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CRY WOLF by Patricia Briggs

Charles Cornick is his pack’s enforcer and lives a harsh life, doing jobs other wolves can’t – or won’t. And his most recent task was rescuing Anna Latham from a life of brutality. This leaves him shot and wounded, but he’s happy to pay the price. Charles is strongly drawn to Anna, and her growing ‘Omega’ powers will see his people through dangerous times.

Anna desperately needs her new mountainous home to be safer than the life she’s left behind. But when a rogue werewolf starts murdering hikers, Charles and Anna are sent into the winter forests to investigate. Charles is still weak and will need Anna’s strength as they discover a web of witchcraft that could drag down the whole pack. Including its leader Bran, Charles’s father, head of a vast network of wolves. And if Bran weakens, dark madness could run like a fever through half a continent.


Title : Cry Wolf
Author : Patricia Briggs
Series : Alpha and Omega #1
Format : Physical
Page Count : 321
Genre : Fantasy/PNR
Publisher : Orbit Books
Release Date : December 3, 2009

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Briggs on the UF/PNR forever
New couple, new obsession
Omega reveals

**PSA: read the prequel novella first (it was fantastic) which is 0.5 in this series and is called the same as the series title Alpha and Omega.**

Having met and loved Charles and Anna in the prequel novella to this series, I knew I’d enjoy this first full story offering, and I did. It comes with an extra appreciation if you’ve read the Mercy Thompson series because you get the Marrok’s pack and familiar side characters.

The tentative stepping around one another that Charles and Anna made as they got to know one another was my favourite part of this book. They connected so well but it was all very new and about getting to know one another. I look forward to the deeper connection that is sure to come in later books. The plot was strong in this book and the omega element continues to be interesting.

I got the answer to a question that has been on my mind for most of the Mercy Thompson series. Why the hell is Bran mated/married to Leah. I am now in the know and feel so much better to finally have that answered.

Patricia Briggs is my favourite discovery of the 2021/2022 (thanks to Hariette) and I hope her books will last the year as I make my way through both these connected series. Late to the party but here all the same.

KINGDOM OF FLESH & FIRE by Jennifer L Armentrout

A Betrayal…

Everything Poppy has ever believed in is a lie, including the man she was falling in love with. Thrust among those who see her as a symbol of a monstrous kingdom, she barely knows who she is without the veil of the Maiden. But what she does know is that nothing is as dangerous to her as him. The Dark One. The Prince of Atlantia. He wants her to fight him, and that’s one order she’s more than happy to obey. He may have taken her, but he will never have her.

A Choice…

Casteel Da’Neer is known by many names and many faces. His lies are as seductive as his touch. His truths as sensual as his bite. Poppy knows better than to trust him. He needs her alive, healthy, and whole to achieve his goals. But he’s the only way for her to get what she wants—to find her brother Ian and see for herself if he has become a soulless Ascended. Working with Casteel instead of against him presents its own risks. He still tempts her with every breath, offering up all she’s ever wanted. Casteel has plans for her. Ones that could expose her to unimaginable pleasure and unfathomable pain. Plans that will force her to look beyond everything she thought she knew about herself—about him. Plans that could bind their lives together in unexpected ways that neither kingdom is prepared for. And she’s far too reckless, too hungry, to resist the temptation.

A Secret…

But unrest has grown in Atlantia as they await the return of their Prince. Whispers of war have become stronger, and Poppy is at the very heart of it all. The King wants to use her to send a message. The Descenters want her dead. The wolven are growing more unpredictable. And as her abilities to feel pain and emotion begin to grow and strengthen, the Atlantians start to fear her. Dark secrets are at play, ones steeped in the blood-drenched sins of two kingdoms that would do anything to keep the truth hidden. But when the earth begins to shake, and the skies start to bleed, it may already be too late.


Title : Kingdom of Flesh and Fire
Author : Jennifer L Armentrout
Series : Blood and Ash #3
Format : ebook
Page Count : 637
Genre : Fantasy/PNR
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : September 1, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Relationship ups and downs
Being real
Why is this such a long book?

Ahhhhh, I’m left with overall great feels about this book on finishing even though it isn’t a refined journey getting there. I am here with this series for the characters and the plot twists but it does not need to be a nearly 650 page book; there’s a fair bit of blather (talking in a long-winded way) packed in there.

The focus on pretend and real in the MCs relationship had me glued to the page. The way they navigated their feelings, how they found the foundations and growth was so believable and left me greedy to read the emotions. The heat, was well…it was intense. The ‘joining’, yeah I’m gonna need that in book three, heavy on the description please. I had an inkling about some elements of that future joining but I wait to see what is realised.

The world building was pretty good in this book. It layered nicely and played into the twists beautifully. All along you know there’s going to be more to come about Poppy, but you never know what it’s going to be. The end lines were all well designed to keep the reader panting for more.

This is such a clever series, great characters, sterling plot, I just wish it was written a bit more concisely.

FROM BLOOD AND ASH by Jennifer L Armentrout

A Maiden…

Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.

A Duty…

The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.

A Kingdom…

Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.


Title : From Blood and Ash
Author : Jennifer L Armentrout
Series : Blood and Ash #1
Format : ebook
Page Count : 622
Genre : Fantasy/PNR
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : March 29, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Slow start but picked up at 20%
Shocks around the corners
Jaw dropping addiction

That was one hell of a ride! From Blood and Ash starts slow, there’s world building to be done but do not be put off because by 15-20% of the way in, it was an addiction. That world building I mentioned? Yeah, some of that comes tumbling down, all to shock the reader.

Poppy as a character was complex and well-constructed. She was a woman shielded from life but revered and abused at the same time. She had scars in all the ways and I loved her tenacity, badassery and deep compassion. Hawke was a complex character and more difficult to fathom, shady as-**** but appealing all the same. I still feel conflicted but addicted by him at the end. There was serious conflict between these two that channeled in lust and hate.

Plot wise, this was cleverly thought out, lulling the reader into one way of thinking then producing twist after twist. I dropped into some buddies DMs giving them live reactions and gif while they laughed at me. Such a satisfying read in terms of unexpectedness despite the one main twist I guessed.

It’s not a perfect read with the slow start but it feels like a great read all the same. I can’t wait to read the next one.

I’ve read pretty much all of JLA’s catalogue and I’ve been reading her nearly for a decade but she still managed to surprise me with this one and this was probably the most steamy of hers I’ve read.

BIG BAD WOLF by Suleikha Snyder

In 2016, New York became a Sanctuary City for supernaturals…but things quickly spun out of control. Now, Third Shift is an elite team of operatives tasked with exposing the gritty underbelly of New York’s criminal-supernatural underworld, taking down the worst of the worst and protecting human- and shifter-kind alike.

Joe Peluso has blood on his hands. But lawyer and psychologist Neha Ahluwalia is determined to help him craft a solid defense…even if she can’t defend her own obsession. Because Joe took out those Russian mobsters for good reason–they were responsible for the death of his beloved foster brother. Those six bad guys were part of the ruthless clan of bear shifters who control Brooklyn’s Russian mafia, so his vigilante justice has earned him countless enemies in New York’s supernatural-controlled underworld, and no friends in a government that now bends to Russia at every turn.

Joe knows that creatures like him only deserve the worst. Darkness. Solitude. Punishment. But meeting Neha makes him feel human for the first time in forever. He’s never wanted anything in his life like he wants Neha, and he’ll break almost any rule to spend a minute alone with her. But when the Russian mob attacks the jail for payback, Joe and Neha are forced to escape. Before long they’re on the run–from monsters who want him dead and from their own traitorous hearts.


Title : Big Bad Wolf
Author : Suleikha Snyder
Series : Third Shift (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 368
Genre : urban fantasy/PNR
Publisher : Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date : January 26, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ 


Hollis’ 1 star review

Here’s a series I can unequivocably say that I will not be continuing. See? Even I have limits.

Where to even start, gosh, well. If you thought post-2016 was A Lot, buckle in, folks! In Snyder’s world it gets worse. All those awful real-life things plus a big supernatural outing and rarely does the author miss an opportunity to remind you just how shitty things are. Sure, its fiction, but it doesn’t feel like fiction when you’re rehashing 80% of the crap you’ve just lived through in a gritty dystopian paranormal fantasy. No thanks.

If that wasn’t bad enough, one of the (many) POVs you get is from Mister Melodrama Man Pain himself. Like, I don’t want to shit too hard on this guy, not all his boo hoo’ing was without reason but.. well. Most was. Yeah. The constant spirals of “I’m the worst, you deserve better, I’m a killer” were exhausting. Watching the other half of the pairing put up with it, be reduced to hormones, and waiting until it all got rehashed post-bang? I was so over this very early on in the game. Particularly as I found little to no chemistry between them (or anyone) despite the whole relationship hinging on this big dose of epic lust.

Actually even before we discovered the man pain, I was twigging to this not likely being my thing — as early as the first chapter — but what had interested me about this in the first place was my previous experience reading one of the author’s novellas.. which I thoroughly enjoyed. This? No. Zero enjoyment. Only boredom or frustration or pure misery.

This is clearly being set up as a huge series because we had lots of POVs with lots of little offshooting set-ups for coupledom, or drama, or adventures, and while some of those minor dynamics sort’ve interested me at first, I just eventually lost the will to care. The writing isn’t terrible but it does not draw you in; I found it very hard to keep track of events in some of the scenes, particularly action sequences, and had to backtrack to determine what had happened, and yet we were forced to rehash so much dialogue (literally, pulled from previous chapters, as one character or another relived it) and all together it just felt so offbalance.

I somehow dragged my lifeless carcass through this book to the bitter end but hey that doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. Particularly if you want a gritty pseudo-real world PNR that somehow manages to lean into all the cheese and tropes that call this genre home. As mentioned, though, this is as far as I go.

BLOOD HEIR by Ilona Andrews – double review!

Atlanta was always a dangerous city. Now, as waves of magic and technology compete for supremacy, it’s a place caught in a slow apocalypse, where monsters spawn among the crumbling skyscrapers and supernatural factions struggle for power and survival.

Eight years ago, Julie Lennart left Atlanta to find out who she was. Now she’s back with a new face, a new magic, and a new name—Aurelia Ryder—drawn by the urgent need to protect the family she left behind. An ancient power is stalking her adopted mother, Kate Daniels, an enemy unlike any other, and a string of horrifying murders is its opening gambit.

If Aurelia’s true identity is discovered, those closest to her will die. So her plan is simple: get in, solve the murders, prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled, and get out without being recognized. She expected danger, but she never anticipated that the only man she’d ever loved could threaten everything.

One small misstep could lead to disaster. But for Aurelia, facing disaster is easy; it’s relationships that are hard.


Title : Blood Heir
Author : Ilona Andrews
Series : Aurelia Ryder (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 359
Genre : urban fantasy / paranormal romance
Publisher : NYLA
Release Date : January 12, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

It happened. It really happened. We are back in the Kate Daniels universe. What a time to be alive.

However, so saying, I don’t even know where to begin writing this review. Everything kind of feels like a spoiler? Even though the synopsis reveals the score it still feels like it could be a surprise to those who are even more blurb and spoiler averse than myself. So suffice it to say.. you are in for so much fun.

My patience is an infinite lake. Feel free to drown yourself.

I feel like that quote, however, is a direct callout to the readers. Because these authors now know (always knew..) we are going to be clamouring for more and thankfully have quickly set expectations for their schedule. This series is not being traditionally published so it comes last in current commitments but from what I recall they said they would be starting to draft this year (incase you didn’t know they did confirm two more for this series) and maybe spending next year dealing with a bunch more self-published works? I think that even (finally) might mean more Hugh.. dreams do come true! But the fact that this even became a book at all is just.. I’m so happy.

I realize this review is mostly a discussion about the authors and book release, so, ahem. Here you go. I loved being back in this world, I loved the new direction, and I loved how things have shifted (hah.. sorry, shifter joke) for some of the familiar faces. Snark, banter, kickass battle sequences, weird ass monsters, nostalgia (for me AND our lead), complex magic, prophecies and destinies and predictions of death, and aaaaaangst. It is all here. Good times.

Also don’t forget to check out the little extras at the end! Even more good times.


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Happy sighs, favourite world
Slow burn
Secrets
Potential couple goals

I am all smiles that I got to read another book in this world when I thought re-reads would be the only balm on Kate Daniels need. I loved that even though there was much familiarity, there was also freshness to revel in.

Aurelia was unexpected and fierce. I really enjoyed the details of her character, her powers, her missing history was slowly revealed and I was always guessing about her. I know for sure there is more revealing to come as this series plays out.

Aurelia wasn’t the only familiar face to spring through the pages and some I knew would be coming and others bowled me over with a bit of a shock wave. This one wasn’t to gory for my delicate nature (I often had to grit my teeth through Kate Daniels gore). I felt like there was some nuture coming into play with Aurelia and the street kids. That was something that really drew me to Aurelia.

There’s a slow burn of something in this first installment and it oh so reminded me of Kate and Curran but again with a fresh feel. No details here but I found it pretty thrilling. Also banter, this world brings all the banter and I lap it up

“Stabby.” She claimed it wasn’t a proper name for a weapon, so after the first Dakkan broke, I offered to name the new one Sharpy McStabbison, the Son of Stabby.

Ilona Andrews fans will not be disappointed.

BOUND BY FOREVER by Samantha Young

Niamh Farren has been burdened by knowledge for most of her life. As one of seven fae children born into the human world with the ability to open the gate to Faerie, Niamh’s mission is to guide her fae brethren to do what’s right. Because Niamh has seen what will happen to the human world if she does not protect the gate. Throughout the years, she’s traveled the world with her brother Ronan, using her psychic visions to find the fae-borne and convince them to stay on the path that will keep the gate from opening. She has sacrificed much … but when she loses her brother to the mission, Niamh begins to lose herself.

For nearly one hundred and fifty years, werewolf Kiyo has wandered the planet as a lost soul. Cursed with immortality, he spends his awful eternity as a mercenary for hire. When the powerful Fionn Mór confides the truth about the existence of Faerie and hires Kiyo to protect one of the fae-borne, he accepts the challenge out of boredom, not heroism. Yet Niamh is unexpected in every way the werewolf can possibly imagine.

Guarding Niamh from her enemies is nowhere near as challenging as protecting the fae woman from herself. If Kiyo is to succeed, he must help Niamh find herself again, and not just for her sake. Ignoring the fierce connection between them may no longer be an option. A new enemy is rising and threatening to rip open the gate between worlds. To remind Niamh of who she really is, Kiyo must make the choice to lower his defenses and give into their bond. Or safeguard his own heart … and in doing so lead the human world to the brink of war.



Title : Bound by Forever
Author : Samantha Young
Series : True Immortality #3
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 388
Genre : PNR
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : November 17, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

There’s something about this series that keeps me coming back for more. This penultimate installment in the series had a character I was really looking forward to – Kiyo and he was 100% my favourite thing about the book. He had great character development and that reluctance to care with the soft inside. Niamh was an interesting character but for some reason, I didn’t connect with her that much.

As a couple rubbing along, these two had their fun moments to read about and I did believe their connnection. There’s a but here though, everything between them was a bit to insta and fast for me. However, this was a story told over a shortish time frame, so I guess things were going to happen quickly. I do prefer a relationship that takes time though.

This story and plot development was super fast-paced with lots of twists and turns, maybe a few too many for my reading preference. The story switched on, on page one and didn’t let go until the end. The story had a ‘chase’ feeling as the characters ran from The Garm and The Coven across the globe. There felt like some far-fetched elements but this is paranormal context and I can live with that.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read but the plot didn’t always float my boat. I’ll definitely be back to finish this series though.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.

CRAVE by Tracy Wolff

My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.

Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.

Which could spell death for us all.

Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.


Title : Crave
Author : Tracy Wolff
Series : Crave #1
Format : Hardback
Page Count : 592
Genre : YA PNR
Publisher : Entangled Teen
Release Date : April 7, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3.5 – 4 star review

Well then, that was one heck of a crazy experience. It had unapologetic shades of twilight but it was original enough to carry a fresh story. CRAVE was full of violence, wars and rivalry at a boarding school for all sorts of paranormal creatures. I found it addictive and fun with some good twists, whilst also being somewhat predictable.

The reading experience was an addictive one, it was hard to put this down and reading this with buddies made that feeling even worse as we egged one another on and built up the angst (as if it needed any help).

I’m pleased to say that both the main characters, Grace and Jaxon had more actual personality than Edward and Bella but the story wasn’t as good (if you are a Twlight fan). There were sercrets to make the reader infuriated and lots of guesswork about who, what creature and again…who. I really enjoyed the guessing and laughed at how involved I got in the book, it really did take me back to the original feeling of reading it’s cover inspiration.

I’m really not going to tell you anything about the story but it ended in a really unexpected way, knocking the rating up to 4 stars. I respect the story so much more for that ending despite the dramarama and angsty fun on the way.

So, should you read it, hell yeah, why not! Oh and if you have a first edition, you get some alternate POV chapters at the end, which is a nice touch.

SAPPHIRE FLAMES by Ilona Andrews

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews comes an enthralling new trilogy set in the Hidden Legacy world, where magic means power, and family bloodlines are the new currency of society…

In a world where magic is the key to power and wealth, Catalina Baylor is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, and the Head of her House. Catalina has always been afraid to use her unique powers, but when her friend’s mother and sister are murdered, Catalina risks her reputation and safety to unravel the mystery.

But behind the scenes powerful forces are at work, and one of them is Alessandro Sagredo, the Italian Prime who was once Catalina’s teenage crush. Dangerous and unpredictable, Alessandro’s true motives are unclear, but he’s drawn to Catalina like a moth to a flame.

To help her friend, Catalina must test the limits of her extraordinary powers, but doing so may cost her both her House–and her heart.


Title : Sapphire Flames
Author : Ilona Andrews
Series : Hidden Legacy #4
Format : ebook
Page Count : 400
Genre : Urban Fantasy/PNR
Publisher : Avon Books
Release Date : August 27, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

I’ve got this old song going through my head…
🎵Don’t leave me this way🎵…because quite frankly, I cannot believe Ilona Andrews left it like that. I’ve read a stack of their books and I don’t think I’ve ever felt this incomplete at the end of a book, but I’ve got to tell you, it’s a delicious incompleteness.

SAPPHIRE FLAMES is the first novel where there’s truly been a full flavour of Catalina and she’s as interesting as Nevada but in a totally different way. I liked the age jump from the previous novella and having Catalina more settled in her position of responsibility. As ever with this series, this book was fast-paced, full of action, magic and monsters.

Now to the coupling, Alessandro, the smooth Italian stallion, was pretty to fun to read about and on a mission, the like of which I still don’t know. The banter between Alessandro and Catalina was exceptionally funny, entrancing and it totally gave me Jake and Amy vibes from Brooklyn 99 (sorry if you’re not a fan).

bustle.com

I am left worrying about where their joint story will go, what Catalina has got herself up to the neck in and most of all, what do I have to do to get my hands on EMERALD BLAZE? If you’ve not started The Hidden Legacy series yet, then what are you even doing with your life. Let’s call this my rec to you and get on it.

WAR OF HEARTS by S. Young

New York Times Bestselling author Samantha Young writing as S. Young.

Thea Quinn has no idea what she is. All she knows is that her abilities have been a plague upon her life since she was a child. After years of suffering at the hands of a megalomaniac, Thea escaped and has been on the run ever since.

The leadership and protection of his pack are of the utmost importance to Conall MacLennan, Alpha and Chief of Clan MacLennan, the last werewolf pack in Scotland. Which is why watching his sister slowly die of a lycanthropic disease is emotional torture. When Conall is approached by a businessman who offers a cure for his sister in exchange for the use of Conall’s rare tracking ability, Conall forges an unbreakable contract with him. He has to find and retrieve the key to the cure: dangerous murderer, Thea Quinn.

Thea’s attempts to evade the ruthless werewolf are not only thwarted by the Alpha, but by outside dangers. With no choice but to rely on one another for survival, truths are revealed, intensifying a passionate connection they both fight to resist. At war with themselves and each other, Conall and Thea’s journey to Scotland forces them to face a heartrending choice between love and betrayal.

War of Hearts is a standalone paranormal romance.


Title : War of Hearts
Author : S. Young
Series : True Immortals #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 447
Genre : Paranormal Romance
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : October 1, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


This was an interesting paranormal world created by Samantha Young that was overall something I could invest in for this book but also for a series ahead. It’s been a while since she’s written in this genre and since I’ve read her older fantasy/PNR but I guess it’s like riding a bike because it worked for me.

WAR OF HEARTS focuses on Thea, a human type of being from unknown descent and difficult to label. She was a loner and she’d been on the run for a long time. I really liked how her character, powers and abilities were constructed; she was exciting to read about. I felt like it took a bit of time to get to know her, but she was kind of mysterious so this fitted in with the story.

Conell was a shifter, a Scottish wolf and the alpha of his pack, sent to literally sniff Thea out. The story of Connell and Thea, in opposition to one another and grudgingly developing changes in perception, was superb to observe. I got very absorbed and involved. At the heart of this was a great romance and rode with the tide on this one.

The story straddled Europe and that element made for engaging reading. I struggled a bit initially to get on board with the fae element of the storyline and the narrative of the past. I did come to appreciate parts of that, however.

There’s so much to this story, needing world building and that was delivered. The characters were well developed and on top of enjoying this first story of the series, I think there’s lots of good reading to come with characters from this story merging into the next book.