Review: Double Play by Kelley Armstrong

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Double Play
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Published: 2016
Genre: Thriller
Series: Nadia Stafford #3.5
Rating: A-


For a lot of fans of the Nadia Stafford series, “Double Play” was a huge surprise. This series is a trilogy and not as popular as Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld or Young Adult books. So, fans had to wait years between each installment. When the third book, “Wild Justice” finally hit shelves, I hadn’t expected Armstrong to write anything further in that world. So, I was thrilled to see notification of this novella’s release pop-up in my email. Did I want to read a little more about Nadia and Jack? Why, yes. Yes I did.
Continue reading

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Month in Review: April 2015

April was a slightly better reading month for me, but I’m still working to get back on track.

For April, I read a total of 7 books. I managed to write reviews for 1 of them. Below you will find short reviews for the 6 books I read, but didn’t review.

Total Books: 7
Total Reviews: 1


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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Genre: Non-Fiction
Series: N/A
Rating: B
In the 1940’s, an African American woman named Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer at John Hopkins Hospital. Without Henrietta’s or the family’s knowledge, cells were collected from her body that quickly became known as HeLa. In this bookRebecca Skloot dives into the convoluted history of Henrietta, her family and John Hopkins Hospital to tell the story of the woman behind HeLa cells. This was an extremely engaging non-fiction book, which raises some interesting questions about ethics.


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Chasing Tail by Celia Kyle
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Quick and Furry #1
Rating: C –

Celia Kyle is great if you’re looking for a quick read without a whole lot of drama. However, Chasing Tail had an issue with nothing having consequences. A character would do something and the moment would be built-up as having an impact on another character, then in the next scene it would be completely forgotten. By the end, there were a lot of loose threads that never got tied-up. This made the end feel abrupt and pretty unsatisfying.


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Collected Poems by Stevie Smith
Genre: Poetry
Series: N/A
Rating: C
This is a collection of Stevie Smith’s poetry. While I enjoyed a couple of Smith’s poems, her style isn’t my cup of tea.


Atoning

Atoning by Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Young Adult/Novella
Series: Darkness Rising #3.1
Rating: B –
Atoning is set after Armstrong’s Darkness Rising trilogy. Chloe, Derek and gang go on a mini-camping adventure that gets interrupted when someone tries to kidnap them. This novella is more for fans of the series, but I read it to see if I could to get into Armstrong’s Young Adult books. After reading this one, I’m unsure if I can.

Armstrong has said that she started writing Young Adult because she wanted to create something that her daughter could read, and it shows. This story was laden with morals that Armstrong probably wanted to pass on to her kid. This is fine, except when all of your main teen characters are extremely responsible and understanding to the point of having no major flaws. It makes the characters boring and gets pretty heavy handed when the adults are all commenting on how crazy responsible they are.

However, I’m willing to give Armstrong the benefit of a doubt and will probably one day read a full length book in this series. I’m just not in any rush to do so.  Continue reading

Month in Review: January 2015

January was an excellent reading month for me. Out of the 16 books I read this month, I managed to write reviews for 9 of them. (Yay for hitting over half of them!) Below you will find short reviews for the other 9 books I read, links to the full reviews I wrote this month, and my challenge updates.

Total Books Read: 16
Book Reviews: 9


 Blood Wolf Dawning

Blood Wolf Dawning by Rhyannon Byrd
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Bloodrunners #7
Rating: D –
I like stories where people who are “fated” to be together initially reject their partner, so this one had sounded right up my alley. Five years ago, Cian Hennessey turned his back on the mate connection he felt toward Sayre Murphy. Now he’s back in town to protect Sayre from the very reason he had left her all those years ago. I just did not feel a connection to the main couple here. Sayre forgave Cian way to fast for my taste and Cian threw himself too many pity parties.


Wild Wolf

Wild Wolf by Jennifer Ashley
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Shifters Unbound #6
Rating: C –
I really enjoyed the early books in this series and the premise of Graham’s book sounded interesting. Graham McNeil has always vowed to never take a human as his mate. Too bad he can’t seem to make himself end things with his human girlfriend and take a shifter mate like he promised his pack he would. I was a littlle disappointed with how everything played out in this addition to the series. Everything was a little too easy for Graham, which made reading this one a little boring. Continue reading

Dime Store Magic: A Re-Read

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Dime Store Magic
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Published: 2004
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Women of the Otherworld #3
Rating: A –


I did a re-read of Dime Store Magic for one of my categories in the 105 in 2015 reading challenge. I can’t believe that it’s already been ten years since I first read this book.

After the events of Stolen, Paige Winterbourne has taken in thirteen year old Savannah Levine whose mother recently died. Savannah is a powerful witch for her age, but impulsive. It’s a dangerous combination that has the Nast Cabal (the supernatural equivalent of the mafia) tearing Paige’s life apart in a bid for custody. As her life continues to crumble around her, Paige is forced to accept assistance from Lucas Cortez, a young lawyer with his own motives for helping.

I decided to read Dime Store Magic again because I didn’t give Paige a fair shot the first time around. When I first read this, it was immediately after devouring the first two books in the series, which feature werewolf Elena Michaels. I had adored Elena and wasn’t excited to discover that the next book’s narrator was going to be the twenty-something witch from Stolen. (Especially, since I hadn’t cared for Paige in that story.) While I had ended-up enjoying Dime Store Magic on my first reading, I still thought Paige was a little lack luster. It wasn’t until later in the series that I got into her and Lucas, as characters. So, I’m glad I did a re-read as I was able to appreciate them more this time around.

The most interesting thing about going back to this book was seeing just how far Armstrong has come with her characters and the world. There were several moments in the story where I thought Paige, Lucas, and the ideas behind witches were rather shaky and clichéd. It felt like Armstrong wasn’t sure where she wanted to take the characters at this point in the series. Despite this, I still enjoyed the book enough that I might also re-read Industrial Magic.

Overall, my grade for this book didn’t change. I would recommend Dime Store Magic to fans of the series, but I don’t think I would suggest you start off with this book. If you’re looking to get into the Women of the Otherworld series, I would suggest starting out with Bitten.

Read in December

Number of Books Read in December: 18

Below are the books I read in December but didn’t have time to review this month. I read a lot of novellas this month. Most of them were good quick reads for the busy holiday season.


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Alice in the Country of Joker: Afternoon Dreams Vol. 2 by QuinRose

Genre: Manga

Series: Nightmare Trilogy #2

Rating: B –

Alice is told about a book in a locked case that Nightmare doesn’t want her to read. Intent on finding out why, she recruits various people to open it for her. This trilogy isn’t shaping-up to be my favorite spin-off of the Alice books. However, I do find Nightmare an interesting character. I’m curious enough that I’ll read the last book in the series, which is due out in March.


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Counterfeit Magic by Kelley Armstrong

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Women of the Otherworld 10.4

Rating: A

Counterfeit Magic takes place right before Waking the Witch and is told from Paige Winterbourne’s perspective. In this novella, Paige and company are hired to investigate a death in one of the supernatural fight clubs. I really loved this one, even though it ends a little abruptly. What really drew me in was seeing the emotional struggle Paige and Lucas were facing as he steps firmly into his role of heir to the Cortez Cabal. I would highly recommend this to fans of the series.


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Kisses, She Wrote by Katharine Ashe

Genre: Historical Romance

Series: Prince Catchers #1.5

Rating: B +

Kisses, She Wrote was my introduction to Katharine Ashe’s writing. Cam Westfall is shocked when he discovers that the steamy diary full of fantasies starring him belongs to shy Jacqueline of Sensaire. I kind of cringed when I found out the plot was centered on a diary. I hate the inevitable moment when everyone reads it. So, I was relieved when Ashe didn’t go the expected route with this. All in all, this was a cute holiday read and I look forward to reading more by Ashe in the future.


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Witches of Bourbon Street by Deanna Chase

Genre: Urban Fantasy (?)

Series: Jade Calhoun #2

Rating: B –

Witches of Bourbon Street is a new (to me) series I stumbled across while surfing Amazon. Jade Calhoun is a reluctant witch with empathetic powers. After coming across three possessed paintings the people in her life start acting oddly. As things turn to chaos, she must work with the local coven to fix things. I really enjoyed Chase’s take on empathetic powers and how they could be seen as a burden. However, the characters didn’t really draw me in. I’m not sure if I’ll continue with this series or not.


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Viscount’s Christmas Temptation by Erica Ridley

Genre: Historical Romance

Series: Dukes of War #0.5

Rating: B –

Another author I had never read before. This was a cute holiday read to launch Ridley’s Dukes of War series. Lady Amelia Pembroke is determined to see that the annual Sheffield Christmas ball continues as usual, despite the Sheffield’s ballroom having been destroyed. To do this, she wedges herself into Lord Benedict Sheffield’s life for the holiday season to help him orchestrate the affair at a new location. I really liked Amelia’s no non-sense character and her interactions with Sheffield as he found himself oddly drawn to her. I might, in the future, read the first full length novel in this series.


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How to Marry a Highlander by Katharine Ashe

Genre: Historical Romance

Series: Falcon Club #3.5

Rating: B +

 Katharine Ashe is slowly convincing me to read historical romance again. This is a feat, considering it’s been quite a few years since I managed to make it through a full-length book in the genre.Teresa Finch-Freeworth is determined to marry Duncan, the Earl of Eads… so she proposes. His terms for accepting her offer is that she first find a husband for each of his seven sisters. Teresa was fun to watch as she spun tall tales and traipsed about town trying to contrive marriages for the seven oddball sisters. If you’re looking for a light historical romance, I would recommend you pick this one up.


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Defining Destiny by Deanna Chase

Genre: Erotica

Series: Defining Destiny #1

Rating: A –

Defining Destiny was a huge surprise for me. I was not expecting to enjoy the story as much as I did. In the Defining Destiny universe, everyone has one true soul mate. However, sometimes who destiny chooses isn’t the right person for you. This is the case with Lucy Moore and her soul mate, Devin. I really enjoyed how Chase played with the soul mate idea and how people changing can impact their relationships. There are expectations that you stay with your soul mate no matter what and I loved watching the heroine struggle past the  different expectations. All in all, a great start to the series. I look forward to reading the next book.


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Roaring Up the Wrong Tree by Celia Kyle

Genre: Erotica

Series: Grayslake #3

Rating: D+

I had sworn off reading Celia Kyle a while ago, but I wanted something quick to read earlier this week so I ended-up reading this one. Part-Hyena, Trista has spent years fighting for her life against the other shifters who hold major prejudices against her species. This all changes when shifter, Keen steps into her life. There were a lot of gaps in logic throughout this book, which were getting to me by the end of the story. Parts of this book also dragged because not much was going on. Don’t think I’ll be picking-up the next book in this series.


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This Time by Marie Hall

Genre: Erotica

Series: Moments #3

Rating: F

I came really close to not finishing This Time. The only thing that kept me going is that it would’ve been my one and only DNF book for the year. Jamie Sullivan has spent most of her life trying to save her high school sweetheart, Angel, from his self-destructive path. After a one night stand with the drummer Tor Boler results in a pregnancy, she’s forced to reevaluate her priorities. I absolutely hate books where an unexpected pregnancy gets two characters to fall in love and changes the heroine’s life for the better. So this book was not my cup of tea. In fact, it read a lot like a crazy soap opera to me. While I enjoy Hall’s Kingdom series, I won’t be trying another of her Moments book.

Thirteen

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Thirteen

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Published: 2012

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Women of the Otherworld #13

Rating: A


Thirteen is the final book for Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld. While I’m very sad to see the end of one of my favorite series, I’m also glad that Armstrong chose not to drag it out until she was beating a dead horse.

The world is turning to chaos as the Supernatural Liberation Movement sets into motion their plans to expose the supernatural population. With powerful demons now choosing sides, all the factions of the Otherworld must work together if they hope to successfully stop the movement. Still caught in the middle of the brewing war is Savannah Levine, who has yet to completely regain her powers.

Even though Thirteen is told primarily from Savannah’s point of view, this is definitely everyone’s story. Her character arc is mostly over near the beginning, so the focus shifts fully to the impending battle as everyone pulls together. With things completely out of control, Savannah is just along for the ride at different points, as other character’s take the wheel. I really loved that we got one chapter from the viewpoint of each of the previous narrators in the series. Armstrong executed this wonderfully as all of those chapters worked to move the plot forward. It also seemed critical that they be told from that particular person’s point of view, rather than Savannah’s. So, it was a nice nod to all the main characters without interrupting the story’s flow.

My only confusion here is that, by the end, I felt like there should’ve been a novel for Cassandra. Cassandra has been a reoccurring character since Stolen and, while I don’t believe that we need a full length book for every character, she played an oddly large part here. She also seemed to have had a character arc happen off-page, which is the main reason I felt like there should’ve been a story for her. She does have a short story (found in Otherworld Nights) that touches briefly on it, but her change felt bigger than that.

All in all, this was a fantastic ending to the series that left a few open possibilities for Armstrong to explore in her novellas. So, while we may not get another full length Otherworld book, I’m glad that we are still getting small tidbits every now and then.

Spell Bound

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Spell Bound

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Publish Date: 2011

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Women of the Otherworld #11

Rating: A


Spell Bound is book 12 in the Women of the Otherworld series and takes place immediately after Waking the Witch. It’s also a hard one to talk about since it serves to ramp things up for the final book of the series. After her adventure in Waking the Witch, Savannah discovers that her powers have disappeared at the worst moment. Witch hunters are after her and the Supernatural Liberation Movement, an organization bent on exposing supernaturals, is trying to recruit her. Without her magic, Savannah must learn to survive on her own as the world turns to chaos.

This is the first novel in the series that wouldn’t work well as a standalone. Unlike the other books, there’s no central plot that gets wrapped-up at the end. Instead, this acts as part 1 since the book ends on a cliff-hanger. It made me very glad that I could immediately hop to Thirteen instead of having to wait for it to be released. It also heavily references past stories and characters, which if you’re not at least vaguely familiar with them you’ll lose something while reading this.

As an “in-between” book, this was great. I loved the increase of tension as the Supernatural Liberation Movement starts to gain traction and the characters band together as things continue to get worse. Mostly though, I think Spell Bound excelled with Savannah’s character development. Her loss of power forces her to confront some of her greatest fears and mature a little further. I also loved getting to see some of my favorite reoccurring characters through her eyes.

While I don’t think you necessarily need to have read the entire series to enjoy Spell Bound, I do think you should have read some of the previous books. At the least, you should read Waking the Witch prior to this, otherwise I think a lot of the backstory will be lost.