Review: The Return by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Genre: New-Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 335
Series: Titan #1, Covenant series spin-off
Release Date: February 16, 2015

3.5 Stars

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I’m certain that Jennifer L. Armentrout has reached that point in her career where she can demand better covers that actually have some relevance to the plot of the novel, instead of a random shirtless dude being featured there like it’s the cover of a Playgirl magazine (I know that’s not an actual magazine, but I don’t know any real ones for girls).

I mean seriously, whoever designed the cover didn’t even bother to add his glyphs! I know they’re invisible to almost everyone, but we know they’re there! And if you don’t know, that means you haven’t read the Covenant series, in which case, I really think you should. Because the Covenant series…

a) is better,
b) has a better female protagonist
c) will help you appreciate and understand this novel more, and
d) is better.

But that kind-of-insulting topic aside, lets move to the next kind-of-insulting topic (I know, I’m on a roll). And that topic is… the author!

You see, I’ve read about a dozen novels by Jennifer L. Armentrout, and if you exclude the Covenant series, I’ve been highly impressed with exactly none of them. They’re all decently written and most of them are entertaining or interesting enough (Lux series not included; it sucked) but they’re ultimately pretty meh, or even aggravating. All this led me to think that maybe the Covenant series was a fluke. And while I enjoyed this novel, that belief still kinda stands.

This book follows Seth, who is an Apollyon, the child of a pure blood (descended from the Greek gods) and a half (half human and half pure). He did some very, very, extremely shitty things in the past (see: Covenant series) and to make up for some of them, he made a deal with the gods that pledged his existence to serving them, before and after death.

Apollo, who is freaking awesome, tasked Seth to protect a very important and special *rolls eyes* girl named Josie, because the world is in danger again and she’s very crucial to saving it.

Now, I enjoyed the book, I really did. It has a heavy focus on the romance but I’m okay that. I’ve read plenty of paranormal romances and I’m good with authors building on the relationship between characters before focusing on the big problems. And the fact that I liked Seth’s arc helped things along.

In the Covenant series, I hated Seth. I may be one of the only few people who did since everyone seemed to be in love with him, but I had a very hard time forgiving him for the shit he pulled. And even after he somewhat made up for it in the end with his deal with the gods, I still liked seeing him guilt-ridden over his actions and struggling with all that took place. Seth is a changed man, and though I miss his funny and sarcastic moments, his emotional arc was with it.

On top of that, for the most part, I liked Josie. She does have a habit of talking too much; and not in a cute-and-rambly sort of way, but more like she stops listening to what anyone has to say and words start pouring out of her mouth and you’re just waiting for her to shut the fuck up. But yeah, other than that, she was good.

The pace of the novel was good and you can fly through it very easily. It has plenty of clichés with the whole innocent, perpetually-blushing, virgin female MC, the obligatory guy-is-suddenly-shirtless scenes and stuff like that. But it was still readable and fun; made better that it would have been, by the addition of Seth’s character complexity.

As for reading the sequel (there are at least three more books in the series, probably more), I kinda, accidentally, on purpose spoiled myself on some things, things that I know I won’t like. So I will read it, but it will likely not happen very soon. If you’re a fan of the Covenant series, I think you’ll sufficiently enjoy this one (especially of you love Seth). If you haven’t read the previously mentioned series, read it first and then come back to this one.

Review: Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh

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Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Adult
Pages: 328
Series: Psy-Changeling #4
Release Date: February 5, 2008

3 Stars

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Thanks to my exams, both my reading and reviewing are all over the place. I’ve started four books since the 6th but haven’t finished a single one and I’ve been putting this review off for a week. Even now, with a few days off, I’m not in the reviewing mood, so bear with me please.

This book follows Clay, a sentinel in the DarkRiver pack of changelings. He’s got a dark and violent past and that’s turned him kind of… dark and violent. He constantly feel like he’s on the edge of going rogue. Then, someone from the past, someone he thought was dead, comes back and there’s hope. Talin faced some very traumatizing things at a very early age. Clay was her best friend. But due to a violent act, she’s separated from him and, in her trauma, asks her social worker to tell Clay that she died in a car crash. Now she in trouble and has no other option than to tell Clay the truth so that he can help her.

First of all, can you believe this girl? She practically fakes her own death — sure she was just a kid then but she had 20 years to correct her lie. She didn’t — and then demands that Clay help her? And people say that I’m unfair to female characters. Well, if they’re going to be like this, what do you expect?

On top of that, the book was still all about her and her sensitive little feelings. She pushed her best friend away, didn’t contact him for 20 years, and still got to spend the entire novel whining about how she was insecure and afraid that he would leave her just because he left her before. Fuck you! He didn’t leave you. He went to juvie for saving your life! The least you could do is apologise and try to make it up to him instead of demanding comfort and being pissed at the guy because he didn’t immediately get over your faked death!

Ugh!

Before I started this review, I only disliked Talin. Now I hate her. There’s a serious case of special snowflake syndrome going on with her, and this was all just made worse by the fact that Clay was made out to be the bad guy for being mad at her. And his emotional trauma was never touched upon. He was just supposed to get over it because he’s a guy and he’s tough. Well guess what? Being tough doesn’t make you immune to emotions! How could Clay’s feelings just be dismissed like that! I am seriously pissed off right now.

But… rant over. I don’t want to spend much more time talking about the fact that the girl who ran out on the guy got to whine about her, practically unfounded, fear of abandonment for over half the book while he was criticised for being angry for half a chapter. And don’t even get me started on the possessive bullshit she pulled despite not having any right after what she did.

Then there was their relationship. I didn’t feel it. They were best friends and mates so they got together. That’s all there was to it. There could have been a connection between them but I just felt like that chunk of the book was missing. And at this point, I’m starting to wonder why I’ve given the book 3 stars.

Oh wait, I know. Talin is human.

For the last three books, we’ve stayed mostly with the changelings or the Psy. But this installment introduced us to the humans part of the world and I really liked getting introduced to that. Humans are, in fact, not incompetent. They’re just highly underestimated, mainly by the Psy. With the changelings, they prefer to live in their own packs so they aren’t always involved with humans.

But here they were, and it was great. Another thing that was great was seeing the past characters and the relationships, the way they’ve grown. Things with the Psy council are seriously amping up and I’m so excited for that. I mean, they’re still pulling shit but it’s more build up at this point. Things are gonna blow and people are gonna die, hopefully not any of my faves, and I can’t wait.

In the end, I can conclude that anything that didn’t have to do with Talin or the romance was good. I was interested in Clay and I wish he was given more of an arc. This is not a book I would recommend, but it introduced some pretty important characters so if you’re going to continue the series, you should read it.

Review: Borderline by Mishell Baker

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Genre: Urban Fantasy, Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 400
Series: The Arcadia Project #1
Release Date: March 1, 2016

3 Stars

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It’s funny how sometimes, if I put off writing the review for 2-3 days, I then have to sit and think about what I wanted to write in the review, for 20 minutes. But with this one, it’s been 10 days and I still remember all I planned to mention.

Maybe it’s because this is such a different and interesting book. It features Millie, a former movie director who, in a suicide attempt from the 7th floor of a building, lost half of both her legs. She was then diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, and spent half a year in rehabilitation facility. Then she was approached by a strange woman who offered her a job that involved hollywood, her first job being to tracking down a missing movie star who also happens to be a nobleman of the Seelie Court.

A very strange twist in what seemed like a normal story, right? And that’s the way that the book is told. The world is surprisingly normal, with some supernatural elements that are explained in a way that would even make sense to someone whose never read a fantasy before. I loved the way the fae were incorporated into the story instead of them being the story.

The protagonist was one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever read about. She’s a complete mess thanks to the consequences of her suicide attempt and her BPD, but she knows she’s a mess. And her self-awareness makes for some brilliant narrative. Seriously, this book is so freaking quotable. There are so many lines I’ve got marked. A couple of examples:

Next to its neighbours, the house looked like a cat lady at a PTA meeting.

Just because you don’t feel something, it doesn’t mean the other person is faking it. You know who thinks like that? Sociopaths.

Combine that with a really good plot and great side characters, and it makes absolutely zero sense that this book is completely and utterly uninteresting. Shocker, right? All those nice words and now I’m shitting on the book? I wish I wasn’t, I really do.

But the truth is, no matter how hard I tried, I could not get into it. I would check how far along I was, or how much of the book was left, constantly. And even if I did manage to build some sort of flow, the moment I put the book down, it would take nothing short of an internal pep talk to get me to pick it back up. I didn’t even care to see how it was going to end. How is it possible for such a promising read to be like this? I’ve been trying to figure it out for almost two weeks. Still don’t know for sure.

I did come up with one theory. It’s that the plot is so separate from the characters that you can’t seem to care about it. But that’s not right. There were personal connections formed. I guess it’s that I didn’t feel them because the book is more clinical than emotional. And lack of emotional connection to the characters can be a problem. That’s probably it, right? Maybe. Maybe not.

Overall, I know a lot of people who loved this novel and a few who felt similar to how I did. It could go either way, and I think it’s worth a chance to find out.

Review: Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh

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Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Adult
Pages: 352
Series: Psy-Changeling #3 (Can be read as standalone, but I don’t recommend it)
Release Date: September 4, 2007

star

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Where the last two books had Changeling male protagonist, with the whole alpha-male thing going on, and Psy female protagonist, this one is the opposite. Which is a very good thing because we don’t want to get repetitive.

The story follows Brenna, who was saved from a psychotic serial killer after she was tortured for days and is now learning to adjust to normal life once more, and Judd Lauren, one of the Psy who are in hiding from their Council after their entire family was given what is basically a death sentence, for no fucking reason. Brenna likes Judd and would like him to feel the same way. Judd is afraid that if he breaks conditioning and starts to feel, he’ll turn into a psychotic killer thanks to his very specific skill set.

In between their relationship problems, we have the Psy council trying to eliminate both the wolf and leopard packs and there’s a serial killer gunning for Brenna. And Brenna, who is totally not a psychic, is having weird visions.

So yeah, a lot of stuff is going on. And that kind of didn’t work in the book’s favour. But more on that later.

First, we got even more info about the Silence, when it came into play, the process behind it, how kids are conditioned and the Council’s newest evil plans. Seriously,  the council is hella interesting but so completely evil that the “good” member would be the one who only murdered for political gain and power plays. Don’t even get me started on the bad ones. And that new guy, Krychek, I have no idea what to make of him. Except that he’s really smart. And then we have the rebel who’s going by the name “the ghost” which makes the whole things even more curious. Basically, the overall plot of the series is great.

And in this case, the book’s plot is really good as well. Both Brenna and Judd are great characters and the problems in their relationship are genuine. Brenna, despite being awesome and strong, is still struggling with what was done to her. And Judd is totally not kidding about the possibility of him turning into a murderer if he breaks conditioning. He didn’t his research.

I loved their relationship and how there was effort to make the relationship work, on both parts.

Where I had problems was the pace. For one, the book had a lot going on and the various tangents felt like they were not entirely necessary and were stretching the novel. And there were fillers between different major events that stretched it even more, making the book fell very long. That’s my only complaint. And that little thing that happened with Brenna in the epilogue.

Overall, this was a really good installment and I’m super happy with it. Totally the best book in the series so far.

Review: Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh

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Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Adult
Pages: 332
Series: Psy-Changelings #2 (Can likely be read as Standalone)
Release Date: March 1, 2007

4-25-stars

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You know, despite the half-naked guy on the cover and the innuendo in the name of the book, it’s really not all about sex. Yes, there’s adult content, but not that much. The main focus is developing the relationship, and the various problems going on in the Psy-Changelings world, what with the Psy still being emotionless bastards.

This book follows Faith. She’s an F-Psy, a forseerer, meaning she gets visions of future events. She’s the best F-Psy in the world and worth billions. But recently, her visions have taken a dark turn, showing her murders. She wants to figure out why her visions have suddenly changed and why she feels emotions in them. She decided to do to Sascha, one of the few Psy who isn’t connected to the PsyNet or the Council, as she’s part of a Changeling pack. And on her way to the secret meeting, she meets Vaughn, a pack member and Jaguar who’s more in touch with his animal side than most Changelings.

And I gotta say, I kinda liked this one more than the last. It had more humor in it. I mean, who would have thought dark, brooding Vaughn had a sense of humor. But he does. And his relationship with Faith is less dominating. He constantly pushes her, but he does it to help her. This book had less Neanderthal-ness than Slave to Sensation as well. The guys are still really protective but in a more supportive way.

The writing and pace of the novel was good. The plot regarding the killer was good and the one with the council, great. We got to know more about the world and about Psy in particular. We found out about the Silence conditioning and some of the safeguards built-in to it to prevent people from breaking Silence. It was interesting to come across an emotionless Psy who slowly comes to feel and develop romantic feeling for someone, as well as normal feelings, like whether she likes coffee with milk or without, since Psy don’t actually like or dislike things.

Overall, I liked getting more into the Psy-Changeling world. We’re still pretty disconnected from humans but that will probably change as the series moves along. I’m very interesting to know more.

 

Review: Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

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Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Adult
Pages: 334
Series: Psy-Changeling #1 (Can be read as Standalone)
Release Date: September 5, 2006

4 Stars

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This is the first novel is the very long Psy-Changeling series (I think there are at least 15 books). It’s set in an alternate universe in which Psy (or psychics) and Changelings (people who can shapeshift into an animal) live in (kind of) harmony, along with humans. The Psy have various mind-related abilities (Telekinesis, Telepathy, Teleportation, etc.) while the Changelings are, you know, shapeshifters.

All Psy, from birth, are conditioned so that they don’t feel any emotions and any Psy who does is unacceptable. Sascha is a Psy who does feel emotion. She’s spent her entire life hiding it, but when she encounters a Changeling named Lucas Hunter, her careful facade threatens to come crashing down. For Lucas, he’s wary of the Psy and her intentions and he needs to focus on getting information because there’s a Psy killer on the loose who’s torturing and killing Changeling females, and if he’s not found soon, there may be a war between the two races.

Both Sascha and Lucas feel an attraction but they’re wary of each other and have secrets. Their relationship is an interesting one. Despite the physical attraction, they have to slowly come to know each other and figure out whether they can be trusted. They’re from different worlds and have been raised in very different environments.

The Psy world, without emotion, is very cold. It’s all about strategy, opportunity and hard logic. The Changelings, while also plenty logical, are all about emotion, both positive and negative. They’re harsh but not cold. They’re straight-forward where the Psy are subtle and underhanded. I’m very happy with the world that the author has created. Usually, with Paranormal Romances, the world building is either minimal or rushed. In this case, the author took her time introducing us to different aspects. There are still many things we don’t know. But having read the second book, I realized that instead of making the book feel info-dumpy, the author has decided to take us deeper into the world with every installment. I whole-heartedly approve of the method.

The writing  in the book is really good. And unlike with the last two books I read by Nalini Singh (Archangel’s Kiss and Archangel’s Consort), I liked the pace and felt the story aspects to be well-distributed.

The one things that bothered me was the possessive/controlling nature that the Changeling men seem to have. They seem to constantly be trying to overrule the women’s decision. And while the author did show us that men and women are equal, I would still appreciate it if the neanderthal-ness could be toned down a little.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. I’m very interested in the world and I can’t wait really immerse myself in it as the series progresses. I recommend checking it out.

Review: Midnight Target by Elle Kennedy

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Genre: Romantic Suspense, Adult
Pages: 443
Series: Killer Instincts #8
Release Date: April 25, 2017

This novel can be read as a standalone but I seriously think you should read the others. If not all, then at least a few of them. Book 1, 5 and 7 are, I think, the most important for this one.

Star

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Midnight Target had a lot of expectation attached. It’s a romance novel and an action novel. It’s got, not one, but two romantic arcs. On top of that, it’s also the last book in the series while also being a standalone. Even thinking about all that makes me nervous, and Elle Kennedy has managed to balance all these things so well…

And don’t even get me started on the fact that she had to do Sully and Liam’s story justice. Seriously, Elle Kennedy had been teasing their book since Midnight Pursuit, which is book 4. I love Liam and Sullivan and I was dying to finally get their book. Sure, I cared about the other couple, Cate and Ash, as well. But Liam and Sully are my favourite couple of the series, right up there with Kane and Abby (Midnight Rescue).

But anyway… this series follows a team of mercenaries led by Jim Morgan. Four years ago, Morgan was finally able to find his estranged daughter. But his overprotectiveness kept driving her away. She’s now a freelance photographer, and when her job lands her in trouble, Jim is there to help. But he gets gravely injured in the process. Now Jim’s entire team are rallying for payback, including Liam Macgregor and Sullivan Port, who were once best friends and will meet again after two years and address all the things between them, that they didn’t before.

And I’m gonna be honest here, before starting the book, I didn’t much care for Ash and Cate. I was interested, but not nearly as much as I was in Liam and Sully. But after I started reading, I was surprised to find that I cared about them and their relationship almost as much as… you know who.

I’ve already said that all the various elements of the novel were very well-balanced but I’m elaborated a little. Both the romances were given their time, all the different perspectives were well placed, the pace of the story was really good and I couldn’t put the book down. Seriously, I’m reviewing the book now, but I read it the day it came out, in one sitting. And then I read it again the next day. And then I went through every scene with you-know-who about two more times.

It’s just, the scenes with Liam and Sully were just so great! How could I not read them over and over? With Ash and Cate, I felt that their initial conflict was a tad stretched, but not much. I just wish we’d gotten more of you-know-who. Clearly, I have an obsession.

Overall, I loved this last installment. The book was brilliant and wrapped the series up really well. I read the epilogue like half a dozen times. I’m very happy with how the series concluded. That said, can’t we get a few more books? Pretty please? I’m really gonna miss these characters and I highly recommend that you give them a shot. They, and their stories, are all so totally worth it.