Tag Archives: City Owl Press

edge of the woods

Book Review: Edge of the Woods, by Jules Kelley

I received a copy of Jules Kelley‘s Edge of the Woods through Netgalley.

edge of the woods jules kelley

There’s something wrong in Pine Grove, Montana, and its bite is vicious.

Haley Fern has been the alpha of her local werewolf pack for less than a year when their law enforcement liaison retires, and Leland Sommers, a man who knows nothing about werewolves or their world, is hired in his place. What could be an awkward situation turns complicated when the man shows up his first day on the job with an injured teenage boy he found on the road–a boy Haley knows has just been bitten.

But discovering who bit the kid isn’t as easy as it seems, especially with Leland asking questions and looking at Haley the way he does.

Can the alpha figure out who is attacking innocent people on her wildlife preserve and protect her pack? Or will the new sheriff and her growing attraction to him put her entire world in danger?

my review

This was a squishy, feel good read. It’s chocked full of diversity, has two sweet cinnamon bun leads, and a mild background mystery. But it’s the fact that the mystery is in the background that leads me to have not loved it more than I did. (I liked it plenty though.) Haley and the deputy are both lovely and they are genuinely careful with each-other in a really heart-warming way. There is no toxicity here. But I’m afraid that’s just not enough to carry a werewolf novel on it’s own. I needed a little more action, a little more bite, so to speak. I do look forward to seeing where the series goes and would be more than happy to read book two

edge of the woods photo


Other Reviews:

Caitlyn Lynch Reviews

Edge of the Woods – Jules Kelley

Book Review of Midnight Desire/Midnight Temptation (Ravens Hollow Coven #1&2), by Shari Nichols

Shari Nichols sent me a paperback copy of her book Midnight Desire.

Description from Goodreads:

Danger and desire collide to form an unlikely alliance between a witch with a sordid past and a special agent who might be her future.

While trying to escape her past, kick-ass witch Willow McCray dispenses her own brand of justice swiftly and without mercy, until she crosses paths with sexy Magickal Bureau of Investigations Agent, Alex Denopoulos. Now, she must use her powers for good if she wants to stay out of Hellios, the mage prison for those who have broken the Wiccan Rede of ‘Harm ye None.’

Alex will stop at nothing to catch a killer, including recruiting notorious felon, Willow McCray, to work for the agency. While under his guard, the lines between duty and passion become blurred the more time he spends with the red-haired beauty. His penchant for justice and deep-seated hatred of witches makes a future together seem impossible. But he’s not ready to let her go. Now he’ll risk more than his badge to keep her alive.

If only Willow can vanquish the evil surrounding them and give Alex what he wants—before she loses her heart and even her very soul in the process.

Review:

Shari Nichols is a new-to-me author. I’ve read exactly two books by her. And while they weren’t the exact same book, they were pretty darned close. In the first (Haunted), the heroine is a psychic medium who uses her gift to fight a psychotic ghost and get the big, hunky guy. In this one (Midnight Desire), the heroine is a psychic witch that uses her gifts to fight a psychotic fae and gets the big, hunky guy. It was very obvious that the same plot template was used for each (and followed very closely) and even some of the language/dialogue could have been cut and pasted from either book into the other (especially in sex scenes, which also played out almost exactly the same).

It makes it a little hard to judge this book on its own. What’s more, all of my complaints from Haunted have to be repeated here. The love is instant, unsupported, and unexplained. I mean, if you’re going to create a paranormal world and include insta-love, why not give it a reason—fated mates, matching magics, genetics, past lives, hell anything? But give a reason if two people are going to be inexplicably drawn to each other and act outside the norm.

I almost got whiplash from the two characters’ push-me-pull-me attitudes. I hate the way every scene is broken up with some lust-filled reverie. It doesn’t build the sexual tension for me. I just feel like it clutters the narrative and annoys me. Lastly, the way Alex pursued Willow was pushy and creepy as hell. She’d say some variation of “No, I don’t want to have sex with you. I’m mad at you.” And he’d come back with, “Let me make it up to you,” (by having sex).

Specific to this book, my complaints mostly focus on the lack of worldbuilding. We have mages and sorcerers and witches, but no explanation of what the difference is. Demons are both the villains and work for the good guys and I have no idea what it actually means to be a demon (other than having horns). There are vampires and pixies, but their place isn’t explained in any fashion. Hell, I don’t even know if the rest of the human population knows they exist. I assume so since everyone walked around without issue, but I don’t know.

Having said all that, the writing is perfectly readable and other than the occasional inconsistency (walking into a room full of crossbows and knives on the walls and then not being able to find anything to cut ropes with, for example) the editing is pretty solid. Like I said with Haunted, I think maybe this just isn’t the book for me.


I am actually coming back to this post a month later to add a review of book two of the Ravens Hollow series (Midnight Temptation). I thought it would be less confusing than linking back to this first review in a separate post. The author sent me an e-copy. Honestly, it was this book I initially requested, leading to the author sending me Midnight Desire (book one) until this one was released yesterday. Thus, the month between reviews.

Description from Goodreads:

What are the stakes for falling in love?

That’s the question tarot card reader Gillian Howe ponders when she hosts a supernatural speed dating event. Making the perfect match is her passion, too bad she can’t find one for herself. A chance encounter with a wealthy vampire provides her an opportunity to attend an exclusive after-party and prove she isn’t opposed to love. But she finds herself plunged into a secret society of trancing, blood bonds and human escort rings. The night ends in a police raid and of all the vampire detectives in Raven’s Hollow, Garrett Mulroney shows up at the scene. Even if he is scorching, hot, he accused her of a crime she didn’t commit and nearly ruined her life.

Fate has thrown them together again…

Garrett has been down this brutal road before and it didn’t end well. His sire tried to force him into a life of debauchery, but he chose to uphold the law instead. The fact that the one woman he can’t seem to get out of his mind or out of his lust-filled dreams is at the center of his investigation doesn’t bode well. It’s a good thing she hates his guts because it helps douse his growing desire for her and focus on the case. But when Gillian’s cousin is kidnapped into the Du Sang Brotherhood, she becomes the prime witness. Now they’re forced to put their differences aside and go undercover by pretending to be a couple. The more time Garrett spends with Gillian, the more he wants her in his life—and in his bed.

Knowing who to trust and who to love becomes a matter of survival, and possibly the only way to take down the Brotherhood.

Review:

This was not for me. The whole thing just annoyed me. Most of the decisions driving the plot made no sense to me. The heroine too often acted too stupid to live and the hero’s entire personality seemed to be developed by virtue of his fancy house and expensive car (and big dick). It was completely predictable. (I predicted not only the ending but how that ending would come about before the halfway mark.) Obstacles were overcome too easily and everything felt flat.

The flatness I know comes from the writing though. It is almost entirely tell and dialogue. There is far too little show to make the reader invest in anything. It also does things like force the author to make everyone run a charity so we know they are good people, instead of just showing us the actions of a good person in the course of the book. We’re told everyone’s heart is overflowing with love or emotions, instead of showing us people overwhelmed with love or emotions. Both characters have to share their traumatic past in order to have any depth, instead of the reader simply being shown some character depth. We’re constantly told, “she decided she should…” or “he thought…” instead of simply being shown what she decided of he thought.

Lastly, the book needs another editing pass. Off the top of my head, I remember missing spaces, the word ‘curse’ used in place of course, and some phrases popping up repetitively. (I think “magick pure and bright” must have shown up almost every time Gillian accessed her magic.)

I liked Gillian and Garrett, don’t get me wrong. But the book itself didn’t light me on fire.

What I read over Thanksgiving Holiday 2019

We spent Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle in Tennessee. They have a lovely place outside the city—land, hot tub with a view, walking distance to the river, etc. Visiting them is always a little mind-blowing for me (in a good way).

From my house to theirs is a six hour drive. We stayed Thursday and Friday and then drove home last night (Saturday). That’s twelve hours in the car to read and then quite a bit of time while there.

You see, I love my family, but thanksgiving is always big and loud and chaotic. So much love in the air, but also just so many people. And I’m an introvert. I invariably get super overloaded and spend the day after Thanksgiving laying on the couch reading. It’s my way of being in my family’s presence, but allowing my introvert cells to recharge. The point is, you might not think such a short visit wouldn’t allow for much reading. But I read six books.

I’m going to review them all here, with the caveat that I took no notes and reading a book and then waiting to review it means I never remember quite as many details. For example, I do remember that one of these book needs further editing. But I don’t now remember which one, so I can’t mention it in the review. Similarly, some of the reviews might be on the short side. Pleasantly however, I liked them all. There have been years I couldn’t say that. Here we go.


the cover of vengeful prince

Vengeful Prince, by Mary E. Twomey:

I’m undecided about this book. Some things I really loved, but others I thought it pulled a bait-and-switch on the readers about, and it includes one of my BIGGEST PET PEVES. Let me address that first, since I probably won’t be able to concentrate until I get it out of the way. 

One of my biggest pet peeves: When the male MC falls in love with the female MC because she talks back to him in a way no one else will. (Here it’s actually not any of the male MC that do this, but it’s someone super integral to the plot. So, I’m calling it same-same). My problem with this logic as it plays out here (and almost every time authors do this) is that people don’t talk back to this powerful individual because he’ll kill or punish them if they do. But he doesn’t kill or punish the female MC when she does this…because she’s special…because she does it? It’s circular. And presumes she’s special prior to the very thing she’s being singled out as special for. Arg. I hate this so much and Lilya is seriously mouthy to people she shouldn’t mouth off to and gets away with it. What’s worse is that she’s no where near as brave with other people, so it doesn’t even fit her personality in the rest of the book. 

A positive, Salem. I loved Salem. Why didn’t we get more Salem? And why does poor Salem get so shafted? We have a heroine who will loom and yell at a king, but can’t tell a man who she longs for that she’s not disgusted by him? Three friends who will do anything for each other (including changing the whole structure of society), but neither of the other two will clear up the VERY OBVIOUS MISUNDERSTANDING to bring their best friend and love some happiness and end of distress? 

The bait and switch: It’s a reverse harem. Two of the three men are handsy as heck. They sleep together and make out, etc. But there’s not a single sex scene in the whole book (even after months having passed after marriage). It sets up an erotic plot line and then doesn’t deliver any…at all. 

For all that, I basically enjoyed it. I don’t know if I’d seek out the sequel for any reason except to see Salem finally get his happy ending. But I didn’t not enjoy it. 


Cover of House Ash & Brimstone

House of Ash & Brimstone, by Megan Starks:

I surprised myself by liking this book a lot more than I expected. (Though I do love the cover.) I expected it to be a lot more YA than it was, which was a pleasant surprise, and I think I might move heaven and Earth for Beast and Shade. Oh my, they were both wonderful in their own way. (Though I have to admit that it was Shade’s desperation I loved about him and that’s just a little cruel of me.) 

Gi-Gi was only a so-so heroine for me. I didn’t dislike like her by any stretch of the imagination, but I didn’t love her either. She seemed to make split second decisions and act on them without much thought. Some good (taking in Beast), some bad (hating Shade so extremely based on so little). 

Also, I never fully understood the motivation of her brothers. Beyond being generically evil the reason for everything they did isn’t really explored very deeply. I was especially interested in the oldest brother’s motivation. 

Lastly, I have to quibble with the cliche manner in which the only female villain (and only woman with any political cachet) is evil because she was denied a man. Anyone else ever wonder if there are no other motivation for female villains available or something? I’m so tired of always seeing this same one. 

All in all however, I liked the book and would happily pick up the next one in the series.


A Taste of Honey, by Rose Lerner:

This was wonderful and sweet. I liked how food tied into it so intricately and that it was the woman who took the initiative. I also loved that the two were so open to exploring and trying new things. However, I thought it was a stretch to go from I-couldn’t-possibly-kiss-you to pegging in less than a week. Despite that, the message of openness and willingness for those you love was one I appreciated. Not to mention Lerner just goes places that a lot of such authors don’t. All in all, a successful read for me.


Machine Metal Magic, by Hanna Dare:

I generally enjoyed this. I loved the caption’s sarcasm, Jaime’s sass, and Rylan’s ceaseless attempts to do the right thing. I did think the whole thing wrapped up a little quickly wondered if Rylan would really have been dishonorably discharged given the extenuating circumstances. Despite that I’ll be looking for book two.

 


How to Marry a Werewolf, by Gail Carriger

I adored Channing in Changeless and I was too happy to see him get his happy ending here. I appreciated seeing him meet his match; and what a match Faith is. A always, Carriger carries it all off with humor and too much tea. I can’t wait for more.

 

 


Mainly by Moonlight, by Josh Lanyon:

I mostly enjoyed this. I liked the world Lanyon created, the characters, and the mystery plot. But I never felt the spark of the romance at all. I know the author tried to address how the two could meet, fall in love, buy a (and decorate) house, and plan a wedding (including planting a special made garden) in two weeks. But I couldn’t buy it. And that wasn’t the only thing. Several other things didn’t hold together for me. There’s a pretty big reveal at one point that I simply can’t believe that Cosmo didn’t see coming, for example. For all that, if I suspended my disbelief far enough I found it a cute little read.


There you have it, reviews of the six book I read on my 2019 Thanksgiving holiday. Honestly, it’s more physical reading than I’ve done in a while. I’ve been mainly listening to audio books, which I love. But I find it was like coming home to spend some time with my Kindle.