More fun with this mismatched pack

The Sumage Solution (San Andreas Shifters, #1)The Sumage Solution by G.L. Carriger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

These books are just plain fun, they’re an enjoyable romp through an alternative paranormal world where magical creatures live happily alongside humanity.

The first one in the series set up Biff’s brother founding the new pack and moving them to the West Coast where this tale now has them settling down and turning to find their way in their new home.

Biff bumps into ‘failed’ mage Max when he goes to register the new pack and all of a sudden it’s all systems go on him actually putting into practise his newly admitted status as a gay werewolf.

Biff is an absolute delight, he’s so sweet, gentle and caring even though he’s a piece of man muscle, as Max so eloquently describes him. Max has all sorts of hang ups and being able to trust someone isn’t even the hardest one.

Together they muddle through the triumphs and traumas of introducing a werewolf with brilliant self healing to the delights of gay sex (very hot), the acerbic wit of a man who might actually be the most powerful mage there’s been in an age and an overly protective pack.

In between they fight off baddies with an eye on the wreck of the house next door to Max’s where his father’s hidden secrets, a work colleague with relationship troubles and an overly harsh boss who might secretly be a bit of a softie really.

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Cute Christmas short from the Hexworld

A Christmas Hex (Hexworld #2.5)A Christmas Hex by Jordan L. Hawk

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love wolves so I really felt for poor Roland in this Christmas special from Jordan L Hawk. Mythology places them in many of our darkest tales and it’s these which the alternative steampunk reality focuses on.

Gus was a sweetie though and the crime fighting element of the narrative was quite cleverly done. I did like the detective/author references which reminded me of Hawk’s Whyborne and Griffin.

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Fabulous collection of mystical romances with a mythological twist

Bittersweet Candy KissesBittersweet Candy Kisses by Jordan Castillo Price Sean Kennedy
Clare London

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book reminded me a lot of a collection of Agatha Christie short stories featuring a mysterious man called Harley Quinn.

While in that collection Quinn seemed to be acting as a harbinger of fate, helped along by the elderly Mr Satterthwaite to solve murders, here we have Chance – and later Hunter – dealing with the vagaries of life.

I absolutely adored nearly all the stories in this, one almost made me cry, one I didn’t really think worked as well as the others, but overall the inevitable drawing together of a multitude of different strands was so brilliantly done.

I am a sucker for mythology and this was a unique twist on the roles of some of the immortal pantheon. Originally published as the Petit Mort series.

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Stunning paranormal romance opens this new series

Surrender the DarkSurrender the Dark by Tibby Armstrong

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stunning, simply stunning. This book is a triumph, it takes a common trope – of vampires and vampire hunters, along with all associated paranormal species – and creates a unique exploration of their world in a strangely familiar, but still mysterious, modern Boston setting.

In both Benjamin and Tzadkiel, Tibby has crafted an enemies to lovers romance which is not only wholly believable, it is one which the reader wants to triumph. The UST in this book is delicious and when it finally bears fruit, the heat factor rockets through the roof.

The world building is brilliantly executed, there’s never an info dump of exposition, instead the setting is allowed to gently reveal itself as you read it. There’s enough mystery left to keep you reading and the touches of “real world” mythology were very clever.

I can’t wait for the second and third books on this series to come out. Gorgeous cover, gorgeous book and an interesting look at how being sightless doesn’t make you blind to life.

#ARC kindly provide by the publishers via NetGalley in return for an unbiased and honest review.

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Brilliant idea, flawed execution sadly

Stolen Ink (Ink Born #1)Stolen Ink by Holly Evans

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I so, so badly wanted to give this book a higher rating but it was just too frustrating. When it started I was absolutely delighted and felt like I was stepping into a new world with its own rules where magic simply existed as a natural thing.

The idea of tattoo magic was brilliant, I could see them coming to life on the skins of the people visiting the tattoo parlour but then the story narrative went off sideways on a ranger that just never really felt earnt or properly explained.

Two many concepts were thrown into the story without any real level of depth or any sense of how they fit into the world.
The supposed romance element was almost non-existent, there was more chemistry between Dan and Ethan than with Dan and Isaiah imho and Caiden’s weird reaction to Dan’s friendship with his tattoo partner Kiern came totally out of left field.
Oh yeah on the romance front. Everything apart from kissing, as is sadly often the case in fantasy novels, happens off page. I’m not expecting erotica or porn without plot, I do, however, expect an author to give me something on page which demonstrates two characters are supposed to be in love.

As for the ending, well let’s just say that was a huge let down given everything that built up to it and as for being abrupt, if it had been any more instant cut off I’d have thrown my Kindle out the window.

There were also a few minor typos but as this an ARC they may get ironed out before publication. Because this is book one in a series, I’m hoping for a bit of better plotting and more exploration in the narrative as the series goes along.

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Five fat fairy tale stars

Beau and the BeastBeau and the Beast by Kay Simone

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know how Kay Simone does it but here, again, is an epic tale of love in unusual circumstances, totally different to each of her other novels but carried out with aplomb.

This is billed as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but it’s way more than that. Yes we have the ‘beast’ in Wolfram, yes we have the beauty in Beau, but this isn’t so much a tale of beauty saving the beast as of two souls finding their perfect other selves and of acceptance in a world of different.

The ending, and the novel way it deals with what usually happens in this fairy tale, is truly inspired, I didn’t see it coming and I hope readers of this book are able to discover it themselves without spoilers, believe me it’s worth it.

The world building is superb, the secondary characters are given the same depth of treatment as the two leads and Kay’s use of language is again beautiful.

And the sex scenes, let’s just say if anyone ever needs to know just how erotic lovemaking can be between a slight figure of a man and a seven foot furrred man with arm’s horns and a lion’s tail, this book proves beyond doubt that Non Human People can get it on with the best of them.
The sex is lovingly woven into the story as a part of the ever growing relationship between these two and never feels like it’s there simply for titillation.

The ending is perfect, the epilogue a glimpse into a future in which society embraces the differences instead of fearing them and that’s a world I’d love to live in.

Oh, and Noah and Lincoln were absolutely brilliant, such a riot and a pairing which, on the surface never should have worked, but in practice, absolutely did.

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My all time favourite book – ever

Magician (The Riftwar Saga, #1-2)Magician by Raymond E. Feist

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“To the forest on the shore of the Kingdom of the Isles, the orphan called Pug came to study with the Master Magician Kulgan. But though his courage won him a place at Court and the heart of a lovely Princess, he was ill at ease with the normal ways of wizardry.
“Yet Pug’s strange sort of magic would one day change forever the fates of two worlds. For the dark beings from another world had opened a rift in the fabric of space-time to begin again the age-old battle between the forces of Order and Chaos.”

This is my all time favourite book of any genre ever. I must have read it more than 20 times over the years and it’s still my “go to” book for if I just want to get lost in a story.
I didn’t read it when it first published in 1982 but just a few years later, as an 18-year-old just finding my way into adult life and with a budding journalism career, I picked it up off the shelf of a local bookshop and had a revelation.

In Pug, Feist created one of the most complex and compelling characters I think I’ve ever read and he put him into a totally believable world, filled with amazing creatures, true evil and fascinating cultures which, while it resembled Medieval feudal England and 16th century Japan, was also wholly strange and exotic.

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