relationships–like the person from her past and her colleagues. This book was also one of my anticipated books for 2021, and I am here to tell you that I was not disappointed, except that the book ended and I had to put it down then. This book has a romantic subplot, but the main focus of the book is the case Fatma is solving. Clark uses ideas of decolonialization, class, racism, and power in the book, weaving them into your typical procedural science fiction/urban fantasy story (think Ilona Andrews and Meljean Brook). The evil is stopped, but Fatma has to acknowledge some things about herself before she can stop it. The book ends on a bit of a cliff hanger, but it isn’t too painful. Continue reading

Review: The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park

The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park
Contemporary Young Adult released by Sourcebooks Fire on April 7, 2020

The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park book coverNate Jae-Woo Kim wants to be rich. When one of his classmates offers Nate a ridiculous amount of money to commit grade fraud, he knows that taking the windfall would help support his prideful Korean family, but is compromising his integrity worth it?

Luck comes in the form of Kate Anderson, Nate’s colleague at the zombie-themed escape room where he works. She approaches Nate with a plan: a local tech company is hosting a weekend-long survivalist competition with a huge cash prize. It could solve all of Nate’s problems, and she needs the money too.

If the two of them team up, Nate has a real shot of winning the grand prize. But the real challenge? Making through the weekend with his heart intact…

This was a lovely read, with understandably flawed characters that grow over the book and scenes that were by turns funny, poignant, and a little violent. The pacing felt a bit off to me, and this is more of a happy for now than a happily ever after kind of romance, but that’s okay because these are teenagers. Also, there are robot zombies, not real zombies. We know almost from the beginning that Nate and Kate are more of an opposites attract than a birds of a feather kind of a match, but it takes a while for the characters to really get this; they also have to work out family issues and some peer pressure issues on Nate’s part. Both Kate and Nate are driven, but their goals look different. Continue reading