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!).

So you’ve watched The Witcher on Netflix and you think maybe you want to read the books? If that’s your motivation, then I think you’ll enjoy the stories in The Last Wish. There are six stories in the book, and all but one of those stories were turned into episodes of the Netflix series. If you’re interested, here’s a handy list of which story corresponds to which episode:

“The Witcher” = Betrayer Moon (episode 3)
“The Lesser Evil” = The End’s Beginning (episode 1)
“A Question of Price” = Of Banquets, Bastards, and Burials (episode 4)
“The Edge of the World” = Four Marks (episode 2)
“The Last Wish” = Bottled Appetites (episode 5)

Now if you’re only familiar with the Netflix adaptation (and this very much applies to me) then there’s some other information you might want to know before deciding whether or not to read the books. One, you’re not going to get a single glimpse of Ciri, as she doesn’t show up in any of the stories in The Last Wish. Two, if Yennefer’s story and her character arc are your favorite things about the Netflix series, then you need to know you’re not going to see any of that in The Last Wish. On the other hand, when we meet Yennefer in “The Last Wish” it already feels like we know her. Three, you will see Yaskier, the bard; however, in the stories, his name is Dandilion. Four, if you’re one of those viewers who wanted Geralt to have more screen time, then you’ll get what you want in The Last Wish, because the stories are more tightly focused on the witcher as he moves from place to place in search of monsters and payment for destroying them.

The stories are told by a third-person omnipotent narrator who mostly focuses on Geralt but occasionally focuses his gaze on other characters. Like the Netflix series, the stories in The Last Wish move back and forth in time, so you’ll have to pay as much attention to when things are happening while you’re reading as you did while watching the show. One thing that the stories have that the show doesn’t (yet?) is an ally for Geralt in the form of Nenneke, a priestess who gives him a safe haven and tries to heal his injuries. Prior to each of the stories is a short narrative titled “The Voice of Reason”. It is in these short narratives that we see what is going on with Geralt during his stay in Nenneke’s temple, filling in some of the gaps the stories leave wide open.

The main reason, at least in my opinion, to read the stories in The Last Wish is to gain greater context and insight that the Netflix series either chose not to portray or makes entirely too subtle (perhaps winking at viewers who have already read the stories). Not surprisingly, I felt this most acutely while reading “A Question of Price” and “The Last Wish” because both stories provide a lot of context the episodes are missing. Not to give any spoilers, but in “A Question of Price” you learn something important about Geralt that the show hasn’t yet revealed and in “The Last Wish” you get a little closer to understanding the third wish Geralt makes and how it binds him and Yennefer (and to answer the question I know you have, no, the exact words of Geralt’s wish aren’t given).

One of the reasons to stick with the Netflix series and not read the books is that the show does a much better job of representing women and showing their agency to control their own lives while at the same time portraying the ways in which women are forced to navigate patriarchal systems and societies. The series is made for a 21st century audience. In the books, there is much more of a patriarchal, gender-biased attitude toward women. Perhaps this simply makes the story collection a product of its time. Perhaps it’s a silent indictment of such attitudes, particularly given Geralt’s views on monsters and humans—namely, that sometimes the monsters he encounters show more humanity than the humans who would have them destroyed.

I wouldn’t have picked up The Last Wish on my own, but I will say I did enjoy reading the stories. The next book in the series (or at least, the next book all the lists say I should read next) is Sword of Destiny. It’s not yet on my bookshelf but it’s on my list of books to read.

Have you read The Last Wish? What did you think?

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.

This is the story of Madisyn and Bracken. Madisyn is a feline lone shifter who spends half her time working in a shelter, where she occasionally relocates shifters looking for a safe home and a fresh start. The other half of her time is spent working in The Velvet Lounge, a bar owned by the Mercury Pack. Though she doesn’t belong to the pack, she is under their protection, which becomes important when she refuses to give an Alpha bear shifter the information he wants about Daisy, a young bear shifter who Madisyn recently relocated. The thing Madisyn wants most is her independence and freedom, and learning Bracken is her true mate threatens to rob her of the life she thinks she wants. Bracken is a wolf shifter who has become isolated from his pack as a result of a massacre-type event that killed his entire family. Driven by vengeance, he tracks down those responsible for the deaths of his family, but now he is drifting through life with no real purpose and can’t find any joy or happiness in anything. He is on the verge of leaving the pack to go roaming, but learning that Madisyn is his true mate changes his mind. What Bracken needs most is confidence in his ability to protect those he loves, and the action plot of the novel challenges his confidence time and time again. Both Madisyn and Bracken are likable, fully developed characters, and I quickly got invested in them as a couple.

The story is told through Madisyn and Bracken’s alternating third-person POVs. Through their narratives you get to see several of the other members of the Mercury and Phoenix packs, who make up the supporting cast. One thing that stands out to me about Echoes of Fire is that since Wright keeps her lens tightly focused on Madisyn and Bracken, the supporting cast doesn’t jump out at me as much as other books. Sure, Madisyn’s closest friend, Makenna plays the role of BFF, but the sense of just how isolated Bracken has allowed himself to become is reinforced by the seeming lack of a BFF character for him. That being said, the antagonists of the story feel a lot more vivid than the supporting cast. The Alpha bear who continues to come for Madisyn, intent upon forcing her to tell him what he wants to know, as well as the characters he pulls into his plot to get what he wants, are the side characters that interested me most. Well, of course there was also Vinnie, the leader of the Olympus Pride who has unofficially adopted Madisyn into their group and come to her aid when she needs it. Still, I think one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much was the laser-like focus on Madisyn and Bracken. They never disappear from the story and their narrative on what is happening at any given moment in the story was one of the most compelling aspects of the book. One of the writing rules I do my best to follow is to present compelling main characters, people who readers want to keep following through the story, who they simply can’t look away from. Wright has nailed that rule in Echoes of Fire and in doing so, gained a raving fan.

In case you missed it, I recommend this book to readers who love racy shifter romances with a strong subplot that brings a little mayhem and danger into the lives of the protagonists, threatening everything that matters most to them. Echoes of Fire is one of those books you will have no regret reading during the course of a lazy Sunday while ignoring all the household chores and general noise of everyday life. If you’re looking for the next book escape, put Echoes of Fire on the top of your to-be-read pile.

Have you read Echoes of Fire or any of the previous books in the Mercury Pack series? What do you think?

p.s. Since reading Echoes of Fire, I have gone on to read five other books by Suzanne Wright and not one of them has been a disappointment.

NOTE: I enjoy reading steamy romance novels but it’s not easy to find quality reads in this category. It can be challenging—even after you’ve read the back cover blurb and a sample—to know for sure if a particular book is worth your time and money. If you’re a reader like me who likes this category but wants quality over quantity, then drop a comment below and let me know if this review was helpful to you.

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

review: take me home

Take Me Home by J.H. Croix (2015)

J.H. Croix is a new-to-me author I found while browsing through my BookBub account. I decided to take a chance on Take Me Home, the first book in Croix’s contemporary romance series, Last Frontier Lodge. For readers on a budget, know that as of the date of this writing, this book is currently a free ebook but it’s not available in the Kindle Unlimited library and it also isn’t available from my local public library. If you’re looking for a steamy romance novel for your next read and want a new series to try, Take Me Home just might check all of your boxes, but don’t let your expectations get too high. Continue reading

review: a dangerous hunger

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

A Dangerous Hunger by J.S. Scott (2014)

A Dangerous Hunger is the second book in the paranormal romance series, The Sentinels. I haven’t read book one in this series and have to admit that was a mistake on my part. After finishing A Dangerous Hunger, my guess is that the books in this series are best read in order. That being said, I’ll do my best to avoid revealing any spoilers.

In the world of The Sentinels, there is a war raging between good and evil to which the humans of the world are blind. Standing on the side of evil are the Evils, demons created by the mythological Greek gods who were banished to the demon realm existing between Earth and Hades when they got out of control. However, with the power of the Greek gods waning to almost nothing, the Evils have been able to break free from the demon realm and terrorize humans. Enter the Sentinels. Also created by the Greek gods, the Sentinels stand on the side of good and were tasked with the responsibility of keeping humans safe from the Evils. The Sentinels are human men turned into immortal demons, their souls plunged into eternal darkness. That is, until they meet their radiants—mates who will bring light to their existence. It is within this world that the story of Talia and Drew unfolds. Continue reading

review: blood magic

NOTE: The original title of this book was Blood Sacrifice, and the original title for the series was “Sorcerer’s Creed”. Both the book title and the series title have been changed since I originally downloaded a sample of the book in September 2017. I hope this clears away any confusion, as it took me a minute to figure this out.

Blood Magic by N.P. Martin (2016)

Blood Magic is the first book in N.P. Martin’s Wizard’s Creed urban fantasy series. I originally downloaded a sample of this book and for whatever reason decided not to keep reading. Nine months later, I downloaded the book through my Kindle Unlimited subscription. When I started to read it, I had that feeling I’d read it before and sure enough, I had. I kept reading, though, and got to the 40% mark before putting it down and not picking it up again. Last week, I decided to give the book one last try (because right now I’m all about clearing some titles off my kindle) and I made it to the end this time. While I’m not sure if my history with reading Blood Magic is a ringing endorsement, it does suggest that the story concept is appealing enough to me to have picked the book up multiple times. Blood Magic isn’t one of my recommended reads, but for those of you who are fans of the urban fantasy genre, there are a lot of reasons you might want to give the book a try and, depending on your reading preferences, a handful of reasons why you might want to skip this one and keep browsing for your next read. Continue reading

review: hot winter nights

Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis (2018)

Hot Winter Nights is the sixth full-length novel in Jill Shalvis’ Heartbreaker Bay contemporary romance series. Each novel in the series can stand alone and be read in any order. If you want to pick up the first book in the series, it’s Sweet Little Lies. Thus far, Accidentally on Purpose (find my review here) and Chasing Christmas Eve are my favorite books in the series. On a budget? Here’s the info you need to know: Hot Winter Nights is not in the Kindle Unlimited library (as far as I know, none of Shalvis’ work is) but it was available through my local library in e-book and paperback format. I’ve also been able to find Shalvis’ books in my local used bookstore. I haven’t ever been disappointed by one of Shalvis’ books (I also love the books in the Lucky Harbor series) and haven’t regretted spending my book dollars on one of her novels. She’s one of my go-to authors who I trust to give me a good romance novel, and if you’ve been around my book blog for a while, you know I don’t say that about a lot of romance authors. Continue reading

review: modern sorcery

Modern Sorcery by Gary Jonas (2011)

Modern Sorcery is the first book in the Jonathan Shade urban fantasy series by Gary Jonas. This book has been on my kindle for at least six months. I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, but over the weekend I decided I was in the right mood to read this particular book. Well, I should say I was finally in the mood to make a second attempt to read the book. The first time I picked up Modern Sorcery, I read about 9% of the book or what amounts to the first 40 pages. I didn’t know if I would actually make it through the whole book the second time around, but I wanted to, because this is exactly the kind of urban fantasy that is my favorite—private detectives whose investigations take place in a paranormal world, and bonus points if the novel weaves in elements of noir and hardboiled detective fiction. I’m not able to say I loved Modern Sorcery, but I did like it a lot and already plan to read the second book in the series. On a budget? At the time of this writing, it’ll cost you $2.99 plus tax, as the book is not currently available from my local library and it’s also not in the Kindle Unlimited library. If you’re a fan of the urban fantasy genre and looking for a new series, then it’s worth the dollars from your book budget. If you’re a casual fan or new to the genre, I’d recommend starting somewhere else (the Harry Dresden files by Jim Butcher and the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne are fantastic entry points). Continue reading

review: the ghost hunter next door

The Ghost Hunter Next Door by Danielle Garrett (2017)

Looking for a light read that offers a good mystery, a bit of the paranormal, and a dash of romance? The Ghost Hunter Next Door by Danielle Garrett checks all the boxes. This is book one in Garrett’s Beechwood Harbor Ghost Mystery series, which I would categorize as cozy mystery/ paranormal suspense. For my readers who (like me) have a book budget you try not to bust every month, here are your options: (1) it’s in Kindle Unlimited if you are a subscriber or (2) it will cost you $1 (plus tax). It wasn’t available from my local library. Between you and me, it’s worth your book dollars, especially if you are a fan of cozy mysteries. I’m not a huge fan of cozy mysteries, but every once in a while I want something that’s a little different from my favorite genres. This is my first time reading Danielle Garrett’s work, and I was pleasantly surprised and fully satisfied with my reading experience. Continue reading

review: southern secrets

Southern Secrets by Willow Monroe (2016)

I stumbled upon Southern Secrets by Willow Monroe by accident. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a cozy mystery to read, but I was looking for something to read. Southern Secrets is the first book in the Ace Baxter Ghost Chronicles paranormal cozy mystery series. In terms of the cozy mystery genre, this book is a bit of a unicorn in that the main character is male (the main character of a cozy is almost always female) and that’s one of the main reasons I picked it up and decided to give it a try. That and the fact that it’s a short read, which meant I didn’t have to make a lengthy time commitment. On a budget? At the time of this writing, Southern Secrets isn’t available from my local library but it is available in the Kindle Unlimited library. If you’re not a KU subscriber, then it’ll cost you $2.99 plus tax. If I’d spent my book budget dollars on Southern Secrets I probably would have regretted the decision. That being said, it’s a decent read and when prompted I gave it a three-star rating. Continue reading

review: deadline

Deadline by Jennifer Blackstream (2016)

Deadline is the first book in Jennifer Blackstream’s Blood Trails urban fantasy series. If you’re a frequent reader of my blog, then you will have noticed I’ve read a lot of first books in a series lately, and we’re only a few weeks into the year. I tend to think of the first book in a series the same way I think of the pilot episode of a new television show. If the description sparks my curiosity and interest, then I’m willing to sample the first installment. While some critics will tell you we’re experiencing “peak TV”, I would further suggest we’re experiencing “peak publishing”. Which means there are so many more books to sample than I really have time for. The consequence (and maybe it’s a negative consequence) is that the first installment of any series has to grab hold of me and refuse to let me go. What I find is that the more first books I sample, the higher my expectations become, and the harder it is for the book to exceed my expectations. The truth is that my reading time and my book budget dollars are both precious and a finite resource. Which means I’m likely to keep reading a lot of first books in the series, and I’ll try to write something worthwhile and informative about my impressions so that you can decide whether you want to invest your time and money. That being said, let’s dive into the world of Deadline. Continue reading