Single Malt Murder (Whisky Business Mystery #1) by Melinda Mullet

Abigail Logan never expected to inherit a whisky distillery in the Scottish Highlands. But in the first novel of an engaging new series blending fine spirits with chilling mystery, Abi finds that there are secrets lurking in the misty glens that some will go to any lengths to protect . . . even murder.
When Abi inherits her uncle’s quaint and storied single malt distillery, she finds herself immersed in a competitive high-stakes business that elicits deep passions and prejudices. An award-winning photojournalist, Abi has no trouble capturing the perfect shot—but making the perfect shot is another matter.When she starts to receive disturbing, anonymous threats, it’s clear that someone wants her out of the picture. But Abi’s never been one to back down from a fight.
Arriving on the scene with her whisky-loving best friend, Patrick, and an oversized wheaten terrier named Liam, Abi seems to put everyone in the bucolic village on edge—especially her dour but disturbingly attractive head distiller. Acts of sabotage and increasingly personal threats against Abi make it clear that she is not welcome. When one of Abi’s new employees is found floating facedown in a vat of whisky, Abi is determined to use her skills as an investigative journalist to identify the cold-blooded killer and dispense a dram of justice before he strikes again. But distilling truth from lies is tricky, especially when everyone seems to have something to hide.

So, I’ve felt like I’ve been in a rut with my reading lately – especially with my review requests. Not that I needed to add anything to my TBR shelf, but I do like variety 😉 That’s how I stumbled upon Single Malt Murder and I am so glad that I did. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Abi, Liam, her best friend Patrick and the close knit group of people in the community her Uncle Ben had called home.

There was so much to love about Single Malt Murder, that I’m not sure where to start. I obviously loved the characters. The writing was great and the dialogue between the characters flowed nicely (clipped, unnatural conversations between characters drive me nuts!) The mystery had me trying to figure out ‘who-done-it’ almost to the very end. I had my suspicions, but just like Abi, I talked myself out of most of them. There was a hint of romance, which in this story, was just enough. There was an elderly character that was spry, witty and respected by pretty much everyone and her common sense observations were helpful to Abi. Liam was a great addition to the story and a true champion (I love it when a dog is as much of a supporting character as the humans they interact with.) What’s not to love about this perfect combination?

Of course, there was a lot more to Single Malt Murder, but I don’t want to give anything away. There were parts of the story and the way the author handled them that were refreshing. Needless to say, I can’t wait until Death Distilled, the second book in Ms. Mullet’s Whisky Business Mystery is released.

On a side note, have you ever had someone bring something to your attention and not be able to get it out of your head? I got so engrossed in Single Malt Murder that I didn’t even give the spelling of Whisky a second thought… until I noticed that one reviewer said that it bugged her. That’s all it took for me to do a little research. Turns out there’s a reason for it and Straight Up Cocktails and Spirits does a wonderful job of explaining it in their 2009 post – Whiskey vs. Whisky: What’s the Difference?. I love learning new things, don’t you?

 

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Phoenix (Bellator Saga #4) by Cecilia London

PhoenixOne epic love. Two wounded souls. Three impossible words.
Ripped away from each other by circumstances beyond their control. Reunited in a place they never expected. Separated but never quite apart.
“You’re still the only woman I see. The only woman I need. I know you’re in there somewhere, sweet Caroline. We’re going to find you and we’re going to help you, until you come home to me where you belong. Then we’re going to finish what we started. Together.”
Her confidence shattered, Caroline finally starts to deal with what happened at The Fed. Jack is determined to convince her that she’s more than she thinks she is. That she wasn’t destroyed by her experiences. That their relationship is worth the fight. But will he give up before it’s too late?
Phoenix is the fourth installment in The Bellator Saga. It should be read after the first three novels in the series.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1So yeah, I’m the queen of procrastination, especially when it comes to writing reviews on books I love. It gets worse when I finish a book that I not only loved, but also on books that completely break me… when that same book ends in a cliff hanger that seriously wants me to throw my kindle across the room? Let’s just say I need some serious recovery time. I suppose enough time has passed, so here goes nothing…

Phoenix is the 4th book in the Bellator Saga and the 1st book in the 2nd trilogy. Confused? Put simply, the Bellator Saga is divided into 6 books. The 1st 3  books are Dissident, Conscience and Sojourn. They deal with Caroline’s time with the Fed and her rescue – plus a LOT of background info. The next 3 books, Phoenix, Rhapsody and Triumph make up the 2nd part of the trilogy. Phoenix takes up where Sojourn left off. Now would probably be a good time to reiterate that if you haven’t read the previous books in the Bellator Saga, don’t start here… and don’t read any further. The rest of this review will contain spoilers so consider yourselves warned.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

Just a heads up, if you read Sojourn and assume that because Caroline and Jack are finally reunited… yeah, don’t even go there. Both of them are totally broken. They’ve lived months knowing that the other didn’t survive and, well, the Caroline that Jack knew before the Fed just isn’t there anymore. That doesn’t stop him from trying to find her though.

I can honestly say that this is the first book in the saga that I’ve been truly mad at Caroline. She was borderline cruel to Jack. At first I understood, but the longer she pushed him away the more frustrated with her I became. Being in Jack’s head for a good portion of Phoenix helped with that. His love never wavered and he needed her, but she continually pushed him away.

On the flip side, being in Caroline’s head was painful. She knew what she was doing, she knew she was hurting  him and others around her, but she found ways to justify it. The thing is that it was hard to stay mad at her. Mostly because she wavered and when she did there was a spark of hope and then… yeah… this was not an easy book to read from an emotional standpoint.

Phoenix also kept up with the back story that the rest of the books have had. I really like that aspect, even more than I thought I would. Seeing into Caroline and Jack’s past helped clue readers into what they were both fighting for – both personally and on a much larger scale. Speaking of which, as political dramas go, the Bellator Saga is pretty scary. That’s mainly because truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction and as crazy as things are in this series it wouldn’t take much for some of it to happen and even some of it is not anything that I want to experience… ever. *shivers*

And did I mention that Phoenix ended in a cliff hanger? “Trust the Process” the #evilauthor says “You’ll forgive me in the end” she assumes. I’d hazard a guess that Rhapsody won’t fix everything, but I’m really hoping that Jack and Caroline get just a little bit closer to resolving some serious issues before the saga is over.

DragonFlyRating5

 

Allied in Flight (Through the Veil #2) by Christi Snow

AlliedInFlightA rescue gone wrong.
It was supposed to be simple. Four members from the Western States planned to sneak into the Eastern States to free four condemned Others. But when they arrived at the experimental labs where the Others were being held, it was under attack from Rebel forces.
Griff Hughes had one job…
He had to find Shar, a wounded hawk shifter. But in the ensuing chaos, he became a captive instead of a rescuer. Three days later he awakens in his own cage, alone. But during the nights, he’s not alone. An alluring redhead with a siren’s call visits his dreams, and his resistance is breaking down.
Shar McIntire is just trying to survive.
After three years in captivity, Shar has one goal…keep her and her sister alive. To do so means cooperating with the evil doctors who want her to seduce and manipulate Griff. She likes and is drawn to the man with the strange chocolate wings, but she can’t let that attraction distract her. Her sister’s fate is in her hands.
In the last eighteen years, life hasn’t been easy for anyone.
The WS and the ES have been separate entities, but once the Veil was crossed, things began to evolve. It’s a new world, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to get any easier anytime soon.

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1In hind sight, I probably should have re-read the first book in this series, Through the Veil, before I started Allied in Flight. Especially since it had been over a year since I read it. I still might go back and read the first book, but Christi Snow did a really good job of giving just enough hints, without totally retelling the previous story, that I caught up to speed in no time. 😉

From the very first chapter, there wasn’t a lot of down time in Allied in Flight. Griff was a loner. He had no idea signing onto this rescue mission would change his perspective on so many levels. Regardless, love wasn’t something he was looking for and definitely not something he wanted.  Shar had known nothing but captivity for the past 3 years, so trust didn’t come easy. Until she knew her sister was safe, nothing else mattered. Fate had very different plans for both Shar and Griff.

Obviously I loved Griff and Shar’s story, but I also loved the twists and turns that made up the story, which included quite a few supporting characters. Some were new and some were introduced previously. Some were pure evil and some I still haven’t figured out yet. But that’s okay, because it means that there is much more to come. I love this unique world that the author has created and can’t wait to see what happens next.

I have to say that things wrapped up a little too quickly at the end, but that’s probably just me wanting more. It’s a common occurrence in stories I love and it happens frequently when I read this author’s stories. I also have to admit that as much as I loved Griff and Shar’s story, I was more than a little excited to learn that a couple of my favorite characters will be getting their own story. Sorry, I can’t tell you which ones, but you’ll know by the end of Allied in Flight who I’m talking about 😉 I kinda had a soft spot for them from the moment they were introduced.

So… if you like unique fantasy world building with some heated romance and interesting characters, crazy twists, a world view that makes you think, and more than a few mysteries, Through the Veil should definitely be added to your TBR list 😉

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The Lying Season (Experiment in Terror #4) by Karina Halle

LyingSeasonAmateur ghost-hunter Perry Palomino has battled ghosts, fought off skinwalkers and skirted the fine line between life and death. But can she survive bunking down in Seattle for a week with her partner (and man she secretly loves) Dex and his perfect girlfriend, Jennifer? And can she do so while being tormented by a malicious spirit from Dex’s increasingly shady past? With love and life in the balance, Perry must discover the truth among the lies or risk losing everything she’s ever cared about.

I spent a lot of time in Lying Season not quite sure how I felt about Perry. For the record, that’s nothing new when it comes to this series. It’s not that I don’t like her, it’s more like I don’t really understand her. She does some really sketching things in Lying Season… but they’re for the right reasons… kinda, Dex, on the other hand… I gained a whole new insight on him. He kind of broke my heart just a little bit.

Lying Season dealt a lot more with Perry and Dex than actually delving into a spooky mystery. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t some spine chilling moments… like gaining a whole new respect for wasps. *shivers* Readers were also ‘treated’ to experiencing Dex and Jennifer together… (can you hear the sarcasm from there?) Jennifer was, well… you’ll have to ‘meet’ her to totally understand. Let’s just say that regardless of how I felt about Perry and Dex’s little tryst in Dead Sky Morning, by the end of Lying Season I was all for Perry and Dex being together. (For the record, that little tryst didn’t bother me so much as it gave me hope.) Even though they seem to try to sabotage that happening every single time. *sigh*

As much was revealed in Lying Season as new mysteries were brought up. Readers learned a little bit more about Dex’s past as well as Perry’s. Not enough to be satisfying though. Most of the revelations just made me want to know more.  Also, things were really left hanging for both of them at the end. And that’s where my reading procrastination comes in really handy. I don’t have to wait to pick up On Demon Wings. As a matter of fact, I loaded it on my Kindle by the time I was half-way through Lying Season. Right after that I also picked up Old Blood and The Dex Files because I was told NOT to miss the novellas in between the main novels.

 

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Black Rose (Shadows #1) by Jenna Ryan

BlackRose“Voodoo is a shadowy business. So is murder.”
Mia LeMay s Creole ancestry spices the atmosphere that permeates her bluesy New Orleans nightclub and sugar-dusted tearoom. But her cloistered world shatters when she witnesses a murder and she s forced to put her life in the hands of a man she s never met.
A man whose golden eyes hide as many dark secrets as the killer who wants her dead.
Even as Agent Rick Ryder whisks Mia into the teeth of a tropical storm, guilt twists like a knife in his gut. He has a personal stake in keeping the black-haired beauty safe. Once his superiors figure out what he pulled to make sure he s the one watching her back, his life will be worth about as much as hers if he fails.
Deep in the Louisiana mangroves, desire envelopes them like the steamy bayou mist. But there are many things lurking in the shadows. Things that slither. Things that bite. And something evil that’s determined to make sure Mia never sees the light of another dawn
This title has been previously published.
“Warning: Contains a sexy federal agent (or is he?) who’s a ticking time bomb, and a woman with the bayou in her blood and a wicked way with stiletto heels. Grab your “gris gris bag,” gaienne, “the real bad is comin!”

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Black Rose. As the description states, this is a previously published book and honestly, those can be hit or miss. I obviously didn’t pick it up the first time around, but when it was offered for review, it caught my attention. I love books with a touch of black magic and the Louisiana Bayou is the perfect setting. I’m happy to say, Black Rose did not disappoint.

Tension was the main theme of Black Rose. Magical tension, tension that was a product of the danger they were in, tension caused by Mia’s lack of trust where Ryder was concerned and of course, sexual tension. Mia and Ryder did their best to fight it, but of course giving into their feelings was a matter of fate. It was a nice diversion to the very real danger that they were both in and the mysterious magic that surrounded them, both good and evil.

I liked the little twists and getting to know who Ryder really was. Even though it seems as if Mia and Ryder’s story comes to an end, I’m hoping we see at least a little more of them as the series continues. Blood Orchid features a new couple in the Shadows series and is due to release in December 2015.

DragonFlyRating4

 

A Veiled Truth (The Hunted #2.5) by Amanda Shofner – Bout of Books 14 Review

VeiledTruthShe’s about to learn life isn’t like her controlled experiments.
Edie Brown is a lab rat, dedicated to improving the lives of her fellow Gifted. And while she saved countless Gifted soldiers with her research during the war against the Hunters, she’s haunted by the one person she hasn’t saved: her aunt. With a new pair of joint illusionists to help her, Edie’s closer than ever to a breakthrough.
But her well-ordered scientist’s life unravels when her best friend Marcus proposes a different kind of experiment — one that puts her heart at risk — and her aunt collapses, leaving Edie wondering if she’s too late to help. She’s not about to give up yet, though, not when there’s still a chance she can cure her aunt — and find the one thing she didn’t even know she needed.

Oh Edie… for as smart as this girl was, she had a lot to learn. Seems that everyone around her knew that except for her.

To be fair, Edie was carrying around a lot of guilt. Unnecessary guilt. Her only focus was her work. Her research offered protection and knowledge that was invaluable, but life couldn’t always be filed neatly under X and Y… and it shouldn’t be. Beyond the walls of her carefully controlled lab, she cared for her aunt, who she desperately hoped she could cure. When Marcus gave her a change in focus, everything else she thought she knew changed with it. When her aunt’s condition took an unexpected turn, her focus switched back and narrowed even more.

I’ve liked this series from the beginning A Veiled Truth made me love it even more. Edie’s routine needed to be shaken up and Marcus was the perfect person to provide the diversion. He cared about Edie and whether she could admit it or not, she cared about him too. Her whole world was turned upside down in A Veiled Truth, but that’s not always a bad thing.

As an added bonus, the heat was turned up more than a little in A Veiled Truth. Marcus and Edie were obviously good together… very good. It just took a little bit of convincing on Marcus’ part to prove to Edie what they had was more than a diversion or an experiment.

If you haven’t read any books in the Hunted series, there’s really no reason why you can’t start here. I’m pretty sure you’ll want to learn more about this world that Amanda Shofner created once you finish. If you want to start at the beginning, the series starts with Elusive Memories. Regardless of where you decide to start, enjoy! 😉

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Red Fox (Experiment in Terror #2) by Karina Halle

RedFoxIn the for­got­ten town of Red Fox, New Mex­ico, a Navajo cou­ple is tor­tured by things unseen and by motives unknown. Wild ani­mals slink through their house in the dark, a bar­rage of stones pound their roof nightly, and muti­lated sheep car­casses are turn­ing up on their prop­erty. Armed with a cam­era and just enough to go on, Perry and Dex travel to the des­o­late locale, hop­ing to film the super­nat­ural occur­rences and add cred­i­bil­ity to their flail­ing web­cast. Only their show has a lot more work­ing against them than just grow­ing pains. Tested by dubi­ous ranch hands, a ghost from Dex’s past, and shape shift­ing decep­tion, the ama­teur ghost hunters must learn to trust each other in order to fight the most ancient of myths…or die trying.

I’m not ashamed to say that this book scared the crap out of me. I had to keep reminding myself that there are 9 books in the Experiment in Terror series, so Dex and Perry were reasonably safe. The more I read, the more I had to keep reminding myself of that fact.

Red Fox begins just a little while after Darkhouse ends. Their first webcast has broadcast and they can’t let any grass grow under their feet before they start the next one. Perry has even more riding on its success now than ever and her only ally in her new career path is Dex. Trust is kind of tough when both parties keep things hidden from each other. That just adds to the tension built in this story.

I love stores based on mythology and Native American legends are some of my favorites. That aspect of this story totally drew me in and didn’t let go even when things got seriously dark. From the time they entered Red Fox, Dex and Perry were in danger. The biggest problem they faced, other than trying to survive, was that they had no idea who they could and couldn’t trust. No one was exactly what they seemed, so they had no idea where the real danger was coming from. Then, it got worse.

Regardless of how scary these books are, I know that I won’t be able to stay away. Beyond the danger that Dex and Perry put themselves in, there’s also the romantic tension between them. Since the books are told from Perry’s POV readers know exactly where her feelings lie, but Dex is a mystery. He’s unstable, mentally and emotionally. One minute he acts like he cares about Perry as much as she does for him and the next he’s distant and professional. It’s driving me nuts, and I totally love it.

Dead Sky Morning is up next and it’s already ready and waiting for me. 😉

DragonFlyRating5

Surrender (Section 8, #1) by Stephanie Tyler – Bout-of-Books 12.0 Review

SurrenderDesperate, fearless, and hunted

For former Navy SEAL Dare O’Rourke, Section 8 was legendary. The son of one of its missing members, he grew up in the shadow of its secrets. All he knew was that it was a cabal of operatives discharged from branches of the military and reassigned to extremely dangerous, off-the-books international missions. And that their handler was as shrouded in mystery as the missions themselves. 

Nothing can stop them. Nothing can break them. 

Now the handler of Section 8 has given extreme orders to kill any remaining members, along with their families. Dare must save his long-lost half sister, Avery, whom he was never meant to meet. Determined to fight for their lives and find their missing father, Dare and Avery bring together those who are in danger because of their relationship to Section 8 for one last mission—to avenge their families and to survive.

I’m not sure what I expected when I picked up Surrender, but I certainly got more than I bargained for. It’s also one that keeps you on your toes. A lot of characters are introduced, a lot of POVs are shared and a lot happens.

The book opens in the past with Darius, Dare’s father. That prologue pretty much set the tone for the rest of the story. In other words, there wasn’t much down time for any of these characters.

The rest of the story centered around Dare, Avery, Grace, Gunner, Jem & Key. A group of broken misfits that had to form an unlikely alliance in order to survive. It didn’t happen immediately though. There wasn’t a lot of trust among this group. They each had their secrets and most of them were held close. They had all survived horrific circumstances that made them stronger, and maybe a little crazier than they were before.

Grace and Dare were the unlikely couple in Surrender. That’s definitely not how their relationship began, but… you’ll have to read it to understand. Trust me. 😉 As far as the story goes, there was plenty of action, a lot of suspense, pretty much constant danger and some twists, turns and revelations that had me re-reading a couple of chapters to figure out WTH just happened. Yeah, I’m thinking that I’m going to love this series.

The second book in the Section 8 series is Unbreakable, and I don’t really want to tell you who that centers on because there were times during Surrender that I honestly wasn’t sure if any of these characters were going to survive. I will tell you that one of my favorite characters is featured in the recently released 3rd book, Fragmented.

DragonFlyRating4

New Moon Summer (Seasons of the Moon: Cain Chronicles #1) by S.M. Reine – Bout-of-Books 10.0 Review

NewMoonSummerRylie is Alpha: the leader of the werewolves. They’re an endangered species living in a sanctuary, and she’s guarded them for two peaceful years.

The peace is shattered when somebody sends Rylie a threatening silver bullet. A new member of the pack goes missing. And to make things worse, her inner beast is strangely attracted to her boyfriend’s brother, leaving her torn between the love of two men–one of them a werewolf, and the other a former hunter.

Okay, I admit it. I finished the last book in the Seasons of the Moon series and I just couldn’t say goodbye. Crazy, I know, but such is the life of a book addict 😉

The approach of this series is a little different than the Seasons of the Moon. Basically because the first 4 installments are short (this one was only 53 pages.) That doesn’t mean that it is lacking though. An awful lot happened in those 53 pages. The pack has fallen into a routine and they’re even growing in numbers. Both sanctuaries are running full force with Rylie watching over the wolves in her pack. She’s still not comfortable running things alone, but she has plenty of support from both Seth and Abel.

In true S.M. Reine fashion, things don’t stay peaceful for long. There’s tension within the pack and danger from outside it. Then there’s the fact that there’s something going on between Rylie and Abel that even they’re not sure about. I’m not sure I’m happy with where things are going – even knowing where they end up (just another friendly warning to read these series in the right order.)

CainChroniclesI picked up the first book in this series by itself then I immediately got my hands on the box set that contains books 1-4. It’s about the size of a short novel combined (246 pages) and it’s really broken up into ‘episodes’ instead of books. I’m pretty sure that’s how I’m going to read and review the rest of it. Mainly because the cliff hanger in New Moon Summer was brutal… o.O

DragonFlyRating5

SeriouslySeries2014

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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