Dust Off Your MacHalo

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I wanted to post a heads up: I am now mainly blogging over at Dust Off Your MacHalo. Please follow me there if you haven’t already! It’s a blog made up of four other members of our group at Goodreads, Dust off Your MacHalo, It’s Time for Another Buddy Read.

The main focus is still books, but we also delve into movies, gaming, and have more “Best Of” and topic blogs than I have done here.

Our Twitter handle: DustOff_MacHalo.

Our DustOffYourMacHalo Instagram.

We have a Q&A up with author A. Zavarelli, who has a new dark romance out called Beast and penned the Boston Underworld series, which I love.

I’ll still be blogging here occasionally, but will mainly be over there. Check us out if you have the time! Thanks!

 

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“Wait for It” by Molly O’Keefe

ERMAGHERD. ERMAGHERD. SO GOOD.

Made me cry. Broke my feels. This is my second book by Molly O’Keefe and even better than Burn Down the Night (and that one was really good). I’m starting to think she’s an auto-buy/read for sure. Contemporary romance is VERY love/hate for me (especially with “dark” themes and “broken” characters) but this one blew it out of the park. Perfect balance of everything.

I was worried how Blake was going to be, that he would be too much of a jerk. But no no no… Tiffany – I felt a sort of kinship for her, and I have not gone through what she did. But, as a single parent of only one kid, I could still sympathize with her, with the feelings of obligations and no “me” just “them,” crushed by chores and bills and in survival mode, etc. I really think I got her.

I liked how her stretch marks and “mom body” was written into the story. Her breasts being a bit droopy after breastfeeding 3 kids, her poochy belly. It was realistic and yet still incredibly HOT.

Sometimes kids in a romance can be cheesy or take some of the steam out of the book, but the author just did it PERFECTLY – with the family members on both sides of the family.

It was just perfect. I can’t say anything else. Except, the sex scenes?

Man, this woman can write some good sex. Good dialogue too. I mean, I was drawn in from the beginning and it kept me interested the entire time. Devoured it.

THANK you Netgalley and publisher for a digital copy to read and review!

Review also posted at Goodreads

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James

NOW AVAILABLE! Release day was yesterday! I highly recommend!

No spoilers. This is due for release February 14, 2017 and I received a digital copy from Netgalley and publisher to read and review. Thank you!

What the hay, I’m giving this all the stars! First of all, it has one of my favorite premises:

– Rich, elite group with special abilities (like healing, pyrokinesis, and telekinesis, etc.) that controls and suppresses the masses until some of them rise up and fight against the tyranny.

I LOVE this type of story! It’s an evil X-Men enslaves humanity thing.

They are called Equals, ironically, although they are only equal among themselves (and even then, not really, because this society thrives on politics and intrigue). I won’t go into the plot because spoilers, but just a little background and setup can’t hurt.

This is an alternate reality world. Great Britain still exists, which is where the story takes place. There is still a United States, but it is split into two. One that has abolished slavery and one that hasn’t. Slavery in this world has nothing to do with skin tone, but whether you are born with Skill.

All “commoners” must give ten years of their lives working in slavetowns. They can wait until they are 80 or 18. The story mainly focuses on two sisters, a brother, and their parents after they enter their slavedays and go to “serve” a powerful Equal family.

The story is told through several POVs. I found the pacing to be great and I was quite wrapped up in the story. It does end on a cliffhanger. But I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

I found the Equal characters to be more interesting than Abi or Luke, to be honest. All of the Equals except a few are just horrible. I hated them, but I was intrigued. There are some really good villains you just want to throttle.

I have a feeling this will be a popular book. I hope people enjoy it as much as I did. It has a bit of romance, but not much. The plot drama was enough to keep me on the edge of my seat without wanting to bash my head against a wall.

It is the author’s debut and I think she did a great job. I am definitely wanting more from this world!

The Black Lily by Juliette Cross

Bam! 5 stars! I’ve been waiting for you, wonderful book! So often, I am disappointed by vampire romances. This one was perfect. Everything I love. I’m going to cast my favorite book boyfriend actor as Marius, the vampire prince.

For Arabelle, something like this:

She is no damsel in distress. She dresses in “man pants” in a time when women only wore dresses and gowns. She is the leader of a resistance against the vampire monarchy.

She sets out to kill Marius and of course ends up falling in love with him.

I thought this book was written well. The romance happened fast and there was insta-lust, but it was very believable, and besides, I don’t like romances that drag out forever. It’s a hate-to-love romance.

I loved the encounters these two had. I thought they had fantastic chemistry and the plot was quite substantial for a romance. I really hope there are more!!! I would like to see more of Nikolai. And Sienna. She was awesome. I loved the hart wolves and want to find out more about the magic of Silvane Forest.

The female is not a virgin and even though Marius is almost one hundred years old, it wasn’t quite as extreme as some paranormal romances are. She was experienced in her own way and independent.

I DEVOURED this in one day. It is one of my favorite vampire romances now. I want to go and binge everything this author has written now, even though I think this is her only vampire book. She did it all SO WELL. (I think she has a dragon series and a demon one?) More vampires please!

I have nothing but good things to say about this. I don’t think it is released yet, but I highly recommend. So so good.

I love my vampires and there are a lot of crappy vampire books out there. THIS is a great one, in my view. I would view it more as fantasy, since it takes place in a time of castles, swords, and balls, etc. PNR is generally more often set in “modern” time.

“Night Shift” (Midnight, Texas #3) by Charlaine Harris

Four Stars – The best one and apparently the last one.

The ending left it open to continue, but as of now Midnight, Texas is a trilogy. Figures it would finally start getting good and then end.

The plot: An ancient evil is rising underneath the crossroads of the tiny mysterious town where only secretive, strange people seem to live. Lemuel the vampire has to translate an ancient text that will explain how to stop the evil before it rises to cause unstoppable destruction.

I felt like I had finally started to “get” the people of Midnight and understand them. Before, they seemed kind of grumpy and as if none of them liked each other, but now I understand, they are all just introverts.

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They DO like each other, they just don’t like to hang out – unless someone is getting killed or an unspeakable evil is rising…

What I liked is that we learned a LOT more about Manfred and Lemuel, Quinn was back, and Fiji’s character had a lot of development and was great in this. Lemuel had a bigger part and we get to see interaction with other vampires. We find out more about his and Olivia’s relationship. It was good!

What I didn’t like. There was a flimsy love triangle involving Fiji and Bobo and Quinn. Yes, Quinn. Again. SPOILER ALERT! And poor Quinn lost again! WTH. #foreveralone – I’ll take Quinn! Bobo wasn’t in it much until the end and it was totally predictable. Harris should really stay away from romance.

We meet Fiji’s sister, who is a total bitch. Mr. Snuggly is awesome, as usual. Overall, this was well-paced and quite enjoyable. I was pleasantly surprised.

Apparently, NBC is making a TV show about it, which, hmmm, not sure about that. The first two were okay, but not that exciting. And with only three books, I am guessing they are going to have to expand a lot of the characters and it will have to be more complex?

My reviews are the books are also at Goodreads.

Midnight Crossroad

Day Shift

Night Shift

Pre-review:

Marking this as currently-reading for vampire month since Lemuel is supposedly a main character in this one. He’s one of my favorites in this world. Because vampires. Duh. I read the first two and they were solid three star reads. I’m glad Charlaine Harris has stayed away from romance, though, because, well, we know how horrible well she does that. #sookieflashbackhelpme

“Nevernight” by Jay Kristoff

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My new favorite book. Kristoff owned this. He’s the rock star of edgy YA fantasy. I haven’t been this excited about a series since Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy. I’m serious.

I loved the dark tone of this book. It made me want to put on my Cure CDs and smoke clove cigarettes and ponder the mysteries of life. Yes, I’m fangirling. Give me a moment. This has actually given me book depression because it ended and now, what will I read? I actually want to go and pre-order the hardcover edition! What is happening to me? I suppose now I’ll even have to try Illuminae again!! (I DNF’d that one because I don’t do well with journal/interview/email story-telling. But I must have been on something because if he wrote THIS and co-wrote THAT, it must be awesome too. It just must.
This isn’t released until August 9, 2016, but if you love fantasy, you seriously need to get it as soon as you can. It’s worth paying full price for. Don’t even wait for it to go on sale. It’s that good.

I’m not giving anything away except to say it’s got everything: action, adventure, excellent world-building, cool creatures and magic, dark vs. light, dark vs. dark, heroism, friendship, sex (not the fade to black kind either), lots of stabby stabby. It’s truly epic.

Think about all the female assassins you’ve read about in YA and think about how they would be if they weren’t watered down. That’s how Mia is. I don’t even know if this is YA. She just happens to be a teenager. I know it will be marketed as YA, so I’m going with older teens. It’s a lot edgier than most YA I’ve read. It was just awesome, period. I lurved it.

Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin’s for providing a digital copy of this to read and review!!! It was a gem.

Review also found at Goodreads.

Initial post:

Gah! Netgalley and St. Martin’s approved me!

“School of assassins?” Yes, sign me up please!

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Queen of Blood by Jill Myles

3.75 stars – This is a book I was set to five star and put on my favorites shelf until the drama-llama reared its ugly head towards the end. However, I did enjoy this and devoured it in less than 24 hours, so I will be generous.

The Athonites conquered the Vidari a hundred years ago and now they live in squalor, denied education, medicine, and forced to work all day in fields or tending to animals to meke out an existence filled with hunger, sickness, and filth.

Seri is set to wed a young man in her village, but reluctantly accepts an offer to serve as a handmaid to one of the elite Athonite women to get medicine for her father. Seri finds herself at the betrothal ball for Prince Graeme and that is when her life is turned upside down.

Prince Graeme is “of the Blood,” a line born only of men who survive on blood and live for hundreds of years, hoping to one day be blessed with an Eterna: a woman the goddess chooses to be his mate and is the only one who can provide him with daughters. Guess who the Eterna is?

The premise seems a little silly when described like that, but it worked pretty well in execution. There were a few tropes like the virginal heroine and the experienced older male… miracle babies, which is common in PNR… It was a hate-to-love romance.

(I don’t think this is really PNR though, as the vampires were never called vampires and it was more of a curse thing than them being supernatural beings. They had no powers – they just lived long, had to drink blood, and couldn’t go in the sun.)

Seri was annoying and I wanted to slap her several times. She was kind of stupid, actually. She wasn’t <i>as</i> annoying as a lot of female protagonists in books like this, though. Still, I found myself rolling my eyes at several things she did, especially towards the end. She had a few instances of being TSTL.

Graeme was AWESOME. It didn’t hurt that I was picturing him as Aidan Turner either.

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He was strong and commanding but not an alpha asshole. It was refreshing. He’s going in my man dungeon.

This was almost more historical romance than anything paranormal. There is court intrigue and a lot of it also revolved around Seri’s people trying to rebel and fight against the Athonites. The Athonites were pretty shitty, but a lot of the Vidari were no better.

Anyway, this was a quick enjoyable read that had a bit too much drama for my personal tastes, but I still enjoyed it.

This was free with Kindle Unlimited.

Mating in Flight (Dragon Erotica) by Christie Sims

I read this for science, of course. It was… entertaining. A nineteen year old sorceress virgin (of course) calls a dragon with a summoning spell and he answers her call. She wants to be his baby mama and he’s like… you’re a hot young virginal sorceress, let’s do this.

This is not a dragon shifter, we’re talking fully grown, huge-ass scaly dragon. With a three foot long dong. And somehow, he gets it in there. I guess we can call it magic.

I appreciated some of the descriptions in this. Like this gem:

“her flower released honey onto her pollinator’s malehood”

And “he throttled his member into her”. The author describes said member as “gargantuan meat.” Nice. She even calls their sex a “dance of love.”

I did find it a little gross when she went down on the dragon and his thing was so big, she could only get her mouth over the “hole.”

Overall, this was kind of funny, but I’m not sure it was supposed to be? I was entertained and that’s all I’m looking for in stuff like this. It was better than Taken by the T-Rex, I have to say. 😉

Review also found at Goodreads.

“Growling For Mine (Grayslake: More Than Mated Kindle World)” by Alexa Riley

Wow, I think this may be my favorite Alexa Riley yet. Short and sweet and the smut is happening from the get-go.

Good Lord, did I LOVE Bleu. Sorry, but he’s MINE.

Caveman bear shifter, treats his woman like a precious jewel.

This is just like I like ’em… right to the point. Short and sweet.

“You will be mine. If I mate you, you cannot leave. I will hunt you down and bring you back to our home.”

GAH. I lurv him.

Review also found at Goodreads.

Original post:

HELL YES! More paranormal smut from Alexa Riley! I’m there.

“Cottonwood” by R. Lee Smith

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In this story, insectoid aliens crash-landed on Earth. They were settlers, with some doctors, military members, and engineers onboard, going to settle an unpopulated planet. They got to Earth by mistake and humans decide they must be put in camps where they are housed and fed and work in a recycling program.

Sarah is a young woman who gets what she thinks is going to be an awesome job as a caseworker for the aliens to help work toward integration… when the aliens can be moved slowly into society.

When she gets there however, she discovers she has been lied to and the aliens live in squalor, picking through trash, with no showers or toilets, they are fed mystery meat in unlabeled cans, and “disappear” all the time never to be seen again. They have no rights and are prisoners.

Sarah slowly builds a friendship with a father and his son and a couple other members of Cottonwood. There are two mega villains: one runs the camps around the world and the other is his henchman. And that is the premise of Cottonwood.

What an amazing book. This was so much more than a “romance.” The author did such a great job bringing all the characters to life and making you feel deep emotion for everyone! Sarah was fantastic as the protagonist. She was brave and selfless. She helped the “bugs” even though she knew she could get in serious trouble – because it was the right thing to do. She wasn’t “badass” as far as being able to kick butt, but she was definitely badass as an amazing human being.

I especially loved the little boy, T’aki. He was so cute and sweet and his interactions with his dad, Sanford, and Sarah were touching. Sanford wasn’t an “alpha,” but he was strong and a good man. The romance doesn’t even really come in until around 60 or 70%? But the descriptions of the sex were well done, realistic. This isn’t smut and there are no raunchy scenes. It’s not sexy, but it is kind of fascinating and I totally shipped Sarah and Sanford.

There was another supporting character named Samaritan, who is like the Crazy Uncle who don’t want anyone to meet, but when the shit hits the fan, he’s got your back. He was a total asshole, but also pretty freaking incredible when the moment called for it… and then he’d go back to being an asshole again.

The “bugs” in this have a “clicking” type language and they “share breath” as part of intimacy. Their feelers can “taste” the air and smells. The author (again) did a great job explaining the aliens and made them really come alive.

Even though these aliens aren’t preying mantis-looking, I think fans of Vel from Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series would like this. I would call it more sci-fi adventure/drama with romantic elements.

This book made me cry, had me on the edge of my seat at times, smiling, frowning, and I appreciated that all the drama felt organic and not contrived whatsoever.

This is my favorite R. Lee Smith book. I’ve read 3 of hers now and I am hooked.

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Review also found at: Goodreads

Original post:

ERMAGHERD. All the stars! I loved this so much.What a fantastic story. Sci-fi adventure with an amazing love story, awesome supporting characters, villains you want to die a horrible slow painful death, amazing heroine, sweet and kind hero who happens to be an insectoid alien. GAH. All the feels.

This is not really a romance, but it has a slow-build love story at its heart. I think sci-fi and fantasy fans would like this. The writing is easy to get into and it was just paced well and an instant favorite!!

YOU NEED TO READ THIS!