Kill Game (Dana McIntyre Must Die #2) by S.M. Reine

Someone’s importing illegal metals into Las Vegas. Iron, to be specific: the only substance that can instantly kill one of the deadly sidhe. But there are no sidhe in Las Vegas. Not anymore. Dana McIntyre killed the last of them two weeks earlier.
Importing the iron seems to be a matter of life and death, though. Mostly death. People are being slaughtered over these imports, and Dana can’t figure out why. It’s a puzzle that must be solved quickly and quietly. If the Office of Preternatural Affairs realizes how destabilized Las Vegas has become, they’ll shut down vampire hunters like Dana.
She has no choice but to partner with Nissa Royal, the right hand of the city’s master vampire, to hunt down the iron’s buyer. Nissa’s interested in a lot more than a functional partnership from Dana, though. She won’t settle for anything less than Dana’s soul…

Did that just happen? Well, of course it did… this is a SM Reine book after all – so why am I so surprised???

If you’ve been following my reviews of Dana McIntyer Must Die, you know that I wasn’t originally a fan of Dana. This isn’t the first character that SM Reine has made me like who I originally didn’t, but I can honestly say that it’s the most surprising. She’s obviously growing on me. That’s just one of the things in this series that I didn’t see coming.

For the record, I also had no intention, after reading Drawing Dead, to have any sympathetic feelings at all toward Nissa. I have to admit, I came close, but for the most part, I was internally screaming at Dana not to let her guard down. Just like Anthony and Lincoln and Brianna. There are times that I wish I could jump into a book and prevent the inevitable – even if I have no clue exactly what the inevitable is.

So, a lot happened in Kill Game. More layers of Nissa were revealed. The schemes of the Las Vegas Vampires became even more complicated. Dana and Penny… so yeah, there was heartbreak, danger, mystery and… there’s not much more I can say without giving too much away.

One of the things I’ve always loved about any of the series in this crazy world created by SM Reine is the interaction between the characters. They’re witty, smart and have a LOT of personality. That’s not lacking in Dana McIntyer Must Die. I’m kinda falling in love with the banter between Dana, Brianna and Anthony. I also totally didn’t see that coming either. When Lincoln and Penny are thrown into the mix, it gets even better. (FYI – Lincoln is one of the only characters in this mix that I actually liked going into the series. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I want MORE of Lincoln’s story since Genesis. 😉 )

Again, even though this series can be read as a standalone, I still don’t recommend it. Since I’ve been reading this series since Seasons of the Moon was relatively new, I guess you could consider me just a little partial. It also means that I know what you’ll be missing if you skip the background that the rest of the series is built on.

The next book in the series is Cashing Out and after the finale of Kill Game, trust me, it can’t come soon enough.

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Bitter Thirst (Preternatural Affairs #8) by S.M. Reine

Things are changing in the secret government organization known as the Office of Preternatural Affairs. There are whispers of plans to go public. Special Agent Cèsar Hawke fears a thread of poison in the OPA–a poison seeded by a cult called the Apple. They’ve already hurt friends, blown cases that should have gone smoothly, and even destroyed cities. If Cèsar can’t excise the corruption before the OPA blows itself open, then the poison may spread to all of the government–and maybe the entire world.

Well… I never saw that one coming. Another ‘how in the heck am I gonna review this’ masterpiece. *sigh*

Things got crazy… people who have been absent suddenly showed up… the good guys and the bad guys switched places regularly… something that I’ve been waiting to happen since this series began finally did and then… You get the picture, right? Just another crazy tour through the multi-level/series world created by S.M. Reine.

I’ve always known how interwoven this world is, but for some reason it hit me hard in Bitter Thirst. The timeline between all these series goes back and forth so much, I’m amazed that Reine can keep it straight. As it is, I know I’ll have to do a re-read to get the full scope of what’s happening when, and to who not to mention by who… I know, it sounds confusing, but it’s really not. There are just a lot of ‘oh yeah’ and déjà vu moments thrown into the mix. Those are the moments that you feel the need to back track to the point that other characters experienced the same moments in time.

The thing is, I have my favorite characters in this world and somehow their perspective is always going to win out. Cèsar just happens to be one of those characters. What I didn’t expect was where he ended up and the alliances he chose by the end of Bitter Thirst. I gotta trust him though because he’s Cèsar, right? I should have learned by now that when it comes to this author, it’s best to expect the unexpected… 😉

 

Twisted Luck by Mia Downing

When I told him to go to hell, I never realized it would be a trip for two.
All I wanted was luck—the good kind. I’d lost my job, a jerk hacked my bank account, and I caught my best friend screwing my fiancé. When stood up by my Internet date in a bar, I met the perfect man—tall, dark, and handsome in the most expensive suit. He was out of my league, but I didn’t want forever.
I barely remember the words he whispered under the veil of sin and seduction. I didn’t believe in Satan, God, Heaven or Hell. I thought he was kidding. A figment. A dream.
I was wrong. With one, breathless yes, my fate was sealed.
Businessman by day, demon by night, Leo Weston now owns my soul in exchange for good luck. Time is ticking as he works to secure my mother’s soul, too. Somehow, I have to take him down despite him being so damned gorgeous, glib, and devious. Will my gift of twisted luck be enough to save her and protect my heart?

Well, this was a fun one with an interesting twist. 😉 It’s also my first Mia Downing read, but I can pretty much guarantee that it won’t be my last.

Poor Olivia. It was hard not to sympathize with her from the beginning of Twisted Luck. It was also easy to see how Olivia could fall for Leo’s charm, even without magic on his side.

As smooth and charming as Leo was, Olivia had luck on her side and a determination to protect her mom. She just had to figure out exactly how to use her luck to get back her soul and keep her mom from loosing hers.

Leo had no idea what he was in for when he tricked Olivia out of her soul. Between her and the affect her crazy luck was having on him and the pressure he was getting from his “father,” Leo had his hands full.

The smexiness in Twisted Luck was pretty hot from the start, but the more time that Olivia and Leo spent together, the more emotionally connected they became. It was kind of fun to watch Leo try to function without magic, courtesy of Olivia’s luck.

Twisted Luck had fun, witty & smart characters. Plenty of tension, heat and humor. A not so evil demon and a human that wasn’t willing to give up her morals along with her soul. This one had pretty much everything I like about a good romance. Oh, and if I was the type of reader who judged a book by its cover, this one would have most definitely won me over. 😉

Cast in Godfire (The Mage Craft #5) by S.M. Reine

castingodfireThe gods are rallying to take down Marion, their ally and voice in the mortal worlds. She’s gotten her memories back to disastrous results. She’s destroying the faerie courts, and the rest of the universe is next. The other deities want Seth—also known as the God of Death—to stop Marion before she breaks something that can’t be fixed.
Unfortunately, when Marion looks at Seth with those eyes and insists that she’s not doing anything wrong, he wants to believe her. Marion claims she isn’t trying to rewrite history. She’s protecting it.
Seth wants to trust Marion. It’s only the universe that’s at stake, after all. And some women are worth shattering worlds over…

Reading the last book in a series is always bittersweet. The Mage Craft series is no exception, not by a long shot. I couldn’t be happier with the way things worked out FINALLY for Seth, but as they say, it’s not always the destination, but the journey and S.M. Reine didn’t skimp on Seth and Marion’s journey at all…

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Okay, so if you’ve read all the other books in this series and you’re getting ready to start Cast in Godfire, you need to know something going in… pay attention! It’s true that a lot has happened so far, but you’ve got no idea… trust me.

I don’t want to give anything away, but things got a little crazy. It was made even more crazy by the fact that S.M. Reine has a knack of making you doubt your loyalty to some characters while making you fall in love with characters that you never expected to, depending on whose head she allows you in at the time. Of course, there are some characters that she’ll never make me turn my back on, no matter how hard she tries. Trust me, she’s tried really, really hard. I’m loyal like that 😉

She’s also really good at making you laugh and cry… One of my favorite lines in Cast in Godfire? “…you crazy colostomy bag of a half-angel!”  There were more, but this one was hard to forget.And of course, less than a page later she had me shedding tears. One of the many, many reasons the author has me ALWAYS coming back.

So, long story short, there’s a lot that happens in Cast in Godfire and Marion and Seth’s story comes to a satisfying end… kind of. However, this crazy world that S.M. Reine has drawn us into is far from over. I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen the last of Seth and Marion. They may not be front and center, but they’ll still be around. There were also just a few loose ends at the end of their story that I’m kind of anxious for her to resolve. (Mild understatement.)

Once again, if you haven’t introduced yourself to this crazy universe, you really need to fix that. You can pretty much start anywhere because all of her series are written to be stand alone. But… they’re all intertwined… check out her timeline. You’re welcome 😉

DragonFlyRating5

Diary of the Damned: A Sequel to the Haunting Season

diaryofthedamned“Allison said that, in time, he’d come for you. For what it’s worth, Evy, I believe her.” 
Evy Breen has worked hard to forget her past. She’s changed her appearance and moved from her hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky, to Knoxville, Tennessee, where she does her best to fit in. 
Evy’s past catches up with her when she finds a package on her apartment doorstep. The package has no postmark, no return address. Inside is a note… and the diary of Evy’s missing best friend, Allison. 
The diary contains everything about their friendship, the bullying they endured, and Allison’s confinement at a psychiatric hospital for schizophrenia. Except Allison wasn’t schizophrenic. Allison was suffering from demonic possession. 
According to the note, that same demon now has its sights set on Evy. The mysterious sender claims that, despite sliding into madness and depression, Allison inserted clues into her diary that might save Evy’s life. 
As Evy reads her friend’s diary, she discovers secrets that Allison kept from her—the incidents surrounding the gruesome death of a former classmate and the truth behind a government agency more interested in embracing a demon than in exorcising it. 
If Evy is to survive, she must return home. There, she must confront a life she prefers to forget and fight off an ancient and powerful demon set on revenge—if only she can decipher the clues her friend left behind.

Way back in 2011… wait, that can’t be right… only 5 1/2 years? So yeah, the time frame doesn’t really matter, what does matter is that in 2011 I was introduced to the writing of Michelle Muto by winning a little book titled, The Book of Lost Souls. I’m still waiting for Ivy and gang to make a reappearance, but until then, I’ve managed to read everything else this author has written. Which by the way, covers a fairly wide range. It all started with witches, warlocks, werewolves, vampires and more wrapped up in a sweet young adult read with a touch of evil and danger and a few surprises in between (The Book of Lost Souls). Heartbreak, tough issues including teen suicide that ends in a surprising ray of hope (Don’t Fear the Reaper). Then there were Gargoyles in Of Shadow and Stone. There was also an anthology thrown into the mix that ended in a tear jerker that I still haven’t quite forgiven the author for (Nature’s Fifth Season). Which leads us to the horror of The Haunting Season. If you’re reading this review and you haven’t read The Haunting Season, don’t read Diary of the Damned until you do. That sage warning is mostly because a lot of what happens in Diary of the Damned won’t make sense unless you’ve read The Haunting Season first. So, now that I’ve gotten all that out of the way…

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Diary of the Damned. I mean, I knew it would be scary. That was a given. It is, after all, a sequel to one of the scariest books I’ve read in a while. (FYI- I like reading an occasional horror story, but it is most definitely NOT my go-to genre. In other words, I’m a wimp.) What I should have expected, but still took me totally off guard, was the emotion. There are parts of this book that broke my heart for both Evy and Allison. This book made me forget how much I really disliked Allison through much of The Haunting Season. (Again, you really have to read that book first to really get it. – Trust me.)

There were characters in this book that I wanted to hug and comfort, but there were just as many that I wanted to scream at in defense of the characters that I wanted to hug. Yeah, did I mention that there were emotions? Lots and lots of emotions. There were some crazy teenage bullies, but honestly, I wasn’t much more impressed with the adults that should have been there for these kids. As usual, the author slipped in some important life lessons within the scary pages. On a side note, there were a lot of characters in The Haunting Season that the author could have chosen to tell their story. Allison wasn’t the main character, but she was an integral one. Her story was important and I’m really glad that readers were treated to not only her diary but introducing them to someone who really cared about her.

In a nutshell, pick up The Haunting Season if you haven’t. If you have, Diary of the Damned should be next on your reading list. It’s not quite as scary as The Haunting Season, but I still only read it during the day.

DragonFlyRating5

Cast in Balefire (Mage Craft #4) by S.M. Reine

castinbalefireHalf-angel mage Marion Garin has become Queen of the Unseelie, but she can’t hold the faerie courts without convincing everyone she’s in love with her cheating, abusive husband—the beloved King ErlKonig. Rumor says Marion’s in love with the God of Death. The unseelie are revolting. And it wouldn’t be so hard to fix if the rumors weren’t true…

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Wow… we’re almost there. One more book to go… All I’ve gotta say is it’s a good thing that Ms. Reine writes fast and how in the heck am I supposed to review this without giving something away? The answer is that I shall ramble… as usual.

A lot happens in Cast in Balefire. That’s not an exaggeration. There is also a lot of deception. No one is being totally honest and that trend continues right up until the very end. As for the end… we’ll get to that later.

Cast in Balefire takes up pretty much where Cast in Faefire left off. Marion is married to Konig with some very defined stipulations. The Unseelie are still reeling after the death of Konig’s mother. They are totally loyal and devoted to Konig and they expect their new queen to feel the same… only Fae magic proves to them that that may not be the case. It doesn’t take much to set the Fae off and because of their lack of trust where Marion is concerned, she ends up on more than one hit list. To make things even worse, Konig proves once again what a pompous… well, you get the picture. There’s definitely no love lost between this reader and the current King of the Unseelie.

As if Marion doesn’t have enough to contend with, her mother proves once again that she has a single minded agenda and caring for Marion’s welfare isn’t anywhere near the top of her list of priorities. There was a lot revealed in Cast in Balefire, but there are still a lot of things that need to be cleared up… Marion and Seth aren’t the only people whose future hangs in the balance by the end of this book… but I can’t really talk about that in this review, because, you know… the #evilauthor threw so many twists, turns and craziness into Cast in Balefire that I don’t want to risk giving anything away. Let’s just say that my jaw dropped more than once and leave it at that.

I know that S.M. Reine has said that you can read any of her series as stand alone, but I personally don’t recommend it. There’s a lot of back story that goes into these books. I’m not saying that you have to read all of the books prior to the Mage Craft series, but I’d recommend having at least read the Ascension series first. You won’t be lost if you don’t, but it will give you the background that you need for quite a few of the characters that you’ll meet in this series. Of course if you want the full affect, especially when it comes to Seth and Rylie’s history, you need to start at the beginning with Six Moon Summer. I’m a little biased though and if you’ve read any of my other S.M. Reine reviews you’ve probably heard this before so…

As for the ending? Yeah… did I mention that S.M. Reine is evil? Well, she is. In a brilliant sort of way, but evil none the less. I never saw it coming and I still have no idea how she’s planning on turning things around, but I trust her… sort of. *sigh* Needless to say, Cast in Godfire can’t come soon enough.

DragonFlyRating5

 

 

 

Lullaby (Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #7) by J.L. Bryan

LullabyLife is more difficult than ever at Savannah’s only ghost-hunting detective agency. While Ellie copes with her mentor’s departure and other unwelcome developments, she also worries about the supernatural injuries keeping her boyfriend caught in an endless slumber. 
At the same time, Ellie and Stacey are called in to investigate an eerie entity haunting a baby’s nursery room. The ghost appears late at night, its face barely visible on the baby monitor, and sings a chilling song. 
Soon, Ellie learns there are more ghosts in the house, and at least one of them is a dangerous, child-hunting monster who must be stopped before it kills again.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1My list of authors that I currently have a love/hate relationship with is steadily growing. J.L. Bryan holds a fairly comfortable place on this list because Lullaby is far from the first book that bestowed him that honor. He’s getting really good at leaving readers hanging at the end of books in the Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper series and even though I’m not giving the author a compliment, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to take it that way.

Lullaby began pretty much where Maze of Souls left off and as much as I hoped things would get better, I should have known better. Not only was Michael still in a coma, but his sister was blaming Ellie for his condition. The heartbreaking part was that Ellie wasn’t arguing with her. The fact that she felt betrayed by Calvin for selling the business to PSI just added to her depression. Things were definitely not changing for the better. If not for her obsession with Anton Clay, Ellie may have given up on the company all together.

The ghost that Ellie and Stacey were assigned to take care of in Lullaby was scary and dangerous, but an even bigger threat turned out to be a lot closer to home. Turns out Kara was a lot more evil and manipulative than they could have imagined. Working with the PSI crew is not going to be easy and Ellie and her friends are going to have to watch their backs.

As low as things were for Ellie, readers were given a bit of hope by the end… almost. In true J.L. Bryan fashion he had me turning the page to see what happened next and the story was over. Finished. Done. There’s definitely more to come so I’ll just sit here and wait patiently for the next installment. (Yeah, right.) *runs off to stalk evil author*

DragonFlyRating5

Fangs & Lullabies (The Demons Age #1) by Kallysten

FangsAndLullabiesA child’s birth. His first teeth and first steps. School friends and bullies, recess, school plays and science projects. A girl, a crush and a broken heart. These childhood experiences are shared by countless little boys from different horizons.
And yet… Jacob is anything but average. For as long as he has been able to understand, a secret has shaped his life, kept even from his closest friends: his father, Andrew, is a vampire. And so is his other father, Nicholas.
In a strange era when demons are beginning to appear all over the world and threaten humans and vampires alike, the three of them form quite an extraordinary family. And yet, at the same time, they could hardly be more normal.
Two fathers raising a son neither of them ever thought he would have. A Sire and Childe resuming their relationship after years of estrangement. Through snapshots covering Jacob’s life from birth to adulthood, discover this unusual family, and how, in the end, all it takes is love.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Fangs & Lullabies is only the second book that I’ve read by Kallysten. The first was Baby Steps and I can honestly say that I loved them both.

This story began with heartbreak. In the world that Kallysten has created for her vampires, they can’t conceive a child. Jacob’s mother found a way through science and magic, but she didn’t survive his birth long enough to even hold her son. And yes, that’s where the story opens. Andrew is obviously devastated, but he’s determined to love and protect his son from that moment forward.

Nicholas comes back into Andrew’s life soon after Jacob’s birth. Together with Jacob they form a family like no other. I loved the snapshots from year to year as Jacob grows. For me they got even more interesting when Jacob’s POV came into play. The author did a great job of capturing Jacob’s personality even from a very young age, and anyone who has read any of my reviews knows how I love it when that happens.

As the description states, this is a book of ‘snapshots’ that give readers a glimpse into a unique, yet normal family. They have their secrets and things aren’t perfect, but together Andrew and Nicholas managed to raise an amazing young man. There’s a lot more to their story and I can’t wait to get to know them better in the next installment, Demons & Lullabies.

DragonFlyRating4

Cast in Faefire (The Mage Craft #3) by S.M. Reine

CastInFaefireMarion has agreed to something personally painful to further her political goals. But her sacrifice isn’t enough to make it go smoothly. Between Konig’s betrayal and a gaean revolt, Marion will be lucky to escape with her life intact, much less save the ethereal species from extermination.

I feel like this review should be prefaced by a warning. Something like “Read at Your Own Risk” or “Be Prepared to Walk Away Totally Confused.” Not by the book. The book was amazing. I’m referring to my lack of ability to convey how amazing books that I love are and how crazy talented the authors who pen them are.  I guess if you’ve been here before, you already know that so consider yourself warned.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1So, here’s a contradiction for you. As much as I love S.M. Reine’s books, she’s driving me nuts with these newer series in her ‘Descentverse’. That uneasiness first happened for me with War of the Alphas. My history with Reine’s books started with the Seasons of the Moon series. Seth and Rylie were the foundation of my love for this crazy, intricate world. Sure, there were moments where they both aggravated me just a little. Neither one of them were angels (not a great comparison given the true nature of angels in Reine’s world – but you get the picture.) The point is that I was right there with them through all the good and the bad and I respected who they became. Deirdre Tombs blew into this world in War of the Alphas with an entirely different perspective. A perspective that had me at odds with the heroine in the series because of her hate for Rylie.

So, what does my little vent about War of the Alphas and my love for Seth and Rylie have to do with the Mage Craft series and more importantly, Cast in Faefire? I’m getting there, just remember that warning I gave you. 😉 S.M. Reine found a whole new way to gain an alternate perspective in Mage Craft. She took a character that was familiar (at least to most readers) and took away her memories. That made her free to not see Rylie as the mother figure she grew up with, but as the woman who broke Seth. Not only that, but Marion stumbled on some revelations that added fuel to her growing distrust of Rylie in Cast in Faefire. Granted, those revelations were most likely taken totally out of context, but Rylie still has some serious explaining to do. This series is also stirring up those initial pangs that occurred when Rylie first left Seth for Abel. To say that Cast in Faefire was an emotional roller coaster would be a huge understatement.

Beyond the fact that I wanted to defend Rylie, sympathize with Seth and help Marion make sense of everything, there was a lot more going on in Cast in Faefire. Seems that everyone had something to hide and some were better at it than others. Sacrifices were made by more than one character. New enemies were discovered and more than one strange alliance was made. You know, just a normal day in the life of Reine’s characters.

Oh, and did I mention the cliff hanger and events that happened just before said cliff hanger? And the fact that I didn’t think I could loathe Konig more than I did at the end of Cast in Hellfire, but that happened too? I kind of liked catching up with characters from previous series, but they, more often than not, added to the drama. Oh, that reminds me of the conspicuous absence of some key characters who really need to make an appearance. There are at least two more books in this series and after all that’s happened and needs to happen I’m not sure that it can all be ‘fixed’ in Cast in Balefire and Cast in Godfire. I’m not going to complain if it takes more books though… there can never be too many books in the Descentverse. Okay, I’ll stop before I have to remind you of that warning again.

Once again, I’m going to urge you to pick up at least one of S.M. Reine’s series. Notice I didn’t say ‘books’ – because I honestly believe that if you pick up one, you’re going to want to read more. Also, the author will tell you, as well as a few devoted readers, that you can read any of the series as stand alones. Which, I suppose, is true. Just in case you find yourself wanting to embrace yourself in all aspects of Reine’s Descentverse, you can find the suggested reading order at smreine.com.

DragonFlyRating5

Z (Demonica #11.7) by Larissa Ione – Bout-of-Books 16 Review

Z - DemonicaZhubaal, fallen angel assistant to the Grim Reaper, has spent decades searching for the angel he loved and lost nearly a century ago. Not even her death can keep him from trying to find her, not when he knows she’s been given a second chance at life in a new body. But as time passes, he’s losing hope, and he wonders how much longer he can hold to the oath he swore to her so long ago…
As an emim, the wingless offspring of two fallen angels, Vex has always felt like a second-class citizen. But if she manages to secure a deal with the Grim Reaper — by any means necessary — she will have earned her place in the world. The only obstacle in the way of her plan is a sexy hardass called Z, who seems determined to thwart her at every turn. Soon it becomes clear that they have a powerful connection rooted in the past…but can any vow stand the test of time?

I obviously have some catching up to do. Which probably comes as no surprise since I just finished Sin Undone a couple of weeks ago. *sigh* I haven’t read many of the novellas in this world, but reading Z proved that that needs to be rectified sooner rather than later.

I really liked this one… Zhubaal and Vex’s relationship had more than a few minor complications. (Yes, that’s putting it mildly.) I have to admit, I figured out what was going on way before they did, but that’s okay, because there was more than one big reveal in Z. 😉

Speaking of which, I loved the cameos and mentions of previous characters. It was nice checking in on them. The neat little twist at the end was priceless and made me smile just thinking about how that might play out. Meanwhile, I have some serious back-reading to do. *runs off to search for more Demonica/Lords of Deliverance extras*

DragonFlyRating5