Menagerie (Menagerie #1) by Rachel Vincent

MenagerieWhen Delilah Marlow visits a famous traveling carnival, Metzger’s Menagerie, she is an ordinary woman in a not-quite-ordinary world. But under the macabre circus black-top, she discovers a fierce, sharp-clawed creature lurking just beneath her human veneer. Captured and put on exhibition, Delilah in her black swan burlesque costume is stripped of her worldly possessions, including her own name, as she’s forced to “perform” in town after town.
But there is breathtaking beauty behind the seamy and grotesque reality of the carnival. Gallagher, her handler, is as kind as he is cryptic and strong. The other “attractions”—mermaids, minotaurs, gryphons and kelpies—are strange, yes, but they share a bond forged by the brutal realities of captivity. And as Delilah struggles for her freedom, and for her fellow menagerie, she’ll discover a strength and a purpose she never knew existed.
Renowned author Rachel Vincent weaves an intoxicating blend of carnival magic and startling humanity in this intricately woven and powerful tale.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Menagerie was scary and not in the way you might think. It’s not that the pages weren’t filled with monsters, there were plenty of those to go around. The horror came from the fact that the real monsters weren’t the mythical creatures kept captive.

To be honest, Menagerie wasn’t an easy book to read. It was intense, at times gruesome and even though it was total fiction, it held just enough truth to show what can happen if the wrong people are in charge when dealing with the unknown or misunderstood. This book held a powerful message about humanity. Sometimes those are the scariest to read, but the most important.

Beyond the message delivered, the imagery was amazing. Rachel Vincent brought this mythical creatures to life in vivid and unique ways. She made even the scariest among them beautiful in ways I never would have imagined. The alternate POVs added to the understanding of these creatures and a more intense hatred of the people who enslaved them. The fear that was created by a small group of creatures was warranted. What was wrong was labeling everyone that wasn’t ‘human’ as a threat. Can you tell that this book pushed some buttons with me? *sigh*

As intense as this book was, the only complaint that I have is that the ending was a little rushed. I was kind of surprised by the actions of some of the characters near the end and things were wrapped up just a little too ‘neatly.’ Even so, I have no doubt that since Menagerie is part of a trilogy, there is much more danger to come.

On a side note, I’m pretty sure that most readers were introduced to Rachel Vincent’s writing through her Soul Screamers series. This series promises to be just as amazing as that one, but it is definitely NOT another young adult series. It’s a dark fantasy.

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With All My Soul (Soul Screamers #7) by Rachel Vincent – Bout-of-Books 11.0 Review

WithAllMySoulWhat does it mean when your school is voted the most dangerous in America? It’s time to kick some hellion butt…

After not really surviving her junior year (does “undead” count as survival?), Kaylee Cavanaugh has vowed to take back her school from the hellions causing all the trouble. She’s going to find a way to turn the incarnations of Avarice, Envy and Vanity against one another in order to protect her friends and finish this war, once and forever.

But then she meets Wrath and understands that she’s closer to the edge than she’s ever been. And when one more person close to her is taken, Kaylee realizes she can’t save everyone she loves without risking everything she has.

I have to be honest. I really drug my feet on finishing this series. I’ve loved every single minute of my time spent with Kaylee and company. Saying goodbye to this amazing world was just part of the reason why I was dragging my feet though. The more I read, the more I knew that there was no possible way for things to end well for everyone. These characters had suffered so much loss I wasn’t sure I could endure experiencing any more of their pain and suffering. I was told by more than one reader to put my ‘big girl’ pants on and trust the author to not totally crush me. So, now that I’ve finished the Soul Screamers series, what’s the verdict? *sigh*

These characters have come a long way in a short amount of time. It seemed like years had passed from the time that Kaylee first learned exactly who and what she was. That time frame was put into perspective when Kaylee mentioned that she and Nash had only been a couple for six months. Wow… A lot happened within that year. A lot happened in With All My Soul as well. New demons were introduced, more people were put in danger, sacrifices were made along with decisions that changed everything for everyone. There were times when I wanted to wrap my arms around them all and tell them it would all be okay, even though I knew it wouldn’t be.

So, about that verdict… I can honestly say that With All My Soul falls into that ‘thumbs up’ category when it comes to series finales. Yes, there were tears. Yes, these characters faced more danger and tragedy, but there was a balance to it all. I was amazed at how well things were wrapped up in the end.

SoulScreamers4Even though I’ve read the final book, I still have a few novellas left to read. I’m kind of glad that I held off so I could read With All My Soul as part of Volume 4 in the series. The final volume also includes Fearless, Niederwald and Last Request. See, sometimes procrastination does pay off 😉

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Dangerous Creatures (Dangerous Creatures #1) by Kami Garcia & Magaret Stohl

DangerousCreaturesA new series returns to the world of Beautiful Creatures. Some loves are cursed…others are dangerous.

Ridley Duchannes will be the first to tell you that she’s a bad girl. She’s Dark. She’s a Siren. You can never trust her, or even yourself when she’s around. Lucky for her, Wesley “Link” Lincoln can never seem to remember that; quarter Incubus or not, his heart is Mortal when it comes to Ridley. When Link heads to New York City to start a music career, Ridley goes along for the ride-and she has her own reasons. As if leaving small-town Gatlin for the big city, trying to form a band, and surviving life with a partially reformed Siren isn’t hard enough already, Link soon learns he has a price on his head that no Caster or Mortal can ever pay.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Sometimes you pick up a book just because you can’t resist. That’s what happened when I requested an ARC of Dangerous Creatures. I loved the world that Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl created in the Caster Chronicles series. The Dangerous Creatures series is a spin-off of that series. I hesitated for a millisecond before I picked this one up, only because I’ve only read the first book in the previous series. I knew going in that I would inevitably run across some spoilers and that there would be times that I would be lost. Do I regret my decision to pick up Dangerous Creatures before catching up with the rest of the Caster Chronicles series? Maybe just a teeny, tiny bit, but not enough to not want to get my hands on the next book in this series as soon as it’s available. (More on that later….)

There was a lot to like about Dangerous Creatures. There were more than a few characters that were familiar and some that weren’t. Even if I hadn’t read Beautiful Creatures, I would have been fine picking up Dangerous Creatures. There’s enough back story to keep new readers in the loop. There were parts that were border line silly, but those moments didn’t last long because there were life and death moments that followed. Link and Ridley were an interesting pair to say the least. The ‘friends’ that they made in New York were even more interesting. This book had twists, turns and then came right back to where you were in the beginning. I loved every minute of it!

Ridley pretty much broke my heart in Dangerous Creatures. She took things for granted, she wasn’t perfect, but she also didn’t feel like she deserved anything beyond what she received.  She made a lot of bad decisions, but she also cared a lot more than she wanted to admit.

This is one of those books that merit a re-read. I’m sure that I’ll get a lot more out of it the next time I read it, which will probably happen after I finish the Caster Chronicles series. One thing that reading Dangerous Creatures did was make me want to go back and play catch up. If you decide to pick this one up, which I highly recommend, play close attention to the flash back scenes. They’re not just filler, they reveal more than you think…. trust me, you can thank me later.

As for the way things end? Oh, I won’t spoil that for you. All I’ll say is that it’s been a while since I read a book that ended leaving my jaw dropping as much as Dangerous Creatures did. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the way the authors left things…. Repeat after me “Authors Are Evil.”

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Before I Wake (Soul Screamers #6) by Rachel Vincent

BeforeIWakeI died on a Thursday…killed by a monster intent on stealing my soul.

The good news? He didn’t get it.

The bad news? Turns out not even death will get you out of high school…

Covering up her own murder was one thing, but faking life is much harder than Kaylee Cavanaugh expected. After weeks spent “recovering,” she’s back in school, fighting to stay visible to the human world, struggling to fit in with her friends and planning time alone with her new reaper boyfriend.

But to earn her keep in the human world, Kaylee must reclaim stolen souls, and when her first assignment brings her face-to-face with an old foe, she knows the game has changed. Her immortal status won’t keep her safe. And this time Kaylee isn’t just gambling with her own life

The closer I get to the end of this series, the more afraid for the characters I become. *bites nails*

Lots of things happened in Before I Wake. A lot of things I never saw coming and more than a few that broke my heart. Yes, there were tears. More than I expected and Kaylee had to make some agonizing choices. For all those reasons I need to apologize for the vagueness of this review. Just know that this book will make you feel… a lot…. so be prepared.

Through all the chaos, her friends and family are there to support her. The thing is that they’re also her weakness and her enemies know that and they use it to their advantage.

Regardless of how scared I am for all the characters, I’m loving this series. I trust Rachel Vincent not to totally break me before it’s over so we shall see. She came very close in Before I Wake, but I’m not going to keep that from not wasting any time picking up the next book. With All My Soul is the final book in the series and I’m reading that as part of Volume 4 along with Fearless and Last Request.

SoulScreamersVol3I read Before I Wake as part of Volume 4 in the Soul Screamers series. I’m really glad I read them that way, especially since once I was done with one book I didn’t have to wait to pick up the next one. Now I have the complete set which will make re-reads extremely convenient… and this is one series that will definitely be re-read. ❤

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Marked by Temptation (Coven Pointe) by Deanna Chase

MarkedByTemptationMati Ballintine is a sex witch looking for a hot one-night stand, and sexy Vaughn Paxton is cocky enough to make her work for it.

Obviously, there’s a lot more to this couple than the description above, but sometimes a little mystery isn’t a bad thing. I’m sure that there is a longer description out there somewhere, but… oh well.

Being a sex witch may sound like all fun and games, but it comes with a price. It’s hard to get close to someone when you know that you’re using them, regardless of how you feel about them. The women in Mati’s life don’t get tied down for that reason, but it’s getting kind of old.

Vaughn spends his time not being tied down. As a bounty hunter he can’t afford to stay in one place for long. He’s either tracking or trying not to be tracked.

When these two meet, all bets are off. Their attraction toward each other is electric and it’s not just the magic. Well, a lot of it is the magic, but that just makes things more interesting. Mati and Vaughn have their own special hurdles and secrets are uncovered that leave them both reeling. Secrets, mystery, heat, betrayal and even a little bit of mythology thrown into the mix. All things that make this a series that I’m really looking forward to continue.

Reading this book reminded me of why I enjoyed the first book (Haunted on Bourbon Street) in Deanna Chase’s Jade Calhoun series so much. Her characters are witty and smart. The women are strong, determined and talented and the males are about as Alpha as you can get. A great combination. I’m definitely going to have to go back and continue this one as well.

AlphasAfterDarkSo far I haven’t been disappointed in any of the books offered in the Alphas After Dark Anthology. It’s been my go-to between reads for the past couple of weeks and I’ve enjoyed each of them. Hot alpha males riding motorcycles…. what’s not to love? 😉 ❤

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Never to Sleep (Soul Screamers #5.5) by Rachel Vincent

NeverToSleepDon’t Close Your Eyes.

Sophie Cavanaugh is not going to let her freak of a cousin’s strange psychiatric condition ruin high school for them both. Not after all the work she’s put into cultivating the right look, and friends, and reputation. But then, Sophie sees something so frightening she lets out a blood-curdling scream–and finds herself stuck in a bizarre parallel world where nothing is safe and deadly creatures lurk just out of sight, waiting for her to close her eyes and sleep…forever.

Could this world be real? Or does insanity run in the family…?

Oh Sophie…. clueless, self-centered, selfish and more often than not, just plain mean. I was really hoping that her knowledge of the world she was oblivious to before would make her a little more likable. I suppose there’s still hope, but it didn’t happen in Never to Sleep.

SoulScreamersVol3I did like this installment in the series though and it was a great segue into the next book because it introduced a new character. It also gave us a personal glimpse into Sophie’s world. I was just really hoping that getting in Sophie’s head would give me some reason to like her. *sigh* Petty, I know, but that’s the only reason that I held back a 1/2 star in my review. LOL!

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If I Die (Soul Screamers #5) by Rachel Vincent

IfIDieThe entire school’s talking about the gorgeous new math teacher, Mr. Beck. Everyone except Kaylee Cavanaugh. After all, Kaylee’s no ordinary high-school junior. She’s a banshee—she screams when someone dies.

But the next scream might be for Kaylee.

Yeah—it’s a shock to her, too. So to distract herself, Kaylee’s going to save every girl in school. Because that hot new teacher is really an incubus who feeds on the desire of unsuspecting students. The only girls immune to his lure are Kaylee and Sabine, her boyfriend’s needy ex-girlfriend. Now the unlikely allies have to get rid of Mr. Beck…before he discovers they aren’t quite human, either.

But Kaylee’s borrowed lifeline is nearing its end. And those who care about her will do anything to save her life.

Anything.

Okay, you can tell by the description that this one was intense and emotional and… yeah. I’m not exactly sure how to review this one. So much happens and I don’t want to risk giving anything away. As much as I’d love to ramble on and on and on about how amazing this book was, this review may turn out to be shorter than I expect. *sigh*

Kaylee and Nash are starting to get back into the groove of being a couple. Their days are filled with school, friends, family, work and the normal craziness that is part of their everyday life. Then they find out that one of their teachers isn’t exactly human and Tod drops a bombshell that turns everyone’s life upside down.

Readers spend pretty much the entire book knowing that Kaylee’s living on borrowed time. They even know when, they just don’t know how. That’s not the only thing that keeps you on the edge of your seat while you’re reading If I Die though. It’s the reactions that the characters have to what’s happening. I’m not sure how I would handle the situation that Kaylee found herself in. I gained a lot of respect for her in this book, as well as some of the other characters. Of course, I lost a lot of respect for a few of them too… and not exactly the ones that I expected.

SoulScreamersVol3The events that took place in If I Die change pretty much everything. I’m going to try to hold off a little while before I pick up the next one, but it’s going to be hard. I think I can honestly say that as of this moment, this book is my favorite so far in the Soul Screamers series. It was probably one of the most emotional ones so far anyway. Those emotions weren’t all sad, but there were plenty of teary moments. I pretty much loved every single one of them. This is definitely a series that will be re-read.

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Dragos Takes a Holiday (Elder Races #6.5) Thea Harrison

DragosTakesAHolidayThe Bermuda Triangle. Pirates. The Peanut. What could possibly go wrong?

Dragos Cuelebre needs a vacation. So does Pia, his mate. When the First Family of the Wyr head to Bermuda for some much needed R&R, it’s no ordinary undertaking – and no ordinary weekend in the sun. Between hunting for ancient treasure buried beneath the waves and keeping track of their son, Liam—a.k.a. Peanut, whose Wyr abilities are manifesting far ahead of schedule—it’s a miracle that Pia and Dragos can get any time together.

They’re determined to make the most of each moment, no matter who tries to get in their way.

And did we mention pirates?

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Yes, pirates – but more importantly Pia and Dragos and Peanut. Honestly, I can’t get enough of these characters. Dragos Takes A Holiday is the perfect treat for devoted readers of this series. Not only do we get more of the intense heat that exists between Pia and Dragos, but we also get inside Liam’s (a.k.a. Peanut) head. Honestly, I’m not sure which POV I loved more.

Dragos Takes A Holiday takes the characters on a well deserved vacation. Pia baits Dragos into taking a short vacation with the possibility of a treasure hunt. Their vacation turns into more of an adventure than they expected. To add a little excitement to the trip, Liam becomes more than a handful, but he’s adorable. We get to see a side of Dragos that not many people see and I like that side. I love his devotion to his family and how he lets Pia ‘control’ him, to an extent. I love the tender side of him when he’s with Liam. I also love it when Pia tells him to go for it. You’ll understand when you read Dragos Takes A Holiday and if you’re a Mom – you’ll really understand. 😉

I also felt like Thea Harrison depicted Peanut perfectly. I loved his voice and his naiveness. He was sweet and precocious. His voice was perfect and his reaction to what was going on around him was priceless.

This may have been a short read, but it wasn’t lacking in content. It was the perfect short segue. That doesn’t mean that I can’t wait for the next book or it didn’t leave me wanting more. It just means that it was the perfect short bonus glimpse into the Elder Races world and a perfect diversion while readers anxiously await the next installment.

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Enraptured (Eternal Guardians #4) by Elisabeth Naughton

EnrapturedOrpheus–To most he’s an enigma, a devil-may-care rogue who does whatever he pleases whenever he wants. Now this loose cannon is part of the Eternal Guardians–elite warriors assigned to protect the human realm–whether he likes it or not.

Orpheus has just one goal: to rescue his brother from the Underworld. He’s not expecting a woman to get in the way. Especially not a Siren as gorgeous as Skyla. He has no idea she’s an assassin sent by Zeus to seduce, entrap, and ultimately destroy him.

Yet Skyla herself might have the most to lose. There’s a reason Orpheus feels so familiar to her, a reason her body seems to crave him. Perhaps he’s not the man everyone thinks… The truth could reveal a deadly secret as old as the Eternal Guardians themselves. 

Orpheus… the totally misunderstood, reluctant hero. He’s been kind of a mystery since the beginning of this series. He liked it that way. The less people knew about him and the farther away he stayed from people the better. He only let a few people close… a very select few.

I really liked the way that the ‘real’ Orpheus has been slowly revealed in this series. He’s always played an important role, but it was always on the side lines… almost in the shadows. He was a snarky rebel who prided himself in not playing by the rules. He got under everyone’s skin (and something tells me that isn’t going to change) but he also proved his loyalty to the other Argonauts over and over again.

Skyla was the perfect match for Orpheus – in more ways than one. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just leave it at that. Just know that nothing is as it seems, even if the characters think they have everything figured out.

A lot happened in this book. New characters were introduced. Some mysteries were solved and the surface was just scratched with others. Atalanta was still at the center of the mayhem and the other Gods were throwing their collective weight around as well. Never a dull moment, that’s for sure.

As with the other books in the Eternal Guardians series, there were plenty of heat, lots of action and more than a couple of heart breaking moments. More than I expected from Orpheus’ book but it was so worth it. I can’t wait to start the next book in the series and lucky for my I have Enslaved ready and waiting on my shelf.

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Reaper (Soul Screamers #3.5) by Rachel Vincent

ReaperTod Hudson was a typical teenager. He liked girls, sports, food and tolerated his younger brother, Nash. In fact, he had his whole life in front of him–and due to his bean sidhe heritage, it was going to be a very long life indeed. And then the car accident occurred.

Suddenly Tod’s future wasn’t so sure, and he had to make a choice. Life… Death… or something Between….

Oh Tod… I loved him before I read Reaper, but now… *sigh* I knew there was more to him than the sarcastic, snarky and sometimes annoying Reaper. This short little glimpse into Tod’s past totally confirmed it.

I loved not only spending quality time with Tod, but also seeing Tod and Nash together before Tod’s death. They had a typical brother relationship. Nash was almost a bratty younger brother – at least in Tod’s eyes. The events that took place in Reaper put a lot of things in perspective as far as the dynamics between the characters in the series go. There were also a few things revealed that made me want to go back and re-read some of the earlier books to see if there was anything in them that I missed the first time. (FYI- that’s one of my favorite things about re-reads – you always miss something. 😉 )

Reaper was a great addition to the series and it just made me want to get to know Tod even better. This book is numbered 3.5 in the series, but when you read it as part of Volume 2 it falls after My Soul to Steal (Book 4) and that’s the order I read it. I don’t suppose it matters, but a character that isn’t introduced in the series until My Soul to Steal is mentioned in Reaper. I think I liked this order better, but it’s up to you.

SoulScreamersVol2I read Reaper as part of Soul Screamers Volume 2. Having the 3rd and 4th books along with Tod’s novella all in one place is a great way to read these books. The next book is If I Die. I have it in Volume 3 so I don’t have to wait… although, I’m still a little scared to continue. It’s sure to be as emotionally packed, if not more so than the previous books.

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