Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review: Spider's Trap

Spider's Trap (Elemental Assassin, #13)

Just when I thought my addiction to this spider is done, I'm hooked again @Jennifer_Estep #bookreview

Spider's Trap by Jennifer Estep

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just when it seems as if this series jumped the shark, Ms. Estep hits readers with a new arc in this series which pulls me right back in. Gin is stuck as the queen of Ashland's underworld.  She grudgingly holds this title because she's taken out all the heavy hitters.  Unfortunately, Gin is no queen.  She doesn't know how to run a criminal empire because at heart, she's a troubleshooter.  She is the one who gets the job done.  Trying to strategize and navigate the political waters is beyond her skill set.  Unless, someone steps in to mentor her.

In Spider's Trap, Gin's past comes to haunt her again.  It seems the life of an assassin is filled with those who want to kill you.  Gin's latest blast from the past is one she forgot and it is biting her big time.  I really enjoy how Ms. Estep keeps fleshing out Gin's character with historical events.  The flashbacks are well done and easy to follow.  As the reader learns more about Gin's experiences and mistakes, it shows how Gin came to be the strong ruthless killer she is today.  And even then, Gin's killing is a still with a gentle touch - a kiss of a spider.

What I like most about this character is how Gin is flawed.  She's not a character with more supernatural abilities than anyone else.  In fact, in this one, her abilities work against her and make her weak.  This plot device is used quite frequently by Ms. Estep and each time it's refreshing and different.  The way Gin overcomes her obstacles is through a combination of her brains, elemental strength, experience and friends.  Even though each of these stories features Gin, none of it would work without her supporting cast of friends, family and lover.  This is another reason why I love these books.  Gin makes genuine connections with males and females alike.  She is also loyal and always does the right thing, even when it is easier to turn a blind eye.  Gin is the type of person who will be there to help in time of need.  In return, everyone who's been helped will want to return the favour.

The villain in this story is psychotic.  What is amusing is the secondary characters who are also in the way and try to take Gin down.  They are a mild distraction that Gin ties up in her thread and comes back to when she's finished setting her trap for the main event.  Everyone's motive is different and when there are competing priorities, it seems Gin is the one who will trump all.  With this new group of villains, a new character arises who may be more friend than foe.  She may even provide some helpful influence and guidance for Gin.  Ms. Estep does a nice job of setting up for the next book with this new character.  Right after finishing this satisfying book, I'm already yearning for the next one.  Just when I thought my addiction to this spider is done, I'm hooked again.  This urban fantasy is highly recommended to those who love an assassin with a heart of gold.

*provided by Edelweiss

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review: Baby's Got Bite

Baby's Got Bite (Take It Like a Vamp, #2)
Happy Book Birthday to @CandaceHavens for Baby's Got Bite! Some consequences bite…big time.  @elliebeereader #bookreview 
Baby's Got Bite by Candace Havens

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Weddings are the perfect time for the bridesmaids and groomsmen to hook up.  It's traditional for the maid of honour and the best man to enjoy a hot one night stand.  Sometimes, they even end up with a souvenir…nine months later.  Bennett is Casey's best friend and she is normally level-headed.  During Casey's wedding, she keeps making foolish mistakes which makes her cranky and unhospitable to uber sexy Linc.  Linc is amused  and manages to charm Bennett's panties off.

The long awaited sequel to Take It Like a Vamp finally arrives and it's a constant struggle.  Bennett is a character who does have some Daddy abandonment issues.  She's a quirky character who knows her mind and is fiercely independent.  She also seems to hate men a bit which makes it tough when she finds out she's pregnant.  With no trustworthy men in her life, she finds it hard to believe anything Linc says.  Since Linc is a famous fashion icon who has women hanging all over him, how could he possibly be faithful?  These two characters are coming from totally different worlds and when they find a mutual connection, it's the last thing they expected.  This causes for more turmoil and at one point, the drama in this story is just a bit too much for my tastes. 

I liked both characters because they are easily relatable.  They are the slightly flawed protagonists who do their best in life.  They try to do their best with the situation they are in and they are logical.  Bennett may have some baggage, but she's doesn't let it hold her back.  Linc's past is tragic and whilst he does remember the pain of it all, he doesn't use it as a senseless vendetta against all.  This balanced character creation gave both characters more depth and I became vested in their relationship and hoped it would workout despite all the obstacles. 

In addition to the engaging characters, the world building is better in this book compared to the first one.  For those who read this book first, it's fine as a standalone.  Ms. Havens spends more time explaining the different factions in the supernatural world as well as their complicated alliances.  This is important because it is the key to the conflict in the story.  This star-crossed lover trope works out well because neither Linc nor Bennett behave like the idiots Romeo and Juliet.  There is a bit of overly protective pushy alpha male as to be expected from a werewolf, but overall, there are few contrived miscommunication conflicts.  Plus, no one dies due to a failure to communicate!

The dialogue is trademark Ms. Havens with snarky comments from the female lead and witty comebacks from the male lead.  The story flows well with the right amount of erotic interlude and plot development.  Whilst it is predictable what would happen, the journey to the ending is worth it.  The main and secondary characters are not evil villains; there are only different sides to the story which can be explained.  It’s a bit sad why there is so much conflict between two types of supernaturals.  The ending does leave it open ended for another book.  Hopefully another book will provide more insight into this supernatural world. Overall, this is an enjoyable read with fun characters and droll dialogue.  This paranormal romance is recommended to those who like the star-crossed lovers theme.

*provided by NetGalley

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: Servicing the Target

Servicing the Target (Masters of the Shadowlands, #10)

Must buy-Highly recommended for femdom lovers and as a BDSM Gateway book @CheriseSinclair #bookreview

Servicing the Target by Cherise Sinclair

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally the long awaited femdom book comes from Ms. Sinclair and it's a doozy.  A fan of Ms. Sinclair, her gateway to BDSM books consistently tickle my fancy.  Her dominants are dreamy.  In this one, Mistress Anne takes the lead and she's a strict domme.  Used to submissive boy toys who follow formal protocol, she tries something different when former army ranger Ben asks to submit.

This book pulls me completely in and moves me.  I physically hurt for Anne.  Anne is a complex woman who needs to control her entire environment.  When her past as a military brat is revealed, it explains so much about her kink as well as her need to have everything orderly.  The blatant disrespect she receives from her uncles, cousin and father are astounding.  I'm angry for her and impressed how she keeps the peace.  Her self-control is impressive as she responds to hurtful insults time after time.

There are several times in this story when my heart breaks for a little girl who is treated shabbily by her parents.  It's interesting to note how clueless her parents were and how much she had to keep her feelings locked up and isolated from everyone.  This protective armor is what keeps her going.  In some ways, Anne is an ice maiden with an iron fist.  She doles out pain in a way that is cathartic because it releases her own disappointments and pain.

The BDSM in this story is interesting because it really explores from a dominant perspective.  The reader learns what goes on in the mind of a domme as well as how she came to BDSM.  Surprisingly, Anne starts out as a man-hater who uses sadistic impact play on male slaves as whipping boys for the asshole males in her life.  One would think this would make her a bad domme with issues.  Instead, she's quite level headed about it and as she's come to accept the jerks in both her professional and family life, her need to dole out harsh punishment decreases.

The distinction in this story between a sexual submissive and a slave is well done.  Whilst some may argue against the definitions, I say, forget the semantics and focus on the actions and intent.  It's a lovely compare and contrast between the two.  It's nice to see a Domme who owns her issues and doesn't take it out on others.  It's also lovely to see a Domme who is caring enough to help her previous slaves.  The differences between Joey her previous slave from Ben, her new slave are abundantly clear.  Witnessing Ben who is previously exhibited no kinky leanings change into a strong submissive is a pleasure.  Ms. Sinclair does an excellent job of showing casing an alpha male who enjoy sexual submission.  The way Ben and Anne balance each other and grow together is something many seek.  To see how there are mistakes along the way and yet still, two people who started out with different expectations can negotiate to a new level is what makes this book so good.  It shows that perfection is not required.  People can be flawed, make bad assumptions and still, with the willingness to try, there is a way to see eye to eye.  Ms. Sinclair weaves a lovely tale from beginning to end.

For those expecting a dark cruel sadistic time, this is not going to be it.  Ms. Sinclair does neither cruel nor dark in her books.  Her trademarks loving, trusting and communication are all in full evidence here and it's fabulous to see.  Highly recommended for femdom lovers and as a BDSM Gateway book.

*provided by BDSM Book Reviews

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Review: The Terrans

The Terrans (First Salik War, #1)Must read for readers who enjoy intrigue, political conflict and a touch of romance @JeanJAuthor #bookreview
The Terrans by Jean Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a must buy book.  Ms. Johnson kicks off a fabulous new series with nonstop action.  This page turner features a new strong female lead, Jacaranda MacKenzie.  Jackie serves the United Planets with distinction.  She is a talented woman with many skills.  She is a translator, former military and council member.  This doesn't even touch her psychic abilities and the patience of a saint.  When she is called back to duty on a hush-hush mission to meet new aliens and find allies to help protect Terran in a future war, all hell breaks loose.

The world building in this story is fantastic.  For those who did not read the series, Theirs Not to Reason Why, after reading this story, you will want to read it.  The complexity to this world with the politics, government, technology and aliens is robust and keeps a reader's attention.  Learning about how the United Planets came to be and how the council takes representatives is impressive.  It's a type of utopia reminiscent in several Ms. Anne McCaffrey series.  For those who loved Tower and the Hive Series by Ms. McCaffrey, this series, First Salik Wars will be right up your alley.

I loved the character development in this book.  This applies to the main and secondary characters.  Jacaranda is definitely a heroine I admire.  She's well rounded and comfortable in her own skin.  Her ethics and moral compass are demonstrated over and over again in each situation.  The way she handles both those for and against her is impressive.  She's the kind of commander I'd aspire to be.  She's not perfect and that's okay.  When she loses her temper, it's explainable.  Her love interest, Li’eth, is a human from another universe.  The way they communicate and learn about each other's culture is refreshing.  There are misconceptions and I love how Ms. Johnson shows discrimination and how to handle it. Li’eth is a character who is strong yet weak.  He is strong with his decision making skills and how to handle his crew.  Yet his psychic powers and control over it are very weak.  Having him placed in a position of weakness makes him more approachable.  The chemistry between the two gives a lovely romantic undertone to this science fiction novel.

The plot development in this story is complex and the first book is merely the building block to the next.  This meaty book is tightly written with great imagery and excellent dialogue.  Even though the book is over 400 pages, it moved at a good pace.  What I really enjoyed about this book is the conflict resolution.  In every instance of conflict, Ms. Johnson shows ways in how people can work together and think outside of the box to find a better outcome for all.  This kind of positive thinking shows creativity and strength in character.  This is a feel good book for me because it makes me think and want to become a better person.  I love books which also touch upon current events and makes a socio-political commentary without being heavy handed.  Ms. Johnson does a great job providing possible solutions to discrimination based on physical looks and mental differences.  I want to live in this world, even if there are evil aliens who want to just eat humans.  Highly recommended to sci-fi readers who enjoy intrigue, political conflict and a touch of romance.

*provided by NetGalley

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Review: The Stablegirl

a lovely pony tale with her words which is an epicurean feast for logophiles @The StablegirlKA_Merikan #bookreview 
The Stablegirl by Miss Merikan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Steampunk, pony play and betrayal - The Stablegirl contains elements I love.  Little Orphan Annie with her lovely blond locks is sold into slavery by someone she thought she loved.  Working in London for an Aristocrat as a scullery maid is a boring and tedious job.  What is worse, is the horrible bullying she experiences from the other servants.  One day this all changes when she's upgraded from scullery maid to stablegirl.  Except she isn't taking care of a horse, she's responsible for the human stallion, Coal.

The characters are wonderful.  Annie is a na├»ve girl who makes wishes she doesn't believe will ever come true.  She is gentle, too trusting and completely inadequate to navigate this hostile world as a human.  This one theme seems to be central to Miss Merikan's Bylondon Copper Horse world.  Humans who fail miserably in life are redeemed and better off as ponies. 

Coal is an interesting character.  He is a pony for only a year.  When he returns to his human self, Dante, it seems his fortune is of a wealthy gentleman ready to make Annie's dream come true.  He'll whisk her away from all the drudgery and into a spoiled life of a breeding mare.  The story behind Dante's life once revealed is heartbreaking. It's these little twists and turns which pulls me into story and love it.  I love both Dante and Coal's story and what he tries to do to make it better for everyone.  His heart is golden and his intent is pure.  Unfortunately, he's been dealt a raw hand and befriended despicable snakes.  It is sad to see how hard he tries only to make grievous mistakes.  When Annie is in the mix, the world seems to spin a bit more out of control and in the end together, they are able to find their happily ever after.  They really survive because they are two parts to a whole.

This is a sweet romance which is unexpected.  There is less darkness in this m/f story compared to a couple of m/m stories written by the same authors.  The graphic telling of sexual violations is missing in this book.  This is a gentler pony fetish story.  The pony play in here is quite fabulous.  It's well done with exquisite detail of play mixed in with heartwarming emotion.  I love when Coal comes to play with Annie's alter ego - Creme.  The way the authors capture two humans becoming both vulnerable yet more powerful in their pony persona is entrancing. 

The descriptions in this story are fabulous.  It is easy to see every smog filled sky and steampunk dressed person.  This dystopian Victorian world Miss Merikan creates is gritty with pollution and zombies.  The climate is filled with blatant backstabbing.  Miss Merikan has a way with words and this book from start to finish is silky smooth with nary a word misplace.  Each sentence is thoughtfully created and edited for both elegance and efficiency.  Miss Merikan weaves a lovely tale with her words which is an epicurean feast for logophiles.  Highly recommended for kinky readers who enjoy steampunk, lovers united and love conquers all theme.

*I received this book as a review copy in return for an honest review

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: Final Protocol

Final Protocol

@shilohwalker #bookreview darkly erotic and delightfully depraved.

Final Protocol by J.C. Daniels

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

New erotically dark series from talents Ms. Daniels starts off with an arousing bang.  Silence is an assassin with a kill switch.  She is at the mercy of her master who uses her to kill of targets as well as satiate his dark sexual desires.  Gold, the only name her master goes by enjoys breaking every bone in her body and sexually violating every hole.  He's twisted Silence so much that she even begs for the pain as her body sings in pleasure at his sadistic hands. 

When it comes to creating evil villains, Ms. Daniels does a stunning job with Gold.  There is nothing redeeming about this man and this is unusual for her.  Her evil villains usually have some kind of motive which brings their evil intent into question.  Not so for Gold, so far in this sci-fi tale.  This first book in the series spends time with world building and providing the backstory of how Silence came to existence.  It's a teaser meant to pull readers in to want more.  I've been pulled in and I want to read the next book.  I want to know what happens with Silence and her new found ally. 
The tale is told from Silence's point of view.  It's a nice balance between her thoughts and actions.  She's never whiny which is a big relief.  Instead, she's focused and slightly suicidal.  She has good reason to be and really, she has nothing to live for and that's why she's so dangerous.  Gold is obviously too power drunk to not realize one of his most deadly toys has nothing to live for which means his life will be forfeit. 

The sex in this book is non-con for the most part and it is disappointing because it hints rather than shows.  Ms. Daniels explores the darker taboo S&M where there are no safewords and the sadist only cares about cruelty.  She does not exploit sex here by describing it graphic detail.  Instead, it's a gentle fade to black which may leave some dark depraved readers unsatisfied.  The hints and glimpses of what Gold does to Silence only piques my interest and spikes my arousal.  It's naughty of me, but I enjoy Silence's rape at the hands of her abhorrent captor.  It's because despite her resistance, her body still enjoys it and she feels terribly guilty afterwards.  This struggle is an elixir for my arousal.  The voyeur in me delights in the violation and thirst for more.  This dark space opera is recommended for kinky readers who enjoy reading about females skilled with knives and guns yet helpless at the hands of an evil mastermind.
*provided by NetGalley

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Review: Mindhealer

Mindhealer (Watcher, #5)Mindhealer by Lilith Saintcrow

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Witches aka lightbringers who avoid and don't want their own personal watcher just flummoxes me.  Caro Robbins is a strong Mindhealer, probably stronger than any other.  She carries more baggage than any of the other lightbringers to date.  She purposely places herself in danger because she doesn't want another Watcher to die for her.  The stupidity in her reasoning is beyond me. 

Ms. Saintcrow writes females with no middle ground.  Either they are kick ass and can take care of themselves and everyone else, or they are completely bumbling idiots.  Guess which one Caro resembles?  Bingo - idiot and not an idiot savant.  Caro stubbornly believes she can go out and about, avoid the dark Seekers and basically everything evil that wants to devour her.  Not sure how her logic works, but apparently, she thinks she won't attract them despite all evidence.  The poor schlep who is Caro's "one" is Merrick.  The only way Merrick can stop the pain and become more than a Watcher is if he finds his own witch - the witch whose touch won't hurt.  The other half of him… and it's demented Caro the mindhealer. Caro does just about everything she can to kill herself and take Merrick with her.  She's foolhardy, impulsive and in need of a good spanking.  Merrick needs to forget the rules and take Caro in hand because she doesn't need a watcher, she needs a minder.  I felt bad for Merrick the entire story as Caro is the epitome of a high maintenance girlfriend.  She's irrational and wants everything her way.

Despite my disgust with Caro, the story line is interesting.  What Merrick figures out despite Caro's unintentional sabotage, creates a whole new set of problems for Circle Lightfall.  Trying to figure out how these religious nuts who work with demons will make the world a better place is mind boggling.  It is as if these psychotic men only read "Thou shalt not suffer a witch" and ignored everything else.  The new demon spawns created in this book is disturbing.  Caro does do a good job of showing compassion and a willingness to sacrifice in order to find out what is causing these people to die.  This is the only redeeming quality to Caro.

This book moves at a rather slow pace.  There are some scenes which are drawn out to set up the next scene.  The action occurs in intense spurts which actual works out well.  The descriptions are solid as readers can clearly visualize places, buildings and characters.  Ms. Saintcrow writes a good story to keep a reader's attention.  Sometimes her characters are a bit weak and this is one story where the main character is definitely not to my taste.  Recommended for magic readers who enjoy good battling evil themes.

*provided by NetGalley

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