Review of Fated by K. M. Shea

I thought I hated not fitting in. Turns out I hate having a target on my back even more.

Someone wants me taken out. To accomplish that, they leaked the secret of my magic to all the Packs in the Midwest. Now, almost every Alpha in the region has traveled to my hometown in hopes of convincing me to join their Pack.

And some of them don’t seem to think I should have a choice.

Greyson won’t stand for that—something he makes deadly clear to the other Alphas. What they don’t know is that I’m his long missing mate. But wolves and hunters are enemies, and my hunter magic blocks me from accepting the bond…even though I’m starting to wish I could.

Our incomplete mate bond is a constant drain on Greyson. Its existence puts him in danger—something he stubbornly ignores.

But as risky as our bond is, I have to stay focused on the biggest threat at the moment.

Whoever shared the secret of my powers wants to destroy our Pack. And we’re about to find out how far they’ll go to make that happen.

Fated is the final book in the Pack of Dawn and Destiny urban fantasy trilogy and is part of the Magiford Supernatural City world. It features werewolves, hunters, and fae, and is filled with humor, adventure, and a sweet romance that will have you laughing outloud.

I waited so long for this, it felt like forever, but like all of K. M. Shea’s books it felt just like walking back home as I rejoined the world of Magiford. I was so ecstatic to see how much Pip grew in this book emotionally. There was so much she had to really think about before she could do much, and getting to see that internal struggle that we all face when we aren’t sure where we fit, or if we should fight for what we care about and believe in, was great. I loved getting to see more of Leila from the Court of Midnight and Deceptions books, which I loved and got me truly hooked on this series (and are likely still my favourite of the three trilogies set in Magiford, though I have loved them all)! It was great seeing Greyson as a person beyond his faults, and accepting of faults he may have. I loved the ending, loved the series, and this was definitely worth waiting for! I do hope we continue to see the other two hunters in future Magiford book series.

And thank you Mayor Pearl!

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of The Cowboy’s Forbidden Crush by Deborah Garland

Don’t tempt a cowboy if you’re not prepared to go for a ride.

Meet Dr. Walker Rhodes, DVM. He has rules about sleeping with his students. He doesn’t go there. But when Emmaline Phillips waltzes into his class, all bets are off.

Emma is smart and beautiful and those haunting caramel eyes will be my undoing. I’m watching her every move while I wait to make her mine. The way she looks at me tells me: She’s mine.

With graduation just days away, I’ll get her in my bed and keep her there until she leaves this small Texas town to chase her dreams in the Kentucky Bluegrass. She’s got plans that don’t include me.

And I’m not looking for anything long-term. I don’t do relationships.

I just need enough time with Emma to satisfy us both and get her out of my head.

Only, when she shows up on my ranch with tight jeans, boots and ready to work as my intern, I’m ready to lose it. Emma Phillips will be my downfall.

There’s only so much a cowboy can take…

This book was amazing. Yes, there is an age gap, but not in a weird or creepy way like some books/situations tend to be. Emma is about to graduate vet school and she definitely sees something in Rhodes. While there are some uncertainties with both of them set for different things in life, the way they came together and found themselves changing, for the better, from working together and having a deeper understanding of the way they each are, was great to see. There are twists and turns and the ending leaves you wishing for something a bit more concrete, yet knowing that they will likely feature in the rest of the books in the series. One of the things that I, as a horse owner, personally appreciated was that they Garland didn’t make the profession out to be easy, and did show that being a large animal vet with horses, which are prey animals, means dealing with unpredictability and dangerous situations sometimes. I found it quite realistic, and it was a very enjoyable, quick read.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Dies the Fire by S. M. Stirling

S. M. Stirling presents his first Novel of the Change, the start of the New York Times bestselling postapocalyptic saga set in a world where all technology has been rendered useless.

The Change occurred when an electrical storm centered over the island of Nantucket produced a blinding white flash that rendered all electronic devices and fuels inoperable—and plunged the world into a dark age humanity was unprepared to face… 

Michael Havel* was flying over Idaho en route to the holiday home of his passengers when the plane’s engines inexplicably died, forcing a less than perfect landing in the wilderness. And as Michael leads his charges to safety, he begins to realize that the engine failure was not an isolated incident.

Juniper McKenzie was singing and playing guitar in a pub when her small Oregon town was thrust into darkness. Now, taking refuge in her family’s cabin with her daughter and a growing circle of friends, Juniper is determined to create a farming community to benefit the survivors of this crisis.

But even as people band together to help one another, others are building armies for conquest…

Firstly, this book was recommended to me by a friend we’ll call B, who has gotten messages of what I saw as foreshadowed, any time I was irritated or frustrated. Poor B. Thanks for the recommendation!

This books starts out with Havel, and from there, we see all sorts of interesting people, places and things. It was quite interesting to see what people knew of survival and how to get by if they didn’t have technology. In the beginning I called deus ex machina on Juniper’s situation and how things all seemed to magically be available for her and her group to set up, however, this is explored and remarked on in the book as well. My friend was quite surprised to see that I much preferred Havel’s side of things, as Juniper just seemed almost too perfect. It seemed as if Juniper was never really in any real trouble, though I wouldn’t say leading people would be easy. In many ways both Havel and Juniper end up just happening to find the best/most useful people, which is an extreme case of luck. The average people would not fair so well.

I quite liked all of the mentions of Wiccan holidays, and all of the Celtic sayings. I was quite amused that cows were consistently mentioned as “milch” cows. It was interesting to follow the two different schools of thought on how to go forward after the event– either try to adapt back to how things were in history, essentially forcing people to share with you, or get a group together and do the work necessary to work for that which you’ll need going forward- namely food.

I’d also like to note that I greatly dislike Bill Waters, and I’m sure if you read this, you will as well.

A note that B definitely got as soon as I finished was: I know you warned me, but what the hell kind of ending was that?! It was advised I’d want the second book to start delving into it right away, but I hadn’t wanted to potentially ruin anything coming up, so instead I was left in a state of flux and uncertainty.

*Synopsis personally changed to say Michael HAVEL instead of Pound. Not sure where that error came from, but his name is definitely Michael Havel.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling (Graceling Realm Book 1) by [Kristin Cashore]

Kristin Cashore’s bestselling, award-winning fantasy Graceling tells the story of the vulnerable-yet-strong Katsa, a smart, beautiful teenager who lives in a world where selected people are given a Grace, a special talent that can be anything from dancing to swimming. Katsa’s is killing. As the king’s niece, she is forced to use her extreme skills as his thug. Along the way, Katsa must learn to decipher the true nature of her Grace… and how to put it to good use. A thrilling, action-packed fantasy adventure (and steamy romance!) that will resonate deeply with adolescents trying to find their way in the world.

I picked this up by chance at a local game shop’s sale table. This book is deceptively deep and introspective. Everyone, graced or not, has things they are good at and things they could work to get better at, and Katsa was never given the chance to think that, or even consider herself beyond the label that was given to her. The relationships are real, and Katsa is very much the type of girl you’d expect if only allowed one thing and never taught about the more beyond killing. Though some reviews say she is a Mary Sue, I would argue that having a lot of mental anguish and uncertainty in one’s

self is just as much, if not more, of a hinderance than many other typical problems presented. There are some that would argue that Katsa’s take on marriage suggests the wrong things to the audience, but I would say that they need to consider the time period in the book more thoroughly, as well as the implications that a wife was only meant to stay home, produce heirs, manage the estate, and see to visitors. That was never going to be Katsa. There were a few instances and suggestions in the book that really made me personally feel it was more New Adult than Young Adult. I found the ending frustrating, unexpected, but ultimately uplifting that Katsa remains true to herself.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

Unrelated to plot gripe: My main issue is that this book had many spots where it seemed that the ink in the printing press ran out, and you had to guess what some spots would say, usually just a word or two, but that can really jar you from a book, yet it was a good book nonetheless. I hope that others do not experience this and get turned off from the book because of that.

Review of The Glamourist by Luanne G. Smith

The Glamourist (The Vine Witch Book 2) by [Luanne G. Smith]

Abandoned as a child in turn-of-the-century Paris, Yvette Lenoir has longed to uncover the secrets of her magical heritage and tap her suppressed powers. But what brave and resourceful Yvette has done to survive the streets has made her a fugitive. With a price on her head, she clings to a memento from her past—what she believes to be a grimoire inherited from the mother she never knew. To unlock the secrets of her past, Yvette trusts in one woman to help solve the arcane riddles among its charmed pages.

Elena Boureanu is the vine witch of Château Renard, noted for its renowned wines. Even as she struggles with her own bloodline—and its poisonous threat to her future—Elena can’t ignore a friend on the run. Joined by a cunning thief, the proprietor of an enchanted-curio shop, and a bewitching black cat, Elena and Yvette are determined to decode Yvette’s mysterious keepsake. But what restless magic will be unleashed? And what are Yvette and Elena willing to risk to become the witches they were destined to be?

I loved how Yvette and Elena both had to go on a soul searching journey here. Elena really had to be introspective to think of what she wanted, the future she saw for herself, and what she could or couldn’t live with doing in order to have it. It was quite interesting to see each of the women fully come into their own, even if Yvette didn’t end up with the ending I thought she should have. I also quite enjoyed seeing Elena combine her past, present, and future as a witch with her fiances non-magical family life. I look forward to reading more in the third book in the series!

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯