review: lethal allure

Lethal Allure by Olivia Jaymes (2020)

Lethal Allure is the first book I have read by Olivia Jaymes. I’ve had the book sample on my kindle for several months now, and I finally decided to give it a try. To be honest, by the time I got to the end of the sample, I wasn’t completely sure I wanted to keep reading. Because the book is part of the Kindle Unlimited library, I decided to go ahead and click through and keep reading. More honesty—I got to chapter six and really thought about stopping. I did keep going though (mostly because I was too lazy to search for something else to read) and made it through to the end. If you’re trying not to break your book budget and don’t have a KU subscription, I would say skip this one and spend your book dollars elsewhere. If you do have a KU subscription and want something that is good enough to hold your attention and keep you entertained for a few hours, go ahead and give this one a try. I didn’t love Lethal Allure, but I didn’t hate it either. Continue reading

review: the devil in disguise

The Devil in Disguise by Cynthia Eden (2016)

Do you know how I know Cynthia Eden is one of my favorite authors? She uses multi-POV in her novels, and generally speaking, I don’t like multi-POV narratives. But in Eden’s work, I don’t mind it. Considering I have walked away from many, many books written in multi-POV, that’s saying something. Plus, Eden’s books are always satisfying reads. I know exactly what I’m going to get, and she doesn’t disappoint. The Devil in Disguise is the first book in Eden’s paranormal romance series, Bad Things. If you’ve never read anything by Cynthia Eden and you like paranormal romance, this is a good entry point. As of this writing, The Devil in Disguise is free as an ebook on Amazon and it was also free when I initially downloaded the book about a year ago. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy contemporary paranormal romances with alpha heroes and smart heroines more than capable of taking care of themselves. Continue reading

review: everdark

Note: Everdark is the second book in Elle Jasper’s paranormal romance series, Dark Ink Chronicles. If you haven’t read the first book in the series, Afterlight, you might want to look away. Spoilers ahead.

Everdark by Elle Jasper (2011)

Like the second season of a decent (but not great) television series, Everdark suffers a sophomore slump. Not only does it take a long time (a really long time) for the book to get going, but just when it seems like the story is gaining some momentum, you realize that not a whole lot is happening. Perhaps worse, what does happen seems to be the same thing that happened before, and before that, and before that. Worst of all, once the moment for the big showdown arrives, it’s completely anti-climactic because, well, there really is no showdown. Then the book ends on a cliffhanger. Everdark was a frustrating read for me, and when it came time for me to give it a rating, it only earned two stars (out of five) from me. If you read my review of Afterlight, you know I wasn’t fully invested in the idea of continuing the series after the end of the first book but that I was willing to give it a try. Now that I have finished the second book (and a lot sooner than I had anticipated) I can’t really say I would recommend the series to readers, especially not when there are so many other great book series out there. This goes double for my readers who are on a book budget. Everdark is not available with a Kindle Unlimited subscription, and it also isn’t available through my local library’s print or ebook collections. So if you want to read it, you have to buy it for either full price at your favorite bookstore or search for it during your next trip to your favorite used bookstore. My suggestion—spend your book dollars elsewhere, and don’t feel any reason to rush into reading book two if you’ve recently finished reading Afterlight. Continue reading

review: turn coat

Note: This is the 11th book in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher.  Spoilers will inevitably follow.  If you are new to this series, look away now and go find Storm Front, the first book in the series. You’ll be glad you did!

Turn Coat by Jim Butcher (2009)

If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you know that my opinion of the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher is that it is the exemplar par excellence urban fantasy series, and so many series follow in its footsteps (and if I may say so, struggle to stand outside its very long shadow). This series is a must-read. Period. It’s been a long, long time since I got lost in a Harry Dresden book. Each time I return (escape?) to Jim Butcher’s version of Chicago and spend some time with Harry and his friends, I wonder why I haven’t already consumed every last available page of this series. Then I remember why I’ve taken my time in getting caught up—as long as we were all still waiting for the 16th book in the series to get published (Peace Talks, which finally has a release date of July 2020), I saw no reason to rush. I also haven’t blown through the remaining books in the series because each one of these books is a lot to take in and digest. They’re not quick reads (especially not for this slow reader) and a lot happens in every book. Plus, I want to savor each one. But with Peace Talks on the horizon (and Battle Ground, the 17th book, scheduled for a late 2020 release!), I’m a bit more motivated to return to this series and finally get caught up. For any readers of this series who stopped somewhere before Turn Coat, or maybe put the series down and haven’t come back to it, you should definitely come back. Turn Coat is one of the books in this series that bears the burden of establishing the foundation for the next major plot arc for the series. Important moments happen in regard to many of Harry’s relationships—with his apprentice, Molly Carpenter, with his mentor, Ebenezer McCoy, with his longtime enemy/antagonist, Morgan, and with his brother, Thomas. There’s even a special moment between Harry and his best friend, Karrin Murphy. (Indeed, after that list, it becomes even more apparent to me why the next book in this series is titled Changes, a notable break in Butcher’s book naming conventions). So, if you’ve been unsure whether or not Turn Coat (or any of the books in the Dresden Files series, for that matter) is worth your book dollars, my opinion is that it definitely is. If your book budget has been stretched a bit thin due to COVID-19, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find these books in your local library (mine has them!). I’m going to do my best not to spoil the story, but here are a few things you might want to know about Turn Coat before you dive in. Continue reading

review: the monogram murders

The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah (2014)

Did you know that Sophie Hannah is writing new books featuring Hercule Poirot? I didn’t either until I stumbled upon one of the books on the kindle daily deal site one day. My initial reaction was this is awesome. Then the skeptic in me reared her head and said slow your roll. With the help of the Library Extension app I’ve downloaded to my browser, I confirmed that the book is available through my local library. I downloaded the ebook version and spent a couple of hours each night after work reading. If you’re on a budget and either haven’t ever read one of Agatha Christie’s Poirot novels or simply want a low risk way of discovering how well Sophie Hannah brings the Great Detective back to life, borrowing a copy of The Monogram Murders is the way to go. I wouldn’t say I loved this book, and I didn’t have the puzzle completely figured out by the end, but it was an enjoyable read for winding down after work and I wanted to keep reading until the big reveal of whodunnit. Continue reading

review: the thinking engine

The Thinking Engine by James Lovegrove (2015)

If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, I have a book for you to add to your reading list. The Thinking Engine by James Lovegrove is a compelling, well-written read from start to finish, and Lovegrove has joined my list of writers to watch for new installments in the Sherlock Holmes mysteries currently being published by Titan Books (the other writer on that list is Mark A. Latham). Like Latham, Lovegrove has a strong understanding of Holmes and Watson as characters as well as the original Holmes canon by A. Conan Doyle. Lovegrove masterfully delivers an intricate mystery complete with enough foreshadowing to help readers unravel parts of the puzzle but not enough clues to let them guess the whole puzzle before Sherlock makes his grand reveal. Lovegrove situates the story within a larger thematic context that makes the events of The Thinking Engine relevant to modern 21st century readers, all while offering a fascinating portrait of Holmes, Watson, and their friendship that has an incredible depth of insight. For those readers with a book budget, here’s what you need to know: the book is not available through the Kindle Unlimited library and it also wasn’t available through my local library, either in print or ebook format. If you want to read The Thinking Engine, you’ll have to buy it. This is one of my recommended reads (so far the list this year is short!) and in my opinion, it’s absolutely worth your book dollars, especially if you’re a fan of Sherlock and Watson. Continue reading

review: afterlight

Afterlight by Elle Jasper (2010)

Afterlight is the first book in Elle Jasper’s vampire/paranormal romance series, The Dark Ink Chronicles. Yes, I’m bringing you a vampire romance novel today, so let’s get the preliminaries out of the way, shall we? If you liked the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, but at the same time prefer your vampire romances to be written for adult readers (as opposed to young adult readers), you will like this first book in the Dark Ink Chronicles. I stumbled upon Afterlight while browsing the shelves of my local used bookstore. It’s been on my bookshelf for at least a year now, but with loads of time on my hands at the moment and nowhere to really go (I read this book during my state’s stay-at-home order prompted by COVID-19), I’ve been searching for new series to dive into and focused on clearing my physical and virtual bookshelves. I decided to finally pick up Afterlight, and the truth is that it kept me up past my bedtime and then kept me entertained for the better part of a Saturday. At the time of this writing, this book isn’t available from my local library or through Kindle Unlimited, but if you find it on your next trip to your local used bookstore and you like vampire romances, it’s worth your book dollars. Continue reading

review: ruthless

Ruthless by Marlie May (2019)

I have been searching for some super fantastic reads from the romantic suspense category. I don’t know about you, but for me it’s a challenge to find great, quality reads in this genre. And yet I keep trying because truth be told, romantic suspense is my favorite category. So after scrolling infinitely through my options for a lot longer than I want to admit, I downloaded a lot of options to my kindle and chose Ruthless by Marlie May for my next read. Ruthless is the second book in May’s contemporary romantic suspense series, Viper Force. Funny thing about this series—about three-quarters of the way through Ruthless, I realized I had read a sample of the first book in this series, Fearless, but decided not to keep going. After reading about half of Ruthless, I wish I would have stopped a lot earlier in the book, but I was invested by then so I kept reading to the finish. Still, this wasn’t the greatest book to spend a lazy Sunday with. Continue reading

review: the last wish

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski (1993)

Because the book is always better than the movie, right? Or in this case, the television show. Well, I’m actually not so sure if that applies in the case of Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher stories by Andrzej Sapkowski. I think I’ll need to read another book in this series before fully making up my mind where the question is concerned. And yet there is a lot of good stuff to love and enjoy in The Last Wish, which is a collection of short stories featuring Geralt of Rivia. I started here because everything I read on line said to start here. As I understand it, the six stories in this collection are the first stories chronologically, even though they were not published first. Being new to the books, I’d say The Last Wish is a good place to start. On a budget? I paid full price for my copy of the paperback edition of this book, but you can probably find a copy in your local used bookstore and there is an edition of the book available through my local library (they have it as an ebook, audiobook, and physical book). Just know that with Netflix’s recent series adaptation, these books will be hot commodities (all of the copies at my library are checked out!). Continue reading

review: echoes of fire

Beware: Echoes of Fire is a racy read. It contains naughty language and graphic sexuality. If you prefer sweet romances, this one is not for you.

Echoes of Fire by Suzanne Wright (2018)

Echoes of Fire is the first book I’ve read by Suzanne Wright, and I’m asking myself how I have missed stumbling upon this author until now. I was absorbed by the story and the characters right from the beginning and stayed up past my bedtime on a Sunday night because I didn’t want to put the book down. And that was after having spent most of the day with my head in the book. Wright has instantly gone to my “read more books by this author” list. Echoes of Fire is the fourth book in Wright’s Mercury Pack series, shifter romances set in a contemporary world where humans know about the existence of shifters. Not having read any of the other books in this series (or its sister series featuring the Phoenix Pack), I can assure you that this book definitely stands alone. Concerned about your book budget? At the time of this writing, Echoes of Fire is included with your Kindle Unlimited subscription (if you’ve got one), but it’s not available through my local library. But listen, this book is worth your book dollars. Especially if you love racy romances and shifter romances that are well-written, fast-paced, and totally engaging. Continue reading

review: twilight heart

Twilight Heart by Adam J. Wright (2019)

Twilight Heart is the seventh book in Adam J. Wright’s Harbinger P.I. urban fantasy series. If you haven’t read the previous books in this series, I strongly recommend checking out my review of the first book here before reading on. Spoilers are ahead if you’ve not read the previous books. You’ve been warned.

Do you ever make it to the middle of a book series (or a television show for that matter) where you’re invested in the story enough to want to know how it ends, but you’re losing the excitement you had at the very beginning? That’s how I’m starting to feel about the Harbinger P.I. series. I’m going to keep reading because I want to know how it ends, but I just don’t get the same high satisfaction from each new book in the series that the first few books gave me. Here’s my take on book seven, Twilight Heart. Continue reading

review: imperfect

Imperfect by April Wilson (2017)

Imperfect is the fifth book in April Wilson’s McIntyre Security Bodyguard series. I have read book one in this contemporary romance series, Vulnerable, which features Shane McIntyre and ends on a cliffhanger, so I was wary as to whether or not Imperfect would truly stand alone. While I think readers who haven’t read any of the previous books in this series won’t be confused or lost, I do think it was helpful to me as a reader that I had at least read the first book. It establishes all of the members of the McIntyre family, who to varying extents appear over the course of Imperfect. If you’re not sure where to start, I would recommend beginning with Vulnerable and then if you like the writing and the characters, read Imperfect. If you’re a continuing reader, then know that you’ll see all of your favorite characters from previous books in the series. As of this writing, both Vulnerable and Imperfect are available through Kindle Unlimited but not from my local library. Imperfect receives an above average rating from me (it’s solidly between a B and a B+). It’s not one of my favorite books of the year but it’s definitely not the worst book I’ve read recently. Give this author a try and see what you think. Continue reading

review: the vanishing man

The Vanishing Man by Philip Purser-Hallard (2019)

In case you missed it, Titan Books is publishing new novels featuring Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. The books are written by a variety of different authors, and since I’m a fan of the original stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle, it’s interesting to see how close to the originals the books in this series feel. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I have previously reviewed The Red Tower by Mark A. Latham. I have also read A Betrayal in Blood by the same author as well as The Legacy of Deeds by Nick Kyme. For any reader who loves the original stories by Conan Doyle, I highly recommend all three of these books. The Vanishing Man by Philip Purser-Hallard is the latest book in this series to capture my attention. It’s not my favorite among the group of books I’ve read so far, but it is an entertaining and engaging read. It follows many of the Sherlockian conventions and I don’t think readers will walk away disappointed. If you are on a budget, be aware that I wasn’t able to find this book in my local library and it’s not available through my Kindle Unlimited subscription. I also couldn’t find a copy in my local used bookstore, so I paid full price for my book. If you want to read one of the books in this series and make your book budget dollars count, I humbly recommend starting with A Betrayal in Blood or The Red Tower, as both of these are the best books in the series I’ve read so far and well worth your book dollars. Continue reading

review: only with you

Only with You by Layla Hagen (2019)

Only with You is the fourth book in Layla Hagen’s contemporary romance series, The Connor Family, but rest assured that these books can be read as standalone novels. I have also read the first book in this series, Anything for You and it is one of my favorite reads of 2019. I highly recommend both books to readers who love steamy romance novels with real, everyday characters. I’ve now had two experiences with Layla Hagen’s work and she’s an author I am adding to my must-read list. I have loved both of these books and can’t wait to read more in this series. On a budget? At the time of this writing, Only with You is not in the Kindle Unlimited library nor is it available from my local library, so it will cost you a withdrawal from your book budget. It’s totally worth every dollar and I have no regrets about my purchase. If you have read and enjoyed The Sullivans series by Bella Andre or the With You series by Kristen Proby, you will love the Connors. Continue reading

review: irresistible

Irresistible by Melanie Harlow (2019)

Dear Readers: I do not want to bury the lede here. Irresistible by Melanie Harlow is a fantastic, five-star read that made me cry, and then it made me laugh at the same time it was making me cry. Honestly, what more could I ask for? Nothing. Not. One. Thing. Irresistible is my favorite read of 2019 so far (and in case you were wondering, this is book #30 for the year), and here I am, once again writing about how amazing Melanie Harlow’s books are. Need another incentive? As of this writing, you can find Irresistible in the Kindle Unlimited library. If you’re not a subscriber, do not despair because this book is worth every penny of your book budget dollars. Give this author a chance to wow you. Continue reading