Hell’s Hinges (A Fistful of Daggers #3) by SM Reine

Sophie Keyes has made a mistake that might destroy the universe. The Traveler has an offer: go back in time, fix your mistake, and save the world. Easy. Except that fixing Sophie’s mistake means destroying her life, and Lincoln Marshall won’t stand to see that happen. Not if he can time travel with them to find another way.
Their attempt to jump into the past goes awry and dumps them into Reno 2006, where Elise Kavanagh is in hiding with James Faulkner. It’s a delicate moment in the timeline, and if Lincoln takes a single wrong step, he’ll change everything. He can’t go to Elise for help. He can’t speak to the woman he’s loved for years, touch her again, kiss her… Not unless he’s willing to bring the universe that much closer to destruction.
For the Godslayer, Lincoln might be willing to lose it all. For the Traveler, it might be a step too far.
War is breaking out in Reno 2006, and the consequences threaten to ripple through time–assuming that they don’t make the entire world fall apart first.

So… I may have mentioned once or twice that I love this author. I think I’ve also mentioned that when a survey was posted a while ago by this same author that I chose Lincoln as a character that I wanted to learn more about. This, dear readers, is a lesson in…be careful what you ask for… Just kidding, kinda…

Really, I’m loving the Fistful of Daggers series, but it is not even close to what I expected. It’s way more. It’s been interesting to see what’s happened in the Descentverse since Genesis from another perspective – and Lincoln’s perspective is most definitely “different”. I know I said that I wanted to learn more about Lincoln, but it wasn’t because he was one of my favorite characters. It’s not that I disliked him, I just wanted to know how he got to be the Lincoln he became when readers saw him again in some of the post-Genesis series and even more so in Dana McIntyre Must Die. Let’s just say that if my first introduction to Lincoln would have been in Lonesome Paladin, I might not be quite so curious. He comes off as an arrogant, grumpy, bigoted… you get the picture. But, since I know who he becomes, that side of him just intrigued me more. Which brings up another point. You can probably start with A Fistful of Daggers, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Lincoln’s been around for quite some time in the Descentverse and there’s a LOT of history between him and another key character that you’ll miss out on if you start here.

Okay, enough history… except that’s kind of what Hell’s Hinges is driven on… FYI – get used the vagueness because even as I’m writing this, I have no idea where I’m going with this review. That’s common when I review a book I loved, but this time it’s more than that. A LOT happened in this book. A LOT! That book description gives you just a tidbit of the craziness that surrounds Sophie and Lincoln when they travel back in time. I was totally unprepared for what Sophie faced in her past. Lincoln was totally unprepared to face a past that included Elise and no one was prepared for the consequences of the drastic changes made to the timeline. Readers saw sides of ALL these characters, plus a few others, in a way they’ve never seen before. To say that this was an intense read would be an understatement. It was epic!

Then there was the end… let’s just say that The Spellslinger can’t come soon enough. Cliffhanger doesn’t come close to where characters were left at the end of Hell’s Hinges.

I’ve wrapped up a lot of my reviews in the Descentverse trying to convince readers to pick up at least one of these books. There are many places to start, but I honestly don’t think that this series is one of them – at least if you want to get the full effect. Especially because of the fact that Hell’s Hinges spends so much time in a past that becomes so altered – without knowing how things initially happened, you won’t really understand how crazy… um crazier? they become. You can visit SM Reine’s website for a complete list of books in this world. Just go to her FAQ page on the website and click on What order should I read the Descentverse series in? I started with Seasons of the Moon and haven’t looked back since. 😉

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Hell’s Highway (The Devil’s Daughter #3) by G.A. Chase

For an immortal, learning what it means to be human can be an emotional wild ride.
Having put down the latest batch of escaped doppelgängers, Sere Mal-Laurette felt she’d earned a little time off from demon hunting. She was wrong.
Her inattention has allowed a new batch of hellions to rise from the swamp and abduct Rampart Thibodaux. With the hot ex-Navy SEAL’s blood and soul infecting her, Sere has no choice but to jump back on her motorcycle to rescue him. Her quest will cost her dearly but also bring her closer to being human than she could have imagined.
Sere’s emotional roller-coaster ride of human experiences, however, is overshadowed by the rise of a new devil—one who isn’t satisfied with simply claiming hell as his only domain.

This series gets better with each book. Of course, that may just be because I’m getting to know the characters better, but for now I’ll chalk it up to more layers being revealed. Speaking of which, Hell’s Highway requires your complete attention. There is a lot of information to take in and even though I’m giving readers a heads up, I’m still not sure I got it all. In other words, I see a re-read in my future. 😉

Sere’s come a long way since Hell in a Head Gasket, the first book in The Devil’s Daughter series. She still wants to protect the people she cares about, but she’s learned to lean on them just a little bit.

So, saying that a lot happened in Hell’s Highway would be an understatement. The connection between Sere and “Bart” grows a lot stronger. The goals and true purpose of the doppelgängers leaving Hell becomes clearer. And yes, there was heartbreak that took me totally by surprise, so prepare yourself… *sigh*

Hell’s Highway didn’t necessarily end in a cliff hanger, but things are far from over for Sere and her rag tag family. I can’t wait to see what G.A. Chase has in store for them next in Hell or High Water. Oh, and for those of you who (like me) weren’t introduced to Sere in The Malveaux Mysteries series, the full book bundle is now available on Amazon. You’re welcome 😉

Hell Bent for Demons (The Devil’s Daughter #2) by G.A. Chase

After ridding the swamp of a serial-killing demon, badass Sere Mal-Laurette has moved to New Orleans to put some distance between the interdimensional beacon of her soul and the hellmouth. Hell, however, has other plans for her when a new horde of beasts is unleashed.Sere will have to knock the rust off her fighting skills if she hopes to save herself and humanity from a fate worse than death. But she soon learns she can’t do it alone, and she’s going to need more than the help of a bartending former Navy SEAL who makes her weak in the knees. The bikers and gator hunters she’s been using for sport during her bar brawls are going to take some serious convincing to join her cause—even if they are the ones most at risk. By relying on those closest to her to repair her doppelgänger body, hunt down the demons that are out to get her, and protect her soul from the loas of the dead, Sere just might learn something about what it means to be human.

I love it when the second book in a series lives up to the first, which is exactly how Hell Bent for Demons stacked up to Hell in a Head Gasket. In some ways, I liked the sequel even more.

Sere doesn’t “play” well with others, so when she realizes she needs help, she has no idea how to go about asking. It doesn’t help that she’s made quite an impression on most of those people – and definitely not the positive kind.

Sere does have allies though – some very good ones. She hesitates to allow most of them to help though because she wants to keep them safe. A trait in a bad-a** heroine that always wins me over. Another thing I like about some of my favorite bad-a** characters is their tendency to have interesting side-kicks. Lefty and Sere’s constant saddlebag companions definitely fall into that category. 😉

I liked the interesting twists and turns in Hell Bent for Demons, especially when they caught Sere off guard. I really like getting to know Sere’s “family” better. She’s still not sure what to make of Bart, but I love the tension and playful banter between them. There are also a few other characters that Sere’s getting closer to. I’m guessing that things are about to get even more interesting as the series continues and I personally can’t wait. 😉

Rack & Ruin (THIRDS #3) by Charlie Cochet

New York City’s streets are more dangerous than ever with the leaderless Order of Adrasteia and the Ikelos Coalition, a newly emerged Therian group, at war. Innocent civilians are caught in the crossfire and although the THIRDS round up more and more members of the Order in the hopes of keeping the volatile group from reorganizing, the members of the Coalition continue to escape and wreak havoc in the name of vigilante justice.
Worse yet, someone inside the THIRDS has been feeding the Coalition information. It’s up to Destructive Delta to draw out the mole and put an end to the war before anyone else gets hurt. But to get the job done, the team will have to work through the aftereffects of the Therian Youth Center bombing. A skirmish with Coalition members leads Agent Dexter J. Daley to a shocking discovery and suddenly it becomes clear that the random violence isn’t so random. There’s more going on than Dex and Sloane originally believed, and their fiery partnership is put to the test. As the case takes an explosive turn, Dex and Sloane are in danger of losing more than their relationship.

I’m still kicking myself for waiting so long to pick up this series, but the good thing is that I don’t have to wait between books. Trust me when I say that’s a very good thing, because when you finish Rack & Ruin, you’re going to make sure you have Rise & Fall handy. I can usually put some distance between books in a series and be fine with it… that was definitely not the case when I finished Rack & Ruin. You can thank me later 😉

There was so much happening in Rack & Ruin it was impossible to put down. Tension is rising between partners and team mates and some pretty startling discoveries are made. It’s getting harder and harder to know who to trust.

Through all the twists and turns and the personal issues within the team coming to a head, the cliff hanger ending shouldn’t have really surprised me. Stay tuned for my review of Rise & Fall. 😉

Hell in a Head Gasket (The Devil’s Daughter #1) by G.A. Chase

When Sere Mal-Laurette escaped hell, she thought she’d left her demons behind her. But now that one has found his way through hell’s gate, others are sure to follow. Then all hell will break loose.
If Sere fails to contain the little soulless bastards, the loas of the dead will likely figure out her true identity. Then they’ll be all over her soul, and she can kiss immortality goodbye. Moreover, someone needs to send the demons back to where they came from before they wreak havoc on the citizens of New Orleans. 

To prevent the demon doppelgängers from killing their human equivalents and taking over their lives, Sere will need the help of people she trusts–and some she doesn’t. It’s time for her to embrace the badass demon hunter she was always meant to be. To do so, however, she’ll have to quickly figure out the line between protector of humanity and murdering psychopath.

This is the first book in G.A. Chase’s The Devil’s Daughter series, but it’s not the first book in this world. The world building started in the Malveaux Curse Mysteries, which I haven’t read, but I fully intend to… soon. I wasn’t lost in Hell in a Head Gasket, but I think that I would have enjoyed it even more if I had read those books first.

Sere is an interesting character. She thought she was better off working alone, even though she had plenty of people more than willing to support and help her. She wasn’t comfortable with that though, especially when that help was offered from unexpected places.

You may have guessed that she’s not the only great character in this book. Hell in a Head Gasket is full of supporting characters that I can’t wait to get to know better. The premise was interesting, the characters were witty and the world building was unique. I can’t wait for the next book in The Devil’s Daughter series.

Torched (Donovan Circus #5) by Liz Long – Bout of Books 22 Review

Lucy Sullivan and her circus family are finally back where they belong – in the spotlight and with each other. Even ringmaster Sheffield Donovan is in good spirits as their show delights audiences each night. Life is almost back to normal.
Until the US government appears in the form of one General Baker and his army of soldiers. At the threat of worldwide exposure, life as the Donovan Circus knows it is over. Cornered into the General’s terrible experiments, they have no rights, no friends, and no hope of escape. Lucy will lose more than one loved one, and perhaps her own life, in the process.
The Donovan Circus will face the worst danger yet – can Lucy take down an entire government sector, or will the gifted world finally be destroyed once and for all?

I have adored this series since the very first book. Gifted introduced the Donovan Circus series and each book drew me into this amazing world even more. I have no idea why I waited so long to pick up the final book, other than the fact that I didn’t want it to end. *sigh*

Torched began with Lucy and Sheffield hoping things are finally back to normal, but they know that they are probably just biding time until the next threat comes their way. The wait wasn’t long. Lucy and several of her friends are taken away by General Baker. They are pawns that he plans on using as weapons – they are only as valuable as their gifts. They’re also not the only Gifted there, but they soon learn that their small group are their only allies.

This was a book that was really hard to put down. Pretty much from the first chapter, the action, suspense and sometimes even heartbreak was nonstop. (Pay attention to the description… not everyone survives…) They didn’t have much hope of getting out in one piece, but giving up wasn’t an option. None of them walked away from their time with Baker untouched – right up until the very end.

I’ve gotta admit, if the series had to come to an end, Torched was an amazing finale. I can’t wait to see what Liz Long has in store for readers next. So far, I haven’t been disappointed. Speaking of which, stay tuned for my review of The Blood King, the first book in her newest series, The Brighton Duology. You can also check out her Heroes of Arcania series, which is part of the same world as Donovan Circus and starts with SuperNova.

Suicide Queen (Dana McIntyre Must Die #4) by S.M. Reine

There are only thirty-six hours until Las Vegas will be daylighted by the witches of the Office of Preternatural Affairs. Thirty-six hours until every last vampire in Clark County gets ashed.
A serial killing vampire is taking advantage of every last one of those hours. His perverse game means mutilated vampire fledglings running amok, and it means there’s only one vampire hunter who can catch him.
Dana McIntyre’s getting out of prison to do what she does best.
And Nissa Royal is waiting to receive her with open arms.
The suicide queen’s been dealt. The stakes are deadly. Now it’s time to show their hands and find out who has the high card – and who will be winning the soul of Las Vegas.

I’m not quite sure where to start… or what to say… or more importantly, what not to say. So much happened in this final book of the Dana McIntyre Must Die series. I don’t want to take a chance at giving anything away.

Things were definitely not looking up at the beginning of Suicide Queen. Dana had lost a lot, including her freedom. She finally put an end to the Fremont Slasher, but the cost was high. Getting out of prison didn’t gain her much freedom, but it was a start. She had little time to worry about her new status when the new threat to Vegas was wreaking havoc in a brutal, gruesome way.

Then there was Nissa, who wasn’t done with Dana. She was even scarier than her master in some ways because of her unique power and her need for revenge. I was not a Nissa fan and Dana’s tiny soft spot for her drove me nuts.

On a side note, someone else drove me nuts in Suicide Queen and it was totally unexpected. I may have mentioned once or twice that I’m a huge fan of Cèsar Hawke, but he wasn’t my favorite character in Dana’s book. I still liked his snarkiness and he finally redeemed himself by the end, but I had a hard time liking him as much as I usually do. I think I need another Preternatural Affairs book, stat! LOL!

So, the Dana McIntyre series has come to a satisfying end and the author managed to make me like a character that I never expected to, but I don’t think that S.M. Reine is quite done with Dana yet. There were a couple of strange turn of events at the end of Suicide Queen… actually more than one, but I’m not giving anything away, remember?

Cashing Out (Dana McIntyre Must Die #3) by S.M. Reine – Bout of Books 20 Review

With the previous master vampire out of the way, and Dana McIntyre presumed dead, there’s nothing standing between Nissa Royal and her vision for Las Vegas: a city of vampires where humans serve as no more than cattle.
Except that someone keeps killing the vampires who are sweeping the streets for victims. A mysterious killer that nobody can seem to find. Someone bent on stopping Nissa…
Police Chief Charmaine Villanueva is losing control of her city to the Office of Preternatural Affairs. She hopes to appease them with a preliminary cure for vampirism–her last shot at reassuring them that she can keep her citizens safe. Except someone has broken into Holy Nights Cathedral to steal the Garlic Shot, even though the church should be impossible to burgle. She can only think of one person with the ability to steal from the cathedral. But Dana McIntyre’s been dead for hours. Hasn’t she?
Torn between OPA control and vampire control, Las Vegas is a city on the brink of war missing its guardian angel. It’s a high stakes game with no limit. But the house isn’t letting any of its players cash out yet…not when the game is just getting hot.

I can’t even… I really should deduct at least half a star for the gut wrenching events near the end… Oh, and I thought the last book ended with a crazy twist? o.O Trust me when I say that S.M. Reine is most definitely holding onto her #EvilAuthor title.

Things took a strange and unexpected turn at the end of Kill Game. So strange and unexpected that everyone (except readers) in the beginning of Cashing Out knew that Dana was dead. There were a few that held out a little bit of hope, but it was a long shot. There were too many things that she would have had to overcome to actually survive, but this is Dana we’re talking about and she obviously wasn’t finished yet.

Needless to say, a lot happened in Cashing Out and not all of it was great. Dana was kinda awesome (I told you, she’s growing on me) and her friends/family were great, whether they actually liked her or not. A key mystery was solved (I can’t say that I was surprised). On the flip side, the OPA showed up (which wasn’t all bad…). Nissa became even stronger when she became a full fledged vamp and the absolute worst was that there were losses… on both sides. *tear*

So, this is turning out to be another vague review, and I’m sorry about that, but I just don’t want to give anything away. I will say that I have a sudden urge to go back and read Bitter Thirst, because seeing one of my favorite OPA agents appear in Vegas was one of my favorite parts of Cashing Out 😉 Well, maybe not my favorite, because this is Dana’s book after all, but Cèsar is just… well, he’s Cèsar, enough said.

So, I’m going to end this review (before I give anything away) with my usual disclaimer. If you haven’t read a S.M. Reine book yet, pick one sooner rather than later. Start wherever you want, but I suggest either with Six Moon Summer or Descent. The world building is phenomenal and so interwoven between the series it’s a wild ride. I’ve got my favorites, so now it’s time for you to choose yours… you’re welcome! 😉 

 

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.

Drawing Dead (Dana McIntyre Must Die #1) by S.M. Reine

The vampire slayer is turning into a vampire? Over her dead body.
Dana McIntyre has been bitten by a master vampire. She’s infected with the venom. And after killing hundreds of vampires to keep Las Vegas safe, she’d rather die than turn.
There might be a cure. But the only way to get it is through Nissa Royal, a vampire with close ties to the masters of Las Vegas. Nissa is dangerous — too dangerous to be allowed to live, much less work alongside.
But if Dana dies, vampires win Vegas. If she doesn’t die, she becomes one of the bloodless. The cure’s her only chance. In this deadly game of hold ’em, Dana’s drawing dead, and whatever happens next, there’s no changing her losing hand. Dana only knows one thing: If she’s going down, she’s taking as many vampires as possible on her way out…

I’ve got to admit that I haven’t been a fan of Dana since Genesis. Which brings up the point that even though each series in S.M. Reine’s crazy, creative world can be read as a stand alone, I still don’t recommend it. That’s probably because I’ve read pretty much all the books in all the series (I still have a couple in the Descent series that I need to read.) I’m honestly not obsessed, I just love these books and will continue to strongly suggest to anyone who will listen… READ THEM ALL… but, I digress. Readers met Dana when she was just a little girl. She’s come a long way since then and she’s not so little and in many ways, not so nice. I wasn’t really excited about an entire series devoted to Dana. There was another character that I really wanted to get to know better, but that’s another story, for hopefully another time. *sigh* Anyway, I should have known better. I should have trusted this author to give me a whole new perspective once she let us in Dana’s head. Not only did she semi-change my negative opinion toward Dana, she gave me a totally different feeling toward at least two other characters in the process.

So, back to Dana. She’s pretty much larger than life… and I’m not just referring to her physical appearance. Everything about her is over the top, unapologetic and most of the time, inappropriate. Still, there’s something about her. Something that makes those few she’s close to care enough to want to protect her, mainly from herself. Dana’s her own worst enemy and that trait becomes even worse when she gets bitten. It may even cause one of the people she cares about most to pull away. The thing about Dana is that she loves as hard as she fights and when one of her family suffers, she takes it personally. Her safety and well-being don’t matter as long as the people she’s trying to protect are safe from harm. She takes unnecessary risks that drive her crew nuts, but they stand behind her regardless. I kinda love that about all of them now… yeah, I didn’t see that one coming.

Then there were the bad guys. Some were worse than others and that designation switched back and forth. Sometimes it’s the most unassuming character that you need to watch out for and Nissa was one of them. Being in her head, even for a little while, was a very scary place to be.

Just a couple more things worth mentioning. First, in true S.M. Reine form, holds nothing back – the good, the bad and the gore… her descriptions are notorious, but I gotta say, the “expulsion” description was a bit over the top, even for her. *shivers* Then there’s the cover. I’m not someone who judges a book by its cover. I hardly ever mention covers when I review a book, but this one… it’s so perfect. Too often covers don’t even come close to depicting the character within the book. This cover doesn’t just come close, it is totally Dana. I kinda love that.

I didn’t go into Drawing Dead expecting to want to get to know Dana better, but I shouldn’t be surprised that’s exactly what happened.