Tag Archives: paranormal fantasy

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Book Review: Queens and Monsters, by India Amare

I purchased a copy of India Amare’s Queens and Monsters. I had a flight yesterday and allowed my daughter to pick out what I read. Based on nothing more than the covers, she chose Queens and Monsters for me.
queens and monster

She is the enemy…and he is sworn to protect her.

Just out of sight exists a world of magic, vampires, monsters and royalty all on the brink of war…

Something Rhysa Smith knew nothing about until the sight of Draygus Wren’s blood Awakened her. She’s suddenly thrust into the middle of a lavish new world with powers she doesn’t understand, a trail of lies and deceit she must untangle, and an unstoppable love for the monster who is both her sworn enemy and her sworn protector.

my review

Meh, this was fine but I wasn’t blown away by it. It ended on a cliffhanger, such that it felt like part of a story, rather than anything complete in and of itself. I did appreciate that Rhysa was quite independent, but I also felt like her self-defensiveness was overblown (or maybe not well enough supported). I liked Dray as a romantic lead, but I also didn’t feel like the romance was particularly deep and I wasn’t given enough meat to truly dig in. All in all, a fine read but not outstanding. I’d read another if I found it free or at the library. But I don’t think I’d buy the next book.

queens and monsters

Leveling up 1-3 kf Breene

Book Review: Leveling Up (#1-3), by K.F. Breene

leveling up 1-3 k.f. breene

After seeing them recommended in a Fans of Urban Fantasy group, I picked up copies of K. F. Breene‘s Magical Midlife Madness, Magical Midlife Dating, and Magical Midlife Invasion while they were free on Amazon.

magical midlife madness

Description from Goodreads:

A woman starting over. A new house with an unexpected twist. A cape wearing butler acting as the world’s worst life coach.

“Happily Ever After” wasn’t supposed to come with a do-over option. But when my husband of twenty years packs up and heads for greener pastures and my son leaves for college, that’s exactly what my life becomes.


This time, though, I plan to do things differently. Age is just a number, after all, and at forty I’m ready to carve my own path.

Eager for a fresh start, I make a somewhat unorthodox decision and move to a tiny town in the Sierra foothills. I’ll be taking care of a centuries old house that called to me when I was a kid. It’s just temporary, I tell myself. It’ll just be for a while.

That is, until I learn what the house really is, something I never could’ve imagined.

Thankfully forty isn’t too old to start an adventure, because that’s exactly what I do. A very dangerous adventure that will change my life forever. I have a chance to start again, and this time, I make the rules.

my review

I adored this. Yes, a couple jokes felt forced. As much as I loved Jessie giving the men how-to-be-better-for-women lectures they felt a little didactic at times. The idea of a magical house choosing a keeper isn’t new, and Jessie was just a little too flippant in her confidence sometime. But…but…but…but I just loved her and the story. I laughed so hard and so often reading this book that I couldn’t even steady my wine enough to sip it.

As a 43yo woman I could relate to so much of her struggle. I appreciated that she didn’t want getting a youthful body back to be the solution to middle age, especially for a woman. She liked herself as so many of us want to like ourselves in our older, more experienced bodies. The side characters cracked me up. The suggestion of romance was on a back burner and not focused on sex.

All in all, I had a hoot with this and can’t wait to jump into the next one.

magical midlife datingDescription from Goodreads:

The decision has been made. Jessie has taken the magic, and all the weird that goes with it. Including wings.

There’s only one problem – she can’t figure out how to access them.

Through a series of terrible decisions, Jessie realizes she must ask for help. Gargoyle help.

But she could’ve never predicted who answers her call – he’s an excellent flier, incredibly patient, and a good trainer. He’s also incredibly handsome. And interested.

Maybe flying isn’t the only thing she needs help with. Maybe she needs help getting back on that saddle, too, emerging into the dating pool.

Except, the new gargoyle is also an alpha, just like Austin, and the town isn’t big enough for two.

Turns out, flying is the least of her problems.

my review

I liked this one, but not as much as the first book. I understood her desire to get back in the ‘dating’ saddle again (really she just wants to try sex for the first time since her divorce and I respect that), but I didn’t understand why she didn’t call D on all his RED FLAGS before she did. I still adore the friends-for-now relationship she has with A though.

I was massively disappointed that, after saying in book one that she didn’t want getting a more youthful body to be the solution to middle age, especially for a woman, she essentially did just that. Maybe she didn’t go whole hog and get her 20yo body back, she just got some aspects of it back. But the way the book moved from her wearing chucks and no make-up in book one to slinky red or sparkly dresses, heals and smokey eyed make-up in this one negated the goodwill book one developed on that front. I almost felt it a betrayal. Whats more, it was just rude that she took those upgrades and didn’t think to do the same for the guardians who are all well past 40yo.

But all the side characters still made me laugh. I still like the main character and am having fun with the series. I have book three and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Description from Goodreads:

Jessie is well on her way to learning her new life and settling in. The tough alpha, Austin, has joined her team, and she has painstakingly learned to fly. At the moment, life couldn’t get any better.

But it can get a whole lot…more irritating.

Her parents have decided to visit. They don’t know anything about magic, about Jessie’s new digs, or about the crazy crew living in and around Jessie’s house. She must do everything in her power to keep the truth away from them.

Which would be much easier without the unfelt presence lurking within Ivy House’s borders. It seems an enemy has figured out a way to magically bypass Ivy House’s defenses. Jessie is completely exposed.

The real battle, however, won’t be with the incoming force. It will be between Mr. Tom and Jessie’s mom, each intent on being the most helpful. Mr. Tom might have met his match, and he is not pleased.

Just when things were finally settling down, Jessie is in the thick of it again, and this time, the turmoil is all around her.

my review

I’m flying through this series and still enjoying it. This one, book three, felt very much like a middle book though. Things happen—the visiting parents provide opportunity for slapstick comedy, Jessie and Austin remain in each-other’s orbits, a battle, members joining the council, etc. But the whole thing kind of lacked series arc focus in the way so many middle books do, done with the introductions, but not moving toward any kind of conclusion yet. All in all, I read it, enjoyed it, and am looking forward to more, but book one is still my favorite by a mile (so far, anyhow).

I do want to make a note here of an experience I had literally minutes after I finished book two. I finished the book, put down my Kindle, and picked up my phone, so immediately after. I was checking in with the same Fans of Urban Fantasy group and someone had asked

Can someone please explain this whole paranormal women’s fiction thing of 40 year old women who have grown children, and no life at 40 (until their husband dumps them and they get a hot faerie bf, obviously)? As a 40-something woman myself, i am not finding I’m able to identify with this anymore than I can with the hot 22 year-olds who predominate in UF…

She went on to also mention women so often being inexperienced in sex. This prompted discussion, obviously, with responders all over the map from agreeing whole-heartedly to stating, “It’s fantasy, Karen.”

But as the debate rolled along, Breene popped in to comment. Now keep in mind PWF isn’t a particularly old genre. I don’t know a lot about how it came to be, but there seem to be 13 authors recognized as the originators and Breene is one of them. And while her response was NO WHERE near Author Behaving Badly level, she did say things like “But as the co-creator of pwf, I figured I’d better stand on the front lines and return fire.” And I just thought it was an oddly defensive stance, characterizing a reader discussion about preferences and dislikes in a genre as combat or an attack. In fact, that was my general read on her responses in generaldefensive, as if personally attacked, which wasn’t how I took the original post.

Facebook screen shotI made several comments (some of which I deleted because the commenters seemed to be starting to take sides and I didn’t want to find myself offending anyone by accident), one of which she ‘corrected.’

This was someone recommending Breene’s series to the woman who dislikes the divorce component. (Magical Midlife Madness starts with the heroine getting a divorce.)

Again, I thought it oddly defensive. Her clarification essentially said the same thing I did in the comment she was responding to. There had been a lack of good sex in the main character’s life. But the “ I won’t apologize for that” again seemed defensive. No one was criticizing her or even the book, nothing had been said that would necessitate an apology. The intent of my comment was solely to make sure the OP, who had just been recommend a book that contained the very element she stated she dislikes, knew that before picking it up. I wasn’t discouraging anyone reading it. In fact, I said I liked it.

As stated, I don’t think Breene was in Author Behaving Badly territory. But it was enough that I’d be cringing  and cautious if this post and review were a bad one. I’d wonder if and how she’d respond. Because she’s shown herself to be defensive, IMO, and willing to step into readers’ spaces to “return fire.” I’m noting all this here should I choose to pick up another of her series in the future. I probably will, I have enjoyed what I read of this one so far, but I don’t want to end up embroiled in any drama.


Feral Ice

Book Review of Feral Ice (Ice Dragons Book 1), by Ann Gimpel

I borrowed an audio copy of Ann Gimpel‘s Feral Ice through Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:

Doctor and biochemist, Erin signed up for six months aboard an Antarctic research ship to escape her stifling surgery practice. Jerked from her cozy cabin, she’s dumped in an ice cave by men who assume she’s dead. 

Konstantin and Katya, twins and dragon shifters, have lived miles beneath the polar ice cap for hundreds of years. Other dragons left, but they stuck it out. When several humans—all but two of them dead—end up not far from their lair, the opportunity is too good to pass up. 

If the lore is to be believed, humans can become dragon shifters. Delighted by a simple solution to their enforced isolation, the dragons lure the humans to their home. Surely, they’ll be thrilled by the prospect of becoming magical. 

Or not. 

Too bad no one shared the script with the humans. Science be damned, they’re horrorstruck in the face of fire-breathing dragons. All they want is to escape, but home is thousands of miles away.


This was bad…like really bad. I thought, in the beginning, I might be able to enjoy it in the ‘it’s so bad it’s amusing’ sort of way. But no, it didn’t even manage that. The story moves along in robotic jerks. The romance is so underdeveloped I literally thought it was going to be between the two humans, instead of the dragon and female human. Honestly, I think it would have been a better pairing. But mostly it just meant I didn’t feel anything for or about the couple. The lore is ridiculous and poorly explained. And dialogue is super cheesy.

The narrator did and OK job. But I don’t understand why Gimpel would choose a male narrator (Gregory Salinas) for a book in which the only first person POV is female.