Circle of Desire (Review)

18891507Title: Circle of Desire
Author: Keri Arthur
Genre: Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Mystery

Publisher: Dell
Release Date: April 1, 2014 (Originally published 2003)
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Netgalley ARC
Pages: 352

Date Finished: December 27, 2014
2 Stars

Goodreads Description

Two children have been found dead, their souls torn from their bodies. Two more are missing, and Ethan Morgan’s niece is one of them. A dedicated cop, Ethan has every intention not only of bringing her back alive but of catching the monster behind these kidnappings. And he will use anyone and everyone to achieve those aims—even a crazy woman who claims to be a witch. But time is ticking. The victims rarely stay alive for more than seven days. Four of those days have already passed.

In ten years of working for the Damask Circle, shapeshifter Katherine Tanner has never come across anything that goes after kids the way this monster does. The last thing Kat needs is interference from a cop who has no idea what he’s up against. But the greatest threat to Kat may come not from the forces of darkness, but from the man she is beginning to love. Because Ethan is a werewolf . . . and the full moon is rising.

My Review

Ok, I’m going to just jump right in…this book didn’t do it for me.  There was too much everything.  Too much angst, too much sex, too much macho man crap, too much horny ridiculousness, JUST TOO MUCH!  This book embodies most of what I don’t like about paranormal romance and urban fantasy.

The book blurb made it sound like there was going to be a good bit of mystery to the story.  SAVE THE KIDS!  FIND THE KILLER!  No.  There was no real substance to the plot.  The majority of it was about Ethan being in his monthly moon flux, Katherine trying to resist her own urges, and the two of them trying to reign in their love for each other.  I was just really disappointed.  This is the third book in this series and it was, by far, the worst.  At least the first two were fun reads.  I really had to slog through this one.

The book is listed as part of the Damask Circle series.  Other than each book having a character that is a member of the Damask Circle, there is no connection.  I want to know more about the Damask Circle!!  I want to know more about the secret society that steps in when there are other-worldly rumblings.  That would have been interesting.

Wrap-Up

I think Keri Arthur missed an opportunity to make this a really interesting series.  I could only muster 2 stars for this one.  If you only require sex in order to like a book, this may be the book for you.

Shifting Dreams (Review)

17332690Title: Shifting Dreams (Cambio Springs #1)
Author:  Elizabeth Hunter
Genre:  Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Mystery
Publisher:  Self Published
Release Date:  March 5, 2013
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Amazon Purchase
Pages:  260

Date Finished: December 4 , 2014
4 Stars

Goodreads Description

Some days, Jena Crowe just can’t get a break. Work at her diner never ends, her two boys are bundles of energy, and she’s pretty sure her oldest is about to shift into something furry or feathery. Added to that, changes seem to be coming to the tiny town of Cambio Springs—big changes that not everyone in the isolated town of shapeshifters is thrilled about.

Caleb Gilbert was looking for change, and the quiet desert town seemed just the ticket for a more peaceful life. He never counted on violence finding him, nor could he have predicted just how crazy his new life would become.

When murder rocks their small community, Caleb and Jena will have to work together. And when the new Chief of Police isn’t put off by any of her usual defenses, Jena may be faced with the most frightening change of all: lowering the defenses around her carefully guarded heart.

My Review

Ok, I am not a romance-y kind of girl.  I like action.  I like suspense.  I like gloom and doom with a lot of grit added for good measure!  My best friend tells me I don’t like books unless there is the threat of world annihilation.  I have to admit there is a grain of truth to that statement, however…

Elizabeth Hunter’s urban fantasy is deliciously clever.  She has written books that completely satisfy my need for action and suspense, yet somehow slip in romance that doesn’t make my eyes roll.  I started with Hunter’s Elemental Mysteries series.  I’m not sure what made me pick it up other than the fact that vampires were included, but I’m so glad I did.  It was a fresh, unique take on vampires and I totally got sucked into the Elemental world.  I still wait with bated breath for every new release.  With all of this in mind, I decided to try the first of the Cambio series.  I was again surprised about how much I liked it.

Jena is a shifter with attitude.  She has a tough exterior, but it’s a defense mechanism to protect herself and her family from unnecessary hurt.  Her relationship with her grandmother is one of the things that really drew me to her.  Jena’s rooted, solid personality made me connect.  Caleb, the hottie of the story, comes across as a hot-shot police officer who thinks a lot of himself, but ends up showing a good bit of depth.

The plot was good, the pace was perfect, and the characters were relatable.  It’s everything I love in a good book.  Throw in some shifters and it’s the making of a love affair.

Wrap-Up

I know a lot of people shy away from self-published writers because of bad plots, bad characters, bad writing, bad editing, etc., etc.  I’ve heard it all, but I really urge you to give Elizabeth Hunter’s body of work a chance.  Where most people rehash the same mythology, Hunter has brought something new and fresh to the urban fantasy genre.  I have not read a bad book by her yet.

Other Work

  • Elemental Mysteries:  A Hidden Fire, This Same Earth, The Force of Wind, A Fall of Water, All the Stars Look Down
  • Elemental World:  Building from Ashes, Waterlocked, Blood and Sand, The Bronze Blade
  • Elemental Legacy:  Shadows and Gold
  • Irin Chronicles:  The Scribe, The Singer, The Secret
  • Cambio Springs:  Long Ride Home, Shifting Dreams, Five Mornings, Desert Bound

The Book of Life (All Souls #3)

16054217Title: The Book of Life (All Souls #3)
Author:  Deborah Harkness
Genre:  Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Publisher:  Viking
Release Date:  July, 2014
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Kindle Purchase
Pages:  561

Dates Finished:  Sept. 13, 2014
4 Stars

Goodreads Description

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

My Review

I recently finished my re-read of A Discovery of Witches & Shadow of Night.  I have to admit that by the time I was half way through The Book of Life, I was ready to be done.  Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but 1800 pages in a row of anything is too much in my opinion.  I probably should have broken it up with a different book, but I was excited to see how everything would end.

The Book of Life and Deborah Harkness have taken some hits this time around.  A lot of people have bashed Harkness for taking so long to get out the third book of the trilogy.  I have to admit, I was aggravated by having to wait two years for the finale, but at the same time, I’m not a writer, so who am I to tell her how long it should take her to write a 600 page book?  The book itself has also received some not so nice reviews.  The main complaints seem to be that the book was choppy and it left too many loose ends.  Personally, I didn’t come away from it feeling that way.  I will admit Harkness left the door open for additional books, but I felt she tied up most of the loose ends regarding Diana and Matthew.

My biggest complain was that Gallowglass (my favorite character) received no finality to his story.  I want a spin-off, gosh darn it!  I want a happy ending for Gallowglass!

Wrap-Up

Ok, bottom-line…The Book of Life was not as good as A Discovery of Witches or Shadow of Night, but it was still good.  It did jump around a bit, it was a little slow in spots, and Diana and Matthew didn’t seem to have the same fire as in the previous books, but overall, it was a satisfying end to the series.

Shadow of Night (Re-read)

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2)Title: Shadow of Night (All Souls #2)
Author:  Deborah Harkness
Genre:  Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Paranormal Romance
Publisher:  Viking
Release Date:  July, 2012
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Kindle Purchase
Pages:  584

Dates Finished:  Oct. 20,  2012 & Sept. 1, 2014
4 Stars

Goodreads Description

Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library,she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened.

Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realize that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot.

Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers…

My Review

I recently finished my re-read of Shadow of Night.  As with my re-read of A Discover of Witches, I loved this book the first time I read it, and I loved it all over again during my re-read.  With the third book of the All Souls Trilogy, The Book of Life, recently being released, I had to re-read the first two books to get reacquainted with the details of the story line.  There is a ton of information and detail in Harkness’ writing and most of it is important.

In Shadow of Night, the story line picks up immediately where book one left off.  Diana and Matthew have traveled back to 1591, England in order for Diana to learn how to control her powers and to try to locate the mysterious book, Ashmole 782, which put this entire adventure into motion.

I will admit that Shadow of Night was a slower read than A Discovery of Witches.  There was not nearly as much action, but there was a lot of story development.  Diana begins to understand why she had such a hard time with magic.  She also learns how to be an Elizabethan lady, as well as how to deal with an Elizabethan gentleman of the age.  Matthew has fallen into a life he has already lived once, which ends up being a double-edged sword, as both Diana and Matthew discover.

I loved Harkness’ portrayal of historical figures such as Queen Elizabeth, Christopher Marlow and Sir Walter Raleigh.  William Shakespeare was even thrown in for good measure.  Their characterizations made them feel very real.  Several additional members of Matthew’s family were also introduced.  We finally meet Phillipe, Matthew’s larger than life father.  I absolutely loved him.  I also loved Gallowglass, Matthew’s nephew, as well as several other new characters.  Harkness’ ability to bring characters to life is definitely one of her strong suits.  Anyone who has read my blog knows character development is one of my biggest issues with books.  The plot can weaken and even drag for a bit, but I’ll still love it if it’s got characters I can fall in love with.

Wrap-Up

Shadow of Night did jump around a bit and it was a little slow in spots (thus the 4 star rating), but overall, it was a really fun read.  I hope you’ll give this trilogy a shot.  I’m off to read The Book of Life, the final book in the trilogy!  Happy reading!!

A Discovery of Witches (Re-read)

8667848Title: A Discovery of Witches (All Souls #1)
Author:  Deborah Harkness
Genre:  Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Paranormal Romance
Publisher:  Viking Penguin
Release Date:  February, 2011
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  Kindle Purchase
Pages:  579

Dates Finished:  Sept 9, 2012 & Aug 17, 2014
4.5 Stars

Goodreads Description

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

My Review

I loved this book the first time I read it, and I loved it all over again during my re-read.  With the third book of the All Souls Trilogy, The Book of Life, recently being released, I had to re-read A Discovery of Witches.  I could remember the gist of the story line, but I knew I had forgotten the details.  Trust me, this is not a series in which you want to forget details.  Deborah Harkness has spun an intricate web of characters and story lines which delight at every turn.

Diana Bishop is the heroine of the novel.  She starts off as a socially awkward historian who loves nothing more than being submersed in her world of academia.  Her books are safe and far away from the world of witches in which she was raised, but when she accidentally calls up an old, enchanted book from the library stacks, Diana sets off a bomb which sends ripples through the underworld.  She has no idea the single event of opening a book will set her on a path that will not only change her life, but the future of every witch, vampire and deamon in existence.

There is history and science and witches and vampires and love and intrigue and time travel and just about everything else you could want in a good book.  I do have one warning…this book is LONG.  I can’t really say the author should have chopped out a bunch of useless info, because there really wasn’t any useless info.  Everything furthers the story in one way or another.  Even if it doesn’t seem to be that important in this book, it comes into play in the next.  Deborah Harkness definitely has her crap together.  I love good world building and she does it wonderfully.

You may be wondering why I held back that 1/2 star on my rating.  It’s because Harkness doesn’t go into much detail about the logistics of time travel.  There are some important things that have to be answered when you get into time travel, like “What if you run into your former self?” or “Does your former self disappear from the past when you appear there from the future?” etc., etc.  Harkness basically tells Diana and the reader that you just have to trust the universe to work it all out.  I felt like she just didn’t want to be bothered with the time travel details.  So, that was my only pet peeve with the book.  I couldn’t give it a perfect 5 stars for that reason alone.

I hope you’ll give this one a shot.  It’s really a great read!

Circle of Death

Title: Circle of Death (Damask Circle #2)Circle of Death
Author:  Keri Arthur
Genre:  Fantasy; Paranormal Romance

Publisher:  Bantam Dell
Release Date:  February 25, 2014
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  ARC from Edelweiss
Pages:  352

Date Finished:  April 15, 2014
3.5 Starts

Goodreads Description

In one vicious night, Kirby Brown’s world is torn apart. Her best friend is dead, killed by a madman who is now after Kirby, and she has no idea why. When the police prove incapable of protecting Kirby, she has no choice but to trust a mysterious stranger. And while she finds herself inexplicably drawn to him, she fears the strange abilities he wields.

An investigator for the Damask Circle, Doyle Fitzgerald, has come to Melbourne, Australia, to hunt down a killer. What he doesn’t expect to find is a cadre of witches capable of controlling the elements, a sorceress determined to take that power for herself, and a broken woman who is more than she seems. Doyle is certain that the reason behind the bloodshed lies in Kirby’s past—a past she has no wish to remember. Because Doyle isn’t the only one with magic in his soul: Kirby’s special gifts have the strength to destroy the world.

My Review

Ok, this one was definitely better than the first one in the series.  Doyle and Kirby were more likeable, and the plot was a little more put together.  With that being said, it was still your typical paranormal romance.  Actually, it was a little less steamy than most paranormal romance.  The sex scenes were far from earth shattering.  Kirby’s back story held my interest.  I definitely wanted to know how the story was going to come together.  The action was pretty good throughout, until the end.  In my opinion, the final battle was rather anticlimactic.

I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get much more information about the Damask Circle.  I wish Arthur would delve in there and really give us some information.  It makes me feel like the Damask Circle is a contrivance to pull completely unrelated books together just so they can be called a trilogy.  Not cool.

Special Thanks…

I’d like to give a shout out to Edelweiss, Bantam Dell and Keri Arthur for giving me the opportunity to read and review this ARC.

Circle of Fire ((3 Stars))

Circle of Fire (Damask Circle, #1)Title: Circle of Fire (Damask Circle #1)
Author:  Keri Arthur
Genre:  Fantasy; Paranormal Romance

Publisher:  Random House/Bantam Dell
Release Date:  January 28, 2014
Format:  E-book
Acquired:  ARC from Netgalley.com
Pages:  336

Date Finished:  1/17/14
3 stars

Goodreads Description

Sixteen teenagers taken from their homes. Eleven bodies recovered, each completely drained of blood. Some believe vampires are responsible. Jon Barnett knows that what’s happening is far worse. Sent by a group of paranormal investigators known as the Damask Circle, Jon quickly becomes enmeshed in a web of black magic and realizes he needs help. But fate gives him only one choice.

Madeline Smith has retreated to an isolated farmhouse, afraid of the abilities she cannot control—abilities that have killed. But when a “ghost” brings a warning of danger and her nephew goes missing, Maddie not only has to leave her haven, she has to place her trust in a man who is neither ghost nor human. As the noose of sorcery tightens, the search for the teenagers becomes a race against time. But the greatest danger to Maddie and Jon could be the intense feelings they refuse to acknowledge but cannot ignore.

My Review

Circle of Fire is the first book in the new Damask Circle trilogy.  It was a fast read, but it was your typical paranormal/romance book.  There was really nothing about it that set it apart from all the other paranormal/romance books out there.

The beginning was a little confusing because you come onto the scene with Maddie talking to an astral image of Jon, but it’s not the first time he’s appeared to her.  So, right from the start I felt like I had missed a chapter.  I even backed up to make sure I had not accidentally skipped ahead somehow.  Luckily, I didn’t have that lost feeling through the whole book.  It only took about two chapters to get on the same page (pardon the pun) with the author.

The plot was ok.  It was nothing earth-shattering.

The characters were ok.  I was not too excited about any of them.  Jon didn’t really do anything for me.  Maddie played the damsel in distress too much for my liking.  The bad guys were somewhat underwhelming.  Even the romance parts weren’t very romancey.  (Yes, I’m making words up.)

Overall, I just didn’t love this book.  It was alright.  I really think the series has potential, so I’ll definitely check the next one out.  I want more information about the Damask Circle (Jon’s employer).  I also think Maddie will be growing into her powers in the next book.  So, the series has a lot of room to grow.

Special Thanks…

I’d like to give a shout out to Netgalley.com, Random House and Keri Arthur for giving me the opportunity to read and review this ARC.