Wolf by Chris Fenwick

Needs time to grow on you

In the beginning, I was bored. The constant one-sided POV, with no intermittent dialogue, just dragged. What made it worse was that there were tense inconsistencies: moments of internal monologue in italics written in past tense, or a mixture of the two; moments when the tenses were confused amongst the rest of the story. As the story is all told from Cassidhe’s POV, you have to get used to her voice, and it didn’t warm to me at all in the beginning. Even when the first dramatic event happened, it was near impossible to empathise with her.

Things appear to change when she meets the wolves. The story starts to gain more depth, Cassidhe herself appears more interesting, as well as others that she meets. Although, even then, it takes time for the characters to appear more than one dimensional. The best part of the whole story, for me, was the final dramatic event where, even though Cassidhe was completely on her own, she finally had more character than she had had for the majority of the rest of the book. It’s for this reason alone that my rating finally reached four stars, rather than the two to three it was struggling with at the beginning.

An interesting upcoming point is how the pack is going to deal with the sexuality of the heir, when a key part of pack dynamics is based on the ability to produce children and secure the pack’s future.

Also, a side note is that the cover doesn’t really reflect the main characters, with their described colouring being different from what is shown. A minor niggle, if any, but I do like it when a cover helps to assist me in how to imagine the characters.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free ARC via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

All Bleeds Through: Ten Stories of Hemomancy and the World It Shaped by Bartholomew Lander

Dark, vermillion arts

This book is a compilation of linked stories. In it we see the very “human” side of Hemomancers (those born with the ability to control blood). It shows fear, jealousy, revenge, as well as stigmatisation and the effects of being ostracised from society, from mere bullying to being hunted down and killed. These are people who are both feared and reviled, sometimes correctly, other times less so (the hunting of Hemomancer children is seen to be as just as if they were fully-fledged adults, the fear is so great).

This is a book full of well-filled arguments, from both sides of the coin, from the Human side and the Hemomancer side, and how each action affects the other. We have murderers, thieves, but also scientists and defenders. In this book, through the stories, you come to truly understand what it is like to be a Hemomancer, or a Human living in fear of them. Never have I read a story that links different POVs to truly allow such understanding.

At the beginning, I wasn’t so endeavoured with the story, after reading the first part. But, by the end, as all parts started to link through, I was wowed. The end links into the beginning, to create a round circle that allows everything within this book to make sense. Each character has their own attributes, to allow you to live with them. The pain, the fear, the anger, the determination, it all shines through.

Quite a remarkable collection of stories that I definitely want to continue with.

Final rating: ★★★★★ – Loved it/couldn’t put it down

*I received a free ARC via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Four Bodies in Space by Luna Harlow

Agatha Christy in Space

This book started full of a truckload of well-worn clichés, making it read like Agatha Christy in space. The first murder, particularly. The first two chapters were just cringe worthy with their typical set up. But, instead of the infamous Hercule Poirot appearing to analyse the scene, we have the Spock-like Solaris.

Luckily this character is partly what eventually made the book interesting. Once I got past all of the clichés bouncing from each wall, there was a reasonable story there waiting, with a handful of well-written characters, in between further clichés. It was enough for me to eventually ignore the continuing clichés, and not cringe too much at the ending, to actually enjoy the story.

Solaris is analytical, but has a curiosity that makes her occasionally dance across the line towards insubordination. Good job that others find her intriguing enough to let her misdemeanours pass, especially considering that she appears to lead them in the right direction towards solving the puzzle.

This Poirot-Star Trek cross is good fun, if you can cope with all the clichés (I hope my continued mention of clichés doesn’t turn into a cliché). There’s enough there that I’d definitely be happy to continue the series.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Grimm’s Dweller: The Complete Trilogy by Arizona Tape

Magical help for Herr Grimm

This story focuses around the stories of Wilhelm Grimm, with a twist – in this version, he receives magical help from a being known as a “Dweller”, a being that inhabits story universes.

I’m not going to review each part separately, as each passes quickly, but I will comment on them.

The first part is dedicated to how Grisella met Will and their relationship at the beginning, creating the stories together, even though she isn’t supposed to get involved in the actual creating of the universes.

The second part involves Grisella watching from a distance, after Will has fallen in love with and married someone else, and the children he has. But she still keeps an eye on his universes, trying to hold onto his memory by dwelling within them as much as she can.

The third part is dedicated to the end of Will’s life, his final stories, and the reuniting of the story companions. It’s this third part that is the best.

The first two parts barely held my attention. They lacked something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. The second part started to improve, with more depth to the story about stories. But it was the third part that really brought it all together. The reason for this is simple – emotion. Suddenly we’re faced with strong emotion as Will comes to the end of his life. How each deal with this is a heartbreaking journey with only one outcome. Suddenly my investment in the story intensified as the emotions did; there was finally a connection for me.

All stories have to end, but Grisella guards the universes so they don’t.

If the story parts had continued on in the slower manner, then this would have received a lower rating. But, purely for that ending, I have to bring it up.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*

Priestess of Truth by Laura Greenwood

Expected more

Unfortunately I was somewhat disappointed with this. I love Egyptian mythology and am definitely interested in this universe of “Forgotten Gods”, where the Egyptian Gods still exist, hidden away from non-believers. For that, I definitely want to read further in this series. But this book itself wasn’t a very good representative of what’s to come.

The biggest problem came in the lack of detail and depth, in the scenes, in the characters. We see a priestess being encouraged to find her soulmate, but the two barely meet, and there is barely any interaction at all. There’s not enough to really gain an interest in the characters, being as the story is so short that it barely covers the minimum of details.

If this was a bit longer, it could have been so much more. We need to see more of the characters in order to truly be able to connect with them. There needs to be more background and history on the characters, too, so we can understand how they got to this point, of being pushed towards each other.

All in all, not a terribly bad short story, but not a great one either.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆ – Sort of liked/OK

Second Time’s a Curse by Laura Greenwood

Even more magical kittens!

Well, yes, what should we expect from a cursed witch who produces kittens with every spell? More kittens, of course! Wow, I’m not really sure how’s she’s going to have space for all of them if this keeps on happening!

Mona is slowly coming to terms with the fact that she has more than one love interest, partly buoyed by her best friend (and what doesn’t help is that one of the love interests happen to be said best friend’s twin brother…). Yet she has other things on her mind, namely this damned curse! Yet, despite the curse, she doesn’t want to do anything that might jeopardise the lives of her kittens, even if she’s frustrated that she keeps on producing them. I mean, they’re all seriously cute and all that, but a dorm room is only so big!

So, her friends pool together to try and find a fix for this wretched curse, in a less-than-legal manner, which, of course, doesn’t quite go to plan, or solve the problem of the curse itself.

Things not quite going to plan appears to be the name of the game, as serious trouble falls upon them once again. Well, there’s no “I told you so” in there, but there appears to be no clean way out of things this time.

Just as fun as the first book, with just as much cuteness, awkwardness, and trouble, this series is turning out to be fantastic so far! I just wish that the characters could see past the end of their noses sometimes…

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*

Blood and Deceit by Laura Greenwood

Naughty Necromancers

That title of mine might give the wrong impression, when this is actually about necromancers who decide to act like “Gods” above all others. But not all necromancers are that way – Tabitha happens to be a necromancer of the old school, disappointing several of her old acquaintances. But new connections come along and she finds out that she’s not as alone as she might seem.

I must admit, I found a couple of points of this a little disappointing. The big “reveal” didn’t feel anywhere near as dramatic as it could have been. The characters, too, whilst the main characters should have been likable, I didn’t feel like they had enough depth to be able to connect to them.

Not a bad story, but unfortunately a bit forgettable.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆ – Sort of liked/OK

*I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*

Death’s Choice by Laura Greenwood

Another great Paranormal Council standalone.

This is another standalone set within the greater Paranormal Council universe. It’s quite an interesting universe, as the magic within it works in a specific way, whether they be necromancers, witches, or shifters. Living within the human realm comes with its many dangers, but the characters here manage to adapt and find their place within it.

Kali is a necromancer whose job is to kill whoever her guild assigns her to. Unlike some of her peers, she doesn’t actually relish in the killing part at all. So when she receives an assignment to protect instead of kill, she is all for it, especially when it brings certain men into her sphere who turn out to be far more than they seem. Kali adapts well to the new situation, loving the fact that she doesn’t have to kill. Well, not on order, anyway – only to protect. She makes some good friends, and even stronger enemies, in her new life.

The characters have interesting dimensions to themselves, and some are more accepting of the unchangeable situation than others. Most notably, jealousy, until it becomes obvious that the emotion is completely pointless. The dynamic once she has found all three of her mates becomes really interesting, although one of them should have been expected, really.

I was actually slightly disappointed that the “clause” wasn’t used to protect Kali, like expected, instead of the more extreme setting, but all works out well in the end.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*

Unicorn Truth by Laura Greenwood and L.A. Boruff

A too-soft ending

This final book in the Valentine Pride trilogy was a little bit of a let-down, especially after the “wow” of the second book in the series. I’m not quite sure what it was, but it felt like it was not as “solid” as the second book.

Yes, there was big drama in the book, that needed to be resolved – who was truly behind the Pride murders and the murder of Leola’s parents? I was expecting it to be more dramatic, but it felt a bit too rushed and somewhat disconnected.

I’ve enjoyed the series as a whole. Seeing Leola as a mother and a mate was great. The sex scenes weren’t as good as in the previous two books, though, but the interaction between the main characters was still good enough, as well as the introduction of April from the other short story in this series. Yet overall it was definitely lacking somewhere. Maybe I’ve read too many of these books of late, but whatever the reason, it was still a somewhat disappointing end to the series.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆ – Sort of liked/OK

*I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*

Reluctant Dragon Mate by Laura Greenwood

Stubborn Dragons!

Yep, you heard that right – this book contains one very stubborn dragon, who is so caught up in his own world and what he believes a so-called prophecy might actually mean for him, that he refuses to see what’s right under his nose.

His “distraction” he found by accident on a Paranormal dating app, a distraction in the form of a witch called Dakota. She works out quite quickly that there is more to this dragon than meets the eye, but this damned stubborn dragon just refuses to play ball.

A quite fun back and forth ensues, before both finally accept what their fate actually means.

My only disappointment is that the book description doesn’t completely match the content – we are led to believe that it’s Achilles business that’s the reason he’s holding back, but we barely hear anything about that at all! Anyway, despite this little niggle, I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.*